Fleat Heraclitus, an rideat Democritus? in attempting to speak of these symptoms, shall I laugh with Democritus, or weep with Heraclitus? they are so ridiculous and absurd on the one side, so lamentable and tragical on the other: a mixed scene offers itself, so full of errors and a promiscuous variety of objects, that I know not in what strain to represent it. When I think of the Turkish paradise, those Jewish fables, and pontifical rites, those pagan superstitions, their sacrifices, and ceremonies, as to make images of all matter, and adore them when they have done, to see them, kiss the pyx, creep to the cross, &c. I cannot choose but laugh with Democritus: but when I see them whip and torture themselves, grind their souls for toys and trifles, desperate, and now ready to die, I cannot but weep with Heraclitus. When I see a priest say mass, with all those apish gestures, murmurings, &c. read the customs of the Jews' synagogue, or Mahometa Meschites, I must needs laugh at their folly, risum teneatis amici? but when I see them make matters of conscience of such toys and trifles, to adore the devil, to endanger their souls, to offer their children to their idols, &c. I must needs condole their misery. When I see two superstitious orders contend pro aris et focis, with such have and hold, de lana, caprina, some write such great volumes to no purpose, take so much pains to so small effect, their satires, invectives, apologies, dull and gross fictions; when I see grave learned men rail and scold like butter-women, methinks 'tis pretty sport, and fit for Calphurnius and Democritus to laugh at. But when I see so much blood spilt, so many murders and massacres, so many cruel battles fought, &c. 'tis a fitter subject for Heraclitus to lament. As Merlin when he sat by the lake side with Vortigern, and had seen the white and red dragon fight, before he began to interpret or to speak, in fletum prorupit, fell a weeping, and then proceeded to declare to the king what it meant. I should first pity and bewail this misery of human kind with some passionate preface, wishing mine eyes a fountain of tears, as Jeremiah did, and then to my task. For it is that great torture, that infernal plague of mortal men, omnium pestium pestilentissima superstitio, and able of itself alone to stand in opposition to all other plagues, miseries and calamities whatsoever; far more cruel, more pestiferous, more grievous, more general, more violent, of a greater extent. Other fears and sorrows, grievances of body and mind, are troublesome for the time; but this is for ever, eternal damnation, hell itself, a plague, a fire: an inundation hurts one province alone, and the loss may be recovered; but this superstition involves all the world almost, and can never be remedied. Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest; superstitione imbutus animus nunquam quietus esse potest, no peace, no quietness. True religion and superstition are quite opposite, longe diversa carnificina et pietas, as Lactantius describes, the one erects, the other dejects; illorum pietas, mera impietus; the one is an easy yoke, the other an intolerable burden, an absolute tyranny; the one a sure anchor, a haven; the other a tempestuous ocean; the one makes, the other mars; the one is wisdom, the other is folly, madness, indiscretion; the one unfeigned, the other a counterfeit; the one a diligent observer, the other an ape; one leads to heaven, the other to hell. But these differences will more evidently appear by their particular symptoms. What religion is, and of what parts it doth consist, every catechism will tell you, what symptoms it hath, and what effects it produceth: but for their superstitions, no tongue can tell them, no pen express, they are so many, so diverse, so uncertain, so inconstant, and so different from themselves. Tot mundi superstitiones quot cúlo stellæ, one saith, there be as many superstitions in the world, as there be stars in heaven, or devils themselves that are the first founders of them: with such ridiculous, absurd symptoms and signs, so many several rites, ceremonies, torments and vexations accompanying, as may well express and beseem the devil to be the author and maintainer of them. I will only point at some of them, ex ungue leonem guess at the rest, and those of the chief kinds of superstition, which beside us Christians now domineer and crucify the world, Gentiles, Mahometans, Jews, &c.
Of these symptoms some be general, some particular to each private sect: general to all, are, an extraordinary love and affection they bear and show to such as are of their own sect, and more than Vatinian hate to such as are opposite in religion, as they call it, or disagree from them in their superstitious rites, blind zeal, (which is as much a symptom as a cause,) vain fears, blind obedience, needless works, incredibilities, impossibilities, monstrous rites and ceremonies, wilfulness, blindness, obstinacy, &c. For the first, which is love and hate, as Montanus saith, nulla firmior amicitia quam quæ contrahitur hinc; nulla discordia major, quam quæ a religione fit; no greater concord, no greater discord than that which proceeds from religion, it is incredible to relate, did not our daily experience evince it, what factions, quam teterrimæ factiones, (as Rich. Dinoth writes) have been of late for matters of religion in France, and what hurlyburlies all over Europe for these many years. Nihil est quod tam impotentur rapiat homines, quam suscepta de salute opinio; siquidem pro ea omnes gentes corpora et animas devovere solent, et arctissimo necessitudinis vinculo se invicem colligare. We are all brethren in Christ, servants of one Lord, members of one body, and therefore are or should be at least dearly beloved, inseparably allied in the greatest bond of love and familiarity, united partakers not only of the same cross, but coadjutors, comforters, helpers, at all times, upon all occasions: as they did in the primitive church, Acts the 5. they sold their patrimonies, and laid them at the apostles' feet, and many such memorable examples of mutual love we have had under the ten general persecutions, many since. Examples on the other side of discord none like, as our Saviour saith, he came therefore into the world to set father against son, &c. In imitation of whom the devil belike ( nam superstitio irrepsit veræ religionis imitatrix, superstition is still religion's ape, as in all other things, so in this) doth so combine and glue together his superstitious followers in love and affection, that they will live and die together: and what an innate hatred hath he still inspired to any other superstition opposite? How those old Romans were affected, those ten persecutions may be a witness, and that cruel executioner in Eusebius, aut lita aut morere, sacrifice or die. No greater hate, more continuate, bitter faction, wars, persecution in all ages, than for matters of religion, no such feral opposition, father against son, mother against daughter, husband against wife, city against city, kingdom against kingdom: as of old at Tentira and Combos:
"Immortale odium, et nunquam sanabile vulnus,
Inde furor vulgo, quod numina vicinorum
Odit uterque locus, quum solos credit habendos
Esse deos quos ipse colat."--
"Immortal hate it breeds, a wound past cure,
And fury to the commons still to endure:
Because one city t' other's gods as vain
Deride, and his alone as good maintain."
The Turks at this day count no better of us than of dogs, so they commonly call us giaours, infidels, miscreants, make that their main quarrel and cause of Christian persecution. If he will turn Turk, he shall be entertained as a brother, and had in good esteem, a Mussulman or a believer, which is a greater tie to them than any affinity or consanguinity. The Jews stick together like so many burrs; but as for the rest, whom they call Gentiles, they do hate and abhor, they cannot endure their Messiah should be a common saviour to us all, and rather, as Luther writes, "than they that now scoff at them, curse them, persecute and revile them, shall be coheirs and brethren with them, or have any part or fellowship with their Messiah, they would crucify their Messiah ten times over, and God himself, his angels, and all his creatures, if it were possible, though they endure a thousand hells for it." Such is their malice towards us. Now for Papists, what in a common cause, for the advancement of their religion they will endure, our traitors and pseudo-Catholics will declare unto us; and how bitter on the other side to their adversaries, how violently bent, let those Marian times record, as those miserable slaughters at Merindol and Cabriers, the Spanish inquisition, the Duke of Alva's tyranny in the Low Countries, the French massacres and civil wars. Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. "Such wickedness did religion persuade." Not there only, but all over Europe, we read of bloody battles, racks and wheels, seditions, factions, oppositions.
