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respected the Apocalypse, than to have commented upon it.
Camus, Bishop of Bellay, printed, in the last century, a large book against the monks, which an unfrocked monk abridged. It was entitled Apocalypse, because in it he exposed the dangers and defects of the monastic life, and Melito's Apocalypse (Apocalypse de Méliton), because Melito, bishop of Sardis, in the second century, had passed for a prophet. This bishop's work has none of the obscurities of St. John's Apocalypse. Nothing was ever clearer. The bishop is like a magistrate saying to an attorney, "You are a forger, and a cheat-do you comprehend me?"
The Bishop of Bellay computes, in his Apocalypse or Revelations, that there were in his time ninety-eight orders of monks, endowed or mendicant, living at the expense of the people, without employing themselves. in the smallest labour. He reckoned six hundred thousand monks in Europe. The calculation was a little strained; but it is certain that the real number of the monks was rather too large.
He assures us that the monks are enemies to the bishops, curates, and magistrates
That, among the privileges granted to the Cordeliers, the sixth privilege is, the certainty of being saved, whatever horrible crime you may have committed, provided you belong to the order of St. Francis
That the monks are like apes; the higher they climb, the plainer you see their posteriors
That the name of monk has become so infamous and execrable, that it is regarded by the monks themselves as a foul reproach, and the most violent insult that can be offered them.
My dear reader, whoever you are, minister or magistrate, consider attentively the following short extract from our bishop's book:
Figure to yourself the Convent of the Escurial or of Mount Cassino, where the cœnobites have everything necessary, useful, delightful, superfluous, and super
abundant, since they have their yearly revenue of a hundred and fifty thousand, four hundred thousand, or five hundred thousand crowns; and judge whether Monsieur l'Abbé has wherewithal to allow himself, and those under him, to sleep after dinner."
"Then imagine an artisan or labourer, with no dependence except on the work of his hands, and burdened with a large family, toiling like a slave, every day, and at all seasons, to feed them with the bread of sorrow and the water of tears; and say, which of the two conditions is pre-eminent in poverty."
This is a passage from the Episcopal Apocalypse, which needs no commentary. There only wants an angel to come and fill his cup with the wine of the monks, to slake the thirst of the labourers who plough, sow, and reap, for the monasteries.
But this prelate, instead of writing a useful book, only composed a satire. Consistently with his dignity, he should have stated the good as well as evil. He should have acknowledged that the Benedictines have produced many good works, and that the Jesuits have rendered great services to literature. He might have blessed the brethren of La Charité, and those of the Redemption of the Captives. Our first duty is to be just. Camus gave too much scope to his imagination. St. François de Sales advised him to write moral romances; but he abused the advice.
THESE are heretics who might pass for other than Christians. However, they acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Mediator; but they dare to maintain, that nothing is more contrary to right reason than what is taught among Christians concerning the Trinity of persons in one only divine essence, of whom the second is begotten by the first, and the third proceeds from the other two
That this unintelligible doctrine is not to be found in any part of Scripture
That no passage can be produced which authorises it; or to which, without in anywise departing from
the spirit of the text, a sense cannot be given more clear, more natural, or more conformable to common notions, and to primitive and immutable truths—
That to maintain, as the orthodox do, that in the divine essence there are several distinct persons, and that the Eternal is not the only true God, but that the Son and the Holy Ghost must be joined with him, is to introduce into the church of Christ an error the most gross and dangerous, since it is openly to favour polytheism
That it implies a contradiction, to say that there is but one God, and that, nevertheless, there are three persons, each of which is truly God
That this distinction, of one in essence, and three in person, was never in Scripture
That it is manifestly false; since it is certain that there are no fewer essences than persons, nor persons than
That the three persons of the Trinity are, either three different substances, or accidents of the divine essence, or that essence itself without distinction
That, in the first case, you make three GodsThat, in the second, God is composed of accidents; you adore accidents, and metamorphose accidents into persons
That, in the third, you, unfoundedly and to no purpose, divide an indivisible subject, and distinguish into three that which within itself has no distinction
That if it be said, that the three personalities are neither different substances in the divine essence, nor accidents of that essence, it will be difficult to persuade ourselves that they are anything at all—
That it must not be believed that the most rigid and decided Trinitarians have themselves any clear idea of the way in which the three hypostases subsist in God, without dividing his substance, and consequently without multiplying it
That St. Augustin himself, after advancing on this subject a thousand reasonings, alike dark and false, was forced to confess that nothing intelligible could be said about the matter.
They then repeat the passage in this father, which is, indeed, a very singular one:-" When," says he, "it is asked what are the three, the language of man fails, and terms are wanting to express them." "Three persons, has, however, been said, not for the purpose of expressing anything, but in order to say something and not remain mute."—"“ Dictum est tres personæ, non ut aliquid diceretur, sed ne taceretur.”—DE TRINIT. lib. v. cap. 9
That modern theologians have cleared up this matter no better
That, when they are asked what they understand by the word person, they explain themselves only by saying, that it is a certain incomprehensible distinction, by which are distinguished in one nature only, a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost
That the explanation which they give of the terms begetting and proceeding is no more satisfactory; since it reduces itself to saying, that these terms indicate certain incomprehensible relations existing among the three persons of the Trinity
That it may be hence gathered that the state of the question between them and the orthodox is, to know whether there are in God three distinctions, of which no one has any definite idea, and among which there are certain relations of which no one has any more idea.
From all this they conclude, that it would be wiser to abide by the testimony of the Apostles, who never spoke of the Trinity, and to banish from religion for ever all terms which are not in the Scriptures,—as Trinity, person, essence, hypostasis, hypostatic and personal union, incarnation, generation, proceeding, and many others of the same kind; which being absolutely devoid of meaning, since they are represented by no real existence in nature, can excite in the understanding none but false, vague, obscure and undefinable notions.
To this article, let us add what Calmet says in his Dissertation on the following passage of the Epistle of John the Evangelist: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy
Ghost; and these three are one: and there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one." Calmet acknowledges that these two verses are not in any ancient Bible: indeed, it would be very strange if St. John had spoken of the Trinity in a letter, and said not a word about it in his Gospel. We find no trace of this dogma, either in the canonical or in the apocryphal gospels. All these reasons, and many others, might excuse the Anti-trinitarians, if the councils had not decided. But, as the heretics pay no regard to councils, we know not what measures to take to confound them. Let us content ourselves with believing, and wishing them to believe.*
[From the Greek word signifying Hidden.]
IT has been very well remarked, that the Divine writings might, at one and the same time, be sacred and apocryphal; sacred, because they had undoubtedly been dictated by God himself; apocryphal, because they were hidden from the nations, and even from the Jewish people.
That they were hidden from the nations before the translation executed at Alexandria, under the Ptolemies, is an acknowledged truth. Josephus declares it in the answer to Appian, which he wrote after Appian's death; and his declaration has not the less weight because he seeks to strengthen it by a fable. He says, in his history, that the Jewish books being all-divine, no foreign historian or poet had ever dared to speak of them. And, immediately after assuring us that no one had ever dared to mention the Jewish laws, he adds, that the historian Theopompus, having only
* We need not inform our readers, that since the death of Voltaire, every future attempt to establish this flagrant interpolation has been effectually superseded by the labours of Porson and others.-T.
+ Book i. chap. iv.
Eook xii. chap. ii.