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which had conftantly been of a different opinion regarding the points in question. In this ftate the affair remained; the dif pute turning upon the force of the evidence: concerning which mankind will ever differ in their fentiments, till they have all the fame degree of experience and understanding. The Catholics, however, had no bufinefs to give the argument this turn. They would have embarraffed their opponents more, if, without contending with them about the efficacy of their proofs, they had contefted their right to bring them. They should have answered the Reformers thus:

"You found your arguments, gentlemen, on a petitio printipii; for if the force of your proofs only be the token of your miffion, it follows that, with regard to those who do not think them convincing, your miffion is false; and we may legally punish you, as Heretics, falfe Apoftles, and difturbers of the Church, and of the repose of mankind. You fay, that you preach up no new doctrines; but pray what are your new explications of the facred texts? To give a new fenfe to the words of Scripture, is certainly to establish a new doctrine. It is to change the very word of God: for it is not the found, but the fenfe, of the words that is revealed; fo that to vary the sense, as it is acknowleged and established by the Church, is to change the revelation. Again you commit another egregious error. You agree that miracles are neceflary to authenticate a divine miffion; and yet, though by your own confeffion mere individuals without the power of working fuch miracles, you fet up imperiously for Apoftles fent of God. You claim the authority of interpreting the Scriptures just as you please, and would deprive us of the fame privilege. You arrogate an exclusive right to yourselves as individuals, which you not only refuse to each of us, but even to all of us affembled together in the confitution of the Church. What legal title or pretenfions can you have to fubject our publick to your private judgment? What intolerable felf-fufficiency is it to fuppofe yourselves always in the right, and yourselves only, in oppofition to all the reff of the world; whom you will not permit to enjoy their own opinions, though, they think them as well founded as you can poffibly think yours? The diftinctions you amuse us with, would at best be tolerable if you only broached them as private

No body, for example, fays our Author, was ever more imperious and decifive, or more divinely infallible, in his own opinion, than Calvin ; who looked upon every, the leaft, contradiction or objection to his doctrines, as damnable, and deferving of the feverest chastisement. Servetus was not the only perfon who lost his life for thinking in a different manner from that of this tyrannical Reformer.


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opinions. But you make open war upon us; you blow up the fire of difcord in every quarter. To refift being converted by your lectures, truly, is rebellious, idolatrous, and damnable. You preach, dogmatize, cenfure, anathematize, excommunicate, punish and put to death; you exercife all the power and authority of Prophets, and yet pretend only to be mere men Shall you, who are innovators of yesterday, burn your adverfaries at the ftake, by the affiftance of a few hundreds of mifs guided followers; and deny us the fame right of burning ours, who are fupported by the unanimous voice of an hundred millions of men, and have the fanction of antiquity for fifteen hundred years? No;-either ceafe to talk and act as Apoftles, or produce your titles to the character; elfe, whenever we are the ftrongeft, we fhall treat you very juftly as impoftors."

How could our réformers invalidate thefe arguments? For my part, I know of nothing they could have had reasonably to offer; but muft either have been reduced to filence, or have had recourfe to miracles: a bad refource for the lovers of truth. I conclude hence, that, to inculcate the neceffity of miracles, as a proof of the divine miffion of thofe who preach up new doctrines, would be to overthrow the credit of the Reformation. Thus I am falfely accused of doing that, which I have endeavoured to avoid.’

It is a great pity that Mr. Rouffeau hath written in fo unconnected and defultory a manner as he hath generally done. It is very difficult for the Reader to judge properly of an Author's fentiments and principles, who hath taken fo fingular a route through the labyrinths of political, moral, and religious fyftems. We are not at all furprized to find even ingenuous and candid Readers often at a loss what to make of him; it is no wonder, therefore, if his enemies have laid hold of the opportunities he hath thus given them, to charge him with deligns that might be foreign to his intention.

With regard to his theological tenets in particular; religion hath been made, in all ages, fo much an affair of party, that the denomination of a Chriftian, without the badge of fome particular fect, has never been able to fecure fo general a profeffor the favour of any. It is not a maxim with parties, that he who is not against us, is for us; but, on the contrary, that he who is not for us must be against us. It is poffible that, taking this matter in the ftricteft fenfe, Mr. Rouffeau's conduct in this particular is defenfible; but we may defy the greatest enemy of the Reformers to bring a more apparently-depreciating argument against them than the above. We fhould have thought our Author too good a judge of the effects of religious tenets K k



and polemical difquifitions on the fentiments and manners of mankind, not to know that an apparently obvious conclusion, however falfe, is more generally embraced than a just one, if but ever fo little complicated or refined.

In his third Letter, the Writer explains himself more particularly on the subject of miracles, and enters into a short examination of other accufations laid against him. With regard to miracles, he declares that he neither abfolutely denies nor admits of them; and that, as to establish the neceffity of them, to prove a divine miffion, would be to depreciate the reformation in particular, fo he does not in any cafe admit of them as a proof of the truth of the Chriftian religion in general.

A miracle,' fays he, in any particular fact, is an immediate act of the divine power, a fenfible change in the order of nature, or a real and vifible exception to its laws. We muft be cautious of departing from this definition, if we would understand each other in reasoning upon this fubject. Hence then, arife two questions to be refolved, viz. Whether it be in the power, or in the will of God to work miracles? As to the first, he says, it would be impious and abfurd to enter into a ferious enquiry, whether God could, or could not, act contrary to thofe laws which he hath himself eftablished. And it would be doing too much honour to any one who fhould resolve it in the negative, to punish him for it, except by confining him to ftraw and a dark-chamber, as a Lunatic*.

