Page images

he cites his author, the learned Artapanus. Who can impeach the testimony of Artapanus?

Nothing tended more to retard the progress of the human mind than this profound science of error which sprung up among the Asiatics with the origin of truth. The universe was brutalized by the very art which should have enlightened it. Of this we have great examples in Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, &c. &c.

Origen, in particular, expressly says,* “ If, when invoking God, or swearing by him, you call him the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you will, by these words, do things the nature and force of which are such that the evil spirits submit to those who pronounce them; but if you call him by another name, as God of the roaring sea, &c. no effect will be produced. The name of Israel rendered in Greek will work nothing; but pronounce it in Hebrew with the other words required, and you will effect the conjuration."

The same Origen has these remarkable words :“ There are names which are powerful

from their own nature. Such are those used by the Sages of Egypt, the Magi of Persia, and the Brahmins of India. What is called magic is not a vain and chimerical art, as the Stoics and Epicureans pretend. The names Sabaoth and Adonai were not made for created beings, but belong to a mysterious theology which has reference to the creator; hence the virtue of these names when they are arranged and pronounced according to rule," &c.

It was by pronouncing letters according to the magical method, that the moon was made to descend to the earth. Virgil must be pardoned for having faith in this nonsense, and speaking of it seriously in his eighth eclogue:

Carmina de cælo possunt deducere lunam.
Pale Phæbe, drawn by verse, from heav'n descends.

DRYDEN's Virgil. In short, the alphabet was the origin of all man's knowledge, and of all his errors.

* Origen against Celsus—No. 202.

If you

ABBÉ. The word abbé, let it be remembered, signifies father,

become one, you render a service to the state;* you doubtless perform the best work that a man can perform; you give birth to a thinking being: in this action there is something divine. But if you are only Monsieur l'abbé, because you

have had


head shaved, wear a small collar, and a short cloak, and are waiting for a fat benefice, you do not deserve the name of abbé.

The ancient monks gave this name to the superior whom they elected; the abbé was their spiritual father. What different things do the same words signify at different times! The spiritual abbé was once a poor man at the head of others equally poor; but the poor spiritual fathers have since had incomes of two hundred or four hundred thousand livres, and there are poor spiritual fathers in Germany who have a regiment of guards.

A poor man, making a vow of poverty, and in consequence becoming a sovereign! Truly, this is intolerable. The laws exclaim against such an abuse; Religion is indignant at it; and the really poor, who want food and clothing, appeal to heaven against Monsieur l'abbé.

But I hear the abbés of Italy, Germany, Flanders, Burgundy, ask, Why are not we to accumulate wealth and honours? Why are we not to become princes? The bishops are, who were originally poor like us; they have enriched and elevated themselves; one of them has become superior even to kings; let us imitate them as far as we are able.”

Gentlemen, you are right. Invade the land; it belongs to him whose strength or skill obtains possession of it. You have made ample use of the times of ignorance, superstition, and infatuation, to strip us of our inheritances and trample us under your feet, that you

* As Moliere's Sganarelle observes-Nous avons changé tout cela. Vide Malthus and others.--TRANSLATOR.

might fatten on the substance of the unfortunate. Tremble, for fear that the day of reason will arrive !*



An abbey is a religious community governed by an a bbot or an abbess.

This word abbot,-abbas in Latin and Greek, abba in Chaldee and Syriac, came from the Hebrew ab, meaning father. The Jewish doctors took this title through pride; therefore Jesus said to his disciples,t “ Call no one your father upon the earth, for one is your father who is in heaven.”

Although St. Jerome f was much enraged against the monks of his time, who, in spite of our Lord's command, gave or received the title of abbot, the sixth council of Paris|l decided, that if abbots are spiritual fathers and beget spiritual sons for the Lord, it is with reason that they are called abbots.

According to this decree, if any one deserved this appellation, it belonged most assuredly to St. Benedict, who, in the year 529, founded on Mount Cassino in the kingdom of Naples, that society so eminent for wisdom and discretion, and so grave in their speech and in their style. These are the terms used by Pope St. Gregory,s who does not fail to mention the singular privilege which it pleased God to grant to this holy founder-that all Benedictines who die on Mount Cassino are saved. It is not, then, surprising that these monks reckon sixteen thousand canonized saints of their order. The Benedictine sisters even assert, that they are warned of their approaching dissolution by some nocturnal noise, which they call the knocks of st. Benedict.

