We are taught in Holy Scripture, that the "Devil rangeth abroad like a roaring lion, still seeking whom he may devour:" and as in several shapes, so by several engines and devices he goeth about to seduce us; sometimes he transforms himself into an angel of light; and is so cunning that he is able, if it were possible, to deceive the very elect. He will be worshipped as God himself, and is so adored by the heathen, and esteemed. And in imitation of that divine power, as Eusebius observes, to abuse or emulate God's glory, as Dandinus adds, he will have all homage, sacrifices, oblations, and whatsoever else belongs to the worship of God, to be done likewise unto him, similis erit altissimo, and by this means infatuates the world, deludes, entraps, and destroys many a thousand souls. Sometimes by dreams, visions (as God to Moses by familiar conference) , the devil in several shapes talks with them: in the Indies it is common, and in China nothing so familiar as apparitions, inspirations, oracles, by terrifying them with false prodigies, counterfeit miracles, sending storms, tempests, diseases, plagues (as of old in Athens there was Apollo, Alexicacus, Apollo λοιμιος [loimios], pestifer et malorum depulsor) , raising wars, seditions by spectrums, troubling their consciences, driving them to despair, terrors of mind, intolerable pains; by promises, rewards, benefits, and fair means, he raiseth such an opinion of his deity and greatness, that they dare not do otherwise than adore him, do as he will have them, they dare not offend him. And to compel them more to stand in awe of him, "he sends and cures diseases, disquiets their spirits" (as Cyprian saith) , "torments and terrifies their souls, to make them adore him: and all his study, all his endeavour is to divert them from true religion to superstition: and because he is damned himself, and in an error, he would have all the world participate of his errors, and be damned with him." The primum mobile, therefore, and first mover of all superstition, is the devil, that great enemy of mankind, the principal agent, who in a thousand several shapes, after diverse fashions, with several engines, illusions, and by several names hath deceived the inhabitants of the earth, in several places and countries, still rejoicing at their falls. "All the world over before Christ's time, he freely domineered, and held the souls of men in most slavish subjection" (saith Eusebius) "in diverse forms, ceremonies, and sacrifices, till Christ's coming," as if those devils of the air had shared the earth amongst them, which the Platonists held for gods ( Ludus deorum sumus) , and were our governors and keepers. In several places, they had several rites, orders, names, of which read Wierus de præstigiis dæmonum, lib. 1. cap. 5. Strozzius Cicogna, and others; Adonided amongst the Syrians; Adramalech amongst the Capernaites, Asiniæ amongst the Emathites; Astartes with the Sidonians; Astaroth with the Palestines; Dagon with the Philistines; Tartary with the Hanæi; Melchonis amongst the Ammonites: Beli the Babylonians; Beelzebub and Baal with the Samaritans and Moabites; Apis, Isis, and Osiris amongst the Egyptians; Apollo Pythius at Delphos, Colophon, Ancyra, Cuma, Erythra; Jupiter in Crete, Venus at Cyprus, Juno at Carthage, Æsculapius at Epidaurus, Diana at Ephesus, Pallas at Athens, &c. And even in these our days, both in the East and West Indies, in Tartary, China, Japan, &c., what strange idols, in what prodigious forms, with what absurd ceremonies are they adored? What strange sacraments, like ours of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, what goodly temples, priests, sacrifices they had in America, when the Spaniards first landed there, let Acosta the Jesuit relate, lib. 5. cap. 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., and how the devil imitated the Ark and the children of Israel's coming out of Egypt; with many such. For as Lipsius well discourseth out of the doctrine of the Stoics, maxime cupiunt adorationem hominum, now and of old, they still and most especially desire to be adored by men. See but what Vertomannus, l. 5. c. 2. Marcus Polus, Lerius, Benzo, P. Martyr in his Ocean Decades, Acosta, and Mat. Riccius expedit. Christ. in Sinus, lib. 1. relate. Eusebius wonders how that wise city of Athens, and flourishing kingdoms of Greece, should be so besotted; and we in our times, how. those witty Chinese, so perspicacious in all other things should be so gulled, so tortured with superstition, so blind as to worship stocks and stones. But it is no marvel, when we see all out as great effects amongst Christians themselves; how are those Anabaptists, Arians, and Papists above the rest, miserably infatuated! Mars, Jupiter, Apollo, and Æsculapius, have resigned their interest, names, and offices to Saint George.
" ( (Maxime bellorum rector, quem nostra juventus
Pro Mavorte colit.) "--
(Bapt. Mant. 4. Fast, de Sancto Georgio. "O great master of war, whom our youths worship as if he were Mars self.")
St. Christopher, and a company of fictitious saints, Venus to the Lady of Loretto. And as those old Romans had several distinct gods, for divers offices, persons, places, so have they saints, as Lavater well observes out of Lactantius, mutato nomine tantum, 'tis the same spirit or devil that deludes them still. The manner how, as I say, is by rewards, promises, terrors, affrights, punishments. In a word, fair and foul means, hope and fear. How often hath Jupiter, Apollo, Bacchus, and the rest, sent plagues in Greece and Italy, because their sacrifices were neglected?
