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13. The Breakdown of the Western Christian Way of life and the Seventeenth-Century Western Reaction Against the West’s Christian Heritage

The distinctive Medieval Western Christian way of life began to break down under the pontificate of Pope Innocent III (fungebatur A.D. 1198–1216), after a period of growth which had gone forward for about a century and a half. A post-Modern Westerner, looking back at the Western Middle Ages in their flower from the morrow of a Modern Age that deemed itself to be superior and ended in worse confusion and disappointment, may be in danger, at this remove, of seeing the medieval Western scene in an ideal light that would have surprised a contemporary viewing this scene prosaically at close quarters. Yet, when due allowance has been made for this possibility of undue idealization, the Medieval Western Christian way of life still looks like one of Mankind’s rarer achievements; and its genius seems to have been a delicate but creative balance between authority and liberty. On the social plane this was a balance between the moral authority of the Apostle at Rome and the political liberty of parochial princes and city-states. That supple constitution endowed the Medieval Western Christian Commonwealth with a social diversity in unity which a contemporary Eastern Orthodox Christendom failed to attain—and, in failing, condemned itself to have to choose between the two grim alternatives of life-in-death under a totalitarian oecumenical empire and a war to the death between totalitarian parochial states. On the intellectual plane the Western Respublica Christiana was a balance between the theological authority of established Western Christian dogma and the philosophical liberty, within this theological framework, for schoolmen to cultivate Aristotelian philosophy and science, not only in secular studies, but even within the domain of Theology itself.

This promising medieval Western way of life was broken up by successive shocks to a faith in these religious institutions on which their survival depended. The first of these shocks was administered by the thirteenth-century conflict between the Papacy and the Emperor Frederick II; for this conflict revealed the Papacy to Western eyes in the new and distressing light of a self-centred institution, fighting nakedly for supremacy in a struggle for power and falling into the Antichristian sins of implacability and hybris in its malign persecution of Frederick’s hapless heirs. The second shock was administered by the fourteenth-century ‘Babylonish Captivity’, at Avignon, in which the Papacy sought compensation for the political fall which had been the nemesis of its spiritual pride by building up an unedifying mercenary-minded financial organization on an oecumenical scale. The third shock was administered by ‘the Great Schism’, in which the Papacy came to stand for the antithesis of that unity of Western Christendom for which it had not ceased to stand, even when it had been translated from Rome, where it had fought and finally defeated the Hohenstaufen Power, to Avignon, where it had lain under the shadow of the French Crown. Avignon had, indeed, been a geographically more convenient seat than Rome for a Papacy that had not yet come to be divided against itself, since the Rhône Valley was much nearer than the Tiber Valley was to the centre of the Western Christendom of the fourteenth century; and, though the Papacy’s prestige had been raised by the Pope’s re-migration from Avignon to Rome in A.D. 1376, this moral gain was far more than offset by the scandal of the outbreak of the schism in A.D. 1378.

The fourth shock was administered by the fifteenth-century conflict between the Papacy and a Conciliar Movement in which the local representatives of the Western Christian Church in the parochial states of the Western Christian Commonwealth sought to restore the ecclesiastical unity of the West which the Great Schism had shattered. The remedy proposed by the fathers of the Western Church in successive oecumenical councils was to underpin a reunified Papal Monarchy by giving it a new constitutional foundation on a parliamentary representative basis, for which there were living Western models in the oecumenical representative government of some of the religious orders and in the parochial representative government of the parliamentary secular kingdoms. But this movement for saving the essence of the Papal Church of Gregory VII and Innocent III was defeated by a fifteenth-century Papacy’s determination to convert its shaken moral presidency of a Western Christian Commonwealth into an oecumenical ecclesiastical autocracy on the model of the parochial secular North Italian autocracies of the day. Since these were successful copies, on a miniature scale, of the Emperor Frederick II’s abortive re-evocation, in the West, of a Diocletianic secular autocracy on the grand scale, the fifteenth-century Papacy was re-minting itself, at one remove, in the image of the thirteenth-century Papacy’s arch-enemy.

