This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: d invaluable possessions. At the same time, that she employed the stake and gibbet against her avowed enemies, she extended her jealousy even towards learning and philosophy, whom, in her supine security, she had formerly overlooked, as harmless and inoffensive. Hence, the severe check, which knowledge received in Italy: Hence, its total extinction in Spain: And hence, the slow progress, which it made, in France, Germany, and England. From the admiration of antient literature, from the inquiry after new discoveries, the minds of the studious were every where turned to polemical science; and, in all schools and academies, the furious controversies of theology took place of the calm disquisitions of learning. Mean while, the rage of dispute and the violence of opposition rivetted men more strongly in all their various delusions, and infected every intercourse of society with their malignant influence. The Roman pontiff, not armed with temporal force, sufficient for his defence, was obliged to point a-new all his spiritual artillery, and to propagate the doctrine of rebellion and even of assassination, in order to subdue or terrify his enemies. Priests, jealous and provoked, timorous and uncontroled, directed all the councils of that sect, and gave rise to such events as seem astonishing amid the mildness and humanity of modern manners. The massacre of Paris, that of Ireland, the murder of the two Henrys of France, the gunpowder conspiracy in England, are memorable, tho’ temporary instances of the bigotry of that superstition. And the dreadful tribunal of the inquisition, that utmost instance of human depravity, is a durable monument to instruct us what a pitch iniquity and cruelty may rise to, when covered with the sacred mantle of religion. Tho’ the prospect of sharing the plunder of the church had engaged some princes to embrace the reformation, it may be affirmed, that the Romish system remained still the favorite religion of sovereigns. The blind submission, which is inculcated by all superstition, particularly by that of the catholics; the absolute resignation of all private judgment, reason, and inquiry; these are dispositions very advantageous to civil as well as ecclesiastical authority; and the liberty of the subject is more likely to suffer from such principles than the prerogatives of the chief magistrate. The splendor too and pomp of worship, which that religion carefully supports, are agreeable to the taste of magnificence, that prevails in courts, and form a species of devotion, which, while it flatters the pampered senses, gives little perplexity to the indolent understandings, of the great. That delicious country, where the Roman pontiff resides, was the source of all modern art and refinement, and diffused on its superstition an air of politeness, which distinguishes it from the gross rusticity of the other sects. And tho’ policy made it assume, in some of its monastic orders, that austere mien, which is acceptable to the vulgar; all authority still resided in it...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08