"Dii multa neglecti dederunt
Hesperiæ mala luctuosæ,"
to terrify them, to arouse them up, and the like: see but Livy, Dionysius Halicarnassæus, Thucydides, Pausanius, Philostratus, Polybius, before the battle of Cannæ, prodigiis signis, ostentis, templa cuncta, privates etiam ædes scatebant. Ćneus reigned in Ætolia, and because he did not sacrifice to Diana with his other gods (see more in Labanius his Diana) , she sent a wild boar, insolitæ magnitudinis, qui terras et homines misere depascebatur, to spoil both men and country, which was afterwards killed by Meleager. So Plutarch in the Life of Lucullus relates, how Mithridates, king of Pontus, at the siege of Cizicum, with all his navy, was overthrown by Proserpina, for neglecting of her holy day. She appeared in a vision to Aristagoras in the night, Cras inquit tybicinem Lybicum cum tybicine pontico committam ("tomorrow I will cause a contest between a Libyan and a Pontic minstrel") , and the day following this enigma was understood; for with a great south wind which came from Libya, she quite overwhelmed Mithridates' army. What prodigies and miracles, dreams, visions, predictions, apparitions, oracles, have been of old at Delphos, Dodona, Trophonius' den, at Thebes, and Lebaudia, of Jupiter Ammon in Egypt, Amphiaraus in Attica, &c.; what strange cures performed by Apollo and Æsculapius? Juno's image and that of Fortune spake, Castor and Pollux fought in person for the Romans against Hannibal's army, as Pallas, Mars, Juno, Venus, for Greeks and Trojans, &c. Amongst our pseudo-Catholics nothing so familiar as such miracles; how many cures done by our lady of Loretto, at Sichem! of old at our St. Thomas's shrine, &c. St. Sabine was seen to fight for Arnulphus, duke of Spoleto. St. George fought in person for John the Bastard of Portugal, against the Castilians; St. James for the Spaniards in America. In the battle of Bannockburn, where Edward the Second, our English king, was foiled by the Scots, St. Philanus' arm was seen to fight (if Hector Boethius doth not impose) , that was before shut up in a silver cap-case; another time, in the same author, St. Magnus fought for them. Now for visions, revelations, miracles, not only out of the legend, out of purgatory, but everyday comes news from the Indies, and at home read the Jesuits' Letters, Ribadineira, Thurselinus, Acosta, Lippomanus, Xaverius, Ignatius' Lives, &c., and tell me what difference?
His ordinary instruments or factors which he useth, as God himself did, good kings, lawful magistrates, patriarchs, prophets, to the establishing of his church, are politicians, statesmen, priests, heretics, blind guides, impostors, pseudoprophets, to propagate his superstition. And first to begin of politicians, it hath ever been a principal axiom with them to maintain religion or superstition, which they determine of, alter and vary upon all occasions, as to them seems best, they make religion mere policy, a cloak, a human invention, nihil æque valet ad regendos vulgi animos ac superstitio, as Tacitus and Tully hold. Austin, l. 4. de civitat. Dei. c. 9. censures Scævola saying and acknowledging expedire civitates religione falli, that it was a fit thing cities should be deceived by religion, according to the diverb, Si mundus vult decipi, decipiatur, if the world will be gulled, let it be gulled, 'tis good howsoever to keep it in subjection. 'Tis that Aristotle and Plato inculcate in their politics, "Religion neglected, brings plague to the city, opens a gap to all naughtiness." 'Tis that which all our late politicians ingeminate. Cromerus, l. 2. pol. hist. Boterus, l. 3. de incrementis urbium. Clapmarius, l. 2. c. 9. de Arcanis rerump. cap. 4. lib. 2. polit. Captain Machiavel will have a prince by all means to counterfeit religion, to be superstitious in show at least, to seem to be devout, frequent holy exercises, honour divines, love the church, affect priests, as Numa, Lycurgus, and such lawmakers were and did, non ut his fidem habeant, sed ut subditos religionis metu facilius in officio contineant, to keep people in obedience. Nam naturaliter (as Cardan writes) lex Christiana lex est pietatis, justitiæ, fidei, simplicitatis, &c. But this error of his, Innocentius Jentilettus, a French lawyer, theorem. 9. comment. 1. de Relig, and Thomas Bozius in his book de ruinis gentium et Regnorum have copiously confuted. Many politicians, I dare not deny, maintain religion as a true means, and sincerely speak of it without hypocrisy, are truly zealous and religious themselves. Justice and religion are the two chief props and supporters of a well-governed commonwealth: but most of them are but Machiavellians, counterfeits only for political ends; for solus rex (which Campanella, cap. 18. atheismi triumphali observes) , as amongst our modern Turks, reipub. Finis, as knowing magnus ejus in animos imperium; and that, as Sabellicus delivers, "A man without religion, is like a horse without a bridle." No way better to curb than superstition, to terrify men's consciences, and to keep them in awe: they make new laws, statutes, invent new religions, ceremonies, as so many stalking horses, to their ends. Hæc enim (religio) si falsa sit, dummodo vera credatur, animorum ferociam domat, libidines cúrcet, subditos principi obsequentes efficit. (If a religion be false, only let it be supposed to be true, and it will tame mental ferocity, restrain lusts, and make loyal subjects.") Therefore (saith Polybius of Lycurgus) , "did he maintain ceremonies, not that he was superstitious himself, but that he had perceived mortal men more apt to embrace paradoxes than aught else, and durst attempt no evil things for fear of the gods." This was Zamolcus's stratagem amongst the Thracians, Numa's plot, when he said he had conference with the nymph Ægeria, and that of Sertorius with a hart; to get more credit to their decrees, by deriving them from the gods; or else they did all by divine instinct, which Nicholas Damascen well observes of Lycurgus, Solon, and Minos, they had their laws dictated, monte sacro, by Jupiter himself. So Mahomet referred his new laws to the angel Gabriel, by whose direction he gave out they were made. Caligula in Dion feigned himself to be familiar with Castor and Pollux, and many such, which kept those Romans under (who, as Machiavel proves, lib. 1. disput. cap. 11. et 12. were Religione maxime moti, most superstitious) : and did curb the people more by this means, than by force of arms, or severity of human laws. Sola plebecula eam agnoscebat (saith Vaninus, dial. 1. lib. 4. de admirandis naturæ arcanis) speaking of religion, que facile decipitur, magnates vero et philosophi nequaquam, your grandees and philosophers had no such conceit, sed ad imperii conformationem et amplificationem quam sine prætextu religionis tueri non poterant; and many thousands in all ages have ever held as much, Philosophers especially, animadvertebant hi semper hæc esse fabellas, attamen ob metum publicæ potestatis silere cogebantur they were still silent for fear of laws, &c. To this end that Syrian Phyresides, Pythagoras his master, broached in the East amongst the heathens, first the immortality of the soul, as Trismegistus did in Egypt, with a many of feigned gods. Those French and Briton Druids in the West first taught, saith Cæsar, non interire animas (that souls did not die) , "but after death to go from one to another, that so they might encourage them to virtue." 