THE most frequent pretext of sedition and civil war in Christian Commonwealths hath a long time proceeded from a difficulty, not yet sufficiently resolved, of obeying at once both God and man then when their commandments are one contrary to the other. It is manifest enough that when a man receiveth two contrary commands, and knows that one of them is God's, he ought to obey that, and not the other, though it be the command even of his lawful sovereign (whether a monarch or a sovereign assembly), or the command of his father. The difficulty therefore consisteth in this, that men, when they are commanded in the name of God, know not in diverse cases whether the command be from God, or whether he that commandeth do but abuse God's name for some private ends of his own. For as there were in the Church of the Jews many false prophets that sought reputation with the people by feigned dreams and visions; so there have been in all times, in the Church of Christ, false teachers that seek reputation with the people by fantastical and false doctrines; and by such reputation, as is the nature of ambition, to govern them for their private benefit.
But this difficulty of obeying both God and the civil sovereign on earth, to those that can distinguish between what is necessary and what is not necessary for their reception into the kingdom of God, is of no moment. For if the command of the civil sovereign be such as that it may be obeyed without the forfeiture of life eternal, not to obey it is unjust; and the precept of the apostle takes place: "Servants, obey your masters in all things"; and "Children, obey your parents in all things"; and the precept of our Saviour, "The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' chair; all therefore they shall say, that observe, and do." But if the command be such as cannot be obeyed, without being damned to eternal death, then it were madness to obey it, and the counsel of our Saviour takes place, "Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul." [Matthew, 10. 28] All men therefore that would avoid both the punishments that are to be in this world inflicted for disobedience to their earthly sovereign, and those that shall be inflicted in the world to come for disobedience to God, have need be taught to distinguish well between what is, and what is not, necessary to eternal salvation.
All that is necessary to salvation is contained in two virtues, faith in Christ, and obedience to laws. The latter of these, if it were perfect, were enough to us. But because we are all guilty of disobedience to God's law, not only originally in Adam, but also actually by our own transgressions, there is required at our hands now, not only obedience for the rest of our time, but also a remission of sins for the time past; which remission is the reward of our faith in Christ. That nothing else is necessarily required to salvation is manifest from this, that the kingdom of heaven is shut to none but to sinners; that is to say, to the disobedient, or transgressors of the law; nor to them, in case they repent, and believe all the articles of Christian faith necessary to salvation.
The obedience required at our hands by God, that accepteth in all our actions the will for the deed, is a serious endeavour to obey Him; and is called also by all such names as signify that endeavour. And therefore obedience is sometimes called by the names of charity and love, because they imply a will to obey; and our Saviour himself maketh our love to God, and to one another, a fulfilling of the whole law; and sometimes by the name of righteousness, for righteousness is but the will to give to every one his own, that is to say, the will to obey the laws; and sometimes by the name of repentance, because to repent implieth a turning away from sin, which is the same with the return of the will to obedience. Whosoever therefore unfeignedly desireth to fulfil the commandments of God, or repenteth him truly of his transgressions, or that loveth God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself, hath all the obedience necessary to his reception into the kingdom of God: for if God should require perfect innocence, there could no flesh be saved.
But what commandments are those that God hath given us? Are all those laws which were given to the Jews by the hand of Moses the commandments of God? If they be, why are not Christians taught to obey them? If they be not, what others are so, besides the law of nature? For our Christ hath not given us new laws, but counsel to observe those we are subject to; that is to say, the laws of nature, and the laws of our several sovereigns: nor did he make any new law to the Jews in his Sermon on the Mount, but only expounded the laws of Moses, to which they were subject before. The laws of God therefore are none but the laws of nature, whereof the principal is that we should not violate our faith, that is, a commandment to obey our civil sovereigns, which we constituted over us by mutual pact one with another. And this law of God, that commandeth obedience to the law civil, commandeth by consequence obedience to all the precepts of the Bible; which, as I have proved in the precedent chapter, is there only law where the civil sovereign hath made it so; and in other places but counsel, which a man at his own peril may without injustice refuse to obey.
Knowing now what is the obedience necessary to salvation, and to whom it is due, we are to consider next, concerning faith, whom and why we believe, and what are the articles or points necessarily to be believed by them that shall be saved. And first, for the person whom we believe, because it is impossible to believe any person before we know what he saith, it is necessary he be one that we have heard speak. The person therefore whom Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets believed was God Himself, that spake unto them supernaturally; and the person whom the Apostles and Disciples that conversed with Christ believed, was our Saviour himself. But of them, to whom neither God the Father nor our Saviour ever spake, it cannot be said that the person whom they believed was God. They believed the Apostles, and after them the pastors and doctors of the Church that recommended to their faith the history of the Old and New Testament: so that the faith of Christians ever since our Saviour's time hath had for foundation, first, the reputation of their pastors, and afterward, the authority of those that made the Old and New Testament to be received for the rule of faith; which none could do but Christian sovereigns, who are therefore the supreme pastors, and the only persons whom Christians now hear speak from God; except such as God speaketh to in these days supernaturally. But because there be many false prophets gone out into the world, other men are to examine such spirits, as St. John adviseth us, "whether they be of God, or not." [I John, 4. 1] And, therefore, seeing the examination of doctrines belongeth to the supreme pastor, the person which all they that have no special revelation are to believe is, in every Commonwealth, the supreme pastor, that is to say, the civil sovereign.
The causes why men believe any Christian doctrine are various: for faith is the gift of God, and He worketh it in each several man by such ways as it seemeth good unto Himself. The most ordinary immediate cause of our belief, concerning any point of Christian faith, is that we believe the Bible to be the word of God. But why we believe the Bible to be the word of God is much disputed, as all questions must needs be that are not well stated. For they make not the question to be, why we believe it, but how we know it; as if believing and knowing were all one. And thence while one side ground their knowledge upon the infallibility of the Church, and the other side on the testimony of the private spirit, neither side concludeth what it pretends. For how shall a man know the infallibility of the Church but by knowing first the infallibility of the Scripture? Or how shall a man know his own private spirit to be other than a belief grounded upon the authority and arguments of his teachers or upon a presumption of his own gifts? Besides, there is nothing in the Scripture from which can be inferred the infallibility of the Church; much less, of any particular Church; and least of all, the infallibility of any particular man.
It is manifest, therefore, that Christian men do not know, but only believe the Scripture to be the word of God; and that the means of making them believe, which God is pleased to afford men ordinarily, is according to the way of nature, that is to say, from their teachers. It is the doctrine of St. Paul concerning Christian faith in general, "Faith cometh by hearing," [Romans, 10. 17] that is, by hearing our lawful pastors. He saith also, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" [Ibid., 10. 14, 15] Whereby it is evident that the ordinary cause of believing that the Scriptures are the word of God is the same with the cause of the believing of all other articles of our faith, namely, the hearing of those that are by the law allowed and appointed to teach us, as our parents in their houses, and our pastors in the churches: which also is made more manifest by experience. For what other cause can there be assigned why in Christian Commonwealths all men either believe or at least profess the Scripture to be the word of God, and in other Commonwealths scarce any, but that in Christian Commonwealths they are taught it from their infancy, and in other places they are taught otherwise?
But if teaching be the cause of faith, why do not all believe? It is certain therefore that faith is the gift of God, and He giveth it to whom He will. Nevertheless, because to them to whom He giveth it, He giveth it by the means of teachers, the immediate cause of faith is hearing. In a school, where many are taught, and some profit, others profit not, the cause of learning in them that profit is the master; yet it cannot be thence inferred that learning is not the gift of God. All good things proceed from God; yet cannot all that have them say they are inspired; for that implies a gift supernatural, and the immediate hand of God; which he that pretends to, pretends to be a prophet, and is subject to the examination of the Church.
But whether men know, or believe, or grant the Scriptures to be the word of God, if out of such places of them as are without obscurity I shall show what articles of faith are necessary, and only necessary, for salvation, those men must needs know, believe, or grant the same.
The unum necessarium, only article of faith, which the Scripture maketh simply necessary to salvation is this, that Jesus is the Christ. By the name of Christ is understood the King which God had before promised by the prophets of the Old Testament to send into the world, to reign (over the Jews and over such of other nations as should believe in him) under Himself eternally; and to give them that eternal life which was lost by the sin of Adam. Which, when I have proved out of Scripture, I will further show when, and in what sense, some other articles may be also called necessary.
For proof that the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ, is all the faith required to salvation, my first argument shall be from the scope of the evangelists; which was, by the description of the life of our Saviour, to establish that one article, Jesus is the Christ. The sum of St. Matthew's Gospel is this, that Jesus was of the stock of David, born of a virgin, which are the marks of the true Christ; that the Magi came to worship him as King of the Jews; that Herod for the same cause sought to kill him; that John the Baptist proclaimed him; that he preached by himself and his Apostles that he was that King; that he taught the law, not as a scribe, but as a man of authority; that he cured diseases by his word only, and did many other miracles, which were foretold the Christ should do; that he was saluted King when he entered into Jerusalem; that he forewarned them to beware of all others that should pretend to be Christ; that he was taken, accused, and put to death for saying he was King; that the cause of his condemnation, written on the cross, was JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. All which tend to no other end than this, that men should believe that Jesus is the Christ. Such therefore was the scope of St. Matthew's Gospel. But the scope of all the evangelists, as may appear by reading them, was the same. Therefore the scope of the whole Gospel was the establishing of that only article. And St. John expressly makes it his conclusion, "These things are written, that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God."[John, 20. 31]
My second argument is taken from the subject of the sermons of the Apostles, both whilst our Saviour lived on earth, and after his ascension. The Apostles in our Saviour's time were sent to preach the kingdom of God: [Luke, 9. 2] for neither there, nor Matthew, 10. 7, giveth he any commission to them other than this, "As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand"; that is, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the King which was to come. That their preaching also after his ascension was the same is manifest out of the Acts, 17. 6, "They drew," saith St. Luke, "Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also, whom Jason hath received. And these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus." And out of the second and third verses of the same chapter, where it is said that St. Paul, "as his manner was, went in unto them; and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures; opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus is Christ."
The third argument is from those places of Scripture by which all the faith required to salvation is declared to be easy. For if an inward assent of the mind to all the doctrines concerning Christian faith now taught, whereof the greatest part are disputed, were necessary to salvation, there would be nothing in the world so hard as to be a Christian. The thief upon the cross, though repenting, could not have been saved for saying, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom"; by which he testified no beliefs of any other article, but this, that Jesus was the King. Nor could it be said, as it is, Matthew, 11. 30, that "Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light": nor that "little children believe in him," as it is, Matthew, 18. 6. Nor could St. Paul have said (I Cor., 1. 21), "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe":[I Corinthians, 1. 21] nor could St. Paul himself have been saved, much less have been so great a doctor of the Church so suddenly, that never perhaps thought of transubstantiation, nor purgatory, nor many other articles now obtruded.
The fourth argument is taken from places express, and such as receive no controversy of interpretation; as first, John, 5. 39, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me." Our Saviour here speaketh of the Scriptures only of the Old Testament; for the Jews at that time could not search the Scriptures of the New Testament, which were not written. But the Old Testament hath nothing of Christ but the marks by which men might know him when he came; as that he should descend from David; be born at Bethlehem, and of a virgin; do great miracles, and the like. Therefore to believe that this Jesus was, he was sufficient to eternal life: but more than sufficient is not necessary; and consequently no other article is required. Again, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall not die eternally." [John, 11. 26] Therefore to believe in Christ is faith sufficient to eternal life; and consequently no more faith than that is necessary. But to believe in Jesus, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all one, as appeareth in the verses immediately following. For when our Saviour had said to Martha, "Believest thou this?" [Ibid.] she answereth, "Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." [Ibid., 11. 27] Therefore this article alone is faith sufficient to life eternal, and more than sufficient is not necessary. Thirdly, John, 20. 31, "These things are written that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." There, to believe that Jesus is the Christ is faith sufficient to the obtaining of life; and therefore no other article is necessary. Fourthly, I John, 4. 2, "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." And I John, 5. 1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." And verse 5, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Fifthly, Acts, 8. 36, 37, "See," saith the eunuch, "here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayst. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Therefore this article believed, Jesus is the Christ, is sufficient to baptism, that is to say, to our reception into the kingdom of God, and, by consequence, only necessary. And generally in all places where our Saviour saith to any man, "Thy faith hath saved thee," the cause he saith it is some confession which directly, or by consequence, implieth a belief that Jesus is the Christ.