The nemesis of the defeat of the Conciliar Movement was the Protestant Reformation, and the outbreak of this administered a fifth shock to Western souls which was the death of the Unitary Western Christian Church. The Great Schism, shocking though it was, had been a temporary personal struggle between two or three rival claimants to a Papal throne that was recognized, by all concerned, as being unitary in principle. But the Reformation resulted in a permanent breakup of the Western Christian Church into a Tridentine Roman Catholic Church and a number of Protestant churches that was as numerous as the number of the parochial states in which these churches were respectively established. In the Roman Catholic parochial states, to a hardly lesser degree de facto than in their Protestant neighbours, the secular sovereign now made himself master in his own house on the ecclesiastical as well as on the secular plane. The nemesis of the Reformation was the bout of Western wars of religion, and these fratricidal wars administered a sixth shock. They exhibited Catholics and Protestants in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland, and rival sects of Protestants in England and Scotland, in the brutal act of trying to suppress one another by force of arms. It was a still more lamentable spectacle to see Religion being used as a tool for the furtherance of mundane military and political purposes, and to recognize that this was a consequence of Religion’s own unprincipled attempt to use War and Politics as weapons in ecclesiastical struggles for supremacy.

A simultaneous shock was administered by the renaissance of Hellenism in the West. The resuscitated ghost of Hellenism was accepted, in a still authoritarian-minded Early Modern Age of Western history, as an authority independent of, and therefore necessarily in rivalry with, the authority of the Western Christian Church. In the Middle Ages the Western Church had managed to harness to her own chariot the resuscitated ghost of Aristotle and to exorcise the resuscitated ghost of the Roman Empire; but in the Early Modern Age she was worsted by the pagan spirit of a classical Latin and Greek literature and an Hellenic parochial state. This political ghost of the dynamic Hellenism of a pre-Alexandrine Age rose up first in Northern and Central Italy and then, from the close of the fifteenth century onwards, in Transalpine and Transmarine Western Europe; and, it has been the most malignant of all the Hellenic numina by which the Hellenistic Christian Civilization of the West has been haunted. For, in the realm of Politics, the renaissance of Hellenism has been more persistent than it has been in the realms of Literature and the Visual Arts. In the realm of Literature the ghost which fifteenth—century popes and cardinals had failed to reconcile with a traditional Western Christianity was laid before the end of the seventeenth century, in ‘the Battle of the Books’, by Transalpine prophets of Technology. In the realm of the Visual Arts it was laid at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the Romantic Movement. But, in the realm of Politics, it haunts us still; and we do not yet know whether two world wars have been enough to quench this baleful revenant’s thirst for blood.

This, in outline, is the historical background of the moral and intellectual discredit into which the West’s Christian heritage has fallen in the West’s own estimation since the seventeenth century. The grounds of this revulsion were partly moral and partly intellectual. The moral reason for it was that the West’s religious dissensions had bred devastating, yet inconclusive, political and military strife in a spirit of hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, and this in unavowed pursuit of sordid worldly objectives that were in scandalous contradiction with Christianity’s high spiritual professions. The intellectual reason was that the traditional Western Christian panorama of the Universe, which had been built up out of an amalgam of Christian myth, Jewish scripture, and Greek philosophy and science by a series of great composers, from St. Paul to St. Thomas Aquinas inclusive, had ceased to command unquestioning assent in Western minds.

This intellectual revulsion against a traditional Western Christianity potently reinforced the moral revulsion’s effect. But it may be doubted whether intellectual misgivings alone would have availed to alienate Western souls from the Western Christian tradition so rapidly and decisively. The outburst of moral indignation at the iniquity of the Wars of Religion was the explosion that blew the irreparable breach in the massive fortifications of the Medieval Western Christian Weltanschauung. One practical expression of this moral revolt was a deliberate transference of seventeenth-century Western Man’s spiritual treasure from an incurably polemical Theology to an apparently non-controversial Natural Science; and the consequent progressive demolition of the intellectual structure of Medieval Western Christianity was thus an after-effect of a previous revolt against its moral pretensions.

