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sealed with their blood, and to advance the honour of Christ, whom the infidels derided, because he was crucified. So Augustine, in the next (ninth) chapter saith,' Whereto do these miracles attest, but to this faith, in which Christ is preached to have risen from the dead in the flesh, and with the flesh to have ascended into heaven; for the martyrs themselves were martyrs, that is, witnesses of this belief, and giving testimony to this belief, they endured the great hatred and cruelty of the world, and overcame it, not by resisting, but by dying. For this faith did they die, who could obtain these things of the Lord, for whose name they were slain. For this faith, their wonderful patience did precede, that so great power in these miracles might follow after. For if the resurrection of the body to an everlasting state, either went not before in Christ, or will not come as is foretold by Christ, or as is foretold by the prophets by whom Christ was foretold; why, then, can the martyrs do such things, who were slain for that faith, by which this resurrection is preached?' &c.
4. Consider that the case of the church, then, and their manner of using the cross, and the memories or relics of the martyrs, was much different from that of the papists. now; and therefore the most religious, godly people did use them then without scruple, though now such people refuse the popish use of them : for then the church lived among persecuting heathens,
1 and their Christianity was a hazard to their lives, so that
1. There was a special necessity of some encouragements from God answerable to their great trials, or else how should men have endured them, and Christianity have been maintained and increased as it was? Flesh will be flesh, and life will be sweet, and death will be to nature the most unwelcome and abhorred guest in the world ; and God works in a way agreeable to man's nature, by outward means of encouragement, as well as by inward corroboration. Therefore was he pleased to encourage men to the flames, to the sword, to the jaws of wild beasts, and all the torments of bloody tyrants, by doing miracles, rather at the memories or graves of the martyrs than elsewhere; and hereby making their names honourable, and such a death more evidently desirable.
2. There was then greater reason to expect miracles than now; even for the convincing of the heathens, that they might be drawn to believe : for though miracles ceased to be ordinary or so frequent after the apostles' times, yet did God continue them, in some degree, for many hundred years, that by degrees they might help the extirpation of infidelity.
And it was a more reasonable and less culpable thing then, for the Christians to use the sign of the cross, before heathens that scorned a crucified Christ; and to honour the martyrs, and choose the place of their graves or memories for their prayers, where they found God to do such extraordinary things for the encouragement to martyrdom, and attestation of his truth, than it is now for us to do such things, where the case is altered, and the reason ceased ; much less should we use them with religious worship to the creature, as giving it that which is proper to God.
5. If it were granted that the use of the cross, and the praying at the memories or graves of inartyrs, was then an error, yet is it clear that it was not them, but the christian faith, that God attested by those miracles; for so the reporters profess, and so the Christians judged and did expect : and God may well attest his own doctrine, even where there may be some mistakes in men's seeking or expecting his attestation. He would not neglect the owning of Christianity against the learned and cruel heathens, because of some small circumstantial errors in his servants.
6. And where it is said, "These miracles were done by praying to the martyrs ; ” I answer, 1. If that had been so, yet the case is answered in what is said already : It was not such prayers as the papists use to deceased saints and martyrs now, as supposing them to know our particular wants, and to be able to relieve us;' of which I desire you to peruse 'Bishop Usher's Answer to the Jesuit’s Challenge,' on this point of praying to the saints. 2. But, indeed, there is no such thing appears in the words of the reporter. Indeed, there is twice mention made in Austin there of praying ad martyres, but that I suppose to be no more than apud martyres, id est, apud martyrum memorias ; ad · being usually put for apud. It is true, also, that Augustine mentioneth the martyrs' impetration of the things, or else their actual instrumentality in effecting them; he knows not whether,
But, first, This is but his own interpretation of the matter.
Secondly, He speaks not of any particular prayers of the martyrs for persons in such particular distresses, but of impetration in general, whereby he may understand either, 1. That their holy lives and martyrdom were so acceptable with God, which the fathers commonly called meritorious, that he would
do such works for the manifestation of his acceptance, and encouragement of others to the like : 2. Or, that their present perfection in glory makes them so pleasing to God, that he will thus manifest it: 3. Or, that their general supplications for their distressed brethren on earth, are heard and do obtain such particular deliverances; all which do imply no particular knowledge of all our particular cases, nor yet any warrant that we should pray to them.
Thirdly, But if it could be proved that the use of the cross, and the praying to martyrs at their graves, in subordination to Christ, were approved by miracles, we should have more reason to approve of such practices, than to question the miracles or doctrine of the Scriptures.
Obj. 15. But when you have made the best of it you can, you have but a' moral certainty of the truth of the christian religion, which dependeth upon the credit of the witnesses, and therefore may deceive you, and strictly, is no certainty at all: for man's actions are contingent, and his nature, as you confess, exceedingly corrupt; and, therefore, your human testimony of these miracles may be false.
