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much." (Hist. Ang. ad an. 1257.)
No. CCCXLI. But he has said quite enough to Character of Louis XIV. confirm the discoveries subsequently The intrusion of any popular voice made by writers of every communion, was not likely to be tolerated in the respecting this extraordinary fact, and reign of Louis XIV., a reign which to make known in what state Dante has been so often celebr ied as the found the religion of Eirope. The zenith of warlike ang literary splenInquisitors, in the mean time, were dour, but which has always appeared by no ineans remiss in burning astro- to me to be the consummation of logers and persous accused of prac. whatever is afilicing and degrading tising the art of magic, though it some. in the history of the human race. times happened that an astrologer Talent seemed, in that reign, robbed triumphed over them. Of two con- of the conscious elevation, of the erect temporaries of Dante, one, Cecco and manly port, which is its uobilest d'Ascoli, was burned by order of the associate and its surest indication. Dominican luquisition at Florence;* The mild purity of Fenelon, the and the other, Pietro d' Abano, who losty spirit of Bossuet," the sublime was reputed to be confederate with fervour of Corneille, were confounded devils, and openly professed astrology, by the coutagion of ignominious and upon being accused at Paris, retorted indiscriminate servility. It seemed the charge of heresy upon the Domi. as if the “ representative majesty" of nicans-summoned them to appear, the genius and intellect of man were convicted them of heresy by forty- prostrated before the shrine of a sanfive specialarguments-procured their guinary and dissolute tyrant, who expulsion and exclusion from Paris practised the corruption of courts for a considerable period—and was without their mildness, and incurred himself pronounced innocent by the the guilt of wars without their glory. Pope at Rome. † The people, how- His highest praise is to have sup ever, believed in the power of this ported the stage-trick of royalty with magician. It is mentioned in the effect; and it is surely difficult to chronicles of that age, and still re. conceive any character more odious peated in the villages of Padua, that and despicable than that of a pupy Pietro had seven spirits at his com- libertine, who, under the frown of a mand; and that when he was going strumpet or a monk, issues the manto be hanged he substituted an ass date that is to murder virtuous citizens, in his place. The fact is, that not to desolate happy and peaceful hamwithstanding his canonical absolution, lets, to wring agonizing tears from Pietro had admitted in his writings widows and orphans. Heroism has the influence of the stars upon human a splevdour that almost atones for its actions, and denied absolutely the excesses ; but what shall we think of existence of demons. I The philo- him, who, from the luxurious and sophy of Epicurus had made some dastardly security in which he walprogress among the higher orders in lows at Versailles, issues with calm the age of Dante; Guido Cavalcauti, and cruel apathy his orders to butcher his intimate friend, was pointed out the Protestants of Languedoc, or to by the people for his Meditations lay in ashes the villages of the Palaagainst the Existence of God. tinate ? Ou the recollection of such
Art. Dante, in Edin. Rev. No. scenes, as a scholar I blush for the
LX. Vol. XXX. pp. 327– prostitution of letters; as a man I
blush for the patience of humanity.
Mackintosh.) 1792. 4th Ed. * Gio. Villani, B. x. Ch. xxxix.
pp. 19–21. + Michael Savonarola, ad an. 1292, 1299.--Petri Abani conciliator, differentia, 10.
* " And Cambray, worthy of a happier I This curious observation was first
doom, made by Pico of Mirandola. See De « The virtuous slave of Louis and op Rerum Prænotatione, Sect. v.
On John xii. 31, 32.
