Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

tained. If by heaven we understand all the stars and planets, it is evident, according to Tomasius, that the keys given to Simon Barjonas, surnamed Peter, were an universal passport. If we understand by heaven the clouds, the atmosphere, the ether, and the space in which the planets revolve, no smith in the world, as Meursius observes, could ever make a key for such gates as these. Railleries however are not reasons.

Keys in Palestine were wooden latches with strings to them. Jesus says to Barjonas, “ Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” The pope's clergy concluded from these words, that the popes had received authority to bind and unbind the people's oath of fidelity to their kings, and to dispose of kingdoms at their pleasure. This certainly was concluding magnificently. The Commons in the States General of France, in 1302, say in their memorial to the king that “ Boniface VIII. was a b~ for believing that God bound and imprisoned in heaven what Boniface bound on earth," A famous German Lutheran (the great Melancthon) could not endure the idea of Jesus having said to Simon Barjonas, Cepha or Cephas, « Thou art Peter, and upon this rock* will I build my assembly, my church." "He could not conceive that God would use such a play of words, and that the

pope

could have been established upon a pun.

Such a doubt however can be indulged only by a protestant.

Peter has been considered as having been bishop of Rome; but it is well known that in the apostolic

age, and long after, there was no particular and appropriate bishopric. The society of christians did not assume a regular form until about the middle of the second century. It

may

be true that Peter went to Rome, and even that he was crucified with his head downwards, although that was not the usual mode of crucifixion ; but we have no proof whatever of all this. We have a letter under his name, in which he says that he is at

* Petris in Latin signifies a rock, besides being a proper name.-T.

power of the

Babylon: acute and shrewd canonists have contended that by Babylon we ought to understand Rome; and upon the same principle, if he had dated at Rome, we might have concluded that the letter had been written at Babylon. Men have long been in the habit of drawing such reasonable and judicious inferences as these ; and it is in this manner that the world has been governed.

There was once a clergyman who, after having been made to pay extortionately for a benefice at: Rome, an offence known by the name of simony, happened to be asked some time afterwards, whether he thought Simon Peter had ever been in that city? He replied, " I do not think that Peter was ever there, but I am sure Simon was.”

With respect to the personal character and behaviour of St. Peter, it must be acknowledged that Paul is not the only one who was scandalized at his conduct. He was often “ withstood to the face,” as well as his suca

St. Paul vehemently reproached him with eating forbidden meats, that is pork, blood pudding, hare, eels, the ixion, and the griffin; Peter vindicated himself by saying, that he had seen heaven opened about the sixth hour, and as it were a great sheet descending from the four corners of it, which was filled with creeping things, quadrupeds, and birds, while the voice of an angel called out to him, saying, “ Kill and eat.” This, says Woolston, seems to have been the same voice which has called out to so many pontiffs since, “ Kill everything; eat up the substance of the people." But this reproach is much too strong,

Casaubon cannot by any means bring himself to approve the manner in which St. Peter treated Ananias and Sapphira his wife. “By what right,”

“ By what right,” says Casau“did a Jew slave of the Romans order or permit, that all those who believed in Jesus should sell their inheritance, and lay down the price paid for it at his feet?" If an anbaptist at London was to order all the money belonging to his brethren to be brought and laid at his feet, would he not be apprehended as a seditious seducer, as a thief who would certainly be hanged

cessors.

bon,

[merged small][ocr errors]

at Tyburn? Was it not abominable to kill Ananias, because, after having sold his property and delivered over the bulk of the produce to Peter, he had retained for himself and his wife a few crowns for any case of necessity, without mentioning it? Scarcely, moreover, has Ananias expired, before his wife arrives. Peter, instead of warning her charitably that he had just destroyed her husband by apoplexy for having kept back a few oboli, and cautioning her therefore to look well to herself, leads her as it were intentionally into the snare. He asks her if her husband has given all his money to the saints ; the poor woman replies in the affirmative, and dies instantly. This is certainly rather severe.