Signa, pares aquilas, et pila minantia pilis,"
Invectives and contentions. They had rather shake hands with a Jew, Turk, or, as the Spaniards do, suffer Moors to live amongst them, and Jews, than Protestants; "my name" (saith Luther) "is more odious to them than any thief or murderer." So it is with all heretics and schismatics whatsoever: and none so passionate, violent in their tenets, opinions, obstinate, wilful, refractory, peevish, factious, singular and stiff in defence of them; they do not only persecute and hate, but pity all other religions, account them damned, blind, as if they alone were the true church, they are the true heirs, have the fee-simple of heaven by a peculiar donation, 'tis entailed on them and their posterities, their doctrine sound, per funem aureum de cúlo delapsa doctrinci, "let down from, heaven by a golden rope," they alone are to be saved, The Jews at this day are so incomprehensibly proud and churlish, saith Luther, that soli salvari, soli domini terrarum salutari volunt. And as Buxtorfius adds, "so ignorant and self-willed withal, that amongst their most understanding Rabbins you shall find nought but gross dotage, horrible hardness of heart, and stupendous obstinacy, in all their actions, opinions, conversations: and yet so zealous with all, that no man living can be more, and vindicate themselves for the elect people of GOD." 'Tis so with all other superstitious sects, Mahometans, Gentiles in China, and Tartary: our ignorant Papists, Anabaptists, Separatists, and peculiar churches of Amsterdam, they alone, and none but they can be saved. "Zealous" (as Paul saith, Rom. x. 2.) "without knowledge," they will endure any misery, any trouble, suffer and do that which the sunbeams will not endure to see, Religionis acti Furiis, all extremities, losses and dangers, take any pains, fast, pray, vow chastity, wilful poverty, forsake all and follow their idols, die a thousand deaths as some Jews did to Pilate's soldiers, in like case, exertos præbentes jugulos, et manifeste præ se ferentes, (as Josephus hath it) cariorem esse rita sibi legis patriæ observationem, rather than abjure, or deny the least particle of that religion which their fathers profess, and they themselves have been brought up in, be it never so absurd, ridiculous, they will embrace it, and without farther inquiry or examination of the truth, though it be prodigiously false, they will believe it; they will take much more pains to go to hell, than we shall do to heaven. Single out the most ignorant of them, convince his understanding, show him his errors, grossness, and absurdities of his sect. Non persuadebis etiamsi persuaseris, he will not be persuaded. As those pagans told the Jesuits in Japona, they would do as their forefathers have done: and with Ratholde the Frisian Prince, go to hell for company, if most of their friends went thither: they will not be moved, no persuasion, no torture can stir them. So that papists cannot brag of their vows, poverty, obedience, orders, merits, martyrdoms, fastings, alms, good works, pilgrimages: much and more than all this, I shall show you, is, and hath been done by these superstitious Gentiles, Pagans, Idolaters and Jews: their blind zeal and idolatrous superstition in all kinds is much at one; little or no difference, and it is hard to say which is the greatest, which is the grossest. For if a man shall duly consider those superstitious rites amongst the Ethnics in Japan, the Bannians in Gusart, the Chinese idolaters, Americans of old, in Mexico especially, Mahometan priests, he shall find the same government almost, the same orders and ceremonies, or so like, that they may seem all apparently to be derived from some heathen spirit, and the Roman hierarchy no better than the rest. In a word, this is common to all superstition, there is nothing so mad and absurd, so ridiculous, impossible, incredible, which they will not believe, observe, and diligently perform, as much as in them lies; nothing so monstrous to conceive, or intolerable to put in practice, so cruel to suffer, which they will not willingly undertake. So powerful a thing is superstition. "O Egypt" (as Trismegistus exclaims) "thy religion is fables, and such as posterity will not believe." I know that in true religion itself, many mysteries are so apprehended alone by faith, as that of the Trinity, which Turks especially deride, Christ's incarnation, resurrection of the body at the last day, quod ideo credendum (saith Tertullian) quod incredible, &c. many miracles not to be controverted or disputed of. Mirari non rimari sapientia vera est, saith Gerhardus; et in divinis (as a good father informs us) quædam credenda, quædam admiranda, &c. some things are to be believed, embraced, followed with all submission and obedience, some again admired. Though Julian the apostate scoff at Christians in this point, quod captivemus intellectum in obsequium fidei, saying, that the Christian creed is like the Pythagorean Ipse dixit, we make our will and understanding too slavishly subject to our faith, without farther examination of the truth; yet as Saint Gregory truly answers, our creed is altioris præstantiæ, and much more divine; and as Thomas will, pie consideranti semper suppetunt rationes, ostendentes credibilitatem in mysteriis supernaturalibus, we do absolutely believe it, and upon good reasons, for as Gregory well informeth us; Fides non habet meritum, ubi humana ratio quærit experimentum; that faith hath no merit, is not worth the name of faith, that will not apprehend without a certain demonstration: we must and will believe God's word; and if we be mistaken or err in our general belief, as Richardus de Sancto Victore, vows he will say to Christ himself at the day of judgment; "Lord, if we be deceived, thou alone hast deceived us:" thus we plead. But for the rest I will not justify that pontificial consubstantiation, that which Mahometans and Jews justly except at, as Campanella confesseth, Atheismi triumphat. cap. 12. fol. 125, difficillimum dogma esse, nec aliud subjectum magis hæreticorum blasphemiis, et stultis irrisionibus politicorum reperiri. They hold it impossible, Deum in pane manducari; and besides they scoff at it, vide gentem comedentem Deum suum, inquit quidam Maurus. Hunc Deum muscæ et vermes irrident, quum ipsum polluunt et devorant, subditus est igni, aquæ, et latrones furantur, pixidem auream humi prosternunt, et se tamen non defendit hic Deus. Qui fieri potest, ut sit integer in singulis hostiæ particulis, idem corpus numero, tam multis locis, cælo, terra, &c. But he that shall read the Turks' Alcoran, the Jews' Talmud, and papists' golden legend, in the mean time will swear that such gross fictions, fables, vain traditions, prodigious paradoxes and ceremonies, could never proceed from any other spirit, than that of the devil himself, which is the author of confusion and lies; and wonder withal how such wise men as have been of the Jews, such learned understanding men as Averroes, Avicenna, or those heathen philosophers, could ever be persuaded to believe, or to subscribe to the least part of them: aut fraudem non detegere: but that as Vanninus answers, ob publicæ, potestatis formidinem allatrare philosophi non audebant, they durst not speak for fear of the law. But I will descend to particulars: read their several symptoms and then guess.
