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which had constantly been of a different opinion regarding the points in question. In this state the affair remained; the difpute turning upon the force of the evidence : concerning which mankind will ever differ in their sentiments, till they have all the same degree of experience and understanding. The Catholics, however, had no business to give thé argument this turn. They would have embarrassed their opponents more, if, without contending with them about the efficacy of their proofs, they had contested their right to bring them. They should have answered the Reformers thus :
“ You found your arguments, gentlemen, on a petitio principii ; for if the force of your proofs only be the token of your mission, it follows that, with regard to those who do not think them convincing, your mission is false ; and we may legally punish you, as Heretics, false Apostles, and disturbers of the Church, and of the repose of mankind. You say, that you preach up no new doctrines; but pray what are your new explications of the sacred texts ? To give a new fense 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 fense, of the words that is revealed; so that to vary the fense, as it is aclenowleged 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 such miracles, you set 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 same 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 assembled together in the conftitution of che Church. What legal title or pretensions can you have to 'subject our publick to your private judgment? What intolerable self-sufficieney is it to suppose yourselves always in the right, and yourselves only, in opposition to all the reft of the world; whom you will not permit to enjoy their own opinions, though they think them as well founded as you ean possibly think yours *?' The distin&tions you amuse us with; would at best be tolerable if you only broached them as private
• No body, for example, says our Author, was ever more imperious and decisive, or more divinely infallible, in his own opinion, than Calvin ; who looked upon every, the least, contradiction or objection to his doctrines, as damnable, and deserving of the severest chastisement. Servetus was not the only person who loft his life for thinking in a different manner from that of this tyrannical Reformer.
opinions. But you make open war upon us ; you blow up the fire of discord in every quarter. To resist being converted by your lectures, truly, is rebellious, idolatrous, and damnable. You preach, dogmatize, censure, anathematize, excommunicate, punish and put to death; you exercise all the power and authority of Prophets, and yet pretend only to be mere men. Shall you, who are innovators of yesterday, burn your adversaries at the stake, by the aslistance of a few hundreds of misguided followers; and deny us the same right of burning ours, who are supported by the unanimous voice of an hundred millions of men, and have the fanction of antiquity for fifteen hundred years? No ;--either cease to talk and act as Apostles, or produce your titles to the character; else, whenever we are the stronget, we fhall treat you very justly as impostors.”
(How could our reformers invalidate these arguments ? For my part, I know of nothing they could have had reasonably to offer; but must either have been reduced to silence, or have had recourse to miracles : a bad resource for the lovers of truth. I conclude hence, that, to inculcate the neceffity of miracles, as a proof of the divine mission of those who preach up new doctrines, would be to overthrow the credit of the Reformation. Thus I am falsely accused of doing that, which I have endeavoured to avoid.'
It is a great pity that Mr. Rousseau hath written in so unconnected and desultory a manner as he hath generally done. It is very difficult for the Reader to judge properly of an Author's sentiments and principles, who hath taken to fingular a route through the labyrinths of political, moral, and religious systems. We are not at all surprized 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 designs that might be foreign to his intention.
With regard to his theological tenets in particular; religion hath been made, in all ages, so much an affair of party, that the denomination of a Christian, without the badge of some particular feet, has never been able to secure so general a professor 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 possible that, taking this matter in the strictest sense, Mr. Rousseau's conduct in this particular is defensible ; but we may defy the greatest enemy of the Reformers to bring a more apparently-depreciating argument against them than the above. We should have thought our Author too good a judge of the effects of religious tenets APPEND. Kk
and polemical disquisitions on the sentiments and manners of mankind, not to know that an apparently obvious conclusion, however false, is more generally embraced than a just one, if but ever so 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 accusations laid against him. With regard to miracles, he declares that he neither absolutely denies nor ad. mits of them; and that, as to establish the necessity of them, to prove a divine million, would be to depreciate the reformation in particular, so he does not in any case admit of them as a proof of the truth of the Christian religion in general. «A miracle,' says he, in any particular fact, is an immediate act of the divine power, a sensible change in the order of nature, or a real and visible exception to its laws. We must be cautious of departing from this definition, if we would understand each other in reasoning upon this subject. Hence then, arise two questions to be resolved, viz. Whether it be in the power, or in the will of God to work miracles ? As to the firft, he says, it would be impious and absurd to enter into a serious enquiry, whether God could, or could not, a& contrary, to those laws which he hath himself established. And it would be doing too much honour to any one who should resolve it in the negative, to punish him for it, except by confining him to straw and a dark-chamber, as a Lunatic*.
