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Almost man and never God, except in a single pas sage contested by Erasmus, Grotius, Le Clere, &c.
* Children of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ."
Is not this constantly regarding Jesus as one of us, although superior by the grace of God?
“ To God, alone wise, honour and glory, through Jesus Christ.”
How are we to understand these passages literally, without fearing to offend Jesus Christ; or, in a more extended sense, without the risk of offending God the Father?
There are many more passages of this kind, which exercise the sagacity of the learned. The commentators differ, and we pretend not to possess any light which can remove the obscurity. We submit with heart and mouth to the decision of the church,
We have also taken some trouble to penetrate into the meaning of the following passages :
“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keepest the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.”+
“ Now we know, that whatever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that any mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified; for by the law is the knowledge of sin... Seeing that it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law, through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.”I
“ For if Abraham was justified by his works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.”
We fear that even the ingenuous and profound Dom Calmet himself gives us not upon these somewhat obscure passages a light which dissipates all our dark that complete conception of the text, which is given only to privileged souls. As soon however as an explaration shall come from the chair of truth, we shall comprehend the whole perfectly.
It is without doubt our own-fault that we do not understand the commentators, and are deprived of
* Romans, viii. 17. + Ibid. ii. 25.
I Romans, iii. 19, 20, 30, 31.
Ibid. iv. 2.
SECTION III. : Let us add this little supplement to the article Paul. It is better to edify ourselves with the Epistles of this apostle, than to weaken our piety by calumniating the times and persons for which they were written. The learned search in vain for the year and the day in which St. Paul assisted to stone St. Stephen, and to guard the mantles of his executioners.
They dispute on the year in which he was thrown from his horse by a miraculous light at noon-day, and on the epoch of his being borne away into the third heaven.
They can agree neither upon the year in which he was conducted to Rome, nor that in which he died.
They are unacquainted with the date of any of his letters.
Saint Jerome, in his commentary on the Epistle to Philemon says, that Paul might signify the embouchure of a flute.
The letters of St. Paul to Seneca, and from Seneca to Paul, were accounted as authentic in the primitive ages of the church, as all the rest of the Christian writings. St. Jerome asserts their authenticity, and quotes passages from these letters in his catalogue. St. Augustin doubts them not in his 153d letter to Macedonius. We have thirty letters of these two great men, Paul and Seneca, who, it is pretended, were linked together by a strict friendship in the court of Nero. The seventh letter from Paul to Seneca is very curious. He tells him, that the Jews and the christians were often burnt as incendiaries at Rome. Christiani et Judæi tanquam machinatores incendii supplicio affici solent. It is in fact probable, that the Jews and the Christians, whose mutual enmity was
* Benedictine Edition, and in “ The City of God," book vi.
extremely violent, reciprocally accused each other of setting the city on fire; and that the scorn and horror felt towards the Jews, with whom the christians were usually confounded, rendered them equally the objects of public suspicion and vengeance.
We are obliged to acknowledge, that the epistolary correspondence of Seneca and Paul is in a ridiculous and barbarous Latin; that the subjects of these letters are as inconsistent as the style; and that at present they are regarded as forgeries. But then may we venture to contradict the testimony of St. Jerome and St. Augustin? If writings, attested by them, are nothing but vile impostures, how shall we be certain of the authenticity of others more respectable? Such is the important objection of many learned personages. If we are unworthily deceived, say they, in relation to the Letters of Paul and Seneca on the Apostolical Institutes, and the Acts of St. Peter, why may we not be equally imposed upon by the Acts of the Apostles? The decision of the church and faith are unequivocal answers to all these researches of science and suggestions of the understanding:
It is not known upon what foundation Abdias, first bishop of Babylon, says, in his History of the Apostles, that St. Paul caused St. James the Less to be stoned by the people. Before he was converted however, he might as readily persecute St. James as St. Stephen. He was certainly very violent, because it is said in the Acts of the Apostles, that he “breathed threatenings and slaughter.” Abdias has also taken care to observe, that the mover of the sedition in which St. James was so cruelly treated, was the same Paul whom God had since called to the apostleship.
This book, attributed to Abdias, is not admitted into the canon; but Julius Africanus, who has translated it into Latin, believes it to be authentic. Since however the church has not admitted it, we must not admit it. Let us content ourselves with adoring Providence, and wishing that all persecutors were transformed into charitable and compassionate apostles.
PERSECUTION. I will not call Dioclesian a persecutor, for he protected the christians for eighteen years; and if, during his latter days, he did not save them from the resentment of Galerius, he only furnished the example of a prince seduced, like many others, by intrigue and cabal, into a conduct unworthy of his character.
I will still less give the name of persecutor to Trajan or Antoninus. I should regard myself as uttering blasphemy.
What is a persecutor? He whose wounded pride and fanaticism irritate princes and magistrates into fury against innocent men, whose only crime is that of being of a different opinion. Impudent man! thou hast worshipped God; thou hast preached and practised virtue; thou hast served and assisted man; thou hast protected the orphan, hast succoured the poor; thou hast changed deserts, in which slaves dragged on a miserable existence, into fertile districts peopled with happy families; but I have discovered that thou despisest me, and hast never read my controversial work. I will therefore seek the confessor of the prime minister, or the magistrate; I will show them, with outstretched neck and twisted mouth, that thou holdest an erroneous opinion in relation to the cells in which the septuagint was studied; that thou hast even spoken disrespectfully for these ten years past of Tobit's dog, which thou assertest to have been a spaniel, whilst I maintain that it was a greyhound. I will denounce thee as the enemy of God and man! Such is the language of the persecutor; and if these words do not precisely issue from his lips, they are engraven on his heart with the
graver of fanaticism steeped in the gall of envy:
It was thus that the Jesuit le Tellier dared to persecute cardinal de Noailles, and that Jurieu persecuted Bayle.
When the persecution of the protestants commenced in France, it was not Francis I. nor Henry II. nor Fran
cis II. who sought out these unfortunate people, who hardened themselves against them with reflective bitterness, and who delivered them to the flames in the spirit of vengeance. Francis I. was too much engaged with the duchess D'Etampes; Henry II. with his ancient Diana, and Francis II. was too much a child. Who then commenced these persecutions ? Jealous priests, who enlisted in their service the prejudices of magistrates and the policy of ministers.
If these monarchs had not been deceived, if they had foreseen that these persecutions would produce half a century of civil war, and that the two parts of the nation would mutually exterminate each other, they would have extinguished with their tears the first piles which they allowed to be lighted.
Oh God of mercy! If any man can resemble that malignant being who is described as actually employed in the destruction of thy works, is it not the persecutor?
PETER (SAINT). Why have the successors of St. Peter possessed so much power
in the west and none in the east? This is just the same as to ask why the bishops of Wurtzburg and Saltzburg obtained for themselves regal prerogatives in a period of anarchy, while the Greek bishops always remained subjects. Time, opportunity, the ambition of some, and the weakness of others, have done and will do everything in the world. We always except what relates to religion.
To this anarchy must be added opinion; and opinion is the queen of mankind. Not that, in fact, they have any very clear and definite opinion of their own, but words answer the same end with them.
“ I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." The zealous partizans of the bishop of Rome contended, about the eleventh century, that whoever gives the greater gives the less; that heaven surrounded the earth; and that as Peter had the keys of the container he had also the keys of what was con