Against several Prophane and Superstitious
Now Practised by some in
The Evil whereof is evinced from the
Holy Scriptures, and from the
Writings both of Ancient
and Modern Divines.
By Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church in Boston, and Rector of Harvard College at Cambridge in NEW-ENGLAND.
They turned quickly out of the Way, which their Fathers walked, in Obeying the Commandment of the Lord; but they did not so, Judg. 2:17.
The Customs of the People are Vain. Jer. 10:3.
Ego (inquit Apostolus) omnibus per omnia placeo, Nimirum Saturnalia, & Calendas Januarias celebrans, hominibus placebat? An Modestia, Patientia, an Humanitate, an Integritate Timent Gentes ne viderentur Christiani. Nos ne Ethnici pronunciemur non veremur. Tertullian De Idololatr. Cap. 14.
LONDON: Printed in the Year, 1687.
THE Holy Prophets of Old, did in a special manner Preach and Write against the prevailing Iniquities of the Age and place wherein they lived. And the Lord Jesus has by his own most Holy Example taught his Ministers to do the like. Yea, though they should be exposed to great Sufferings from the World on that account, having declared that it shall turn to them for a Testimony of their Faithfulness to Him, whose Servants and whose Witnesses they are. Such like Considerations, have caused me to look upon it as my Duty, both Living and Dying, to enter my Humble Testimony for the ways of Christ, and against those things which I am Convinced are directly Opposite thereunto; and I have therefore Written what cometh hereafter. Since the Composure whereof, there is much discourse of beginning of Stage-Plays in New-England. The last Year Promiscuous Dancing was openly practised, and too much countenanced in this Degenerated Town. There was, in the day of it, a Testimonypublished against that Evil, by the Ministers of Christ in this place; amongst whom I am the least. If we should now behold things as bad or worse coming in upon us, and be altogether silent, I know not how we should be able to answer it to him, who has set us as Watchmen to the House of Israel, and most solemnly charged us to shew unto them their Iniquities.
But as for Stage-Plays, the Evil thereof has been abundantly discovered by several of our English Writers; particularly by Mr. Stubbs, Mr. Perkins, Dr. Ames, and by Mr. Prin in his large and Elaborate Discourse on that Subject; and Dr. John Rainolds (of whom Heylin himself confesses that he was peripanpepaideumenoV, has a most Learned Treatise called, The Overthrow of Stage-Plays, wherein it is manifestly proved, That it is not only Unlawful to be an Actor, but a Beholder of those Vanities. The Reader is referred to the Books mentioned for further satisfaction; I must but very briefly Suggest a few things here.
1. Stage-Plays had their Original from those Devil-Gods whom the Gentiles Worshiped. The Infernal Spirits did expressly command that men should use such Recreations, which we may be sure they would never have done, were not such Pastimes displeasing to God, and dangerous to the Souls of Men. Austin (de Civitate Dei Lib. 4. Cap. 26.) Relates that Titus Latinus was by a Daemon told that he should declare to the Senate that they ought to renew their Stage-Plays; He neglecting to deliver his Message, was again by the Daemon called upon; and a Third time; the Issue was, that Stage-plays were revived more then ever. Valesius (a rich Roman) having Prayed to his Household Gods for the Recovery of his Children, who were dangerously sick of the Pestilence, he was by them bidden to give them Water to drink taken from beside the Altar of Pluto; which having done, they recovered, and the Infernal Spirits required him in way of Gratitude to Celebrate Night Plays. See Polydor. Virgil de Invent. Return, Lib. 4. Cap. 14. But that Scenical Interludes had no better an Original then what has been mentioned, is further manifest from the Testimony of Tertullian, de Spectaculis, Cap. 5. 7, 10, 24 Clemens Alexandrinus; Orat ad Gentes. Arnobius adversus Gentes, Lib. 7. Lactantius de vero cultu Cap. 7. ac de Origine Erroris Cap. 8 Austin de Civitate Del, Lib. 1. Cap. 32. Valerius Maximus, Lib. 12. Cap. 1. Hence Ancients call such Theaters, the Devilís Temples, and Stage Plays, the Devilís Lectures, and the Actors in them, the Devilís chief Factors. Tertullian in his Book de Spectaculis, Cap. 26. speaks of a Woman, that upon her going to see a Stage Play was immediately possessed with the Devil, and the Evil Spirit being in a way of Exorcism Expostulated with, for Entering into one that professed Christianity, he answered that he had just cause to do it, for said he, In meo Inveni, I found her in my own Ground, where I have Dominion.
2. For Men who call themselves Christians, to do that which is contrary to their Vow in Baptism, must needs be very Evil. But this is sadly true concerning Stage-Plays. Baptized Persons are under Obligation to renounce all the Pomps of Satan; and therefore to Abhor and Abandon Stage-Plays, which bear a principal part in the Pomps the of Devil. Thus Salvian (de provid. Dei. Lib. 6.) Argueth, in Stage-Plays (saith he) there is an Apostasy from the Faith, men in Baptism profess that they Renounce the Devil, his Pomps and Shows; The Devil is in his Pomps and Plays. If then thou dost return to Stage-Plays, thou dost leave the Faith of Christ, and return again to serve Satan. Thus did that Faithful Minister of God Declare and Testify against the Degenerate Christians of that Apostatizing Age wherein he lived, it has been proved that the Impleaded Interludes were at first Instituted for the honour of Idols, and they were a special part of the Old Ethnical Worship. Hence for Christians to take them up, is practically to Renounce the Faith and Allegiance which they promised to the Lord in their Baptism.
3. ĎTis the usual practice of Stage-Players to make themselves and others merry with the Vices and Wickednesses of men. Now this is certainly Evil. To set forth Sin Dramatically or Sportfully, is inconsistent with that Sorrow for Sin, as Sin, which is every mans Duty. The Wickedness of other men is not to be named without detestation, Ephesians 5:3. Nor to be thought on without Sorrow, because of the dishonour which has been done to the Blessed Name of God thereby, Psal. 119:136,158. Wherefore to make such things a matter of Recreation and Delight, is as contrary to the Spirit of a true Christian, as Darkness is to Light.
4. The Natural Effects of Stage-Plays have been very pernicious. Not to speak of the loss of precious Time, and of Estate, which might be better Improved; Multitudes (especially of Young Persons) have thereby been Corrupted and everlastingly Ruined. When they have seen a lively Representation of Wickedness on the Stage, their Minds have been Vitiated, and instead of learning to hate Vice (as is Vainly pretended) they have learned to practice it. Seneca could say that nothing has a greater tendency to Corrupt good Manners, then to be at these Spectacles. Itís a sad Observation which some have made, that Persons who have been Corrupted by Stage-Plays, are seldom, and with much difficulty Reclaimed. A more woeful and effectual Course to Debauch the Young Generation, Satan himself cannot easily devise. I remember Austin in his Confession (Lib. 6. Cap. 8.) Reports concerning Alipius (a very hopeful Young Man whom he had a great Affection for) That he was much Importuned by some of his Acquaintance, to go along with them to see a Sword-Play. He at first denied to go along with them, but at last to please them he consented; only resolved that he would keep his Eyes shut as long as he continued on the Stage: but one of the Fencers being smitten so as to fall, the Spectators gave a shout, at the hearing of which, Alipius opened his Eyes. And then (saith Austin) he was struck with a deeper Wound in his Soul, then the other was in his Body; so that he fell more miserably then the Sword-Player had done, whose fall caused the mighty shout of the People. He no sooner saw another Mans Blood, but at the very instant drank down a kind of Savageness; being much taken with the Barbarousness of the Sword-Fight, and made Drunk with that Bloody Pastime. Nor was he now the Man he was when he first came thither, but became an entire Companion of them, who brought him to the Theater. He was so Inflamed with it, and carried home with him such a measure of Madness, as that he came another time, nay ran before them who first enticed him, and haled on others to do so too. And in this course continued a long time, but God was pleased at last by a strong and merciful Hand to Convert him. Thus far is Austinís Relation, by which we see how dangerous it is for Persons (especially young Ones) to go to a Stage-Play, or to behold a Sword-Fight; God may be provoked thereby to give them up to walk in the ways of their Heart, and in the sight of their Eyes. The Emperour Honorins abolished all the Gladiators or Sword-Players in Rome. See Grymstonís Imperial History, p. 273.
5. The generality of good Men, both in former and in latter Ages, have looked upon Stage-Plays as abominable Vanities. The Fathers (as they are called) do with one Voice vehemently Condemn them. Clemens Alexandrinus would have the very memory of Stage-Plays to be abolished, and he stiles them the Chairs of Pestilence, and concludes that it is not Lawful for Christans to be present at such Plays. Lactantius saith of them, That they are the greatest Instigations to Vice, and the most Powerful Instrument to corrupt the minds of Men, and ought therefore to be wholly abolished amongst Christians. Hierom declared concerning them, That they are lewd Inventions, by which the Devil useth to gain innumerable companies of Evil Men to himself: And he saith, That in places where the Gospel prevailed, Stage-Plays and Play-Houses went down; whence the Heathen complained of the Times of Christianity as unhappy Times. Chrysostom saith, That nothing brings the Ordinances of God into Contempt so much as these Plays, and that Gods Ordinances will do the Man no good, that shall be a Spectator of such Vanities. But I forbear mentioning other Testimonies against the Impleaded Interludes. Not to be present at a Stage-Play, was of old a Character of a Christian, whereby such were discerned from other Men. V. Tertullian de Spectaculis, Cap. 24. 38, 42. And Austin de Symbolo ad Catechum. Lib. 4. Cap. 1. In those days they would not Baptize any Person, that should be so much as a Beholder, much less one that should be an Actor in a Stage-Play. Yea, if Christians did afford their presence at such Stage-Plays, they were by the Ecclesiastical Constitutions judged as guilty of a Crime deserving no less then Excommunication. V. Clement. Constitut. Apostol. Lib. 8. Cap. 32. In the Council at Aries in France, Anno. 314. And in the Eleberine Council in Spain. Anno. 305, it is decreed that Stage-Players shall be Excommunicated out of the Society of Christians. The like is to be seen in many other Ancient Councils, which for Brevities sake I Omit. As for Pagano-Christians, as Dr. More rightly calls them (I mean Papists) they Excuse, plead for, and practise these Vanities. Nevertheless, amongst them Bonaventure, Cellotius, and Rovenius reflect upon Histrionical-Plays as Evil things. Nay, the Council of Trent does not absolutely, but with some Restrictions approve of them. Since the Reformation, Protestant Divines have abundantly Testified against such Recreations, as in themselves Evil. So Martyr, Aretius, Danaeus, Rivet, and many others. In the Discipline of the Reformed Churches in France, Anno. 1571. I find these Words, It shall not be Lawful to assist at Comedies, Tragedies, and other Interludes, Plays of Manners, and other Plays represented publickly or privately, because at all times they have been prohibited amongst Christians as causing Corruption of good Manners.
