Of the Nativity
THE author of the Book oj Wisdom, called Solomon, witnesseth unto us a most true thing, that All men have a like entrance into the world, and the like going out. But each several people hath brought some ceremonies, after these were accomplished. For some have wept, seeing the birth of man upon this worldly theatre. Others have rejoiced at it, as well because Nature hath given to every creature a desire to preserve his own kind, as for that, Man having been made mortal by sin, he desireth to be in some sort restored again to that lost right of immortality, and to leave some visible image issued from him by the generation of children. I will not here discourse upon every nation, for it would be an infinite thing. But I will say that the Hebrews at the nativity of their children did make some particular ceremonies unto them, spoken of by the Prophet Ezekiel [xvi. 2, 3, 4], who, having in charge to make a demonstration to the city of Jerusalem of her own abomination, doth reproach unto her, saying that she is issued and born out of the Canaanites' country, that her father was an Amorite and her mother an Hittite. And as Jor thy birth (saith he) in the day that thou waft born thy navel was not cut, neither waft thou washed in water to soJten thee, nor salted with salt, nor any wise swaddled in clouts [Julian. imp. Sidon., car. 7; Claudian, in Ruffin., lib. 2]. The Cimbri did put their new-born children into the snow to harden them; and the Frenchmen did plunge theirs into the river Rhine,
to know if they were legitimate: for if they did sink unto the bottom they were esteemed bastards, ang if they did swim on the water they were legitimate, meaning (as it were) that Frenchmen ought naturally to swim upon the waters [August., Epifl. ad Maxim. Philos.]. As for our savages of New France, when that I was there, thinking nothing less than on this history, I took not heed of many things which I might have observed; but yet I remember that as a woman was delivered of her child they came into our fort, to demand very instantly for some grease or oil to make the child to swallow it down before they give him the dug88 or any food: they can render no reason for this, but that it is a custom of long continuance. Whereupon I conjeeture that the devil (who hath always borrowed ceremonies from the Church, as well in the ancient as in the new law) would that his people (so do I call them that believe not in God, and are out of the Communion of Saints) should be anointed like to God's people; which unetion he hath made to be ~nward, because the spiritual unetion of the Christians 1S so.