|« Prev||SECT. I. A confutation of Mahometanism: the…||Next »|
SECT. I. A confutation of Mahometanism: the original thereof.
INSTEAD of a preface to this sixth book, which is designed against the Mahometans, it relates the judgments of Cod against the Christians, down to the original of Mahometanism; namely, how that sincere and unfeigned piety, which flourished amongst the Christians, who were most grievously afflicted and tormented, began by degrees to abate:742742 See Ammianus Marcellinus, at the end of the twenty-first book concerning Constantino: “And above all, he was very ready to take away what he had given; counfounding the Christian religion, which is perfect and sincere, with old wives’ fables; by more intricately searching into which, rather than seriously settling them, he caused a great many differences: which spreading further, be kept up by quarrelling about words; that the body of prelates, who were the public pack-horses, running here and there in synods, as they call them, might cut the nerves of their carriage, by endeavouring to make every rite conformable to their own opinion.” after Constantine and the following emperors had made the profession of the Christian religion not only 228safe, but honourable, by having, as it were, brought the world into the church.743743 See what is excellently said about this, in Chrysostom’s second moral discourse on the xiith chapter of 2 Cor. after ver. 10. First, the Christian princes waged war without measure, even when they might have enjoyed peace.744744 It is a commendable saying of Marcian in Zonaras, “That a king ought not to take up arms, so long as he can maintain peace.” The bishops quarrelled with each other most bitterly about the highest places:745745 Ammianus, book xxvii. “The cruel seditions of the quarrel. some people, which gave rise to this business, frighted this man also (Viventius, chief commissioner of the palace). Damasus and Ursicinus, being above all reasonable measure desirous of seizing the episcopal chair, contended with each other most vehemently by different interests; their accomplices on each side carrying on their differences as far as death and wounds; which Viventius not being able to correct or soften, being compelled by a great force, retired into the suburbs; and Damasus overcame in the contest, the party which favoured him pressing hard. And it is evident, that in the palace of Sicininus, where the assemblies of the Chris. liens used to be, there were found the dead bodies of one hundred and thirty-seven, slain in one day; and it was a long time before the enraged common people could be appeased. Nor do I deny, when I consider the city’s pomp, but that they, who are desirous of such things, may lawfully contend, by stretching their lungs to the utmost, in order to obtain what they aim at. Because when they are arrived at it, they will be so secure, that they may enrich themselves with the gifts of matrons, may sit and ride in their chariots, be neatly dressed, have large feasts provided, insomuch that their banquets will exceed the royal tables; but such persons might have been more truly happy, if they had despised the grandeur of the city, which flattered their vices; and had lived after the manner of some of the provincial bishops, whose sparingness, in eating and drinking moderately, and meanness in clothes and eyes fixed on the ground continually, recommend them as pure and modest to the Deity, and to those that worship him.” And a little after; “The chief justice, whilst he takes care of the govern. went in a higher degree, amongst other things, by manifold acts of integrity and goodness, for which he has been famous from the beginning of his youth, has obtained that which seldom happens; that at the same time that he is feared, he does not lose the love of his subjects; which is seldom very strong towards those judges they are afraid of. By whose authority and just determinations of truth, the tumult, raised by the quarrels of the Christians, was appeased; and Ursicinus being driven away, the Roman subjects grew into a firm peace jointly, and with one mind; which is the glory of an eminent ruler, regulating many and advantageous things.” This was that chief justice of whom Jerome tells a story, not unworthy to be mentioned here, to Pammachius, against the errors of John of Jerusalem. “The chief justice, that died when he was designed for consul, used to say jestingly to the holy pope Damasus, Make me bishop of the city of Rome, and I will be a Christian immediately.” See also what the same Ammianus says, book xv. The African council did not without reason admonish the bishop of the city of Rome thus: “That we may not seem to bring the vain arrogance of the age into the church of Christ, which affords the light of simplicity, and the day of humility, to them who desire to see God.” To which we may add the noble epistles of the Roman bishop Gregory, truly styled the great, book iv. 32, 34, 36. book vi. 30. book vii. Indict. 1. Epist. 30. and, as of old, the preferring 229the tree of knowledge to the tree of life, was the occasion of the greatest evils;Gen. ii. and iii. so then nice inquiries were esteemed more than piety, and religion was made an art.746746 See what was before quoted out of the twenty-first book of Ammianus. The same historian, book xxii. in the history of Julian, says, “And that his disposition of things might produce a more certain effect, having admitted the disagreeing prelates of the Christians, together with the divided multitude, into the palace; he admonished them that every one, laying aside their civil discords, should apply himself without fear to his religion; which he urged the more earnestly, because liberty is apt to increase dissensions; that he might have the less reason to fear the common people, when they were all of one mind, knowing that no beasts are so mischeivous to mankind, as very many of the Christians were, who were so outrageous against one another.” See also Procopius, in the first of his gothics, to be read with some abatement here, as in other places. “Ambassadors came from Byzantium, to the bishop of Rome, viz. Hypatius, bishop of Ephesus, and Demetrius, bishop of Philippi, in Macedonia, concerning an opinion, which was controverted amongst the Christians. Though I know what opposition they made, yet I ant very unwilling to relate it; for I think it the maddest folly so search nicely into the nature of God, and wherein it consists. For, as I conceive, man cannot fully comprehend human things, much less those that appertain to the divine nature, I may therefore securely pass by these things in silence, and not disturb what they reverence. As for myself I can say nothing more of God, but that he is every way good, and upholds all things by his power; he that knows more, whether he be a priest, or one of the common people, let him speak it.” Gregoras, book viii. cites the saying of Lysis the Pythagorean, and afterwards of Synesius; “That talking philosophy among the vulgar, was the cause of men’s so much contemning divine things.” So also book the xth, he much dissuades men from such disputes; and speaking of the Latins of his time, he says, “I blame and condemn the Italians highly, because they run into divine matters with great arrogance.” Afterwards he adds; “Amongst them the mechanics utter the mysteries of divinity, and they are all as eager of reasoning syllogistically, as the cattle are of food and grass. Both they who doubt of what they ought to believe rightly, and they who know not what they ought to believe, nor what they say they believe; these fill all the theatres, forums, and walks, with their divinity, and are not ashamed to make the sun a witness of their impudence.” 230The consequence of which was, that after the example of them who built the tower of Babel,747747 Gen. xi. Mahomet often reproaches these controversies of the Christians, particularly in Azoara xxvi. xxxii. their rashly affecting matters, produced different languages and confusion among them; which the common people taking notice of, many times not knowing which way to turn themselves, cast all the blame upon the sacred writings, and began to avoid them, as if they were infected. And religion began every where to be placed, not in purity of mind, but in rites, as if Judaism were brought back again: and in those things, which contained in them more of bodily exercise, than improvement of the mind;748748 1 Tim. iv. 8. Colos. ii. 23. and also in a violent adhering to the party they had chosen;749749 Romans x. 2. 1 Cor. i. 12. and following verses. the final event of which was, 231that there were every where a great many Christians in name, but very few in reality.750750 See Salvian book iii. concerning the government of God. “Excepting a very few who avoid wickedness, what else is the whole body of Christians, but a sink of vice?” God did not overlook these faults of his people; but from the farthest corners of Scythia,751751 Huns, Avari, Sabiri, Alani, Euthalites, and Turks. and Germany,752752 Goths, Ernii, Gepidæ, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Swedes, Almains, Saxons, Varni, and Lombards. poured vast armies, like a deluge, upon the Christian world: and when the great slaughter made by these, did nut suffice to reform those which remained; by the just permission of God, Mahomet planted in Arabia a new religion directly opposite to the Christian religion;753753 Dr. Prideaux’s life of Mahomet, wrote in English, is very well worth reading, published at London, anno 1697. Le Clerc. yet such as did, in a good measure, express in words, the life of a great part of the Christians. This religion was first embraced by the Saracens, who revolted from the emperor Heraclius; whose arms quickly subdued Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Persia; and afterwards they invaded Africa, and came over sea into Spain. But the power of the Saracens was derived to others, particularly to the Turks, a very warlike people;754754 See Leunclavius’s history of Turkey, and Laonicus Chalcocondylas. who after many long engagements with the Saracens, being desired to enter into a league, they easily embraced a religion agreeable to their manners, and transferred the imperial power to them selves. Having taken the cities of Asia and Greece, and the success of their arms increasing, they came into the borders of Hungary and Germany.
|« Prev||SECT. I. A confutation of Mahometanism: the…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version