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respect to the miracles attributed to saints, that it was possible to devise, and she requires as clear and as convincing evidence for the admission of every fact of this nature, as could suffice in most countries for a capital conviction.”- A Serious Ex postulation with the Rev. Joseph Berington, by the Rev. John Milner, F.S. A.
It is painful to find such atrocious nonsense flowing from the pen of the talented and popular historian of Winchester. How besotted, or how depraved, may the buman mind be rendered, by habitual credulity or intrigue !
Father Philip Bouchy Servius, a learned Jesuit, published a volume of miraculous cures, of every description, wrought by an image of the Virgin Mary at Liege. Leodii, 1651. The collection of miracles attributed to our lady of Loretto, edited by Tursellinus, is better known. Many of these are very like our modern miracles, and just as unlike those of the primitive age.
(14.) Mr. Thayer published an account of his conversion. Labre was not long without a rival. “ The Jesuits, with or without reason, suspecting the holy man of Jansenism, decried his miracles, and raised another Thaumaturgus of their own society, [by name, Father Seranne,] who then opportunely died at Toulouse, to oppose the current of his fame.”-- An Examination of Events termed miraculous, as reported in Letters from Italy. By the Rev. Joseph Berington.
(15.) See Milner's Expostulation with Berington, p. 57.
(17.) “ So then, our faith should have a very silly steadiness, if we should be turned upside down, whenever any offence falleth out through the lewd dealing and frowardness of any man. And to this end driveth that, that is taught us here by St. Paul. He saith not, one, or three, or a few, but he saith, some shall fall away from the faith, and setteth down no number. And we have seen in the Epistle to the Thessalonians, that he said more than this: for he speakerh then of a general falling away. He saith not, some, but setteth down an horrible confusion. And as the Holy Ghost giveth us this lesson, know we also that we must make it good, and have an invincible steadiness in the midst of tempests and storms that may befal us before our eyes. If they that have tasted of God's truth, and have been faithfully taught, fall away, let not us follow them, to inwrap ourselves in one self-same confusion with them, but let us gather ourselves into the obedience of our God, and be stirred up to pray to him to keep us under the shadow of his wings, that Satan may in no wise prevail against us.”—Calvin on Timothy and Titus, p. 341.
(18) 1 John iv.1-6. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God : Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God : And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have over. come them ; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world : therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
The advocates of the absurd hypothesis of the present restoration of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, have made a clumsy attempt to deduce an argument in its favour from this passage of Scripture. They suppose that an audible voice is alluded to, uttered by a good or evil spirit, through the medium of human organs; and that every spirit which saith in direct terms, that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, (in allusion to Mr. Irving's notions of our Saviour's humanity,) is of God; and that such spirits as confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, (in Mr. Irving's sense of the phrase, of course,) are not of God. Can any thing display grosser ignorance, or, if the second horn of the dilemma be preferred, a more wilful perversion of the sacred records ? According to this interpretation, the devils are of God. St. Matthew describes one of them as crying out, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God ? art thou come hither to torment
before the time?" St. Mark and St. Luke both furnish a still fuller testimony from an unclean spirit: “Let us alone ; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? tart thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” The Redeemer is spoken of as Jesus, -Jesus of Nazareth. Could more distinct attestations of the coming of Christ in the flesh have been uttered? He is addressed as the Son of God, the Holy One of God. Thus his divinity is also as unequivocally affirmed. Art thou come hither to torment us? they add : Art thou come to destroy us? Could his sovereignty be more clearly conceded ? It was considered by the Jews the strongest proof of his supreme power, that the very devils were obedient to him. The interpretation put on St. John's words by the persons alluded to, is therefore manifestly erroneous, being manifestly inconsistent with facts recorded in Scripture. A more probable one is, that they are an amplification of the test of true or false prophets furnished us by our Lord himself, “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” For, consider the scope of the passage. The apostle, immediately before the passage quoted, has been inculcating purity of heart and life, and ardent love to the brethren, as the unerring indications of a right reception of Christ crucified ; and immediately afterwards he resumes his exhortation to the same heavenly graces, as indicative of the indwelling of the same transforming and vital principle. The test he gives, appears to be this : “Observe the spirit of those who offer to be your spiritual instructors. He whose life and conversation manifest that Christ crucified is formed in his heart the hope of glory,—who is holy as he is holy, who breathes forth that intense and universal charity which induced the incarnate Son of God to die for the sins of the world, --whese doctrines are according to godliness and love, the unadulterated produce of the written word ;-he is of God. Him receive, Listen diligently to him. But whosoever, in his life and conversation, shall deny Christ; who, while he calls him Lord, tramples on the blood of his cross by impurity of conduct; or wounds the members of his mystical body the church, or offends the least of the weak brethren for whom he died, by an uncharitable spirit, or by a presumptuous addition to, or concealment or perversion of, any part of his word ;--such a man is not of God. Be. ware of him. Turn away your ear from his witcheries. He has the spirit of antichrist. Hear us, then, the apostles of Christ. With the simplicity of little children cleave unto God, and his strength shall be made perfect in your weakness. You shall overcome them that overcome the world through their seductions.” Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
The tests contained in 2 John vii. and in 1 Cor. xii. 3, evidently admit of a similar explanation. All these passages will have much light thrown on them, by comparing them with our Saviour's test of false prophets, in Matthew vii. 15-20.
