What we have written may be sufficient to satisfy all gainsayers, and to make the sun dimming clouds of all fanatical objections, for to vanish, and to bring in the clear morning of the day; but Beroaldus the author of the Scripture Almanack, with their foolish hemmings, and others their followers, have told their lies so often, that they believe them to be truths, and the sun of righteousness, that was born this Day, hath given them over, that they should believe a lie, because they received not the love of this truth concerning the birthday of the Son of God; so that counting themselves wise, they are become fools.
That worthy, learned laborious judicious gentleman, Edward Fisher, hath lately, sufficiently brayed them and their foolish objections in a mortar yet I doubt they will ever be the wiser. Their objections are so ridiculous, self confuting, idle, vain, erroneous, that I would not defile my paper with them but that Solomon bids me, Answer a fool in his folly, lest he seem wise in his own conceit.
These Jesuites, ex ignorantia, cry out as Campian the Jesuite did, Scripture, Patres Concilia Rationes,etc. Scriptures, Fathers, Councils, Reasons etc. all are on our side, they are indeed but as rods for the backs of fools.
(1) For Scripture, Christ ( say they ) was born when Augustus made the whole world to be taxed and all went to be taxed, every one to his own city, Luke 2:1-3, which could not be in the winter, because it is not to be believed that the wise emperor would command poor men to come in winter to their own towns.
(2) The shepherds were then in the fields watching over their flocks (v.8) and the winter was no fitting time for it: A sheepish argument, fitter for a shepherds boy, than a shepherd of Israel. Christ was not born in England, but in Judea, and there were wolves there, and therefore the shepherds were to watch their flocks at all times; or become like many of our English, who when the wolf comes fly away.
(3) But Christ ( say they ) according as our affirmation, was born and baptized about the same time, it could not then be in midwinter, it being not wholesome for men to go up then to the head in water.
To kill these three birds with one bolt. The Land of Canaan is found to extend itself for latitude from the 36 degree and 52 minutes to the 33 and 44 minutes, and for longitude, it is placed between the 64 degree, and 22 minutes, and the 69 degree and 10 minutes, for that it is included fully and wholly in the third climate, in which Fez and Morocco are situated, where the winter season ( as every geographer and mariner will tell us ) is hotter than our May here in England, and yet Canaan in heat exceeds Fez and Morocco, lying about 40 degrees nearer the east then they do.
The scripture saith as much, Leviticus 23:5,6,10,11, For in regard that a sheaf of the first fruits of harvest was yearly offered on the second day after the passover, which was the 16th day of Abib and is with us the 27th of March ( which 27 according to the true account falls upon the 15 of our March ) it must necessarily follow, that the temperature of the month December in the Land of Canaan, is answerable to our May, if not June; the season of the year could no way hinder, either the execution of Ceasars decree, or the shepherds being in the fields, nor our Saviors going into the river Jordan in December.
What they urge out of the first of Luke, concerning the conception of John, that it should be in the beginning of July, because the course of Abiab, Zacharias course, the eighth course of the priests, fell in the end of June, and that course lasted a fortnight, is not only disclaimed by Beroaldus, their patron, who not fitting to be a chronologer, confesseth, we do neither understand when the course of Zachariah was, nor how long it lasted; But proves them to be natural brute beasts that cannot number; we desire no better argument then this computation to prove the very day, for let them compute from the third day of the month Adar, and the sixth year of Darius, Ezra 6:15. When the priests were set in their divisions and their courses began, being in all twenty four, and ever course continuing one whole week, till the year of the world, wherein John was conceived, and they shall find that Zachariah’s course fell in September, and then that by their own argument, Johns conception must be in that month, then in the sixth month after Christs, Luke 1:26 etc, which is March; then let them go to any teaming sister, and she will assure them, that Christ ( according to scripture and the common course of women ) must be born in December.
As for their Fathers they urge, they will not help them. Clement of Alexandria, saith that in his days there was a question about the certainty of Christs Birth ? Men in these days question both his godhead and manhood, quid ergo is he therefore neither God nor Man ?
But Cyrill saith, that the Church of Alexandria celebrated at first, the birthday of John the Baptist, on the twenty third day of April, in his Homilies, or twelve books on John, and therefore Christ must be born in October.