Of such symptoms as properly belong to superstition, or that irreligious religion, I may say as of the rest, some are ridiculous, some again feral to relate. Of those ridiculous, there can be no better testimony than the multitude of their gods, those absurd names, actions, offices they put upon them, their feasts, holy days, sacrifices, adorations, and the like. The Egyptians that pretended so great antiquity, 300 kings before Amasis: and as Mela writes, 13,000 years from the beginning of their chronicles, that bragged so much of their knowledge of old, for they invented arithmetic, astronomy, geometry: of their wealth and power, that vaunted of 20,000 cities: yet at the same time their idolatry and superstition was most gross: they worshipped, as Diodorus Siculus records, sun and moon under the name of Isis and Osiris, and after, such men as were beneficial to them, or any creature that did them good. In the city of Bubasti they adored a cat, saith Herodotus. Ibis and storks, an ox: (saith Pliny) leeks and onions, Macrobius,
"Porrum et cæpe deos imponere nubibus ausi,
Hos tu Nile deos colis."--
(Prudentius. "Having proceeded to deify leeks and onions, you, oh Egypt, worship such gods.")
Scoffing Lucian in his vera Historia: which, as he confesseth himself, was not persuasively written as a truth, but in comical fashion to glance at the monstrous fictions and gross absurdities of writers and nations, to deride without doubt this prodigious Egyptian idolatry, feigns this story of himself: that when he had seen the Elysian fields, and was now coming away, Rhadamanthus gave him a mallow root, and bade him pray to that when he was in any peril or extremity; which he did accordingly; for when he came to Hydamordia in the island of treacherous women, he made his prayers to his root, and was instantly delivered. The Syrians, Chaldeans, had as many proper gods of their own invention; see the said Lucian de dea Syria. Morney cap. 22. de veritat. relig. Guliel. Stuckius Sacrorum Sacrificiorumque Gentil. descript. Peter Faber Semester, l. 3. c. 1, 2, 3. Selden de diis Syris, Purchas' pilgrimage, Rosinus of the Romans, and Lilius Giraldus of the Greeks. The Romans borrowed from all, besides their own gods, which were majorum and minorum gentium, as Varro holds, certain and uncertain; some celestial, select, and great ones, others indigenous and Semi-dei, Lares, Lemures, Dioscuri, Soteres, and Parastatæ, dii tutelares amongst the Greeks: gods of all sorts, for all functions; some for the land, some for sea; some for heaven, some for hell; some for passions, diseases, some for birth, some for weddings, husbandry, woods, waters, gardens, orchards, &c. All actions and offices, Pax-Quies, Salus, Libertas, Felicitas, Strenua, Stimula, Horta, Pan, Sylvanus, Priapus, Flora, Cloacina, Stercutius, Febris, Pallor, Invidia, Protervia, Risus, Angerona, Volupia, Vacuna, Viriplaca, Veneranda, Pales, Neptunia, Doris, kings, emperors, valiant men that had done any good offices for them, they did likewise canonise and adore for gods, and it was usually done, usitatum apud antiquos, as Jac. Boissardus well observes, deificare homines qui beneficiis mortales juvarent, and the devil was still ready to second their intents, statim se ingessit illorum sepulchris, statuis, templis, aris, &c. he crept into their temples, statues, tombs, altars, and was ready to give oracles, cure diseases, do miracles, &c. as by Jupiter, Æsculapius, Tiresias, Apollo, Mopsus, Amphiaraus, &c. dii et Semi-dii. For so they were Semi-dii, demigods, some medii inter Deos et homines, as Max. Tyrius, the Platonist, ser. 26. et 27, maintains and justifies in many words. "When a good man dies, his body is buried, but his soul, ex homine dæmon evadit, becomes forthwith a demigod, nothing disparaged with malignity of air, or variety of forms, rejoiceth, exults and sees that perfect beauty with his eyes. Now being deified, in commiseration he helps his poor friends here on earth, his kindred and allies, informs, succours, &c. punisheth those that are bad and do amiss, as a good genius to protect and govern mortal men appointed by the gods, so they will have it, ordaining some for provinces, some for private men, some for one office, some for another. Hector and Achilles assist soldiers to this day; Æsculapius all sick men, the Dioscuri seafaring men, &c. and sometimes upon occasion they show themselves. The Dioscuri, Hercules and Æsculapius, he saw himself (or the devil in his likeness) non somnians sed vigilans ipse vidi:" So far Tyrius. And not good men only do they thus adore, but tyrants, monsters, devils, (as Stuckius inveighs) Neros, Domitians, Heliogables, beastly women, and arrant whores amongst the rest. "For all intents, places, creatures, they assign gods;"
"Et domibus, tectis, thermis, et equis soleatis
Assignare solent genios"--
saith Prudentius. Cuna for cradles, Diverra for sweeping houses, Nodina knots, Prema, Pramunda, Hymen, Hymeneus, for weddings; Comus the god of good fellows, gods of silence, of comfort, Hebe goddess of youth, Mena menstruarum, &c. male and female gods, of all ages, sexes and dimensions, with beards, without beards, married, unmarried, begot, not born at all, but, as Minerva, start out of Jupiter's head. Hesiod reckons up at least 30,000 gods, Varro 300 Jupiters. As Jeremy told them, their gods were to the multitude of cities;
"Quicquid humus, pelagus, coelum miserabile gignit
Id dixere deos, colles, freta, flumina, flammas."
"Whatever heavens, sea, and land begat,
Hills, seas, and rivers, God was this and that."
