תמונות בעמוד

no method unemployed that could contribute to stop its progress; and, by the force of promises and threatenings, of severity and mildness properly applied, stifled in the birth the commotions and changes it seemed adapted to excite. The death of Molinos contributed also to dispel the anxiety of the Romish doctors, since his disciples and followers seemed too inconsiderable to deserve any notice. Among these are generally reckoned cardinal Pe. trucci, Francis de La Combe, a Barnabite friar, the spiritual director of madame Guyon, who shall be mentioned more particularly, Francis Malavalle, Berniere de Louvigni, and others of less note. These enthusiasts, as is common among the mystics, differ from Molinos in several points, and are also divided among themselves; this diversity is however rather nominal than real; and, if we consider the true signification of the terms by which they express their respective notions, we shall find that they all set out from the same principles, and tend to the same conclusions." LI. One of the principal patrons and propagators of quise of etism in France was Marie Bouvieres de la Mothe My Guyon, a woman of fashion, remarkable for the

goodness of her heart and the regularity of her manners, but of an inconstant and unsettled temper, and subject to be drawn away by the seduction of a warm and unbridled fancy. This female apostle of mysticism derived all her ideas of religion from the feelings of her own heart, and described its nature to others according as she felt it herself; a manner of proceeding of all others the most uncertain and delusive. And accordingly, her religious sentiments made a great noise in the year 1687, and gave offence to many. Hence, after they had been accurately and attentively examined by several men of eminent piety and learning, they were at length pronounced

madame Guyon and Fenelon.

n The writings of these fanatics are enumerated and sharply criticised by Colonia, in the Bibliotheque Quietiste, which he has subjoined to bis Bibliotheque Janseniste, p. 455– 488. See also God. Arnoldi Historia et Descriptio Theologiæ Mysticæ, p. 364, and Poiret's Bibliotheca Mysticorum, published at Amsterdam, in 8vo. in 1708.

o Madame Guyon wrote her own life and spiritual adventures in French, and pub lished them in the year 1720. Her writings, which abound with childish allegories and mystic ejaculations, have been translated into German. Her principal production was • La Bible de Mad. Guyon, avec des applications et reflections qui regardent la vie interieure.' This Bible, with Annotations relating to the hidden or internal life, was published in the year 1715, at Amsterdam, under the name of Cologn, in twenty volumes in 8vo. which abundantly discover the fertile imagination and shallow judgment of this female mystić. See a further account of her in the Letters of Mad. de Maintenon, tom, i. p. 249, tom. ii. p. 45, 47, 49, 51.

erroneous and unsound, and, in the year 1697, were professedly confuted by the celebrated Bossuet. This gave rise to a controversy of still greater moment, between the prelate last mentioned and Francis Salignac de Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray, whose sublime virtue and superior genius were beheld with veneration in all the countries of Europe. Of these two disputants, who, in point of eloquence, were ayowedly without either superiors or equals in France, the latter seemed disposed to favour the religious system of madame Guyon. For when Bossuet desired his approbation of the book he had composed, in answer to the sentiments of that female mystic, Fenelon not only refused it, but openly declared that this pious woman had been treated with great partiality and injustice, and that the censures of her adversary were unmerited and groundless. Nor did the warm imagination of this amiable prelate permit him to stop here, where the dictates of prudence ought to have set bounds to his zeal; for, in the year 1697, he published a book, in which he adopted several of the tenets of madame Guyon, and more especially that favourite doctrine of the mystics, which teaches, that the love of the Supreme Being must be pure and dis- / interested ; that is, exempt from all views of interest and all hope of reward. This doctrine Fenelon explained with a pathetic eloquence, and confirmed it by the authority of many of the most eminent and pious among the Romish doctors. Bossuet, whose leading passion was ambition, and who beheld with anxiety the rising fame and emi-. nent talents of Fenelon as an obstacle to his glory, was highly exasperated by this opposition, and left no method unemployed which artifice and jealousy could suggest, to mortify a rival whose illustrious merit had rendered so formidable.