In a National Synod at Dort in Holland, Anno. 1578. and in several Provincial Councils there, such Interludes are condemned. Voetius (in Disput. Select. Part. 4. Page 376) Declares that Stage-Plays had been quite Banished out of the City of Utrecht, and other places, and not practised for many Years; Yet that some of the Senators did against the serious and solemn obtestations of Christís Ministers, suffer them to be revived, Anno. 1663. And he saith, that those Comedies were forerunners of the Dismal Tragedies which followed within two Years after in respect of the Sword and Pestilence, wherewith the Land was visited. The Lord in Mercy grant that New-England may never see Comedies attended with the like Tragedies.
But if I should Enlarge on these things, this Porch would be too big for the small Building it stands before. Nevertheless, the Talk which passeth amongst some Vain Persons, concerning a May-Pole which they intended to set up when the Time shall come, constrains me to add one word concerning that. These Sports are the very same with the Old Heathens, Anthestesia, Floralia or Laurentinalia, which some Christian Emperours did utterly abolish. They are observed not only after the same manner, but at the same time of the Year with the Pagans Floralia; which had from the time of their Celebration the Name of Majuma, or May-Games, given to them. Hence is that of the Poet, Exit et in Majas Feature Florale Calendas. Ovid. Fast. Lib. 4. The best Authors give this account concerning May-Poles, and the Plays attending them, There was a prodigious Strumpet, whose Name was Flora, who by Harlotry had gained a vast sum of Money. She bequeathed her whole Estate so Infamously gotten, to the People of Rome, only desired, and it was agreed to by the Senate, that once in a Year (viz. in the Month of May) Plays and Dances might be instituted in Honour to that great Whore. This is the Original of May-Games. And from hence is it, that May-Poles are adorned with Flowers and Garlands. See Lactantius de false Religione, Lib. 1. Polydor. Virgil. Lib. 5. Cap. 2. Holpinian de Origine Festorum, p. 88. It would cause me too far to exceed the Limits of a Preface, if I should produce the Testimonies of Ancient and Modern Divines against this wicked Vanity. I therefore desist at present. It is an abominable shame, that any Persons in a Land of such Light and Purity as New-England has been, should have the Face to speak or think of practising so vile a piece of Heathenism.
October 30, 1686.
A Testimony against several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, &c.
Against Health-Drinking. The Definition of an Health. Reasons to prove the Unlawfulness of Healthing. That Practice is amongst the Relics of Heathenism. It was in its first Institution abominably Idolatrous. Its Original is from Hell. ĎTis an occasion of much Sin. Health-Drinking as usually practised, is against Charity, justice, and Reason. Wise, Sober and good Men have utterly condemned it. The Tremendous Judgments of God upon Notorious Heathens not to be slighted. Several Pleas for Healthing answered.
IT has been made a Question by some, Why may not Christians Drink or Pledge Healths? Is there any Sin in such a Practice which hath been used by the generality of Mankind, Time out of mind? Now that we may not mistake in stating the Controversy, it will be needful to enquire into the Nature and Definition of an Health.
I shall not Enumerate, nor am I willing to Defile my Pen [Lib. I.] with mentioning the cursed Mysteries and Ceremonies observed by some Health-Drinkers. Joh. Fred. Matenesius [Cap. 5. p. 39.] in his Book de Ritu Bibendi super Sanitate Magnatum, has described enough of them. An Health is not merely ones saying when he Drinks to another, that he wisheth the Health of such a Person present or absent; Nevertheless, where the using of such Expressions proves any way offensive, to be sure Tutius est abstinere, it is Charity to forbear them. But an Health is that which doth Oblige men to Drink such a quantity of Liquor, as an Indication of their Praying for the Health or Prosperity of such a Person, or of such a Design.
According to this Description, we conceive, That a Christian ought not, nor can he without Sin against God, either Pledge or Drink an Health. And the more especial Reasons which sway our Consciences in this matter, are these following.
1. Christians ought not to retain any Remainders of Heathenism. It is confessed by all, that as to Natural Actions which belong to men as men, it doth not follow, that because the Heathen have so practised it of Old, that Christians who succeed them may not do the same things. But in Ceremonies and things of a Religious Nature, they are not to be imitated. To Dedicate a Cup, or Consecrate an Health, is not an Action purely Natural or Moral. The Worldly and Vain Customs of the Gentiles are not to be taken up by such as profess themselves to be the Servants of the True God in Christ. The Holy Scriptures do clearly, expressly, and abundantly prohibit all Symbolizing with the Heathens, Levit. 20:23. You shall not walk in the manners of the Nations. See also Chap. 18:2, 3. and Jer. 10:2. Learn not the way of the Heathen. Psal. 106:35. They were mingled among the Heathen, and learned their Works. Ezek. 11:12. You have done after the manner of the Heathen that are round about you. Matth. 6:7. Use not, &c. as the Heathen do. Rom. 12:2 Be not conformed to this World. Eph. 2:2. In time past you walked according to the Course of this World. And Chap. 4:17. This therefore I say and Testify in the Lord, that henceforth you walk not as other Gentiles walk in the Vanity of their Mind. 1 Pet. 1:14. As Obedient Children, not fashioning your selves according to the former Lusts, in your Ignorance. And Verse 18. Redeemed from your vain Conversation, received by Tradition from your Fathers. And Chap. 4:3. The times past of our Lives may suffice us to have wrought the Will of the Gentiles. I have produced these Scriptures to prove that there ought to be a difference between Christians and other men; And that Non-Conformity to the Heathenish customs of the World is by the Lord himself enjoined upon all his Servants. But that the impleaded Healthing was not first practised amongst the People of God, whether Christians or Jews of Old, is past all dispute; Learned men, who have written on this Subject, shew how it is amongst the Relics of Paganism, which has through the Papacy exonerated it self into the sink of a decaying World. Instead of many, I shall only produce Austinís Testimony, which does sufficiently confirm what has been asserted. [De Tempore, Serm. 131.] His words are these, Illa foeda & infoelix Consuetudo, per quam grandi Mensurd, sine Mensurd, solent bibere, de Paganorum observatione remansit; Ideo tanquam Venenum Diaboli de vestris Conviviis respuatis. That filthy and unhappy Custom (saith Austin) of Drinking Healths is a Relic of Paganism, and let Christians banish it from their Feasts and Tables, as the Poison of the Devil. Thus has the great Austin expressed himself above 1200 years ago. Health-Drinkers may call him a Fanatic, if they please.
2. That Practice which was in its first Institution abominably idolatrous, and which has still in it an appearance of Idolatry, ought not at all to be used amongst Christians. The first and great Commandment of the Moral Law confirms this Proposition; and so do all those Scriptures which require men to flee from Idolatry, and not to tolerate any Remainders or Remembrances of Idolatry amongst them; The Holy Word of God abounds with Precepts of this nature. See Psal. 16:4. Isa. 2:18. Zeph. 1:4. 1 Cor. 10:14. 1 Thes. 5:22. But this Healthing was in its first Institution abominably Idolatrous. No man that has made it his concern by Reading to enquire into these things, can be Ignorant, that the Heathen, who were the first Healthers, did at their Feast Drink an Haustum Salutis, first [V. Athen. Diphnosoph. 1.2. Cap. I. Olaus Magnus, Lib. 13. Cap. 37. Alex ander ab Alex. Gen. Dier. 1.5. c. 21. Bullinger de Conviviis, 1. 3.c. 34. Demster. Antiq; lib. 5. cap. 30.] to their Gods, and then to their Patrons and Friends. Particularly, They had one Cup which was PothriondioVswthroV An Health to Jove; another that was touagaqoudaimonoV which did imply a Prayer to FortuneóTe, Fortuna, Deam facimus, Coeloq; locamus; than which there cannot be more hateful Idolatry. From Ethnicís some Idolatrizing Christians have learned to Drink Healths to Angels, and to the Souls of departed Saints; But shall men that profess the True Religion, do any thing that shall seem to be a Symbolizing with such Idolaters? The Health-Drinker seems to Worship the Object of that Health. Fabio, Sacrum libavit Honorem. It is well said by [In quo vadis. Sect. 21. p. 685.] Bishop Hall, That an Healther by his Forms of Ceremonious quaffing, does make himself a Beast, while he makes a God of others. And do not those Ceremonies of putting off the Hat, and Kneeling, frequently practised by Health-Drinkers intimate some kind of Adoration? Besides, for any man to make his Drinking to signify an Invocation of the Name of God, or to be the Amen of a Prayer, declaring his Desires that such a Person may have Health, is Superstition, and falls under the Idolatry forbidden in the Second Commandment. An Health is indeed a Profane Sacrament. Hence are those words of Ambrose, Quid memorem Sacramental Bibamus pro Salute Imperatorum. Amongst the Gentiles of old, Healthing did imply Sacrifice and Prayer.
