« PreviousContinue »
(1.) Calvin points this out very forcibly in the 28th of his Sermons on the Epistles to Timothy and Titus ; translated by L. T. London. 1579, 4to.
(2.) “ But yet are we far worse than the Jews] : for our backsliding is more horrible, seeing that Jesus Christ is come into the world, and God hath spoken to us with open mouth to instruct us, and we have now the secrets of the kingdom of heaven opened to us, so that God doth not take us for his servants only, but also for his children, receiveth us into his bosom; and yet notwithstanding, after that we have known the Gospel, and have been taught in that doctrine which bringeth all perfection, and calleth us with the angels of paradise, how can we become backsliders and renounce our God that hath shewed himself so loving and pitiful towards us? And therefore let us mark well the word that St. Paul setteth down here : (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2.) for he giveth us thus much to understand, that although there was in those days such purity of doctrine, and the world rang of the Son of God, and the virtue of the Holy Ghost was very manifest,—although the apostles were living which had the witness of their redemption,-although there came daily visible gifts, whereby God confirmed his doctrine, as though he should have set most authentical seals to it; although this be so (saith St. Paul) yet the world is so wicked, that it will forsake the truth which it knoweth,-it will renounce his God, his Creator, and follow the devil,-it will turn itself to lies, and seek to be blinded in its own destruction and ruin. And we see that that which St. Paul foretold is come to pass : the experience of it is grievous to us : but they are very few that think upon it.” Calvin on Timothy and Titus, pp. 339, 340.
(3.) To the tomb of this Jansenist saint, in the church yard of St. Medard, at Paris, such innumerable crowds of sick and infirm flocked night and day for relief, that the government at length caused the cemetery to be walled round, to the utter extinction of the miraculous virtue of the spot, which it has never since recovered. One collection of these miracles occupied three volumes, out of which however only nine were sufficiently attested to deserve the slightest consideration, and all were such as might have been effected by natural means. An able examination of this fanatical imposture will be found in Campbell's Dissertation on Miracles, Part 2, Section 5.
Voltaire in his Age of Louis XIV., has the following reference to this affair : “I should not take notice of an epidemical folly with which the people of Dijon were seized in 844, occasioned by one Saint Benignus, who threw those into convulsions who prayed on his tomb ; I should not, I say, mention this popular superstition, had it not been furiously revived in our days, in parallel circumstances. It seems as if the same follies were destined to make their appearance from time to time on the theatre of the world.”
(4.) The feats of this dignified Thaumaturgist must be too fresh in our memory to need any particularizing. " His monument” here “shall be his name alone."
(5.) This farrago of blasphemy and nonsense, I regret to add, has received the warmest commendations from Roman Catholic Bishops and Archbishops, hosts of clergy both dignified and obscure, authors, professors in learned universities, and a long et cetera. One of them, Father Bruning, an English Jesuit, scruples not to say, that “were scripture no more, and all the most valuable treatises of instructive, moral, doctrinal, and
theological science, no more to be met with in other books, they might all be recovered in this one, and with interest beyond.”
The original edition of these Revelations was published at Paris in 1817, in 3 vols. 12mo. For an interesting account of them the curious reader is referred to the Quarterly Review for 1826, vol. xxxiii., p. 375, et seq. The veracious editor, the Abbè Genet, who was director or confessor to this crazy woman, in detailing her vision of hell, introduces a truly singular proof that these revelations were genuine and divine. “ The sister,” he says, “ stopt in her narrative, and asked him if he knew what a vulture was. Yes, he replied, a bird of prey, very cruel and very voracious. Ah! yes, my father, she rejoined, yes, he is cruel, I saw the infernal monster. I think I see him now, tearing the entrails of his victims with his dreadful beak and talons! I could never have believed there had been such monsters among birds, and as I did not know what name to give it, Christ told me that it should be called a vulture ! ” Quart. Rev. vol xxxiii. p. 393.
The protestant sisterhood, who, with less modesty than Sister Nativity, dispense with the assistance of a confessor or amanuensis, and personally, and with most audible voice, openly publish their alleged inspirations, resort to the same ingenious proof of their authenticity. They maintain that the tongue in which they speak is as unknown to themselves as to every body else. One of them, it seems, was overheard inquiring of her neighbour after such an exhibition, “I did not speak in English, did I ?” Surely it was not the same who afterwards declared respecting a certain word attributed to her in her devout frenzy, that she did NOT UTTER IT ! See Pilkington's pamphlet on the Unknown Tomgues, pp. 21, 30. Gifted Sister Nativity and her gifted coadjutor managed these things better.
