That the worship of saints and their relics was brought in and promoted by the hypocrisy of liars, or by lying miracles. No mention of miracles done by the bodies or relics of martyrs in the first 300 years after Christ: nor was the mediation of martyrs believed in the first ages of the Church. That the Gentiles idolatry of demons was advanced by lying miracles, proved out of Eusebius, Tertullian, and Chrysostom.
But now I come to show how this prediction of our apostle hath been accomplished; how the cozenage and feigning of liars was the means whereby the doctrine of demons was advanced in the Church; I mean the deifying and worshipping of saints and angels, the adoring and templing of relics, the bowing down to images, the worshipping of crosses as new idol-columns, the worshipping of the breaden God or any other visible thing whatsoever upon supposal of any Divinity therein: all which I proved to be nothing else but the Gentiles idolatrous theology of demons revived among Christians.
The first of these, the deifying and invocating of saints and adoring relics, is the most ancient for time of all the rest, and began to appear in the Church presently after the death of Julian the Apostate, who was the last heathen Emperor. The grounds and occasions whereof were most strange reports of wonders shewn upon those who approached the shrines of martyrs, and
prayed at their Memories* and Sepulchers; devils were charmed, diseases cured, the blind saw, the lame walked, yea the dead revived, and other the like: which the doctors of those times for the most part avouched to be done by the power and prayers of the glorified martyrs, and by the notice they took of mens devotions at their sepulchers; though at the beginning those devotions were directed to God alone, and such places were merely chosen for the stirring up of zeal and fervor by the memory of those blessed and glorious champions of Christ. But while the world stood in admiration, and most men esteemed these wonders as glorious beams of the triumph of Christ; they were soon persuaded to call upon them as Patrons and Mediators, whose power with God, and notice of things done upon the earth, they thought that these signs and miracles approved.
Thus the relics of martyrs beginning to be esteemed above the richest jewels, for the supposed virtue even of the very air of them, were wonderfully sought after as some divine elixir, sovereign both to body and soul. Whereupon another scene of wonders entered, namely, of visions and revelations, wonderful and admirable, for the discovery of the sepulchers and ashes of martyrs which were quite forgotten, yea, of some whose names and memories till then no man had ever heard of; as St. Ambroses Gervasius and Protasius. Thus in every corner of the Christian
* Their monuments.
world were new martyrs bones ever and anon discovered, whose verity again miraculous effects and cures seemed to approve; and, therefore, they were diversely dispersed, and gloriously templed and enshrined. (v)
All these things happened in that one age, and were come to this height in less than one hundred years. But here is the wonder most of all to be wondered at, that none of these miraculous signs were ever heard of in the Church for the first three hundred years after Christ, until about the year 360; after that the Empire, under Constantine and his sons, having publicly embraced the Christian faith, the Church had peace, and the bodies of the despised martyrs, such as could be found, were now bestowed in most magnificent temples, and there gloriously enshrined. And yet the Christians long before had used to keep their assemblies at the cemeteries and monuments of their martyrs: how came it to pass that no such virtue of their bones and ashes, no such testimonies of their power after death, were discovered until now?
The bones of Babylas were the first, that all my search can find, which charmed the devil of Daphne, Apollo Daphnζ, when Julian the Apostate offered so many sacrifices to make him speak; and being asked why he was so mute, forsooth the corpse of Babylas, the martyr, buried near the temple in Daphne, a delightful suburb of Antioch, stopped his windpipe. I fear there was some hypocrisy in this business,
and the devil had some feat to play: the very name of
BABYLAS is enough to breed jealousy; it is an ominous name, the name Babylas:
yea, and this happened too at
Besides the silence of all undoubted antiquity about any such sepulchral wonders to have happened in the former ages, the very manner of speech which the fathers living in this miraculous age used, when they spake of these things, will argue that they were then accounted novelties, and not as continued from the Apostles times. Chrysostom, in his oration against the Gentiles, of the business of Babylas, speaks thus; * If any man believes not those things were done by the Apostles, let him now, beholding the present, desist from his impudency.
Ambrose, (Epist. ad sororem Marcellinam,) relating part
of the speech he made upon the translation of the bodies of Gervasius and
Protasius, and the miracles then shown, * you see, saith he, the miracles of
ancient times he means the times of Christ and his Apostles renewed.
But, alas! now began the Latter Times; this was the fatal time, and thus the Christian Apostasy was to be ushered. If they had known this, it would have turned their joyous shoutings and triumphs at these things into mourning. The end which these signs and wonders aimed at, and at length brought to pass, should have made them remember that warning which was given the ancient people of God, Deuteronomy 13. If there arise among you a Prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder; and the sign or wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other Gods and serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that Prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether
* Reparata vetusti temporis miracula cernitis.
Id namque fieri voluimus, cum videremus, antiquis similia divinarum signa virtutum etiam nostris temporibus frequentari, et ea non debere multorum notitiζ deperire.
you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
But why should I go any further before I tell you, that even in this also the idolatry of saint-worship was a true counterfeit of the Gentiles idolatry of demons? Did not demon-worship enter after the same manner? Was it not first insinuated, and at length established, by signs and wonders of the very self same kind and fashion? Listen what Eusebius will tell us in his fifth Book de Preparat. Evangel. Chap. ii. according to the Greek edition of Rob. Stephen. When, saith he, those wicked spirits, as he proved them to be which were worshipped under the names of Demons, saw mankind brought off to a deifying of the dead, he means by erecting statues, and ordaining ceremonies and sacrifices for their memorials they insinuated themselves, and helped forward their error, by certain motions of the statues which anciently were consecrated to the honor of the deceased; as also * by ostentation of oracles and cures of diseases, whereby they drove the superstitious headlong, sometimes to take them to be some heavenly powers and Gods indeed, and sometimes to be the souls of their deified worthies. and so, saith he, the earth-neighboring
demons, which are those princes of the air, those spiritualities of wickedness, and ringleaders to all evil, were on all hands accounted for great Gods; and the memory of the ancients deceased was thought worthy to be celebrated with a greater service, * the features of whose bodies the images dedicated in every city seemed to represent; but the souls of them, and those divine and incorporeal powers, the wicked demons counterfeited by working miracles.
Hear Turtullian also speak in his Apology to the Gentiles, cap. 21, at the end: Search, therefore, whether this Deity of Christ be true or not. If it be such, by the knowledge whereof a man is reformed to good, it follows then that the false be renounced; especially that whole mystery, he means of the Gentiles idolatry, and demon-worship, being discovered, which under the names and images of the dead, through signs, miracles, and, oracles, obtaineth an opinion of divinity.
Chrysostom shall conclude, who in his oration against the Judaizing Christians saith, That
the demons of the Gentiles wrought miracles for the confirmation of Paganism. For, saith he, they oftentimes by their skill cured diseases, and restored to health those that were sick; what then? should we, therefore, partake with them in their impiety because of this? God forbid. * Then he adds out of Moses, Deuteronomy 13 that which we even now quoted; which had it been as well applied to the miracles amongst Christians present as it was to those of the Gentiles past, perhaps he that spoke it would have questioned something which he inclined to believe.