3. That which had its Original from Hell, should not be practised by Christians, whose Conversation ought to be in Heaven. This is so clear a Proposition, as that I shall not use Words to confirm it. He must be an Atheist to a Prodigy, that shall contradict it. But the Impleaded Healthing had its Original from Hell. This is not my single Apprehension. Very Learned and [Lege Voetium de Santeis.] Judicious writers affirm that the Devil himself was the first Author, Institutor, and Inventor of Health-Drinking. It was in its first rise used as a Drink-Offering to Satan. There were among the Jews of old, Drink-offerings poured out to the True and Holy God, being part of the Ceremonial Worship, once of Divine Institution. Gen. 35:14. Exod. 29:40, 41. And a Cup of Healths Psal. 115:15. tVVWyMVk which in their solemn Thanksgivings the Master of the Feast [Jarchi. V. Medi opera f. 483.] holding in his hand before the Lord, did praise him for all his Salvations. And in [Voetum Disp. Sel. part. 4. ubi de Senteis p. 500. Matenesius p. 58.] imitation hereof, Satan who takes Pleasure in Corrupting the Worship of God, and arrogates to himself a Divine Service, caused the Blind Gentiles, (whose God he was) to honour him with Healths and Drink-offerings. In those Dark and Dismal Ages which passed before the Sun of Righteousness arose over the Earth, all the Nations of the Word (excepting Israel) worshipped the Dragon. And Healths were one part of that Sacrifice and Service which the Gentiles honoured Beelzebub with. The Apostle speaks of the Cup of Devils 1 Cor. 10:21. Amongst the Devils Cups there was a Poculum in Delibatum (as Minutius Foelix calls it) out of which they drank to their Gods, and by saluting them in that way, manifested a Religious Adoration of those Infernal spirits. Chersias in Plutarch [In Conviv. septern Sapientum.] intimates that the great God Jupiter (and we know who was the Jupiter worshipped by the Heathen) made a Feast for the Inferior Gods, and poured Wine into a Cup, and enjoined them in a Course to Drink it off. Basil in one of his [de Ebrietate.] Sermons, sheweth that the Heathen Greeks had in their Feasts a Master of Healths; One that should see that each of the Guests did drink off the Cup of Wine presented to him in his Course and Order. And of this Law (saith he) the Devil himself was the Author. And hence it comes to pass that Satan is so much delighted with Healths; He may well, when Homage is done to himself thereby. He rejoiceth to see miserable Mortals taken with that which was his Device, invented on purpose to Debauch mankind, and as an Engine for their Destruction. I omit here that which Delrio and [Matenesius ubi supr. c. 8.] others have related from the Confessions of sundry detected Magicians, viz. that in the Conventicles and Festivals of Witches they are wont to carouse Healths in honour to Beelzebub and his Inferior Cacodaemons.
4. It is the unquestionable Duty of every Christian to avoid the Occasions of Sin as much as may be. The Commandment which forbids such a Sin, requires that men take heed of the Occasions and Temptations leading thereunto. Prov. 5:8. & 23:31. Eph. 5:11. A Christian ought not only to shun the Occasions of Sin himself, but to be careful not to cast an Occasion of sinning before his Neighbour. This is that Scandalizing or Giving Offence to others which the Holy Scriptures do so often caution men against. Scandalum est quod inductivum Peccati. He that is drawn into Sin, is of. fended and made to fall. Christians ought not to omit a Duty, lest others should from thence take Occasion to sin; but they should forbear many Indifferent things, when the Practice of them will become an occasion of Evil, Rom. 14:20, 21. The holy Apostle saith, If meat make my Brother to offend, I will eat no Flesh while the World stands, lest I make my Brother to Offend. 1 Cor. 8:13. supposing what must not be granted, that the Drinking of an Health is in it self of an Indifferent nature; Nevertheless, if it become an Occasion of much Sin, that Practice ought to be wholly laid aside. But that the impleaded Healthing has occasioned a World of Iniquity to be committed needs no Proof. It occasions Gods name to be Dishonoured with respect to the Abuse of his Creatures, and so is a Breach of the Third Commandment. It has occasioned the Sin of Drunkenness more than a thousand millions of Times. When wicked men intend a Debauch, they are wont to begin with an Health. Wendelin testifieth that among the Germans, they set an Health a going, Ebrietatis conciliandae gratia, that so they may have a Drunken bout. The Ancients have called Healthing, The Devils shooing-horn whereby he draws on Drunkenness. The most Judicious Ames [Cas. Consc. 1.3. c. 16.]observes, that it is one of the Mysteries of Bacchus whereby men are artificially and cunningly drawn into an Excess of Drinking. And it has been the Cause of infinite Quarrels. The rude Complement of the old Health-drinkers in Polonia, [Gaugnnius de Re bus Polon.] was, Aut mihi praebibe, aut mecum armis decertato. There is too much of that Genius in many Healthers still. It would be Endless to speak of all the Vain words, Censures, and wicked Reproaches, nay Oaths and Blasphemies, which have been the natural and woful fruit of Health-Drinking.
5. Healthing, as usually practised, is against the Rules of Charity, Justice, and Reason. He that puts another upon Drinking such a quantity of strong Liquor, when perhaps he has enough and too much already, does not shew that Charity either to his Neighbours Soul or Body which the Rule requires. And Woe to him that giveth his Neighbour drink: that puts his Bottle to him and makes him drunk also, Hab. 2:15. Men pretend Charity to another in Drinking his Health, whereas many times thereby they Destroy their own and their Neighbours too. That witty Epigrammatist saith true, [Owen part. I 1.2. Epig. 42.]
"Una Salus Sanis nullam potare Salutem,
"Non est in pota vera Salute Salus.
And equal Draughts of Wine imposed on all persons are contrary to the Rules of Distributive Justice. That may be Beneficial to one that would be Baneful to another, according to the Tempers or Distempers of menís Bodies. And it is an unjust and Tyrannical Invasion on the Liberty which belongs to every one both as a Man and as a Christian, when he is obliged to Drink more, than his present Appetite inclines him unto. And it is against Reason for a man to drink for anotherís Health. Suppose he should be required to Eat a Pound of Flesh, or of Cheese, when he is not Hungry, and that for the Health of his Friend, How Irrational would the Proposal be? And it is no better when a man that is not athirst is required to Drink a Pint of Liquor for anotherís Health. This is worse then brutish Folly. An Ox or an Horse will not drink more then sufficeth Nature. A Learned [Voetius ubi supr. p. 500 ex Buschio.] man relates a Facetious Passage concerning a notorious Health-drinker, who having continued drinking Healths to the honour of Saint John, till his Wits were wet-shod; as he returned home, riding through a Brook, he bad his Horse drink to the Honour of Saint John, but thc Beast not being thirsty, would drink nothing. And the Drunken man had so much Reason left in him as to confess, Certe Equus est me sapientior, that his Horse that would drink no Healths, was wiser then his Master. Quanto melior Ebriosis Canis & Asinus, said Chrysostom of old in one of his Homilies. When Glareanus was importuned by some to drink more then he had an Appetite unto, [Matenesius L. I. C. 10.] He put them off with that Answer, Num isto Cane insipientiorem ne vultis? A Brute has more wit then to do so.
6. That which Wise, Sober, but especially Good men, have utterly disliked, may well be suspected as Evil, and Christians should be careful how they comply with such a Practise. But this is true of Health-drinking. Some of the wisest men in the World have manifested their great Dislike thereof. Charles the Great made a Law to punish such of his Soldiers as should Compel or Invite any to drink an Health. Likewise the Emperors [Beat. Rhenan. Rerum German. Lib. 2.] Maximilian and Charles V. did seek to Reform that Evil Custome, emitting Edicts for the Punishment of such as should be found guilty of it, and exhorting Ministers to preach against it. Popish Authors are generally lax Casuists, yet some of them have had so much of Morality in them, as to write against the Impleaded Healthings. So does Joh. Fred. Matenesius, withal reflecting on the Protestant Profession, because Healths are so rife amongst those that go under that Name. But he might have considered that Papists are no less guilty. Also, Sanctius, Serrarius, Lessius, Boenartius, Canonhierus, Chavassius, notwithstanding their being Papists, have disliked this Heathenish Custom. Yea, Pope Innocent III. [Citante Matenesio p. 3.] made a Decree against it, withal ordering, that if any of the Clergy should be proved guilty of Healthing, He should be suspended ab Officio & Beneficio, without giving due Satisfaction for his offence. And not only Christians but moral Heathens have banished Healths, from their Tables, and out of their Feasts. We have one great instance of it recorded in the Scripture.
When Ahasuerus made a mighty Feast, according to the State of the Emperor of Persia, the Drinking was according to the Law, None did compel, for so had the King appointed to all the Officers of his house, that they should do according to every mans Pleasure, Esther 1:8. Lyra (a Christianized Jew) in his Commentary on those words does justly inveigh against the Health-drinking practised by Christians. And well may he, when there are Persians and Heathens to rise up in Judgment against them. The egkucloposia of the Licentious Greeks was once disliked by the Grave Romans; Tully [de Legibus Lib. 2. prope finem.] writes that Circumpotation (i.e. Health-drinking) was abrogated by the Roman Laws. Afterwards indeed they did relapse into that vice again, as bad as ever. Yet some of their Poets did satirically reprove it, styling the Rites about Health-drinking [Horat. Serm. Lib. 2. Sat. 6.] Mad Laws. I pretermit other Instances of men who had only the Light of Nature to direct them, and yet looked upon this Healthing as an unreasonable Custom, and that which had a tendency to corrupt good manners.
He that would see more may peruse what Mr. Prin [In his Healths Sickness, p. 40, 41. And in his Histriomastix. passim.] has written on this Subject. But men truly fearing God have much more abominated this ill Custom. The Scripture saith, Walk in the way of Good men, and in the Path of the Righteous, Prov. 2:20. Are the greatest Healthers good men? Would any one be willing to have his Soul gathered with theirs when he must leave this World? Sound Christians in the primitive Times were no Health-drinkers. it is indeed manifest by one of Nazianzenís Orations against Julian, that some loose Christians in those days did drink Healths in a Pretended Honour to Christianity, as the Pagans did to their Gods, and great ones. And we see by what Austin complains of. that some would drink at the Sepulchers of the Martyrs in Honour to them. Though in truth, they could not reproach the Martyrs and Christianity more then by thus Paganizing. But the Serious and True Primitive Christians refused Healths, for which the Heathen exclaimed against them, as if they wanted due Devotion to their Emperors. Hence the Ancient and Famous Teachers in the Christian Church have testified against this Iniquity. So Clemens Alexandrinus, and Basil amongst the Greek Fathers (as they use to be styled.) So Ambrose, Austin, and Jerom amongst the Latins, whose sayings are largely recited by Mr. Prin, Mr. Bolton, and others. And amongst modern Protestant Divines it were easy to produce a cloud of Witnesses in this cause. Voetius, Rittershusius, Loccenius, Teeling, Tassin, Crocius, and I know not how many besides. Amongst our English writers, Dr. Ames (a man for his learned Works deservedly famous in all Protestant Churches) Mr. Downham, Mr. Bolton, Mr. Gataker, Mr. Ward, Mr. Harris, Dr. Hall, and Mr. Thomas Hall, have witnessed against this evil. Mr. Geree has also published a Treatise discovering the Vanity and iniquity of it. The late famous Judge Hale [See his Life, p. 9] made a Solemn vow to God that he would never drink an Health as long as he lived; which vow he kept to his dying day. None could prevail with Him to drink so much as the Kingís Health, though but for one time. For which cause some indecent men unworthily charged that Noble and truly Loyal person with obstinacy.
These things sufficiently prove that they are mistaken, who think that only a few Silly and Humorous men have disapproved of Healths. Some who have been Foolish and Vain to a great Excess, upon their growing Wise have utterly left their Health-drinking, with bitter Sorrow that ever they had been so Foolish. The Repentance of Mr. Francis Cartwright (mentioned by [In his Directions for walking with God, pag. 205.] Mr Bolton) was many years ago published, wherein he hath this Expression, It now wounds me to the Heart to think of my Drinking Healths. It may be when men come to have real Visions of Eternity, or when they lye upon Death-beds, they will repent of this their way which has been their Folly.
7. The tremendous Judgments of God which have befallen notorious Health-drinkers, are not to be slighted. Many Authors worthy of Credit have taken notice of this. Schusselbergius in his [Citante Voetio Disp. v. 4. p. 513.] Epistles hath several awful examples of the tremendous Vengeance of Heaven which fell upon some wicked Scholars as they had been drinking Healths. Mr. Ward in his Woe to Drunkards, hath six or seven Instances of miserable men who died before their Time, by means of this Iniquity. A great Healther had once a Ring given to him with this Poesy in it, Drink and Die. So has many a wretched Healther done. He hath Drunk and Died. Yea, with his Healths drunk his Soul into those Flames, which (as one speaks) all the Ocean can never quench, though he should health it down. Memorable and fearful was that Instance of Mr. Richard Juxon (once a Fellow of Kings-College in Cambridge) who as he was drinking and Healthing fell down dead in a moment; and his Carcass immediately so corrupted as that the stench of it was insufferable, insomuch that no house would receive it. Alexander the [Dicente Althenaeo.] Great killed himself with drinking an Health out of Hercules his Cup. Most Tragical is the Relation concerning 20 of the chief Princes in Pomerania [Camerar. c. 12. Cent, 12.] who were all of them poisoned to Death in one day, because they did not refuse to drink King Popelus his Health, when the Queen (who had prepared the Poison) urged them to it.
But let us consider a little the chief Pleas and Arguments which are made use of to justify this unhappy Custom.
1. Some argue, If a Remembrance of an absent Friend, when one drinks, is lawful, then an Health is so; But you are not so humorous as to scruple that. Answ. The Consequence is denied. For a Remembrance and an Health are not the same. The Primitive Christians [Clem. Alex. Paedag. I. 2. c. 2.] had their Pocula Amicitiae, which was the same thing with our Drinking one to another, and Remembering our absent Friends. But they had no Healths among them, as we have shewed. In a Remembrance (as it is called) a man is not obliged to drink up the whole Cup. Nor is the Person to whom he drinks obliged to pledge him, except he seeth cause. He is left to his Liberty to Pledge where, and in what, and how he pleases, which things are contrary to the Laws of an Health. A Remembrance is usually of Friends and Equals, when as an Health is commonly to Superiors. So that these two differ the whole Heaven over.
2. Some excuse the Matter by saying, They do not compel others to Pledge them when they drink an Health. Answer, This is so far well. I wish all could say so. Nevertheless, It should be considered, that the very Beginning of an Health has some kind of Compulsion in it. Especially when the Exorcism of a Great Name is added to the health. Every one hath not Power and Courage to withstand the Temptation of such an Adjuration.
3. There are who excuse themselves by pleading, They are loathe to be uncivil, or that any should take occasion to think them morose and ill-humored. Answer, The Incivility is on their part who urge the health, and not in them who out of Conscience refuse it. Nor will any Ingenuous person be offended at him who shall with Discretion and Modesty decline Pledging an Health. It was not taken offensively from that noble Statesman who said, Iíle pray for the Kings Health, and drink for my own. Nor was the Duke of Buckingham displeased with Dr. Preston for his not complying with the ceremonies of an Health, but misliked the incivility of the Person that would have imposed it. Nor was Alexander offended at the Philosopher who told him, He was not free to drink his Health, and that for this reason, because he had no Desire to make himself stand in need of AEsculapius, when thereby he could do Alexander no good.
4. It is pleaded that the famous Luther drank an Health, and other Good men have not scrupled it Answ. If Luther did any such thing upon his first coming out of Popery and Monkery, and before he saw the Evil of it, none ought to allege his example to justify an unlawful deed. Nor is it certain that Luther did thus after his Conversion. Protestant writers do not acknowledge the fact, when it has been objected to them. Only some Popish Authors tell a Story of a Prodigious Health which Luther drank to Islebius the German Antinomian. But the Papists have invented a thousand lies, not only of Luther, but of Zuinglius and Calvin, and other great Reformers, in Design to cast an odium upon the Protestant Religion. Besides, it is the poorest argument that can be, Some good men have done such a thing, therefore it is lawful. It was shewed before that the Generality of Good men have declined Healths as Paganish and Scandalous things. And when any Good men have indulged themselves in this Practice, commonly it has been for want of Information, concerning the Evil of it. Had they known the true Original, and been convinced of the Superstition attending this ill Custom, they would never have used it. Persons well inclined will harken to Scripture and Reason. And it is chiefly for the sake of such that I write these things. As for some who are now become profane and debauched Health-drinkers, there is little or no hope of their Reformation. Having lived for some time under the powerful Dispensation of the Gospel, but sinned against that blessed Light, and also rebelled against the Light of their own Consciences, it is to be feared that Gods holy Spirit has taken his Everlasting leave of them, never more to strive with them, but that they are in a Judicial way given up by the Righteous and Terrible God unto a Reprobate mind, and hard heart. It may be God has said of them, Their Healthing is their Idol, they are joined to it, and let them alone. He that is a Profane Health-drinker, let him be an Health-drinker still. And if so, (I pray that this may never be the woful case of any amongst us; but if so) all that can be spoken or written to such persons will do them no good; nor serve to any other purpose, but only to render them the more inexcusable before the great Tribunal at the last day, and to make Eternal Justice the more Illustrious in their condemnation. And it is a comfort that we know, we are unto God a sweet Savour of Christ, not only in them that are saved, but also in them that perish.
Against Dicing, Cards, and such like Games. That it is safest wholly to abstain from them. The Lottery in them makes their Lawfulness to be doubtful. Eminently Learned Divines have judged them to be in their own nature Sinful. They are of Evil Report. There is a secret Curse attending them. They are offensive. It is unquestionably Lawful to abstain from them. As such Games are commonly used, they are certainly and hainously Evil in the sight of God. The Evil of Playing for Money: and of misspending much Precious Time in such Vanities.