In regard to the fecond queftion, he fays, it is quite another affair

*It is prefumed that our Author fpeaks here as a Chriftian, and not as a Philofopher; a character which he affects to treat in this, as well as in his other works, with great contempt. As he adopts, however, so many philofophical principles, he would have done well to have difplayed this abfurdity in thofe he treats thus cavalierly. He might be grievously puzzled, on the mere principles of reafon, to justify his dif tinction between power and will in the Deity. Those who judge of the Being and attributes of God from his works, have indeed the firm. eft affurance that a power exifts, capable of acting in the manner it is known to act; but they cannot thence infer that it is capable of acting in a contrary manner. The Will and Power of the Deity are probably one and the fame thing; in other words, thofe terms, confidered as having diftinét meanings, may not be at all applicable to the Deity. The difference between them feems, indeed, to arife from their use and application to the capacity of a limited and circumfcribed Being, whofe will is fo often found to exceed his power. Yet even in fuch Beings, we have no other term, by which to diftinguish their power or immediate caufe of action, than that of will. The reafon why men have it in their power to act inconfiftently, is the diverfity occafioned in


affair; being, abftracted from its confequences, totally indifferent, and in no wife affecting the glory of God, which everIf there were any difference in this reway it be determined. fpect, he conceives, that the higher ideas we can entertain of the wisdom and majefty of the Deity, would induce us to de-termine it in the negative. He looks upon the question, however, as altogether fpeculative and indeterminate. A Miracle, continues he, being an exception to the laws of nature, we ought to be perfectly acquainted with all thofe laws, in order to judge certainly of miracles: for it might be in the power of one unknown law in certain cafes to change the effects of fuch as might be known: fo that whofoever takes upon him to pronounce any fact a miracle; declares at the fame time that he is fully acquainted with all the laws of nature, and that such fact is an exception. But where is the Mortal who hath investigated all the laws of nature? Newton never boasted to have carried his enquiries fo far. A fenfible man, who might be an eye-witness of a surprising fact, may atteft what he has feen, and we may believe him; but neither he nor any other, though the wisest man upon Earth, can justly take upon him to fay it is a miracle; for howfoever aftonishing it may be, how can he poffibly know it to be truly miraculous ?

All that can be said of those who boast of working miracles, is that they effect things very extraordinary. But who denies the existence of things very extraordinary? I myself have seen many, and have even effected them*. New difcoveries are daily making in the hiftory and operations of Nature. Chymistry in particular affords us the means of working a thousand miracles. Mix together a certain oil and a fpirit, both very common in our fhops, and they will produce a blaze of fire.. Had the priests of Baal only had a Macquer or a Rouelle amongst

their Will by change of time, place and circumftance. Thefe, however, have no effect on the Deity, whofe Will is conftant and unchangeable; fo that a mere philofopher would not be fo very abfurd in draw. ing the conclufion our Author fo contemptuously explodes. Does Mr. Rouffeau go fo far as to put Philofophers and Lunatics on a footing?

As an example of this, our Author relates that, being at Venice, in the year 1743, he faw practifed a new method of playing the oracle, or telling fortunes, even ftranger than the ancient ones of Prenelle. This method, which he minutely particularizes, is not worth repeating; but we must not omit the following conclufion. "The magician, who thus told fortunes, was the first fecretary to the French ambaffador, and was named J. J. Rouffeau. I contented myfelf with being a conjurer because I was modeft; but if I had been ambitious of the character of a prophet, who could have prevented my acquiring it?"

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them, their altar would have blazed of itself, and the prophet Elijah have been duped. Pour certain clear water into other clear water, and you will fee it converted into ink. Mix two other waters together and they will be immediately turned into a hard folid fubftance. Should a Prophet, ever fo little skilled in fuch experiments, go into Guinea and fay to the people,

acknowledge the power of him that fent me: lo, I am able to "change water into tone!" Should we wonder if the Negroes, at the fight of fuch a miracle, fhould be ready to worship him? In former ages the Prophets ufed to call down fire from heaven: at prefent children can do as much by means of a round bit of glafs. Jofhua bad the fun ftand ftill; a modern Almanackmaker bids it undergo an Eclipfe; a much greater prodigy! The Cabinet of the Abbé Nollet is a laboratory of magic, and the mathematical recreations are a collection of miracles. Even our fairs abound with magicians; the Dutch boor alone, whom I have feen twenty times light a candle with a knife, is poffeffed of a knack by which he might infatuate a whole people; and that even in Paris: what might he not be able to effect in Syria?'

Mr. Rouffeau goes on to enumerate feveral other marvellous fubjects of natural magic, which might be made ufe of by the artful to impofe on the Ignorant. This leads him to make reflections on various miracles related in the Old and New Teftament; which, as they would afford no great novelty to the Reader, and might give him no advantageous idea of that veneration for the facred Writings our Author pretends to, we beg leave to pafs over. Those who confult the work itself, will find that Mr. Rouleau's manner of Chriftianizing, if we may be allowed the term, is indeed very fingular.

In letter the fourth, the Writer renionftrates against the illegality of the proceedings against him, even on the supposition of his being culpable.

In the fifth letter, he compares thofe proceedings with others. in fimilar cafes. In the fixth he examines into the charge brought against him of having attacked the inftitution of civil governments, in his Effay on the Social Compact; of which he gives a fhort analyfis: reprefenting in the conclufion, that he hath in that work advanced no more than Hobbes, Sydney, Locke, Montefquieu, and others have done in other countries with impunity.

The feventh letter treats of the prefent ftate of the government of Geneva, as it was fettled by the Edict of the Mediation: the eighth, of the nature and tendency of that Edict,

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