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historian did acknowledge. He did believe that Christ (the author and finisher of our faith) did suffer under Pontius Pilate ; yet this belief was far from making him a Christian. That which we Christians are in the first place to believe, is, that the man Christ Jesus, whom the Jews by the help of Pontius Pilate did crucify, was truly the Son of God, his only Son; so truly and indissolubly the Son of God, as well as of man, that whilst this man was conceived by the Holy Ghost, the Son of God was likewise conceived by the Holy Ghost; whilst this man was born of a pure virgin, the true and only Son of God was born of the same virgin ; whilst this man was put to death, crucified, dead, and buried, the Son of God was likewise crucified, dead, and buried; whilst this man Christ was raised again from the dead, the true and only Son of God was so raised; whilst this man ascended into heaven, the Son of God ascended into heaven; whilst this man sitteth at the right hand of God, and maketh intercession for us, the Son of God there sits, and makes the same intercession; that when we expect the same Jesus whom the Jews did crucify shall come in visible manner to judge the quick and the dead, we believe and expect that the Son of God shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Of the first points we ought to have at the least a true historical belief. Our belief of that article concerning Christ's coming to judgment, and of our resurrection from the dead, is more prophetical than historical.
2. Is then an historical belief of Christ's conception, birth, death, and resurrection sufficient for us? Sure
* Ergo abolendo rumori Nero Christus, qui Tiberio imperisubdidit reos, et quæsitissimis tante, per procuratorem Ponpænis affecit, quos per flagitia tium Pilatum supplicio affectus invisos, vulgus Christianos ap- est.—Tacit. Annal. lib. 15. (pag. pellabat. Auctor nominis ejus 255.) cap. 44.
it is not, unless withal it be salvifical. No faith can save, unless it be a saving faith : but no faith can be salvifical, unless it be historical: for he that doth not believe the history of Christ's death and passion, can have no Christian faith at all. Now the utmost effect whereunto the endeavours of God's seedsmen are immediately terminated, is to plant in the hearts of their
hearers a firm persuasion of the divine truth of the 570 sacred histories or prophecies concerning Christ. In
respect of this persuasion they are said to plant and water, and to be co-workers with God's Spirit. But to make this persuasion to be salvifical, this is the work of God alone; for unless he give this increase to what we plant and water, all our labours are lost, our best endeavours are to no purpose.
Yet as we are to believe that without God we can do nothing, so are we bound to hope that in him and by him we may do all things, or have all things done in us and for us, which can be needful or conducent to our salvation. Now if such as are bound to teach, and such as are bound to learn, would daily season their endeavours (their prayers especially) with serious consideration of this twofold truth, we could have no just occasion either of doubt or fear, but that if our belief of the rehearsed articles of Christ were once truly historical, it would certainly become rightly salvifical. For to be historical and to be salvifical are not membra opposita, no such opposite members as divide belief into two parts or kinds; they are as subordinate one to the other, as natural wit and artificial improvement of it.
