תמונות בעמוד
PDF

reproach on the names and memories of Toland, cast, rvin, Collins, Tindal, and Woolston, a man of an inauspi- ~" cious genius, who made the most audacious though senseless attempts to invalidate the miracles of Christ. Add to these Morgan, Chubb, Mandeville, and others. And writers of the same class will be soon found in all the countries of Europe, particularly in those where the Reformation has introduced a spirit of liberty, if mercenary booksellers are still allowed to publish, without distinction or reserve, every wretched production that is addressed to the passions of men, and designed to obliterate in their minds a sense of religion and virtue. VI. The sect of Atheists, by which, in strictness too. of speech, those only are to be meant who deny the “” existence and moral government of an infinitely wise and powerful Being, by whom all things subsist, is reduced to a very small number, and may be considered as almost totally extinct. Any who yet remain under the influence of this unaccountable delusion, adopt the system of Spinosa, and suppose the universe to be one vast substance, which excites and produces a great variety of motions, all uncontrollably necessary, by a sort of internal force, which they carefully avoid defining with perspicuity and precision. The Deists, under which general denomination those are comprehended who deny the divine origin of the Gospel in particular, and are enemies to all revealed religion, form a motley tribe, which, on account of their jarring opinions, may be divided into different classes. The most decent, or to use a more proper expression, the least extravagant and insipid form of Deism, is that which aims at an association between Christianity and natural religion, and repre

unchangeable excellence and obligations of virtue and morality. Dr. Mosheim is more especially in an error, when he places Collins, Tindal, Morgan, and Chubb, in the list of those who called in question the perfections of the Deity and the obligations of virtue: it was sufficient to put Mandeville, Woolston, and Toland, in this infamous class.

cont. xviii. sents the Gospel as no more than a republication of To the original laws of nature and reason, that were more or less obliterated in the minds of men. This is the hypothesis of Tindal, Chubb, Mandeville, Morgan, and several others, if we are to give credit to their own declarations, which, indeed, ought not always to be done without caution. This also appears to have been the sentiment of an ingenious writer, whose eloquence has been ill employed in a book, entitled, Essential Religion distinguished from that which is only Accessory "; for the whole religious system of this author consists in the three following points:—That there is a God, that the world is governed by his wise providence, and that the soul is immortal; and he maintains, that it was to establish these three points by his ministry, that Jesus Christ came into the world. *** VII. The church of Rome has been governed, ... on sincethecommencementofthiscentury, by Clement XI. tiffs. Innocent XIII. Benedict XIII. Clement XII. and Benedict XIV. who may be all considered as men of eminent wisdom, virtue, and learning, if we compare them with the pontiffs of the preceding ages. Clement XI. and Prosper Lambertini, who at present fills the papal chair under the title of Benedict XIV.“, stand much higher in the list of literary fame than the other pontiffs now mentioned; and Benedict XIII. surpassed them all in piety, or at least in its appearance, which, in the whole of his conduct, was extraordinary and striking. It was he that conceived the laudable design of reforming many disorders in the

(or " The original title of this book (which is supposed to have been written by one Muralt, a Swiss, author of the Lettres sur les Anglois et sur les François,) is as follows: “Lettressur la * Religion essentielle à l’Homme, distinguée de ce qui m'en est * que l'accessoire.” There have been several excellent refutations of this book published on the continent; among which the Lettres sur les vrais Principes de la Religion, composed by the late learned and ingenious M. Bouiller, deserve particular notice. d # This history was published before the death of Beneict XIV.

church, and restraining the corruption and licen-cast ovul. tiousness of the clergy; and for this purpose, in 1725, he held a council in the palace of the Lateran, whose acts and decrees have been made public. But the event did not answer his expectations; nor is it probable that Benedict XIV. who is attempting the execution of the same worthy purpose, though by different means, will meet with better success. We must not omit observing here, that the modern bishops of Rome make but an indifferent figure in Europe, and exhibit little more than an empty shadow of the authority of the ancient pontiffs. Their prerogatives are diminished, and their power is restrained within very narrow bounds. The sovereign princes and states of Europe, who embrace their communion, no longer tremble at the thunder of the Vatican, but treat their anathemas with contempt. They, indeed, load the holy father with pompous titles, and treat him with all the external marks of veneration and respect; yet they have given a mortal blow to his authority, by the prudent and artful distinction they make between the court of Rome and the Roman pontiff; for, under the cover of this distinction, they buffet him with one hand, and stroke him with the other; and, under the most respectful profession of attachment to his person, oppose the measures, and diminish still more, from day to day, the authority of his court. A variety of modern transactions might be alleged in confirmation of this, and more especially the debates that have arisen in, this century, between the court of Rome and those of France, Portugal, Naples, and Sardinia, in all of which that ghostly court has been obliged to yield, and to discover its insignificancy and weakness. VIII. There have been no serious attempts made All prospect in recent times to bring about a reconciliation between;..." the Protestant and Romish churches; for, notwith-tween the standing the pacific projects formed by private per-. sons with a view to this union, it is justly consi-oo:

