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uttered from the pulpit, as well as the private lectures and exhortations which he delivered to the nuns from the confeffional chair, were fine models not only of his zeal and probity, but of his literature and eloquence. They breathed, in the moft impreffive manner, the true spirit of Chriftian purity: but his glowing reprefentations of the bright beauties of Virtue, and the dark deformities of Vice, made little impreffion upon their corrupted hearts. Defpifing the open calumnies of the envious, and the fecret hoftilities of the guilty, he proceeded, in fpite of all difcouragement and oppofition, in his highly ho nourable purfuit; and at length, by his wisdom and affiduity, beheld the fairest profpects of fuccefs daily opening to his view. The rays of hope, however, had fcarcely beamed upon his endeavours, when they were immediately overclouded by disappointment. The arm of magiftracy, which he had wifely called upon to aid the accomplishment of his defign, was enervated by the venality of its hand; and the incorrigible objects of his folicitude having freed themselves by bribery from the terror of the civil power, contemned the reformer's denunciations of eternal vengeance hereafter, and relapfed into their former licentioufnefs and depravity. A few, indeed, among the great number of nuns who inhabited thefe guilty convents, were converted by the force U
of his eloquent remonftrances, and became afterwards highly exemplary by the virtue and piety of their lives; but the reft abandoned themselves to their impious courses; and, though more vigorous methods were, in a short time, adopted against the refractory monaftics, they fet all attempts to reform them at defiance. The modes, perhaps, in which their vices were indulged, changed with the character of the age; and as manners grew more refined, the grofs and fhameful indulgences of the monks and nuns were changed into a more elegant and decent ftyle of enjoyment. Fashion might render them more prudent and reserved in their intrigues; but their paffions were not lefs vicious, nor their difpofitions lefs corrupt.
The diforderly manners of thefe folitary devotees were among the principal causes that produced the REFORMATION. There is a point beyond which even depravity cannot go in corrupting the manners of the age. The number and power of the monastics, or, as they were at that time called, the Regular Clergy, was certainly great, and their resistance to the approaches of reformation obftinate; but the temper of the times had changed, and the glorious and beneficial event was at length accomplished. The Catholics viewed the difmemberment of their
church as a fatal ftroke to their interest and power; but it has fince been confeffed, by every candid and rational member of this communion, to be an event which has contributed to advance morals to a higher degree of perfection than they had ever before attained fince the introduction of Christianity, and to restore the discipline of the church to fome portion of its original purity.
The pure spirit of the Gospel of Chrift breathes forth a holy religion, founded on meekness, charity, kindness, and brotherly love; but fanaticifm, when joined to a fyftematic and irrational folitude, only produces the rank and poisonous fruits we have already defcribed. The trivial, querulous, and intolerant fuperftitions, which during fo many ages eclipfed the reafon and morals of mankind, and obfcured, in clouds of luft and cruelty, the bright rays of evangelical truth, were the fad effects of irrational folitude. The best affections of nature were perverted or suppressed; all the gentle offices of humanity were neglected; moral fentiment despised; and the angel voice of Piety unheard, or converted into the violent vociferations of hatred, and the cries of perfecution. The loud clangors of pretended orthodoxy refounded with fanguinary hoftilities from fhore to fhore; the earth was deluged with the blood
blood of those who dared to deny, or even to doubt, the abfurd and idle dogmas which the monks every where invented; and their horrid barbarities were attempted to be justified by propagating the notion, that severity with heretics was the only mode of preserving the true faith. Oh, how blind is human folly! how obdurate are hearts vitiated by pride! How can that be the true faith which tears afunder every focial tie, annihilates all the feelings of nature, places cruelty and horror on the throne of humanity and love, and scatters ferocious fury and infatiable hatred through the paths of life? But we may now indulge a pleafing hope that the period is at hand, when the facred TEMPLE OF RELIGION, purified by the labours of learned and truly pious men, from the foul ftains with which fanaticifm and ambition have fo long defaced it, fhall be restored to its own divine fimplicity; and only the voice of gentleness, of love, of peace, of VIRTUE, and of godliness, be heard within its walls. Then will every Christian be truly taught the only means by which his days may be useful and his life happy; and Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinifts, Proteftants, and every really religious clafs of men, will unite in acts of fincere benevolence and univerfal peace. No auftere, gloomy, and difpiriting duties, no irrational penances and unnatural mortifications, will
be enjoined; no intolerant cruelties be inflicted; no unfocial inftitutions eftablished; no rites of folitary selfishness be required; but REASON and RELIGION in divine perfection will reaffume their reigns; an unaffected and fincere devotion will occupy every mind; the Almighty will be worshipped in fpirit and in truth; and we shall be convinced that "The wicked are like the "troubled fea when it cannot reft; but that the "work of righteousness is peace; and the effect "of righteousness, quietude and affurance for "ever." To effect this, a rational retirement from the tumults of the world will be occafionally neceffary, in order to commune with our own hearts, and be ftill, and to difpofe our minds to fuch a train of thinking, as fhall prepare us, when the giddy whirl of life is finished, for the fociety of more exalted fpirits.
Oh! would mankind but make fair Truth their guide,
None would hereafter, then, with groundless fear,
To heaven; and fome to hell for no offence;