affect Believers according to the Variety of Matters related:
other ground besides the authority of the historian or relater, or, at the most, experiments suitable to things related. And such experiments may be known sometimes by sense, sometimes by reasons demonstrative: and yet all the credit which they can give to the historian, or all the additions they can make unto historical belief formerly planted, will be but probabilities or presumptions. Whether the moon was eclipsed at the time when Nicias was general for the Athenians against the Syracusians, or when Columbus made first discovery of America, are questions which may be scientifically resolved by astronomical calculations. But whether Nicias through ignorance of natural causes, and gross superstition, committed that intolerable oversight which (as a Plutarch relates) occasioned the overthrow of the Athenian forces by sea and land; or whether Columbus made that witty advantage of the like eclipse which bBenzo
a But then it fell out unfor whole and full revolution of the tunately for Nicias, who had no course of the moon, as though expert nor skilful soothsayer: he had not seen her straight clear for the party which he was wont again, after she had once passed to use for that purpose, and the shadow and darkness of the which took away much of his earth. But all other things laid superstition, called Stilbides, was aside and forgotten, Nicias disdead not long before. For this posed himself to sacrifice unto sign of the eclipse of the moon the gods, until such times as the (as Philochorus saith) was not enemies came again as well to hurtful for men that would fly, besiege their forts and all their but contrarily very good ; for, camp by land, as also to occupy said he, things that men do in the whole haven by sea.--Plufear, would be hidden, and there. tarch in Vita Niciæ in fine. fure light is an enemy unto them. b Almirans ob hæc ingenti But this notwithstanding, their animi ægritudine anxius, cum custom was not to keep them- hinc Indos nec gratia, nec prece, selves close above three days in nec pretio ullo adduci
posse visuch eclipses of the moon and deret, ut cibaria exercitui præsun, as Autoclides prescribes in berent, nec armis ab se cogi a book he made of such matters, propter infirmitatem suorum, alia where Nicias bare them in hand, via idem aggredi statuit. Atque that they should then tarry the id cælesti quodam instinctu ei
571 in his History of America mentions, cannot be known
by any computation astronomical or chronological : this wholly depends upon the authority of the historians. Yet if by calculations astronomical compared with the annals of those times, it should appear that there were no such eclipses in the years pretended for these practices, this would convince these historians, and those whom they follow, of error, if not of forgery. On the other side, if astronomers should make it clear, that in the points of time assigned by these historians there did fall out such eclipses of the moon, this would free them from suspicion of fiction so much the more, by how much they were less skilful or less observant of the celestial motions or revolutions of times wherein eclipses happen.
2. But sometimes the sensible events or experiments may square so well with historical relations, as to leave no place for curiosity itself to suspect either fiction or falsehood in the historian. As who could suspect the truth of the Roman histories which mention the subjection of this island to their empire for divers successions, if he had seen their coins lately digged out of the earth, bearing the inscriptions of twenty several emperors? Or who could suspect the historical truth of their progress into the northern parts of this kingdom, that have observed the ruins of that wall which they
venisse in mentem libens equi- intra dies lunam sanguine fædadem crediderim, providente, viz. tam visuri essent. Id cum ea. Deo, ne tantus vir fame periret. dem die et hora, qua Almirans Id porro ita factum est; forte prædixerat, conspicarentur Indi in propinquo tugurium barbaro- (lunæ autem defectus is erat) rum erat, hos Columbus monet, subito victi formidine quæcunac prænunciat, ipsos, ni vitæ que ei ad victum necessaria fuesubsidia sibi ac suis suppedita- runt, benigne præbuere, insuper rent, peste a Deo cælitus missa veniam culpæ orantes, neve ipsis brevi omnes perituros ; cujus irasci pergeret.-Benzo Hist. novi rei id habituros signi, quod duos Orbis, 1. 1. c. 14. tom. ii. p. 63.
built, and other monuments as suitable to their narrations as the seal is to the signet? The best is, that the experiments which suit unto the histories of the Old and New Testaments are more plentiful and more pregnant than any external ratifications of any other historical narrations can be: for of sacred historical truth, besides the legible testimonies of the great book of the creatures, every little world may have a world of witnesses in himself. Now if our belief of the histories concerning Christ and him crucified be but equal to our belief of other histories, yet their authority or esteem will be much greater, because we cannot believe this truth, but we must withal believe it to be divine; and every man by nature hath a more sacred esteem of matters which he conceives to be divine, than he can have of things merely mundane, or human.
3. But where the truth of historical belief is to our apprehension the very same, and the degrees of our assent unto it equal, yet the estimate of the same truth, or its impression upon our atfections, is not the same. These vary according to the several weight of matters related, though by the same author, and believed by equal degrees of the same kind of belief. Of Edward the Second's strange defeat by Robert de Bruce king of Scotland, and of Edward the Third and the Black Prince his son, or Henry the Fifth their success against the French, we have but one and the same historical belief, whether for degree or quality; yet are we not the same way or in the same degree affected with the one story as with the other. The reading of Edward the Third or Henry the Fifth's success delighteth us English with the ancient honour of our nation. The remembrance of Edward the Second's