Sister Nativity died in 1798, in the 68th year of her age, and was buried in the cemetery of Languelet. Miracles are said to have been wrought at her grave, which for some time was much frequented.
(6.) “ To remove therefore all doubt amongst men concerning the nature and divinity of the Word as thus declared, it hath pleased the Lord to reveal to me the eternal truth thereof."---Swedenborg's Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture. p. 6.
This enthusiast relates frequent conversations with the dead. “ I have been permitted to converse with several after death who believed they should shine as the stars in the firmament, because, as they said, they had accounted the Word holy, had often perused it, and had collected many things from it, whereby they bad confirmed the tenets of their particular faith, and had acquired the reputation of being great scholars and learned men.” “I have also seen such persons admitted into heaven ; but when they were discovered to be without Truths, they were cast headlong down again.”--- Doctrine concerning the Scripture, pp. 96, 98.
“ I have conversed in the spiritual world with some who lived many years ago.” p. 139.
(7.) Fox claims for himself and his followers the same power and spirit which the apostles lad, and rebukes those who denied it as defilers of the flesh. This was during a dispute with the Papists.
“ But we had reasonings,” he continues, “ with all the other sects, none of which would affirm they had the same power and spirit that the apostles had and were in ; so in that power and spirit the Lord gave us dominion over them all.Creorge For, his Journal, Part I. Lon. 1708, p. 584.
He prophesied repeatedly and had various visions. Speaking of his return to London when General Monk was come up thither, and the gates and posts of the city were pulling down; Long before this,” says he, “I had a vision, wherein I saw the city in heaps, and the gates down; and it was then represented to me just as I saw it several years after, lying in heaps when it was burned.” Part I. p. 517.
Ile describes many of his followers, male and female, as prophesying and performing many prophetical actions. For instance, “ William Sympson was moved of the Lord to gv at several times for three years, naked and barefoot, before them, as a sign unto them, in markets, courts, "towns, cities, to priests' houses, and to great men's houses, telling
them, "So shall they all be stripped naked, as he was stripped naked !” “ Great Sufferings,” he adds, “ did that poor man undergo, sore whippings with horse-whips and coach-whips on his bare body.” p. 572. Many persons will doubtless think that he richly deserved them. Fox had contests with Satan and his angels.
When he “looked poor
and thin,” there came to him a company of unclean spirits, and told him the plagues of God were upon him. And when he had recovered, then the bad spirits said he was grown fat, and they envied at that also : “So I saw,” he adds, " that no condition or state would please that spirit of their's.” p. 51).
(8.) It was the good pleasure of God to choose me one of the two last prophets and witnesses of the spirit, to declare that great mystery of God being become flesh, or God being made fesh, as the Scripture saith ; and for that purpose the Lord God did give me understanding of his mind in the Scriptures above all men in the world at this day; which thing hath been made manifest, and is clear to many by those writings set forth by John Reeve and myself. This commission, given of God unto me, it was the third day of February, 1651. And then I was chosen of God to be John Reeves' mouth, as Aaron was to be Moses's mouth. And as [when] Aaron's rod in his hand did smite the earth and waters of Egypt in the natural, it brought many natural plagues upon the Egyptians, and Aaron's rod swallowed up the Egyptians' rods, so hath this commission of the Spirit caused spiritual plagues to fall upon many despising spirits, upon their souls and bodies to eternity: and when they have cast down many curses upon me, I have cast but one curse upon them, and it hath swallowed up all their curses, so that none are to be seen. And the curse that I have cast down is but one curse to them, and it hath swallowed up all their curses so that none are to be seen ; and the curse that I cast down, it doth remain alone upon all serpentine spirits of men and women.”---A Declaration what the Whole Armour of God is, &c.; by Lodowick Muggleton. 4to. pp. 1, 2.
