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“ travelling through the deserts of Egypt, to “ seek out Paul, another hermit, whom he
was ordered to visit by a divine revelation, “ he met with a Centaur upon the road, and
being amazed at the figure of so strange a
creatore, and having armed himself with “ the sign of the cross, he demanded of the “ beast, in what part of the desert the ser“ vant of God refided: to which the Centaur “ made fome answer in a strange and horri"ble tone of voice, and with gestures of
great civility pointed out the road to him
by stretching forth his right-hand, and “then ran swiftly away. Antony had not
gone many steps farther, wondering within “ himself at what he had just seen, before he
espied a Satyr approaching towards him: “ this creature was a little man, with goat's
feet, a crooked nose, and a forehead armed “ with horns, who, in token of peace, of« fered him the fruit of the palm-tree, and
being presently asked by Antony, what he “ was, replied, I am a mortal, and one of “ those inhabitants of the desert, whom the “ deluded Gentiles worship, under the names " of Fauns, Satyrs, and Incubi; and am now
deputed as an ambassador from our whole “ tribe, to beg your prayers and intercession “ for us to our common lord and master,
66 whom G
« whom we know to have been sent for the 6 salvation of the whole world z.”
EITHER these faints believed the miraculous stories they related, or they did not believe them : if they did believe them, they must have been some of the weakest and most credulous of men : if they did not be lieve those things which they reported for truths, I shall leave the reader to judge what appellation they deserve; and in either case, how much such persons were to be relied
But it is not very difficult to form a judgment of this last-mentioned faint particularly, who, tho' he acknowledged a cer- , tain story told by the christians of Jerusalem, relating to the Jews, to be improbable, yet added, as I have elsewhere taken notice, Non condemnamus errorem, qui de odio Judæorum & fidei pietate defcendet a. i.e." We do
not find fault with an error, which flows « from an hatred of the Jews, and a pious “ zeal for the christian faith.” And in another place, he intimates, that respecting controversy, whose : end was victory rather than truth, it was allowable to employ every artifice which would best serve to conquer an adversary
2 Ibid. p. 218. Oper. T. IV. p. 113. from Dr. Middleton's Inquiry, p. 128.
This is indeed quite agreeable to a his general character, avowed and defended by himself, to say and unsay, and to argue
pro or con, just as it fuited the times, or ç served his cause : and this conduct he pre“ tends to justify by the examples of other « faints, of St. Paul,: nay and of Christ him“ self, whom he represents as laying about « them, like mad-men, with every weapon,
good or bad, that comes next to hand, “ without any regard to fincerity and truth, “ which he thinks no man is tied to in a dif
pute, any further than it ferves his turn;
HAD not the learned Moskeim, though a zealous advocate for christianity, reafon to express his fears, “ that those who fearch « with any attention into the writings of the
greatest and moft holy doctors of the fourth
century, will find them all, without ex« ception, disposed TO DECEIVE AND TO
LYÈ, whenever the intereft of religion re:
quires ito?” But surely this author could have little reason to confine thefe fears to the fathers of one late century: - might be not very justly have said, with Dr. Middleton ". If these later fathers, biaffed by a falfe zeat: “ or interest, could be tempted to propagate. " A KNOWN LYE; or with all their learning " and knowledge, could be fo weakly cre
& Ibid. p. 130.
« dulous, as to believe the absurd Stories “ which they themselves atteft ; there must « always be reason to suspect, that the fame « prejudices would operate even more ftrongly “ in the earlier fathers, prompted by the fame + “ zeal and the same interests, yet endued with “ lefs learning, less judgment, and more copt « dulity..
the foregoing, account of miracles
given us by the fathers, I shall add the recital of three or four from those ancient and celebrated church-historians, Eufebius, Sozomen, and Evagrius.
The first of these relates, from a certain author who wrote before his time,“
portant fact, that,” says he,“ happened among us, and which, if it had happened among the inhabitants of Sodom, would, 1
persuade myself, have caused them to re“ pent.” It was of a martyr named Natalis, who lived in that time, and being seduced by certain heretics, who taught that Christ was but a mere man, to join in this belief, he (Natalis) was frequently advised in his dreams to separate from these men; but not conform
ing to this advice, he was scourged during a whole night by angels : upon which, rising early in the morning, covering himself with sack-cloth and ashes, and appearing before Zepberinus, the clergy and people, they were, by his tears and the sight of his wounds, fo moved to compassion, that he was restored to the communion of the church'.
SOZOMEN gives us the two following "miracles performed about the year 324 by Spyridon, bishop of Cyprus.
A CERTAIN person having deposited something of value with Irene, this bishop's daughter, she hid it under-ground for the greater security, and died soon after, without discovering to any one where it was concealed. He who had reposed this confidence in her, coming to 'demand his property, Spyridon searched the house for it, but to no purpose ; whereupon he went to his daughter's grave, called her with a loud voice, and asked where she had laid what she was intrusted with : The immediately declared the place in which it was hid, and Spyridon returning to his house found what had been left with her, and restored it to the owner . The same story, with a small variation, is told by Socrates, another of these ancient churchhistorians 5.
This Hist. Eccl. l. v. c. 28.
& Sozomen 1. i. c. xi, Socrates 1. i. c. xii,