AS for Games of Hazard and Chance, such as Dicing and Cards, and sundry Games at Tables, there are great Divines (as anon we shall shew) who judge them to be in their own nature Unlawful. Others suppose that if the Rules which should be remembered in all Recreations, respecting the Time, and Measure, and Manner, and the End of them, were duly observed, they might without Sin be used. Two things we may assert. 1. That it is best and safest, wholly to abstain from the Games mentioned. 2. That as they are commonly practised, there is much Sin and Provocation to God in them. Both these I shall endeavour to clear. My first Assertion is, That it is best and safest to decline all such Games; and that for these Reasons:
1. There is real weight in that Argument, commonly made use of by Divines, from the Lottery which is in the impleaded Games, to prove that they are Breaches of the Third Commandment, and so in themselves Unlawful. It is granted, that there is Art and Skill mixed in some of these Games; Nevertheless, there is a Lottery in them. Now a Lot is a serious thing not to be trifled with; the Scripture saith not only (as some would have it) of Extraordinary Lots, but of a Lot in general, that the whole Disposing (or Judgment) thereof is of the Lord, Prov. 16:33. So that when the Lot is cast, God sits in Judgment. The Lot (as Mr. Cartwright [In locum] speaks) is as Godís Deputy, who is Judge of the World, and unto whose Providence appeal is made to decide the Question. Mr. Perkins (who was a man of a very clear and accurate Judgment) well observes [Cases of Consciences. p. 163.] that in the use of a Lot there are four things, "The first is a Casual Act done by man, as the casting of the Die. The second is the applying of this Act to the Determination of some particular Controversy, the ending whereof maintains Peace, Order, &c. The third is Confession, that God is a Sovereign Judge to end and determine things which can no other way be determined. The fourth is Supplication, that God would by the Disposition of the Lot order the Event. Now from these Considerations, Grave and Great Divines have esteemed all Lusory Lots to be Unlawful. We may not either by Words or Actions invocate the Name, and make Appeals to the Providences of God on every trifling occasion. As an Oath or Prayer, so a Lot is prophaned, when not solemnly used. A worthy Person [Mr. Morton against the Gaming humour, p. 14.] speaks well to this purpose, when he saith, What an Abomination would it be to any Christian to see a Pulpit, a Communion-Table, a Font exposed on a Stage, or the Gestures of Worship aped by Players? And it is not much better, when men play with Appeals to God, or make themselves sport with Lotteries. Whereas some have affirmed a Lot fittest for trivial matters, their Assertion is very unsound. We do not find in the Scripture, that ever a Lot was made use of, except in matters of great weight, either in themselves, or in respect of their Consequences; sometimes when the matter has not been great in it self, yet to prevent endless Contentions and Controversies, a Lot has been used amongst the Lords People of Old, Lev. 27:32. Prov. 18:18. but not in matters of Disport. The very Gentiles themselves thought there was a Ti Theion, something Divine in a Lot, as is manifest from Jonah 1:7. They concluded that some Numen or Deity must needs direct their Chance, which (being ignorant of the True God) they did superstitiously ascribe to Fortune. And do not Gamesters at this day use to say, Theyíll try their Fortune: And that they had bad Luck, that Fortune was against them, and the like Paganish Expressions, by which nevertheless they acknowledge a Director of the Chance. This must be either God, which if they confess, the cause is yielded, or a Good Angel by his direction; or an Evil Angel, unto whom they will not own that they make any Appeals, or owe any Subjection. He that makes use of a Lot, wholly commits his Affair to a superior Cause then either Nature or Art, therefore unto God. But this ought not to be done in a Sportful Lusory way.
2. Practices, which eminently Learnedly Divines and Holy Ministers of God, who are most likely to know the Truth, have looked upon as Sinful, it is best and safest to abstain from them. But this is true of the Games in question. I know that Popish Casuists (who in matters of Morality, as well as in matters of Faith, are many times corrupt) do justify the impleaded Games as Lawful. So Tolet, A Lapide, Delrio, and others. Yet Papists will not allow of such Games in Ecclesiastical Persons. One of them [Ignatius Lopez.] maintains it to be a Mortal Sin for a Clergy-man to play at Cards and Dice. Several Councils have made it a Crime worthy of Excommunication, for a Clergy-men either to Practise or to be present at such Games. Not only the Canonical, but the Civil Law of Old has stigmatized them. Amongst the Ancients they are reproved with great severity, particularly by [Lib. 3. Cap. 11.] Clemens Alexandrinus, [Homil.6. in Mat.] Chrysostom, [Epist. de Aleatoribus.] Cyprian, [De Tobia. p. 590.] Ambrose, [Epist. 119.] Austin. As for our great Reformers, they have generally condemned such Games. as in themselves unlawful. So Martyr, Gaulter, Rivet, Tassin, and Danaeus, who has written a Learned Discourse on this Subject. The Dutch and French Ministers of the Reformation, do generally disapprove of these Games; and so do our English Divines: In special Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Perkins, Dr. Ames, Mr. Fenner, Mr. Easty, Mr. Dod. Yea, and two Bishops also have testified against them, viz. Bishop Babington, and Bishop Downham. As for Dr. Hammond, who was a man very corrupt in many of his Notions, and in some points of Doctrine, which are of great concernment; I do not judge his pleading for the lawfulness of such Recreations worthy the taking notice of; nor can I call to mind more then two Protestants of Note, who have published any thing considerable in defence of these Games. [In casibus lib. 4. c. 4. Casu 10.] Balduinus (a Lutheran Casuist) excuseth them. Also, our Learned Gataker has taken more pains to prove the Indifference of them, then any I have seen. But he writ that Discourse in his younger years; and has been well answered by Mr. Balmford, and Learnedly refuted by Voetius. Yea, and Mr. Gataker himself, after he had said all he could say, wisheth [Gataker of Lots, p. 267.] that men would in Godly Discretion abandon such Games, because they are so much abused, and many are unsatisfied in the lawfulness of them.
3. It is best and safest to abstain from all things which are of evil Report. The Apostolical Rule is, Whatsoever things are of Good Report; Practices that will cause a man to have a Good name among sober People, If there be any Virtue, if there be any Praise, think on these things. Phil. 4:8. which sheweth that things infamous or of ill report, should be carefully avoided. But so are the impleaded Games. The Satirist calls the Dice by the name of Alea turpis. And the Orator brands Cataline and Antony with this infamy, that they were men that used to play at Dice. And the generality of good men abstain from them as evil & infamous things. Are not such Games branded as infamous, when in every Indenture for a Prentice, these words are usual, At cards, dice, or any other unlawful and prohibited Games he shall not play.
4. It has been observed by many that there is a secret Curse attending these Games. Hence it is that when persons have once a little used themselves hereunto, they can know no bounds therein. They are so [V. Gage survey of West Indies. p. 282, 283. ed. 3.] bewitched with a Gaming Humor, as that they will lose their Friends, Esteem, Estate and every thing else thatís desirable, rather then play no more at Cards. Infinite Evils and Miseries have sprung up from this bitter Root. So that the Tree has been justly suspected as not Good, upon which such bad Fruit has grown. [Bern] Non facile adducar licitum consentire, quod tot parturit illicita, It is then best and safest not to meddle therewith.
5. These Games are offensive. And that both to Good and Bad, The Scripture saith, Give none offence neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God. 1 Cor. 10:32. But these impleaded Games give offence to all. Good men are grieved at such Practices as in their Consciences are unlawful. And many Carnal ones are hardened in their Profuseness and Profaneness when they hear of any that seem to be Religious in other things, to do in these matters as they do, though perhaps not altogether in the like Degree.
6. If there were nothing else to be said, but that the lawfulness of such Games is doubtful, thatís enough to make wise men to abstain from them. Suppose it could not be clearly proved that they are absolutely and in their own nature sinful, yet if the matter be any way disputable, tis Best & Safest to keep clear of them. I am sure there is no sin in not playing at Cards and Dice. And then as long as there are other Recreations enough, concerning which there is no Doubt of their Lawfulness; it is best to desist wholly from them that are Doubtful, and make use of others. These things make good what I first proposed. My second assertion, is, That the impleaded Games, as commonly practised, are unquestionably sinful and provoking to God.
1. It is common for such Gamesters to play away their Estates, or to get other menís Estates in this way, both which are exceeding sinful. When God has possessed a man of an Estate which he has a just Title unto, now for him to make it a Question whether this Estate shall be his or another mans, and then to decide the controversy by the shuffling of Cards or the cast of a Die, is unworthily to abuse the good Providence of God, and so to transgress the third Commandment. This is also to break the 8th Commandment in a very High Degree. To get another mans goods, at an under price is injustice and theft, and clearly against the Rule of Righteousness, how much more to take from another his Money and give him nothing at all in lieu thereof? It is a crying sin! Who can, who dare pray to God to bless his endeavours to get an Estate in this way? Most certainly the Holy God who hates Robbery for Burnt-offering, would not hold the man guiltless that should thus take his name in vain: when as all lawful ways of adding to our Estates may and should be prayed over. That worthy and truly Religious Gentleman Mr. John Bruen (see his life written by Mr. Clark p. 91.) was wont to say, that such Gamesters and Thieves were of the same Corporation, & the more cunning men are in that Art, the more wicked. And a late writer observes that Money gotten by Gaming is like the goods of them that dye of the plague, which commonly bring a Pest with them. He that shall add but a little to his Estate by getting money from another in any such unrighteous way, will perhaps find that little to be like a Moth that shall consume, and bring a secret Blast of God upon all that he enjoys. And He that gets Riches and not by Right (the man that gets a sum of Money by playing at Cards, has gotten Riches and not by Right) He shall leave them in the midst of his Days, and at his end be a Fool. Jer. 17:11. I would seriously advise all such persons, so far as they are capable, to return back their ill gotten goods again, as ever they desire pardoning Mercy at the Hands of God against whom they have grievously sinned. That saying of Austinís is well known, and generally approved of, Non tollitur peccatum, nisi restituatur ablatum. He that has in a way of unrighteousness taken from another any part of his Estate, has no reason to expect the remission of his sin, until such time as he shall make restitution to the party wronged by him, so far as he is able to do it.
2. A world of precious Time (more precious then all menís Estates) is commonly spent in these vain and vexatious sports. For a Christian to use Recreations is very Lawful, and in some cases a great Duty, but to waste so much Time in any Recreation, though never so innocent and laudable, as Gamesters usually do at Cards and Dice, and Tables, is hainously sinful. Every mans Eternity in another world, will be according to his improvement of time here. What a sad account will they be able to give to the Son of God at the last Day, who have spent a very great part of that Time wherein they should have been preparing for eternity, in nothing but idleness & plays? What can there be more contrary to that Divine Precept of Redeeming the Time, because the Days are Evil?
Against profane Christ-mass-keeping. In the Apostolical Times the Feast of the Nativity was not observed. The very name of Christmass savours of superstition. It can never bee proved that Christ was born on December 25. It is most probable that the Nativity was in September. The New-Testament allows of no stated Holy-day but the Lords-day. Objections answered. It was in compliance with the Pagan Saturnalia that Christ-mass Holy-days were first invented. The manner of Christ-mass-keeping, as generally observed, is highly dishonourable to the Name of Christ.