Corringius asks, why Peter, who thus killed the persons that had given him alms and showed him kindness, did not rather go and destroy all the learned doctors who had brought Jesus Christ to the cross, and who more than once brought a scourging on himself? “ Oh Peter!" says Corringius, “ you put to death two christians who bestowed alms on you, and at the same time suffer those to live who crucified your God!"

In the reigns of Henry IV. and Louis XIII. we had an advocate-general of the parliament of Provence, a man of quality, called d'Oraison de Torame, who, in a book respecting the church militant, dedicated to Henry IV., has appropriated a whole chapter to the sentences pronounced by St. Peter in criminal causes, He says, that the sentence pronounced by Peter on Ananias and Sapphira was executed by God himself, “ in the very terms and forms of spiritual jurisdiction.” His whole book is in the same strain ; but Corringius, as we perceive, is of a different opinion from that of our sagacious and liberal provincial advocate. It is pretty evident, that Corringius was not in the country of the inquisition when he published his bold remarks.

Erasmus, in relation to St. Peter, remarked a some. what curious circumstance, which is, that the chief of the christian religion began his apostleship with denying Jesus Christ, and that the first pontiff of the Jews

[ocr errors]

a

commenced his ministry by making a golden calf and worshipping it.

However that may be, Peter is described as poor man instructing the poor. He resembles those founders of orders who lived in indigence, and whose successors have become great lords and even princes.

The pope, the successor of Peter, has sometimes gained and sometimes lost; but there are still about fifty millions of persons in the world submitting in many points to his laws, besides his own immediate subjects.

To obtain a master three or four hundred leagues from home; to suspend your own opinion and wait for what he puts forth as his ; not to dare to give a final decision on a cause relating to certain of our fellow citizens, but through commissioners appointed by this stranger; not to dare to take possession of certain fields and vineyards granted by our own sovereign, without paying a considerable sum to this foreign master; to violate the laws of our country, which prohibit a man's marriage with his niece, and marry her legitimately by giving this foreign master a sum still more considerable than the former one; not to dare to cultivate one's field on the day this stranger is inclined to celebrate the memory of some unknown person whom he has chosen to introduce into heaven by his own sole authority;-such are a part only of the conveniences and comforts of admitting the jurisdiction of a pope: such, if we may believe Marsais, are the liberties of the Gallican church.

There are some other nations that carry their submission further. We have, in our own time, actually known a sovereign request permission of the pope to try in his own courts certain monks accused of parricide, and able neither to obtain this permission nor to venture on such trial without it!

It is well known that formerly the power of the popes extended further. They were far above the gods of antiquity; for the latter were merely supposed to dispose of empires, but the popes disposed of them in fact.

Sturbinus says, that we may pardon those who entertain doubts of the divinity and infallibility of the pope, when we reflect

That forty schisms have profaned the chair of St. Peter, twenty-seven of which have been marked by blood

That Stephen VII., the son of a priest, disinterred the corpse of Formosus his predecessor, and had the head of it cut off

That Sergius III., convicted of assassinations, had a son by Marozia, who inherited the popedom

That John X., the paramour of Theodora, was strangled in her bed

That John XI., son of Sergius III., was known only by his gross intemperance

That John XII. was assassinated in the apartments of his mistress

That Benedict IX. both bought and sold the pontificate

That Gregory VII. was the author of five hundred years of civil war, carried on by his successors

That finally, among so many ambitious, sanguinary, and debauched popes, there was an Alexander VI. whose name is pronounced with the same horror as those of Nero and Caligula,

It is, we are told, a proof of the divinity of their character, that it has subsisted in connection with so many crimes; but according to this, if the caliphs had displayed still more atrocious and abominable conduct, they would have been still more divine. This argument, inferring their divinity from their wickedness, is urged by Dermius. He has been properly answered; but the best reply is to be found in the mitigated authority which the bishops of Rome at present exercise with discretion; in the long possession which the emperors permit them to enjoy, because in fact they are unable to deprive them of it; and in the system of the balance of power, which is watched with jealousy by every court in Europe.

It has been contended, and very lately, that there are only two nations which could invade Italy and

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »