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influenced in their religious opinions by force, but that every sect is to be managed (even on the mere principles of worldly policy) with proper deference and kindness; that the objects clamoured for by the bigoted are not worth the risk of such contention as they may occasion; that men, whether right or wrong, and with or without success, will die in support of what they think the truth; and that they may often be enabled thus to die, amid the calamities and slaughter of their persecutors.

3dly. There were conferences of divines to settle religious differences, as in other countries, during and after the Reformation, and with the same ill success.

An account of one of them, where the celebrated Theodore Beza took a distinguished part, is given by De Thou. The whole relation is curious and instructive. But disputations, like these, what are they? Lambert disputed before Henry VIII. against his bishops, and was defeated. A Protestant divine was in like manner overpowered before Henry IV. in France, as would no doubt have been a Roman Catholic divine before Elizabeth in England.

Public disputations of this kind are characteristics of the age, and indicative of the natural tendencies of the human mind on these subjects; they should therefore be considered.

When indeed Henry IV. afterwards announced that he was ready to be converted, if proper arguments could be offered to him, the reasonings of the Roman Catholic divines were successful, and they demonstrated to him the doctrines of auricular confession, the invocation of saints, and the spiritual authority of the Papal see. These it seems were the points on which the scruples of the king had happened to fall. On the doctrine of transubstantiation he had no difficulty.

All history thus shows, what all theory announces, that speculative truth, particularly in religious questions, can be left with best advantage to the silent influence and ultimate decision, not of creeds and councils, but of free inquiry.

Again, there appeared in these religious wars the same want of good faith that has so often marked the conduct of the ruling sect; the same inextinguishable resentment; the same unwillingness to be satisfied, while their opponents were suffered to appear in any state, but that of total degradation and submission; and then the next lesson is this, that the whole of the history bears testimony to the impolicy of a temperament so unjust and so irreligious.

Even the massacre of St. Bartholomew extinguished not the evil which the court meant to remedy; it only made their anxieties, and perhaps even their dangers, the greater.

Thus far the religious wars of France seem to exhibit the same features and lessons of instruction that are presented by other religious wars, whatever be the ruling sect, the Roman Catholic or the Protestant; but in one respect these were distinguishable from all others that Europe has witnessed; their more than usual horrors; their singularly atrocious crimes ; in none others were all the charities and obligations of mankind so violated, and all the common principles of mercy and justice so outraged and set at nought. This seems to indicate not only the necessity of a free government to humanize men, but also that the members of the Roman Catholic communion are of all other sects the most intolerant and cruel.

The reason is, that they are more under the influence of their spiritual guides, and every sect will be found more or less intolerant and cruel, as this is more or less the case. A spiritual director, like every human being, abuses the power that is given him. The more unlimited the power, the greater the abuse; and whether it be the Bramin of the east, the Calvinistic preacher in Scotland, or the Roman Catholic priest in France and Spain, the effect proceeds from the same cause, and is proportioned to it.

The spiritual guide, in these cases, generally deceives himself, and always deceives his follower, by considering the cause in which his passions have got engaged as the cause of the Deity. And yet strange as it may seem, it appears from this very history that men may sometimes teach themselves the same identification of their own religious opinions with the cause of the Deity, by the workings of their own mind, even without the interference of any spiritual instructor.

For instance, Poltrot (Vol. iii. 394 De Thou) assassinated the first Duke of Guise. “ Poltrot had embraced,” says the historian, “ with great ardour the Protestant faith; and enraged at the success of this great Catholic leader, he resolved to destroy him. He had thrown himself on his knees to ask in prayer from the Almighty whether his design to kill the tyrant," as he called him, “was, or was not, derived from heaven. He had implored to be accordingly fortified in his resolution, or not; and he perpetrated the murder under the belief that he had been inspired to do so.” Poltrot was a Protestant, and had no spiritual director; but Smedley considers Poltrot only as a ruffian, not as a fanatic.—P. 263, vol. i., of his Religious Wars.

On a principle of this kind, and what is still more dreadful, generally with the sanction of the deliberations and reasonings of some priest or confessor, was the life of Henry III. taken away, and that of Henry IV. several times attempted.

Even the enthusiasm of Ravilliac, who at last assassinated Henry IV., though it reached insanity, was religious insanity; so careful should all religious men be never to lose sight for a moment of their moral obligations; if they once do, it is impossible to say what point of enthusiasm, or even of guilt, they may not reach.