(9.) A female Millenarian, “ being in the visions of God,” thus expresseth herself. “I, finding my heart in a very low dead frame, much contention and crookedness working in my spirit, I asked of God what was the matter? He answered me thus : I let thee see what thou art in thyself, to keep thee humble ; I am about to shew thee great things and visions which thou hast been ignorant of. Then broke forth a vision as to the hoids. I saw four horns, which were four powers; the frst was that of the bishops, that I saw broker in two and thrown aside,” &c. &c. it is not now as it was in times past, that a kingly progeny should reign, for that was but for a time, and then after they should be judged, destroyed, and taken off, and be no more; and then shall the kingdom of the Lord Jesus come forth, and all the kingdoms of man thrown down before it.”. Unanimity forms the strength of nations; where is no opposition there can be no struggle, there can be no bloodshed !”--The Cry of a Stone ; or the Relation of something spoken at Whitehall, by Anna Trapnel, (being in the visions of God,) relating to governors, armies, churches, 8c. London, 1653.
This will serve at once as a proof of the pretensions of persons of this persuasion to a divine influence, and a specimen of their spirit, which has ever been cruel, almost without example.
(10.) This gentleman writes, “ And if, after this, I die like other men, I declare myself to die of no religion. And in this let no one be concerned for me as a desperado; for I am not going to renounce the other parts of our religion, but to add another article of faith to it, without which I can't understand the rest. And if I lose this additional article by failing in this attempt, I have as much religion left still as they that pity me. Nor have I in all this spoken presumptuously, or from fancy, having said nothing but what he that made me said before me. And if it be possible to believe too much in God, I desire to be guilty of that sin.” (p. 95.)
A clergyman lately broached a doctrine very similar to that of Mr. Asgill, in a sermon delivered in a chapel not far from Oxford-street; wherein he observed, that should we live to see the prediction accomplished respecting one being taken and another left, of
two women grinding together at the mill, the present incredulous age would
this circumstance over very lightly, and account for it by saying, that the one who had disappeared had been burked !
(11.) Brothers says he was commanded to acknowledge the acts of friendship he received from several persons of respectability ; and Joanna Southcott could boast among her converts of several clergymen, one of whom was a relation of Lord Foley: Sharp, the eminent engraver, was also one of her followers.
(12.) In this well, sending forth, it is to be observed, with astonishing force, many tons of water in a minute, by the assistance of one of her companions, Winifred White was immersed ; not being able to walk, in consequence of a nervous complaint and disease of the spine of three years and a half standing : the effect of which was so surprising and overpowering, that she was unable to recollect herself, or attend to the state of her health, till she began to change her bathing-dress in the adjoining cabin, when she found she could stand upon her left leg as firmly as upon her right, and that the excruciating pains in her back, as well as her other maladies, had quite left her ; in a word, that in every respect she was perfectly well. She remained, indeed, a fortnight longer at Holywell, and bathed two or three times more ; but this was in compliance with custom, and to satisfy the importunity of her friends. If witnesses are demanded, we have abundance of them, with their testimonies at full length; and “some of these were protestants, some catholics; some were English, some Welsh; some resided at Wolverhampton, others at Liverpool, others at Holywell.” See an excellent article on this subject in the Christian Observer for 1817, vol. 16, pp. 782—790.
To this Romish miracle of the nineteenth century, we may append a Protestant prophecy of the eighteenth. “ Many of our English springs,” says a distinguished physician, speaking of this very well of St. Winifred, “ will do miraculous cures when used in cold bathing, which, in ages more illiterate, were imputed to the virtue of the saint to whom it was dedicated, or the devotions used there.”---Sir John Floyer's Essay on Cold Bathing, p. 8.
Miracles of this class we can cite in abundance. Enlightened protestants have hitherto called them, however, by a different name.
But behold what happened in London, at a spring called • Parsons' Well,' (Fons Clericorum, the modern Clerkenwell.) The account I received from an eminent Fellow of the College of Physicians, Dr. Edward Baynard, a man of the highest credit and celebrity. At a place called Harrow-on-the-Hill, there is a certain countryman now living, (his name was John Plummer,) who was afflicted for the space of almost six months with dreadful pains of wandering gout, paralysis, and spasm, so as to be unable to stand. Numberless medicines were administered without affording relief; when, astonishing to relate, upon being only once plunged into this cold bath, he was entirely delivered from all these alarming complaints, and was restored to perfect health. He indeed was advised to repeat the use of the bath two or three times ; but it was only to confirm his health which had been re-established.”---Note on Horace, book I. epistle 15, by William Baxter, in his celebrated edition of that classic.
In the same note is a history of the remarkable cure of the Emperor Augustus, by immersion in cold water, which had such happy success, that the senate bestowed on Antonius Musa, his physician, a profuse pecuniary reward, and Suetonius says, that the emperor ordered his statue to be erected in the Temple of Esculapius.
