« AnteriorContinua »
There is not a single miracle which is not with him an object of scorn or horror; no prophecy which he does not compare with the prophecies of Nostradamus. He even goes so far as to compare Jesus Christ to Don Quixote, and St. Peter to Sancho Panza; and what is most of all to be deplored is, that he wrote these blasphemies against Jesus Christ when he might be said
to be in the very arms of death, -at a moment when the most deceitful are sincere, and the most intrepid tremble. Too strongly impressed by some injuries that had been done him by his superiors in authority; too deeply affected by the great difficulties which he met with in the scripture, he became exasperated against it more than Acosta and all the Jews, more than Porphyry, Celsus, lamblichus, Julian, Libanius, Maximus, Simmachus, or any other whatever of the partisans of human reason against the divine incomprehensibilities of our religion. Many abridgments of his work have been printed; but happily the persons in authority suppressed them as fast as they appeared.
A priest of Bonne-Nouvelle, near Paris, wrote also on the same subject; and it thus happened that, at the very time the abbé Becheran and the rest of the convulsionaries were performing miracles, three priests were writing against the genuine gospel miracles.
The most clever work that has been written against the miracles and prophecies, is that of my lord Bolingbroke.* But happily it is so voluminous, so destitute of method, so verbose, and so abounding in long and sometimes complicated sentences, that it requires a great deal of patience to read him.
There have been some minds so constituted, that they have been enchanted by the miracles of Moses and Joshua, but have not entertained for those of Jesus Christ the respect to which they are entitled. Their imagination,-raised by the grand spectacle of the sea opening a passage through its depths, and suspending its waves that a horde of Hebrews might safely go through—by the ten plagues of Egypt, and by
• In six volumes.
the stars that stopped in their course over Gibeon and Ajalon, &c.--could not with ease and satisfaction be let down again, so as to admire the comparatively petty miracles of the water changed into wine, the withered fig-tree, and the swine drowned in the little lake at Gadara.
Vaghenseil said that it was like hearing a rustic ditty after attending to a grand concert.
The Talmud pretends that there have been many christians who, after comparing the miracles of the old Testament with those of the New, embraced Judaism; they considered it impossible that the Sovereign Lord of Nature should have wrought such stupendous prodigies for a religion he intended to annihilate. What! they exclaimed, can it possibly be, that for a series of ages he should have exhibited a train of astonishing and tremendous miracles in favour of a true religion that was to become a false one? What! can it be, that God himself has recorded that this religion shalí never perish, and that those who attempt to destroy it shall be stoned to death, and yet that he has nevertheless sent his own Son, who is no other than himself, to annihilate what he was employed so many ages in erecting!
There is much more to be added to these remarks ; this Son, they continue, this Eternal God, having made himself a Jew, adheres to the Jewish religion during the whole of his life; he performs all the functions of it, he frequents the Jewish temple, he announces nothing contrary to the Jewish law, and all his disciples are Jews and observe the Jewish ceremonies. It most certainly is not he who established the christian religion. It was established by the dissident Jews who united with the Platonists. There is not a single dogma of christianity that was preached by Jesus Christ.
Such is the reasoning of these rash men, who, with minds at once hypocritical and audacious, dare to criticise the works of God, and admit the miracles of the Old Testament for the sole purpose of rejecting those of the New
s. Of this number was the unfortunate priest of Pontà-Mousson in Lorraine, called Nicholas Anthony; he was known by no other name. After he had received what is called the four minors' in Lorraine, the Cale vinistic preacher Ferri, happening to go to Pont-àMousson, raised in his mind very serious scruples, and persuaded him that the four minors were the mark of the beast. "Anthony, driven almost to distraction at the thought of carrying about him the mark of the béast, had it immediately effaced by Ferri, embraced the protestant religion, and became a minister at Geneva about the
year 1630. With a head full of rabbinical learning, he thought 'that if the protestants were right in reference to the papists, the Jews were much more so. i reference to all the different sects of christianity whatever. From the village of Divonne, where he was pastor, he went to be received as a Jew at Venice, together with a young apprentice in theology whom he had persuaded to adopt his own principles, but who afterwards abandoned him, not experiencing any call to martyrdom.