Like father, like sons, both bastards, these works of the Father accounted so, by by papists and protestants, it being certain, that ___________ wrote four books of the twelve, and the rest are accounted spurious both by Mr. Perkins, and by Bellarmine, Catalog. Eccl. Scriptorum ad an: 430 Neither is it likely to be true, that the Church of Alexandria should at the first celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, in April, seeing the Egyptian churches ( of which that of Alexandria was the chief) did ever maintain that Christ was born on the twenty fifth day of December, and yearly kept that day Festival in memory thereof, as Genebrard hath showed out of their own accounts and calendars, and not only they, but the Greek churches, and so did the Arabian, Persian, Syrian Churches, as learned Mr. Gregory hat fully proved in his Notes and Observations, Chapter 34.
But grant the words of the forged Cyrill were true, and that they kept Johns birthday, April 23. It seems they fell from the observation, and found themselves in an error, and judged the Greek and Latin churches to be in the right who kept it annually and constantly on the twenty fourth of June, as Causabon confesseth. I would they would leave their errors likewise.
May be they would, but that Epiphanius ( say they ) saith, that Christ was born the fifth of January; take heed, that was in winter, and one of the twelve days [of Christmas], I doubt you will turn smell feasts, but let me tell you, as for liars, we had rather have their room than their company; and you believe your Father, for Epiphanius who if he were alive, would put you in the catalog of his heretics, doth indeed twice affirm that Christ was born in the year 33, year of the first Herod, the son of Antipater, which was the forty second year of Augustus Ceaser, as you read, lib 1. cont. heres. haer 20 lib 3 haer 78. But not a word, either of the month, nor day of the month.
Will you yield yet ? No, for our countryman Bede tells us, that for certain the Indications began on the 24th of September, and that our Lord was born when the fourth Indication began, therefore Christ was born on the 24th of September. Help Neighbors Born in October, saith Cyrill, in January, saith Epiphanius, and now in September, saith Bede, and all lies; for the two former said no such matter, neither the last, for our countryman doth not say that Christ was born when the fourth Indication began, but in the fourth, and an Indication, according to Bucholzerus, being the space of fifteen years, Christ might very well be born in the beginning of the Indication, though he was born three months after the first day thereof.
Well poor babes, your fathers forsake you, will your reasons take you up ? I doubt they are to weak to heave such blocks from the ground; but lets try their strength.
1. Taxes and Collections of Tribute began on the twenty fourth day of September, as appears by the Indications which were instituted to bear account of the payment of tribute by Constantine the Great, Anno Dom. 312. Therefore Augustus his decree, that all the world should be taxed, went out on the twenty fourth of September, and so Christ was born on that day. Hysteron Proteron, brains and stairs.
But 2. The Church of England doth not celebrate the true day of Christs Birth, nor the Churches beyond Sea, because the Gregorian account errs almost two days, and the Julian more than twelve days, therefore the Church of England errs ?
No such matter; for though we do not celebrate the very day exactly and precisely taken, yet we celebrate the true day according to the Julian account which account is generally embraced by the Protestants, and not to be despised, saith Calvisius; well, suppose it be not the very day, I hope you will maintain that the day of Christs Resurrection, or Easter day, is yearly to be kept holy. I pray you tell me, how often it falls in the same month, or on the same day ? Suppose the day were not certainly known, yet the church hat power to ordain one annually to be kept in remembrance of so great a mercy, and that of her self, by her own power, it being not so much the day, as the benefit, we remember. Tolle & lege 2 Chron 30 23. And consider that free will seven days feast, kept after the passover.
Again, in case we know the day strictly, yet it is not absolutely necessary for us to keep it on that day always, if the Church appoint, or think the contrary; for the Jews did not keep their Purim on the same day of the year whereon their deliverance was given them, but on the next day after, as you may read in Esther; The passover was to be eaten in the first mont, Exodus 12:2-3 yet Hezekiah and his people kept it in the second month, contrary to the institution in that particular, 2 Chron 30:2-3 and yet they were accepted as you may read, verse 20.
3. Yea, but [ need citation ] tells us, in his Scripture Almanack, that the Saturnalia, those mad feasts to saturn, the fatehr of the gods, were kept at the same time by the heathen, that the Christians keep their Christmas, and that you have your karrils from ceres, the goddes of corn, in which feasts at the same time a sheaf was offered to her; and that you have your word yule, or ule, from … a hymn then offered in her praise.
Sirs, give over for shame, all these are as false as the Almanack, for our word yule is from the norman word nule, or ule, which signifies new, the sheaf was not offered to ceres in december, nor the hymn in her praise, but at her own feast, which was in April, as Ovid averrs, [ citation needed ]. Nor did the Saturnalia, which lasted for three days, begin on the 25th of December but on the 27th as Macrobius doth witness; but suppose the contrary; May not Christians set a day a part to Gods service, in that month that heathens made feasts to their idols ? If so, we must bid adieu to all public services, and serve your humors, and conclude, that the Jews did very well to keep their feast of tabernacles, according to Gods command, in the month of September, seeing the heathens kept their Bacchanalia, after the same manner, at the same time ? So Plutarch.
