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mouth of David, « the righteous shall he iu everlasting remembrance, and shall not be afraid of
evil tidings ? (0 » Between two great luminaries
am I called on to pronounce, between the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Prince; and to decide whether this latter (whom I have shown to be a legitimate Monarch) be dependant immediately upon God, or only mediately, through the interposition of the Vicar of God, I mean, of the successor of S. Peter, who truly is the bearer of the
keys of the kingdom of heaven' And, having
substantiated several irrefragable, but in our age superfluous arguments, touching the difference between spiritualities and temporalities, which it has ever been the chief policy of the Papacy to confuse, he thus winds up the whole — 'Wherefore, imbued with the reverence that a pious child owes to his father, that a pious child owes to his mother, pious towards Christ, pious towards the Church , pious towards its Pastor, pious towards all the professors of the Christian religion , I say (to uphold what is the truth) that, of all earthly creatures, man alone is created for a double end , a corruptible one and an incorruptible. Unerring Providence then has destined him to a twofold felicity; that of this life, which is figured by the terrestrial Paradise, and which is attainable by the •xercise of philosophy and virtue, and that of eter
(i) Psalms cxn. 6.
nity , consisting in the fruition of the sight of the Divinity, and shadowed forth by the celestial Paradise, which cannot be merited by mere human virtues till they be aided by the grace of God. In unison with these two ends, we certainly require
two rulers: the Pontiff, whose duty it is to lead
men, in conformity with revelation, to life everlasting; and the Emperor, whose business consists in the employment of philosophical ordinances to promote human welfare here below . Hence should the Emperor's principal object be the maintenance of public peace; which alone can insnre us something of the slight, rare portion of content which is attainable, though with difficulty, in this our lowly sojourn, where people can expect no port whatever, until the present ocean of turbulence and cupidity be somewhat appeased. This earthly sovereignty is dependant upon God alone, is ordained by him, and has no other superior. Not that I should be understood to assert, that, absolutely in nothing the Roman Prince is to look up to the Roman Pontiff; for our mortal is but a type of our immortal happiness. Let Caesar then testify that respect to Peter, which an eldest son should to his father: but as to unlimited command, it certainly belongeth de jure only to that Reing on high , who is Ruler of every thing alike, spiritual and temporal (').'
(i) Dantis Monorchia . Colon. Atlob. i740.
It follows, that when Datite expresses his obedience to the Pope, it is in a spiritual capacity; and that what he reviles is a temporal usurpation. This distinction is never kept in view by his enemies; nor even enough so by those who think more kindly of him. Yet is it the obvious duty of an annotator to give, not his own opinions, but, as fairly as he can discern them , those of his author. This I have endeavoured to do, and to mark clearly, at this outset, the line of thought which I 6nd pervading his various writings; in order that it may serve as a general regulator in the explaining of a multitude of passages; which otherwise may easily be made diverge either to the one side or to the other of the fine pivot on which alone, it appeared to him, the scales of truth could maintain their equipoise: and against the commentator who would represent him as making any such divergence, whether favourable or unfavourable to the Pope, I am convinced, from my study of Dante's productions, (and I state his sentiments without meddling with the question, if they be right, or wrong) that he would equally protest, whether the comment were offered as matter of reprobation, or of encomium .
Some of those who consider this fine proem as the product of judgment, as well as of fancy, (in which light it surely merits to be viewed) may, «adio It.
perhaps, feel an objection to this close connexion between Aeneas and theApostle: but not when they recollect the sublime purpose for which it is employed , the extolling of divine Providence and of Christianity. Nor is the position merely poetical; but is founded on history. Aware that Aeneas did not descend to hell, (it may even be no such personage ever existed) but that his descent was a creation of Virgil's sublime imagination, it was asked ( on finding that Providence had not thought proper to deliver by the mouth of the inspired writers, either in the Old or New Testament, any more impressive notion of hell than is contained in the Aeneid) if it were unreasonable to conjecture, God, during the composition of that immortal volume, had deigned to impart a ray of truth to the penman, whose mighty powers must have been destined to answer some mighty purpose? It is certain , that to have the loftiest perception of celestial beatitude we must consult the Christian doctors: but it is equally certain that with regard to a futurity of woe,these present us with no more adequate imagery than the sixth book of the Aeneid. Had God intended we should have bad any more adequate, he would have revealed it: and, not doing so, doth it not seem to follow, that what is known of those secrets came from Him, through whatsoever instru ment? Such at least was a theological opinion once; so that here Dante wrote as a theologian as well as poet Virgil evidently inculcates the propriety of <UHTO It.
that supposed descent's being received as a dream;
S. Paul says his ascent was in a vision « I will
come to visions and revelations of the Lord. » He adds his ignorance of how that vision took place: a I knew a man in Christ about 14 years ago ( whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth ) such an one caught up to the third heaven. » Is there not a shade of similarity between these relations? They were both raptures of the spirit: they both were intended to be figures of regions far beyond human conception , as well as human sight. To suppose something of a divine revelation in the Aeneid ought not to startle any reader of S. Austin at least; for he, in one of his homilies, maintains that Virgil was an inspired Prophet when he composed his fourth Eclogue: nor is that a peculiar opinion of Austin's. Almost all the Roman Catholic Fathers agree in considering that Eclogue as a clear and beautiful annunciation of the coming of our Saviour. But, if Virgil was filled with the spirit of God then, can it be wrong to suppose him so afterwards? Both of them may be fond persuasions; but if one is not impious, neither can the other be so. Or, is the sublimest portion of the sublime, all-embracing epic to be denied a prerogative conceded to that short pastoral? Irreligious I cannot call this tendency of Dante to connect, by a link not, at first, quite visible, things that,, however distant from each other, present something in common