And which was most absurd, they made gods upon such ridiculous occasions; "As children make babies" (so saith Morneus) , "their poets make gods," et quos adorant in templis, ludunt in Theatris, as Lactantius scoffs. Saturn, a man, gelded himself, did eat his own children, a cruel tyrant driven out of his kingdom by his son Jupiter, as good a god as himself, a wicked lascivious paltry king of Crete, of whose rapes, lusts, murders, villainies, a whole volume is too little to relate. Venus, a notorious strumpet, as common as a barber's chair, Mars, Adonis, Anchises' whore, is a great she-goddess, as well as the rest, as much renowned by their poets, with many such; and these gods so fabulously and foolishly made, ceremoniis, hymnis, et canticis celebrunt; their errors, luctus et gaudia, amores, iras, nuptias et liberorum procreationes ( as Eusebius well taxeth) , weddings, mirth and mournings, loves, angers, and quarrelling they did celebrate in hymns, and sing of in their ordinary songs, as it were publishing their villainies. But see more of their originals. When Romulus was made away by the sedition of the senators, to pacify the people, Julius Proculus gave out that Romulus was taken up by Jupiter into heaven, and therefore to be ever after adored for a god amongst the Romans. Syrophanes of Egypt had one only son, whom he dearly loved; he erected his statue in his house, which his servants did adorn with garlands, to pacify their master's wrath when he was angry, so by little and little he was adored for a god. This did Semiramis for her husband Belus, and Adrian the emperor by his minion Antinous. Flora was a rich harlot in Rome, and for that she made the commonwealth her heir, her birthday was solemnised long after; and to make it a more plausible holiday, they made her goddess of flowers, and sacrificed to her amongst the rest. The matrons of Rome, as Dionysius Halicarnassæus relates, because at their entreaty Coriolanus desisted from his wars, consecrated a church Fortunes muliebri; and Venus Barbata had a temple erected, for that somewhat was amiss about hair, and so the rest. The citizens of Alabanda, a small town in Asia Minor, to curry favour with the Romans (who then warred in Greece with Perseus of Macedon, and were formidable to these parts) , consecrated a temple to the City of Rome, and made her a goddess, with annual games and sacrifices; so a town of houses was deified, with shameful flattery of the one side to give, and intolerable arrogance on the other to accept, upon so vile and absurd an occasion. Tully writes to Atticus, that his daughter Tulliola might be made a goddess, and adored as Juno and Minerva, and as well she deserved it. Their holy days and adorations were all out as ridiculous; those Lupercals of Pan, Florales of Flora, Bona dea, Anna Perenna, Saturnals, &c., as how they were celebrated, with what lascivious and wanton gestures, bald ceremonies, by what bawdy priests, how they hang their noses over the smoke of sacrifices, saith Lucian, and lick blood like flies that was spilled about the altars. Their carved idols, gilt images of wood, iron, ivory, silver, brass, stone, olim truncus eram, &c., were most absurd, as being their own workmanship; for as Seneca notes, adorant ligneos deos, et fabros interim qui fecerunt, contemnunt, they adore work, contemn the workman; and as Tertullian follows it, Si homines non essent diis propitii, non essent dii, had it not been for men, they had never been gods, but blocks, and stupid statues in which mice, swallows, birds make their nests, spiders their webs, and in their very mouths laid their excrements. Those images, I say, were all out as gross as the shapes in which they did represent them: Jupiter with a ram's head, Mercury a dog's, Pan like a goat, Heccate with three heads, one with a beard, another without; see more in Carterius and Verdurius of their monstrous forms and ugly pictures: and, which was absurder yet, they told them these images came from heaven, as that of Minerva in her temple at Athens, quod e cúlo cecidisse credebant accolæ, saith Pausanias. They formed some like storks, apes, bulls, and yet seriously believed: and that which was impious and abominable, they made their gods notorious whoremasters, incestuous Sodomites (as commonly they were all, as well as Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Mercury, Neptune, &c.) , thieves, slaves, drudges (for Apollo and Neptune made tiles in Phrygia) , kept sheep, Hercules emptied stables, Vulcan a blacksmith, unfit to dwell upon the earth for their villainies, much less in heaven, as Mornay well saith, and yet they gave them out to be such; so weak and brutish, some to whine, lament, and roar, as Isis for her son and Cenocephalus, as also all her weeping priests; Mars in Homer to be wounded, vexed; Venus ran away crying, and the like; than which what can be more ridiculous? Nonne ridiculum lugere quod colas, vel colere quod lugeas? (which Minutius objects) Si dii, cur plangitis? si mortui, cur adoratis? that it is no marvel if Lucian, that adamantine persecutor of superstition, and Pliny could so scoff at them and their horrible idolatry as they did; if Diagoras took Hercules' image, and put it under his pot to seethe his pottage, which was, as he said, his 13th labour. But see more of their fopperies in Cypr. 4. tract, de Idol. varietat. Chrysostom advers. Gentil. Arnobius adv. Gentes. Austin, de civ. dei. Theodoret. de curat. Græc. affect. Clemens Alexandrinus, Minutius Felix, Eusebius, Lactantius, Stuckius, &c. Lamentable, tragical, and fearful those symptoms are, that they should be so far forth affrighted with their fictitious gods, as to spend the goods, lives, fortunes, precious time, best days in their honour, to sacrifice unto them, to their inestimable loss, such hecatombs, so many thousand sheep, oxen with gilded horns, goats, as Croesus, king of Lydia, Marcus Julianus, surnamed ob crebras hostias Victimarius, et Tauricremus, and the rest of the Roman emperors usually did with such labour and cost; and not emperors only and great ones, pro communi bono, were at this charge, but private men for their ordinary occasions. Pythagoras offered a hundred oxen for the invention of a geometrical problem, and it was an ordinary thing to sacrifice in Lucian's time, "a heifer for their good health, four oxen for wealth, a hundred for a kingdom, nine bulls for their safe return from Troja to Pylus," &c. Every god almost had a peculiar sacrifice--the Sun horses, Vulcan fire, Diana a white hart, Venus a turtle, Ceres a hog, Proserpine a black lamb, Neptune a bull (read more in Stuckius at large) , besides sheep, cocks, corals, frankincense, to their undoings, as if their gods were affected with blood or smoke. "And surely" ( saith he) "if one should but repeat the fopperies of mortal men, in their sacrifices, feasts, worshipping their gods, their rites and ceremonies, what they think of them, of their diet, houses, orders, &c., what prayers and vows they make; if one should but observe their absurdity and madness, he would burst out a laughing, and pity their folly." For what can be more absurd than their ordinary prayers, petitions, requests, sacrifices, oracles, devotions? of which we have a taste in Maximus Tyrius, serm. 1. Plato's Alcibiades Secundus, Persius Sat. 2. Juvenal. Sat. 10. there likewise exploded, Mactant opimas et pingues hostias deo quasi esurienti, profundunt vina tanquam sitienti, lumina accendunt velut in tenebris agenti (Lactantius, lib. 2. cap. 6) . As if their gods were hungry, athirst, in the dark, they light candles, offer meat and drink. And what so base as to reveal their counsels and give oracles, e viscerum sterquiliniis, out of the bowels and excremental parts of beasts? sordidos deos Varro truly calls them therefore, and well he might. I say nothing of their magnificent and sumptuous temples, those majestical structures: to the roof of Apollo Didymeus' temple, ad branchidas, as Strabo writes, a thousand oaks did not suffice. Who can relate the glorious splendour, and stupend magnificence, the sumptuous building of Diana at Ephesus, Jupiter Ammon's temple in Africa, the Pantheon at Rome, the Capitol, the Sarapium at Alexandria, Apollo's temple at Daphne in the suburbs of Antioch. The great temple at Mexico so richly adorned, and so capacious (for 10,000 men might stand in it at once) , that fair Pantheon of Cusco, described by Acosta in his Indian History, which eclipses both Jews and Christians. There were in old Jerusalem, as some write, 408 synagogues; but new Cairo reckons up (if Radzivilus may be believed) 6800 mosques; Fez 400, whereof 50 are most magnificent, like St. Paul's in London. Helena built 300 fair churches in the Holy Land, but one Bassa hath built 400 mosques. The Mahometans have 1000 monks in a monastery; the like saith Acosta of Americans; Riccius of the Chinese, for men and women, fairly built; and more richly endowed some of them, than Arras in Artois, Fulda in Germany, or St. Edmund's-Bury in England with us: who can describe those curious and costly statues, idols, images, so frequently mentioned in Pausanias? I conceal