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and make no approaches to heathenism, and follow the pat- AR T. tern set us by the primitive church. And as our simplicity of XX1 worship needs not be defended, since it proves itself; so no proofs are brought for the other side, but only a pretended usefulness in outward figures, to raise the mind by the senses to just apprehensions of spiritual objects; which, allowing it true, will only conclude for the historical use of images, but not for the directing our worship towards them. But the effect is quite contrary to the pretence; for, instead of raising the mind by the senses, the mind is rather sunk by them into gross ideas.
The bias of human nature lies to sense, and to form gross imaginations of incorporeal objects; and therefore, instead of gratifying these, we ought to wean our minds from them, and to raise them above them all we can. Even men of speculation and abstraction feel nature in this grows too hard for them; but the vulgar is apt to fall so headlong into these conceits, that it looks like the laying of snares for them, to furnish them with such methods and helps for their having gross thoughts of spiritual objects. The fondness that the people have for images, their readiness to believe the most incredible stories concerning them, the expense they are at to enrich and adorn them, their prostrations before them, their confidence in them, their humble and tender embracing and kissing of them, their pompous and heathenish processions to do them honour, the fraternities erected for particular images, not to mention the more universal and established practices of directing their prayers to them, of setting lights before them, and of incensing them; these, I say, are things too well known, to such as have seen the way of that religion, that they should need to be much enlarged on; and yet they are not only allowed of, but encouraged. Those among them who have too much good sense that they should sink into those foolish apprehensions themselves, yet must not only bear with them, but often comply with them to avoid the giving of scandal, as they call it; not considering the much greater scandal that they give, when they encourage others by their practice to go on in these follies. The enlarging into all the corruptions occasioned by this way of worship would carry me far; but it seems not necessary, the thing is so plain in itself.
The next head in this Article is a full instance of it, which is, the worship of relics. It is no wonder that great care was taken in the beginnings of Christianity, to shew all possible respect and tenderness even to the bodies of the martyrs. There is something of this planted so deep in human nature, that though the philosophy of it cannot be so well made out, yet it seems to be somewhat more than an universal custom; humanity is of its side, and is apt to carry men to the profusions of pomp and cost: all religions do agree in this, so that we need not wonder if Christians, in the first fervour of
with seems only coshipping empon reli
ART. their religion, believing the resurrection so firmly as they did, XXII. and having a high sense of the honour done to Christ and his
religion by the sufferings of the martyrs; if, I say, they studied
to gather their bones and ashes together, and bury them deEp. Ecc. cently. They thought it a sign of their being joined with them
yre in one, body, to hold their assemblies at the places where they apud Euseb. 1.4. were buried : this might be also considered as a motive to enc. 15. Jul. courage others to follow the example that they had given them, Ap. Cyril. even to
. even to martyrdom: and therefore all the marks of honour x. Ennap. were put even upon their bodies that could be thought on, in vita
except worship. After the ages of persecution were over, Ædess. a fondness of having and keeping their relics began to spread
itself in many places. Monks fed that humour by carrying Aug. de them about. We find in St. Austin's works, that superstition opere mom was making a great progress in Afric upon these heads, of nach.c. 28.
which he complains frequently. Vigilantius had done it to
more purpose in Spain; and did not only complain of the Hieron. excesses, but of the thing in itself. St. Jerome fell unmer
cifully upon him for it, and sets a high value upon relics, yet he does not speak one word of worshipping them; he denies and disclaims it, and seems only to allow of a great fondness for them; and, with most of that age, he was very apt to believe, that miracles were oft wrought by them. When superstition is once suffered to mix with religion, it will be still gaining ground, and it admits of no bounds : so this matter went on, and new legends were invented; but when the controversy of image-worship began, it followed that as an accessary. The enshrining of relics occasioned the most excellent sort of images; and they were thought the best preservatives possible both for soul and body; no presents grew to be more valued than relics; and it was an easy thing for the popes to furnish the world plentifully that way, but chiefly since the discovery of the catacombs, which has furnished them with stores not to be exhausted. The council of Trent did in this, as in the point of images ; it appointed relics to be venerated, but did not determine the degree;* so it left the world in possession of a most excessive dotage upon them They are used every where by them as sacred charms, kissed. and worshipped, they are served with lights and incense. '.
