« AnteriorContinuar »
accused of maintaining them, he could not permit them to be persecuted. Let us be to them,' said he, what they are not willing that God should be to mankind, full of compassion and indulgence.' He was told, that the Jansenists were his declared enemies, and that they left nothing undone to bring his doctrine and his person into discredit. That is one farther rea
son,' said he, for me to suffer and to forgive them.'
A brief of the pope having been issued March 13, 1699. by which the book of Maxims of the Saints was condemned. Fenelon submitted to the censure without restriction and without reserve. He published the mandate against his own work, and announced himself from the pulpit his own condemnation. In order to give to his diocese a monument of his repentance, he caused for the exposition of the consecrated host, a sun to be represented as borne by two angels, treading under their feet several heretical books, upon one of which was the title of his own. Pope Innocent XII. who held Fenelon in the highest estimation, was less offended with the book of Maxims of the Saints, than with the violence of some of the prelates who condemned He wrote to them, Fenelon's crime is excess of the love of God; yours, on the other hand, is the want of the love of mankind."
A poct, in order to show how dangerous these disputes are to religion, composed the following verses,
In those famous disputes, where two prelates of France
Fair Charity seems by the other discarded,
While without thought of either, Faith falls by each lance.
During the controversy between Fenelon and Bossuet respecting the book of Explanation of the Maxims of the Saints, Madame de Grignon, daughter of Madame de Sévigné, said one day to Bossuet, Is it true then, that the archbishop of Cambray is a man of so great genius?" "Ah Madam, said Bossuet, he has enough to make one tremble.'
The question was discussed before the queen of Poland, wife of Stanislaus, which of the two champions, Bossuet or Fenelon, had rendered the greatest services to religion. The one,' said that princess, has proved its truth, the other has made it to be loved.'
The wishes of Fenelon, like his writings, were moderate, and toward the close of his life, he composed to an air of Lulli those verses, which M. de Voltaire affirms were in possession of
the marquis of Fenelon, his nephew, afterwards ambassador at the Hague.
Jeune, J'étois trop sage,
Je touche au dernier age
This anecdote would be of little importance, but for the proof it furnishes to what degree we see in a different light, in the calmness of age, what seemed to us so great and so interesting at that period of life, when the mind is the sport of its desires and its illusions.
The death of Fenelon was deeply lamented by all the inhabitants of the low countries. So well had he balanced his worldly aflairs, that he died without money, and without a debt. The following portrait of this celebrated prelate is given by the duke of de St. Simon in his memoirs. He was a tall, lean well made man, with a large nose, eyes whence fire and sense flowed in a torrent, a physiognomy resembling none, which I have elsewhere seen, and which could not be forgotten after it had been once beheld. It required an effort to cease to look at him. His manners corresponded to his countenance and person. They were marked with that ease, which makes others easy, and with that taste and air of good company, which is only acquired by frequenting the great world. He possessed a natural eloquence, a ready, clear and agreeable elocution, and a power of making himself understood upon the most perplexed and abstract subjects. With all this, he never chose to appear wiser or wittier than those with whom he conversed, but descended to every one's level with a manner so free and enchanting, that it was scarcely possible to quit him. It was this rare talent which kept his friends so closely attached to him, notwithstanding his fall; and which, during their dispersion, assembled them to talk of him, to regret him, to long for his return, and to unite themselves to him more closely and more firmly.?
THE PLACE OF PIETY AMONGST THE VIRTUES.
How extremely defective are the characters of those persons who, whatever they may be in other respects, live in the neglect of God. Nothing indeed can be more melancholy, than to see so many of mankind capable of maintaining a good opinion of themselves, though they know themselves habitually regardless of devotion and piety, inattentive to the Author of all good, and little under the power of his fear or love. Can any one seriously think, that a misbehaviour of this kind is not as truly inconsistent with goodness of temper and sound virtue, and in the same manner destructive of the foundations of hope and bliss as any other misbehaviour? Do neglect and ingratitude, when men are the objects of them, argue great evil of temper, but none, when the Governor of the world is their object? Why should impiety be less criminal than dishonesty? The former of these, it is true, is not generally looked upon with the same aversion and disgust as the latter, nor does it cause an equal forfeiture of credit and reputation in the world. This may be owing partly to the more immediate and pernicious influence of the latter on our own interest, and on that of others; but it is perhaps chiefly to be accounted for from a more strong instinctive aversion, wrought into our frame against the latter. 'Tis obvious, this was necessary to preserve the peace and happiness of society. But when we consider these vices in themselves, and as they appear to the eye of cool and unbiassed reason, we cannot think that there is less absolute evil in irreligion than in injustice.
Every man, as far as he discharges private and social duties, is to be loved and valued, nor can any thing be said that ought in reason to discourage him. Whatever good any person does, or whatever degree of real virtue he possesses, he is sure in some way or other to be better for; though it should not be such as to avail to his happiness at last, or save him from just condemnation, yet it will at least render him so much the less guilty and unhappy. But in truth, as long as men continue void of religion and piety, there is great reason to apprehend they are destitute of the genuine principle of virtue, and possess but little true worth and goodness. Their good behaviour in other instances may probably flow more from the influence of instinct and natu
ral temper, or from the love of distinction, than from a sincere regard to what is reasonable and fit as such. Were this the principle, that chiefly influenced them, they would have an equal regard to all duty; they could not be easy in the omission of any thing, they know to be right, and especially in the habitual neglect of Him, with whom they have infinitely more to do, than with all the world. He, that forgets God and his government, presence and laws, wants the main support, and the living root of inward genuine virtue, as well as the most fruitful source of tranquillity and joy: nor can he with due exactness, care, and faithfulness be supposed capable of performing his duties to himself or others. He that is without the proper affections to the author of his being, or who does not study to cultivate them by those acts and exercises, which are the natural and necessary expressions of them, should indeed be ashamed to make any pretensions to integrity and goodness of character. The knowlege and love of Deity,' says Dr. Hutchinson, 'the universal mind, is as natural a perfection to such a being as man, as any accomplishment to which we arrive by cultivating our natural dispositions; nor is that mind come to the proper state and vi gour of its kind, where religion is not the main exercise and delight.'-Price on Morals.
[The following hymns were communicated by the author of the Hymn for a Birthday in our last number, and are formed upon the principles recommended in the Christian Disciple for July and August, of this year.]
A HYMN FOR THE TUNE CHINA.
A PARAPHRASE OF ROM. XIII. 12.
1. Ye that indulge in slumber still,
2. Lo! the deep shades of night dissolve;