their donaries, pendants, other offerings, presents, to these their fictitious gods daily consecrated. Alexander, the son of Amyntas, king of Macedonia, sent two statues of pure gold to Apollo at Delphos. Croesus, king of Lydia dedicated a hundred golden tiles in the same place with a golden altar: no man came empty-handed to their shrines. But these are base offerings in respect; they offered men themselves alive. The Leucadians, as Strabo writes, sacrificed every year a man, averruncandæ, deorum iræ, causa, to pacify their gods, de montis præcipitio dejecerent, &c. and they did voluntarily undergo it. The Decii did so sacrifice, Diis manibus; Curtius did leap into the gulf. Were they not all strangely deluded to go so far to their oracles, to be so gulled by them, both in war and peace, as Polybius relates (which their argurs, priests, vestal virgins can witness) , to be so superstitious, that they would rather lose goods and lives than omit any ceremonies, or offend their heathen gods? Nicias, that generous and valiant captain of the Greeks, overthrew the Athenian navy, by reason of his too much superstition, because the augurs told him it was ominous to set sail from the haven of Syracuse whilst the moon was eclipsed; he tarried so long till his enemies besieged him, he and all his army were overthrown. The Parthians of old were so sottish in this kind, they would rather lose a victory, nay lose their own lives, than fight in the night, 'twas against their religion. The Jews would make no resistance on the Sabbath, when Pompeius besieged Jerusalem; and some Jewish Christians in Africa, set upon by the Goths, suffered themselves upon the same occasion to be utterly vanquished. The superstition of the Dibrenses, a bordering town in Epirus, besieged by the Turks, is miraculous almost to report. Because a dead dog was flung into the only fountain which the city had, they would die of thirst all, rather than drink of that unclean water, and yield up the city upon any conditions. Though the prætor and chief citizens began to drink first, using all good persuasions, their superstition was such, no saying would serve, they must all forthwith die or yield up the city. Vix ausum ipse credere (saith Barletius) tantam superstitionem, vel affirmare levissimam hanc causam tantæ rei vel magis ridiculam, quum non dubitem risum potius quum admirationem posteris excitaturam. The story was too ridiculous, he was ashamed to report it, because he thought nobody would believe it. It is stupend to relate what strange effects this idolatry and superstition hath brought forth of the latter years in the Indies and those bordering parts: in what feral shapes the devil is adored, ne quid mali intentent, as they say; for in the mountains betwixt Scanderoon and Aleppo, at this day, there are dwelling a certain kind of people called Coords, coming of the race of the ancient Parthians, who worship the devil, and allege this reason in so doing: God is a good man and will do no harm, but the devil is bad and must be pleased, lest he hurt them. It is wonderful to tell how the devil deludes them, how he terrifies them, how they offer men and women sacrifices unto him, a hundred at once, as they did infants in Crete to Saturn of old, the finest children, like Agamemnon's Iphigenia, &c. At Mexico, when the Spaniards first overcame them, they daily sacrificed viva hominum corda e viventium corporibus extracta, the hearts of men yet living, 20,000 in a year (Acosta lib. 5. cap. 20) to their idols made of flour and men's blood, and every year 6000 infants of both sexes: and as prodigious to relate, how they bury their wives with husbands deceased, 'tis fearful to report, and harder to believe,
"Nam certamen habent læthi quæ viva sequatur
Conjugium, pudor, est non licuisse mori,"
(Propertius lib. 3. eleg. 12. "There is a contest amongst the living wives as to which shall follow the husband, and not be allowed to die for him is accounted a disgrace.")
and burn them alive, best goods, servants, horses, when a grandee dies, twelve thousand at once amongst the Tartar', when a great Cham departs, or an emperor in America: how they plague themselves, which abstain from all that hath life, like those old Pythagoreans, with immoderate fastings, as the Bannians about Surat, they of China, that for superstition's sake never eat flesh nor fish all their lives, never marry, but live in deserts and by-places, and some pray to their idols twenty-four hours together without any intermission, biting of their tongues when they have done, for devotion's sake. Some again are brought to that madness by their superstitious priests (that tell them such vain stories of immortality, and the joys of heaven in that other life) , that many thousands voluntarily break their own necks, as Cleombrotus Amborciatus, auditors of old, precipitate themselves, that they may participate of that unspeakable happiness in the other world. One poisons, another strangles himself, and the King of China had done as much, deluded with the vain hope, had he not been detained by his servant. But who can sufficiently tell of their several superstitions, vexations, follies, torments? I may conclude with Possevinus, Religifacit asperos mites, homines e feris; superstitio ex hominibus feras, religion makes wild beasts civil, superstition makes wise men beasts and fools; and the discreetest that are, if they give way to it, are no better than dizzards; nay more, if that of Plotinus be true, is unus religionis scopus, ut ei quem colimus similes fiamus, that is the drift of religion to make us like him whom we worship: what shall be the end of idolaters, but to degenerate into stocks and stones? of such as worship these heathen gods, for dii gentium dæmonia, but to become devils themselves? 'Tis therefore exitiosus error, et maxime periculosus, a most perilous and dangerous error of all others, as Plutarch holds, turbulenta passio hominem consternans, a pestilent, a troublesome passion, that utterly undoeth men. Unhappy superstition, Pliny calls it, morte non finitur, death takes away life, but not superstition. Impious and ignorant are far more happy than they which are superstitious, no torture like to it, none so continuate, so general, so destructive, so violent.
In this superstitious row, Jews for antiquity may go next to Gentiles: what of old they have done, what idolatries they have committed in their groves and high places, what their Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Essei, and such sectaries have maintained, I will not so much as mention: for the present, I presume no nation under heaven can be more sottish, ignorant, blind, superstitious, wilful, obstinate, and peevish, tiring themselves with vain ceremonies to no purpose; he that shall but read their Rabbins' ridiculous comments, their strange interpretation of scriptures, their absurd ceremonies, fables, childish tales, which they steadfastly believe, will think they be scarce rational creatures; their foolish customs, when they rise in the morning, and how they prepare themselves to prayer, to meat, with what superstitious washings, how to their Sabbath, to their other feasts, weddings, burials, &c. Last of all, the expectation of their Messiah, and those figments, miracles, vain pomp that shall attend him, as how he shall terrify the Gentiles, and overcome them by new diseases; how Michael the archangel shall sound his trumpet, how he shall gather all the scattered Jews in the Holy Land, and there make them a great banquet, "Wherein shall be all the birds, beasts, fishes, that ever God made, a cup of wine that grew in Paradise, and that hath been kept in Adam's cellar ever since." At the first course shall be served in that great ox in Job iv. 10., "that every day feeds on a thousand hills," Psal. 1. 10., that great Leviathan, and a great bird, that laid an egg so big, "that by chance tumbling out of the nest, it knocked down three hundred tall cedars, and breaking as it fell, drowned one hundred and sixty villages:" this bird stood up to the knees in the sea, and the sea was so deep, that a hatchet would not fall to the bottom in seven years: of their Messiah's wives and children; Adam and Eve, &c., and that one stupend fiction amongst the rest: when a Roman prince asked of rabbi Jehosua ben Hanania, why the Jews' God was compared to a lion; he made answer, he compared himself to no ordinary lion, but to one in the wood Ela, which, when he desired to see, the rabbin prayed to God he might, and forthwith the lion set forward. "But when he was four hundred miles from Rome he so roared that all the great-bellied women in Rome made abortions, the city walls fell down, and when he came a hundred miles nearer, and roared the second time, their teeth fell out of their heads, the emperor himself fell down dead, and so the lion went back." With an infinite number of such lies and forgeries, which they verily believe, feed themselves with vain hope, and in the mean time will by no persuasions be diverted, but still crucify their souls with a company of idle ceremonies, live like slaves and vagabonds, will not be relieved or reconciled.