p This book was entitled Explication des Maxims des Saints sur la vie interieure. It has been translated into Latin.

q This doctrine of the Mystics has thus far a foundation in reason and philosophy, that the moral perfections of the Deity are, in themselves, intrinsically amiable; and that their excellence is as much adapted to excite our esteem and love, as the experience of their beneficent effects, in promoting our well being, is to inflame our gratitude. The error therefore of the Mystics lay in their drawing extravagant conclusions from a right principle, and in their requiring in their followers a perpetual abstraction and separation of ideas, which are intimately connected, and, as it were, blended together, such as felicity and perfection ; for though these two are inseparable in fact, yet the Mystics, from a fantastic pretension to disinterestedness, would separate them right or wrong, and turned their whole attention to the latter. In their views also of the Supreme Beinz, they overlooked the important relations he bears to us as benefactor and rewarder ; relations that give rise to noble sentiments and important duties, and confined their views to his supreme beauty, excellence, and perfection, VOL. III.


For this purpose, he threw himself at the feet of Louis XIV. implored the succours of the Roman pontiff, and by his importunites and stratagems, obtained, at length, the condemnation of Fenelon's book. This condemnation was pronounced in the year 1699, by Innocent XII. who, in a public brief, declared that book unsound in general, and branded with more peculiar marks of disapprobation twenty-three propositions, specified by the congregation, that had been appointed to examine it. The book however was condemned alone, without any mention of the author; and the conduct of Fenelon on this occasion was very remarkable. He declared publicly his entire acquiescence in the sentence by which his book had been condemned, and not only read that sentence to his people in the pulpit at Cambray, but exhorted them to respect and obey the papal decree. This step was differently interpreted by different persons, according to their notions of this great man, or their respective ways of thinking. Some considered it as an instance of true magnanimity, as the mark of a meek and gentle spirit, that preferred the peace of the church to every private view of interest or glory. Others, less charitable, looked upon this submissive conduct as ignoble and pusillanimous, as denoting manifestly a want of integrity, inasmuch as it supposed, that the prelate in question condemned with his lips, what in his heart he believed to be true. One thing indeed seems generally agreed on, and that is, that Fenelon persisted, to the end of his days, in the sentiments which, in obedience to the order of the pope, he retracted and condemned in a public manner. LII. Besides these controversies, which derived their im

grere. portance chiefly from the influence and reputaWhite, sfon. tion of the disputants, and thus became producBorri. tive of great tumults and divisions in the church, there were others excited by several innovators, whose new and singular opinions were followed with troubles, though of a less momentous and permanent nature. Such was the strange doctrine of Isaac la Peyrere, who, in two small treatises, published in the year 1655, maintained, that it is the origin of the Jewish nation, and not of the human race, that we find recorded in the books of Moses, and that our globe was inhabited by many nations before Adam, whom he considered as the father of the Jews. Though Peyrere was a protestant when he published this opinion, yet the doctors of the Romish church looked upon themselves as obliged to punish an error that seemed to strike at the foundation of all revealed religion ; and therefore, in the year 1656, had him seized at Brussels, and cast into prison, where, to escape the flames, he publicly renounced his erroneous system, and to make a full expiation for it, embraced the popish religion. .