It may well be supposed that this holy abbot did not * Messieurs les abbés despised this and every other warningyet the day of reason arrived.—TRANSLATOR. + Matthew, chap. xxiii, verse 9.

Book 2, on the Epistle to the Galatians. li Book 1, chap. 37. § Dialogues, Book 2, chap. 8.

forget himself when begging the salvation of his disciples. Accordingly, on the 21st of March, 543, the eve of Passion-Sunday, which was the day of his death, two monks, one of them in the monastery, the other at a distance from it, had the same vision. They saw a long road covered with carpets and lighted by an infinite number of torches, extending eastward from the monastery to heaven. A venerable personage appeared, and asked them for whom this road was made. They said, they did not know. It is that, rejoined he, by which Benedict, the well-beloved of God, has ascended into heaven.

An order in which salvation was so well secured, soon extended itself into other states, whose sovereigns allowed themselves to be persuaded * that, to be sure of a place in Paradise, it was only necessary to make themselves a friend in it, and that by donations to the churches they might atone for the most crying injustices and the most enormous crimes.

Confining ourselves to France, we read in the Exploits of King Dagobert (Gestes du Roi Dagobert) the founder of the abhey of St. Denis near Paris,t that this prince, after his death, was condemned by the judgment of God, and that a hermit named John, who dwelt on the coast of Italy, saw his soul chained in a boat and beaten by devils, who were taking him towards Sicily to throw him into the fiery mouth of Etna; but that, all at once, St. Denis appeared on a luminous globe, preceded by thunder and lightning, and, having put the evil spirits to flight and rescued the poor soul from the clutches of the most cruel, bore it to heaven in triumph.

Charles Martel, on the contrary, was damned, body and soul, for having rewarded his captains by giving them abbeys. These, though laymen, bore the title of abbot, as married women have since borne that of abbess, and had convents of females. A holy bishop of Lyons, named Eucher, being at prayer, had the following vision : he thought that he was led by an angel into hell, where he saw Charles Martel, who, the angel informed him, had been condemned to everlasting flames by the saints whose churches he had despoiled. St. Eucher wrote an account of this revelation to Boniface, bishop of Mayence, and to Fulrad, grand-chaplain to Pepin-le-bref, praying them to open the tomb of Charles Martel and see if his body were there. The tomb was opened; the interior of it bore marks of fire, but nothing was found in it except a great serpent which issued forth with a cloud of offensive smoke.

* Mezerai, vol. 1, page 225. of Chap. 47.

Boniface* was so kind as to write to Pepin-le-bref and to Carloman all these particulars relative to the damnation of their father; and when, in 858, Louis of Germany seized some ecclesiastical property, the bishops of the assembly of Créci reminded him, in a letter, of all the particulars of this terrible story, adding that they had them from aged men, on whose word they could rely, and who had been eye-witnesses of the whole.

St. Bernard, first abbot of Clairvaux, in 1115, had likewise had it revealed to him that all who received the monastic habit from his hand should be saved. Nevertheless, Pope Urban II., having, in a bull dated 1092, given to the abbey of Mount Cassino the title of chief of all monasteries, because from that spot the venerable religion of the monastic order had flowed from the bosom of Benedict as from a celestial spring, the emperor Lothario confirmed this prerogative by a charter of the year 1137, which gave to the monastery of Mount Cassino the pre-eminence in power and glory over all the monasteries which were or might be founded throughout the world, and called upon all the abbots and monks in Christendom to honour and reverence it.

Paschal II. in a bull of the year 1113, addressed to the abbot of Mount Cassino, expresses himself thus :“ We decree that you, as likewise all your successors, shall, as being superior to all abbots, be allowed to sit in every assembly of bishops or princes; and that in all judgments you shall give your opinion before any

* Mezerai, vol. 1, page 352,

« EelmineJätka »