Imatges de pÓgina

wretch, immediately after the fatal scene had closed, would go and boast to his devotees that he had just been converting a duke and peer, who, without his protection, would have been inevitably damned.

The dying man might say-By what right, you college excrement, do you intrude yourself on me in my dying moments? Was I ever seen to go to your cells when any of you had the fistula or gangrene, and were about to return your gross and unwieldy bodies to the earth? Has God granted your soul any rights over mine? Do I require a preceptor at the age of seventy ? Do you carry the keys of paradise at your girdle? You dare to call yourself an ambassador of God; show me your patent; and if have you let me die in peace. No Benedictine, Chartreux, or Premonstrant, comes to disturb my dying moments; they have no wish to erect a trophy to their pride upon the bed of our last agony; they remain peacefully in their cells; do you rest quietly in yours; there can be nothing in common between you and me.


A comic circumstance occurred on a truly mournful occasion, when an English jesuit, of the name of Routh, eagerly strove to possess himself of the last hour of the great Montesquieu. "He came," he said, "to bring back that virtuous soul to religion;" as if Montesquieu had not known what religion was better than a Routh; as if it had been the will of God that Montesquieu should think like a Routh! He was driven out of the chamber, and went all over Paris, exclaiming, "I have converted that celebrated man; I prevailed upon him to throw his Persian Letters and his Spirit of Laws into the fire." Care was taken to print the narrative of the conversion of president Montesquieu by the reverend father Routh, in the libel intitled the " Anti-philosophic Dictionary."*


Another subject of pride and ambition with the jesuits was making missions to various cities, just as if they

* We have already observed, that no one ventured to drive him away; he attended at the instant of the death of Montesquieu to steal his papers: in this he was prevented; but he took his revenge on the wine, and was at last carried away dead drunk to his convent.-French Ed.

[ocr errors]

had been among Indians or Japanese. They would oblige the whole magistracy to attend them in the streets; a cross was borne before them and planted in the principal public places; they dispossessed the resident clergy; they became complete masters of the city.* A jesuit of the name of Aubert performed one of these missions to Colmar, and compelled the advocate-general of the sovereign council to burn at his feet his copy of "Bayle," which had cost him no less than fifty crowns. For my own part, I acknowledge that I would rather have burned brother Aubert himself. Judge how the pride of this Aubert must have swelled with this sacrifice as he boasted of it to his comrades at night, and as he exultingly wrote the account of it to his general.

O monks, monks! be modest, as I have already advised you; be moderate, if you wish to avoid the calamities impending over you.



You order me to draw you a faithful picture of the spirit of the Jews, and of their history, and-without entering into the ineffable ways of Providence, which are not our ways—you seek in the manners of this people the source of the events which that Providence prepared.

It is certain that the Jewish nation is the most singular that the world has ever seen; and although, in a political view, the most contemptible of all, yet in the eyes of a philosopher it is, on various accounts, worthy consideration.

The Guebres, the Banians, and the Jews, are the only nations which exist dispersed, having no alliance with any people, are perpetuated among foreign nations, and continue apart from the rest of the world.

The Guebres were once infinitely more considerable than the Jews, for they are castes of the Persians, who

* A Home Missionary Society.-T.

had the Jews under their dominion; but they are now scattered over but one part of the east.


The Banians, who are descended from the ancient people amongst whom Pythagoras acquired his philo. sophy, exist only in India and Persia; but the Jews are dispersed over the whole face of the earth, and if they were assembled, would compose a nation much more numerous than it ever was in the short time that they were masters of Palestine. Almost every people who have written the history of their origin, have chosen to set it off by prodigies; with them all has been miracle; their oracles have predicted nothing but conquest; and such of them as have really become conquerors have had no difficulty in believing these ancient oracles which were verified by the event. Jews are distinguished among the nations by thisthat their oracles are the only true ones, of which we are not permitted to doubt. These oracles, which they understand only in the literal sense, have a hundred times foretold to them, that they should be masters of the whole world; yet they have never possessed anything more than a small corner of land, and that only for a small number of years, and they have not now so much as a village of their own. They must then believe, and they do believe, that their predictions will one day be fulfilled, and that they shall have the empire of the earth.