13 Annexe: Contemporary Expressions of the Seventeenth-Century West’s Reaction Against the West’s Christian Heritage

A. Moral Indignation

(i) The Devastating Effects of the Wars of Religion

‘Tis zeal for opinions that hath fill’d our Hemispheer with smoke and darkness, and by a dear experience we know the fury of those flames it hath kindled. Had not Heaven prevented, they had turn’d our Paradise into a Desert.… If our Returning Lord shall scarce find faith on Earth, where will he look for charity?… The union of a sect within it self is a pitiful charity: it’s no concord of Christians, but a conspiracy against Christ.… What eagerness in the profession of disciplinarian uncertainties, when the love of God and our neighbour, those Evangelical unquestionables, want that fervent ardor.1

Rulers ought to employ a page to repeat to them every morning: ‘See that you do not torment anyone on account of his religious opinions, and that you do not extend the power of the sword to touch the conscience. Look at what Charles IX and his successor gained by doing that; it is a real miracle that the French Monarchy did not perish on the altar of their Catholicism. Such miracles will not happen every day; pray don’t put your trust in that. They would not let the January Edict alone, and then, after more than thirty years of devastation, after thousands and thousands of torrents of blood had been poured out, and thousands and thousands of acts of treachery and incendiarism had been perpetrated, they had to grant an edict that was still more favourable.’

Those responsible for the conduct of ecclesiastical affairs are the second class of people who ought to cultivate a lively memory of the sixteenth century. When one talks to them of toleration, they fancy that what they are hearing is the most frightful and most monstrous of all conceivable dogmas; and, in order to interest the secular arm in their passions, they exclaim that it would mean depriving the public authorities of the fairest ornament in their crown if they were not to be allowed at least to inflict the pains of imprisonment and banishment on heretics. If, though, they examined carefully the consequences that are to be feared from a war of religion, they would be more moderate. ‘So you do not want,’ one might say to them, ‘to see this sect worshipping God after its own fashion and preaching its own views; but take care: if it comes to drawing swords instead of just speaking and writing against your dogmas, take care that this sect does not overthrow your temples and put you in jeopardy of your very lives. What did you gain in France and in Holland in pressing for persecution? Put no trust in your superiority in numbers. Your princes have neighbours, and consequently your sectaries will not lack either protectors or assistance, even if they be Turks.’

Finally, I would beg those restless theologians that take such pleasure in innovations to keep on casting their eyes back to the wars of religion of the sixteenth century. Of these, the Reformers were the innocent cause: no consideration must give them pause, because, according to their principles, there was no middle way: all Papists had either to be abandoned to eternal damnation or else to be converted to Protestantism. But, when people who are persuaded that an error is not damning still refuse to respect the uti possidetis and prefer disturbing the public peace to keeping their private notions to themselves, such conduct is detestable beyond words. They ought to consider the consequences of their novelties and of their assault upon established custom. If they can bring themselves to embark on this course without being constrained to it by absolute necessity, they must have the heart of a tiger.2

The question, raised by Brantome, about the inconsistency involved in burning a hundred heretics and at the same time protecting the same heresy’s nest, centre, and metropolis, is embarrassing for all those who do not realize that this is one of the commonest scenes in the grand comedy of the World. This is the play that princes have made with Religion at all times, and they are still playing this game today. They persecute at home the faith whose triumph they are promoting abroad to the best of their ability. You must not take this as evidence that these princes are utterly indifferent to Religion. That is not so: they are often religious to the point of bigotry. The truth is that the temporal advantage of their country is still more precious to them than the reign of Jesus Christ. I will not allow that the Pope himself is an exception to this law. I fancy that His Holiness was hardly better pleased than Francis I was at the Emperor’s successes against the Protestant League.3

It is certain that a union between the Lutherans and the Calvinists would have been achieved long ago if this had depended on nobody but the princes; but, as this affair is at the mercy of the theologians, it has never been able to have success, and never will be able, as far as one can foresee.4

(ii) Religious Leaders must be Violent-minded

Innate character is nearly always the first and the principal determinant of the conduct even of those persons who do God’s work here below. There are people who maintain that it was necessary for Luther, Calvin, Farel, and some of the others to be hot-tempered, choleric, and full of bile. Without this, so they say, they never could have overcome the resistance [that they encountered].5

We may marvel here at one feature in the destiny of Man. His virtues are apt to have consequences that are tainted with a tinge of vice; they have their drawbacks. On the other hand, his bad qualities produce good results in a number of situations. Modesty, moderation, and love of peace create, in the most scholarly minds, a fund of fair-mindedness that renders such minds in some sense luke-warm and irresolute. [By contrast,] pride and spleen may create, in the mind of a great authority, such a passionate conviction that he will not feel the slightest doubt, so that there will be nothing that he will not dare and will not suffer in the cause of promoting his opinions and making them prevail.6

