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Hypolitus the son of Theseus. But a punishment of this kind was not known among the ancient Romans; and this fabulous story took its rise wholly from the fimilitude of names.
And here we may make one observationy, that in the multitude of martyrologies, compofa ed wholly by the Christians themfelves, we al. most always read of a great number of them coming of their own accord into the prison of their condemned brother, following him to execution, saving the blood as is flows from him, doing the sepulchral rites to his dead body, and performing miracles with his relics. Now, if the persecution was levelled only at the religion, would not the authors of it have destroyed those who thus openly declared themselves. Christians, administered comfort and allistance to their brethren under sentence, and were, moreover, charged with working enchantments with their inanimate remains? would they not. have treated them as we have treated several different sects of proteftans, whom we have butchered and burnt by hundreds, without distinction of age or sex? Is there amongst all the authenticated accounts of the antient per secutions a fingle instance like that of St. Bartholomew, and the massacre in Ireland? Is
there one that comes near to the annual festival, which is still celebrated at Toulouse, and which for its cruelty, deserves to be for ever abolished, where a whole city goes in pro. cefsion to return thanks to God, and felicitate each other, for having, two hundred years ago, massacred upwards of four thousand of their fellow subjects ?
With horror I fay it, but it is an undoubted truth, that we, who call ourselves Christians, have been persecutors, executioners, and asfafsins! And of whom? Of our own brethren : it is we who have razed an hundred towns to their foundations with the crucifix or bible in our hands, and who have continually perfevered in shedding torrents of blood, and lighting the fires of persecution, from the reign of Constantine to the time of the religious borrors of the canibals who inhabited the Cevennes; horrors. which, praised be God, no longer exist.
Indeed we ftill see at times some miserable wretches of the more distant provinces sent to the gallows on account of religion : since the year 1745, eight persons have been hanged of those called predicants or ministers of the gospel, whose only crime was that of having
prayed prayed to God for their king in bad French; and giving a drop of wine, and a morsel of leavened bread, to a few ignorant peasants. Nothing of all this is known at Paris, where pleasure engrosses the whole attention, and where they are ignorant of every thing that passes, not only in foreign kingdoms, but even in the more diftant parts of their own. The trials in these cases frequently take up less time than is used to condemn a deserter. The king wants only to be informed of this, and he would certainly extend his mercy on such occasions.
We do not find that the Roman Catholic piiets are treated in this manner in any protestant country: there are above a hundred of them, both in England and Ireland, publickly known to be such, and who have yet been suffered to live peaceable and unmolested, even during the last war.
Shall we then always be the last to adopt the wholesome sentiments of other nations ? They have corrected their errors, when shall we correct ours? It has required fixty years to make us receive the demonstrations of the great Newton: we have but just begun to dare to save the
massacred a great number of Hugonots, and the Hugonots in their turn have murdered a grcat number of Catholics, therefore there is no God; that certain bad men have made use of confeffion, the holy communion, and all the other facraments, as a means for perpetrating the most atrocious crimes, and therefore there is no God. For my part, I, on the contrary, fhould conclude from hence, that there is a God, who after this tranfitory life, in which we have wandered so far from the true knowledge of him, and have seen so many crimes committed under the sanation of his holy name, will at length deign to comfort us for the many dreadful calamities we have suffered in this life; for if we consider the many religious wars, and the forty papal schisms, which have almost all of them been bloody ; if we reflect upon the multitude of impostures, which have almost all proved fatal; the irreconcileable animofities excited by differences in opinions, and the numberless evils occafioned by false zeal; I cannot but believe that men have for a long time had their hell in this world.
All those falfe miracles by which you
shake the credit due to real ones, the numberless absurd legends with which you clog the truths of the gospel, serve only to extinguish the pure Aanse of religion in our hearts. There are too many persons, who desirous of being instructed, but who have not the time for acquiring instruction, say the teachers of my religion have deceived me, therefore there is no religion : it is better to throw myself into the arms of nature than those of error; and I had rather place my dependance on her law than in the inventions of men. Others again unhappily go still greater lengths: they perceive that imposture has put a bridle in their mouths, and therefore will not submit even to the neceffary curb of truth : they incline towards atheism, and run into depravity, because others have been impostors and persecutors.
Such are undeniably the consequences of pious frauds and superstitious fopperies. Mankind in general reafon but by halves : it is certainly a very vicious way of arguing to say, that because the golden legend of Voraginus, and the Flower of Saints of the jesuit Ribadeneira, abound in nothing but absurdities, therefore there is no God: that the Catholics have