Among the mussulmans and the christians, they are the lowest of all nations, but they think themselves. the highest. This pride in their abasement is justified by an unanswerable reason-viz. that they are in reality the fathers of both christians and mussulmans. The christian and the mussulman religion acknowledge the Jewish as their parent; and by a singular contradiction, they at once hold this parent in reverence and in abhorrence.

It were foreign to our present purpose to repeat, that continued succession of prodigies which astonishes the imagination and exercises the faith. We have here to do only with events purely historical, wholly apart from the divine concurrence and the miracles

which God, for so long a time, vouchsafed to work in this people's favour.

First, we find in Egypt a family of seventy persons producing, at the end of two hundred and fifteen years, a nation counting six hundred thousand fighting men; which makes, with the women, the children, and the old men, upwards of two millions of souls. There is no example upon earth of so prodigious an increase of population: this people, having come out of Egypt, staid forty years in the desarts of Stony Arabia, and in that frightful country the people much diminished.

What remained of this nation advanced a little northward in those deserts. It appears that they had the same principles which the tribes of Stony and Desart Arabia have since had, of butchering without mercy the inhabitants of little towns over whom they had the advantage, and reserving only the young women. The interests of population have ever been the principal object of both. We find, that when the Arabs had conquered Spain, they imposed tributes of marriageable girls; and at this day the Arabs of the desert make no treaty without stipulating for some girls and a few presents.

The Jews arrived in a sandy, mountainous country, where there were a few towns, inhabited by a little people called the Midianites. In one Midianite camp alone, they took six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, seventy-two thousand oxen, sixty-one thousand asses, and thirty-two thousand virgins. All the men, all the wives, and all the male children, were massacred: the girls and the booty were divided between the people and the sacrificers.

They then took, in the same country, the town of Jericho; but having devoted the inhabitants of that place to the anathema, they massacred them all, including the virgins, pardoning none but Rahab a courtezan, who had aided them in surprising the town.

The learned have agitated the question, whether the Jews, like so many other nations, really sacrificed men to the Divinity. This is a dispute on words: those

whom the people consecrated to the anathema, were not put to death on an altar, with religious rites; but they were not the less immolated, without its being permitted to pardon any one of them. Leviticus (chap. xxvii. 29.) expressly forbids the redeeming of those who shall have been devoted. Its words are, "They shall surely be put to death." By virtue of this law it was, that Jephtha devoted and killed his daughter, that Saul would have killed his son, and that the prophet Samuel cut in pieces king Agag, Saul's prisoner. It is quite certain that God is the master of the lives of men, and that it is not for us to examine his laws: we ought to limit ourselves to believing these things, and reverencing in silence the designs of God, who permitted them.

It is also asked, what right had strangers like the Jews to the land of Canaan? The answer is, that they had what God gave them.

No sooner had they taken Jericho and Laïs, than they had a civil war among themselves, in which the tribe of Benjamin was almost wholly exterminated, men, women, and children, leaving only six hundred males. The people, unwilling that one of the tribes should be annihilated, bethought themselves of sacking a whole city of the tribe of Manasseh, killing all the men, old and young, all the children, all the married women, all the widows, and taking six hundred virgins, whom they gave to the six hundred survivors of the tribe of Benjamin, to restore that tribe, in order that the number of their twelve tribes might still be complete,

Meanwhile, the Phenicians, a powerful people settled in the coasts from time immemorial, being alarmed at the depredations and cruelties of these new comers, frequently chastised them; the neighbouring princes united against them; and they were seven times reduced to slavery, for more than two hundred years.

At last, they made themselves a king, whom they elected by lot. This king could not be very mighty; for in the first battle which the Jews fought under him, against their masters the Philistines, they had, in the

« AnteriorContinua »