things as these had often happened HAVE already observed, (see before, and probably would happen
Moo. Repos. XIII. 265–269] again ; and a person of superior skill that these words contain an illustrious in natural or political causes and efprediction of a great crisis shortly to fects, by his extraordinary gagacity take place in the state of the moral and penetration, and by peculiarly world : that the whole system of accurate observations, might possibly Pagan idolatry, that empire of the have discovered a certain series, or prince of this world, should be extir. chain of causes, already begun, and pated ; and mankind in general should leading on to important future events embrace the gospel religion, and be in the natural or political world, lieve in Christ as the Saviour and which the rest of mankind might not Lord of all men: and that all this then have discovered; but would af. should be effected in consequence of terwards observe, as they should beour Lord's approaching death, by gin to ripen towards the issue: and being lifted up on the cross, and his consequently, he might be able to exaltation to glory. Let us atten- foretell such events, without any astively consider the words in this view. sistances superior to human ability,
Every prediction of future events, only he was so fortunate as to be the which really happen accordingly, ex: first that discovered that train of hibits a more striking and convincing causes and effects which brought on proof of Divine foreknowledge and the events, and which others afteragency, by how much less apparent wards could trace as well as he. probability there was, at the time of But he foretells a general change, delivering the prediction, of such and a great improvement to be shortly events taking place. If at the time made in the state of the moral world; there appeared little or no probability that the universal prevalence of ido. at all; but many and great improba. latry and dæmon-worship should be bilities, difficulties and obstructions extirpated, and that a religion of pure to the production of the thing fore- worship of the one true God, a relitold, were obvious and apparent; and gion of truth, righteousness and vir. yet the event succeeds, and suits ex- tue, should be generally established actly to the prediction, one finds ones- and embraced. Now, what probaself compelled to acknowledge the bility of such events could at that time interposal of Him who foreseeth all be discovered by any human sagacity things, and in whose hand are all or observation ? Had there ever any times and events. Now let us exa- events happened in the world of a mide the subject before us according like nature before? No, never. to these priuciples, and endeavour to there ever any nation, which had once refer our thoughts back to the very sunk into idolatry, that ever forsook times, and the state of things, which their false gods, and became worexisted when this prediction was de. shipers of the true God, or embraced livered, and make ourselves, as it a true religion ? No, never. All biswere, a part of the multitude in whose tory, till the time when Jesus delivered hearing it was spoken. And 1. Let this prediction, affords not one such us consider the nature of the things example excepting only the Jews, foretold: from which, I apprehend, and their case was peculiar, and the we shall see many and great difficul reasons of it more than human. Facts, ties arising against the event. Jesus till that time, universally had been here foretells, not a change of empire, thus; that every nation, which had the overthrow of that wbich was then once degenerated to idolatry, sunk established, and the rise of one not deeper and deeper, but never reco. yet in being; nor does he foretell any vered out of it. And every nation was extraordinary phenomena, or impor. at last overwhelmed in it, not one extant events in the natural world: such cepted throughout the known world.
The policy of princes, the arts of that before the coming of Christ there priests, and the inclinations of the had been some few attempts made in people, all combined to support and some few places to reform the morals propagate it; a combination, which of mankind, partly by lawgivers and nothing hitherto bad been found able patriot princes, partly by philosophers to break or to grapple with. Aud and moral writers; but with what now Jesus foretells, that shortly ido- success : Truly very little, and very latry should be extirpated, not in short-lived; they had at first good one nation, or a few only, but in effect on some few. Restraints were general through the world. What Jaid on the enormities of the people probability or likelihood of such an for a while. This engaged attention event; an event unexampled a thing and admiration for a few years, and, which scarce any one had ever at. perhaps, the applause of posterity; tempted or thought of? Besides, what but soon the stream of corruption sort of religion is it which Jesus fore- returned into its old channel with tells should be established and em- increased strength and rapidity: and braced in the room of idolatry? A set the reformations then attempted, religion that enjoins the worship of were nothing like so complete and one Gud only, and he an invisible universal as that which the gospel Spirit; with a worship founded in proposed and enjoined ou all mankind, spirit and truth, consisting in the sen- But as to religion, scarce ever any timents of the mind and dispositions attempt had been made to reform it, of the heart, but destitute of every or to suppress idolatry any where thing that may captivate the senses through all the Gentile world. А or allure a sensual mind. And was very few choice spirits arose indeed there any human likelihood, that, as now and then; one or two, in several things then stood, maukind in general ages, who saw into the absurdity of would abandon their idols, the visible it, and somehow gained some rational objects of their worship, and all their sentiments concerning the one true ceremonies, sacrifices and splendid God, and the religion due to him, rites; drive away their awful priests and who veutured to disclose their and pleasing musicians, neglect their sentiments to the world. But how religious crafts and festivals, their were they received ? With