(19.) “But see how the devil transformeth himself and putteth on a vizard, and disguiseth himself, to make men believe he speaketh in God's name : to be short, he playeth the ape, and counterfeiteth whatsoever God hath ordained for our salvation. And, therefore, all deceivers, and such as have perverted the truth, allege in their prefaces, that they were moved with the Spirit of God, and so would make the true prophets liars ; as we see it before our eyes, and know their boldness well enough. And, therefore, St. Paul saith now in plain words, That there shall be lying spirits, that shall go astray from the way of faith. And why doth he call them spirits? Why saith he not rather, There shall come wicked men that will turn all upside down, and indeed they shall have free course, and all the world shall run with them? Why doth not St. Paul call them men and creatures ? Why doth he call them spirits ? It is to this end, that these goodly titles and prefaces should not dazzle our eyes, when they say unto us, See, the Spirit of God speaketh : but that we should discern them; and if our spirit be too rude and weak, we should pray to God to give us wisdom and discretion, that we be not abused by them.” There is no excuse to be alleged, as though men sinned through ignorance: for behold, St. Paul saith here in plain words, That they which shall come as deceivers, and go about to poison souls, and destroy the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and darken the pureness of his doctrine,
and turn the truth into a lie, shall not say, We come hither to bring what we think good; but they will bear a higher sail, they will be (as it were) God's prophets, and whatsoever they put forth, are revelations of the Holy Ghost that speaketh in them. How went the Pope's companion, Mahomet, on, to set forth, so much as he could, to deceive those poor mad-brains which have drunk and are poisoned with his false doctrine ? He saith, that the Holy Ghost revealed him all. And what saith the Pope ? Even as much : They speak both (as it were) by one mouth. Well, then, mark here what the Holy Ghost teacheth us, that we must not be light of credit to receive, without discretion, whatsoever is
And why so ? He hath a doctrine whereby we must examine whatsoever is preached to us. Again, wherein lieth this wisdom and discretion? The Holy Ghost hath these two offices : He was given to our Lord Jesus Christ, to the end that he should give us the gifts, and keep us by that means in the way of salvation. So then, let us learn to examine all doctrine by the Holy Scripture, which is the true touch-stone. And, because we are too weak, and too gross-headed, let us pray our Lord Jesus Christ to make us partakers of the Holy Spirit which he received, to the end we may be wise to discern good from evil.”—Calvin on Timothy and Titus. pp. 343-4.
St. John beheld in his apocalyptic vision, “ the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Rev. xvi. 14. Probably, by thereby disposing governments, as well as those who live under them, to infidelity and atheism.
(20.) Whether our latest sect of fanatics do not closely resemble their predecessors in this particular, let the reader judge from the following incomparable specimen of perverse ratiocination, intended to convict all the Christian world, but the few individuals who lovingly believe certain women inspired, on their own bare assertion, of something even worse than want of charity !
To believe a person only so far as we have proof of his assertions from other sources, is not to believe him at all! The persons who assert that they are speaking by supernatural agency, are all of unblemished repute in the church; walking in all the ordinances of God, and duties of life, blameless. To doubt the word of such, is not only a proof of want of love, but it is to put foul dishonour upon them. It is to offer the greatest insult that one human being can offer to another. To give men the lie is reckoned, in all countries, an affront that is to be expiated only with the severest penalties. Whatever else then comes out of this investigation, thus much already appears, that since the majority of the religious world disbelieve the assertions of these persons, there is no love in themtheir profession of love is proved to be imposture! and impostors always dislike those by whom their imposture is detected.”—Have ye received the Holy Ghost?' p. 15.
