Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

We have Jews at Bourdeaux, at Mentz, and in Alsace; we have Lutherans, Molinists, and Jansenists amongst us; can we not then admit protestants likewise under proper restrictions, nearly like those under which the Roman catholics are permitted in England ? The greater the number of different sects, the less danger is to be apprehended from any one in particular; they become weaker in proportion as they are more numerous, and are easily kept in subjection by those just laws which prohibit riotous. assemblies, mutual insults, and seditions, and which the legislative power will always properly support in their full vigour.

We know that there are several heads of fàmilies, who have acquired great fortunes in foreign countries, who would be glad to return to their native country. These require only the protection of the law of nature, to have their marriages to remain valid, and their children secured in the enjoyment of their present property, and the right of succeeding to the inheri tance of their fathers, together with a protection for their persons. They ask no public places of worship; they aim 'not at the posfeffion of civil employs, nor do they aspire to, dignities either in church or state ; for no Ro

man

man catholics can enjoy any of these, either in England or in any other protestant country. In this case, therefore, there is no occasion for granting great privileges, or delivering strong holds into the hands of a faction, but only to suffer a quiet set of people to breathe their native air ; to soften the rigour of some edicts, which in former times might perhaps have been necessary, but at present are no longer fo. It is not for us to direct the ministry what it has to do; it is sufficient, if we presume to plead the cause of an unfortunate and distressed people.

Many and easy are the methods to render these people useful to the state, and to prevent them from ever becoming dangerous : the wirdom of the legislature, supported by the military force, will certainly find out these methods, which other nations have employed with some much success.

It is certain, that there is still a number of enthusiasts among the lower kind of Calvinists; but, on the other hand, it is no less certain, that there is still a greater number among the lower kind of bigotted Roman catholics. The dregs of the madmen of St. Medard are pafted

D4

Over

over unnoticed in the nation, while the greatest pains is taken to exterminate the Calvinist prophets. The moft certain means to lefien the number of the mad of both forts, if any

still remain, is to leave thein entirely to the care of reason, which will infallibly enlighten the understanding in the long run, though she may be Now in her operations. Reason goes mildly to work, the perfuades with humanity, the in(pires mutual indulgence and forbearance; she ftifies the voice of discord, establishes the rule of virtue and sobriety, and disposes those to pay a ready obedience to the laws, who might start from the hand of power when exerted to enforce them. Besides, are we to hold for nothing that contempt and ridicule which enthusiasm every

where meets with in the present enlightened age, from persons of rank and education? This very contempt is the most powerful barsier that can be opposed to the extravagancies of all sectaries. Past times are as though they never had been. We should always direct our views from the point where we ourselves at prefent are, and from that to which other nations have attained.

[ocr errors]

There has been a time, in which it was thought a duty to iffue edicts against all such

who

who taught a doctrine contrary to the cathegories of Aristotle, or who opposed the abhorrence of a vacuum, quiddities, or the whole of the part of a thing. There are above an hundred volumes in Europe, containing the writings of civilians against magic, and the manner of diftinguifhing real sorcerers from pretended ones. The excommunication of grashoppers and other insects hurtful to the fruits of the earth, was formerly much in use, and is still to be found in several rituals; that custom is now laid aside, and Aristotle, with his sorcerers and the grashoppers, are left to themselves. Innumerable are the examples of these grave follies, which formerly were deemed of great importance; others have succeeded from time to time, but as soon as they have had their effect, and people begin to grow weary of them, they pass away and are no more heard of. If any one was, at present, to take it into their head to turn Eutichean, Neftorian, or Manichean, what would be the confequence? We should laugh at him in the same manner as at a person who thould appear dressed after the antient fashion, with a Great ruff and fathed sleeves.

The first thing that opened the eyes of our nation was, when the Jesuits Le Tellier and

Doucin

D5

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

LOR

OXFORD

Doucin drew up the bull Unigenitus, and sent it to the court of Rome, imagining they lived still in thole times of ignorance, in which people adopted, without examination, the most absurd affertions. They even dared to proscribe a proposition, which is universally true in all cases. and in all times, viz. “ That the dread of an: " unjust excommunication ought not to hinder

any one from doing his duty.” This was, in fact, proscribing reason, the liberties of the Gallican church, and the very foundation, of all morality; it was saying to mankind, u God commands you never to do your duty, when

you are apprehensive of suffering any injustice.” Never sure was so gross an insult offered to common sense, and yet this never occurred to these correspondents. of the church of Rome. Nay, they even pera fuaded that court, that this bull was necessary, that the nation desired it. Accordingly it was. figned, sealed, and sent back to France; and every one knows the consequences : assuredly, had they been foreseen, this bull' would have been mitigated. Very warm disputes ensued upon it ; but however, by the great prudence and goodness of the king, they were at length appeased.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It

« AnteriorContinuar »