Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

that a sect had arisen in that department, who professed a determination of establishing the Republic of Christ; and that crowds of persons, under circumstances the most alarming, were abandoning their homes, and assembling to march to Jerusalem. But they had easily been put down.

M. Gregoire, with little propriety, calls this mysterious society the Fanatics of Avignon. İn Pernetty's life, he says, it consisted of about an hundred members, but in 1804 was reduced to six or

He speaks of a woman as still belonging to it, and corresponding with a retired soldier at Avignon, who has published a translation of the 68th Psalm from the Hebrew, and asserts in his Commentary, that the Ark of Alliance, the Manna, and Aaron's Rod, are existing in safe concealment in the Holy Land, and will be brought to light when the Jews shall enter into the bosom of the church. These persons are mere enthusiasts. But the history of the Society deserves more investigation than he has bestowed

seven.

upon it.

One of the most curious articles in the Ex-Bishop's book is that upon the present state of Protestantism. It is interesting to know the opinions of the most decided Liberals in the Catholic Church upon that subject. Like Bossuet, he has taken all the advantage that the spirit of dissent afforded him; and boldly affirms, that as a consequence of the Protestants' own principles, more Illuminés, and more Visionaries, ought to be found, and in reality are found among them than among the Catholics. This he says in a work which contains an account of the Convulsionnaires ! But the truth is, that the Illuminés belong at least as much to knavery as to enthusiasm ; and that the Visionaries, were it possible to ascertain their relative numbers, would be found in proportion to that of the Catholic and Protestant population. Theirs are cases of nosology: in Protestant states there is no preventive police to prevent the disease, when it manifests itself, from becoming endemic: the Catholic church sometimes cuts it short, and sometimes takes it under its care, disarms it of its dangerous symptoms, and then inoculates for it. Joanna Southcott would have been too crazy to hold up as a Beata, or train for a saint: had she appeared, therefore, in a Catholic country, she would have been confined as a mad woman, as she ought to have been in this. Anne Moore, the fasting impostor of Tutbury, was a more manageable person, and, in fact, just such a woman figures in the Actu Sanctorum.

M. Gregoire, with better reason, dwells upon the decision of the University of Helmstadt, that the Princess of Wolfenbuttet might lawfully abjure the Protestant faith to qualify herself for marrying Charles VI. afterwards Emperor;-a scandalous decision, founded upon the falsest reasoning. For what can be more grossly

fallacious

fallacious than to infer, that, because they who live conscientiously and piously in an erring church, will, by God's mercy, be saved, therefore it is allowable, for the sake of any great temporal advantage, to enter into that erring church and renounce a purer one? He boasts also of the numerous proselytes to Catholicism in Germany, enumerating with pride the distinguished names of Winkelmann, Schlegel, and, greater than either, Count Frederick Stolberg. The secretary of the diocese of Strasburg, he says, has within four years expedited about three hundred powers for reconciling Protestants to the Catholic church. In the year 1767 the Bishops, pursuant to a motion in the House of Lords by Lord Radnor, required their clergy to take an account of the number of Catholics in their respective parishes; the increase at that time was said to have been very great; and it has been stated, that within the last thirty years they have increased seven-fold. This may be matter for grave political consideration. But if the nature of such conversions were inquired into, part would be found to consist of persons who, having been tost about by every wind of doctrine, shifted from sect to sect, and rested at last where they found not the most reason; but the most imposing assumption of authority. A larger portion would be women who had suffered themselves to be caught in the cobweb of controversy by some priest, an adept in such arts; and the great majority would be ignorant persons in low life, negJected by their own church, and glad to fasten themselves as beadsmen upon some wealthy catholics. It is true, as M. Gregoire boasts, that the set-off against these numbers is very trifling; but it is not true that the few proselytes which have been made by the English church have consisted chiefly of emigrant priests, and that the affair, as Erasmus says, terminates usually, like a comedy, in a wedding. The church of England is not like a sect, solicitous for converts, nor does it boast of them; but it has at this day, to our kvowledge, proselytes from the Church of Rome, to whom no unworthy inotives can possibly be attributed, and of whose talents and virtues any community might be proud.