But not only were murders of this nature committed, but a massacre (I allude to the massacre of St. Bartholomew), a massacre of every person of consequence that belonged to the inferior sect, under cover of a reconciliation, was actually both conceived, and almost entirely perpetrated; and that, by the first people of rank in France, regularly deliberating, contriving, and executing, slowly and systematically, what is not pardoned to human nature even in her wildest transports of sudden fury and brutal folly.

With all the latitude that can be imagined for civil and religious hatred, nothing but evidence totally irresistible could reconcile the mind to the belief of such an astonishing project of guilt and horror.

The entire and total separation and hatred that existed between the two religious sects must have been carried to an extent now inconceivable, or such a scheme could never have been devised, and still less executed.

Could it have been supposed possible that such a secret as this should have been so kept, that a certain portion of the whole community, an entire description of brave men, should be slaughtered in their beds and in the streets; in the

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capital and in the provinces, to the amount of seventy thousand human beings, without the slightest chance of combination or resistance against their murderers ? Yet such was the fact.

All memoirs and historians make mention of this massacre of St. Bartholomew; and each becomes worth consulting, by noticing some particulars not noticed by the rest. Davila, at other times so interesting from his minuteness, and judicious minuteness, disappoints expectation. The subject could not well be dwelt upon by any historian like him, who must have wished, at least, to think well of Catherine, with whose court he had been connected. De Thou enters more into the detail.

After the first emotions of astonishment, indignation, and horror have subsided, we may perhaps not unprofitably turn to reflect on the manner in which the perpetrators of such atrocities could reconcile them (and they did reconcile them) to their own views of religion and virtue. Men on their death-beds were known to consider the part they took in these extraordinary crimes, as meritorious with the Deity. The massacre was defended by reasonings at Rome; by an oration of the eloquent Muretus; by the sermons of divines, and the apologies of men in the highest stations; and even sanctioned by public authority at Paris.

The annals of the world do not exhibit so awful an instance (and this is the great lesson to be drawn from these enormities) of the dangerous situation in which the human mind is placed, when it once consents, on whatever account, whether of supposed religion, or imagined duty, to depart from the great and acknowledged precepts of morality. I must for ever press this point upon your remembrance—the great code of mercy and justice impressed upon the human heart by the Creator-an attention to it can alone keep you safe from the possible delusions of religious zeal.

The Protestant part of Europe at the time, and posterity ever since, have vindicated the rights of insulted reason and religion. It is some melancholy consolation to observe, that even the abominable court itself was, at first, obliged to pretend, and their apologists since, that they only anticipated a projected insurrection of the Iluguenots. Charles IX. seems never to have known health or cheerfulness again : he had pages to sing him to sleep; and he at last died, ere his youth had well passed away, lost and destroyed in body as in mind, and, if possible, an object of compassion.

It is indeed true, that Catherine, while urging on her hesitating son, could quote a passage from the sermon of the Bishop of Bitonto, to assure him that pity to a heretic was, in fact, but cruelty, and cruelty, pity! But there were governors in some of the provinces, that replied to the mandate of their sovereign, “We are good citizens, we are brave soldiers, but we are not executioners.” “ Excidat illa dies,” said the virtuous De Thou, ashamed of his countrymen,

“ Excidat illa dies ævo, ne postera credant
Secula, nos certe taceamus et obruta multâ
Nocte tegi propriæ patiamur crimina gentis.”

Mankind, from a sense of their common nature, might wish the same.

Such seem the general reflections that may occur to us while we are engaged in earlier parts of the annals of this period. But in reading the history of these civil and religious wars, you must observe, that though for some time the Roman Catholics are united with the court in opposition to the Protestants, yet at length a new scene opens, and the contest is carried on against the Protestants, by the Roman Catholics themselves, with, or without the assistance of the court. The celebrated combination, called the “ League,” makes its appearance (a combination independent of the crown); and the result is, that the throne itself is at last shaken, and the crown nearly overpowered by positive rebellion.

This League, therefore, forms an epoch in the history of these civil and religious wars, and they may be thus divided into two parts, before and after it. This last is, like the former, a portion of history that should be well studied; Davila and De Thou, particularly Davila, should be carefully read. There is also a history of the League by Maimbourg, who lived in the time of Louis XIV. He is never considered as a writer sufficiently temperate; his hatred of the Calvinists

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