'Twas for a politic end, and to this purpose the old poets feigned those elysian fields, their Æacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, their infernal judges, and those Stygian lakes, fiery Phlegethons, Pluto's kingdom, and variety of torments after death. Those that had done well, went to the Elysian fields, but evil doers to Cocytus, and to that burning lake of hell with fire, and brimstone for ever to be tormented. 'Tis this which Plato labours for in his Phædon, et 9. de rep. The Turks in their Alcoran, when they set down rewards, and several punishments for every particular virtue and vice, when they persuade men, that they that die in battle shall go directly to heaven, but wicked livers to eternal torment, and all of all sorts (much like our papistical purgatory) , for a set time shall be tortured in their graves, as appears by that tract which John Baptista Alfaqui, that Mauritanian priest, now turned Christian, hath written in his confutation of the Alcoran. After a man's death two black angels, Nunquir and Nequir (so they call them) come to him to his grave and punish him for his precedent sins; if he lived well, they torture him the less; if ill, per indesinentes cruciatus ad diem fudicii, they incessantly punish him to the day of judgment, Nemo viventium qui ad horum mentionem non totus horret et contremiscit, the thought of this crucifies them all their lives long, and makes them spend their days in fasting and prayer, ne mala hæc contingant, &c. A Tartar prince, saith Marcus Polus, lib. 1. cap. 23. called Senex de Montibus, the better to establish his government amongst his subjects, and to keep them in awe, found a convenient place in a pleasant valley, environed with hills, in "which he made a delicious park full of odoriferous flowers and fruits, and a palace of all worldly contents," that could possibly be devised, music, pictures, variety of meats, &c., and chose out a certain young man, whom with a soporiferous potion he so benumbed, that he perceived nothing: "and so fast asleep as he was, caused him to be conveyed into this fair garden:" where after he had lived awhile in all such pleasures a sensual man could desire, "He cast him into a sleep again, and brought him forth, that when he awaked he might tell others he had been in Paradise." The like he did for hell, and by this means brought his people to subjection. Because heaven and hell are mentioned in the scriptures, and to be believed necessary by Christians: so cunningly can the devil and his ministers, in imitation of true religion, counterfeit and forge the like, to circumvent and delude his superstitious followers. Many such tricks and impostures are acted by politicians, in China especially, but with what effect I will discourse in the symptoms.
Next to politicians, if I may distinguish them, are some of our priests (who make religion policy) , if not far beyond them, for they domineer over princes and statesmen themselves. Carnificinam exercent, one saith they tyrannise over men's consciences more than any other tormentors whatsoever, partly for their commodity and gain; Religionem enim omnium abusus (as Postellus holds) , quæstus scilicet sacrificum in causa est: for sovereignty, credit, to maintain their state and reputation, out of ambition and avarice, which are their chief supporters: what have they not made the common people believe? Impossibilities in nature, incredible things; what devices, traditions, ceremonies, have they not invented in all ages to keep men in obedience, to enrich themselves? Quibus quæstui sunt capti superstitione animi, as Livy saith. Those Egyptian priests of old got all the sovereignty into their hands, and knowing, as Curtius insinuates, nulla res efficacius multitudinem regit quam superstitio; melius vatibus quam ducibus parent, vana religione capti, etiam impotentes fúminæ; the common people will sooner obey priests than captains, and nothing so forcible as superstition, or better than blind zeal to rule a multitude; have so terrified and gulled them, that it is incredible to relate. All nations almost have been besotted in this kind; amongst our Britons and old Gauls the Druids; magi in Persia; philosophers in Greece; Chaldeans amongst the Oriental; Brachmanni in India; Gymnosophists in Ethiopia; the Turditanes in Spain; Augurs in Rome, have insulted; Apollo's priests in Greece, Phæbades and Pythonissæ, by their oracles and phantasms; Amphiaraus and his companions; now Mahometan and pagan priests, what can they not effect? How do they not infatuate the world? Adeo ubique (as Scaliger writes of the Mahometan priests) , tum gentium tum locorum, gens ista sacrorum ministra, vulgi secat spes, ad ea quæ ipsi fingunt somnia, "so cunningly can they gull the commons in all places and countries." But above all others, that high priest of Rome, the dam of that monstrous and superstitious brood, the bull-bellowing pope, which now rageth in the West, that three-headed Cerberus hath played his part. "Whose religion at this day is mere policy, a state wholly composed of superstition and wit, and needs nothing but wit and superstition to maintain it, that useth colleges and religious houses to as good purpose as forts and castles, and doth more at this day" by a company of scribbling parasites, fiery-spirited friars, zealous anchorites, hypocritical confessors, and those prætorian soldiers, his Janissary Jesuits, and that dissociable society, as Languis terms it, postremus diaboli conatus et sæculi excrementum, that now stand in the fore front of the battle, will have a monopoly of, and engross all other learning, but domineer in divinity, Excipiunt soli totius vulnera belli, and fight alone almost (for the rest are but his dromedaries and asses) , than ever he could have done by garrisons and armies. What power of prince, or penal law, be it never so strict, could enforce men to do that which for conscience' sake they will voluntarily undergo? And as to fast from all flesh, abstain from marriage, rise to their prayers at midnight, whip themselves, with stupendous fasting and penance, abandon the world, wilful poverty, perform canonical and blind obedience, to prostrate their goods, fortunes, bodies, lives, and offer up themselves at their superior's feet, at his command? What so powerful an engine as superstition? which they right well perceiving, are of no religion at all themselves: Primum enim (as Calvin rightly suspects, the tenor and practice of their life proves) , arcanæ illius theologiæ, quod apud eos regnat, caput est, nullum esse deum, they hold there is no God, as Leo X. did, Hildebrand the magician, Alexander VI., Julius II., mere atheists, and which the common proverb amongst them approves, "The worst Christians of Italy are the Romans, of the Romans the priests are wildest, the lewdest priests are preferred to be cardinals, and the baddest men amongst the cardinals is chosen to be pope," that is an epicure, as most part the popes are, infidels and Lucianists, for so they think and believe; and what is said of Christ to be fables and impostures, of heaven and hell, day of judgment, paradise, immortality of the soul, are all,
"Rumores vacui, verbaque inania,
Et par sollicito fabula somnio."
"Dreams, toys, and old wives' tales." Yet as so many whetstones to make other tools cut, but cut not themselves, though they be of no religion at all, they will make others most devout and superstitious, by promises and threats, compel, enforce from, and lead them by the nose like so many bears in a line; when as their end is not to propagate the church, advance God's kingdom, seek His glory or common good, but to enrich themselves, to enlarge their territories, to domineer and compel them to stand in awe, to live in subjection to the See of Rome. For what otherwise care they? Si mundus vult decipi, decipiatur, "since the world wishes to be gulled, let it be gulled," 'tis fit it should be so. And for which Austin cites Varro to maintain his Roman religion, we may better apply to them: multa vera, quæ vulgus scire non est utile; pleraque falsa, quæ tamen uliter existimare populum expedit; some things are true, some false, which for their own ends they will not have the gullish commonalty take notice of. As well may witness their intolerable covetousness, strange forgeries, fopperies, fooleries, unrighteous subtleties, impostures, illusions, new doctrines, paradoxes, traditions, false miracles, which they have still forged, to enthral, circumvent and subjugate them, to maintain their own estates. One while by bulls, pardons, indulgencies, and their doctrines of good works, that they be meritorious, hope of heaven, by that means they have so fleeced the commonalty, and spurred on this free superstitious horse, that he runs himself blind, and is an ass to carry burdens. They have so amplified Peter's patrimony, that from a poor bishop, he is become Rex Regum, Dominus dominantium, a demigod, as his canonists make him (Felinus and the rest) , above God himself. And for his wealth and temporalities, is not inferior to many kings: his cardinals, princes' companions; and in every kingdom almost, abbots, priors, monks, friars, &c., and his clergy, have engrossed a third part, half, in some places all, into their hands. Three princes, electors in Germany, bishops; besides Magdeburg, Spire, Saltsburg, Breme, Bamberg, &c. In France, as Bodine lib. de repub. gives us to understand, their revenues are 12,300,000 livres; and of twelve parts of the revenues in France, the church possesseth seven. The Jesuits, a new sect, begun in this age, have, as Middendorpius and Pelargus reckon up, three or four hundred colleges in Europe, and more revenues than many princes. In France, as Arnoldus proves, in thirty years they have got bis centum librarum millia annua, 200,000L.. I say nothing of the rest of their orders. We have had in England, as Armachanus demonstrates, above 30,000 friars at once, and as Speed collects out of Leland and others, almost 600 religious houses, and near 200,000L. in revenues of the old rent belonging to them, besides images of gold, silver, plate, furniture, goods and ornaments, as Weever calculates, and esteems them at the dissolution of abbeys, worth a million of gold. How many towns in every kingdom hath superstition enriched? What a deal of money by musty relics, images, idolatry, have their mass-priests engrossed, and what sums have they scraped by their other tricks! Loretto in Italy, Walsingham in England, in those days. Ubi omnia auro nitent, "where everything shines with gold," saith Erasmus, St. Thomas's shrine, &c., may witness. Delphos so renowned of old in Greece for Apollo's oracle, Delos commune conciliabulum et emporium sola religions manitum; Dodona, whose fame and wealth were sustained by religion, were not so rich, so famous. If they can get but a relic of some saint, the Virgin Mary's picture, idols or the like, that city is for ever made, it needs no other maintenance. Now if any of these their impostures or juggling tricks be controverted, or called in question: if a magnanimous or zealous Luther, an heroical Luther, as Dithmarus Calls him, dare touch the monks' bellies, all is in a combustion, all is in an uproar: Demetrius and his associates are ready to pull him in pieces, to keep up their trades, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians:" with a mighty shout of two hours long they will roar and not be pacified.