Mahometans are a compound of Gentiles, Jews, and Christians, and so absurd in their ceremonies, as if they had taken that which is most sottish out of every one of them, full of idle fables in their superstitious law, their Alcoran itself a gallimaufry of lies, tales, ceremonies, traditions, precepts, stolen from other sects, and confusedly heaped up to delude a company of rude and barbarous clowns. As how birds, beasts, stones, saluted Mahomet when he came from Mecca, the moon came down from heaven to visit him, how God sent for him, spake to him, &c., with a company of stupend figments of the angels, sun, moon, and stars, &c. Of the day of judgment, and three sounds to prepare to it, which must last fifty thousand years of Paradise, which wholly consists in cúundi et comedendi voluptate, and pecorinis hominibus scriptum, bestialis beatitudo, is so ridiculous, that Virgil, Dante, Lucian, nor any poet can be more fabulous. Their rites and ceremonies are most vain and superstitious, wine and swine's flesh are utterly forbidden by their law, they must pray five times a day; and still towards the south, wash before and after all their bodies over, with many such. For fasting, vows, religious orders, peregrinations, they go far beyond any papists, they fast a month together many times, and must not eat a bit till sun be set. Their kalendars, dervises, and torlachers, &c. are more abstemious some of them, than Carthusians, Franciscans, Anchorites, forsake all, live solitary, fare hard, go naked, &c. Their pilgrimages are as far as to the river Ganges (which the Gentiles of those tracts likewise do) , to wash themselves, for that river as they hold hath a sovereign virtue to purge them of all sins, and no man can be saved that hath not been washed in it. For which reason they come far and near from the Indies; Maximus gentium omnium confluxus est; and infinite numbers yearly resort to it. Others go as far as Mecca to Mahomet's tomb, which journey is both miraculous and meritorious. The ceremonies of flinging stones to stone the devil, of eating a camel at Cairo by the way; their fastings, their running till they sweat, their long prayers, Mahomet's temple, tomb, and building of it, would ask a whole volume to dilate: and for their pains taken in this holy pilgrimage, all their sins are forgiven, and they reputed for so many saints. And diverse of them with hot bricks, when they return, will put out their eyes, "that they never after see any profane thing, bite out their tongues," &c. They look for their prophet Mahomet as Jews do for their Messiah. Read more of their customs, rites, ceremonies, in Lonicerus Turcic. hist. tom. 1. from the tenth to the twenty-fourth chapter. Bredenbachius, cap. 4, 5, 6. Leo Afer, lib. 1. Busbequius Sabellicus, Purchas, lib. 3. cap. 3, et 4, 5. Theodorus Bibliander, &c. Many foolish ceremonies you shall find in them; and which is most to be lamented, the people are generally so curious in observing of them, that if the least circumstance be omitted, they think they shall be damned, 'tis an irremissible offence, and can hardly be forgiven. I kept in my house amongst my followers (saith Busbequius, sometime the Turk's orator in Constantinople) a Turkey boy, that by chance did eat shellfish, a meat forbidden by their law, but the next day when he knew what he had done, he was not only sick to cast and vomit, but very much troubled in mind, would weep and grieve many days after, torment himself for his foul offence. Another Turk being to drink a cup of wine in his cellar, first made a huge noise and filthy faces, "to warn his soul, as he said, that it should not be guilty of that foul fact which he was to commit." With such toys as these are men kept in awe, and so cowed, that they dare not resist, or offend the least circumstance of their law, for conscience' sake misled by superstition, which no human edict otherwise, no force of arms, could have enforced.
In the last place are pseudo-Christians, in describing of whose superstitious symptoms, as a mixture of the rest, I may say that which St. Benedict once saw in a vision, one devil in the marketplace, but ten in a monastery, because there was more work; in populous cities they would swear and forswear, lie, falsify, deceive fast enough of themselves, one devil could circumvent a thousand; but in their religious houses a thousand devils could scarce tempt one silly monk. All the principal devils, I think, busy themselves in subverting Christians; Jews, Gentiles, and Mahometans, are extra caulem, out of the fold, and need no such attendance, they make no resistance, eos enim pulsare negligit, quos quieto jure possidere se sentit, they are his own already: but Christians have that shield of faith, sword of the Spirit to resist, and must have a great deal of battery before they can be overcome. That the devil is most busy amongst us that are of the true church, appears by those several oppositions, heresies, schisms, which in all ages he hath raised to subvert it, and in that of Rome especially, wherein Antichrist himself now sits and plays his prize. This mystery of iniquity began to work even in the Apostles' time, many Antichrists and heretics were abroad, many sprung up since, many now present, and will be to the world's end, to dementate men's minds, to seduce and captivate their souls. Their symptoms I know not how better to express, than in that twofold division, of such as lead, and are led. Such as lead are heretics, schismatics, false prophets, impostors, and their ministers: they have some common symptoms, some peculiar. Common, as madness, folly, pride, insolency, arrogancy, singularity, peevishness, obstinacy, impudence, scorn and contempt of all other sects: Nullius addicti jurare in verba magistri; they will approve of nought but what they first invent themselves, no interpretation good but what their infallible spirit dictates: none shall be in secundis, no not in tertiis, they are only wise, only learned in the truth, all damned but they and their followers, cædem scripturarum faciunt ad materiam suam, saith Tertullian, they make a slaughter of Scriptures, and turn it as a nose of wax to their own ends. So irrefragable, in the mean time, that what they have once said, they must and will maintain, in whole tomes, duplications, triplications, never yield to death, so self-conceited, say what you can. As Bernard (erroneously some say) speaks of P. Aliardus, omnes patres sic, atque ego sic. Though all the Fathers, Councils, the whole world contradict it, they care not, they are all one: and as Gregory well notes "of such as are vertiginous, they think all turns round and moves, all err: when as the error is wholly in their own brains." Magallianus, the Jesuit, in his Comment on 1 Tim. xvi. 20, and Alphonsus de castro lib. 1. adversus hæreses, gives two more eminent notes or probable conjectures to know such men by, (they might have taken themselves by the noses when they said it) "First they affect novelties and toys, and prefer falsehood before truth; secondly, they care not what they say, that which rashness and folly hath brought out, pride afterward, peevishness and contumacy shall maintain to the last gasp." Peculiar symptoms are prodigious paradoxes, new doctrines, vain phantasms, which are many and diverse as they themselves. Nicholaites of old, would have wives in common: Montanists will not marry at all, nor Tatians, forbidding all flesh, Severians wine; Adamians go naked, because Adam did so in Paradise; and some barefoot all their lives, because God, Exod. iii. and Joshua v. bid Moses so to do; and Isaiah xx. was bid put off his shoes; Manichees hold that Pythagorean transmigration of souls from men to beasts; "the Circumcellions in Africa, with a mad cruelty made away themselves, some by fire, water, breaking their necks, and seduced others to do the like, threatening some if they did not," with a thousand such; as you may read in Austin (for there were fourscore and eleven heresies in his times, besides schisms and smaller factions) Epiphanius, Alphonsus de Castro, Danæus, Gab, Prateolus, &c. Of prophets, enthusiasts and impostors, our Ecclesiastical stories afford many examples; of Elias and Christs, as our Eudo de stellis, a Briton in King Stephen's time, that went invisible, translated himself from one to another in a moment, fed thousands with good cheer in the wilderness, and many such; nothing so common as miracles, visions, revelations, prophecies. Now what these brain-sick heretics once broach, and impostors set on foot, be it never so absurd, false, and prodigious, the common people will follow and believe. It will run along like murrain in cattle, scab in sheep. Nulla scabies, as he said, superstitione scabiosior; as he that is bitten with a mad dog bites others, and all in the end become mad; either out of affection of novelty, simplicity, blind zeal, hope and fear, the giddy-headed multitude will embrace it, and without further examination approve it.