We have in this notable writer, rather a savage champion for charity. Was ever a more uncharitable accusation brought of the want of that distinguishing Christian grace ? What would he have had us do now in the case of Montanus and his inspired sisterhood, and of almost every other heretic? They were all persons of unblemished repute in the church, walking in all the ordinances of God, and duties of life, blameless.” Satan knows better than to select individuals of blemished moral character, or of an unusually strong tendency to immoral practices, as the founders and propagators of any system of religious error. Many persons of very sanctified deportment are fast bound in his chains, and to these he gives this sort of work to do. “Montanus,"
Dr. Lee,“ in his outward appearance, had all the form of godliness and spirituality ; and got the reputation of no mean sanctity, by his austerities and extraordinary way of living.” The assemblies he instituted, “ gave forth many good exhortations to holiness, vigorously pressing a reformation of discipline and manners; their spirit imitated nearly the properties of the Divine Spirit, in producing good works ; with such a show of the life and spirit of Christianity, as made it hard to think all a mere counterfeit.” According to our author, the only persons possessing charity in that age, that is, the only true Christians, (for without charity, which is the Spirit of Christ, we are none of his,) were those who credited the assertions
these Montanists made, and became their followers. The charitable credence so peremptorily inculcated, having been partially extended to these soi-disant inspired sectaries, through a few centuries, at length laid the foundation of Mahometanism.
A clergyman of the church of England, of great respectability, who seems unhappily to have adopted the same unscriptural, or rather anti-scriptural tenets, brings an equally sweeping charge of want of charity against the christian world,
“If you say there are no such gifts, [the miraculous gifts of the Spirit,] I may answer you rnfully by saying, in the same sense, and perhaps with the same degree, THERE 18 NO LOVE !!!”-Sermonby the Rev. Hugh M`Neile, in the Preacher, No. 10, Oct. 21, 1830.
How many ages then have passed without producing a single true Christian
The Rev. Edward Irving's Day of Pentecost, and indeed all his later works, as well as the Rev. Mr. Armstrong's Sermons, breathe throughout the same unamiable spirit.
The scholars of the Millenarian School,” says one of their ablest opponents, extremely prolific in their publications; and one great distinctive mark of all their writings, is rage. They are true spiritual Ishmaelites : their hand is against every man, and every man's hand is against them. Their sermons may be called solemn comminations ; and they have a judgment and a curse treasured up for all their opponents."-Sermon on the Unknown Tongues, by R. M. Beverley, Esq. p. 23.
(21.) This assertion will be more fully illustrated under the last head of these discourses.
(22.) See Milner's History of the Church of Christ, vol. i. pp. 284-5. A valuable History of Montanism, by Dr. Lee, was published with Dr. Hicks’ Enthusiasm 'Exercised, in 1709.
(23.) Chrysostom on 1 Corin. Hom. 6, vol. iii. Passages declaratory of the same opinion abound not only in the works of Chrysostom and Augustine, but of their contemporaries. The author of the imperfect work on St. Matthew," sometimes attributed to the former father, observes : “Once it was known by miracles who were true christians, and who were false ; but now the power of working miracles is wholly taken away : the pretence of it is to be found among those who pretend to be Christians.”
(24.) Augustin. de Unitate Ecclesiæ, c. 16.-A multitude of miracles are indeed ascribed both to St. Augustine and St. Gregory, but surely their own testimony ought to have more weight than that of their biographers and commentators, who lived after it had become the interest of the bishops of Rome to assert a succession of miracles through the fathers, in that church over which they exercise so despotic a spiritual sovereignty. The forgeries originating in such a source are innumerable.
(25.) His advice to Augustine the monk, who represented himself as having acquired miraculous gifts, is also indicative of the suspicion with which he viewed any pretensions to them. “ Thou hast to fear,” says he, “lest through the miracles which be done by thee, thy weak mind be lifted up in presumption, falling as far inwardly by vain glory as thou art by outward praise puffed up. We must remember that the disciples returning with joy from their preaching, when they said unto their heavenly master, ‘Lord, in thy name the very devils were obedient unto us!' it was straightway answered unto them :' • Do not rejoice thereat; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.' For they had fixed their mind upon a private and temporal joy when they rejoiced because of their miracles. But Christ recalled them from private joy unto common, and from temporal to eternal, when he said, 'Joy for that your names are written in heaven.' For not all the chosen of God do miracles; but yet all their names are written in heaven. For why? They which be the disciples of the truth ought to joy in nothing, but only in that good thing which all the other righteous shall have as well as they, and whereof they all shall have joy without end.” Bede's Eccl. Hist. lib. i. cap. 31.