Now for their authority, what by auricular confession, satisfaction, penance, Peter's keys, thunderings, excommunications, &c., roaring bulls, this high priest of Rome, shaking his Gorgon's head, hath so terrified the soul of many a silly man, insulted over majesty itself, and swaggered generally over all Europe for many ages, and still doth to some, holding them as yet in slavish subjection, as never tyrannising Spaniards did by their poor Negroes, or Turks by their galley-slaves. "The bishop of Rome" (saith Stapleton, a parasite of his, de mag. Eccles. lib. 2. cap. 1.) "hath done that without arms, which those Roman emperors could never achieve with forty legions of soldiers," deposed kings, and crowned them again with his foot, made friends, and corrected at his pleasure, &c. "'Tis a wonder," saith Machiavel, Florentinæ, his. lib. 1. "what slavery King Henry II. endured for the death of Thomas a Beckett, what things he was enjoined by the Pope, and how he submitted himself to do that which in our times a private man would not endure," and all through superstition. Henry IV. disposed of his empire, stood barefooted with his wife at the gates of Canossus. Frederic the Emperor was trodden on by Alexander III., another held Adrian's stirrup, King John kissed the knees of Pandulphos the Pope's legate, &c. What made so many thousand Christians travel from France, Britain, &c., into the Holy Land, spend such huge sums of money, go a pilgrimage so familiarly to Jerusalem, to creep and crouch, but slavish superstition? What makes them so freely venture their lives, to leave their native countries, to go seek martyrdom in the Indies, but superstition? to be assassins, to meet death, murder kings, but a false persuasion of merit, of canonical or blind obedience which they instil into them, and animate them by strange illusions, hope of being martyrs and saints: such pretty feats can the devil work by priests, and so well for their own advantage can they play their parts. And if it were not yet enough, by priests and politicians to delude mankind, and crucify the souls of men, he hath more actors in his tragedy, more irons in the fire, another scene of heretics, factious, ambitious wits, insolent spirits, schismatics, impostors, false prophets, blind guides, that out of pride, singularity, vainglory, blind zeal, cause much more madness yet, set all in an uproar by their new doctrines, paradoxes, figments, crotchets, make new divisions, subdivisions, new sects, oppose one superstition to another, one kingdom to another, commit prince and subjects, brother against brother, father against son, to the ruin and destruction of a commonwealth, to the disturbance of peace, and to make a general confusion of all estates. How did those Arians rage of old? how many did they circumvent? Those Pelagians, Manichees, &c., their names alone would make a just volume. How many silly souls have impostors still deluded, drawn away, and quite alienated from Christ! Lucian's Alexander Simon Magus, whose statue was to be seen and adored in Rome, saith Justin Martyr, Simoni deo sancto, &c., after his decease. Apollonius Tianeus, Cynops, Eumo, who by counterfeiting some new ceremonies and juggling tricks of that Dea Syria, by spitting fire, and the like, got an army together of 40,000 men, and did much harm: with Eudo de stellis, of whom Nubrigensis speaks, lib. 1. cap. 19. that in King Stephen's days imitated most of Christ's miracles, fed I know not how many people in the wilderness, and built castles in the air, &c., to the seducing of multitudes of poor souls. In Franconia, 1476, a base illiterate fellow took upon him to be a prophet, and preach, John Beheim by name, a neatherd at Nicholhausen, he seduced 30,000 persons, and was taken by the commonalty to be a most holy man, come from heaven. "Tradesmen left their shops, women their distaffs, servants ran from their masters, children from their parents, scholars left their tutors, all to hear him, some for novelty, some for zeal. He was burnt at last by the Bishop of Wartzburg, and so he and his heresy vanished together." How many such impostors, false prophets, have lived in every king's reign? what chronicles will not afford such examples? that as so many ignes fatui, have led men out of the way, terrified some, deluded others, that are apt to be carried about by the blast of every wind, a rude inconstant multitude, a silly company of poor souls, that follow all, and are cluttered together like so many pebbles in a tide. What prodigious follies, madness, vexations, persecutions, absurdities, impossibilities, these impostors, heretics, &c., have thrust upon the world, what strange effects shall be shown in the symptoms.
Now the means by which, or advantages the devil and his infernal ministers take, so to delude and disquiet the world with such idle ceremonies, false doctrines, superstitious fopperies, are from themselves, innate fear, ignorance, simplicity, hope and fear, those two battering cannons and principal engines, with their objects, reward and punishment, purgatory, Limbus Patrum, &c. which now more than ever tyrannise; "for what province is free from atheism, superstition, idolatry, schism, heresy, impiety, their factors and followers?" thence they proceed, and from that same decayed image of God, which is yet remaining in us.
"Os homini sublime dedit, coelumque tueri
(Lib. 1. de nat. Deorum. "He gave to man an upward gaze, commanding him to fix his eyes on heaven.")
Our own conscience doth dictate so much unto us, we know there is a God and nature doth inform us; Nulla gens tam barbara (saith Tully) cui non insideat hæc persuasio Deum esse; sed nec Scytha, nec Grúcus, nec Persa, nec Hyperboreus dissentiet (as Maximus Tyrius the Platonist ser. 1. farther adds) nec continentis nec insularum habitator, let him dwell where he will, in what coast soever, there is no nation so barbarous that is not persuaded there is a God. It is a wonder to read of that infinite superstition amongst the Indians in this kind, of their tenets in America, pro suo quisque libitu varias res venerabantur superstitiose, plantas, animalia, montes, &c. omne quod amabant aut horrebant (some few places excepted as he grants, that had no God at all) . So "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament declares his handy work," Psalm xix. "Every creature will evince it;" Præsentemque refert quælibet herba deum. Nolentes sciunt, fatentur inviti, as the said Tyrius proceeds, will or nill, they must acknowledge it. The philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, Pythagoras, Trismegistus, Seneca, Epictetus, those Magi, Druids, &c. went as far as they could by the light of nature; multa præclara, de natura Dei seripta reliquerunt, "writ many things well of the nature of God, but they had but a confused light, a glimpse,"
"Quale per incertam lunam sub luce maligna
Est iter in sylvis,"--