Concerning that practice of Keeping the 25th day of December in a stated Anniversary way, as a Festival in pretended honour to our Saviour Christ, and in commemoration of his Birth-day, I shall briefly present a few Arguments to the consideration of the Judicious.
1. In the pure Apostolical times there was no Christ-mass-day observed in the Church of God. We ought to keep to the primitive Pattern. That Book of Scripture which is called, The Acts of the Apostles, saith nothing of their keeping Christís Nativity as an Holy-day. The [Cent. 2.] Centuriators, and many others take notice that in the first Ages of the New-Testament Church, there were no stated Anniversary Holy-days among Christians. Easter was kept a long time before the Feast of the Nativity, and yet the Apostles never ordained that, as [Lib. 5. c. cap. 22.] Socrates (the most excellent of the Ancient Ecclesiastical Historians) does truly observe. Had there been the least hint of any such day observed in the primitive times, learned Vossius would have told the world of it. One [Voetius in Disput. de Nativ. Christi. p. 22.] saith of him, Si pergama dextra defendi possunt etiam hac defensa fuissent. But he acknowledges that the Feast of Christís Nativity was not kept in the first nor yet in the second Century. After Prelatical writers have said all they can say, Chemnitius [Contra Conc. Trial. part. 4 de Festis. p. 262.] his words will be found true. Anniversarium diem Natalis Christi celebratum fuisse, apud vetustissimos nunquam legitur. The most Ancient writers speak not the least word concerning the celebration of Christís Birth-day.
2. The word Christ-mass is enough to cause such as are studious of reformation to dislike what shall be known by a name so superstitious. Why should Protestants own any thing which has the name of Mass in it? How unsuitable is it to join Christ and Mass together? i.e., Christ and Antichrist. But what Communion has light with Darkness, and what concord hath Christ with Belial? 2 Cor. 6:15. some of the Jesuits [So the Rhemists.] have advised that endeavours should be used to keep up their old terms and names, such as Priest, Altar, Christ-mass, Candlemass, and the like, hoping that by means thereof in time the things would follow the Names whereby their memory is preserved.
3. It can never be proved that Christís nativity was on 25. of December. The most learned and accurate Chronologers conclude otherwise; so Scaliger, Lidiat, Calvisius, Casaubon, Lansbergius, Alstedius; And the ablest Divines which this and the last age have known, such as Parcaeus, Scultetus, Spanhemius, Hospinian; and of our own nation, Perkins, Broughton, and innumerable more; yea, some of the most learned amongst the Papists refer the observation of December 25. to Ecclesiastical Constitution. So Petavius, Suarez, Azorius, &c. The Providence of God has strangely hid the day, perhaps (as concerning Mosesís Body) to prevent Idolatry. They that lived 1400 Years nearer to the time of Christís Nativity then we do, yet were at a loss about the day. Clemens Alexandrinus [Stromat. lib. I p. 249.] (who lived Anno 200.) testifieth that in his time there were various opinions concerning it; And he reflects on them as guilty of curiosity who would go about to determine the day of Christís Birth. Moreover, when that superstition of keeping a stated Festival in commemoration of the day of Christís Nativity did first obtain in the Church, not the 25. of December, but the 6th day of January was the time observed. Many of the Churches in Egypt kept the 5th of January; And so did the Christians of old in Jerusalem. And the Armenians even until the year 1170. And that some belonging to the Latin Church supposed that to be the true day of Christís Nativity, is evident from the Glossa ordinaria. [In Esther. 2.] Epiphanius conceived that to be the true time. And some of our late writers (in special Lansbergius) are of that opinion. The truth is that the keeping of December 25. came from Rome: And it began there after Constantineís time. Nor would the Graecian Churches comply with it at first. Chrysostom (who flourished Anno 400. circiter) in one of his Sermons endeavours to excuse the Novelty of that observation, acknowledging that the 25 of December had not been kept amongst them in Constantinople above ten years. The Arguments commonly alleged in favour of this day are very insufficient. The Prwton Pseudos, or original mistake, which Popish Writers (and before them some of the Ancients) have laid much weight upon, is, that Zachary was the High Priest, and that he did Minister on the 10th of Tisri, i.e., September 27, whence it would follow that John Baptist was born in the latter end of June, and consequently that Christís Nativity must be in the latter end of December. But Zachary was not the High Priest, nor can it be proved that his Turn to Minister was at the time mentioned; nor could the Nativity to a day or a week be from thence demonstrated, supposing the premises to be indisputable. There have been some who pretend to a miraculous Argument for their 25 of December viz. That of the Rose of Jericho. They have given out that there is at Jericho a Plant like a Rose, which every year on Christ-mass-Eve flourished, and the next day is dry again. Adrichomius [In Theatro Terrae Sanctae. In Descript. Tribus Benjamin, numb. 63. v. C. a Lapide in Syrac. 24. 18.] & other Papists mention this as a wonderful testimony to their Opinion, of 25 December. But Bellonius [De Plantis terra Sanctae.] has informed us that this is a Monastical Imposture. There is a thorny shrub at Jericho which bears white flowers; and the nature of that Plant is such, that if the Leaves of it (though Dry) be moistened, they will dilate themselves and seem to flourish: which the Monks observing, would on Christ-mass-Eve apply water thereunto, and then make Ignorant People believe that this happened as a sign of Christís Nativity on that day. Perhaps the story of the Holy Thorn at Glassenburg in Somerset [Dr. Brown vulgar Errors p. 99, 100. Edit. I.] is the Daughter of this Fiction.
Let it be further added here, that except we could know the hour of the day when our Saviour came into the world, (which no man living does, and it would be sinful curiosity to inquire concerning it) it cannot be proved that it was on December 25. This Suarez was aware of: And therefore he confesseth that if we suppose Christ to be born before midnight, not the 25, but the 24 of December should be celebrated in honour of his Nativity. To conclude (as Torniellus does) that Christ was born a little past Midnight, or (as others say) on the same day of the week, and the same hour of the day in which Adam was created, are curious and bold speculations, which cannot be justified. As for the Astrologers (such as Petrus de Aliaco, Cusanus, Gauricus, Cardan, and some more lately) who by their Horoscopes and Calculations have undertaken to declare the day and hour of Christís birth, their attempt is justly charged with not only Vanity but Impiety. A late learned [Riccioli in Almagest, p. prsterior. eom. I. 18. Sect. 2 cap. 20.] Astronomer (though a Jesuit) acknowledges that such Practices are not only unprofitable, but highly Profane:
4. Though the particular Day of Christís Nativity is now unknown unto the world, yet it seems most probable that He was born in the latter End of September, or in the beginning of October. There hath been great Variety of Opinions amongst Christians concerning the time of our Lordís Nativity. Paulus de Middleburgo thinks it was on March 26. But the grounds he goeth on are weak. There were some of old (as Clemens Alexandrinus witnesseth) who believed it was on April 22. unto which opinion Temporarius seems to incline. Lydiat conjectures that the Nativity was on or near May 22. Dr. Petit [In Chronol. l. 1. cap. 13.] thinks it was in the beginning of November. Thus we see that the Providence of God has kept the day secret from the knowledge of men; and it is in vain for any to determine the particular day. Nevertheless, as to the month, a probable Judgement may be made. The Great [De Emendat. Temp. l. 5] Scaliger, [In Chronol. Isag. c. 47.] Calvisius, and LíEmpereur [In Scholiis ad Iarchiadenia Dan. 9.] conclude that it was in the latter end of September, or the beginning of October. And before them, Beroaldus, Wolfius and Hospinian were of that Judgment. And this suits well with what is recorded of the shepherds, Luke 2:8. It is not probable that the Shepherds would be abroad watching their Flocks in the Depth of Winter. The month of December is by Hesiod called Meis kalepos probatois, And though in Judaea the summer be hot, yet the winter is cold. Matth. 24:20. Ps. 147:17. But in September or October this might well be. [Wolphius de Tempore p. 81, 82.] Nor is it likely that Augustus should enjoin all his Subjects throughout the whole Roman World to travel into their own cities in the midst of Winter, as he did at the Time when Christ was born. Luke 2:1. Moreover, the Feast of Tabernacles, which signified the Incarnation of Christ, was in the seventh month. Inasmuch as the Passover typified Christís Death, he was crucified in that month. Why then may we not think that since the Feast of Tabernacles typified his Nativity, he was in that month born? There were also several other Festivals in that month, which might fitly type the Good Tidings of great joy that should be to all People by reason of Christís being born into the world at that season of the Year. Likewise in the same month was the Ark by Solomon brought into the Temple.
From these considerations, some of the Jewish Rabbins (v. Midrash Rabba) have concluded that Messiah should be born in Ethanim or Tisri, i.e., in the 7th Month. And Mr. Broughton (in his Book called the Lordís Family) observes that the Jews scoff at Christians for keeping the Feast of Christís Nativity on 25. of December, saying that they place Christís Birth in the month of his Conception. And this Opinion has been confirmed by the practice of the Church in Alexandria, who did of old (as [Homil. in Natal. Domini.] Cyril Alexandrinus testifieth) keep the Feast of John Baptists nativity on the 28. of Pharmuth, i.e., the 23. of our April. And if Johnís Birth was at that time of year, Christís must needs be in September, or October. I shall not insist on the Argument urged by Scaliger & Calvisius (which some look upon as demonstrative) taken from the several courses appointed for the Priests to Minister, because it depends much upon the testimony of Josephus, who does often mistake in his relating of things. Nor is it certain that Christ was born in the year of the world 3947. upon which Foundation the Scaligeran Argument is built. I shall only add, that [Sic argumentat, Beroald.] Christ was 30. years old when he entered upon his Public Ministry, Luke 3:23. And he continued preaching three years and an half, Dan. 9:27. so that he lived 33 years and an half. And if so (dying at the time of the Passover in the first month) his Birth must needs be in the latter End of September, or the beginning of October.