(26.) Perhaps ere long the same unanticipated honour as that palmed on the early fathers by Romish fraud, may be put on Protestant reformers and martyrs The Rev. Hugh M`Neile, in a sermon already quoted, (note 20, ) thus addressed his auditory : “ Now how is it? In the time of the reformation many glorious works were done in the church
by the Spirit of God, both as to the exhibition of the fruits of the Spirit, and also of his gifts amongst them !” Preacher, vol. 1, p. 157.
How did he come by the knowledge of such an exercise of miraculous gifts ? It must have been either by private tradition or revelation ; for there are no traces of such a display in history. But he goes on to say something still more extraordinary.
“ And I have no doubt that at the time of the ministry of Whitfield and Wesley, God wrought many signs and wonders in the church in the name of his holy child Jesus.”
After such a declaration of the predisposition of his mind, there can surely be no wonder at his embracing any absurdities whatever. We must however make some allowance for this gentleman, as he confesses, at the close of his discourse, that he has been speaking “without weighing his words.” It is to be hoped he will be less injudicious in future. Let him reflect on the incalculable mischief such unpardonable want of caution may produce.
Those who would thus injure the fair fame of the glorious reformers of the sixteenth century, by intimating a suspicion of their having laid claim to miraculous gifts, have been anticipated in their insidious defamations by more open foes.
In the year 1545, say a cloud of Roman Catholic writers, Luther, having tried, of course vainly, to eject a devil out of a girl, was so torn and bruised by it in the vestry where they were shut up, that at length he burst open the door and took to his heels! See Johannes Cochlæus de Gestis et Script. Luth. Surius in Chron. Bredenb. I. 7, c. 40. Petrus Thyræus, Soc. Jes. Liber de Dæmon. p. 3. c. 40. no. 534. M. Antonius d'Averoultius, Catechism. Histor. p. 11. &c. &c. &c.
Jerome Bolsec, a physician, once the pupil of Calvin, but afterwards his bitter enemy, has written a life of that reformer, in which he states, that a certain person at Geneva, having been prevailed upon by him to counterfeit death, when the heretic approached to raise him in attestation of his doctrines, proved to be a corpse in good earnest !
Another clergyman, who has openly leagued himself with this new sect, intimates very broadly his preference of Popery over Protestantism.
“ The Papacy does not hold up to every eye the mystery of God. There is a disguise around every truth, and a lie put before every truth ; but the man enlightened by God can see a glorious truth behind it. The difference between the Papacy and Protestantism is this---that the Papacy has gathered a thick curtain around the truths of God, and Protestants have thrown away the curtain and the truths together, except one or two !!!"-Armstrong's Sermons, p. 10.
(27.) The author of the tract entitled, Have yé received the Holy Ghost ? affirms, that Dr. Middleton is “the first person who ever called in question the permanent existence of miracles in the church.” If any proofs of the contrary were necessary, in addition to those afforded by Chrysostom and Augustine, they might be produced to any extent from the works of John Gerson, the famous chancellor of Paris ; Tostatus, Bishop of Avila, in Spain ; Fisher, Bishop of Rochester ; Luther, Erasmus, Stella, Francis à Victoria, Joseph Acosta, &c. &c.
(28.) See The Prayer of Faith, viewed in connexion with the Healing of the Sick. By the Rev. Henry John Owen, M.A. London, 1831.
(29.) See Killingbeck's Sermons, Serm. xv. p. 306.
(30.) “There are very few persons in the world but at some time or other of their lives do meet with extraordinary deliverancés, either from diseases, or other dangers.” Stillingfleet's Second Discourse against the Roman Church, p. 455.
(31.) Stackhouse's History of the Bible, by Bishop Gleig, vol. iii. p. 241.
(32.) In the infancy of medical science, which Celsus informs us was only a few ages before his own time, relief from every kind of disease was sought immediately from the gods, as we learn from the same authority. Consequently, every curo was esteemed a miracle, and recovery from those disorders which modern physicians treat most successfully, was regarded with as much wonder as it now is from those with which we are most