In regard to the second question, he says, it is quite another
It is presumed that our Author speaks here as a Christian, and not as a Philosopher ; a character which he affects to treat in this, as well as in his other works, with great contempt. As he adopts, however, fo many philosophical principles, he would have done well to have difplayed this absurdity in those he treats thus cavalierly. He might be grievously puzzled, on the mere principles of reason, to justify his dirtinction between power and will in the Deity. Those who judge of the Being and attributes of God from his works, have indeed the firme ett affurance that a power exists, 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 same thing ; in other words, those terms, considered as having diftint meauings, may not be at all applicable to the Deity. The difference between them feems, indeed, to arise from their use and application to the capacity of a limited and circumscribed Being, whore will is so often found to exceed his power. Yet even in such Beings, we have no other term, by which to distinguish their power or immediate cause of action, than that of will. The reason why men kave it in their power to act inconsistently, is the diversity occafioned in affair ; being, abstracted from its consequences, totally indifferent, and in no wise affecting the glory of God, which ever way
it be determined. If there were any difference in this respect, he conceives, that the higher ideas we can entertain of the wisdom and majesty of the Deity, would induce us to determine it in the negative. He looks upon the question, however, as altogether speculative and indeterminate. A Miracle, continues he, being an exception to the laws of nature, we ought to be perfectly acquainted with all those laws, in order to judge certainly of miracles : for it might be in the power of one unknown law in certain cases to change the effects of such as might be known: so that whosoever takes upon him to pronounce any
fact a miracle ; declares at the same 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 so far. A sensible man, who might be an eye-witness of a surprising fact, may attest what he has seen, and we may believe him ; but neither he nor any other, though the wisest man upon Earth, can justly take upon him to say it is a miracle; for howsoever astonishing it may be, how can be possibly 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 discoveries are daily making in the history and operations of Nature. Chymistry in particular affords us the means of working a thousand miracles. Mix together a certain oil and a spirit, both very common in our shops, 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 circumstance. Thefe, however, have no effect on the Deity, whose Willis conitant and unchangeable ; so that a mere philosopher would not be so very absurd in draw. ing the conclufion our Author fo contemp uously explodes. Does Mr. Rousseau go so far as to put Philosophers and Lunatics on a footing ?
* As an example of this, our Author relates that, being at Venice, in the year 1743, he saw practised a new method of playing the oracle, or telling fortunes, even itranger than the ancient ones of Preneste. This method, which he minutely particularizes, is not worth repeating; but we must not omit the following conclusion." The magician, who thus told fortunes, was the first secretary to the French ambasador, and was named J. J. Rousseau.- I contented myself with being a conjurer because I was modeft; buc 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,
will see it converted into ink. Mix two other waters together and they will be immediately turned into a hard folid substance. Should a Prophet, ever so little skilled in such experiments, go into Guinea and say to the people, “ acknowledge the power of him that sent me: lo, I am able to “ change water into stone !” Should we wonder if the Negroes, at the light of such a miracle, should be ready to worship him? In former ages the Prophets used to call down fire from heaven: at present children can do as much by means of a round bit of glass. Joshua bad the sun stand still; a modern Almanackmaker bids it undergo an Eclipse; 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 seen twenty times light a candle with a knife, is possessed 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. Rousseau goes on to enumerate several other marvellous subje&ts of natural magic, which might be made use of by the árilul to impose on the Ignorant. This leads him to make reflections on various miracles related in the Old and New Testament; which, as they would afford no great novelty to the Reader, and might give him no advantageous idea of that veneration for the sacred Writings our Author pretends to, we beg leave to pass over. Those who consult the work itself, will find that Mr. Rousseau's manner of Christianizing, if we may be allowed the term, is indeed very singular.
In letter the fourth, the Writer remonstrates against the illegality of the proceedings against him, even on the supposition of his being culpable.
In the fifth letter, he compares those proceedings with others in fimilar cafes. In the fixth he examines into the charge brought against him of having attacked the institution of civil governments, in his Etiay on the Social Compact; of which he gives a short analysis : representing in the conclufion, that he hath in, that work advanced no more than Hobbes, Sydney, Locke, Montesquieu, and others have done in other countries with impunity.
The seventh letter treats of the present state of the government of Geneva, as it was settled by the Edict of the Mediation: the eighth, of the nature and tendency of that Edic,