Cure of Religious Melancholy

Cure of Religious Melancholy

To purge the world of idolatry and superstition, will require some monster-taming Hercules, a divine Æsculapius, or Christ himself to come in his own person, to reign a thousand years on earth before the end, as the Millenaries will have him. They are generally so refractory, self-conceited, obstinate, so firmly addicted to that religion in which they have been bred and brought up, that no persuasion, no terror, no persecution, can divert them. The consideration of which, hath induced many commonwealths to suffer them to enjoy their consciences as they will themselves: a toleration of Jews is in most provinces of Europe. In Asia they have their synagogues: Spaniards permit Moors to live amongst them: the Mogullians, Gentiles: the Turks all religions. In Europe, Poland and Amsterdam are the common sanctuaries. Some are of opinion, that no man ought to be compelled for conscience' sake, but let him be of what religion he will, he may be saved, as Cornelius was formerly accepted, Jew, Turks, Anabaptists, &c. If he be an honest man, live soberly, and civilly in his profession, (Volkelius, Crellius, and the rest of the Socinians, that now nestle themselves about Krakow and Rakow in Poland, have renewed this opinion) serve his own God, with that fear and reverence as he ought. Sua cuique civitati (Læli) religio sit, nostra nobis, Tully thought fit every city should be free in this behalf, adore their own Custodes et Topicos Deos, tutelar and local gods, as Symmachus calls them. Isocrates adviseth Demonicus, "when he came to a strange city, to worship by all means the gods of the place," et unumquemque, Topicum deum sic coli oportere, quomodo ipse præceperit: which Cecilius in Minutius labours, and would have every nation sacrorum ritus gentiles habere et deos colere municipes, keep their own ceremonies, worship their peculiar gods, which Pomponius Mela reports of the Africans, Deos suos patrio more venerantur, they worship their own gods according to their own ordination. For why should any one nation, as he there pleads, challenge that universality of God, Deum suum quem nec ostendunt, nec vident, discurrantem silicet et ubique præsentem, in omnium mores, actus, et occultas, cogitationes inquirentem, &c., as Christians do: let every province enjoy their liberty in this behalf, worship one God, or all as they will, and are informed. The Romans built altars Diis Asiæ, Europæ, Lybiæ, diis ignotis et peregrinis: others otherwise, &c. Plinius Secundus, as appears by his Epistle to Trajan, would not have the Christians so persecuted, and in some time of the reign of Maximinus, as we find it registered in Eusebius lib. 9. cap. 9. there was a decree made to this purpose, Nullus cogatur invitus ad hunc vel illum deorum cultum, "let no one be compelled against his will to worship any particular deity," and by Constantine in the 19th year of his reign as Baronius informeth us, Nemo alteri exhibeat molestiam, quod cujusque animus vult, hoc quisque transigat, new gods, new lawgivers, new priests, will have new ceremonies, customs and religions, to which every wise man as a good formalist should accommodate himself.

"Saturnus periit, perierunt et sua jura,
Sub Jove nunc mundus, jussa sequare Jovis."

(Ovid. "Saturn is dead, his laws died with him; now that Jupiter rules the world, let us obey his laws.")

The said Constantine the emperor, as Eusebius writes, flung down and demolished all the heathen gods, silver, gold statues, altars, images and temples, and turned them all to Christian churches, infestus gentilium monumentis ludibrio exposuit; the Turk now converts them again to Mahometan mosques. The like edict came forth in the reign of Arcadius and Honorius. Symmachus the orator in his days, to procure a general toleration, used this argument, "Because God is immense and infinite, and his nature cannot perfectly be known, it is convenient he should be as diversely worshipped, as every man shall perceive or understand." It was impossible, he thought, for one religion to be universal: you see that one small province can hardly be ruled by one law, civil or spiritual; and "how shall so many distinct and vast empires of the world be united into one? It never was, never will be" Besides, if there be infinite planetary and firmamental worlds, as some will, there be infinite genii or commanding spirits belonging to each of them; and so, per consequens (for they will be all adored) , infinite religions. And therefore let every territory keep their proper rites and ceremonies, as their dii tutelares will, so Tyrius calls them, "and according to the quarter they hold," their own institutions, revelations, orders, oracles, which they dictate from time to time, or teach their own priests or ministers. This tenet was stiffly maintained in Turkey not long since, as you may read in the third epistle of Busbequius, "that all those should participate of eternal happiness, that lived a holy and innocent life, what religion soever they professed." Rustan Bassa was a great patron of it; though Mahomet himself was sent virtute gladi, to enforce all, as he writes in his Alcoran, to follow him. Some again will approve of this for Jews, Gentiles, infidels, that are out of the fold, they can be content to give them all respect and favour, but by no means to such as are within the precincts of our own church, and called Christians, to no heretics, schismatics, or the like; let the Spanish inquisition, that fourth fury, speak of some of them, the civil wars and massacres in France, our Marian times. Magillianus the Jesuit will not admit of conference with a heretic, but severity and rigour to be used, non illis verba reddere, sed furcas, figere oportet; and Theodosius is commended in Nicephorus, lib. 12. cap. 15. "That he put all heretics to silence." Bernard. Epist. 180, will have club law, fire and sword for heretics, "compel them, stop their mouths not with disputations, or refute them with reasons, but with fists;" and this is their ordinary practice. Another company are as mild on the other side; to avoid all heart-burning, and contentious wars and uproars, they would have a general toleration in every kingdom, no mulct at all, no man for religion or conscience be put to death, which Thuanus the French historian much favours; our late Socinians defend; Vaticanus against Calvin in a large Treatise in behalf of Servetus, vindicates; Castilio, &c., Martin Ballius and his companions, maintained this opinion not long since in France, whose error is confuted by Beza in a just volume. The medium is best, and that which Paul prescribes, Gal. i. "If any man shall fall by occasion, to restore such a one with the spirit of meekness, by all fair means, gentle admonitions;" but if that will not take place, Post unam et alteram admonitionem hæreticum devita, he must be excommunicate, as Paul did by Hymenæus, delivered over to Satan. Immedicabile vulnus ense recidendum est. As Hippocrates said in physic, I may well say in divinity, Quæ ferro non curantur, ignis curat. For the vulgar, restrain them by laws, mulcts, burn their books, forbid their conventicles; for when the cause is taken away, the effect will soon cease. Now for prophets, dreamers, and such rude silly fellows, that through fasting, too much meditation, preciseness, or by melancholy, are distempered: the best means to reduce them ad sanam mentem, is to alter their course of life, and with conference, threats, promises, persuasions, to intermix physic. Hercules de Saxonia, had such a prophet committed to his charge in Venice, that thought he was Elias, and would fast as he did; he dressed a fellow in angel's attire, that said he came from heaven to bring him divine food, and by that means stayed his fast, administered his physic; so by the meditation of this forged angel he was cured. Rhasis an Arabian, cont. lib. 1. cap. 9, speaks of a fellow that in like case complained to him, and desired his help: "I asked him" (saith he) "what the matter was; he replied, I am continually meditating of heaven and hell, and methinks I see and talk with fiery spirits, and smell brimstone, &c., and am so carried away with these conceits, that I can neither eat, nor sleep, nor go about my business: I cured him" (saith Rhasis) "partly by persuasion, partly by physic, and so have I done by many others." We have frequently such prophets and dreamers amongst us, whom we persecute with fire and faggot: I think the most compendious cure, for some of them at least, had been in Bedlam. Sed de his satis.

 

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