If the Ex-Bishop is to be believed, when he predicts what is to come, ' Protestantism will never again become what it has been, and cannot remain what it is; an irresistible movement is bearing it towards its end, its constitution itself is the corrosive germ of its existence. It will have the fate of all those sects,' he says,

(which the Catholic church, during eighteen centuries, has seen successively rise, attack, and fall away before her; while, elevating her majestic head above all errors, heresies, and schisms, directed by her divine founder, she holds on to the consummation of ages.' According to him, its triumph must be not only sure, but easy,so easy, indeed, as to be inglorious. The Protestant clergy have

long

long taken to preach upon ethics for want of piety, for want of theological abilities, and from idleness. To declaim against vice requires no great depth either of mind or erudition, but to instruct their hearers in the great truths of Christianity, and to make them love, and admire, and adore that which produces the true sanctification of the heart, of this they are not capable.' Is M. Gregoire ignorant even of the names of our great divines, that he should repeat this impudent declamation of one as ignorant as himself of the subject upon which he is declaiming ?

Holding the Protestants thus cheaply, M. Gregoire touches upon the question of a Reunion of the Churches. Collectively considered he classes the Protestants in two great divisions, the one consisting of those who, like the Unitarians in England, and the philosophizing Christians of Germany, believe as much of revealed religion as suits with their system, and no more; the other, those who hold fast to revelation, but are split into an hundred subdivisions. The former, he says, cannot become parties to any reunion with the Romish Church, yet, with a strange inconsistency, he enumerates Professors Eichorn and Paulus among the Protestant Savans who might enter upon the project with more success than their predecessors; and he points out a number of Catholics, among whom the only English name is the truly respectable one of Berrington, as persons who may direct their labours to the same end. It would be easy, he says, for the different governments of Europe to second these views. The Catholic Church admits of no compromise upon any point of doctrine, but upon matters of discipline it inay make some 'sacrifices.

In this respect M. Gregoire certainly deserves the praise of candour, that he neither disguises nor qualifies any of his own opinions, for the sake of making them appear less obnoxious than they are to Christians of other persiasions. • Civil and religious toleration,' he says, 'must not be confounded. Religious toleration would imply that error and truth are indifferent: but truth cannot be indifferent; there is but one truth, and religious toleration would therefore be an outrage to God, who is truth itself. Civil toleration is that which grants to every one the liberty of publicly per-. forming his worship,—a right inalienable in every political society, and which ought to be called liberty of worship-not toleration.' "Out of the church there is no salvation, as there was none out of the ark of Noah, which was its type. But if this postulate be granted, toleration becomes, by the plainest and straightest reasoning, what the old Presbyterians called it, soul-murder, and the consequences drawn from it by Bishop Gardener and Bishop Bonner will be as fairly justified by sound logic as they are authozed and approved by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman

Church.

[ocr errors]