"as he that walks by moonshine in a wood," they groped in the dark; they had a gross knowledge, as he in Euripides, O Deus quicquid es, sive cúlum, sive terra, sive aliud quid, and that of Aristotle, Ens entium miserere mei. And so of the immortality of the soul, and future happiness. Immortalitatem animæ (saith Hierom) Pythagoras somniavit, Democritus non credidit in consoltlionem damnationis suæ Socrates in carcere disputavit; Indus, Persa, Cothus, &c. Philosophantur. So some said this, some that, as they conceived themselves, which the devil perceiving, led them farther out (as Lemnius observes) and made them worship him as their God with stocks and stones, and torture themselves to their own destruction, as he thought fit himself, inspired his priests and ministers with lies and fictions to prosecute the same, which they for their own ends were as willing to undergo, taking advantage of their simplicity, fear and ignorance. For the common people are as a flock of sheep, a rude, illiterate rout, void many times of common sense, a mere beast, bellua multorum capitum, will go whithersoever they are led: as you lead a ram over a gap by the horns, all the rest will follow, Non qua eundum, sed qua itur, they will do as they see others do, and as their prince will have them, let him be of what religion he will, they are for him. Now for those idolaters, Maxentius and Licinius, then for Constantine a Christian. Qui Christum negant male pereant, acclamatum est Decies, for two hours' space; qui Christum non colunt, Augusti inimici sunt, acclamatum est ter decies; and by and by idolaters again under that Apostate Julianus; all Arians under Constantius, good Catholics again under Jovinianus, "And little difference there is between the discretion of men and children in this case, especially of old folks and women," as Cardan discourseth, "when, as they are tossed with fear and superstition, and with other men's folly and dishonesty." So that I may say their ignorance is a cause of their superstition, a symptom, and madness itself: Supplicii causa est, suppliciumque sui. Their own fear, folly, stupidity, to be deplored lethargy, is that which gives occasion to the other, and pulls these miseries on their own heads. For in all these religions and superstitions, amongst our idolaters, you shall find that the parties first affected, are silly, rude, ignorant people, old folks, that are naturally prone to superstition, weak women, or some poor, rude, illiterate persons, that are apt to be wrought upon, and gulled in this kind, prone without either examination or due consideration (for they take up religion a trust, as at mercers' they do their wares) to believe anything. And the best means they have to broach first, or to maintain it when they have done, is to keep them still in ignorance: for "ignorance is the mother of devotion," as all the world knows, and these times can amply witness. This hath been the devil's practice, and his infernal ministers in all ages; not as our Saviour by a few silly fishermen, to confound the wisdom of the world, to save publicans and sinners, but to make advantage of their ignorance, to convert them and their associates; and that they may better effect what they intend, they begin, as I say, with poor, stupid, illiterate persons. So Mahomet did when he published his Alcoran, which is a piece of work (saith Bredenbachius) "full of nonsense, barbarism, confusion, without rhyme, reason, or any good composition, first published to a company of rude rustics, hog-rubbers, that had no discretion, judgment, art, or understanding, and is so still maintained." For it is a part of their policy to let no man comment, dare to dispute or call in question to this day any part of it, be it never so absurd, incredible, ridiculous, fabulous as it is, must be believed implicite, upon pain of death no man must dare to contradict it, "God and the emperor," &c. What else do our papists, but by keeping the people in ignorance vent and broach all their new ceremonies and traditions, when they conceal the scripture, read it in Latin, and to some few alone, feeding the slavish people in the meantime with tales out of legends, and such like fabulous narrations? Whom do they begin with but collapsed ladies, some few tradesmen, superstitious old folks, illiterate persons, weak women, discontent, rude, silly companions, or sooner circumvent? So do all our schismatics and heretics. Marcus and Valentinian heretics, in Irenæus, seduced first I know not how many women, and made them believe they were prophets. Friar Cornelius of Dort seduced a company of silly women. What are all our Anabaptists, Brownists, Barrowists, familists, but a company of rude, illiterate, capricious, base fellows? What are most of our papists, but stupid, ignorant and blind bayards? how should they otherwise be, when as they are brought up and kept still in darkness? "If their pastors" (saith Lavater) "have done their duties, and instructed their flocks as they ought, in the principles of Christian religion, or had not forbidden them the reading of scriptures, they had not been as they are." But being so misled all their lives in superstition, and carried hoodwinked like hawks, how can they prove otherwise than blind idiots, and superstitious asses? what else shall we expect at their hands? Neither is it sufficient to keep them blind, and in Cimmerian darkness, but withal, as a schoolmaster doth by his boys, to make them follow their books, sometimes by good hope, promises and encouragements, but most of all by fear, strict discipline, severity, threats and punishment, do they collogue and soothe up their silly auditors, and so bring them into a fools' paradise. Rex eris aiunt, si recte facies, do well, thou shalt be crowned; but for the most part by threats, terrors, and affrights, they tyrannise and terrify their distressed souls: knowing that fear alone is the sole and only means to keep men in obedience, according to that hemistichium of Petronius, primus in orbe deos fecit timor, the fear of some divine and supreme powers, keeps men in obedience, makes the people do their duties: they play upon their consciences; which was practised of old in Egypt by their priests; when there was an eclipse, they made the people believe God was angry, great miseries were to come; they take all opportunities of natural causes, to delude the people's senses, and with fearful tales out of purgatory, feigned apparitions, earthquakes in Japonia or China, tragical examples of devils, possessions, obsessions, false miracles, counterfeit visions, &c. They do so insult over and restrain them, never hoby so dared a larke, that they will not offend the least tradition, tread, or scarce look awry: Deus bone ( Lavater exclaims) quot hoc commentum de purgatorio misere afflixit! good God, how many men have been miserably afflicted by this fiction of purgatory!