It is not in the temporal interest of a religious communion that all its members should be reasonable-minded. The violent spirits, who adhere to it solely out of factiousness, perform for it, humanly speaking, a thousand valuable services. So it is useful that hot-heads of this sort should be found in its ranks; this is a necessary evil.7

These turbulent zealots who produce a thousand disorders in a state through their eagerness to exercise dominion over the masses, and who are not sorry to get themselves persecuted, in order that the populace, through its sympathy with them in their punishment, may be led to revolt and so to complete what the zealots’ intrigues have begun.8

(iii) Religious Controversialists must be Unfair-minded

Is it not true that the spirit of ardent partisanship, which usually prevails among journalists (nouvellistes), also prevails among most people who have a passionate devotion for their religion?9

Extreme zealots are apt to become credulous and suspicious, and are prone to conceive a violent animosity against people who are suspect in their eyes.10

Zeal sometimes has the effect of leading people into persuading themselves that a heretic is capable of the most infamous plots; and from this persuasion they easily pass over into another: they imagine that the heretic is actually perpetrating all the machinations of which they have judged him to be capable.11

This passion [Odium Theologicum], which has long since become proverbial, finds heresies wherever it desires to find them.… Injustice is not the only [moral fault] that is displayed by people who are possessed by this passion; duplicity over weights and measures is another of their besetting iniquities. Ask them to censure their agitators and their hounds; make it impossible for them not to see the justice of your cause: they will either turn a deaf ear or else put you off with some kind of patter. These are the occasions on which their charity ‘suffereth long’ and ‘thinketh no evil’.12

(iv) Power breeds Intolerance

It is worthy to be observed and lamented that the most violent of these defenders of the truth, the opposers of errors, the exclaimers against schism, do hardly ever let loose this their zeal for God, with which they are so warmed and inflamed, unless where they have the civil magistrate on their side. But, as soon as ever court favour has given them the better end of the staff, and they begin to feel themselves the stronger, then presently peace and charity are to be laid aside. Otherwise they are religiously to be observed. Where they have not the power to carry on persecution and to become masters, there they desire to live upon fair terms, and preach up toleration.13

One finds that, as soon as the Christians were in a position to persecute, they levelled the same reproach against religious error that Paganism had once levelled against Christianity. They laid to Paganism’s door the failure of harvests and abnormalities in the weather.… One is bound to say that there are some faults that are displayed by religious sects, not in consequence of their being systems of belief, but in consequence of their being in power. This is why the same religious communions change their spirit and their policy according as they either gain ascendancy or lose it.14

His [Scipio Lentulus’s] apologia for the edict that the Grisons had published against heretics ought not to be held to be surprising on the ground that he himself had suffered persecution in the past. There is nothing more common than to find religious refugees ringing the tocsin against dissenters.15

He [? Jurieu] strongly disapproved, when in France, of the authority of the secular arm being involved; and then, when in Holland, he strongly disapproves when he is told that it must not be invoked.16

Unhappy advocates of intolerance! Your malady must indeed be a bizarre one, considering that it is proof against being cured by the application of the lex talionis.17

B. Intellectual Doubts

(i) Human Beings are easily taken in

In matters of Religion, it is very easy to deceive Mankind, and very difficult to undeceive them. Man loves his prejudices, and he can always find leaders who will indulge him in this foible.… These leaders make their business pay in the coin of authority as well as monetary profit. The more disinterested natures realize, when the malady has become inveterate, that the remedy would be worse than the disease. These dare not heal the wound; the others would not wish to heal it. This is how the abuse perpetuates itself. Dishonest people protect it; honest people tolerate it.18

There are gentry for whom it is a great piece of good fortune that the people never bothers to call them to account on matters of doctrine, and, indeed, is not even capable of doing so.19

The peoples show excessive indulgence to gentry who keep dissension going by publications that are violent, vituperative, and full of chicaneries, and who do this under a false pretence of zeal.… So long as one finds the people following the party that makes the most noise and the greatest hubbub, one has to take it that the malady is incurable.20

A very potent mechanism for mounting great revolutions is to prepare the peoples for them by interpretations of the Apocalypse, uttered with an air of inspiration and enthusiasm. This is what has given the enemies of Protestantism an excuse for saying that all the work on the Apocalypse that has been done by Protestant authors has had no other purpose than to foment a general European war by inspiring princes, who would never have thought of this for themselves, with a desire to profit by the opportunities that wars bring with them. Comenius has not been entirely immune against this suspicion.21

