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Pardon me this length. Loquacity is the natural fault of Travellers : while I profit any, I may well be forgiven.
TO SIR DAVID MURRAY.
Concerning the Miracles of our Time. INDEED, the world abounds with miracles. These, while they fill the mouths of many, sway the faith of some, and make all men wonder. Our nature is greedy of news; which it will rather feign, than want. Certainly, ere long, miracles will be no wonders, for their frequence. I had thought, our age bad had too many grey hairs, and with time experience, and with experience craft, not to have descried a juggler; but, now I see, by the simplicity, it declines to his second childhood. The two Lipsian Ladies, the charms of Bluntstone's boy and Garnet's straw, what a noise have they made! I only wonder, how Faux and Catesby escaped the honour of Saints, and privilege of miracles. Herein you ask my sentence; more seasonably, than you hoped : for, I meant to have wrote a just volume of this subject, and furnished myself accordingly in that region of wanders; but that I feared to surcharge the nice stomach of our time, with too much. Neither would my length have ought availed you; whose thoughts are so taken up with those high and serviceable cares, that they can give no leisure to an over-long discourse. May it please you therefore, to receive, in short, what I have deliberately resolved in myself, and think i can make good to others.
I have noted four ranks of commonly named Miracles : from which, if you make a just subduction, how few of our wonders shall remain either to belief or admiration! The first, merely reported, not seen to be done; the next, seeming to be done, but counterfeited; the third, truly done, but not true miracles; the last, truly miraculous, but by Satan.
The first of these are bred of lies, and nourished by credulity, The mouth of fame is full of such blasts. For these, if I listed awhile to rake in the Legends, and Book of Conformities, an ingenuous papist could not but blush ; an indifferent reader could not but lay his hand on his spleen; and wonder as much, that any man could be so impudent to broach such reports or any so simple to believe them, as the credulous multitude wonders that any should be so powerful to effect them, But, I seek neither their shame, por others' laughter. I dare say, not the Talmud, not the Alco
ran, bath more impossible tales, more ridiculous lies. Yea, to this head, Canus himself, a famous papist, dare refer many of those ancient miracles reported; and, by all likelihood, believed, of Bede and Gregory.
The next are bred of fraud and cozenage, nourished by superstition. Who knows not, how the famous Kentish Idol * moved his eyes and hands, by those secret gimmers, which now every puppet-play can imitate ? how St. Wilfred's needle opened to the penitent, and closed itself to the guilty ? how our Lady sheds the tears of a bleeding vine; and doth many of her daily feasts, as Bell did of old eat up his banquet, or as Picens the eremite fasted forty days ? But, these two every honest papist will confess, with voluntary shame and grief; and grant that it may grow a disputable question, Whether mountebanks or priests are the greatest cozeners. Vives, beyond his wont, vehemently terms them execrable and satanical impostors.
The third are true works of God, under a false title: God gives them their being; men, their name: unjust, because above their nature. Wherein, the philosopher and the superstitiously ignorant, are contrarily extreme: while the one seeks out natural causes of God's 'immediate and metaphysical works; the other ascribes ordinary effects' to supernatural causes. If the violence of a disease cease, after a vow made to our Lady; if a soldier, armed with his vow, escape gun-shot; a captive, prison; a woman, travailing, death; the vulgar, and I would they alone, cry out, “ A miracle !" One loadstone hath more wonder in it, than a thousand such events. Every thing draws a base mind to admiration Francesco del Campo, one of the archduke's equerries, told us, not without importunate devotion, that in that fatal field of Nieuport, his vow to their Virgin helped him to swim over a large water, when the oars of his arms had never before tried any waves: a dog hath done more, without acknowledgment of any Saint : fear gives sudden instincts of skill, even without precept. Their own Costerus durst say, that the cure of a disease is no miracle: his reason, because it may be done by the power of nature, albeit in longer time. Yield + this, and what have Lipsius his two Ladies done? wherefore serves all this clamour, from the two hills ? I assented not; neither will be herein thus much their enemy : for, as well the manner of doing, as the matter, makes a miracle. If Peter's handkerchief or shadow heal a disease, it is miraculous; though it might have been done by a potion. Many of their recoveries, doubtless, have been wrought through the strength of nature in the patient; not of virtue in the Saint. How many sick men have mended, with their physic in their pocket! though many
* The Rood of Grace at Boxley Abbey
+ “En l'an mil six cents et trois, y fúreut comptez cent et trente cinque po tences et jambes de bois de personnes hoyreuses y apportées, au seul espace de quatre ou cinque mois.” Histoire et Miracles. c. xii. P. 31.