execragames and processions, and a thou- tion and abhorrence, as impious and sand other enchanting things, for such atheistical wretches, enemies of the a plain, spiritual and unattractive in- gods, for presuming to assert (as Destitution as this? Doth the universal metrius expresseth it in the Acts) that experience of mankind through all those were no gods, which are made ages promise any probability of it? with hands; and fortunate were those Directly the reverse. I might add to of them, who escaped the cruel deaths this, that the idolatrons religions of which others suffered, the Gentiles laid no restraints upon, If we enter still more deeply into nay, indulged and encouraged all man- the subject, we shall see reason to ner of lust, debauchery and intem- conclude, from the nature of the perance; whereas the gospel religion things themselves, that it would be a absolutely forbade these things, and much more practicable attempt to consequently, not only opposed the establish or overthrow the greatest bodily seuses of men, but the affec- empire that ever was on this globe, tions and prevailing dispositions of than to extirpate idolatry and false their bearts; whicb things, when religion, and introduce true and raduly considered, will shew that the tional religion into a single nation by improbabilities were extremely great any means merely human. In the and complicated, either that idolatry, former case, human power and human which was so very convenient and policy have a full scope. A sufficient complaisant to the lusts and passions army of hardy veterans, expert in the of a corrupt world, should ever be arts and discipline of war, will go a suppressed; or that the gospel reli- great way: wise and experienced gion, which combated them so rudely, polificians, who know how to imshould ever be propagated with any prove incidents, and to apply properly considerable effect. It is observable, to the passions and inclinations of Biblical Criticism. On John xii. 31, 32.
111 mankind, to raise and conduct parties, But let us apply directly to their un&c., have mighty influence on human derstandings by reasou and argument, affairs; and both united, seem equal and we cannot fail of succeeding to to the greatest undertakings. Here convince them of the folly of idolatry the instruments to work with may be and false religion, and of the reasona. gotten, and the matter to work upon bleness and excellence of the true; or is within your reach. But if you at. to persuade tbem to abandon the one tempt to change the religion of a and embrace the other. In this way people, to extirpate, for instance, it will certainly be very practicable, idolatry, and to introduce the true by merely human means to extirpate religion of the one God by merely idolatry, and establish the true relihuman means, how will you effect it? gion. Perhaps so, provided sound Religion, whether true or false, is reason were the only governing prinsituated in the sentiments of men's ciple of human determinations and minds, and in the affections of their actions; but the truth of facts dehearts; and how will you come at cides it otherwise. Prejudices have a these to take away some and intro- mighty influence over the generality duce others? Idolatry and false reli- of men; the senses, passions and ap. gion are supported by erroneous petites are their sovereign guides, and sentimeuts, by false prejudices and where all these coucur, as they do in corrupt dispositions; but how will
support of false religion, the voice of you come at these to eradicate them, reason is little attended to, her clearest and to take away the foundations on demonstrations are overruled, and which idolatry is built? Will you use strongest remonstrances neglected. power to suppress it, and enforce the This is not the only case in matters of practice of true religion? It is in religion, but in all the other concerns vain : the spirits and consciences of of human life. And if this be the men are like the elastic air, which you true state of facts with the generality may compress, and may keep com- of mankind, as it certainly is; in vain pressed, to a certain degree, by a pro- will you prepare for them the best portionable force, but any accident
chain of reasoning, and study every remove the pressure, it immediately art of address; they will hold fast expands with violence to its former their prejudices; they will listen to or greater dimensions. In like man- their passions and appetites, which per, though tyrants may lay con- your stoutest attacks of reason and straints on the consciences and reli- argument can never come at or take gion of mankind, whatever be its away from them. They will revequality, as soon as ever the death of rence as sacred the customs of their the tyrants, or any other of the many ancestors, and regard their religious accidents to which human power is ceremonies and worship as their own subjected, delivers them from the birth right. constraint, they immediately return If you would carry your point, in to the former practices with redoubled favour of truth and reason, with men eagerness. One of the ancient mo- who are under the influence of prejuDarchs of Persia, having conquered dice and sensual passions and lusts, Egypt, demolished the temples, broke you must present unto them motives the images of the gods, and slew the which they themselves shall feel to be sacred animals, and forbade the Egyp. of greater importance in themselves, tians to practise their ancient super: and which shall operate on their stitions: this injunction was obeyed hearts more powerfully than the obfor some time; but as soon as a jects which have bitherto attracted change of times and circumstances their attention and regards-motives in the Persian government allowed,
which shall arrest and overpower the old national religion was imme. their abiections and passions, expel diately restored in Egypt with great their prejudices, and dissolve the enzeal. Yes, perhaps some will say, to chavtment by which their souls were attempt by external force to constrain captivated. But what motives of this the consciences and religious prac. powerful quality do you expect hutices of men, is undoubtedly no less man reasoning and argumentation absurd than it is cruel, and will cer. alone will furnish you with?