There are people who have taken the line that the patrons of these diviners have made an error in their timing, and that an age which is as philosophical as the present one is not a propitious time for bringing these gentry on to the stage. This view has, from some points of view, something to be said for it, but, when all the circumstances are taken into account, their argument turns out not to hold water. There is, I admit, a larger number of private individuals today than in the past who are capable of holding their ground against the flood and putting up a fight against illusions; but, save for this, I maintain that our age is just as easily taken in as its predecessors.22

The visionaries and fanatics of the future have nothing to fear. They have merely to utter brazenly whatever comes into their heads, provided that they have sufficient address to accommodate themselves to the passions of the hour. They will not have the laughers on their side; but they will have supporters who will more than outweigh the laughers.23

(ii) The Naïveté of the Zealots

Each imagines that the truths of his own religion are so clear that the able representatives of another party cannot have failed to see them and can be deterred from making an open confession of this by nothing but considerations of a human order.24

Where can one find anyone who does not hold, by force of habit, that the same things are most just when he is inflicting them on someone else and most unjust when they are being inflicted on him? When this spirit is so rife, you need have no fear that the multiplicity of sects will create many sceptics. Everyone, whatever happens, will stick tight to the cause that he has made his own.25

(iii) Christianity must depend on Revelation, since Manichaeism stands to Reason

There is no system which is exempt from having to satisfy two conditions in order to be accepted as valid. The first condition is that the ideas in it should be clear; the second is that it should be able to account for the facts of experience.… Man alone—Man, who is the masterpiece among all the visible works of creation—is a very great stumbling-block to a belief in the unity of God.… Man is wicked and unhappy: every one of us knows this from what goes on within his own self, as well as from the dealings that he is obliged to have with his neighbour.26

Who will not be overcome by astonishment and dismay as he contemplates the destiny of our Reason? Here are the Manichaeans succeeding, on an hypothesis that is patently absurd and self-contradictory, in explaining the facts of experience a hundred times better than these are explained by the orthodox on the postulate of a principle that is infinitely good as well as omnipotent, though this postulate is manifestly just and necessary and alone in accordance with the truth.27

The [Christian] dogma that the Manichaeans attack ought to be recorded by the Orthodox as a truth of fact which has been clearly revealed; and, since, after all, we [Christians] should be compelled to agree that we do not at all understand either the causes or the reasons of this [mystery], it is better to admit this from the start, and to be content with that—letting the philosophers’ objections run their course like the empty sophistries that they are, and meeting them with no retort but silence behind the shield of the Faith.28

It must be admitted that this false doctrine [of two principles, one good and the other bad], which is much older than Mani, and which is untenable as soon as one accepts Holy Scripture either completely or [even] partially, would be rather difficult to refute if it were championed by pagan philosophers who were veteran adepts in the art of disputation. It was lucky that St. Augustine, who was so well acquainted with all the twists and turns of this controversy, should have abandoned Manichaeism; for he would have had the ability to rid it of its grosser errors and to forge the rest into a system which, in his hands, would have been most embarrassing for orthodox [Christians].29

The obligation that is incumbent on the Roman Church to respect the system of St. Augustine involves it in an embarrassment that has a decidedly ridiculous side.… The physical predetermination of the Thomists, the necessity of St. Augustine, and the necessity of the Jansenists are all, at bottom, the same thing; and yet the Thomists disown the Jansenists, while both maintain with one accord that it is a calumny to accuse them of teaching the same doctrine as Calvin.30

(iv) If Christian Theology is True, God is a Monster

The disputes that have raised their heads since the Reformation among Christians in the West have shown so clearly the impasse into which Christians bring themselves, when they attempt to solve the difficulties about the origin of evil, that a Manichaean would be [even] more formidable [an antagonist for us] today than he was in the past. Today he would refute us all by playing us off one against the other. You have exhausted, he would say, all the forces of your intelligence. You have invented Scientia Media to serve as a deus ex machinâ come to clear up your chaos. But this invention is a chimaera.… It does not prevent all Man’s sins and sufferings from still being products of the free choice of God. It does not prevent us from being able to compare God (absit verbo blasphemia, [see marginal note (50)])31 to a mother who, knowing for certain that her daughter would sacrifice her maidenhood if, at such and such a place and at such and such an hour, she were to be solicited by such and such a seducer, did nevertheless arrange for the meeting, bring her daughter to the trysting-place, and leave her there after putting her on her honour.32

