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Their number was maintained by the whole Greek church to be fourteen thousand.
The difficulties raised by critics upon this point of history have been all solved by shrewd and learned commentators.
Objections have been started in relation to the star which conducted the magi from the recesses of the east to Jerusalem. It has been said, that the journey being a long one, the star must have appeared for a long time above the horizon; and yet that no historian besides St. Matthew ever took notice of this extraordinary star; that if it had shone so long in the heavens, Herod and his whole court, and all Jerusalem, must hạve seen it as well as these three magi, or kings; that Herod consequently could not, without absurdity, have enquired diligently, as Matthew expresses it, of these kings, at what time they had seen the star; that, if these three kings had made presents of gold and myrrh and incense to the new-born infant, his parents must have been very rich: that Herod could certainly never believe that this infant, born in a stable at Bethlehem, would be king of the Jews, as the kingdom of Judea belonged to the Romans, and was a gift from Cæsar; that if three kings of the Indies were, at the present day, to come to France under the guidance of a star, and stop at the house of a woman of Vaugirard, no one could ever make the reigning monarch believe that the child of that poor woman would become king of France.
A satisfactory answer has been given to these difficulties, which may be considered preliminary ones, attending the subject of the massacre of the innocents; and it has been shown, that what is impossible with man, is not impossible with God.
With respect to the slaughter of the little children, whether the number was fourteen thousand, or greater, or less, it has been shown, that this horrible and unprecedented cruelty was not absolutely incompatible with the character of Herod; that, after being established as king of Judea by Augustus, he could not indeed fear anything from the child of obscure and poor parents, residing in a petty village; but that labouring at that time under the disorder of which he at length died, his blood might have become so corrupt, that he might in consequence have lost both reason and humanity; that, in short, all these incomprehensible events, which prepared the way for mysteries still more incomprehensible, were directed by an inscrutable providence.
It is objected, that the historian Josephus, who was nearly contemporary, and who has related all the cruelties of Herod, has made no more mention of the massacre of the young children than of the star of the three kings; that neither the Jew Philo, nor any other Jew, nor any Roman, takes any notice of it; and even that three of the evangelists have observed a profound silence upon these important subjects. It is replied, that they are nevertheless announced by St. Matthew, and that the testimony of one inspired man is of more weight than the silence of all the world.
The critics however have not surrendered; they have dared to censure St. Matthew himself, for saying that these children were massacred,“ that the words of Jeremiah might be fulfilled. A voice is heard in Ramah, a voice of groaning and lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
These historical words, they observe, were literally fulfilled in the tribe of Benjamin, which descended from Rachel, when Nabuzaradan destroyed a part of that tribe near the city of Ramah. It was no longer a prediction, they say, any more than were the words, “ He shall be called a Nazarene. And he came to dwell in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” They triumph in the circumstance, that these words are not to be found in any one of the prophets; just as they do in the idea thai Rachel weeping for the Benjamites at Ramah has no reference whatever to the massacre of the innocents by Herod.
They dare even to urge, that these two allusions being clearly false, are a manifest proof of the falsehood of this narrative; and conclude, that the massacre of the children, and the new star, and the journey of the three kings, never had the slightest foundation in fact.
They even go much farther yet; they think they find as palpable a contradiction between the narrative of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, as between the two genealogies adduced by them.* St. Matthew says that Joseph and Mary carried Jesus into Egypt, fearing that he would be involved in the massacre. St. Luke, on the contrary, says, “ That after having fulfilled all the ceremonies of the law, Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth their city, and went every year to Jerusalem, to keep the Passover."
But thirty days must have expired before a woman could have completed her purification from childbirth and fulfilled all the ceremonies of the law. During these thirty days, therefore, the child must have been exposed to destruction by the general proscription. And if his parents went to Jerusalem to accomplish the ordinances of the law, they certainly did not go to Egypt.