You tainly prove unsuccessful in the end. may even despair.
But observe; in opposition to the these forces I will certainly overthrow argument I am endeavouring to esta- the Persian empire, aud establish my blish, I cannot admit of any instances dominion over all its numerous and of the propagation of Christianity in extensive provinces," the declaration any Pagan country, as proofs of the would justly have been accounted probability or practicability of extir- rash and arrogant; yet he had several pating idolatry and false religion, and fair probabilities on his side: partly of establishing the worship of the one from his own military and political true God, by human means only: all skill, and the experience, intrepidity these instances are our own property, and discipline of his veteran comand plead in our cause. In all these manders and troops, and partly from cases the influence of this prediction the degeneracy of the Persianis. In of our Saviour operated. Christianity fact, he acccomplished his undertakattacks idolatry, and recommends it. ing, overturned the Persian, and estaself by arguments, which human rea- blished the Macedonian empire. On son alone could never discover; and the other hand, Socrates attempted supports thosc arguments with evi. to reform the morals of the people dences, which human reason could of Athens, and to introduce amongst never produce; and is attended with them some juster sentiments in relithe secret energy of a power, which gion; a very honest and laudable de human reason could never pretend to. sign, in which he had some apparent All I aim at, at present, is only to probabilities and means of success, in shew, that from the best knowledge his own great knowledge, engaging we are capable of gaining of the state way of reasoning, and in the friendof mankind, at and before the time ship and support of several of the when this prediction was delivered, principal persons of the city. Had and from the exactest observations he at the first presumed to foretell, on human nature, and the ordinary “ I will certainly reform the manners course of human affairs, there appears and improve the religion of the people little probability, yea, many and great of Athens," or had he delivered any improbabilities, and scarcely a possi- thing like this prediction of Christ in bility, that the events foretold in this the text, how shamefully would he prediction should have been effected have been disappointed and confuted by any merely human means; that by the event! For, in fact, though nothing like them had ever been done Socrates did not pretend to set aside in the world before; and one cannot the idolatrous worship then practised, discover by what human means they and to establish the spiritual worship could be effected: from whence it will of the one true God only, but merely follow, that if Jesus, who delivered endeavoured to introduce gradually a this prediction, and undertook these few juster sentiments concerning the things, had depended only upon hu- Deity and religion, the people took man abilities, he must, in all likeli- the alarm; he was dragged to the hood, most certainly have miscarried, tribunal, accused of subverting the and his prediction failed. I shall only established religion; and Socrates, add, by way of confirmation of the though still a Heathen, and worshiper observation I made above, that as the of idols himself, was condemned and state of the world then stood, it was executed by a decree of the people, much more practicable to overthrow, out of zeal and jealousy for the supand to establish the greatest empire port of idolatry. that ever was on the globe, than to Thus I have endeavoured to shew, suppress idolatry, and reform the reli- that if we attentively consider the gion of a single people by mere human nature of the things themselves, and means. Two examples of facts, which the generally-prevailing principles of happened a few centuries before our human nature, there will appear no Saviour's time: Alexander set out probability, but many and great imfrom Macedon with about 33,000 men, probabilities, that the events foretold to attack the vast, populous and in this prediction, should ever have wealthy empire of Persia. The en- taken place by any human means. terprise was daring and hazardous, VIGILIUS POSTHUMUS. and had he, at his departure, publicly declared, by way of prediction, “ With