In opposition to all this, we think, that all decent honours
are indeed due to the bodies of the saints, which were once 1 Cor. vi. the 'temples of the Holy Ghost: but since it is said, that God
took that care of the body of Moscs, so as to bury it in such xxxiv. 6. a manner that no man knew of his sepulchre, there seems to
have been in this a peculiar caution guarding against that superstition, which the Jews might very probably have fallen into with relation to his body. And this seems so clear an indication of the will of God in this matter, that we reckon we
* For the decree concerning relic-worship, seo note, p. 313,-[E.]
are very safe when we do no further honour to the body of a ART. saint, than to bury it. And though that saint had been ever XXII. so eminent, not only for his holiness, but even for miracles wrought by him, by his shadow, or even by looking upon him; yet the history of the brazen serpent shews us, that a fondness even on the instruments, that God made use of to work miracles by, degenerates easily to the superstition of burning incense to them ; but when that appears, it is to be checked, even by breaking that which was so abused. Hezekiah is commended for breaking in pieces that noble 2 Kings remain of Moses's time till then preserved; neither its anti- *vill. 4 quity, nor the signal miracles once wrought by it, could balance the ill use that was then made of it: that good king broke it, for which he might have had a worse name than an iconoclast, if he had lived in some ages. It is true, miracles were of old wrought by Aaron's rod, by Elisha's bones after his death, and 2 Kings the one was preserved, but not worshipped; nor was there any kl. 21 superstition that followed on the other. Not a word of this fondness appears in the beginnings of Christianity; though it had been an easy thing at that time to have furnished the world with pieces of our Saviour's garments, hair, or nails; and great store might have been had of the Virgin's and the apostles' relics : St. Stephen's and St. James's bones might have been then parcelled about: and if that spirit had then reigned in the church, which has been in the Roman church now above a thousand years, we should have heard of the relics that were sent about from Jerusalem to all the churches. But when such things might have been had in great abundance, and have been known not to be counterfeits, we hear not a word of them. If a fondness for relics had been in the church upon Christ's ascension, what care would have been taken to have made great collections of them!
Then we see no other care about the body of St. Stephen but to bury it; and not long after that time upon St. Polycarp's martyrdom, when the Jews, who had set on the prosecution against him, suggested, that, if the Christians could gain his body, they would perhaps forsake Christ and worship him; they rejected the accusation with horror ; for in the epistle which the church of Smyrna writ upon his martyrdom, after they mention this insinuation, they have those remarkable words, which belong both to this head, and to that which follows it of the invocation and worship of saints. These inen Ep. Euseb. know not that we can neither forsake Christ, who suffered for I. iv. c. 15. the salvation of all that are saved, the innocent for the guilty, nor worship any other ; Him truly being the Son of God we adore: but the martyrs, and disciples, and followers of the Lord, we justly love, for that extraordinary good mind, which they have expressed toward their King and Master, of whose happiness God grant that we may partake, and that we may learn by their examples. The Jews had so persuaded the
ART Gentiles of Smyrna of this matter, that they burnt St. PolyXXII. carp's body; but the Christians gathered up his bones with
much respect, so that it appeared how they honoured them, though they could not worship them; and they buried them in a convenient place,* which they intended to make the place where they should hold, by the blessing of God, the yearly commemoration of that birth-day of his martyrdom, with much joy and gladness, both to honour the memory of those who had overcome in that glorious engagement, and to instruct and confirm all others by their example. This is one of the most valuable pieces of true and genuine antiquity; and it shews us very fully the sense of that age both concerning the relics, and the worship of the saints. In the following ages, we find no characters of any other regard to the bones or bodies of the saints, but that they buried them very decently, and did annually commemorate their death, calling it their birth-day. And it may incline men strongly to suspect the many miracles that were published in the fourth century, as wrought at the tombs, or memories of the martyrs, or by their relics, that we hear of none of those in the former three centuries; for it seems there was more occasion for them during the persecution, than after it was over; it being much more necessary then to furnish Christians with so strong a motive as this must have been, to resist even to blood,' when God was pleased to glorify himself so signally in his saints. This, I say, forces us to fear, that credulity and imagination, or somewhat worse than both these, might have had a large share in those extraordinary things that are related to us by great men in the fourth century. He must have a great disposition to
