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Mahometans acknowledge Jesus Christ as well as Moses, but maintain that God sent Mahomet as a still greater prophet than either."
Boswell had hired a Bohemian as his servant while he remained in London, and, being much pleased with him, he asked Dr. Johnson whether his being a Roman Catholic should prevent his taking him with him to Scotland. Johnson.“ Why no, sir; if he has no objection, you can have none.” Boswell. "
So, sir, you are no great enemy to the Roman Catholic religion ?” JOHNSON. “ No more, sir, than to the Presbyterian religion.” BOSWELL. “ You are joking.” Johnson. “ No, sir, I really think so: nay, sir, of the two, I prefer the popish.” BOSWELL. “ How so, sir?” JOHNSON.“ Why, sir, the presbyterians have no church, no apostolical ordination.” Boswell.“ And do you think that absolutely essential, sir?" Johnson. “Why, sir, as it was an apostolical institution, I think it is dangerous to be without it: and, sir, the presbyterians have no public worship: they bave no form of prayer in which they know they are to join. They go to hear a man pray, and are to judge whether they will join with him.” BOSWELL. “ But, sir, their doctrine is the same with that of the church of England : their confession of faith, and the thirty-nine articles, contain the same points, even the doctrine of predestination.” Johnson. “ Why yes, sir; predestination was a part of the clamour of the times, so it is mentioned in our articles, but with as little positiveness as could be.” Boswell. “ Is it necessary, sir, to believe all the thirty-nine articles ?" JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, that is a question which has been much agitated.
Some have thought it necessary that they should all be believed; others have considered them to be only articles of peace, that is to say, you are not to preach against them.” Boswell. “ It appears to nie, sir, that predestination, or what is equivalent to it, cannot be avoided, if we hold an universal prescience in the Deity.” JOHNSON. “ Why, sir, does not God every day see things going on without preventing them ?" Boswell. “'True, sir, but if a thing be certainly foreseed, it must be fixed, and cannot happen otherwise ; and if we apply this consideration to the human mind, there is no free will, vor do I see how prayer can be of any avail." He mentioned Dr. Clarke and bishop Bramhall, on Liberty and Necessity, avd bid Boswell read South's Sermons on Prayer ; but avoided the question which has excruciated philosophers and divines beyond any other. Boswell did not press it further, when he perceived that he was displeased, and shruuk from any abridgment of an attribute usually ascri. bed to the Divinity, however irreconcileable in its full extent with the grand system of moral government. His supposed orthodoxy here cramped the vigorous powers of his understanding. He was confined by a chain, which early imagination and long habit made him think massy and strong, but which, had he ventured to try, he could at once have snapped asunder.
Boswell proceeded : “ What do you think, sir, of purgatory, as believed by the Roman Catholics ?” Johnson. “ Why, sir, it is a very harmless doctrine. They are of opinion, that the generality of mankind are neither so obstinately wicked as to deserve everlasting punishment, nor so good as to
mérit being admitted into the society of blessed
Boswell adds, “I thus ventured to mention all the common objections against the Roman Catholic church, that I might hear so great a man upou. them. What he said is here accurately recorded; but, it is not improbable, that if one had taken the other side, he might have reasoned differently.
“I must however mention, that he had a respect for ' the old religion,' as the mild Melancthon called that of the Roman Catholic church, even while he was exerting hinself for its reformation in some particulars. Sir William Scott informs me, that he heard Johnson say, 'A man who is con. verted from protestantism to popery, may be sincere; he parts with nothing; he is only superadding to what he already had : but a convert from popéry to protestantism gives up so much of what he has held as sacred as any thing that he retains; there is so much laceration of mind in such a conversion—that it can hardly be sincere and lasting.' The truth of this reflection inay be confirmed by many and eminent instances, some of which will occur to most of my readers."
On another occasion, the worshipping of saints was the subject of conversation. TOPLADY.“ Does not their invocation of saints suppose omnipresence in the saints?” Johnson. “ No, sir; it supposes only pluri-presence; and when spirits are divested of matter, it seems probable that they should see with more extent than when in an embodied state. There is, therefore, no approach to an invasion of any of the divine attributes in the invocation of saints : but I think it is will-worship and presumption. I see no command for it, and therefore think it is safer not to practise it.”
On Good Friday, after having attended the morning service at St. Clement's church, Boswell walked home with Johnson. They talked of the Roman Ca
tholic religion. Johnson. “ In the barbarous ages, sir, priests and people were equally deceived ; but afterwards, there were gross corruptions introduced by the clergy'; such as indulgences to priests to have concubines, and the worship of images, not, indeed, inculcated, but knowingly permitted.” He strongly censured the licensed stews at Rome. Boswell. “ So then, sir, you would allow of no irregular intercourse whatever between the sexes ?” Johnson. “ To be sure I would not, sir : I would punish it much more than it is done, and so restrain it. In all countries there has been fornication, as in all countries there has been theft; but there may be more or less of the one as well as of the other, in
proportion to the force of law. All men will naturally commit fornication, as all inen will naturally steal: and, sir, it is very absurd to argue, as has been often done, that prostitutes are necessary to prevent the violent effects of appetite from violating the decent order of life; nay, should be permitted, in order to preserve the chastity of our wives and daughters. Depend upon it, sir, severe laws, steadily enforced, would be sufficient against those evils, and would promote marriage."
Boswell talked of the recent expulsion of six students from the university of Oxford, who were methodists, and would not desist from publicly praying and exhorting. JOHNSON. “ Sir, that expulsion was extremely just and proper. What have they to do at an university, who are not willing to be taught, but will presume to teach ? Where is religion to be learnt but at an university? Sir, they were examined, and found to be mighty ignorant fellows." Boswell. “But, was it not hard, sir, to expel them