To these advantages of hope and fear, ignorance and simplicity, he hath several engines, traps, devices, to batter and enthral, omitting no opportunities, according to men's several inclinations, abilities, to circumvent and humour them, to maintain his superstitions, sometimes to stupefy, besot them: sometimes again by oppositions, factions, to set all at odds and in an uproar; sometimes he infects one man, and makes him a principal agent; sometimes whole cities, countries. If of meaner sort, by stupidity, canonical obedience, blind zeal, &c. If of better note, by pride, ambition, popularity, vainglory. If of the clergy and more eminent, of better parts than the rest, more learned, eloquent, he puffs them up with a vain conceit of their own worth, scientia inflati, they begin to swell, and scorn all the world in respect of themselves, and thereupon turn heretics, schismatics, broach new doctrines, frame new crotchets and the like; or else out of too much learning become mad, or out of curiosity they will search into God's secrets, and eat of the forbidden fruit; or out of presumption of their holiness and good gifts, inspirations, become prophets, enthusiasts, and what not? Or else if they be displeased, discontent, and have not (as they suppose) preferment to their worth, have some disgrace, repulse, neglected, or not esteemed as they fondly value themselves, or out of emulation, they begin presently to rage and rave, cúlum terræ, miscent, they become so impatient in an instant, that a whole kingdom cannot contain them, they will set all in a combustion, all at variance, to be revenged of their adversaries. Donatus, when he saw Cecilianus preferred before him in the bishopric of Carthage, turned heretic, and so did Arian, because Alexander was advanced: we have examples at home, and too many experiments of such persons. If they be laymen of better note, the same engines of pride, ambition, emulation and jealousy, take place, they will be gods themselves: Alexander in India, after his victories, became so insolent, he would be adored for a god: and those Roman emperors came to that height of madness, they must have temples built to them, sacrifices to their deities, Divus Augustus, D. Claudius, D. Adrianus: Heliogabalus, "put out that vestal fire at Rome, expelled the virgins, and banished all other religions all over the world, and would be the sole God himself." Our Turks, China kings, great Chams, and Mogors do little less, assuming divine and bombast titles to themselves; the meaner sort are too credulous, and led with blind zeal, blind obedience, to prosecute and maintain whatsoever their sottish leaders shall propose, what they in pride and singularity, revenge, vainglory, ambition, spleen, for gain, shall rashly maintain and broach, their disciples make a matter of conscience, of hell and damnation, if they do it not, and will rather forsake wives, children, house and home, lands, goods, fortunes, life itself, than omit or abjure the least tittle of it, and to advance the common cause, undergo any miseries, turn traitors, assassins, pseudomartyrs, with full assurance and hope of reward in that other world, that they shall certainly merit by it, win heaven, be canonised for saints.
Now when they are truly possessed with blind zeal, and misled with superstition, he hath many other baits to inveigle and infatuate them farther yet, to make them quite mortified and mad, and that under colour of perfection, to merit by penance, going woolward, whipping, alms, fastings, &c. An. 1320. there was a sect of whippers in Germany, that, to the astonishment of the beholders, lashed, and cruelly tortured themselves. I could give many other instances of each particular. But these works so done are meritorious, ex opere operato, ex condigno, for themselves and others, to make them macerate and consume their bodies, specie virtutis et umbra, those evangelical counsels are propounded, as our pseudo-Catholics call them, canonical obedience, wilful poverty, vows of chastity, monkery, and a solitary life, which extend almost to all religions and superstitions, to Turks, Chinese, Gentiles, Abyssinians, Greeks, Latins, and all countries. Amongst the rest, fasting, contemplation, solitariness, are as it were certain rams by which the devil doth batter and work upon the strongest constitutions. Nonnulli (saith Peter Forestus) ob longas inedias, studia et meditationes cúlestes, de rebus sacris et religione semper agitant, by fasting overmuch, and divine meditations, are overcome. Not that fasting is a thing of itself to be discommended, for it is an excellent means to keep the body in subjection, a preparative to devotion, the physic of the soul, by which chaste thoughts are engendered, true zeal, a divine spirit, whence wholesome counsels do proceed, concupiscence is restrained, vicious and predominant lusts and humours are expelled. The fathers are very much in commendation of it, and, as Calvin notes, "sometimes immoderate. The mother of health, key of heaven, a spiritual wing to arear us, the chariot of the Holy Ghost, banner of faith," &c. And 'tis true they say of it, if it be moderately and seasonably used, by such parties as Moses, Elias, Daniel, Christ, and his apostles made use of it; but when by this means they will supererogate, and as Erasmus well taxeth, Cúlum non sufficere putant suis meritis. Heaven is too small a reward for it; they make choice of times and meats, buy and sell their merits, attribute more to them than to the ten Commandments, and count it a greater sin to eat meat in Lent, than to kill a man, and as one sayeth, Plus respiciunt assum piscem, quam Christum crucifixum, plus salmonem quam Solomonem, quibus in ore Christus, Epicurus in corde, "pay more respect to a broiled fish than to Christ crucified, more regard to salmon than to Solomon, have Christ on their lips, but Epicurus in their hearts," when some counterfeit, and some attribute more to such works of theirs than to Christ's death and passion; the devil sets in a foot, strangely deludes them, and by that means makes them to overthrow the temperature of their bodies, and hazard their souls. Never any strange illusions of devils amongst hermits, anchorites, never any visions, phantasms, apparitions, enthusiasms, prophets, any revelations, but immoderate fasting, bad diet, sickness, melancholy, solitariness, or some such things, were the precedent causes, the forerunners or concomitants of them. The best opportunity and sole occasion the devil takes to delude them. Marcilius Cognatus, lib. 1. cont. cap. 7. hath many stories to this purpose, of such as after long fasting have been seduced by devils; and "'tis a miraculous thing to relate" (as Cardan writes) "what strange accidents proceed from