Church. Their conclusions fall to the ground, because the principle is false. But M. Gregoire bolds the principle in its widest extent. The Paschal Lamb, he says, is not to be eaten out of the bosom of the church. Out of the Ark of Noah all persons perished, even infants, and those who had never heard of it. Upon this subject M. Gregoire produces whatever is most positive in the language of St. Angustine, for the purpose of avowing his full assent to it! All men, he says, are children of wrath, therefore all worthy of vengeance, all worthy of punishment, all worthy of hell. It is an .article of faith that the sin of Adam being transmitted to his descendants renders them all guilty. To wish therefore, in favour of infidels, and of those who have not been baptized, to open a new road whereby. they may escape damnation, is to contradict Christ himself; for at the Last Judgement some will be on his right hand to enter into eternal happiness, and others on bis left to partake the punishment of the devils. Whoever is not on the right, will indubitably be on the left. He will not even tolerate the opinion that unbaptized infants undergo a kind of damnation in which they are exempt from actual torments. A kind of damnation!' he exclaims, what language! God does not inflict upon them positive pain! Then they are not children of wrath, as the Scripture calls them. St. Augustine affirms that he who is not in the kingdom of Heaven is in eternal fire.? By a curious infelicity M. Gregoire contrives to unite in his own opinions whatever is most odious in Calvinism with whatever is most offensive in the Romish, superstition. And sincerely is it to be regretted that Christianity should thus be represented by one of its sincere advocates in a country which is overrun with infidelity. Wherever the doctrine of the damnation of infants is taught, wherever a church proclaims, without reserve or limitation, that salvation is to be obtained only within its own fold, wherever transubstantiation is the prominent object of faith, infidelity must and will predominate.

Upon the subject of infidelity we shall shortly recur to M. Gregoire. For the present we would part from him in good will, and with respect for his openness and benevolence, though in the most decided hostility to his errors, both political and religious. The following passage would disarm us of any hostile feeling. Some important facts,' says the author, ' perhaps even some erroneous citations may have escaped me. Learned men of different communions, among whom I have many friends, will in their indulgence forgive me this, and by their information correct it. If any expressions which may shock them should have crept in, I should be deeply grieved. Attached by principle and by feeling to the Catholic Religion, it is in her bosom and in her instructions that I find the obligation of loving all men, of doing good to them, whatever

may

may be their country, their colour, their religion. My religion makes it a duty, my heart makes it a pleasure. And though widely differing from Sturges upon a multitude of points, I agree with him that the want of charity is equivalent to a great heresy.'

Art. II.-The Works of the Right Honourable Sir Charles

Hanbury Williams, K.B., from the Originals in the possession of his Grandson the Right Honourable the Earl of Essex: with Notes, by Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. În 3 vols.

London. Svo. 1822. WE request

our readers to mark attentively this title-page, and also the following extract from the preface of the editor : • It is through the favour of the noble grandson of Sir Charles, the present Earl of Essex, and of the Right Hon. Henry Vassall, Lord Holland, that the Editor is now enabled to lay these sheets before the public. A great inass of the original papers of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams fell, by inheritance, into possession of the Noble Earl, who, with that liberality which attends on every act of his life, has permitted the Editor to select from them the poetical pieces which appear in these Volumes. From the numerous literary relics remaining in the hands of Lord Holland, his lordship has been pleased to allow him to enrich his book with the curious historical epistles on the state of Poland, and many other original Letters; and to add also a multiplicity of Notes from the pen of all others the most capable of illustrating the localities of such a writer as Sir Charles Hanbury Williams--the pen of Horace Walpole. To those noble persons the Editor presumes thus to offer his humble and grateful acknowledgements for this addition to the innumerable favours and benefits with which their Lordships have already been pleased to honour him.'--pp. xix. xx. Within a week, however, after the publication of these volumes, there appeared in a newspaper the following advertisement or notification:

* Mr. Jeffrey, editor of Sir C. H. Williams's works, which profess to have been published by him from the originals in the possession of the Earl of Essex and others, informs the public that he is called upon by the Earl of Essex to declare that the work never was submitted to his inspection previous to its publication, and contains several exceptionable poems and productions which, though formerly printed and ascribed to Sir C. H. Williams, never formed part of the originals in the possession of Lord Essex, and were not communicated in any way whatever by Lord Essex to Mr. Jeffrey. Mr. Jeffrey further adds, that he did not receive any publication froin Lord Holland but in prose, consisting of some letters, written by Horace Walpole, and two or three letters addressed to Sir C. H. Williams from the first Lord Holland!

Morning Chronicle, June 21st, 1822.
By day and night, but this is wondrous strange! In the first

place,

« AnteriorContinuar »