At first the minister, Nicholas Anthony, abstained from uttering the name of Jesus Christ in his sermons and prayers; in a short time however, becoming animated and emboldened by the example of the Jewish saints, who confidently professed judaism before the princes of Tyre and Babylon, he travelled bare-footed to Geneva, to confess before the judges and magistrates that there is only one religion upon earth, because there is only one God; that that religion is the Jewish; that it is absolutely necessary to become circumcised; and that it is a horrible crime to eat bacon and blood pudding. He pathetically exhorted all the people of Geneva, who crowded to hear him, no longer to continue children of Belial, but to become good Jews, in order to deserve the kingdom of heaven. He was apprehended, and put in chains.
The little council of Geneva, which at that period did nothing without consulting the council of preachers, asked their advice in this emergency. The most sensible of them recommended that poor Anthony should be bled in the cephalic vein, use the bath, and be kept upon gruel and broths; after which he might perhaps gradually be induced to pronounce the name of Jesus Christ, or at least to hear it pronounced, without grind ing his teeth, as had hitherto been his practice. They added, that the laws bore with Jews; that there were eight thousand of them even in Rome itself; that many merchants are true Jews, and therefore that as Rome admitted within its walls eight thousand children of the synagogue, Geneva might well tolerate one. At the sound of toleration' the rest of the pastors, who were the majority, gnashing their teeth still more than Anthony did at the name of Jesus Christ, and also eager to find an opportunity to burn a man, which could not be done every day, called peremptorily for the burning. They resolved, that nothing could serve more to establish genuine christianity; that the Spaniards had obtained so much reputation in the world only by burning the Jews every year, and that after all, if the Old Testament must prevail over the New, God would not fail to come and extinguish the flames of the pile, as he did at Babylon for Sharach, Meshac, and Abednego; in which case all must go back again to the Old Testament; but that, in the mean time, it was it was indispensible to burn Nicholas Anthony. On the breaking up of the meeting, they concluded with the observation,.“ We must put the wicked out of the way:"--the very words they used.
The long-headed syndics Sarasin and Godefroi agreed that the reasoning of the calvinistic sanhedrim was admirable, and by the right of the strongest party, condemned Nicholas Anthony, the weakest of men to die the same death as Calanus and the counsellor Dubourg. This sentence was carried into execution on the twentieth of April, in 1632, in a very beautiful fawn or meadow, called Plain-Palais, in the presence of twenty thousand persons, who blessed the new law, and the wonderful sense of the syndics Sarasin and Godefroi. The God of Abraham, Isaac; and Jacob, did not
renew the miracle of the furnace of Babylon in favour of poor Anthony.
Abauzit, an author of great veracity, relates in his notés, that he died in the greatest constancy,
persisted in his opinions even at the stake on the pile : he broke out into no passionate invective against his judges when the executioner was tying him to the stake; he displayed neither pride nor pusillanimity; he neither wept nor sighed : he was resigned. Never did martyr consummate his sacrifice with a more lively faith ; never did philosopher contemplate a death of horror with greater firmness. This clearly proves that his folly or madness, was at all events attended with sincere conviction. Let
us implore of the God both of the Old and New Testament that he will grant him mercy.
I would say as much for the jesuit Malagrida, who was still more infatuated and mad than Nicholas Anthony; as I would also for the ex-jesuits Patouillet and Pauliau, should they ever be brought to the stake.
A great number of writers, whose misfortune it was to be philosophers rather than christians, have been bold enough to deny the miracles of our Lord; but after the four priests already noticed, there is no necessity to enumerate other instances. Let us lament over these four unfortunate men, led astray by their own deceitful reason, and precipitated by the gloom of their feelings into an abyss so dreadful and so fatal.
It is far from our object in this artiele to reflect upon the zeal of our missionaries, or the truth of our religion; these are sufficiently known in christian Europe, and duly respected.
My object is merely to make some remarks on the yery curious and edifying letters of the reverend fathers, the jesuits, who are not equally respectable. Scarcely do they arrive in India before they commence preaching, conyert millions of Indians, and perform