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it may by a rational deduction be collected from some other opinion, which he does hold: in this latter sense, I deny not but Epiphanius might impute this opinion, we speak of, to the Collyridians, as a consequence upon their practice, which practice they esteemed lawful; but that they held it and owned it formally, and in terms; this, I say, Epiphanius does not impute to them, which I think for these seven reasons.
My first reason is, because he could not justly do so, and therefore without evident proof we may not say he did so; for this were to be uncharitable to him, in making him uncharitable to others. Now I say he could not justly charge them with this opinion, because he was not informed of any such opinion that they held, but only of their practice, and this practice was no sufficient proof that they held this opinion. That his information reached no further than their practice, appears out of his own words: "I have heard (saith he, hæres. 78.) another thing with great astonishment, that some being madly affected to the blessed Virgin, endeavour to bring her in in God's place, being mad and beside themselves for they report, that certain women in Arabia have devised this vanity, to have meetings, and offer a cake to the blessed Virgin." The same practice he sets down, hæres. 79. But that he was informed of any such opinion that they held, he has not a word or syllable to any such purpose; and yet if he had been informed of any, here had been the place to set it down; which certainly, writing his book rather of heretical opinions than practices, he would not have omitted to do, if there had been occasion: his silence therefore is a suffi
cient argument, that he was not informed of any such opinion that they held.
Now that their practice was no assurance that they held this opinion, it is manifest; because they might ground it, not upon this opinion, that she was God, but upon another as false, though not altogether so impious, that the worship of obla tions was not proper to God alone. And therefore, though Epiphanius might think, or fear, that possibly they might ground their practice upon that other impious opinion, and therefore out of abundant caution confute that also, as he doth obliquely and in a word, and once only in all this long discourse, by telling them that our Saviour called her woman; yet he had no ground from their practice to assure himself, that certainly they did hold so. Nay, justice and reason and charity would, that he should incline himself to believe, that they grounded their practice upon that other opinion, which had less impiety in it; that is, that this worship of oblations was not proper to God, but communicable to creatures high in his favour.
My second is, because, if Epiphanius had known, that these Collyridians held the blessed Virgin to be a supreme power and deity, this being a far greater matter than offering a cake to her, should in all probability rather have given them their denomination; at least when he sets down what their heresy was; he would have made this part of it, that they did believe so: but to the contrary, in his Anacephalæosis, p. 130, he thus describes them: "they that offer to the name of the blessed Virgin cakes, who are called Collyridians." And again, p. 105, "they that offer to the blessed Virgin cakes, who are called Collyri
dians" so to the seventy-ninth heresy he gives this title, "Against the Collyridians, who offer to Mary:" so hæres. 78 and 79. he sets down what he heard of them; but no where, that they held this opinion of her. I conclude, therefore, that he never conceived this opinion to be a part of their heresy, and they were no further chargeable with it, than as a probable consequent upon their practice.
My third is, because, had the Collyridians held her God, they would have worshipped her all the year long, and not only once a year at a solemn time, as Epiphanius says they did.
My fourth is, because, if Epiphanius had known, that they held her God, he would questionless have urged them with those attributes which are given to God in Scripture, as eternity, immortality, impassibility, omnipotence, &c. and shewed them, that if they believed the Scripture, they could not think of her any of those things; if they did not, they had no reason to think of her any thing more than of an ordinary woman.
My fifth is, because, had their opinion been, that the blessed Virgin was God, a great part of Epiphanius's discourse were plainly ridiculous; both where he says only without proof, she was not a God, but a mortal creature, which to them that held the contrary should not have been said, but proved; but especially where he speaks to this purpose, (as he does very frequently) that the honour of oblations was not to be given to angels or men, much less to women, but only to God: for what had that been to the Collyridians, if they thought her (as is pretended) a sovereign power and deity? To what purpose was it for Epiphanius to ask, Quis propheta? "What prophet ever
permitted, that a man, much less a woman, should be adored, though he be yet alive? Nor John, nor Tecla, nor any other saint. For neither shall the old superstition have dominion over us, that, leaving the living God, we should adore his creatures:' to what end, I say, was all this, if they thought her not a saint, nor creature, but God himself, and the Lord of all? How did this argument touch them? Ne angelos quidem-“He suffers not the very angels to be adored, how much less the daughter of Anna." If they thought her not the daughter of Anna, but God eternal, in vain had it been to say to them-Not to a woman, no, nor to a man, but to God alone, is this mystery (of oblation) due. So that the angels themselves are not fit subjects for such an honour. Or again: "Let the creature be turned to the Creator: let shame at length compel you to worship God alone." Or, lastly, that, so often repeated: "Let Mary be honoured, but the Lord only adored." For they might have answered all this in a word, saying, All this discourse sits beside the cushion, and concerns us and our offerings nothing at all: for we believe the blessed Virgin, to whom we offer, neither man, nor woman, nor angel, nor creature, but a deity.
A sixth reason let it be this: If Epiphanius did indeed say of the Collyridians, as is pretended, that they held the Virgin Mary God, and so difference their practice from the papists; then the author of this answer, and Petavius in his translation, needed not to have directed to him what he should say, nor make him say so, whether he will or not but it is evident they do so, as of the author of this answer I have already shewn; and, for Petavius's part, I will so present it to your
view, that if you will not shut your eyes, you shall not choose but see it.
First, then, hæres. 78. prope finem, he (Petavius) set in his margin, quidam Deum Mariam esse crediderunt; and, to countenance this with a loquuntur of his own putting in, makes them speak of her like mad men, i. e. they said she was God; whereas in Epiphanius's Greek they say just nothing.
Secondly, To fasten the pretended opinion on them, he translates κEvopovnμa, novum dogma; presuming, it seems, Kevopávnuа would easily be mistaken for kaivopávnμa; and therefore means nothing by it, but a vanity or folly.
Thirdly, He translates TouToys, illud; and so makes it look backward to that pretended novum dogma of the Collyridians; whereas it signifies there (and) and looks forward to their practice.
Fourthly, With the help of a colon, he stops the sense at commentas fuisse; whereas in Epiphanius there is but a comma, and the sense goes on without suspension.
Fifthly, With an adeo ut, he brings in their action, as an effect of their former opinion; whereas Epiphanius lays nothing to their charge but their action only: so that, whereas Epiphanius's words truly translated run thus: "Another thing I have received with great astonishment, that others being mad concerning the blessed Virgin, have and do go about to bring her in in the place of God; being mad, I say, and beside themselves: for they report, that certain women in Arabia, have brought this vanity of offering a cake to her name:" Petavius makes them thus: "Not without admiration we have heard another thing, that some in these things that concern the most holy Virgin, have