The last argument is from the places where this article is made the foundation of faith: for he that holdeth the foundation shall be saved. Which places are first, Matthew, 24. 23, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not, for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs, and wonders," etc. Here, we see, this article, Jesus is the Christ, must be held, though he that shall teach the contrary should do great miracles. The second place is Galatians, 1. 8, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." But the gospel which Paul and the other Apostles preached was only this article, that Jesus is the Christ: therefore for the belief of this article, we are to reject the authority of an angel from heaven; much more of any mortal man, if he teach the contrary. This is therefore the fundamental article of Christian faith. A third place is I John, 4. 1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit. Hereby ye shall know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesseth that is come in the flesh is of God." By which it is evident that this article is the measure and rule by which to estimate and examine all other articles, and is therefore only fundamental. A fourth is Matthew, 16. 18, where, after St. Peter had professed this article, saying to our Saviour, "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God," our Saviour answered, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church": from whence I infer that this article is that on which all other doctrines of the Church are built, as on their foundation. A fifth is I Corinthians, 3. 11, 12, etc., "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Jesus is the Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work, what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." Which words, being partly plain and easy to understand, and partly allegorical and difficult, out of that which is plain may be inferred that pastors that teach this foundation, that Jesus is the Christ, though they draw from it false consequences (which all men are sometimes subject to), they may nevertheless be saved; much more that they may be saved, who, being no pastors, but hearers, believe that which is by their lawful pastors taught them. Therefore the belief of this article is sufficient; and by consequence, there is no other article of faith necessarily required to salvation.
Now for the part which is allegorical, as that "the fire shall try every man's work," and that they "shall be saved, but so as by fire," or "through fire" (for the original is dia puros), it maketh nothing against this conclusion which I have drawn from the other words that are plain. Nevertheless, because upon this place there hath been an argument taken to prove the fire of purgatory, I will also here offer you my conjecture concerning the meaning of this trial of doctrines and saving of men as by fire. The Apostle here seemeth to allude to the words of the Prophet Zechariah, who, speaking of the restoration of the kingdom of God, saith thus, "Two parts therein shall be cut off, and die, but the third shall be left therein; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on the name of the Lord, and I will hear them." [Zechariah, 13. 8, 9] The day of judgement is the day of the restoration of the kingdom of God; and at that day it is that St. Peter tells us shall be the conflagration of the world, wherein the wicked shall perish; but the remnant which God will save shall pass through that fire unhurt, and be therein (as silver and gold are refined by the fire from their dross) tried, and refined from their idolatry, and be made to call upon the name of the true God. [II Peter, 3] Alluding whereto, St. Paul here saith that "the day" (that is, the day of judgement, the great day of our Saviour's coming to restore the kingdom of God in Israel) shall try every man's doctrine, by judging which are gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; and then they that have built false consequences on the true foundation shall see their doctrines condemned; nevertheless they themselves shall be saved, and pass unhurt through this universal fire, and live eternally, to call upon the name of the true and only God. In which sense there is nothing that accordeth not with the rest of Holy Scripture, or any glimpse of the fire of purgatory.
But a man may here ask whether it be not as necessary to salvation to believe that God is Omnipotent Creator of the world; that Jesus Christ is risen; and that all men else shall rise again from the dead at the last day; as to believe that Jesus is the Christ. To which I answer, they are; and so are many more articles; but they are such as are contained in this one, and may be deduced from it, with more or less difficulty. For who is there that does not see that they who believe Jesus to be the Son of the God of Israel, and that the Israelites had for God the Omnipotent Creator of all things, do therein also believe that God is the Omnipotent Creator of all things? Or how can a man believe that Jesus is the king that shall reign eternally, unless he believe him also risen again from the dead? For a dead man cannot exercise the office of a king. In sum, he that holdeth this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, holdeth expressly all that he seeth rightly deduced from it, and implicitly all that is consequent thereunto, though he have not skill enough to discern the consequence. And therefore it holdeth still good that the belief of this one article is sufficient faith to obtain remission of sins to the penitent, and consequently to bring them into the kingdom of heaven. Now that I have shown that all the obedience required to salvation consisteth in the will to obey the law of God, that is to say, in repentance; and all the faith required to the same is comprehended in the belief of this article, Jesus is the Christ; I will further allege those places of the Gospel that prove that all that is necessary to salvation is contained in both these joined together. The men to whom St. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, next after the ascension of our Saviour, asked him, and the rest of the Apostles, saying, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" [Acts, 2. 37] To whom St. Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." [Ibid., 2. 38] Therefore repentance and baptism, that is, believing that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is necessary to salvation. Again, our Saviour being asked by a certain ruler, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" [Luke, 18. 18] answered, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother":[Ibid., 18. 20] which when he said he had observed, our Saviour added, "Sell all thou hast, give it to the poor, and come and follow me": which was as much as to say, rely on me that am the king. Therefore to fulfil the law, and to believe that Jesus is the king, is all that is required to bring a man to eternal life. Thirdly, St. Paul saith, "The just shall live by faith";[Romans, 1. 17] not every one, but the just; therefore faith and justice (that is, the will to be just, or repentance) are all that is necessary to life eternal. And our Saviour preached, saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Evangel," [Mark, 1. 15] that is, the good news that the Christ was come. Therefore to repent, and to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is all that is required to salvation.
Seeing then it is necessary that faith and obedience (implied in the word repentance) do both concur to our salvation, the question by which of the two we are justified is impertinently disputed. Nevertheless, it will not be impertinent to make manifest in what manner each of them contributes thereunto, and in what sense it is said that we are to be justified by the one and by the other. And first, if by righteousness be understood the justice of the works themselves, there is no man that can be saved; for there is none that hath not transgressed the law of God. And therefore when we are said to be justified by works, it is to be understood of the will, which God doth always accept for the work itself, as well in good as in evil men. And in this sense only it is that a man is called just, or unjust; and that his justice justifies him, that is, gives him the title, in God's acceptation of just, and renders him capable of living by his faith, which before he was not. So that justice justifies in that sense in which to justify is the same as that to denominate a man just; and not in the signification of discharging the law, whereby the punishment of his sins should be unjust.
But a man is then also said to be justified when his plea, though in itself insufficient, is accepted; as when we plead our will, our endeavour to fulfil the law, and repent us of our failings, and God accepteth it for the performance itself. And because God accepteth not the will for the deed, but only in the faithful, it is therefore, faith that makes good our plea; and in this sense it is that faith only justifies: so that faith and obedience are both necessary to salvation, yet in several senses each of them is said to justify.
Having thus shown what is necessary to salvation, it is not hard to reconcile our obedience to God with our obedience to the civil sovereign, who is either Christian or infidel. If he be a Christian, he alloweth the belief of this article, that Jesus is the Christ; and of all the articles that are contained in, or are by evident consequence deduced from it: which is all the faith necessary to salvation. And because he is a sovereign, he requireth obedience to all his own, that is, to all the civil laws; in which also are contained all the laws of nature, that is, all the laws of God: for besides the laws of nature, and the laws of the Church, which are part of the civil law (for the Church that can make laws is the Commonwealth), there be no other laws divine. Whosoever therefore obeyeth his Christian sovereign is not thereby hindered neither from believing nor from obeying God. But suppose that a Christian king should from this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, draw some false consequences, that is to say, make some superstructions of hay or stubble, and command the teaching of the same; yet seeing St. Paul says he shall be saved; much more shall he be saved that teacheth them by his command; and much more yet, he that teaches not, but only believes his lawful teacher. And in case a subject be forbidden by the civil sovereign to profess some of those his opinions, upon what just ground can he disobey? Christian kings may err in deducing a consequence, but who shall judge? Shall a private man judge, when the question is of his own obedience? Or shall any man judge but he that is appointed thereto by the Church, that is, by the civil sovereign that representeth it? Or if the Pope or an Apostle judge, may he not err in deducing of a consequence? Did not one of the two, St. Peter or St. Paul, err in a superstructure, when St. Paul withstood St. Peter to his face? There can therefore be no contradiction between the laws of God and the laws of a Christian Commonwealth.
And when the civil sovereign is an infidel, every one of his own subjects that resisteth him sinneth against the laws of God (for such are the laws of nature), and rejecteth the counsel of the Apostles that admonisheth all Christians to obey their princes, and all children and servants to obey their parents and masters in all things. And for their faith, it is internal and invisible; they have the license that Naaman had, and need not put themselves into danger for it. But if they do, they ought to expect their reward in heaven, and not complain of their lawful sovereign, much less make war upon him. For he that is not glad of any just occasion of martyrdom has not the faith he professeth, but pretends it only, to set some colour upon his own contumacy. But what infidel king is so unreasonable as, knowing he has a subject that waiteth for the second coming of Christ, after the present world shall be burnt, and intendeth then to obey Him (which is the intent of believing that Jesus is the Christ), and in the meantime thinketh himself bound to obey the laws of that infidel king, which all Christians are obliged in conscience to do, to put to death or to persecute such a subject?
And thus much shall suffice, concerning the kingdom of God and policy ecclesiastical. Wherein I pretend not to advance any position of my own, but only to show what are the consequences that seem to me deducible from the principles of Christian politics (which are the Holy Scriptures), in confirmation of the power of civil sovereigns and the duty of their subjects. And in the allegation of Scripture, I have endeavoured to avoid such texts as are of obscure or controverted interpretation, and to allege none but in such sense as is most plain and agreeable to the harmony and scope of the whole Bible, which was written for the re-establishment of the kingdom of God in Christ.
For it is not the bare words, but the scope of the writer, that giveth the true light by which any writing is to be interpreted; and they that insist upon single texts, without considering the main design, can derive no thing from them clearly; but rather, by casting atoms of Scripture as dust before men's eyes, make everything more obscure than it is, an ordinary artifice of those that seek not the truth, but their own advantage.
Besides these sovereign powers, divine and human, of which I have hitherto discoursed, there is mention in Scripture of another power, namely, that of "the rulers of the darkness of this world," [Ephesians, 6. 12] "the kingdom of Satan," [Matthew, 12. 26] and "the principality of Beelzebub over demons," [Ibid., 9. 34] that is to say, over phantasms that appear in the air: for which cause Satan is also called "the prince of the power of the air";[Ephesians, 2. 2] and, because he ruleth in the darkness of this world, "the prince of this world":[John, 16. 11] and in consequence hereunto, they who are under his dominion, in opposition to the faithful, who are the "children of the light," are called the "children of darkness." For seeing Beelzebub is prince of phantasms, inhabitants of his dominion of air and darkness, the children of darkness, and these demons, phantasms, or spirits of illusion, signify allegorically the same thing. This considered, the kingdom of darkness, as it is set forth in these and other places of the Scripture, is nothing else but a confederacy of deceivers that, to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavour, by dark and erroneous doctrines, to extinguish in them the light, both of nature and of the gospel; and so to disprepare them for the kingdom of God to come.
As men that are utterly deprived from their nativity of the light of the bodily eye have no idea at all of any such light; and no man conceives in his imagination any greater light than he hath at some time or other perceived by his outward senses: so also is it of the light of the gospel, and of the light of the understanding, that no man can conceive there is any greater degree of it than that which he hath already attained unto. And from hence it comes to pass that men have no other means to acknowledge their own darkness but only by reasoning from the unforeseen mischances that befall them in their ways. The darkest part of the kingdom of Satan is that which is without the Church of God; that is to say, amongst them that believe not in Jesus Christ. But we cannot say that therefore the Church enjoyeth, as the land of Goshen, all the light which to the performance of the work enjoined us by God is necessary. Whence comes it that in Christendom there has been, almost from the time of the Apostles, such jostling of one another out of their places, both by foreign and civil war; such stumbling at every little asperity of their own fortune, and every little eminence of that of other men; and such diversity of ways in running to the same mark, felicity, if it be not night amongst us, or at least a mist? We are therefore yet in the dark.
The enemy has been here in the night of our natural ignorance, and sown the tares of spiritual errors; and that, first, by abusing and putting out the light of the Scriptures: for we err, not knowing the Scriptures. Secondly, by introducing the demonology of the heathen poets, that is to say, their fabulous doctrine concerning demons, which are but idols, or phantasms of the brain, without any real nature of their own, distinct from human fancy; such as are dead men's ghosts, and fairies, and other matter of old wives' tales. Thirdly, by mixing with the Scripture diverse relics of the religion, and much of the vain and erroneous philosophy of the Greeks, especially of Aristotle. Fourthly, by mingling with both these, false or uncertain traditions, and feigned or uncertain history. And so we come to err, by giving heed to seducing spirits, and the demonology of such as speak lies in hypocrisy, or, as it is in the original, "of those that play the part of liars," [I Timothy, 4. 1, 2] with a seared conscience, that is, contrary to their own knowledge. Concerning the first of these, which is the seducing of men by abuse of Scripture, I intend to speak briefly in this chapter.
The greatest and main abuse of Scripture, and to which almost all the rest are either consequent or subservient, is the wresting of it to prove that the kingdom of God, mentioned so often in the Scripture, is the present Church, or multitude of Christian men now living, or that, being dead, are to rise again at the last day: whereas the kingdom of God was first instituted by the ministry of Moses, over the Jews only; who were therefore called his peculiar people; and ceased afterward, in the election of Saul, when they refused to be governed by God any more, and demanded a king after the manner of the nations; which God Himself consented unto, as I have more at large proved before, in the thirty-fifth Chapter. After that time, there was no other kingdom of God in the world, by any pact or otherwise, than He ever was, is, and shall be king of all men and of all creatures, as governing according to His will, by His infinite power. Nevertheless, He promised by His prophets to restore this His government to them again, when the time He hath in His secret counsel appointed for it shall be fully come, and when they shall turn unto Him by repentance and amendment of life. And not only so, but He invited also the Gentiles to come in, and enjoy the happiness of His reign, on the same conditions of conversion and repentance. And He promised also to send His Son into the world, to expiate the sins of them all by his death, and to prepare them by his doctrine to receive him at his second coming: which second coming not yet being, the kingdom of God is not yet come, and we are not now under any other kings by pact but our civil sovereigns; saving only that Christian men are already in the kingdom of grace, inasmuch as they have already the promise of being received at his coming again.
Consequent to this error, that the present Church is Christ's kingdom, there ought to be some one man, or assembly, by whose mouth our Saviour, now in heaven, speaketh, giveth law, and which representeth his person to all Christians; or diverse men, or diverse assemblies that do the same to diverse parts of Christendom. This power regal under Christ being challenged universally by the Pope, and in particular Commonwealths by assemblies of the pastors of the place (when the Scripture gives it to none but to civil sovereigns), comes to be so passionately disputed that it putteth out the light of nature, and causeth so great a darkness in men's understanding that they see not who it is to whom they have engaged their obedience.
Consequent to this claim of the Pope to vicar general of Christ in the present Church (supposed to be that kingdom of his to which we are addressed in the gospel) is the doctrine that it is necessary for a Christian king to receive his crown by a bishop; as if it were from that ceremony that he derives the clause of Dei gratia in his title; and that then only is he made king by the favour of God when he is crowned by the authority of God's universal vicegerent on earth; and that every bishop, whosoever be his sovereign, taketh at his consecration an oath of absolute obedience to the Pope. Consequent to the same is the doctrine of the fourth Council of Lateran, held under Pope Innocent the Third (Chapter 3, De Haereticis), "That if a king, at the pope's admonition, do not purge his kingdom of heresies, and being excommunicate for the same, do not give satisfaction within a year, his subjects are absolved of the bond of their obedience." Whereby heresies are understood all opinions which the Church of Rome hath forbidden to be maintained. And by this means, as often as there is any repugnancy between the political designs of the Pope and other Christian princes, as there is very often, there ariseth such a mist amongst their subjects, that they know not a stranger that thrusteth himself into the throne of their lawful prince, from him whom they had themselves placed there; and, in this darkness of mind, are made to fight one against another, without discerning their enemies from their friends, under the conduct of another man's ambition.
From the same opinion, that the present Church is the kingdom of God, it proceeds that pastors, deacons, and all other ministers of the Church take the name to themselves of the clergy; giving to other Christians the name of laity, that is, simply people. For clergy signifies those whose maintenance is that revenue which God, having reserved to Himself during His reign over the Israelites, assigned to the tribe of Levi (who were to be His public ministers, and had no portion of land set them out to live on, as their brethren) to be their inheritance. The Pope therefore (pretending the present Church to be, as the realms of Israel, the kingdom of God), challenging to himself and his subordinate ministers the like revenue as the inheritance of God, the name of clergy was suitable to that claim. And thence it is that tithes and other tributes paid to the Levites as God's right, amongst the Israelites, have a long time been demanded and taken of Christians by ecclesiastics, jure divino, that is, in God's right. By which means, the people everywhere were obliged to a double tribute; one to the state, another to the clergy; whereof that to the clergy, being the tenth of their revenue, is double to that which a king of Athens (and esteemed a tyrant) exacted of his subjects for the defraying of all public charges: for he demanded no more but the twentieth part, and yet abundantly maintained therewith the Commonwealth. And in the kingdom of the Jews, during the sacerdotal reign of God, the tithes and offerings were the whole public revenue.
From the same mistaking of the present Church for the kingdom of God came in the distinction between the civil and the canon laws: the civil law being the acts of sovereigns in their own dominions, and the canon law being the acts of the Pope in the same dominions. Which canons, though they were but canons, that is, rules propounded, and but voluntarily received by Christian princes, till the translation of the Empire to Charlemagne; yet afterwards, as the power of the Pope increased, became rules commanded, and the emperors themselves, to avoid greater mischiefs, which the people blinded might be led into, were forced to let them pass for laws.
From hence it is that in all dominions where the Pope's ecclesiastical power is entirely received, Jews, Turks, and Gentiles are in the Roman Church tolerated in their religion as far forth as in the exercise and profession thereof they offend not against the civil power: whereas in a Christian, though a stranger, not to be of the Roman religion is capital, because the Pope pretendeth that all Christians are his subjects. For otherwise it were as much against the law of nations to persecute a Christian stranger for professing the religion of his own country, as an infidel; or rather more, inasmuch as they that are not against Christ are with him.
From the same it is that in every Christian state there are certain men that are exempt, by ecclesiastical liberty, from the tributes and from the tribunals of the civil state; for so are the secular clergy, besides monks and friars, which in many places bear so great a proportion to the common people as, if need were, there might be raised out of them alone an army sufficient for any war the Church militant should employ them in against their own or other princes.
A second general abuse of Scripture is the turning of consecration into conjuration, or enchantment. To consecrate is, in Scripture, to offer, give, or dedicate, in pious and decent language and gesture, a man or any other thing to God, by separating of it from common use; that is to say, to sanctify, or make it God's, and to be used only by those whom God hath appointed to be His public ministers (as I have already proved at large in the thirty-fifth Chapter), and thereby to change, not the thing consecrated, but only the use of it, from being profane and common, to be holy, and peculiar to God's service. But when by such words the nature or quality of the thing itself is pretended to be changed, it is not consecration, but either an extraordinary work of God, or a vain and impious conjuration. But seeing, for the frequency of pretending the change of nature in their consecrations, it cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is not, contrary to the testimony of man's sight and of all the rest of his senses. As for example, when the priest, instead of consecrating bread and wine to God's peculiar service in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper (which is but a separation of it from the common use to signify, that is, to put men in mind of, their redemption by the Passion of Christ, whose body was broken and blood shed upon the cross for our transgressions), pretends that by saying of the words of our Saviour, "This is my body," and "This is my blood," the nature of bread is no more there, but his very body; notwithstanding there appeareth not to the sight or other sense of the receiver anything that appeared not before the consecration. The Egyptian conjurers, that are said to have turned their rods to serpents, and the water into blood, are thought but to have deluded the senses of the spectators by a false show of things, yet are esteemed enchanters. But what should we have thought of them if there had appeared in their rods nothing like a serpent, and in the water enchanted nothing like blood, nor like anything else but water, but that they had faced down the king, that they were serpents that looked like rods, and that it was blood that seemed water? That had been both enchantment and lying. And yet in this daily act of the priest, they do the very same, by turning the holy words into the manner of a charm, which produceth nothing new to the sense; but they face us down, that it hath turned the bread into a man; nay, more, into a God; and require men to worship it as if it were our Saviour himself present, God and Man, and thereby to commit most gross idolatry. For if it be enough to excuse it of idolatry to say it is no more bread, but God; why should not the same excuse serve the Egyptians, in case they had the faces to say the leeks and onions they worshipped were not very leeks and onions, but a divinity under their species or likeness? The words, "This is my body," are equivalent to these, "This signifies, or represents, my body"; and it is an ordinary figure of speech: but to take it literally is an abuse; nor, though so taken, can it extend any further than to the bread which Christ himself with his own hands consecrated. For he never said that of what bread soever any priest whatsoever should say, "This is my body," or "This is Christ's body," the same should presently be transubstantiated. Nor did the Church of Rome ever establish this transubstantiation, till the time of Innocent the Third; which was not above five hundred years ago, when the power of Popes was at the highest, and the darkness of the time grown so great, as men discerned not the bread that was given them to eat, especially when it was stamped with the figure of Christ upon the cross, as if they would have men believe it were transubstantiated, not only into the body of Christ, but also into the wood of his cross, and that they did eat both together in the sacrament.
The like incantation, instead of consecration, is used also in the sacrament of baptism: where the abuse of God's name in each several person, and in the whole Trinity, with the sign of the cross at each name, maketh up the charm. As first, when they make the holy water, the priest saith, "I conjure thee, thou creature of water, in the name of God the Father Almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, and in virtue of the Holy Ghost, that thou become conjured water, to drive away all the powers of the enemy, and to eradicate, and supplant the enemy," etc. And the same in the benediction of the salt to be mingled with it, "That thou become conjured salt, that all phantasms and knavery of the Devil's fraud may fly and depart from the place wherein thou art sprinkled; and every unclean spirit be conjured by him that shall come to judge the quick and the dead." The same in the benediction of the oil, "That all the power of the enemy, all the host of the Devil, all assaults and phantasms of Satan, may be driven away by this creature of oil." And for the infant that is to be baptized, he is subject to many charms: first, at the church door the priest blows thrice in the child's face, and says, "Go out of him, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost the Comforter." As if all children, till blown on by the priest, were demoniacs. Again, before his entrance into the church, he saith as before, "I conjure thee, etc., to go out, and depart from this servant of God"; and again the same exorcism is repeated once more before he be baptized. These and some other incantations are those that are used instead of benedictions and consecrations in administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; wherein everything that serveth to those holy uses, except the unhallowed spittle of the priest, hath some set form of exorcism.
Nor are the other rites, as of marriage, of extreme unction, of visitation of the sick, of consecrating churches, and churchyards, and the like, exempt from charms; inasmuch as there is in them the use of enchanted oil and water, with the abuse of the cross, and of the holy word of David, asperges me Domine hyssopo, as things of efficacy to drive away phantasms and imaginary spirits.
Another general error is from the misinterpretation of the words eternal life, everlasting death, and the second death. For though we read plainly in Holy Scripture that God created Adam in an estate of living for ever, which was conditional, that is to say, if he disobeyed not His commandment; which was not essential to human nature, but consequent to the virtue of the tree of life, whereof he had liberty to eat, as long as he had not sinned; and that he was thrust out of Paradise after he had sinned, lest he should eat thereof, and live for ever; and that Christ's Passion is a discharge of sin to all that believe on Him, and by consequence, a restitution of eternal life to all the faithful, and to them only: yet the doctrine is now and hath been a long time far otherwise; namely, that every man hath eternity of life by nature, inasmuch as his soul is immortal. So that the flaming sword at the entrance of Paradise, though it hinder a man from coming to the tree of life, hinders him not from the immortality which God took from him for his sin, nor makes him to need the sacrificing of Christ for the recovering of the same; and consequently, not only the faithful and righteous, but also the wicked and the heathen, shall enjoy eternal life, without any death at all, much less a second and everlasting death. To salve this, it is said that by second and everlasting death is meant a second and everlasting life, but in torments; a figure never used but in this very case.
All which doctrine is founded only on some of the obscurer places of the New Testament; which nevertheless, the whole scope of the Scripture considered, are clear enough in a different sense, and unnecessary to the Christian faith. For supposing that when a man dies, there remaineth nothing of him but his carcass; cannot God, that raised inanimated dust and clay into a living creature by His word, as easily raise a dead carcass to life again, and continue him alive for ever, or make him die again by another word? The soul, in Scripture, signifieth always either the life or the living creature; and the body and soul jointly, the body alive. In the fifth day of the Creation, God said, Let the waters produce reptile animae viventis, the creeping thing that hath in it a living soul; the English translate it, "that hath life." And again, God created whales, et omnem animam viventem; which in the English is, "every living creature." And likewise of man, God made him of the dust of the earth, and breathed in his face the breath of life, et factus est homo in animam viventem, that is, "and man was made a living creature." And after Noah came out of the ark, God saith, He will no more smite omnem animam viventem, that is, "every living creature." And, "Eat not the blood, for the blood is the soul"; that is, the life. From which places, if by soul were meant a substance incorporeal, with an existence separated from the body, it might as well be inferred of any other living creature, as of man. But that the souls of the faithful are not of their own nature, but by God's special grace, to remain in their bodies from the resurrection to all eternity, I have already, I think, sufficiently proved out of the Scriptures, in the thirty-eighth Chapter. And for the places of the New Testament where it is said that any man shall be cast body and soul into hell fire, it is no more than body and life; that is to say, they shall be cast alive into the perpetual fire of Gehenna.
This window it is that gives entrance to the dark doctrine, first, of eternal torments, and afterwards of purgatory, and consequently of the walking abroad, especially in places consecrated, solitary, or dark, of the ghosts of men deceased; and thereby to the pretences of exorcism and conjuration of phantasms, as also of invocation of men dead; and to the doctrine of indulgences; that is to say, of exemption for a time, or for ever, from the fire of purgatory, wherein these incorporeal substances are pretended by burning to be cleansed and made fit for heaven. For men being generally possessed, before the time of our Saviour, by contagion of the demonology of the Greeks, of an opinion that the souls of men were substances distinct from their bodies; and therefore that when the body was dead, the soul of every man, whether godly or wicked, must subsist somewhere by virtue of its own nature, without acknowledging therein any supernatural gift of God's; the doctors of the Church doubted a long time what was the place which they were to abide in, till they should be reunited to their bodies in the resurrection, supposing for a while, they lay under the altars: but afterward the Church of Rome found it more profitable to build for them this place of purgatory, which by some other Churches, in this later age, has been demolished.
Let us now consider what texts of Scripture seem most to confirm these three general errors I have here touched. As for those which Cardinal Bellarmine hath alleged for the present kingdom of God administered by the Pope (than which there are none that make a better show of proof), I have already answered them; and made it evident that the kingdom of God, instituted by Moses, ended in the election of Saul: after which time the priest of his own authority never deposed any king. That which the high priest did to Athaliah was not done in his own right, but in the right of the young King Joash, her son: But Solomon in his own right deposed the high priest Abiathar, and set up another in his place. The most difficult place to answer, of all those that can be brought to prove the kingdom of God by Christ is already in this world, is alleged, not by Bellarmine, nor any other of the Church of Rome, but by Beza, that will have it to begin from the resurrection of Christ. But whether he intend thereby to entitle the presbytery to the supreme power ecclesiastical in the Commonwealth of Geneva, and consequently to every presbytery in every other Commonwealth, or to princes and other civil sovereigns, I do not know. For the presbytery hath challenged the power to excommunicate their own kings, and to be the supreme moderators in religion, in the places where they have that form of Church government, no less than the Pope challengeth it universally.
The words are, "Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." [Mark, 9. 1] Which words, if taken grammatically, make it certain that either some of those men that stood by Christ at that time are yet alive, or else that the kingdom of God must be now in this present world. And then there is another place more difficult: for when the Apostles after our Saviour's resurrection, and immediately before his ascension, asked our Saviour, saying, "Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" he answered them, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power; but ye shall receive power by the coming of the Holy Ghost upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth":[Acts, 1. 6] which is as much as to say, My kingdom is not yet come, nor shall you foreknow when it shall come; for it shall come as a thief in the night; but I will send you the Holy Ghost, and by him you shall have power to bear witness to all the world, by your preaching of my resurrection, and the works I have done, and the doctrine I have taught, that they may believe in me, and expect eternal life, at my coming again. How does this agree with the coming of Christ's kingdom at the resurrection? And that which St. Paul says, "That they turned from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven";[I Thessalonians, 1. 9, 10] where "to wait for His Son from heaven" is to wait for his coming to be king in power; which were not necessary if his kingdom had been then present. Again, if the kingdom of God began, as Beza on that place would have it, at the resurrection; what reason is there for Christians ever since the resurrection to say in their prayers, "Let thy kingdom come"? It is therefore manifest that the words of St. Mark are not so to be interpreted. There be some of them that stand here, saith our Saviour, that shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come in power. If then this kingdom were to come at the resurrection of Christ, why is it said, some of them, rather than all? For they all lived till after Christ was risen.
But they that require an exact interpretation of this text, let them interpret first the like words of our Saviour to St. Peter concerning St. John, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" [John, 21. 22] upon which was grounded a report that he should not die. Nevertheless the truth of that report was neither confirmed, as well grounded; nor refuted, as ill grounded on those words; but left as a saying not understood. The same difficulty is also in the place of St. Mark. And if it be lawful to conjecture at their meaning, by that which immediately follows, both here and in St. Luke, where the same is again repeated, it is not improbable to say they have relation to the Transfiguration, which is described in the verses immediately following, where it is said that "After six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John" (not all, but some of his Disciples), "and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus," etc. So that they saw Christ in glory and majesty, as he is to come; insomuch as "they were sore afraid." And thus the promise of our Saviour was accomplished by way of vision. For it was a vision, as may probably be inferred out of St. Luke, that reciteth the same story, and saith that Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: [Luke, 9. 28] but most certainly out of Matthew 17. 9 where the same is again related; for our Saviour charged them, saying, "Tell no man the vision until the Son of Man be risen from the dead." Howsoever it be, yet there can from thence be taken no argument to prove that the kingdom of God taketh beginning till the day of judgement.
As for some other texts to prove the Pope's power over civil sovereigns (besides those of Bellarmine), as that the two swords that Christ and his Apostles had amongst them were the spiritual and the temporal sword, which they say St. Peter had given him by Christ; and that of the two luminaries, the greater signifies the Pope, and the lesser the king; one might as well infer out of the first verse of the Bible that by heaven is meant the Pope, and by earth the king: which is not arguing from Scripture, but a wanton insulting over princes that came in fashion after the time the popes were grown so secure of their greatness as to contemn all Christian kings; and treading on the necks of emperors, to mock both them and the Scripture, in the words of the ninety-first Psalm, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and the dragon thou shalt trample under thy feet."
As for the rites of consecration, though they depend for the most part upon the discretion and judgement of the governors of the Church, and not upon the Scriptures; yet those governors are obliged to such direction as the nature of the action itself requireth; as that the ceremonies, words, gestures be both decent and significant, or at least conformable to the action. When Moses consecrated the tabernacle, the altar, and the vessels belonging to them, he anointed them with the oil which God had commanded to be made for that purpose: [Exodus, 40] and they were holy. There was nothing exorcized, to drive away phantasms. The same Moses (the civil sovereign of Israel), when he consecrated Aaron (the high priest) and his sons, did wash them with water (not exorcized water), put their garments upon them, and anointed them with oil; and they were sanctified, to minister unto the Lord in the priest's office, which was a simple and decent cleansing and adorning them before he presented them to God, to be His servants. When King Solomon (the civil sovereign of Israel) consecrated the temple he had built, he stood before all the congregation of Israel; and having blessed them, he gave thanks to God for putting into the heart of his father to build it, and for giving to himself the grace to accomplish the same; and then prayed unto Him, first, to accept that house, though it were not suitable to His infinite greatness, and to hear the prayers of His servants that should pray therein, or (if they were absent) towards it; and lastly, he offered a sacrifice of peace offering, and the house was dedicated. [II Kings, 8] Here was no procession; the King stood still in his first place; no exorcized water; no Asperges me, nor other impertinent application of words spoken upon another occasion; but a decent and rational speech, and such as in making to God a present of his new-built house was most conformable to the occasion.
We read not that St. John did exorcize the water of Jordan; nor Philip the water of the river wherein he baptized the eunuch; nor that any pastor in the time of the Apostles did take his spittle and put it to the nose of the person to be baptized, and say, in odorem suavitatis, that is, "for a sweet savour unto the Lord"; wherein neither the ceremony of spittle, for the uncleanness; nor the application of that Scripture, for the levity, can by any authority of man be justified.
To prove that the soul, separated from the body, liveth eternally, not only the souls of the elect, by especial grace, and restoration of the eternal life which Adam lost by sin, and our Saviour restored by the sacrifice of himself to the faithful; but also the souls of reprobates, as a property naturally consequent to the essence of mankind, without other grace of God but that which is universally given to all mankind; there are diverse places which at the first sight seem sufficiently to serve the turn: but such as when I compare them with that which I have before (Chapter thirty-eight) alleged out of the fourteenth of Job seem to me much more subject to a diverse interpretation than the words of Job.
And first there are the words of Solomon, "Then shall the dust return to dust, as it was, and the spirit shall return to God that gave it." [Ecclesiastes, 12. 7] Which may bear well enough (if there be no other text directly against it) this interpretation, that God only knows, but man not, what becomes of a man's spirit when he expireth; and the same Solomon, in the same book, delivereth the same sentence in the sense I have given it. His words are, "All go to the same place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again; who knoweth that the spirit of man goeth upward, and that the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth?" [Ibid., 3. 20, 21] That is, none knows but God; nor is it an unusual phrase to say of things we understand not, "God knows what," and "God knows where." That of Genesis, 5. 24, "Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him"; which is expounded, Hebrews, 11. 5, "He was translated, that he should not die; and was not found, because God had translated him. For before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God," making as much for the immortality of the body as of the soul, proveth that this his translation was peculiar to them that please God; not common to them with the wicked; and depending on grace, not on nature. But on the contrary, what interpretation shall we give, besides the literal sense of the words of Solomon, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so doth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, for all is vanity." [Ibid., 3. 19] By the literal sense, here is no natural immortality of the soul; nor yet any repugnancy with the life eternal, which the elect shall enjoy by grace. And, "Better is he that hath not yet been than both they";[Ibid., 4. 3] that is, than they that live or have lived; which, if the soul of all them that have lived were immortal, were a hard saying; for then to have an immortal soul were worse than to have no soul at all. And again, "The living know they shall die, but the dead know not anything";[Ibid., 9. 5] that is, naturally, and before the resurrection of the body.
Another place which seems to make for a natural immortality of the soul is that where our Saviour saith that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living: but this is spoken of the promise of God, and of their certitude to rise again, not of a life then actual; and in the same sense that God said to Adam that on the day he should eat of the forbidden fruit, he should certainly die; from that time forward he was a dead man by sentence; but not by execution, till almost a thousand years after. So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive by promise, then, when Christ spoke; but are not actually till the resurrection. And the history of Dives and Lazarus make nothing against this, if we take it, as it is, for a parable.
But there be other places of the New Testament where an immortality seemeth to be directly attributed to the to the wicked. For it is evident that they shall all rise to judgement. And it is said besides, in many places, that they shall go into "everlasting fire, everlasting torments, everlasting punishments; and that the worm of conscience never dieth"; and all this is comprehended in the word everlasting death, which is ordinarily interpreted "everlasting life in torments": and yet I can find nowhere that any man shall live in torments everlastingly. Also, it seemeth hard to say that God, who is the Father of mercies, that doth in heaven and earth all that He will; that hath the hearts of all men in His disposing; that worketh in men both to do and to will; and without whose free gift a man hath neither inclination to good nor repentance of evil, should punish men's transgressions without any end of time, and with all the extremity of torture that men can imagine, and more. We are therefore to consider what the meaning is of everlasting fire, and other the like phrases of Scripture.
I have shown already that the kingdom of God by Christ beginneth at the day of judgement: that in that day, the faithful shall rise again, with glorious and spiritual bodies and be his subjects in that his kingdom, which shall be eternal: that they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, nor eat and drink, as they did in their natural bodies; but live for ever in their individual persons, without the specifical eternity of generation: and that the reprobates also shall rise again, to receive punishments for their sins: as also that those of the elect, which shall be alive in their earthly bodies at that day, shall have their bodies suddenly changed, and made spiritual and immortal. But that the bodies of the reprobate, who make the kingdom of Satan, shall also be glorious or spiritual bodies, or that they shall be as the angels of God, neither eating, nor drinking, nor engendering; or that their life shall be eternal in their individual persons, as the life of every faithful man is, or as the life of Adam had been if he had not sinned, there is no place of Scripture to prove it; save only these places concerning eternal torments, which may otherwise be interpreted.
From whence may be inferred that, as the elect after the resurrection shall be restored to the estate wherein Adam was before he had sinned; so the reprobate shall be in the estate that Adam and his posterity were in after the sin committed; saving that God promised a redeemer to Adam, and such of his seed as should trust in him and repent, but not to them that should die in their sins, as do the reprobate.
These things considered, the texts that mention "eternal fire," "eternal torments," or "the worm that never dieth," contradict not the doctrine of a second and everlasting death, in the proper and natural sense of the word death. The fire or torments prepared for the wicked in Gehenna, Tophet, or in what place soever, may continue forever; and there may never want wicked men to be tormented in them, though not every nor any one eternally. For the wicked, being left in the estate they were in after Adam's sin, may at the resurrection live as they did, marry, and give in marriage, and have gross and corruptible bodies, as all mankind now have; and consequently may engender perpetually, after the resurrection, as they did before: for there is no place of Scripture to the contrary. For St. Paul, speaking of the resurrection, understandeth it only of the resurrection to life eternal, and not the resurrection to punishment. [I Corinthians, 15] And of the first, he saith that the body is "sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonour, raised in honour; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body." There is no such thing can be said of the bodies of them that rise to punishment. So also our Saviour, when he speaketh of the nature of man after the resurrection, meaneth the resurrection to life eternal, not to punishment. The text is Luke, 20, verses 34, 35, 36, a fertile text: "The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they that shall be counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: neither can they die any more; for they are equal to the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." The children of this world, that are in the estate which Adam left them in, shall marry and be given in marriage; that is, corrupt and generate successively; which is an immortality of the kind, but not of the persons of men: they are not worthy to be counted amongst them that shall obtain the next world, an absolute resurrection from the dead; but only a short time, as inmates of that world; and to the end only to receive condign punishment for their contumacy. The elect are the only children of the resurrection; that is to say, the sole heirs of eternal life: they only can die no more. It is they that are equal to the angels, and that are the children of God, and not the reprobate. To the reprobate there remaineth after the resurrection a second and eternal death, between which resurrection and their second and eternal death is but a time of punishment and torment, and to last by succession of sinners thereunto as long as the kind of man by propagation shall endure, which is eternally.
Upon this doctrine of the natural eternity of separated souls is founded, as I said, the doctrine of purgatory. For supposing eternal life by grace only, there is no life but the life of the body; and no immortality till the resurrection. The texts for purgatory alleged by Bellarmine out of the canonical Scripture of the Old Testament are, first, the fasting of David for Saul and Jonathan, mentioned II Samuel, 1. 12, and again, II Samuel, 3. 35, for the death of Abner. This fasting of David, he saith, was for the obtaining of something for them at God's hands, after their death: because after he had fasted to procure the recovery of his own child, as soon as he knew it was dead, he called for meat. Seeing then the soul hath an existence separate from the body, and nothing can be obtained by men's fasting for the souls that are already either in heaven or hell, it followeth that there be some souls of dead men that are neither in heaven nor in hell; and therefore they must be in some third place, which must be purgatory. And thus with hard straining, he has wrested those places to the proof of a purgatory: whereas it is manifest that the ceremonies of mourning and fasting, when they are used for the death of men whose life was not profitable to the mourners, they are used for honour's sake to their persons; and when it is done for the death of them by whose life the mourners had benefit, it proceeds from their particular damage: and so David honoured Saul and Abner with his fasting; and, in the death of his own child, recomforted himself by receiving his ordinary food. In the other places which he allegeth out of the Old Testament, there is not so much as any show or colour of proof. He brings in every text wherein there is the word anger, or fire, or burning, or purging, or cleansing, in case any of the fathers have but in a sermon rhetorically applied it to the doctrine of purgatory, already believed. The first verse of Psalm 37, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, nor chasten me in thy hot displeasure": what were this to purgatory, if Augustine had not applied the wrath to the fire of hell, and the displeasure to that of purgatory? And what is it to purgatory, that of Psalm, 66. 12 "We went through fire and water, and thou broughtest us to a moist place"; and other the like texts, with which the doctors of those times intended to adorn or extend their sermons or commentaries, haled to their purposes by force of wit?
But he allegeth other places of the New Testament that are not so easy to be answered. And first that of Matthew, 12. 32, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come"; where he will have purgatory to be the world to come, wherein some sins may be forgiven which in this world were not forgiven: notwithstanding that it is manifest there are but three worlds; one from the creation to the flood, which was destroyed by water, and is called in Scripture "the old world"; another from the flood to the day of judgement, which is "the present world, and shall be destroyed by fire; and the third, which shall be from the day of judgement forward, everlasting, which is called "the world to come"; and in which it agreed by all there shall be no purgatory: and therefore the world to come, and purgatory, are inconsistent. But what then can be the meaning of those our Saviour's words? I confess they are very hardly to be reconciled with all the doctrines now unanimously received: nor is it any shame to confess the profoundness of the Scripture to be too great to be sounded by the shortness of human understanding. Nevertheless, I may propound such things to the consideration of more learned divines, as the text itself suggesteth. And first, seeing to speak against the Holy Ghost, as being the third person of the Trinity, is to speak against the Church, in which the Holy Ghost resideth; it seemeth the comparison is made between the easiness of our Saviour in bearing with offences done to him while he himself taught the world, that is, when he was on earth, and the severity of the pastors after him, against those which should deny their authority, which was from the Holy Ghost. As if he should say, you that deny my power; nay, you that shall crucify me, shall be pardoned by me, as often as you turn unto me by repentance: but if you deny the power of them that teach you hereafter, by virtue of the Holy Ghost, they shall be inexorable, and shall not forgive you, but persecute you in this world, and leave you without absolution (though you turn to me, unless you turn also to them), to the punishments, as much as lies in them, of the world to come. And so the words may be taken as a prophecy or prediction concerning the times, as they have long been in the Christian Church: or if this be not the meaning (for I am not peremptory in such difficult places), perhaps there may be place left after the resurrection for the repentance of some sinners. And there is also another place that seemeth to agree therewith. For considering the words of St. Paul, "What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why also are they baptized for the dead?" [I Corinthians, 15. 29] a man may probably infer, as some have done, that in St. Paul's time there was a custom, by receiving baptism for the dead, (as men that now believe are sureties and undertakers for the faith of infants that are not capable of believing) to undertake for the persons of their deceased friends, that they should be ready to obey and receive our Saviour for their king at his coming again; and then the forgiveness of sins in the world to come has no need of a purgatory. But in both these interpretations, there is so much of paradox that I trust not to them, but propound them to those that are thoroughly versed in the Scripture, to inquire if there be no clearer place that contradicts them. Only of thus much, I see evident Scripture to persuade me that there is neither the word nor the thing of purgatory, neither in this nor any other text; nor anything that can prove a necessity of a place for the soul without the body; neither for the soul of Lazarus during the four days he was dead; nor for the souls of them which the Roman Church pretend to be tormented now in purgatory. For God, that could give a life to a piece of clay, hath the same power to give life again to a dead man, and renew his inanimate and rotten carcass into a glorious, spiritual, and immortal body.
Another place is that of I Corinthians, 3, where it is said that they which build stubble, hay, etc., on the true foundation, their work shall perish; but "they themselves shall be saved; but as through fire": this fire he will have to be the fire of purgatory. The words, as I have said before, are an allusion to those of Zechariah, 13. 9, where he saith, "I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried": which is spoken of the coming of the Messiah in power and glory; that is, at the day of judgement, and conflagration of the present world; wherein the elect shall not be consumed, but be refined; that is, depose their erroneous doctrines and traditions, and have them, as it were, singed off; and shall afterwards call upon the name of the true God. In like manner, the Apostle saith of them that, holding this foundation, Jesus is the Christ, shall build thereon some other doctrines that be erroneous, that they shall not be consumed in that fire which reneweth the world, but shall pass through it to salvation; but so as to see and relinquish their former errors. The builders are the pastors; the foundation, that Jesus is the Christ; the stubble and hay, false consequences drawn from it through ignorance or frailty; the gold, silver, and precious stones are their true doctrines; and their refining or purging, the relinquishing of their errors. In all which there is no colour at all for the burning of incorporeal, that is to say, impatible souls.
A third place is that of I Corinthians, 15. 29, before mentioned, concerning baptism for the dead: out of which he concludeth, first, that prayers for the dead are not unprofitable; and out of that, that there is a fire of purgatory: but neither of them rightly. For of many interpretations of the word baptism, he approveth this in the first place, that by baptism is meant, metaphorically, a baptism of penance; and that men are in this sense baptized when they fast, and pray, and give alms; and so baptism for the dead, and prayer for the dead, is the same thing. But this is a metaphor, of which there is no example, neither in the Scripture nor in any other use of language; and which is also discordant to the harmony and scope of the Scripture. The word baptism is used for being dipped in one's own blood, as Christ was upon the cross, and as most of the Apostles were, for giving testimony of him. [Mark, 10. 38, and Luke, 12. 50] But it is hard to say that prayer, fasting, and alms have any similitude with dipping. The same is used also, Matthew, 3. 11 (which seemeth to make somewhat for purgatory), for a purging with fire. But it is evident the fire and purging here mentioned is the same whereof the Prophet Zechariah speaketh, "I will bring the third part through the fire, will refine them," etc. [Zechariah, 13. 9] And St. Peter after him, "That the trial of your faith, which is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ";[I Epistle, 1. 7] and St. Paul, "The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." [I Corinthians, 3. 13] But St. Peter and St. Paul speak of the fire that shall be at the second appearing of Christ; and the Prophet Zechariah, of the day of judgement. And therefore this place of St. Matthew may be interpreted of the same, and then there will be no necessity of the fire of purgatory.
Another interpretation of baptism for the dead is that which I have before mentioned, which he preferreth to the second place of probability: and thence also he inferreth the utility of prayer for the dead. For if after the resurrection such as have not heard of Christ, or not believed in him, may be received into Christ's kingdom, it is not in vain, after their death, that their friends should pray for them till they should be risen. But granting that God, at the prayers of the faithful, may convert unto him some of those that have not heard Christ preached, and consequently cannot have rejected Christ, and that the charity of men in that point cannot be blamed; yet this concludeth nothing for purgatory, because to rise from death to life is one thing; to rise from purgatory to life is another; as being a rising from life to life, from a life in torments to a life in joy.
A fourth place is that of Matthew, 5. 25: "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." In which allegory, the offender is the sinner; both the adversary and the judge is God; the way is this life; the prison is the grave; the officer, death; from which the sinner shall not rise again to life eternal, but to a second death, till he have paid the utmost farthing, or Christ pay it for him by his Passion, which is a full ransom for all manner of sin, as well lesser sins as greater crimes, both being made by the Passion of Christ equally venial.