Answ. 1. If it were but a moral certainty, yet may it be so great that he were mad that would not so far believe it, as to venture all his hopes and happiness upon it. If, by the laws of nations, men's estates and lives shall stand or fall, upon the testimony of two ordinary witnesses, which afford scarcely a moral certainty, how much more credible may a fuller testimony be. If your own father, brethren, kindred, and honest neighbours, should all say and swear, that they saw such or such a thing with their eyes, or heard men speak such languages with their ears ;
not so far believe them, as to venture your life upon the truth of it ; especially, if they would all die in the attesting of it; and, yet, more especially, if you must venture much more than your lives, by refusing to believe it.
2. But I say, that in our case we have not only a moral certainty, but a natural; or, that we may not quarrel about words, call it what you please, but it is a certainty as infallible as that of sense itself. This I have proved already, and for further clearing it I will consider the words of one that denieth it, and that shall be Peter Hurtad de Mendoza, in his Physic. Disput. 8. de Anima,' sec. 3, sec. 23—25, p. 570: (I have elsewhere examined the words of Rada and Rob. Baronius, denying faith to have evidence, in my ‘Reply to Mr. Blake.') Hurtado asks this question : "To what species we must reduce the evidence
of a testimony ?” and he answers, “To a moral certainty ; because though we have a physical evidence of the testimony, yet of the thing testified we have not simply evidence, but obscurity. But if we did evidently know the testimony of God, then we should evidently know the thing testified, because it is gathered from two evident principles, viz., That God cannot lie, and that he revealed that thing."
To this, I reply, We have infallible evidence that these miracles were done in confirmation of the christian faith ; and consequently that it is revealed by God. For the further clearing of which, let us follow this author yet further : he next asketh, “What sort of evidence is that by which I believe that there is such a place as Rome, upon the witness of so many men attesting it?” Answ. It is physical ; for it is impossible, even in a physical sense, that so many men in so many ages should so lie, so that I have no less evidence that there is a city called Rome than that all fire is heating.
Obj. Then human faith may have physical evidence ?
Answ. I deny the consequence, because that it is not an act of faith, but of knowledge; for it resteth not upon human testimony, but on a physical repugnancy, by which I see that so many men could not combine to lie; but human faith resteth on the testimony, of one or more men, who could physically combine to lie, and therefore it is obscure and uncertain. The reason is at hand; because that former assent ariseth from two principles, which suffer not any dissent. The first is this : It is impossible for so many men in so many ages to meet or combine to lie. The second is, So many men in so many ages do witness this. So far the author. But I infer that the same, or as infallible, physical evidence have we of the truth of the miracles by which the Holy Ghost did witness to the christian faith ; for first, it is naturally impossible that so many churches
1 in so many countries of the world, at such a distance, should combine to lie, in telling the world that the Holy Ghost was given, and tongues spoken, and miracles done among them for so many years, if it had not been so. 2. Consider well, that though man be a free agent, yet he hath a nature as well as a free will; and that voluntas ipsa est quædam natura ; the un
m derstanding naturally inclines to truth ; the will hath naturally good, as good, for its object; and evil, as evil, it shunneth. And though yet it be free, and its acts contingent as to the means, because of its own, and the understandings' intermination, yet its freedom is servato ordine finis, and his willing of
his own felicity as the end is with a freedom consistent with a necessity, and is natural, though not strictly per modum naturæ, as brutes desire their objects. Man, as well as brutes, hath a nature that cannot but love itself, and desire its own welfare, and abhor death and inisery, temporal and eternal ; and, therefore, though here and there a man, in some desperate passion, may make away himself, yet we are physically certain that it must be a thing which they do indeed believe, that must persuade cities and countries of people in their wits, to cast their estates and lives into the hands of bloody tyrants, and utterly ruin their worldly hopes. It is, therefore, a very natural impossibility that so many thousands, of so many parts of the world, should entertain a doctrine, which pretendeth to be underpropped by frequent miracles, and these done in their sight, and by or upon themselves, and which promiseth to give the Holy Ghost to all that receive it, for the effecting of some extraordinary gifts, and to deliver this doctrine and the records of it to the world as true, and to forsake all worldly hopes, and cast themselves on apparent misery in the world, and lay down their lives in the attesting of these things, without any hopes of worldly advantages by it, if they did not believe or judge these things true; and they could not judge the objects of their own sight and hearing true, if they had not known them so to be ; and especially, when they do all this in hope of a blessedness in the life to come, where it is impossible that so many men of reason should expect to be blessed for conspiring in a lie, but rather to be everlastingly cursed and miserable, by the justice of that God from whom they expect their reward. I conclude, therefore, that the case being resolved into man's natural principles and inclinations so clearly as it is, there is a natural evidence of the truth of these miracles, If it be a physical certainty that there is a city of Rome, it is also a physical certainty that there were such and such parliaments in England, and that they enacted such and such laws as now bear their names, and that there was such a man as Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, Aristotle, who wrote such orations, poems, systems of sciences, &c.; and a much clearer, physical certainty have we (incomparably clearer) that the Holy Ghost was given, and such miracles wrought in attestation of the truth of the christian doctrine.
But Hurtado proceeds thus :
Obj. 2. “Then the testimony of the martyrs giveș us a physical evidence of the mysteries of faith ; because it is impossible that so many martyrs should combine to lie,"