Another wonderful cure, performed at Clerkenwell, probably by the same means, about the commencement of the last century, is alluded to in a sermon entitled, “The Justification of the Deity of Jesus Christ,” by the Rev. Dewel Pead, then minister of St. James's, Clerkenwell. Speaking of the cripple restored to the use of his limbs by Peter and John, at the beautiful Gate of the Temple, “the fore-cited miracle,” he says, “ hath even in our days been, in divers particulars, paralleled. A cripple from her birth, I mean not so born, but one that had an inveterate lameness from her cradle ; a cripple that did frequent the Temple, more for devotion than alms, this cripple is now, by faith
“ I am
in Jesus Christ only, standing whole before us, as it is written, “ The name of Jesus," i.e. faith in his name, hath given her perfect soundness : and in this case there can be no collusion neither, it being done in the presence of us all. If I may not, for fear of incurring the censure of the nice and curious, term this a miracle, yet I may call it a wonderful work, a signal honour done to the place and age.” In the preface, he also says, not free, nor do I think it necessary to engage in the justifying this to be according to the exactest rules of a miracle.” Wonderful works, indeed, God is continually working, and we should devoutly own his hand in them; but let us beware of confounding them with miracles.
Several equally surprising cures, some of them instrntaneous, and all very rapid, are related in “ An Essay on Cold Bathing, by Sir John Floyer, Knt.M. D.” London, 1702.
“I knew a gentleman,” says this author, both in a palsy and rheumatism, but not so weak that he could not sit on horseback, and that was as much as he could do riding, so that, by reason of his slow pace, night overtook him, and, in the dark, he fell, horse and all, into a deep ditch of water. He got hold of something, by which he hung until his man went, at least a mile, to fetch a lanthorn, and brought people to his help, and being by their help re-mounted, he rode two or three miles in his wet clothes. Being come home, he stript, went to bed, slept well, and the next day found that this accident proved his cure; for he got up and went about his business very well. This gentleman was a physician himself.” p. 233.
Take the following specimen also from An Account of the Wonderful Cures performed by the Cold Baths, by Dr. Browne. London, 1717.
Captain Crepigney, lately an officer in the first regiment of foot guards, after a fit of sickness, attended with an intermitting fever, was violently seized with spasms and contractions in all his limbs, but more particularly with a lameness in his legs and thighs, which was attended with such excessive pains as admit not of a description. Upon advice
I immediately ordered him the use of the cold baths, and went with him myself to Mr. Bayns's cold baths, where, as soon as he had bathed, which was about the space of two minutes, and afterwards dressed himself, he found present relief from his pain ; and not only so, but was able to walk from the bath to Gray's Inn, though before he was not able to be held in a coach, but cried out as a woman in travail, all the way we went thither.” pp. 96, 97.
The learned Dr. Willis relates a case of a young woman being instantaneously cured of a fever by plunging in a cold bath during her delirium.
Bishop Hall mentions a cripple, who, for sixteen years, walked on his hands, the sinews of his legs being contracted. This cripple had a monition, in his dream, to wash in a well at St. Maderne's, in Cornwall, by which he was suddenly restored to his limbs. Of this story the bishop took a particular account in his visitation, and had it sufficiently attested by many of the neighbours ; so that was fully convinced that there was no art or collusion in it.- Bishop Hall's Mystery of Godliness. The virtue of various holy wells undoubtedly resided in their coldness, which
procured for the monastic fraternities who were sagacious enough to include them in their precincts, the reputation among the laity of possessing the miraculous gift of healing.
(13.) · At this day,” says Hone, in his History of the Miraculous Host, “Miracles performed here,' is as commonly inscribed upon the churches of Brabant, as · Lodgings to let,' upon the houses in London."
Dr. Milner, expostulating with a brother clergyman, whom he accuses of being unsound in various articles of the Romish creed, displays unbounded rage at his maintaining “ that the whole collection of miracles recorded by the holy fathers and ecclesiastical writers, and those daily proved by the sacred congregation of rites, in the canonization of saints, are a series of imposture on one part, and credulity on the other !” This he calls subverting a doctrine amongst those most“ dear and sacred in the eyes of his mother church.” In our own times, he says,
“ to guard against the effects of imposture on one side, and of incredulity on the other, the church has instituted the strictest juridical process with