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10. That Christ was not God, otherwise than an anointed God.
11. That Christ was not in the form of God equal with God, that is in substance of God, but in righteousness, and giving salvation.
12. That Christ by his Godhead wrought no miracle.
13. That Christ is not to be prayed unto.”
This person seems to have agreed in sentiment * entirely with those called Socinians, though Fuller calls him an Arian; but this last seems to have been a general name then given to all that denied the Divinity of Christ.–But to go on with his history.
“ This year, 1611, that Arian suffered in Smithfield, being burned to death. His name Bartholomew Legate, native county Essex, person comely, complexion black, age about forty years. Of a bold spirit, confident carriage, fluent tongue,
* It should rather have been expressed, that this person agreed much, but not entirely with those called Socinians, since this last article, that Christ is not to be prayed unto, shewed that he differed from them in one very main point. For, the Unitarians in Poland and other parts of the continent, who haye been looked upon as the immediate disciples and followers of Socinus, have all along maintained, with great acrimony and bitterness towards their brethren who disagreed with them, that Christ was to be worshiped by praying to him, at the same time that they held him to be the son of Mary, and not to have had a being before he was born of her,
excellently skilled in the Scriptures; and well had it been for him, if he had known them less, or understood them better; whose ignorance abused the word of God, therewith to oppose God the Word. His conversation, for aught I can learn to the contrary, very unblameable.”
“ King James (proceeds our historian) caused this Legate often to be brought to him, and seriously dealt with him to endeavour his conversion, One time the king had a mind to surprise him into a confession of Christ's deity, (as his majesty afterwards declared to a right reverend prelate, archbishop Usher,) by asking him, whether or no he did not daily pray to Jesus Christ? which had he acknowledged, the king would infallibly have inferred, that Legate tacitly consented to Christ's divinity, as a searcher of the heart. But herein his majesty failed of his expectation, Legate returning, that indeed he had prayed to Christ in the days of his ignorance, but not for these last seven years. Hereupon the king in choler spurned at him with his foot; away base fellow, (saith he) it shall never be said that one stayeth in my presence, that hath never prayed to our Saviour for seven years together."
There seems not any thing in Legate's reply, deserving such an indecent and unmanly resentment. Did the Lord Jesus ever enjoin men to pray to him? Did he not on the contrary always offer up his own prayers to God,“ his Father and our Father, his God and our God,” John xx. 17, and also directs us so to do in our devotions; “ When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven”? Luke xi. 2.
But bigotry and zeal for certain opinions, often little founded in God's word, have too generally been supposed to make up for defects in Christian obedience and moral righteousness. Historians represent this prince, as a man void of sincerity and integrity, a common swearer, intemperate, of very blameable obscene conversation, and who changed his religion, such as it was, just as his passions and interest directed : in Scotland, a warm presbyterian and hater of ceremonies; then, when he crossed the Tweed, a most staunch churchman, a rigid Calvinist all the while; then more than half inchined towards Popery; and at last, verging towards Arminianism, as Laud, his favourite Buckingham's favourite and confessor, was rising into play and power.
“ In the next month (as the same historian goes on to acquaint us) Edward Wightman, of Burton upon Trent, convicted before Richard Neile, bishop of Coventry and Litchfield, was burned at Litchfield for far worse opinions (if worse might be) than Legate maintained. Mary Magdalene indeed was possessed with seven devils, but * ten several heresies were laid to Wightman's
* So reckoned up in the warrant for his burning. Fuller, Book x. p. 64.
charge ; namely, those of Ebion, Cerinthus, Valentinian, Arius, Macedonius, Simon Magus, Manes, Manichæus, Photinus, and of the Anabaptists."
This list of no less than ten heresies, for which this person was condemned to so shocking a death, is very formidable, and deserves to be examined. Ebion, or the Ebionites, Arius and Photinus, severally held opinions concerning Christ, incompatible with each other; therefore Wightman could but be charged with one of the three. Manes and Manichæus, are names of one and the same person or sect.
Of Simon Magus, Origen tells us expressly; ( Contr. Cels. L. vi. p. 972,) that he was a total unbeliever, setting himself up, and being set up by his followers, as a rival to Christ. Here then are four of these here. sies struck off the list.
Bishop Neile is upon record in our histories, but not for such qualities as St. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, requires in the episcopal character. But surely most unfit was he to sit in the seat of justice, who betrayed such ignorance of what he was to decide upon, as to condemn a man for opinions which it was impossible for him to hold. But there will be a rehearing in a future world of those causes, where frail mortals have been condemned for involuntary errors of judgment, and a reversal of every unrighteous sentence. Wisdom of Solomon, v. 1, 2.
I shall transcribe one more paragraph from our author.
“ About this time, a Spanish Arian being condemned to die, was notwithstanding suffered to linger out his life in Newgate, where he ended the same.
Indeed, such burning of heretics much startled common people, pitying all in pain, and prone to asperse justice itself with cruelty, because of the novelty and hideousness of the punishment. And the purblind eyes of vulgar judgments looked only to what was next to them, the suffering itself, which they beheld with compassion, not minding the demerit of the guilt which deserved the same. Besides, such being unable to distinguish betwixt constancy and obstinacy, were ready to entertain good thoughts even of the opinions of those heretics who sealed them so manfully with their blood. Wherefore king James politically preferred, that heretics hereafter, though condemned, should silently and privately waste themselves away in the prison, rather than to grace them, and amuse others with the solemnity of a public execution, which, in popular judgments, usurped the honour of a persecution."
I make no comments. The reader will make many for himself. But some will be pleased to contrast the spirit and temper of this first of the Stuarts, with that well-attested anecdote of George
* Fuller, as above, p. 64.