« AnteriorContinuar »
Faith is not inspired by the edge of the sword. (Cerefier in the Reigns of Henry IV. and Lewis XIII.)
It is a barbarous zeal which pretends to force any religion upon the mind, as if perfuafion could be produced by constraint. (Boulainvillier's State of France.) :
It is with religion as with love; command can do nothing, constraint still less ; nothing is so independent as love and belief. Amelot de la Houfaie on Cardinal Ofatt's Letters.)
If providence has been so kind to you as to give you a knowledge of the truth, receive it as an instance of his great goodness; but should those who enjoy the inheritance of their father, hate those who do not ? (Spirit of Laws, book xxv.)
One might compose an immense volume of fuch passages. All our histories, di'courses, fermons, moral treatises, and catechisms of the present time, abound with, and inculcate this hely doctrine of indulgence. What fatality, what falfe reason, then leads us to contradict, by our practice, the theory we are every day
teaching? When our actions give the lie to our morals, it must certainly proceed from our thinking it our interest to practise the contrary of what we teach ; but what advantage can arise from persecuting those who do not think in the fame manner as we do, and thereby making ourfelves hated by them? Once more then, let me repeat it, there is the highest abfurdity in persea cution. It may be replied, that those who found it their interest to lay a restraint upon the consciences of others, are not abfurd in so doing. To such men I address the following chapter,
CH A P.
A CONVERSATION between a DYING MAN,
and one in good health.
N inhabitant of a country village, lying at
the point of death, was visited by a person in good health, who came to insult him in his laft moments with the following speech.
Wretch that thou art ! think as I do this inftant, sign this writing immediately, confess that five propositions are to be found in a book that neither thou nor I have ever read; adopt immediately the opinion of Lanfranc against Berengarius, and of St. Thomas against St. Bonaventure; join with the council of Nice against the council of Frankfort ; and explain to me out of hand, how the words, “ My father is greater than “ me,” signify exactly,“ I am as great as him.” Tell also in what manner the father communicates all his attributes to the son, excepting the fatherhood ; or I will have have thy body thrown to the fowls of the air, thy children deprived of their inheritance, thy wife of her dowry, and thy family turned out to beg
their bread, which shall be refused them by those who are like myself.
I fcarce understand what you say; your threats strike my ears confusedly, they trouble my mind, and render my last moments terrifying. In the name of God have pity on me!
Pity! I can have none for thee, unless thou art exactly of my opinion,
Alas! you must be sensible that in these my last moments, my senses are all impaired, the doors of my understanding are fhut, my ideas are loft in confusion, and I have hardly any sentiments remaining. Am I then in in a condition to dispute ?
Well then, if thou can'st not believe as I would have thee, only say that you do, and that will content me.
How! would you have me perjure myself, to please you, when I am going in an instant to appear before the judgment-seat of that God who is the avenger of perjury ?
No matter; thou wilt have the pleasure to be interred in holy ground, and thy wife and children will have wherewithal to maintain them after thy death. Die an hypocrite: hypocrisy is a very good thing ; I have heard fay, it is the homage which vice pays to virtue. A litile hypocrisy, friend, can't cost you much?
Surely, you must either not acknowledge a God, or hold him very cheap, fince you require me to tell a lie with my last breath, when you yourself must soon appear in judgment before him, and answer for that lie.