Some people say that God has permitted sin because He could not have prevented it without trenching on the free will that He had given to Man—a gift that was the finest of all that He had conferred on him. Those who say this are exposing themselves egregiously.… We do not need to have read Seneca’s fine treatise De Beneficiis; we know by the light of nature that it is of the essence of being a benefactor that he should not bestow graces which he knows that the proposed recipient would abuse so thoroughly that their only effect would be to ruin him.… No good mother who had given her daughters permission to go to a dance would fail to cancel this permission if she knew for certain that, if they went, they would be violated and would lose their virginity; and any mother who, knowing for certain that this could not fail to happen, did let them go to the dance all the same, after having contented herself with putting them on their good behaviour and with threatening them with disgrace if they came home other than they had been when they had started out—well, any mother who behaved like that would, at the very least, incur well-deserved censure for having shown no love either for her daughters or for the virtue of chastity.33

If you say that God has permitted sin in order to manifest His wisdom, which shines out more clearly in the disorders that human malice produces every day than it would do in a state of innocence, the answer that you will receive is that this is tantamount to comparing the Deity either to the father of a family who would let his children break their legs in order to bring to the notice of a whole town his skill in mending broken bones, or else to a monarch who would let seditions and disorders grow, throughout his dominions, in order to gain the glory of having put them right.… Let us imagine to ourselves two princes, one of whom lets his subjects fall into distress in order to extricate them from it when they have wallowed in it sufficiently, while the other prince always conserves his subjects in a state of prosperity. Is not this second prince better than the other? Is not he, in truth, the more kind-hearted of the two?34

If Christian theology—at least as interpreted by the Augustinian-Calvinist-Jansenist school—is true, God is a monster! This conclusion from these premises seemed logically inescapable to the Wesleys in the eighteenth century, as it had seemed to Bayle in the seventeenth. But the Methodists’ reaction to the paradox was not the same as the ex-Calvinist’s. Bayle tacitly accepted the conclusion; the Wesleys passionately rejected the premises.

To damn for falling short

Of what they could not do,

For not believing the report

Of that which was not true.35

This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination. You represent God as worse than the Devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the Devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this; whatever its true meaning be, it cannot be this meaning. No Scripture can mean that God is not Love, or that His mercy is not over all His works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no Scripture can prove predestination.36

(v) The Rapier of Ridicule

They [a Japanese sect] go even farther than Epicurus. They relieve God of the burden of reasoning-power and intelligence. No doubt they are afraid that these qualities might disturb His repose, since they know by their own experience that the exercise of the reason is accompanied by some degree of fatigue.37

Since there is no indication that God overrides general laws of Nature except in cases in which the weal of His children requires it, it would be unwarrantable to take for miracles anything that occurs among the Infidels and among the Faithful indiscriminately.… Miracles that are still in the future are an object of Faith, and consequently an object that is obscure.38

Achilles was not the only worker of miracles on the Island of Leuce: his wife Helen took a hand too.… This is a field in which abundance does more damage than scarcity.… Credulity is a mother who is smothered to death by her own fecundity sooner or later—in minds, that is, which make some use of their faculty of Reason.39

One must not imagine that the other councils of the Church are acquitted of having been vitiated by passions and cabals to any lesser degree [than the Council of Ephesus admittedly was], even if one accepts the plea that these other councils were not conducted with the precipitation of which Cyril was guilty at Ephesus. It is indeed necessary that the Holy Spirit should preside at these assemblies; for, but for that, all would be lost. This assistance [of the Holy Spirit]—which is something exceptional and is much more potent than ordinarily—ought to reassure us and to leave us firmly persuaded that the Holy Spirit has accomplished His work in the midst of the pandemonium made by [human] creatures and that, out of the darkness of [human] passions, He has succeeded in bringing forth the light of His truth—not, of course, in all the councils, but in some of them.40

One must… be careful to observe that there have crept into Christianity a vast number of abuses that are so similar to the disorders of Paganism that it would be impossible to write against the Pagans without providing some zealots with plausible grounds for saying that the Christian Religion has been debauched by the Pagan Religion. Those who give occasion for such reproaches are under a moral obligation to examine, in their own consciences, what their motive has been, and whether their real design has not been to enable their readers to find a portrait of modern abuses in the writers’ descriptions of ancient disorders. English Nonconformist Protestants are sometimes accused of having written their vivid descriptions of the corruption of the ancient Roman clergy for no other purpose than to paint pictures calculated to bring odium upon the present state of the [English] Episcopalians.41

  • 1.