The fifth place is that of Matthew, 5. 22: "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be guilty in judgement. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be guilty in the council. But whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be guilty to hell fire." From which words he inferreth three sorts of sins, and three sorts of punishments; and that none of those sins, but the last, shall be punished with hell fire; and consequently, that after this life there is punishment of lesser sins in purgatory. Of which inference there is no colour in any interpretation that hath yet been given of them. Shall there be a distinction after this life of courts of justice, as there was amongst the Jews in our Saviour's time, to hear and determine diverse sorts of crimes, as the judges and the council? Shall not all judicature appertain to Christ and his Apostles? To understand therefore this text, we are not to consider it solitarily, but jointly with the words precedent and subsequent. Our Saviour in this chapter interpreteth the Law of Moses, which the Jews thought was then fulfilled when they had not transgressed the grammatical sense thereof, howsoever they had transgressed against the sentence or meaning of the legislator. Therefore, whereas they thought the sixth Commandment was not broken but by killing a man; nor the seventh, but when a man lay with a woman not his wife; our Saviour tells them, the inward anger of a man against his brother, if it be without just cause, is homicide. You have heard, saith he, the Law of Moses, "Thou shalt not kill," and that "Whosoever shall kill shall be condemned before the judges," or before the session of the Seventy: but I say unto you, to be angry with one's brother without cause, or to say unto him Raca, or Fool, is homicide, and shall be punished at the day of judgement, and session of Christ and his Apostles, with hell fire. So that those words were not used to distinguish between diverse crimes, and diverse courts of justice, and diverse punishments; but to tax the distinction between sin and sin, which the Jews drew not from the difference of the will in obeying God, but from the difference of their temporal courts of justice; and to show them that he that had the will to hurt his brother, though the effect appear but in reviling, or not at all, shall be cast into hell fire by the judges and by the session, which shall be the same, not different, courts at the day of judgement. This considered, what can be drawn from this text to maintain purgatory, I cannot imagine.
The sixth place is Luke, 16. 9: "Make ye friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting tabernacles." This he alleges to prove invocation of saints departed. But the sense is plain, that we should make friends, with our riches, of the poor; and thereby obtain their prayers whilst they live. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."
The seventh is Luke, 23. 42: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Therefore, saith he, there is remission of sins after this life. But the consequence is not good. Our Saviour then forgave him, and, at his coming again in glory, will remember to raise him again to life eternal.
The eighth is Acts, 2. 24, where St. Peter saith of Christ, "that God had raised him up, and loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible he should be holden of it": which he interprets to be a descent of Christ into purgatory, to loose some souls there from their torments: whereas it is manifest that it was Christ that was loosed. It was he that could not be holden of death or the grave, and not the souls in purgatory. But if that which Beza says in his notes on this place be well observed, there is none that will not see that instead of pains, it should be bands; and then there is no further cause to seek for purgatory in this text.
THE impression made on the organs of sight by lucid bodies, either in one direct line or in many lines, reflected from opaque, or refracted in the passage through diaphanous bodies, produceth in living creatures, in whom God hath placed such organs, an imagination of the object from whence the impression proceedeth; which imagination is called sight, and seemeth not to be a mere imagination, but the body itself without us; in the same manner as when a man violently presseth his eye, there appears to him a light without, and before him, which no man perceiveth but himself, because there is indeed no such thing without him, but only a motion in the interior organs, pressing by resistance outward, that makes him think so. And the motion made by this pressure, continuing after the object which caused it is removed, is that we call imagination, and memory, and, in sleep, and sometimes in great distemper of the organs by sickness or violence, a dream, of which things I have already spoken briefly in the second and third Chapters.
This nature of sight having never been discovered by the ancient pretenders to natural knowledge, much less by those that consider not things so remote (as that knowledge is) from their present use, it was hard for men to conceive of those images in the fancy and in the sense otherwise than of things really without us: which some, because they vanish away, they know not whither nor how, will have to be absolutely incorporeal, that is to say, immaterial, or forms without matter (colour and figure, without any coloured or figured body), and that they can put on airy bodies, as a garment, to make them visible when they will to our bodily eyes; and others say, are bodies and living and living creatures, but made of air, or other more subtle and ethereal matter, which is, then, when they will be seen, condensed. But both of them agree on one general appellation of them, demons. As if the dead of whom they dreamed were not inhabitants of their own brain, but of the air, or of heaven, or hell; not phantasms, but ghosts; with just as much reason as if one should say he saw his own ghost in a looking-glass, or the ghosts of the stars in a river; or call the ordinary apparition of the sun, of the quantity of about a foot, the demon or ghost of that great sun that enlighteneth the whole visible world: and by that means have feared them, as things of an unknown, that is, of an unlimited power to do them good or harm; and consequently, given occasion to the governors of the heathen Commonwealths to regulate this their fear by establishing that demonology (in which the poets, as principal priests of the heathen religion, were specially employed or reverenced) to the public peace, and to the obedience of subjects necessary thereunto; and to make some of them good demons, and others evil; the one as a spur to the observance, the other as reins to withhold them from violation of the laws.
What kind of things they were to whom they attributed the name of demons appeareth partly in the genealogy of their gods, written by Hesiod, one of the most ancient poets of the Grecians, and partly in other histories, of which I have observed some few before, in the twelfth Chapter of this discourse.
The Grecians, by their colonies and conquests communicated their language and writings into Asia, Egypt, and Italy; and therein, by necessary consequence, their demonology, or, as St. Paul calls it, their doctrines of devils: and by that means the contagion was derived also to the Jews, both of Judaea and Alexandria, and other parts, whereinto they were dispersed. But the name of demon they did not, as the Grecians, attribute to spirits both good and evil; but to the evil only: and to the good demons they gave the name of the Spirit of God, and esteemed those into whose bodies they entered to be prophets. In sum, all singularity, if good, they attributed to the Spirit of God; and if evil, to some demon, but a kakodaimen, an evil demon, that is, a devil. And therefore, they called demoniacs, that is, possessed by the devil, such as we call madmen or lunatics, or such as had the falling-sickness; or that spoke anything which they, for want of understanding, thought absurd. As also of an unclean person in a notorious degree, they used to say he had an unclean spirit; of a dumb man, that he had a dumb devil; and of John the Baptist, for the singularity of his fasting, that he had a devil; [Matthew, 11. 18] and of our Saviour, because he said, he that keepeth his sayings should not see death in aeternum, "Now we know thou hast a devil; Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead." [John, 8. 52] And again, because he said they went about to kill him, the people answered, "Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?" [John, 7. 20] Whereby it is manifest that the Jews had the same opinions concerning phantasms; namely, that they were not phantasms, that is, idols of the brain, but things real, and independent on the fancy.
Which doctrine, if it be not true, why, may some say, did not our Saviour contradict it, and teach the contrary? Nay, why does He use on diverse occasions such forms of speech as seem to confirm it? To this I answer that, first, where Christ saith, "A spirit hath not flesh and bone," [Luke, 24. 39] though he show that there be spirits, yet he denies not that they are bodies. And where St. Paul says, "We shall rise spiritual bodies," [I Corinthians, 15. 44] he acknowledgeth the nature of spirits, but that they are bodily spirits; which is not difficult to understand. For air and many other things are bodies, though not flesh and bone, or any other gross body to be discerned by the eye. But when our Saviour speaketh to the devil, and commandeth him to go out of a man, if by the devil be meant a disease, as frenzy, or lunacy, or a corporeal spirit, is not the speech improper? Can diseases hear? Or can there be a corporeal spirit in a body of flesh and bone, full already of vital and animal spirits? Are there not therefore spirits, that neither have bodies, nor are mere imaginations? To the first I answer that the addressing of our Saviour's command to the madness or lunacy he cureth is no more improper than was his rebuking of the fever, or of the wind and sea; for neither do these hear: or than was the command of God to the light, to the firmament, to the sun, and stars, when He commanded them to be; for they could not hear before they had a being. But those speeches are not improper, because they signify the power of God's word: no more therefore is it improper to command madness or lunacy, under the appellation of devils by which they were then commonly understood, to depart out of a man's body. To the second, concerning their being incorporeal, I have not yet observed any place of Scripture from whence it can be gathered that any man was ever possessed with any other corporeal spirit but that of his own by which his body is naturally moved.
Our Saviour, immediately after the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove, is said by St. Matthew to have been "led up by the Spirit into the wilderness";[Matthew, 4. 1] and the same is recited, Luke, 4. 1, in these words, "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, was led in the Spirit into the wilderness": whereby it is evident that by Spirit there is meant the Holy Ghost. This cannot be interpreted for a possession; for Christ and the Holy Ghost are but one and the same substance, which is no possession of one substance, or body, by another. And whereas in the verses following he is said "to have been taken up by the devil into the holy city, and set upon a pinnacle of the temple," shall we conclude thence that he was possessed of the devil, or carried thither by violence? And again, "carried thence by the devil into an exceeding high mountain, who showed him thence all the kingdoms of the world": wherein we are not to believe he was either possessed or forced by the devil; nor that any mountain is high enough, according to the literal sense to show him one whole hemisphere. What then can be the meaning of this place, other than that he went of himself into the wilderness; and that this carrying of him up and down, from the wilderness to the city, and from thence into a mountain, was a vision? Conformable whereunto is also the phrase of St. Luke, that he was led into the wilderness, not by, but in the Spirit: whereas, concerning his being taken up into the mountain, and unto the pinnacle of the temple, he speaketh as St. Matthew doth, which suiteth with the nature of a vision.
Again, where St. Luke says of Judas Iscariot that "Satan entered into him, and thereupon that he went and communed with the chief priests, and captains, how he might betray Christ unto them";[Luke, 22. 3, 4] it may be answered that by the entering of Satan (that is, the enemy) into him is meant the hostile and traitorous intention of selling his Lord and Master. For as by the Holy Ghost is frequently in Scripture understood the graces and good inclinations given by the Holy Ghost; so by the entering of Satan may be understood the wicked cogitations and designs of the adversaries of Christ and his Disciples. For as it is hard to say that the devil was entered into Judas, before he had any such hostile design; so it is impertinent to say he was first Christ's enemy in his heart, and that the devil entered into him afterwards. Therefore the entering of Satan, and his wicked purpose, was one and the same thing.
But if there be no immaterial spirit, nor any possession of men's bodies by any spirit corporeal, it may again be asked why our Saviour his Apostles did not teach the people so, and in such clear words as they might no more doubt thereof. But such questions as these are more curious than necessary for a Christian man's salvation. Men may as well ask why Christ, that could have given to all men faith, piety, and all manner of moral virtues, gave it to some only, and not to all: and why he left the search of natural causes and sciences to the natural reason and industry of men, and did not reveal it to all, or any man supernaturally; and many other such questions, of which nevertheless there may be alleged probable and pious reasons. For as God, when He brought the Israelites into the Land of Promise, did not secure them therein by subduing all the nations round about them, but left many of them, as thorns in their sides, to awaken from time to time their piety and industry: so our Saviour, in conducting us toward his heavenly kingdom, did not destroy all the difficulties of natural questions, but left them to exercise our industry and reason; the scope of his preaching being only to show us this plain and direct way to salvation, namely, the belief of this article, that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God, sent into the world to sacrifice himself for our sins, and, at his coming again, gloriously to reign over his elect, and to save them from their enemies eternally: to which the opinion of possession by spirits or phantasms is no impediment in the way, though it be to some an occasion of going out of the way, and to follow their own inventions. If we require of the Scripture an account of all questions which may be raised to trouble us in the performance of God's commands, we may as well complain of Moses for not having set down the time of the creation of such spirits, as well as of the creation of the earth and sea, and of men and beasts. To conclude, I find in Scripture that there be angels and spirits, good and evil; but not that they are incorporeal, as are the apparitions men see in the dark, or in a dream or vision, which the Latins call spectra, and took for demons. And I find that there are spirits corporeal, though subtle and invisible; but not that any man's body was possessed or inhabited by them, and that the bodies of the saints shall be such, namely, spiritual bodies, as St. Paul calls them.