La Peyrere, White, Sfondrati, and

r An ample and impartial account of this controversy has been given by Toussaint du Plessis, a Benedictine, in his Histoire de l'Eglise de Meaux, livr. v. tom. i. p. 485–523. Ramsay, in his Life of Fenelon, written in French, and published at the Hague in the year 1723, is less impartial ; but is nevertheless worthy of being consulted on this subject. See Voltaire Siecle de Louis XIV. tom. ii. p. 301. The public acts and cdicts relating to this controversy have been collected by Du Plessis Argentre, in his Collectio judiciones

NI erroribus, tom. iii. p. ii. p. 402

Thomas White, known at different times, and in different countries, by the names of Albius, Anglus, Candidus, Bianchi,' which he assumed successively, made a considerable figure about the middle of this century, in England, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands, by the number and subtilty of his philosophical productions ; but he also incurred the displeasure of many of the doctors of his communion, on account of the novelty and singularity of his opinions. He was undoubtedly a man of genius and penetration; but, being a passionate admirer of the peripatetic philosophy, he ventured to employ it in the explica. tion of some of the peculiar doctrines of the Romish church. This bold attempt led him imperceptibly out of the beaten road of popery, opened to him new views of things, and made him adopt notions that had never been heard of in the church of Rome; and hence his books were prohibited and condemned in several places, and particularly at Rome by the congregation of the index. This innovator is said to have died in England, his native country, and to have left a sect behind him that embraced his doctrine, but, in process of time, fell into oblivion."

His peculiarities however were nothing, in comparison with the romantic notions of Joseph Francis Borri, a Milanese knight, eminent for his knowledge of chymistry and physic, but who, at the same time, appears to have been

s Bayle's Dictionary at the article Peyrere. Arnoldi Histor. Eccles. et Hæret. tom. iii. p. 70. Menagiana, published by De la Monnoye, tom. ii. p. 40.

Pt All these denominations were relative to his true name, which was White. This man was a peculiar favourite of sir Kenelm Digby's, and mentions him with singular veneration in his philosophical writings. See more of this White in Wood's Athena Oxon, 2d edit. vol. ii. p. 665, and in the Biograph. Brit. article Glanvil, vol. iv. p. 2206.

u See Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Anglus. Baillet, Vie de Des Cartes, tom. ij. p. 245,

rather a madman than a heretic. The fancies broached by this man, concerning the Virgin Mary, the Holy Ghost, the erection of a new celestial kingdom, of which he himself was to be the founder, and the downfal of the Roman pontiff, are so extravagant, childish, and absurd, that no sober person can view them in any other light than as the crude reveries of a disordered brain. Beside, the conduct of this fanatic, in several places, discovered the greatest vanity and levity, attended with that spirit of imposture that is usually visible in quacks and mountebanks; and indeed, in the whole of his behaviour, he seemed destitute of sense, integrity, and prudence. The inquisitors had spread their snares for Borri, but he luckily escaped them, and wandered up and down through a great part of Europe, giving himself out for another Esculapius, and pretending to be initiated into the most profound mysteries of the chymical science. But in the year 1672, he imprudently fell into the clutches of the Roman pontiff, who pronounced against him a sentence of perpetual imprisonment."

The last innovator we shall here mention is Cælestine Sfondrati, who, having formed the design of terminating the disputes concerning predestination by new explications of that doctrine, wrote a book upon that knotty subject, which threw into combustion, in the year 1696, a considerable part of the Romish church; since it was, in some things, agreeable to none of the contending parties, and neither satisfied entirely the Jesuits nor their adversaries. Five French bishops, of great credit at the court of Rome, accused the author, notwithstanding the high rank of cardinal, to which he had been raised on account of his extensive learning, of various errors, and more especially of having departed from the sentiments and doctrine of Augustine. This accusation was brought before Innocent XII. in the year 1696, but the contest it seemed adapted to excite was nipt in the bud. The pontiff appeased, or rather put off, the French prelates, with a fair promise that he would appoint a congregation to examine the cardinal's doctrine, and then pronounce sentence accordingly; but he forgot his promise, imitated the prudent conduct of his predecessors, on like occasions, and did not venture to

w Tucre is a very interesting article in Bayle's Dictionary relating to Borri, in which all the extravagances of that wrong-headed man are curiously related. See also Amold, loc. cit. p. jii. c. xviii. p. 193.

« הקודםהמשך »