    Glanvill, J., The Vanity of Dogmatising (London 1661, Eversden), pp. 229–31.

  • 2.

    Bayle, P., Dictionaire, 3rd ed., iii. 1845 a and b, s.v. Macon.

  • 3.

    Bayle, P., Dictionaire, 3rd ed., ii. 1212 a, s.v. François I.

  • 4.

    Ibid., ii. 1519 b, s.v. Hottinger.

  • 5.

    Ibid., ii. 1152 b, s.v. Farel.

  • 6.

    Ibid., iii. 1965 a and b, s.v. Melanchthon.

  • 7.

    Bayle, P., Dictionaire, 3rd. ed., ii. 1029 a and b, s.v. Drusius.

  • 8.

    Ibid., i. 492 b, s.v. Beda.

  • 9.

    Ibid., iii. 2221 a, s.v. Pellisson.

  • 10.

    Ibid., i. 520 b, s.v. Bérenger.

  • 11.

    Ibid., ii. 1089 b, s.v. Episcopius.

  • 12.

    Ibid., i. 418 a, s.v. Baius.

  • 13.

    Locke, John, A Letter concerning Toleration (first published in A.D. 1689).

  • 14.

    Bayle, op. cit., iv. 2804 b, s.v. Vergerius.

  • 15.

    Ibid., ii. 1680, s.v. Lentulus.

  • 16.

    Ibid., i. 330 a, s.v. Arius.

  • 17.

    Ibid., iii. 2069 b, s.v. Navarre (Marguérite de Valois, Reine de, fille de Henri II).

  • 18.

    Ibid., i. 89 b, s.v. Agar.

  • 19.

    Bayle, op. cit., i. 390 b, s.v. Augustin.

  • 20.

    Ibid., i. 171 b, s.v. Alting (Jacques) (cp. i. 110 a, s.v. Agrippa).

  • 21.

    Ibid., ii. 1018 b, s.v. Drabicius (cp. ii. 1374 a, s.v. Hadrien, and ii. 1484 b, s.v. Hoe).

  • 22.

    Ibid., i. 6 a, s.v. Abaris.

  • 23.

    Ibid., ii. 1019, s.v. Drabicius.

  • 24.

    Ibid., i. 37 b, s.v. Abulpharage.

  • 25.

    Ibid., ii. 1825 a, s.v. Luther.

  • 26.

    Ibid., iii. 1899 a and b, s.v. Manichéens.

  • 27.

    Ibid., iii. 2205 a, s.v. Pauliciens.

  • 28.

    Ibid., iii. 2214 a, s.v. Pauliciens.

  • 29.

    Bayle, op cit., iii. 1897–1900, s.v. Manichéens.

  • 30.

    Ibid., i. 390 and 390 b, s.v. Augustin.

  • 31.

    ‘This comparison has shocked a number of religious—minded people; but I beg them here to take into consideration the fact that I am simply paying the Jesuits and Arminians back in their own coin. These gentlemen draw the most horrible comparisons in the world between the god of the Calvinists, as they are pleased to put it, and Tiberius, Caligula, and so on. It is a good thing to show them that one can meet them in battle with weapons like their own.’

  • 32.

    Ibid., iii. 2207 b, s.v. Pauliciens.

  • 33.

    Ibid., iii. 2206 a, s.v. Pauliciens.

  • 34.

    Ibid., iii. 2205 b, s.v. Pauliciens.

  • 35.

    Wesley, Charles, in The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, ed. by Osborn, G. (London 1868–72, Wesleyan Methodist Conference Office, 13 vols.), vol. iii. p. 36.

  • 36.

    Wesley, John, in Wesley Works, ed. by Jackson, T. (London 1856–7, Mason, 14 vols.), vol. vii, p. 365.

  • 37.

    Bayle P., Dictionaire, 3rd ed., ii. 1533, s.v. Japon.

  • 38.

    Ibid., i. 923 b, s.v. Constance.

  • 39.

    Ibid., i. 62 and 62 b, s.v. Achillea.

  • 40.

    Ibid., iii. 2078 a, s.v. Nestorius.

  • 41.

    Ibid., iii. 2255 a and b, s.v. Periers.