Nevertheless, the contrary doctrine, namely, that there be incorporeal spirits, hath hitherto so prevailed in the Church that the use of exorcism (that is to say, of ejection of devils by conjuration) is thereupon built; and, though rarely and faintly practised, is not yet totally given over. That there were many demoniacs in the primitive Church, and few madmen, and other such singular diseases; whereas in these times we hear of, and see many madmen, and few demoniacs, proceeds not from the change of nature, but of names. But how it comes to pass that whereas heretofore the Apostles, and after them for a time the pastors of the Church, did cure those singular diseases, which now they are not seen to do; as likewise, why it is not in the power of every true believer now to do all that the faithful did then, that is to say, as we read "in Christ's name to cast out devils, to speak with new tongues, to take up serpents, to drink deadly poison without harm taking, and to cure the sick by the laying on of their hands," [Mark, 16. 17] and all this without other words but "in the name of Jesus," is another question. And it is probable that those extraordinary gifts were given to the Church for no longer a time than men trusted wholly to Christ, and looked for their felicity only in his kingdom to come; and consequently, that when they sought authority and riches, and trusted to their own subtlety for a kingdom of this world, these supernatural gifts of God were again taken from them.
Another relic of Gentilism is the worship of images, neither instituted by Moses in the Old, nor by Christ in the New Testament; nor yet brought in from the Gentiles; but left amongst them, after they had given their names to Christ. Before our Saviour preached, it was the general religion of the Gentiles to worship for gods those appearances that remain in the brain from the impression of external bodies upon the organs of their senses, which are commonly called ideas, idols, phantasms, conceits, as being representations of those external bodies which cause them, and have nothing in them of reality, no more than there is in the things that seem to stand before us in a dream. And this is the reason why St. Paul says, "We know that an idol is nothing": not that he thought that an image of metal, stone, or wood was nothing; but that the thing which they honored or feared in the image, and held for a god, was a mere figment, without place, habitation, motion, or existence, but in the motions of the brain. And the worship of these with divine honour is that which is in the Scripture called idolatry, and rebellion against God. For God being King of the Jews, and His lieutenant being first Moses, and afterward the high priest, if the people had been permitted to worship and pray to images (which are representations of their own fancies), they had had no further dependence on the true God, of whom there can be no similitude; nor on His prime ministers, Moses and the high priests; but every man had governed himself according to his own appetite, to the utter eversion of the Commonwealth, and their own destruction for want of union. And therefore the first law of God was: they should not take for gods, alienos deos, that is, the gods of other nations, but that only true God, who vouchsafed to commune with Moses, and by him to give them laws and directions for their peace, and for their salvation from their enemies. And the second was that they should not make to themselves any image to worship, of their own invention. For it is the same deposing of a king to submit to another king, whether he be set up by a neighbour nation or by ourselves.
The places of Scripture pretended to countenance the setting up of images to worship them, or to set them up at all in the places where God is worshipped, are, first, two examples; one of the cherubim over the Ark of God; the other of the brazen serpent: secondly, some texts whereby we are commanded to worship certain creatures for their relation to God; as to worship His footstool: and lastly, some other texts, by which is authorized a religious honouring of holy things. But before I examine the force of those places, to prove that which is pretended, I must first explain what is to be understood by worshipping, and what by images and idols.
I have already shown, in the twentieth Chapter of this discourse, that to honour is to value highly the power of any person, and that such value is measured by our comparing him with others. But because there is nothing to be compared with God in power, we honour Him not, but dishonour Him, by any value less than infinite. And thus honour is properly of its own nature secret, and internal in the heart. But the inward thoughts of men, which appear outwardly in their words and actions, are the signs of our honouring, and these go by the name of worship; in Latin, cultus. Therefore, to pray to, to swear by, to obey, to be diligent and officious in serving; in sum, all words and actions that betoken fear to offend, or desire to please, is worship, whether those words and actions be sincere or feigned: and because they appear as signs of honouring are ordinarily also called honour.
The worship we exhibit to those we esteem to be but men, as to kings and men in authority, is civil worship: but the worship we exhibit to that which we think to be God, whatsoever the words, ceremonies, gestures, or other actions be, is divine worship. To fall prostrate before a king, in him that thinks him but a man, is but civil worship: and he that but putteth off his hat in the church, for this cause, that he thinketh it the house of God, worshippeth with divine worship. They that seek the distinction of divine and civil worship, not in the intention of the worshipper, but in the words douleia and latreia, deceive themselves. For whereas there be two sorts of servants: that sort which is of those that are absolutely in the power of their masters, as slaves taken in war, and their issue, whose bodies are not in their own power (their lives depending on the will of their masters, in such manner as to forfeit them upon the least disobedience), and that are bought and sold as beasts, were called Douloi, that is properly, slaves, and their service, Douleia; the other, which is of those that serve for hire, or in hope of benefit from their masters voluntarily, are called Thetes, that is, domestic servants; to whose service the masters have no further right than is contained in the covenants made betwixt them. These two kinds of servants have thus much common to them both, that their labour is appointed them by another: and the word Latris is the general name of both, signifying him that worketh for another, whether as a slave or a voluntary servant. So that latreia signifieth generally all service; but douleia the service of bondmen only, and the condition of slavery: and both are used in Scripture, to signify our service of God, promiscuously. Douleia, because we are God's slaves; latreia, because we serve Him: and in all kinds of service is contained, not only obedience, but also worship; that is, such actions, gestures, and words as signify honour.
An image, in the most strict signification of the word, is the resemblance of something visible: in which sense the fantastical forms, apparitions, or seemings of visible bodies to the sight, are only images; such as are the show of a man or other thing in the water, by reflection or refraction; or of the sun or stars by direct vision in the air; which are nothing real in the things seen, nor in the place where they seem to be; nor are their magnitudes and figures the same with that of the object, but changeable, by the variation of the organs of sight, or by glasses; and are present oftentimes in our imagination, and in our dreams, when the object is absent; or changed into other colours, and shapes, as things that depend only upon the fancy. And these are the images which are originally and most properly called ideas and idols, and derived from the language of the Grecians, with whom the word eido signifieth to see. They are also called phantasms, which is in the same language, apparitions. And from these images it is that one of the faculties of man's nature is called the imagination. And from hence it is manifest that there neither is, nor can be, any image made of a thing invisible.
It is also evident that there can be no image of a thing infinite: for all the images and phantasms that are made by the impression of things visible are figured. But figure is quantity every way determined, and therefore there can be no image of God, nor of the soul of man, nor of spirits; but only of bodies visible, that is, bodies that have light in themselves, or are by such enlightened.
And whereas a man can fancy shapes he never saw, making up a figure out of the parts of diverse creatures, as the poets make their centaurs, chimeras, and other monsters never seen: so can he also give matter to those shapes, and make them in wood, clay, or metal. And these are also called images, not for the resemblance of any corporeal thing, but for the resemblance of some fantastical inhabitants of the brain of the maker. But in these idols, as they are originally in the brain, and as they are painted, carved, moulded, or molten in matter, there is a similitude of the one to the other, for which the material body made by art may be said to be the image of the fantastical idol made by nature.
But in a larger use of the word image is contained also any representation of one thing by another. So an earthly sovereign may be called the image of God, and an inferior magistrate the image of an earthly sovereign. And many times in the idolatry of the Gentiles there was little regard to the similitude of their material idol to the idol in their fancy, and yet it was called the image of it. For a stone unhewn has been set up for Neptune, and diverse other shapes far different from the shapes they conceived of their gods. And at this day we see many images of the Virgin Mary, and other saints, unlike one another, and without correspondence to any one man's fancy; and yet serve well enough for the purpose they were erected for, which was no more but by the names only to represent the persons mentioned in the history; to which every man applieth a mental image of his own making, or none at all. And thus an image, in the largest sense, is either the resemblance or the representation of some thing visible; or both together, as it happeneth for the most part.
But the name of idol is extended yet further in Scripture, to signify also the sun, or a star, or any other creature, visible or invisible, when they are worshipped for gods.
Having shown what is worship, and what an image, I will now put them together, and examine what that idolatry is which is forbidden in the second Commandment, and other places of the Scripture.
To worship an image is voluntarily to do those external acts which are signs of honouring either the matter of the image (which is wood, stone, metal, or some other visible creature), or the phantasm of the brain for the resemblance or representation whereof the matter was formed and figured, or both together as one animate body composed of the matter and the phantasm, as of a body and soul.
To be uncovered, before a man of power and authority, or before the throne of a prince, or in such other places as he ordaineth to that purpose in his absence, is to worship that man or prince with civil worship; as being a sign, not of honouring the stool or place, but the person, and is not idolatry. But if he that doth it should suppose the soul of the prince to be in the stool, or should present a petition to the stool, it were divine worship, and idolatry.
To pray to a king for such things as he is able to do for us, though we prostrate ourselves before him, is but civil worship, because we acknowledge no other power in him but human: but voluntarily to pray unto him for fair weather, or for anything which God only can do for us, is divine worship, and idolatry. On the other side, if a king compel a man to it by the terror of death, or other great corporal punishment, it is not idolatry; for the worship which the sovereign commandeth to be done unto himself by the terror of his laws is not a sign that he that obeyeth him does inwardly honour him as a god, but that he is desirous to save himself from death, or from a miserable life: and that which is not a sign of internal honour is no worship, and therefore no idolatry. Neither can it be said that he that does it scandalizeth or layeth any stumbling block before his brother: because how wise or learned soever he be that worshippeth in that manner, another man cannot from thence argue that he approveth it, but that he doth it for fear; and that it is not his act, but the act of his sovereign.
To worship God in some peculiar place, or turning a man's face towards an image or determinate place, is not to worship or honour the place or image, but to acknowledge it holy; that is to say, to acknowledge the image or the place to be set apart from common use, for that is the meaning of the word holy; which implies no new quality in the place or image, but only a new relation by appropriation to God, and therefore is not idolatry; no more than it was idolatry to worship God before the brazen serpent; or for the Jews, when they were out of their own country, to turn their faces, when they prayed, toward the temple of Jerusalem; or for Moses to put off his shoes when he was before the flaming bush, the ground appertaining to Mount Sinai, which place God had chosen to appear in, and to give His laws to the people of Israel, and was therefore holy ground, not by inherent sanctity, but by separation to God's use; or for Christians to worship in the churches which are once solemnly dedicated to God for that purpose by the authority of the king or other true representant of the Church. But to worship God as inanimating or inhabiting such image or place; that is to say, an infinite substance in a finite place, is idolatry: for such finite gods are but idols of the brain, nothing real, and are commonly called in the Scripture by the names of vanity, and lies, and nothing. Also to worship God, not as inanimating, or present in the place or image, but to the end to be put in mind of Him, or of some works of His, in case the place or image be dedicated or set up by private authority, and not by the authority of them that are our sovereign pastors, is idolatry. For the Commandment is, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image." God commanded Moses to set up the brazen serpent; he did not make it to himself; it was not therefore against the Commandment. But the making of the golden calf by Aaron and the people, as being done without authority from God, was idolatry; not only because they held it for God, but also because they made it for a religious use, without warrant either from God their Sovereign, or from Moses that was His lieutenant.
The Gentiles worshipped, for gods, Jupiter and others that, living, were men perhaps that had done great and glorious acts; and, for the children of God, diverse men and women, supposing them gotten between an immortal deity and a mortal man. This was idolatry, because they made them so to themselves, having no authority from God, neither in His eternal law of reason, nor in His positive and revealed will. But though our Saviour was a man, whom we also believe to be God immortal and the Son of God, yet this is no idolatry, because we build not that belief upon our own fancy or judgement, but upon the word of God revealed in the Scriptures. And for the adoration of the Eucharist, if the words of Christ, "This is my body," signify that he himself, and the seeming bread in his hand, and not only so, but that all the seeming morsels of bread that have ever since been, and any time hereafter shall be, consecrated by priests, be so many Christ's bodies, and yet all of them but one body, then is that no idolatry, because it is authorized by our Saviour: but if that text do not signify that (for there is no other that can be alleged for it), then, because it is a worship of human institution, it is idolatry. For it is not enough to say, God can transubstantiate the bread into Christ's body, for the Gentiles also held God to be omnipotent, and might upon that ground no less excuse their idolatry, by pretending, as well as others, a transubstantiation of their wood and stone into God Almighty.