Sed vetera querimur, these are old, hæc prius fuere. In our days we have a new scene of superstitious impostors and heretics. A new company of actors, of Antichrists, that great Antichrist himself: a rope of hopes, that by their greatness and authority bear down all before them: who from that time they proclaimed themselves universal bishops, to establish their own kingdom, sovereignty, greatness, and to enrich themselves, brought in such a company of human traditions, purgatory, Limbus Patrum, Infantum, and all that subterranean geography, mass, adoration of saints, alms, fastings, bulls, indulgences, orders, friars, images, shrines, musty relics, excommunications, confessions, satisfactions, blind obediences, vows, pilgrimages, peregrinations, with many such curious toys, intricate subtleties, gross errors, obscure questions, to vindicate the better and set a gloss upon them, that the light of the Gospel was quite eclipsed, darkness over all, the Scriptures concealed, legends brought in, religion banished, hypocritical superstition exalted, and the Church itself obscured and persecuted: Christ and his members crucified more, saith Benzo, by a few necromantical, atheistical popes, than ever it was by Julian the Apostate, Porphyrius the Platonist, Celsus the physician, Libanius the Sophister; by those heathen emperors, Huns, Goths, and Vandals. What each of them did, by what means, at what times, quibus auxiliis, superstition climbed to this height, tradition increased, and Antichrist himself came to his estate, let Magdeburgenses, Kemnisius, Osiander, Bale, Mornay, Fox, Usher, and many others relate. In the mean time, he that shall but see their profane rites and foolish customs, how superstitiously kept, how strictly observed, their multitude of saints, images, that rabble of Romish deities, for trades, professions, diseases, persons, offices, countries, places; St. George for England; St. Denis for France, Patrick, Ireland; Andrew, Scotland; Jago, Spain; &c. Gregory for students; Luke for painters; Cosmus and Damian for philosophers; Crispin, shoemakers; Katherine, spinners; &c. Anthony for pigs; Gallus, geese; Wenceslaus, sheep; Pelagius, oxen; Sebastian, the plague; Valentine, falling sickness; Apollonia, toothache; Petronella for agues; and the Virgin Mary for sea and land, for all parties, offices: he that shall observe these things, their shrines, images, oblations, pendants, adorations, pilgrimages they make to them, what creeping to crosses, our Lady of Loretto's rich gowns, her donaries, the cost bestowed on images, and number of suitors; St. Nicholas Burge in France; our St. Thomas's shrine of old at Canterbury; those relics at Rome, Jerusalem, Genoa, Lyons, Pratum, St. Denis; and how many thousands come yearly to offer to them, with what cost, trouble, anxiety, superstition (for forty several masses are daily said in some of their churches, and they rise at all hours of the night to mass, come barefoot, &c.) , how they spend themselves, times, goods, lives, fortunes, in such ridiculous observations; their tales and figments, false miracles, buying and selling of pardons, indulgences for 40,000 years to come, their processions on set days, their strict fastings, monks, anchorites, friar mendicants, Franciscans, Carthusians, &c. Their vigils and fasts, their ceremonies at Christmas, Shrovetide, Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Blaise, St. Martin, St. Nicholas' day; their adorations, exorcisms, &c., will think all those Grecian, Pagan, Mahometan superstitions, gods, idols, and ceremonies, the name, time and place, habit only altered, to have degenerated into Christians. Whilst they prefer traditions before Scriptures; those Evangelical Councils, poverty, obedience, vows, alms, fasting, supererogations, before God's Commandments; their own ordinances instead of his precepts, and keep them in ignorance, blindness, they have brought the common people into such a case by their cunning conveyances, strict discipline, and servile education, that upon pain of damnation they dare not break the least ceremony, tradition, edict; hold it a greater sin to eat a bit of meat in Lent, than kill a man: their consciences are so terrified, that they are ready to despair if a small ceremony be omitted; and will accuse their own father, mother, brother, sister, nearest and dearest friends of heresy, if they do not as they do, will be their chief executioners, and help first to bring a faggot to burn them. What mulct, what penance soever is enjoined, they dare not but do it, tumble with St. Francis in the mire amongst hogs, if they be appointed, go woolward, whip themselves, build hospitals, abbeys, &c., go to the East or West Indies, kill a king, or run upon a sword point: they perform all, without any muttering or hesitation, believe all.
"Ut pueri infantes credunt signa omnia ahena
Vivere, et esse homines, et sic isti omnia ficta
Vera putant, credunt signis cor inesse ahenis."
"As children think their babies live to be,
Do they these brazen images they see."