These are the principal objections of unbelievers. They are effectually refuted by the faith both of the Greek and Latin churches. If it were necessary always to be clearing up the doubts of persons who read the scriptures, we must inevitably pass our whole lives in disputing about all the articles contained in them. Let us rather refer ourselves to our worthy superiors and masters; to the university of Salamanca when in Spain, to the Sorbonne in France, and to the holy congregation at Rome. Let us submit both in heart and in understanding to that which is required of us for our good.
SECTION I. The inquisition is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, established by the see of Rome in Italy, Spain, Portugal,
# See the article CONTRADICTIONS.
and even in the Indies, for the purpose of searching out and extirpating infidels, Jews, and heretics.
That we may not be suspected of resorting to falsehood, in order to render this tribunal odious, we shall in this present article give the abstract of a Latin work on the Origin and Progress of the Office of the Holy Inquisition," printed by the royal press at Madrid in 1589, by order of Louis de Paramo, Inquisitor in the kingdom of Sicily.
Without going back to the origin of the inquisition, which Paramo thinks he discovers in the manner in which God is related to have proceeded against Adam. and Eve, let us abide by the new law, of which Jesus. Christ, according to him, was the chief inquisitor. He exercised the functions of that office on the thirteenth day after his birth, by announcing to the city of Jerusalem, through the three kings or magi, his appearance in the world, and afterwards by causing Herod to be devoured alive by worms; by driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple; and finally, by delivering Judea into the hands of tyrants, who pillaged it in punishment of its unbelief.
After Jesus Christ, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the rest of the apostles, exercised the office of inquisitor, which they transmitted to the popes and bishops, their suc
St. Dominic having arrived in France with the bishop of Osma, of which he was archdeacon, became animated with zeal against the Albigenses, and obtained the regard and favour of Simon, count de Montfort. Having been appointed by the pope inquisitor in Languedoc, he there founded his order, which was approved of and ratified in 1216, by Honorius III. Under the auspices of St. Madelaine, count Montfort took the city of Beziers by assault, and put all the inhabitants to the sword; and at Laval, four hundred Albigenses were burnt at once. " In all the histories of the inquisition that I ever read," says Paramo, “I never met with an act of faith so eminent, or a spectacle so solemn. At the village of Cazera, sixty were burnt; and in another place a hundred and eighty.”
The inquisition was adopted by the count of Thou.
louse in 1229, and confided to the dominicans by pope Gregory IX. in 1233; Innocent IV. in 1251, established it in the whole of Italy, with the exception of Naples. At the commencement, indeed, heretics were not subjected in the Milanese to the punishment of death, which they nevertheless so richly deserve, because the popes were not sufficiently respected by the emperor Frederick, to whom that state belonged; but a short time afterwards, heretics were burnt at Milan, as well as in the other parts of Italy; and our author remarks, that in 1315 some thousands of heretics having spread themselves through Cremasco, a small territory included in the jurisdiction of the Milanese, the dominican brothers burnt the greater part of them, and thus checked the ravages of the theological pestilence by the flames.
As the first canon of the council of Thoulouse enjoined the bishops to appoint in every parish a priest and two or three laymen of reputation, who should be bound by oath to search carefully and frequently for heretics, in houses, caves, and all places wherever they might be able to hide themselves, and to give the speediest information to the bishop, the seigneur of the place, or his bailiff, after having taken all necessary precautions against the escape of any heretics discovered, the inquisitors must have acted at this time in concert with the bishops. The prisons of the bishop and of the inquisition were frequently the same; and, although in the course of the procedure the inquisitor might act in his own name, he could not, without the intervention of the bishop, apply the torture, pronounce any definitive sentence, or condemn to perpetual imprisonment, &c. The frequent disputes that occurred between the bishops and the inquisitors, on the limits of their authority, on the spoils of the condemned, &c. compelled pope Sixtus IV. in 1473, to make the inquisitions independent and separate from the tribunals of the bishops. He created for Spain an inquisitor-general, with full powers to nominate particular inquisitors; and Ferdinand V. in 1478, founded and endowed the inquisition.