But lastly, your feasting doth offend us: Your plum pottage, and minced pies, do offend our taste and smell; your bay and rosemary, holly and ivy, box, and privit, with all your green strewings, and trimming your churches and houses, do offend our pure eyes, and your carrolls and songs do offend our sanctified ears.
Alas brethren, we cannot help it; we must not offend God, in striving not to offend you; it is not we that give, but you that take; and we may not neglect our duty, to please your humors.
We keep the day Festivally, we ought to do it, as we have shown already, we have warrant for it, Esther. 9:22 from the Jews practice, who for a less blessing, kept the 14 and 15 of Adar yearly, as the days wherein the Jews rested, and the month which was turned unto them, from sorrow to joy, and from mourning to a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and of gifts to the poor. And likewise from the command of Nehemiah, and Ezra, in the like case; This day is holy unto the Lord your God, mourn not, nor weep; go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. [ Nehemiah 8:9-10 ] Tell me did ever the Church of England celebrate this day, in any other manner then the Jews were commanded to do those ? Did you ever know any yule game suffered thereupon ? Was it not as religiously and devoutly kept, by hearing the word, receiving the Sacrament, offering up the Sacrifice of thanksgiving for Christs coming into the world, and relieving his poor members, as ever you did any Sabbath day in the year ? Nay, I will affirm that you never heard any harp or violin in our feasts upon that day ( as the Jews had ) but our chief work was to remember, as we ought, the work of the Lord thereupon, and the operation of husbands, that as this day the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, upon the morning of the day, breaking out in darkness, he making the day his own, by being born thereupon, we will therefore be glad, and rejoice in it.
As for our plum-pottage, and minced pies, stand off, and do not let them trouble you, we dare eat, making no question of conscience sake, because our stomachs are strengthened by that forecited piece of invitation, Nehemia 8:10 Eat the fat, and drink the sweet. And brethren, though you will not put your spoons into our platter, yet gie me leave to reach a spoonfull of instruction to your souls, from our pie and pottage, that you would endeavour to join with us in the main of our feasting, which is, to taste and see how sweet our Lord Jesus is. Do not you cry out prophane now, if you do, St. Paul will stop your mouth, who makes the same use of, and raiseth the like instruction from, the unleavened bread that the Jews used in the passover; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened, for even Christ our Passover is crucified for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Behold two table doctrines, one of Easter, the other of Christmas, both raised from the viands.
As for our bays and rosemary, and other green trimmings of our Churches and houses, truly brethren, we do and may do it, by the same warrant that the Israelites in the Feast of Tabernacles, Neh 8:16, did go out to the mountain and fetch olive, myrtle, and palm branches, to adorn their booths withall, they are as significant as these; their booths so trimmed up with those branches, and built in the streets, according to Gods command, signified, and put them in mind, that they were pilgrims in the wilderness, and that their fathers dewlt in tabernacles: So as our meat, which is more choice than other times, puts us in mind o nthat day of Christs sinless humanity, and our strong drink of his spiritual consolation: So our Churches and Houses, decked with bays and rosmary, holly and ivy, and other plants which are always green, winter and summer, signify and put us in mind of his Diety, that the child that now was born, was God and Man, should spring up like a tender plant, should always be green and flourishing, and live for ever more. Therefore thus the spouse entertains her beloved, whose bed is always green, Canticles 1:16 and shows Jesus Christ to be yesterday, and today, and the same forever.
As to our songs and carrolls, brethren, they are collected and composed out of the scriptures, contain matter of instruction, and edification, they implant the history and benefits of Christs birth, in the minds of poor, ignorant people; and often times he is taken by a song, that will fly a sermon. Such songs are like the son gof Moses, which learned by heart, put the people in mind of what God hat done for them, as upon that day, and such are most fitting for the time, and we have an order for them, under St. Pauls own hand, Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, in Psalms, and Hymns, and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Brethren, remember what the King said to those men who were bid to the Marriage of his Son, and would not come, but went about their husbandry, and other occasions, Not one of these shall taste of my supper, etc. The Day of Christs Birth, was the day of the Marriage of the Son of God, when the two natures formerly had-fasted in the conception, were now declared forever Married, never to be severed, that Marriage-day is annually to be kept by us in remembrance. I invite you all against the next year, if you will not come, I cannot force you, I leave you to the coming of the Bridegroom, and then you shall know whether you shall taste of his Supper.