fasting; dreams, superstition, contempt of torments, desire of death, prophecies, paradoxes, madness; fasting naturally prepares men to these things." Monks, anchorites, and the like, after much emptiness, become melancholy, vertiginous, they think they hear strange noises, confer with hobgoblins, devils, rivel up their bodies, et dum hostem insequimur, saith Gregory, civem quem diligimus, trucidamus, they become bare skeletons, skin and bones; Carnibus abstinentes proprias carnes devorant, ut nil præter cutem et ossa sit reliquum. Hilarion, as Hierome reports in his life, and Athanasius of Antonius, was so bare with fasting, "that the skin did scarce stick to the bones; for want of vapours he could not sleep, and for want of sleep became idleheaded, heard every night infants cry, oxen low, wolves howl, lions roar" (as he thought) , "clattering of chains, strange voices, and the like illusions of devils." Such symptoms are common to those that fast long, are solitary, given to contemplation, overmuch solitariness and meditation. Not that these things (as I said of fasting) are to be discommended of themselves, but very behoveful in some cases and good: sobriety and contemplation join our souls to God, as that heathen Porphyry can tell us. "Ecstasy is a taste of future happiness, by which we are united unto God, a divine melancholy, a spiritual wing," Bonaventure terms it, to lift us up to heaven; but as it is abused, a mere dotage, madness, a cause and symptom of religious melancholy. "If you shall at any time see" (saith Guianerius) "a religious person over-superstitious, too solitary, or much given to fasting, that man will certainly be melancholy, thou mayst boldly say it, he will be so." P. Forestus hath almost the same words, and Cardan subtil, lib. 18. et cap. 40. lib. 8. de rerum varietate, "solitariness, fasting, and that melancholy humour, are the causes of all hermits' illusions." Lavater, de spect. cap. 19. part. 1. and part. 1. cap. 10. puts solitariness a main cause of such spectrums and apparitions; none, saith he, so melancholy as monks and hermits, the devil's hath melancholy; "none so subject to visions and dotage in this kind, as such as live solitary lives, they hear and act strange things in their dotage." Polydore Virgil, lib. 2. prodigiis, "holds that those prophecies and monks' revelations? nuns, dreams, which they suppose come from God, to proceed wholly ab instinctu dæmonum, by the devil's means;" and so those enthusiasts, Anabaptists, pseudoprophets from the same cause. Fracastorius, lib. 2. de intellect, will have all your pythonesses, sibyls, and pseudoprophets to be mere melancholy, so doth Wierus prove, lib. 1. cap. 8. et l. 3. cap. 7. and Arculanus in 9 Rhasis, that melancholy is a sole cause, and the devil together, with fasting and solitariness, of such sibylline prophecies, if there were ever such, which with Casaubon and others I justly except at; for it is not likely that the Spirit of God should ever reveal such manifest revelations and predictions of Christ, to those Pythonissæ witches, Apollo's priests, the devil's ministers, (they were no better) and conceal them from his own prophets; for these sibyls set down all particular circumstances of Christ's coming, and many other future accidents far more perspicuous and plain than ever any prophet did. But, howsoever, there be no Phæbades or sibyls, I am assured there be other enthusiasts, prophets, dii Fatidici, Magi, (of which read Jo. Boissardus, who hath laboriously collected them into a great volume of late, with elegant pictures, and epitomised their lives) &c., ever have been in all ages, and still proceeding from those causes, qui visiones suas enarrant, somniant futura, prophetisant, et ejusmodi deliriis agitati, Spiritum Sanctum sibi communicari putant. That which is written of Saint Francis' five wounds, and other such monastical effects, of him and others, may justly be referred to this our melancholy; and that which Matthew Paris relates of the monk of Evesham, who saw heaven and hell in a vision; of Sir Owen, that went down into Saint Patrick's purgatory in King Stephen's days, and saw as much; Walsingham of him that showed as much by Saint Julian. Beda, lib. 5. cap. 13. 14. 15. et 20. reports of King Sebba, lib. 4. cap. 11. eccles. hist. that saw strange visions; and Stumphius Helvet Cornic, a cobbler of Basle, that beheld rare apparitions at Augsburg, in Germany. Alexander ab Alexandro, gen. dier. lib. 6. cap. 21. of an enthusiastical prisoner, (all out as probable as that of Eris Armenius, in Plato's tenth dialogue de Repub. that revived again ten days after he was killed in a battle, and told strange wonders, like those tales Ulysses related to Alcinous in Homer, or Lucian's vera historia itself) was still after much solitariness, fasting, or long sickness, when their brains were addled, and their bellies as empty of meat as their heads of wit. Florilegus hath many such examples, fol. 191. one of Saint Gultlake of Crowald that fought with devils, but still after long fasting, overmuch solitariness, the devil persuaded him therefore to fast, as Moses and Elias did, the better to delude him. In the same author is recorded Carolus Magnus vision an. 185. or ecstasies, wherein he saw heaven and hell after much fasting and meditation. So did the devil of old with Apollo's priests. Amphiaraus and his fellows, those Egyptians, still enjoin long fasting before he would give any oracles, triduum a cibo et vino abstinerent, before they gave any answers, as Volateran lib. 13. cap. 4. records, and Strabo Geog. lib. 14. describes Charon's den, in the way between Tralles and Nissum, whither the priests led sick and fanatic men: but nothing performed without long fasting, no good to be done. That scoffing Lucian conducts his Menippus to hell by the directions of that Chaldean Mithrobarzanes, but after long fasting, and such like idle preparation. Which the Jesuits right well perceiving of what force this fasting and solitary meditation is, to alter men's minds, when they would make a man mad, ravish him, improve him beyond himself, to undertake some great business of moment, to kill a king, or the like, they bring him into a melancholy dark chamber, where he shall see no light for many days together, no company, little meat, ghastly pictures of devils all about him, and leave him to lie as he will himself, on the bare floor in this chamber of meditation, as they call it, on his back, side, belly, till by this strange usage they make him quite mad and beside himself. And then after some ten days, as they find him animated and resolved, they make use of him. The devil hath many such factors, many such engines, which what effect they produce, you shall hear in the following symptoms.