dered as an impracticable scheme. The difficulties.

cent.<vmi, that attend its execution were greatly augmented by
* the bull Unigenitus, which deprived the peace-makers
of the principal expedient they employed for the
accomplishment of this union, by putting it out of
their power to soften and mitigate the doctrines of
popery, that appeared the most shocking to the friends
of the Reformation. This expedient had been fre-
quently practised in former times, in order to remove
the disgust that the Protestants had conceived against
the church of Rome; but that edict put an end to
all these modifications, and, in most of those points
that had occasioned our separation from Rome,
represented the doctrine of that church in the very
same shocking light in which it had been viewed by
the first reformers. This shews, with the utmost
evidence, that all the attempts the Romish doctors
have made, from time to time, to give an air of
plausibility to their tenets, and render them palata-
ble, were so many snares insidiously laid to draw the
Protestants into their communion; that the specious
conditions they proposed as the terms of a reconcilia-
tion, were perfidious stratagems; and that, conse-
quently, there can be no firm dependence upon the
promises and declarations of such a disingenuous set
of men.
Intestine di- IX. The intestine discords, tumults, and divisions,
i.e. that reigned in the Romish church, during the pre-
church, ceding century, were so far from being terminated in
this, that new fuel was added to the flame. These
divisions still subsist; and the animosities of the con-
tending parties seem to grow more vehement from
day to day. The Jesuits are at variance with the
Dominicans, and some other religious orders, though
these quarrels make little noise, and are carried on
with some regard to decency and prudence; the
Dominicans are on bad terms with the Franciscans;
the controversy concerning the nature, lawfulness,
and expediency of the Chinese ceremonies, still con-
tinues, at least in Europe; and were we to mention
... all the debates that divide the Romish church, which

[ocr errors]

boasts so much of its unity and infallibility, the cenr. oviii. enumeration would be almost endless. The contro- ~ *T

versy relating to Jansenism, one of the principal sources of that division which reigned within the . . . . . papal jurisdiction, has been carried on with great spirit and animosity in France and in the Nether- . . . lands. The Jansenists, or, as they rather choose to be called, the disciples of Augustin, are inferior to their adversaries the Jesuits, in number, power, and influence; but they equal them in resolution, prudence, and learning, and surpass them in sanctity of manners and superstition, by which they excite the respect of the people. When their affairs take an unfavorable turn, and they are oppressed and persecuted by their victorious enemies, they find an asylum in the Low-Countries; for the greatest part of the catholics in the Spanish Netherlands, and all the Romanists who live under the jurisdiction of the United Provinces, embrace the principles and doctrines of Jansenius f. The latter have almost renounced their allegiance to the pope, though they profess a warm attachment to the doctrine and communion of the church of Rome; nor are either the exhortations or threats of the holy father, sufficient to subdue the obstinacy of these wayward children,

[ocr errors]

sor." This assertion is too general. It is true, that the greatest part of the catholics in the United Provinces are Jansenists, and that there is no legal toleration of the Jesuits in that republic. It is, nevertheless, a known fact, and a fact that cannot be indifferent to those who have the welfare and security of these provinces at heart, that the Jesuits are daily gaining ground among the Dutch papists. They have a flourishing chapel in the city of Utrecht, and have places of worship in several other cities, and in a great number of villages. It would be worthy of the wisdom of the rulers of the republic to put a stop to this growing evil, and not to suffer, in a protestant country, a religious order which has been suppressed in a popish one, and declared hostile to the state *. -

* This note is left for the purpose of shewing the state of affairs, at the time when Dr. Maclaine inserted it; but its purport is superseded by the effects of the French revolution. EDIT,

« הקודםהמשך »