And whilst the ruder sort are so carried headlong with blind zeal, are so gulled and tortured by their superstitions, their own too credulous simplicity and ignorance, their epicurean popes and hypocritical cardinals laugh in their sleeves, and are merry in their chambers with their punks, they do indulgere genio, and make much of themselves. The middle sort, some for private gain, hope of ecclesiastical preferment, (quis expedivit psittaco suum [Greek: chaire]) popularity, base flattery, must and will believe all their paradoxes and absurd tenets, without exception, and as obstinately maintain and put in practice all their traditions and idolatrous ceremonies (for their religion is half a trade) to the death; they will defend all, the golden legend itself, with all the lies and tales in it: as that of St. George, St. Christopher, St. Winifred, St. Denis, &c. It is a wonder to see how Nic. Harpsfield, that Pharisaical impostor, amongst the rest, Ecclesiast. Hist. cap. 22. sæc prim, sex., puzzles himself to vindicate that ridiculous fable of St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins, as when they live, how they came to Cologne, by whom martyred, &c., though he can say nothing for it, yet he must and will approve it: nobilitavit (inquit) hoc sæculum Ursula cum comitibus, cujus historia utinam tam mihi esset expedita et certa, quam in animo meo certum ac expeditum est, eam esse cum sodalibus beatam in cúlis virginem. They must and will (I say) either out of blind zeal believe, vary their compass with the rest, as the latitude of religion varies, apply themselves to the times, and seasons, and for fear and flattery are content to subscribe and to do all that in them lies to maintain and defend their present government and slavish religious schoolmen, canonists, Jesuits, friars, priests, orators, sophisters, who either for that they had nothing else to do, luxuriant wits knew not otherwise how to busy themselves in those idle times, for the Church then had few or no open adversaries, or better to defend their lies, fictions, miracles, transubstantiations, traditions, pope's pardons, purgatories, masses, impossibilities, &c. with glorious shows, fair pretences, big words, and plausible wits, have coined a thousand idle questions, nice distinctions, subtleties, Obs and Sols, such tropological, allegorical expositions, to salve all appearances, objections, such quirks and quiddities, quodlibetaries, as Bale saith of Ferribrigge and Strode, instances, ampliations, decrees, glosses, canons, that instead of sound commentaries, good preachers, are come in a company of mad sophisters, primo secundo secundarii, sectaries, Canonists, Sorbonists, Minorites, with a rabble of idle controversies and questions, an Papa sit Deus, an quasi Deus? An participet utramque Christi naturam? Whether it be as possible for God to be a humble bee or a gourd, as a man? Whether he can produce respect without a foundation or term, make a whore a virgin? fetch Trajan's soul from hell, and how? with a rabble of questions about hell-fire: whether it be a greater sin to kill a man, or to clout shoes upon a Sunday? whether God can make another God like unto himself? Such, saith Kemnisius, are most of your schoolmen, (mere alchemists) 200 commentators on Peter Lambard; (Pitsius catal. scriptorum Anglic. reckons up 180 English commentators alone, on the matter of the sentences) , Scotists, Thomists, Reals, Nominals, &c., and so perhaps that of St. Austin may be verified. Indocti rapiunt cúlum, docti interim descendunt ad infernum. Thus they continued in such error, blindness, decrees, sophisms, superstitions; idle ceremonies and traditions were the sum of their new-coined holiness and religion, and by these knaveries and stratagems they were able to involve multitudes, to deceive the most sanctified souls, and, if it were possible, the very elect. In the mean time the true Church, as wine and water mixed, lay hid and obscure to speak of, till Luther's time, who began upon a sudden to defecate, and as another sun to drive away those foggy mists of superstition, to restore it to that purity of the primitive Church. And after him many good and godly men, divine spirits, have done their endeavours, and still do.
"And what their ignorance esteem'd so holy,
Our wiser ages do account as folly."
But see the devil, that will never suffer the Church to be quiet or at rest: no garden so well tilled but some noxious weeds grow up in it, no wheat but it hath some tares: we have a mad giddy company of precisians, schismatics, and some heretics, even, in our own bosoms in another extreme. Dum vitant stulti vitia in contraria currunt; ( "Whilst these fools avoid one vice they run into another of an opposite character.") that out of too much zeal in opposition to Antichrist, human traditions, those Romish rites and superstitions, will quite demolish all, they will admit of no ceremonies at all, no fasting days, no cross in baptism, kneeling at communion, no church music, &c., no bishops' courts, no church government, rail at all our church discipline, will not hold their tongues, and all for the peace of thee, O Sion! No, not so much as degrees some of them will tolerate, or universities, all human learning, ('tis cloaca diaboli) hoods, habits, cap and surplice, such as are things indifferent in themselves, and wholly for ornament, decency, or distinction's sake, they abhor, hate, and snuff at, as a stone-horse when he meets a bear: they make matters of conscience of them, and will rather forsake their livings than subscribe to them. They will admit of no holidays, or honest recreations, as of hawking, hunting, &c., no churches, no bells some of them, because papists use them; no discipline, no ceremonies but what they invent themselves; no interpretations of scriptures, no comments of fathers, no councils, but such as their own fantastical spirits dictate, or recta ratio, as Socinians, by which spirit misled, many times they broach as prodigious paradoxes as papists themselves. Some of them turn prophets, have secret revelations, will be of privy council with God himself, and know all his secrets, Per capillos spiritum sanctum tenent, et omnia sciunt cum sint asini omnium obstinatissimi, a company of giddy heads will take upon them to define how many shall be saved and who damned in a parish, where they shall sit in heaven, interpret Apocalypses, (Commentatores præcipites et vertiginosos, one calls them, as well he might) and those hidden mysteries to private persons, times, places, as their own spirit informs them, private revelations shall suggest, and precisely set down when the world shall come to an end, what year, what month, what day. Some of them again have such strong faith, so presumptuous, they will go into infected houses, expel devils, and fast forty days, as Christ himself did; some call God and his attributes into question, as Vorstius and Socinus; some princes, civil magistrates, and their authorities, as Anabaptists, will do all their own private spirit dictates, and nothing else. Brownists, Barrowists, Familists, and those Amsterdamian sects and sectaries, are led all by so many private spirits. It is a wonder to reveal what passages Sleidan relates in his Commentaries, of Cretinck, Knipperdoling, and their associates, those madmen of Munster in Germany; what strange enthusiasms, sottish revelations they had, how absurdly they carried themselves, deluded others; and as profane Machiavel in his political disputations holds of Christian religion, in general it doth enervate, debilitate, take away men's spirits and courage from them, simpliciores reddit homines, breeds nothing so courageous soldiers as that Roman: we may say of these peculiar sects, their religion takes away not spirits only, but wit and judgment, and deprives them of their understanding; for some of them are so far gone with their private enthusiasms and revelations, that they are quite mad, out of their wits. What greater madness can there be, than for a man to take upon him to be a God, as some do? to be the Holy Ghost, Elias, and what not? In Poland, 1518, in the reign of King Sigismund, one said he was Christ, and got him twelve apostles, came to judge the world, and strangely deluded the commons. One David George, an illiterate painter, not many years since, did as much in Holland, took upon him to be the Messiah, and had many followers. Benedictus Victorinus Faventinus, consil. 15, writes as much of one Honorius, that thought he was not only inspired as a prophet, but that he was a God himself, and had familiar conference with God and his angels. Lavat. de spect. c. 2. part. 8. hath a story of one John Sartorious, that thought he was the prophet Elias, and cap. 7. of diverse others that had conference with angels, were saints, prophets. Wierus, lib. 3. de Lamiis c. 7. makes mention of a prophet of Groning that said he was God the Father; of an Italian and Spanish prophet that held as much. We need not rove so far abroad, we have familiar examples at home: Hackett that said he was Christ; Coppinger and Arthington his disciples; Burchet and Hovatus, burned at Norwich. We are never likely seven years together without some such new prophets that have several inspirations, some to convert the Jews, some fast forty days, go with Daniel to the lion's den; some foretell strange things, some for one thing, some for another. Great precisians of mean conditions and very illiterate, most part by a preposterous zeal, fasting, meditation, melancholy, are brought into those gross errors and inconveniences. Of those men I may conclude generally, that howsoever they may seem to be discreet, and men of understanding in other matters, discourse well, læsam habent imaginationem, they are like comets, round in all places but where they blaze, cætera sani, they have impregnable wits many of them, and discreet otherwise, but in this their madness and folly breaks out beyond measure, in infinitum erumpit stultitia. They are certainly far gone with melancholy, if not quite mad, and have more need of physic than many a man that keeps his bed, more need of hellebore than those that are in Bedlam.