By this it is appears that Christ-mass-Keepers speak they know not what, when they say on the 25 of December, Thou hast given thy Son to be born this Day; and to use that expression several Days one after another, is absurd. A learned Man [Voetius in Disp. de Festis. pag. 1302.] observes that when the Papists in their Postills say of the Festival dedicated to the memory of this or that Saint, He was born this day, such Festivals are Teachers of Lies, like their graven Images. The like is to be affirmed in this case. It is said of Jeroboam, that he ordained a Feast in the Eighth Month, on the 15 day of the Month, even The Month that he had devised of his own Heart, 1 Kings 12:33. So has the Jeroboam, of Rome ordained a Festival to be kept on the 25th of the 10th Month, but it is the Month and the day which he has devised of his own Heart.
5. God in his Word has no where appointed Christians to keep an Anniversary Holy-day in Commemoration of Christís Nativity. It is not a Work but a Word makes one Day more Holy then another. There is no day of the Week, but some eminent Work of God has been done therein; but it does not therefore follow that every day must be kept as a Sabbath. The Lord Christ has appointed the first day of the Week to be perpetually observed in remembrance of his Resurrection and Redemption. If more days then that had been needful, he would have appointed more. It is a deep Reflection on the Wisdom of Christ, to say, He has not appointed days enough for his own Honour, but he must be beholding to men for their Additions. The Old Waldenses witnessed against the observing of any Holidays, besides that which God in his Word hath Instituted. Calvin, Luther, Danaeus, Bucer, Farel, Viret, and other great Reformers, have wished that the Observation of all Holidays, except the Lordís Day, were abolished. A Popish [Fits-Simeon in Britanomacha, 1. 2. c. 7.] Writer complains that the Puritans in England were of the same mind. So was John Huss and Jerom of Prague long ago. And the Belgic Churches in their Synod, Anno 1578. The Apostle condemns the Observation of Jewish Festivals in these days of the New Testament, Gal. 4:10. Col. 2:16. Much less may Christians state other days in their room. The Gospel has put an end to the difference of Days as well as of Meats. And neither the Pope nor the Church can make some Days Holy above others, no more then they can make the use of some Meats to be Lawful or Unlawful, both which are expressly contrary to the Scripture. Rom. 14:5, 6. All stated Holidays of mans inventing, are Breaches both of the Second and of the Fourth Commandment. A stated Religious Festival is a part of Instituted Worship. Therefore it is not in the Power of men, but God only, to make a Day Holy.
It has been by some pleaded, that Mordecai and Esther appointed the Days of Purim. This was objected by the Papists against the Waldenses many hundred years ago. And of latter time by Bellarmin, Servarius, Bonartus, and other Papists in their Writings against Protestants. And lately by the Prelates against the Non-Conformists. There are two answers given by our Divines. 1. It cannot be proved that those Days of Purim were a Religious Festival. Many [Sic Junius. Et alii. V. Gillespie of English-Popish Ceremonies, p. 55.] Judicious Authors take them to be no more then Days of Civil Rejoicing. They are not called Holy Days of Purim; nor do we find that there was an Holy Convocation of the People enjoined on those Days. The present Jews do not look upon those Days as Holy; they spend them in Feasting, and in telling merry Stories; and although few of them do any servile work on those Days, yet [Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. c. 24. p. 430.] they confess that servile labour is not prohibited therein; so that it appears to be only a Political Feast, not unlike our 5th of November. 2. If we suppose them to be Religious Feasts, we have reason to conceive that they were not of meet Humane Institution. Dr. Whitaker thinks that Mordecai was Divinely inspired, or that some Prophet was sent to give order about the Observation of these Days.
It is also objected, That Christ manifested his Approbation of the Feast of Dedication, by his walking in the Porch of the Temple at that Time, John 10:22, 23. And yet that Feast was made Anniversary by Judas Maccabeus. But it is answered [See Mr. Cawdrey of Holidays in answer to Dr. Hammond, p. 418. &c.] that Christís walking there was no Approbation of the Feast. Our Saviour might walk in the Porch of the Temple, and yet not approve all that was done there, at that time. Nor is there the least Evidence of Christís going up to Jerusalem, that so he might keep that Feast, or that he was present at it as a Feast. When Paul hasted to be at Jerusalem before Pentecost, Act. 20:16. it was not to keep that Feast, but for other Reasons. And undoubtedly, if the Feast of Dedication was a Tradition of the Elders, Christ, who was for Divine Institutions only in matters of Religion, never manifested his Approbation of it. When Solomon had built the Temple, he made a Feast at the Dedication of it, but he did not command that it should be stated and anniversary. The like is to be said of the second Temple in Ezra 6:16. And therefore it may be questioned whether Judas Maccabeus did not go beyond his Commission, when upon Repairing and Purifying of the Temple after its Defilement by Antiochus, he made it a Law that eight Days should be observed in a stated Anniversary way, to commemorate that Mercy. Some [Weems vol. I. cap, 3. p. 60.] have truly observed, that the Jews in their declining times appointed several Fasts and Feasts which they had no warrant for out of Godís Word.
It is further alleged that the Jews did of themselves state a Fast on the Fifth Month, because of the Templeís being burnt in that Month, and another Fast in the Seventh Month, on account of Gedaliahís being then murdered, Zechar. 7:5. Answer. But these were only Temporary and not Perpetual Fasts. Nor did the Lord, when inquired of by them, manifest the least approbation of what they did, but rather the contrary.
6. Christmas Holidays were at first invented and institute in compliance with the Pagan Festivals, of old observed at that very time of the Year. This [De Antiq. Conviv. p. 133.] Stuckius has fully cleared. And [De Origine Festorum Christ.] Hospinian speaketh judiciously, when he saith, that he cloth not believe that they who first of all observed the Feast of Christís Nativity in the latter end of December, did it as thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian. Hence December was called Mensis Genialis, the Voluptuous Month. Whilst the Saturnalian Days lasted, the observers of them were wont to send Gifts one to another, which therefore Tertullian calls Saturnalitia, and Jerom giveth them the Name of Saturnalium Sportulae. The like is done by many in Christmas time. Again, In the Saturnalian Days, Masters did wait on their Servants, as [Saturnal. lib. I.] Macrobius and [Lib. 14.] Athenaeus declare. Hence is that of HoraceóóAge Libertate Decembri. The Gentiles called Saturnís time the Golden Age, because in it there was no Servitude, in Commemoration whereof on his Festival, Servants must be Masters. [V. Rainold. Lect. libr. Apoc. p. 1346. Stuckius Antiq. Conviv. p. 131.] And that amongst Christmas-keepers in some parts of the World, there use to be such Masters of Misrule, is too well known. From these Considerations not only Protestant writers, but some Papists [P. Jovius Histor. L. 38. Polydor. Virgil. de Rerum Inventoribus L. 5. c.2.] acknowledge that Christmas Holidays succeed the Old Saturnalia of the Heathen.
Now for Christians thus to practise, is against clear Scripture, which commands the Lordís People not to learn the way of the Heathen, nor do after their manner, Jer. 10:2. Lev. 20:23. Ezek. 11:12. To observe the Festivals of the Heathen, is one way of partaking with them in their Superstitions. Tertullian in his Book against Idolatry, (cap. 14.) expresseth himself after this manner, Shall we Christians who have nothing to do with the Festivals of the Jews, which were once of Divine Institution, Embrace the Saturnalia and Januaria of the Heathen? How do the Gentiles shame us? who are more true to their Religion than we are to ours. None of them will observe the Lordís-Day for fear lest they should be Christians: And shall not we then by observing their Festivals, fear least we be made Ethnicís?
We might take notice of the Ethnicism of this Festival in another respect. It was the manner of the Gentiles to celebrate the Birth-days of their Princes and Patrons. And in Imitation of them, Degenerating Christians thought good so far to symbolize with the Customs of the Nations, as to keep the Birth-day of Christ, whom they acknowledge to be their Lord and Sovereign.
7. The generality of Christmas-keepers observe that Festival after such a manner as is highly dishonourable to the name of Christ. How few are there comparatively that spend those Holidays (as they are called) after an Holy manner. But they are consumed in Compotations, in Interludes, in playing at Cards, in Revellings, in excess of Wine, in mad Mirth; Will Christ the holy Son of God be pleased with such Services? Just after this manner were the Saturnalia of the Heathen celebrated. Saturn was the Gaming God. And (as [Prin. Histriomastix, p. 759.] one saith) the Feast of Christís Nativity is attended with such Profaneness, as that it deserves the name of Saturnís Mass, or of Bacchus his Mass, or if you will, the Devilís Mass, rather than to have the Holy name of Christ put upon it. Mr. Perkins [In his Exposition of the Creed.] justly complains that, The Feast of Christís Nativity (commonly so called) is not spent in praising God, but in Revelling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, Mumming, and in all Licentious Liberty for the most part, as though it were some Heathen Feast of Ceres or Bacchus [See Gataker of Lots, p. 238.]. And Latimer in one of his Sermons saith, That Men dishonour Christ more in the 12 Days of Christmas, than in all the 12 Months besides. Nor is it to be wondered at, if that Festival be accompanied with much Profaneness and Vanity, when the chief Pleaders for them (yea Dr. Hammond [In his Answer to Mr. Cawdrey, p. 274.] himself) are not ashamed to justify the playing at Cards as lawful for a Divertisement on Christmas Holy-days. And is that the way to honour Christ? The Love-Feasts (though in themselves lawful) which began in the Apostles times, were wholly laid aside amongst Christians, because they had been an occasion of Riotous Abuses. There is much more reason to omit the Observation of Christmas Festivities, which have brought a Deluge of Profaneness upon the World. The Scandal of them calls for their Abolition. The School Doctors affirm rightly, [Sic Bannes & Cajetan.] Etiam Spiritualia non-necessaria sunt fugienda, si ex iis Scandalum oritur. Things of an indifferent nature, when they become an occasion of Sin, should not at all be used.
