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er ? it is from right, founded on virtues that do honor to reason, nature, and religion : however, as you seem to question our authority, a short explanation of the nature of those rights may tend to open your eyes, and might perhaps make a good catholic of you, I'll condescend to instruct you if you'll listen attentively.
It it is an incontrovertible axiom among us that there is but one religion by which man can be saved-out of that, however just he may be, he is an abomination in the eyes of his maker : Man can please God only by an unshaken impli. cit faith ; which alone justifies his actions: and that faith must be supported by the worship it requires. Both are the objects of revelation, and revelation is the basis of true religion,namely the catholic religion.
God, well knowing the weakness of man's understanding, his natural inconstancy, and the corruptness of his heart; and being moreover infinitely jealous of the purity of that faith and worship which he has himself established, and which he means to extend, defend and perpetuate : established on earth an Infallible Oracle of his eternal decrees, whose word we must implicitly believe under no less penalty than eternal damnation: God's vicegerent is an irrefragable interpreter of his supreme will, whom one cannot contradict without rebelling against divinity itself : a fixed star, whose light guides us amidst the darkness of doubt and ignorance; he is an only chief of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, to pluck,destroy,dissipate,edify,plant,in his name & by his doctrine, and in a word, to do, itthese
lower regions, all he inay think fit for the glory of God, and the improvement of religion. That oracle, that interpreter, that star, that chief, is our holy father, the Pope of Rome, the legitimate successor of St Peter. From hence it follows, that the only true religion is the religion of the Pope, and that as the heathen, the Jews, the heretics and the pretended philosophers, beJieve not in the Pope, they are out of the true religion, and consequently an abomination to God.
However, although God abominates nine tenths of the human race--because they do not conforın to the true religion, yet he grants his mercy to those who return into the pale of the church, and who implicitly submit to her doctrines and decisions. Therefore we spare neither sermons, promises or controversies, either to convert the infidels and incredulous, or to recal heretics into the path of truth : but when soft means prove fruitless, when the obstinacy of the enemies of our faith is inflexible, or when any physical or moral cause obstructs the progress of religion; then by virtue of the authority vested by God in his vicar, and by him in us; we do not hesitate to have recourse to rigor, persecution, violence and cruelty ; persuaded that every procedure is justifiable against men whom God has cast from his presence; and that it is agreeable to him to persecute even the least of his enemies; to extinguish by their death their future generations, and by that means put a final stop to the progress of error.
But father, interrupted I, was the christian religion established by that strange mixture of meekness and severity ?
Not at all, my child, answered the Friar; the christian religion owes its standing and glory to the piety and meekness, and to the pure and ex. emplary life of Christ, his disciples, and the first. cliristians. In early times the church was too weak to join rigor to persuasion : her chiers were ignorant of the art of politics, and her credit was not extensive ; but above all they had not yet acquired that holy audaciousness which so nobly distinguished her in subsequent ages; for as soon as the christians felt strong enough, by their number, the courage of their bishops, and the protection of earthly potentates ; they soon displayed the energy of that zeal which they had before evinced amidst the torture and under the rack; and soon convinced the world that they were not deficient in point of courage, when the opportunity offered, to avenge the blood of their brothers, or to propagate the gospel with fire and sword as well as by preaching.
The third age was hardly elapsed, when thro' the most laudable and holiest reprisals, they put to the sword in Syria and Palestine, those magistrates who had been instrumental in persecuting them. They drowned the wife and daughter of the Emperor Maximin and tortured to death his sons and all his relations.
Some time after St. Syrille supported that step by his sermons and his conduct. He drove away by his own authority the Norvutians, robbed their bishop of his revenues, and at the head!
of an enraged multitude attacked the Jews in their synagogues, expelled them from Alexandria, and gave up the effects to the plunder of his christian mob, " because, says St. Augustine, all belongs to the faithful ; the wicked possess nothing in their own right."
This intrepid patriarch did not stop here ; he maintained warmly that the civil authority was subject to the ecclesiastical, and in order to prove the assertion, five hundred monks sur. rounded governor Orestes, who did not sufficiently respect the holy man; wounded him with a stone, and would have murdered him in stantly, if his guards had not opposed them,and checked their zeal. It is true, that one of the good monks lost his life in the attempt, but he was beautified on the spot : and in order to appease the manes of that martyr of Christ, nothing answered short of the blood of the celebrated Hypachia, the daughter of Orestes, whom the christians tore to pieces at the foot of their altars.
What you have already heard is sufficient, my dear, to convince you that nothing is more lawful ; nay more necessary than to use every means for the propagation of the christian faith, for the extirpation of heresy, and also for the support of the power, the greatness and the ma. jesty of God's ministers. But I will conde. scend to shew you that the zeal of the primitive church was but a spark when compared to the blaze which electerized the faithful of the follow, ing ages.
Making only a cursory mention of the happy omens to the establishment of truth, at the
epocha when the emperors, newly converted to the christian faith, began to harrass their subjects, by issuing severe edicts against the Donatists, Priscilianists, Manichians, &c. when the people murdered one another in Asia, and in other quarters, for the CONSUBSI ANTIALITy of the word ? whilst at Rome the Vicary of Christ employed the whole of their policy and inspiration from above, to render more firm the authority which God hath given them over the kingdoms and princes of the globe ; passing slightly the period when by a divine and private order Charlemagne went personally to butcher the inhabitants of Erisburgh, overthrew the temple of Irmenseul, and sacrificed its priests on the seattered limbs of their wooden idols : penetrating as far as the Vezer, and putting to the sword all who dared resist him, he left to the people missionaries to convert, and soldiers to rule them, and put to death four thousand five hundred prisoners, for attempting to recorer that liberty of which he had deprived them ; sacrificing more victims to his holy ambition than all the heathen which he had subduer would have sacrificed to their idols to the day of judgment: passing finally the glorious epocha when the empress Theodora piously extirpated the Paulitians, in the very heart of Armenia; destroying more than an hundred thou. sand of them to avenge religion, and all her coffers with the spoils of those abominablc heretics, I come to the happy time which gave birth to the crusades.