Whereas there be, that pretend divine inspiration to be a supernatural entering of the Holy Ghost into a man, and not an acquisition of God's graces by doctrine and study, I think they are in a very dangerous dilemma. For if they worship not the men whom they believe to be so inspired, they fall into impiety, as not adoring God's supernatural presence. And again, if they worship them they commit idolatry, for the Apostles would never permit themselves to be so worshipped. Therefore the safest way is to believe that by the descending of the dove upon the Apostles, and by Christ's breathing on them when he gave them the Holy Ghost, and by the giving of it by imposition of hands, are understood the signs which God hath been pleased to use, or ordain to be used, of his promise to assist those persons in their study to preach His kingdom, and in their conversation, that it might not be scandalous, but edifying to others.
Besides the idolatrous worship of images, there is also a scandalous worship of them, which is also a sin, but not idolatry. For idolatry is to worship by signs of an internal and real honour; but scandalous worship is but seeming worship, and may sometimes be joined with an inward and hearty detestation, both of the image and of the fantastical demon or idol to which it is dedicated; and proceed only from the fear of death or other grievous punishment; and is nevertheless a sin in them that so worship, in case they be men whose actions are looked at by others as lights to guide them by; because following their ways, they cannot but stumble and fall in the way of religion: whereas the example of those we regard not, works not on us at all, but leaves us to our own diligence and caution, and consequently are no causes of our falling.
If therefore a pastor lawfully called to teach and direct others, or any other, of whose knowledge there is a great opinion, do external honour to an idol for fear; unless he make his fear and unwillingness to it as evident as the worship, he scandalizeth his brother by seeming to approve idolatry. For his brother arguing from the action of his teacher, or of him whose knowledge he esteemeth great, concludes it to be lawful in itself. And this scandal is sin, and a scandal given. But if one being no pastor, nor of eminent reputation for knowledge in Christian doctrine, do the same, and another follow him, this is no scandal given (for he had no cause to follow such example), but is a pretence of scandal which he taketh of himself for an excuse before men. For an unlearned man that is in the power of an idolatrous king or state, if commanded on pain of death to worship before an idol, he detesteth the idol in his heart: he doth well; though if he had the fortitude to suffer death, rather than worship it, he should do better. But if a pastor, who as Christ's messenger has undertaken to teach Christ's doctrine to all nations, should do the same, it were not only a sinful scandal, in respect of other Christian men's consciences, but a perfidious forsaking of his charge.
The sum of that which I have said hitherto, concerning the worship of images, is this, that he that worshippeth in an image, or any creature, either the matter thereof, or any fancy of his own which he thinketh to dwell in it; or both together; or believeth that such things hear his prayers, or see his devotions, without ears or eyes, committeth idolatry. And he that counterfeiteth such worship for fear of punishment, if he be a man whose example hath power amongst his brethren, committeth a sin. But he that worshippeth the Creator of the world before such an image, or in such a place as he hath not made or chosen of himself, but taken from the commandment of God's word, as the Jews did in worshipping God before the cherubim, and before the brazen serpent for a time, and in or towards the temple of Jerusalem, which was also but for a time, committeth not idolatry.
Now for the worship of saints, and images, and relics, and other things at this day practised in the Church of Rome, I say they are not allowed by the word of God, nor brought into the Church of Rome from the doctrine there taught; but partly left in it at the first conversion of the Gentiles, and afterwards countenanced, and confirmed, and augmented by the bishops of Rome.
As for the proofs alleged out of Scripture; namely, those examples of images appointed by God to be set up; they were not set up for the people or any man to worship, but that they should worship God Himself before them; as before the cherubim over the Ark, and the brazen serpent. For we read not that the priest or any other did worship the cherubim. But contrarily we read that Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent which Moses had set up, [II Kings, 18. 4] because the people burnt incense to it. Besides, those examples are not put for our imitation, that we also should set up images, under pretence of worshipping God before them; because the words of the second Commandment, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image," etc., distinguish between the images that God commanded to be set up, and those which we set up to ourselves. And therefore from the cherubim or brazen serpent, to the images of man's devising; and from the worship commanded by God, to the will-worship of men, the argument is not good. This also is to be considered, that as Hezekiah broke in pieces the brazen serpent, because the Jews did worship it, to the end they should do so no more; so also Christian sovereigns ought to break down the images which their subjects have been accustomed to worship, that there be no more occasion of such idolatry. For at this day the ignorant people, where images are worshipped, do really believe there is a divine power in the images; and are told by their pastors that some of them have spoken, and have bled; and that miracles have been done by them; which they apprehend as done by the saint, which they think either is the image itself, or in it. The Israelites, when they worshipped the calf, did think they worshipped the God that brought them out of Egypt, and yet it was idolatry, because they thought the calf either was that God, or had Him in his belly. And though some man may think it impossible for people to be so stupid as to think the image to be God, or a saint, or to worship it in that notion, yet it is manifest in Scripture to the contrary; where, when the golden calf was made, the people said, "These are thy gods, O Israel";[Exodus, 32] and where the images of Laban are called his gods. [Genesis, 31. 30] And we see daily by experience in all sorts of people that such men as study nothing but their food and ease are content to believe any absurdity, rather than to trouble themselves to examine it, holding their faith as it were by entail unalienable, except by an express and new law.
But they infer from some other places that it is lawful to paint angels, and also God Himself: as from God's walking in the garden; from Jacob's seeing God at the top of the ladder; and from other visions and dreams. But visions and dreams, whether natural or supernatural, are but phantasms: and he that painteth an image of any of them, maketh not an image of God, but of his own phantasm, which is making of an idol. I say not, that to draw a picture after a fancy is a sin; but when it is drawn, to hold it for a representation of God is against the second Commandment and can be of no use but to worship. And the same may be said of the images of angels, and of men dead; unless as monuments of friends, or of men worthy remembrance: for such use of an image is not worship of the image, but a civil honouring of the person; not that is, but that was: but when it is done to the image which we make of a saint, for no other reason but that we think he heareth our prayers, and is pleased with the honour we do him, when dead and without sense, we attribute to him more than human power, and therefore it is idolatry.
Seeing therefore there is no authority, neither in the Law of Moses nor in the Gospel, for the religious worship of images or other representations of God which men set up to themselves, or for the worship of the image of any creature in heaven, or earth, or under the earth; and whereas Christian kings, who are living representants of God, are not to be worshipped by their subjects by any act that signifieth a greater esteem of his power than the nature of mortal man is capable of; it cannot be imagined that the religious worship now in use was brought into the Church by misunderstanding of the Scripture. It resteth therefore that it was left in it by not destroying the images themselves in the conversion of the Gentiles that worshipped them.
The cause whereof was the immoderate esteem and prices set upon the workmanship of them, which made the owners, though converted from worshipping them as they had done religiously for demons, to retain them still in their houses, upon pretence of doing it in the honor of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the Apostles, and other the pastors of the primitive Church; as being easy, by giving them new names, to make that an image of the Virgin Mary and of her Son our Saviour, which before perhaps was called the image of Venus and Cupid; and so of a Jupiter to make a Barnabas, and of Mercury, a Paul, and the like. And as worldly ambition, creeping by degrees into the pastors, drew them to an endeavour of pleasing the new-made Christians; and also to a liking of this kind of honour, which they also might hope for after their decease, as well as those that had already gained it: so the worshipping of the images of Christ and his Apostles grew more and more idolatrous; save that somewhat after the time of Constantine diverse emperors, and bishops, and general councils observed and opposed the unlawfulness thereof, but too late or too weakly.
The canonizing of saints is another relic of Gentilism: it is neither a misunderstanding of Scripture, nor a new invention of the Roman Church, but a custom as ancient as the Commonwealth of Rome itself. The first that ever was canonized at Rome was Romulus, and that upon the narration of Julius Proculus, that swore before the Senate he spoke with him after his death, and was assured by him he dwelt in heaven, and was there called Quirinus, and would be propitious to the state of their new city: and thereupon the Senate gave public testimony of his sanctity. Julius Caesar, and other emperors after him, had the like testimony; that is, were canonized for saints: for by such testimony is canonization now defined, and is the same with the apotheosis of the heathen.
It is also from the Roman heathen that the popes have received the name and power of Pontifex Maximus. This was the name of him that in the ancient Commonwealth of Rome had the supreme authority under the Senate and people of regulating all ceremonies and doctrines concerning their religion: and when Augustus Caesar changed the state into a monarchy, he took to himself no more but this office, and that of tribune of the people (that is to say, the supreme power both in state and religion); and the succeeding emperors enjoyed the same. But when the Emperor Constantine lived, who was the first that professed and authorized Christian religion, it was consonant to his profession to cause religion to be regulated, under his authority, by the bishop of Rome: though it do not appear they had so soon the name of Pontifex; but rather that the succeeding bishops took it of themselves, to countenance the power they exercised over the bishops of the Roman provinces. For it is not any privilege of St. Peter, but the privilege of the city of Rome, which the emperors were always willing to uphold, that gave them such authority over other bishops; as may be evidently seen by that, that the bishop of Constantinople, when the Emperor made that city the seat of the Empire, pretended to be equal to the bishop of Rome; though at last, not without contention, the Pope carried it, and became the Pontifex Maximus; but in right only of the Emperor, and not without the bounds of the Empire, nor anywhere after the Emperor had lost his power in Rome, though it were the Pope himself that took his power from him. From whence we may by the way observe that there is no place for the superiority of the Pope over other bishops, except in the territories whereof he is himself the civil sovereign; and where the emperor, having sovereign power civil, hath expressly chosen the Pope for the chief pastor under himself of his Christian subjects.
The carrying about of images in procession is another relic of the religion of the Greeks and Romans, for they also carried their idols from place to place, in a kind of chariot, which was peculiarly dedicated to that use, which the Latins called thensa, and vehiculum Deorum; and the image was placed in a frame, or shrine, which they called ferculum. And that which they called pompa is the same that now is named procession; according whereunto, amongst the divine honours which were given to Julius Caesar by the Senate, this was one, that in the pomp, or procession, at the Circaean games, he should have thensam et ferculum, a sacred chariot and a shrine; which was as much as to be carried up and down as a god, just as at this day the popes are carried by Switzers under a canopy.
To these processions also belonged the bearing of burning torches and candles before the images of the gods, both amongst the Greeks and Romans. For afterwards the emperors of Rome received the same honor; as we read of Caligula, that at his reception to the Empire he was carried from Misenum to Rome in the midst of a throng of people, the ways beset with altars, and beasts for sacrifice, and burning torches; and of Caracalla, that was received into Alexandria with incense, and with casting of flowers, and dadouchiais, that is, with torches; for dadochoi were they that amongst the Greeks carried torches lighted in the processions of their gods. And in process of time the devout but ignorant people did many times honour their bishops with the like pomp of wax candles, and the images of our Saviour and the saints, constantly, in the church itself. And thus came in the use of wax candles and was also established by some of the ancient councils.
The heathens had also their aqua lustralis, that is to say, holy water. The Church of Rome imitates them also in their holy days. They had their bacchanalia, and we have our wakes, answering to them; they their saturnalia, and we our carnivals and Shrove Tuesday's liberty of servants; they their procession of Priapus, we our fetching in, erection, and dancing about Maypoles; and dancing is one kind of worship. They had their procession called Ambarvalia, and we our procession about the fields in the Rogation week. Nor do I think that these are all the ceremonies that have been left in the Church, from the first conversion of the Gentiles, but they are all that I can for the present call to mind. And if a man would well observe that which is delivered in the histories, concerning the religious rites of the Greeks and Romans, I doubt not but he might find many more of these old empty bottles of Gentilism which the doctors of the Roman Church, either by negligence or ambition, have filled up again with the new wine of Christianity, that will not fail in time to break them.