other also, I doubt not, of those cures have fallen into the fourth head ; which indeed is more knotty, and requires a deeper discourse.
Wherein, if I shall evince these two things, I shall, I hope, satisfy my reader, and clear the truth: one, that miracles are wrought by Satan; the other, that those, which the Romish Church boasteth, are of this nature, of this author. I contend not of words: we take miracles in Augustin's large sense; wherein is little difference, betwixt a thing marvellous and miraculous; such as the Spirit of God, in either Instrument, calls Auváders, and 0117122* Perhaps, it would be more proper to say, that God works these miracles by Satan : for, as in the natural and voluntary motions of wicked men; so, in the supernatural acts of evil spirits (as they are acts,) there is more than a mere permission : Satan, by his tempest, bereaves Job of his children; yet Job, looking higher, saith, The Lord hath
No sophistry can elude this proof of Moses; that a prophet or dreamer may give
a true sign or wonder, and yet say, Let us go after strange gods; Deut. xiii. !. nor, that of our Saviour, who foretells of false Christs, false prophets that shall give oqueños perche nel tépeta; signs and wonders, and those great. There are some too great, I grant, for the hand of all infernal powers; by which, our Saviour invincibly proves the truth of his Deity: these never graced falsehood; neither admit any precedent from our times. As to the rest, so frequent and common,
I could not believe the Church of Rome were antichristian, if it had not boasted of these wonders. All the knot lies then, in the application of this to Rome, and our imaginary Lady. How shall it appear, that their miracles are of this kind ? Ludovicus Vives gives six notes to distinguish God's miracles, from Satan's; Lipsius, three: both of them too many; as might easily be discovered, by discussing of particulars. It is not so much the greatness of the work, nor the belief of witnesses, nor the quality nor manner of theaction, nor truth of essence, that can descry the immediate hand, which worketh in our miracles. That alone is the true and golden rule, which Justin Martyr, if at least that book be his, prescribes in his “ Questions and Answers :” “ How shall it be known, that our miracles are better than the heathens', although the event countenance both alike?” Resp. Ex fide et cultu veri Dei : “By the faith and worship of the true God.” Miracles must be judged by the doctrine, which they confirm; not the doctrine, by the mira cles. The dreamer or prophet must be esteemed, not by the event of his wonder ; but, by the substance and scope of his teaching. The Romanists argue preposterously, while they would prove the truth of their Church, by miracles; whereas they should prove their miracles, by the truth. To say nothing of the fashion of their cures, that one is prescribed, to come to our Lady, rather on a Friday, as + Henry Loyez; another, to wash nine days in the water of Mont-aigu, as Leonard Stocqueau ; another, to eat a
.אות מופת Or *
+ Page 7
piece of the oak, where the image stood, * as Magdalene the widow of Bruxelles: all which, if they savour not strong of magical receits, let the indifferent judge. Surely, either there is no sorcery, or this is it. All shall be plain, if the doctrine confirmed by their miracles be once discussed : for, if that be divine truth, we do unjustly impugn these works as diabolical ; if falsehood, they do blasphemously proclaim them for divine. These works tend all chiefly to this double doctrine: That the Blessed Virgin is to be invoked for her mediation; That God and Saints are to be adored, in and by images: positions, that would require a volume, and such as are liberally disputed by others: whereof one is against Scripture; the other, which in these cases values no less, besides it: one deifies the Virgin; the other, a stock or stone. It matters not what subtle distinctions their learned doctors make, betwixt mediation of Redemption and Intercession ; Δελεία, and, Λατρεία και the Saint, and the Image: we know, their common people, whose devotion enriches those shrines, by confession of their own writers, climb the hill