A Testimony against some other Superstitions. Concerning New-years-gifts. Candlemas. Shrove-Tuesday. The Vanity of making Cakes on such a Day. The Heathenism and Barbarity of Cock Scalers. The Superstition of Dedicating Days to Saints. A Lamentation that ever things of this nature should be practised in New-England.
IT is a Custom amongst some, to send Gifts one to another on the First of January. These were by the Romans called Strenae. Amongst the Heathen of old, the First of January was a great Holiday, when they began their New Year, and worshipped their God Janus. And that in their New-years-gifts they intended some Honour to the Goddess [V. Austin de Civit. Dei. L. 4. cap. 11. & 16. Stuckius Antiq. Conviv. p. 132.] Strenua, is manifested from the name; as also from the Practice of Tatius, who first began the Custom by gathering some sacred Branches out of Strenua her Grove. I find that the Ancients (in special [De Idol. cap. 14.] Tertullian and [In Ephes.] Jerom) have reprehended this Custom amongst Christians as a Paganish Rite. That Boniface, whom some have called the Apostle of Germany, when he reproved the Germans for observing New-years-day after the manner of the Heathen, they objected to him, that it was so done in Rome; whereupon he wrote an Epistle to Pope Zachary, desiring that no such Paganish Custom might be used amongst those that called themselves Christians. In the Turonensian Synod, Anno 554. It was declared, That such as observed the Kalends of January (i.e., New-years-day) should not be accounted Christians. In the Synod at Antisiodorum, this Custom is severely condemned. Yea, they call New-years-gifts Strenus Diaboli. And so does Alcuinus. Our famous Perkins, in an Epistle to the President and Fellows of Christís College in Cambridge, Condemns New-years-gifts as impious, because they are Consecrated with the Name of Janus.
Concerning Candlemass, besides that the Name has Superstition written in the Forehead of it, I shall only add, that the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary [V. Hospinian, de fest. Christianorum p. 33.] was taken up in imitation of the Festival of the Goddess Februa, to whom Pagans did in the beginning of February offer burning Tapers, as the Papists now offer to the Virgin Mary on this Day at Evening Candles. Let such as retain any of this Superstition, consider whether it be meet for Protestants thus to Imitate Papists and Pagans. The like is to be affirmed of Shrove-Tuesday. It smells both of Popish and of Paganish Superstition. Why does it bear the Name of Shrove-Tuesday, but because on that Evening deluded Papists go to the Priest to be shrieved, or to make Auricular Confession. The Italians [See Minshews Guide in to the Tongues.] call Shrove-Tuesday by the Name of Bacchanali. The Spaniards, Fiestas de Baco, and the French, Bacchanaleries, which shews that this Carnival comes in the room of the old Bacchanalia and Dionisia of the Gentiles; and indeed is kept after the same manner, [V. Hospinian ubi supra, p. 37, 38. Stuckius Antiq. Conviv. p. 129.] especially in some places. We see it is celebrated with the Observation of sundry Heathenish Vanities. When persons single out that Day to make Pancakes in, it is an Heathenish Vanity. The Prophet Jeremy speaks of some that did knead their Dough to make Cakes to the Queen of Heaven, Jer. 7:18. Shall Christians do any thing which shall look like unto a Symbolizing with such Heathenism? The old Pagan Romans [Stuckius de Sacrificiis Gentilium p. 50. Pollux, Lib. 6.] made little Cakes as a Sacrifice to their Gods, these they called Liba. And the Heathen Greeks made (Popana) Pancakes as an Offering to their Idols. Especially they did practise this at the time when they celebrated the Feast of Bacchus, which (as we have proved) was the Heathens Shrove-Tide. Arnobius [Lib. 7.] of old did zealously testify against this Heathenism. Quid Fritilla? Quid Assiria? Quid Gratilla? Quid Conspolium? Quid Cubula? Whatís the meaning (saith he) of your Pultises, of your Pancakes, of your Fritters, &c. And again, Quid cum Pultibus Deo fit, quid cum Libis? Do you think that God is pleased with your Superstitious Cakes?
Another Vanity attending Shrove-Tide, is that of Cock-scaling. It is agreed amongst Ancient Historians, that Cocks were brought out of Persia into Greece. [AElian. Histor.L. 2. c. 28. Demster, Rom. Antiq. Lib. 3. cap. 10.] For which cause after Themistocles had obtained a notable victory over the Persians, it was made a Law among the Athenians, that once in a year there should be a publick Cock-fight in Commemoration of that Victory. If this were the worst, it were more tolerable, for there is nothing of a Religious Nature in it. But I find that the [Stuckius ubi supra, p. 47.] Cock because of his fighting Quality was by the Old Gentiles dedicated to Mars. Hence Aristophanes calls him (Areos neotton) Mars his Bird. And the Lacedaemonians were wont to sacrifice a Cock to their God Mars. Our fore-fathers the Saxons, called the Third Day of the week Tuesday, [See Versteganís Antiquities p. 57.] in Devotion to their great Father and Leader Tuisco, whom after his Death they Idolized. The Germans now [Vide Minshew in Libro supra citato.] call it Dings-dagh, i.e., the Fighting Day. The Old Romans, and from them the Italians, French, Spaniard, and others, have given it the Name of Mars his Day. Whether the practice of slaughtering Cocks on Tuesday, or Mars his Day, have not in it some of the old Idolatrous Heathenism, let every Wise and Serious Christian judge. Besides all this, to delight in tormenting dumb Creatures, and to make a sport of their Miseries, is great inhumanity, and a scandalous Violation of the Sixth Commandment. No Creature belonging to this World would ever have been miserable, had not the Sin of Man caused it to be so. And the whole Creation groans to be delivered from that woeful Vanity which Man has subjected it unto. Wherefore for Men to make sport with the Griefs and Dolours of miserable Creatures, is such Barbarism, as a truly Christian Heart cannot but abhor. Such Cruelty is more suitable to be acted in the Bloody Theaters of Pagans, then to be seen in the Streets amongst men that call themselves Christians. I remember a serious Passage mentioned in the Life of that worthy Minister Mr. John Machin, &c. He on a time meeting some young men that were going to a Cock-fighting, said to one of them, [See Mr. Clarkes last Volume of Lives, p. 92.] Friends, our Lord and Master JesusChrist, never came into the World to set up such sports as these. Which words struck like an Arrow in the Heart of that young man, and the issue was, that he repented, and there was a blessed change in his whole course of life. If the writing of these things shall have the like Effect on any Reader, my Labour will not be lost. The Lord grant that it may be so. More I need not add on this Subject, only that I find in the Ecclesiastical Discipline of the Reformed Churches in France, Cap. 14. Artic. 18. that the keeping of Shrove-Tuesday is expressly forbidden.
Concerning the Dedication of Days to the honour of Saints departed, suppose Valentin, St. Matthias, or any other, we have not one Example in the Scripture to warrant such a Practice. The Lordís People of old did not so. There was no Holiday appointed to the honour of Moses or Joshua, or any of the Prophets in the Church of Israel. Nor was there a Saints-day known amongst Christians, until such time as the Antichristian Apostacy and Idolatry begun. Many learned men have proved by [Rivet summae controvers. Tract. 2. quest. 16.] Testimonies out of the Ancients, that the Superstition of consecrating Days to the Martyrs, was done in imitation of the Gentiles, who dedicated Days in Devotion to their Heroes, after their death, and Christians thought to bring the Heathens over to them, by appointing Festivals to the honour of Martyrs and other famous Saints. But this looks like worshipping Saints. And the Truth is, That the Superstition of praying to Saints departed, came in with that of Instituting Days to their Honour. And the Arguments made use of by Protestants against building Altars or Temples for the honour of Saints, are valid in this case. Religious worship is due to God only, Matth. 4:10. Now that a Festival or Holiday is a part of Religious Worship, is not only by Protestants asserted, but by some Papists (in particular by [Rationale Divin. l. 4. c. 39.] Durandus and [De Cultu Sanctorum, l. 4. cap. 16.] Bellarmin) acknowledged. How the Observers of such Days can wholly clear themselves from transgressing the Second Commandment, I confess my self unable to discern.
But my Design is not to enlarge on these things. What has been spoken may suffice for a Testimony against the impleaded growing Evils. It is deeply to be lamented, that there should be any need to Preach or to Write against any such Vanities here in New-England. I can remember the time, when for many years, not so much as one of all these Superstitious Customs was known to be practised in this Land. They are good no where; but in New-England they are a thousand times worse than in another place. Upon which account, there is sad cause to expect, that it will not be long before the Holy God will reveal his Displeasure from Heaven against them. This has been Immanuelís Land. New-England was and over ought to be a Land of Uprightness. But shall men do such things in a Land of Uprightness, where the Word of God, and the Ministers of God have taught them better? Is it no Provocation to Defile the Lordís Land? To my knowledge, the first Generation of Christians came into this Wilderness with hopes that their Posterity here would never be corrupted with such vain Customs. Ask such of the old Standers as are yet living, if it were not so. And the Printed [See Mr. Wilsonís Sermon on Jer. 29:8. p. 6, 8, 9. And Mr. Nortonís Sermon on Jer. 30:17. p. 12, 13.] Labours of sundry the most Eminent of the Fathers in these Churches, do in part declare it. But alas! that so many of the Present Generation have so early corrupted their doings! Methinks I hear the Lord speaking to New-England as once to Israel; I planted thee a Noble Vine, wholly a Right Seed; How then art thou turned into the Degenerate Plant of a Strange Vine unto me!
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