believe wonderful things, that can digest the extraordinary Basil. relations that are even in St. Basil, St. Ambrose, and St. Hom. xix. Austin ; and most signally in St. Jerome : for instance, that in Sanct. after one had stolen Hilarion's body out of Cyprus, and quadra. gint.“ brought it to Palestine, upon which Constantia, that went Martyr. in constantly to his tomb, was ready to have broke her heart; Hom. xxiv. God took such pity on her, that as the true body wrought in Sanct. Maman. - * In reference to this subject, Dr. Milner, in his ' End of Religious Controversy,' Paul. in thus writes:vita
• The whole bistory of the martyrs, from St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp, the disAmbros. ciples of the apostles, whose relics, after their execution, were carried away by the Aug. de Christians, as “ more valuable than gold and precious stones," down to the latest Civit. Dei, martyr, incontestibly proves the veneration which the church has ever entertained lib. xxii. for these sacred objects.' We might fairly conclude from these words that the
early Christians held the popish doctrine of the worship of relics ; and indeed Dr. Milner refers with such confidence to Eusebius, that one not acquainted with the sophistry and dishonesty of the advocates of popery would unhesitatingly conclude that the historian of the early church had clearly established this position. But what is the fact ? Let Eusebius himself speak : So we gathered his (Polycarp's) bones, more precious than pearls, and better tried than gold, and buried them in the place that was fit for that purpose,' &c. This is the passage to which Dr. M. refers; and those marked are the words which immediately follow the Doctor's quotation from Eusebius, but which, in his defence of relic-worship, have been so carefully suppressed.-(Ed.)
e takehave heard active the worls whole.; that age
great miracles in Palestine, so likewise very great miracles ART. continued still to be wrought at the tomb, where it was at XXII. first laid. One, in respect to those great men, is tempted to suspect that many things might have been foisted into their writings in the following ages. A great many practices of this kind have been made manifest beyond contradiction.* Whole books have been made to pass for the writings of fathers, that do evidently bear the marks of a much later date, where the fraud was carried too far not to be discovered. At other times parcels have been laid in among their genuine productions, which cannot be so easily distinguished; they not being liable to so many critical inquiries, as may be made on a larger work. It is a little unaccountable how so many marvellous things should be published in that age; and yet that St. Chrysostom, who spent his whole life between two of Chrysost: the publickest scenes of the world, Antioch and Constanti- 19
: Hom. 6. in nople, and was an active and inquisitive man, should not so much as have heard of any such wonderful stories; but should have taken pains to remove a prejudice out of the minds of his hearers, that might arise from this, that whereas they heard of many miracles that were wrought in the times of the apostles, none were wrought at that time ; upon which, he gives very good reason why it was so. His saying so positively, That none were wrought at that time, without so much as a salvo for what he might have heard from other parts, shews plainly, that he had not heard of any at all. For he was orator enough to have made even looser reports look probable. This does very much shake the credit of those amazing relations that we find in St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Austin. It is true, there seems to have been an opinion very generally received both in the east and the west, at that time, which must have very much heightened the growing superstition for relics. It was a remnant both of Judaism and Gentilism, that the souls of the martyrs hovered about their tombs, called their memories; and that therefore they might be called upon, and spoke to there. This appears even in the council of Elliberis, where the superstition of lighting candles about their tombs in daylight is forbidden : the reason given is, because the spirits were not to be disquieted. St. Basil, and the other fathers, that do so often mention the Basil. going to their memories, do very plainly insinuate their being
8 in Sanct. present at them, and hearing themselves called upon. This quadramay be the reason why, among all the saints that are so much gint. magnified in that age, we never find the blessed Virgin so Martyr. much as once mentioned. They knew not where her body was laid, they had no tomb for her, no nor any of her relics
* The reader will find valuable information on this subject in Dr. James's . Treatise of the Corruptions of Scripture, Councils, and Fathers, by the Prelates, Pas. tors, and Pillars of the church of Rome, for maintenance of Popery,' in which the bastardy of the false Fathers and the corruption of the true Fathers are demonstrated beyond the possibility of contradiction.-! Ep.]
aly, that he might at the song His upon which of the