of Zichem with this conceit, that Mary is their Saviouress †; that the stock is their goddess : which unless it be true, how do their wonders teach them lies! and therefore how from God? But, to take the first at best (for, the second is so gross, that were not the second commandment by papists purposely razed out of their primers, children and carters would condemn it) it cannot be denied, that all the substance of prayer is in the heart : the vocal sound is but a compliment, and as an outward case wherein our thoughts are sheathed. That power cannot know the prayer, which knows not the heart: either then the Virgin is God, for that she knows the heart; or, to know the heart is not proper to God; or, to know the heart, and so our prayers, is falsely ascribed to the Virgin: and therefore these wonders, which teach men thus to honour her, are doctors of lies; so, not of God. There cannot be any discourse, wherein it is more easy to be tedious. To end; if prayers were but in words, and saints did meddie with all particularities of earthly things, yet Blessed Mary should be a God, if she could at once attend all her suitors. One solicits her at Halle ; another, at Scherpen-hewel ; another, at Luca; at our Walsingham, another; one, in Europe ; another, in Asia ; or, perhaps, another is one of her new clients in America : ten thousand devout suppliants are, at once, prostrate, before her several shrines. If she cannot hear all, why pray they } if she can, what can God do more? Certainly, as the matter is used, there cannot be greater wrong offered to those heavenly spirits, than, by our importunate superstitions, to be thrust into God's throne; and to have forced upon them the honours of their Maker. There is no contradiction
* Histoire et Miracles de notre Dame. Page 73. Page 102. + Examen pacifique de la doctrine des Hugenues. “O sauveresse, sauve moy." Manual of French Prayers, printed at Liege, iry approbation and authority of Án, con Chevart Inquisitor, &c.
in heaven : a saint cannot allow that an angel forbids. See thou do it not, was the voice of an angel : if all the miraculous blocks in the world shall speak contrary, we know whom to believe. The old rule was, Macías podeis apormUVELTW: “Let no man worship the Virgin Mary." Either that rule is devilish, or this practice. ` And if this practice be ill, God deliver me from the immediate author of these miracles. Change but one idol for another, and what differ the wonders of Apollo's temples, from those of these chapels? We reverence, as we ought, the memory of that holy and happy Virgin : we hate those, that dishonour her: we hate those, that deify her. Cursed be all honour, that is stolen from God.
This short satisfaction I give, in a long question ; such as I dare rest in; and resolve, that all popish miracles are either falsely reported, or falşely done, or falsely niraculous, or falsely ascribed to heaven.
TO MR. WILLIAM BEDELL,
Lamenting the Death of our late Divines, and inciting to their
Imitation. We have heard, how full of trouble and danger the Alps were to you: and did, at once, both pity your difficulties, and rejoice in your safety.
Since your departure from us, Reynolds is departed from the world. Alas, how many worthy lights have our eyes seen shining and extinguished ! How many losses have we lived to see the Church sustain, and lament; of her children, of her pillars; our own, and foreign! I speak not of those, which, being excellent, would needs be obscure: whom nothing but their own secrecy deprived of the honour of our tears. There are, besides, too many . whom the world noted and admired; even since the time that our common mother acknowledged us for her sons.
Our Fulk led the way; that profound, ready, and resolute doctor; the hammer of heretics ; the champion of truth : whom our younger țimes have heard oft disputing acutely and powerfully.
Next him, followed that honour of our Schools, and angel of our Church, learned Whitaker; than whom, our age saw nothing more memorable : what clearness of judgment, what sweetness of style, what gravity of person, what grace of carriage was in that man! Who ever saw him, without reverence; or heard him, without wonder?