History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe
by W. E. H. Lecky
Footnotes to Chapter IV.
1:360. Martyrdom, or, as it was termed, the baptism of blood, being the chief. Some, however, relying on the case of the penitent thief, admitted a 'baptism of perfect love,' when a baptism by water could not be obtained. This consisted, of course, of extraordinary exercises of faith. Catechumens also, who died during the preparation for baptism, were thought by some to be saved. See Lamet et Fromageau, Dict. des Cas de Commence, tom. i. p. 208.
1:361. Wall's History of Infant Baptism, vol. ii. p. 211. St. Thomas Aquinas afterwards suggested the possibility of the infant being saved who died within the womb: 'God may have ways of saving it for aught we know.'
2:361. Wall vol. i. pp. 282, 283. It is gratifying to know that St. Augustine, in answering this argument, distinctly declared that the crying of a baby is not sinful, and therefore does not deserve eternal damnation.
1:362. Ibid. vol. ii. pp. 192-206, -- a full view of St. Augustine's sentiments on the subject.
2:362. Hieronym., Epist. lib. ii. ep. 18.
3:362. Epist. 28.
4:362. He was born about A.D. 467. (Biog. Univ.)
1:363. 'Firmissime tene, et nullatenus dubites, non solum homines jam ratione utentes, verum etiam parvulos, qui, sive in uteris matrum vivere incipiunt et ibi moriuntur, sive jam de matribus nati sine sacramento sancti baptismatis quod datur in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti de hoc sæculo transeunt, ignis æterni sempiterno supplicio puniendos; quia etsi peccatum propriæ actionis nullum habuerunt, originalis tamen peccati damnationem carnali conceptione et nativitate traxerunt.' De Fide, § 70. So also St. Isidore: ' Pro soli originali reatu luunt in inferno nuper nati infantuli pnas, si renovati per lavacrum non fuerint.' (De Sentent. lib. i. c. 22.) St. Avitus, being of a poetical turn of mind, put the doctrine into verse: --
'Omnibus id veto gravius, si fonte lavacri
Divini expertem tenerum mors invida natum
Præcipitat, durâ generatum sorte, gehennæ,
Qui mox ut matris cessarit filius esse
Perditionis erit: tristes tunc edita nolunt
Quæ flammis tantum genuerunt pignora matres.'
Ad Fuscinam Sororem.
For several other testimonies of the later Fathers to the same effect, see Natalis Alexander, Historia Ecclesiastica (Paris, 1699), tom. v. pp. 130, 131.
1:364. For a very full account of these curious superstitions, see the chapter on 'Baptism' in Thiers' Superstitions, and also a striking memoir in the first volume of Le Moyen Age, by Lacroix. We can now hardly realise a condition of thought in which the mind was concentrated so strongly upon the unborn, ftus; but we should remember that, besides the doctrine of baptism, there were two subjects much discussed in the early Church which tended to produce an order of realisations to which we are not accustomed. Some of the early writers, and especially the Nestorians, had agitated questions concerning the time when the divinity of Christ was united to the foetus in the womb, that had filled the Church with curious physiological speculations. Besides this, one of the earliest struggles of the Church was for the suppression of the custom of destroying the offspring in the womb, which was extremely common among the pagans, and which they scarcely regarded a crime. Tertullian (Apol. c. 9) and the author of the Epistle ascribed to St. Barnabas appear to have been among the first to denounce this pagan practice. Another illustration of the estimate in which baptism was held is furnished by the notion that bodily distempers followed irregular baptism. I have already referred to the belief that somnambulists had been baptised by a drunken priest; but perhaps the most curious example was in a great epidemic attack of St. Vitus's dance, which appeared in the Netherlands in 1375. The common people then believed that the disease resulted from unchaste priests having baptised the children, and their fury was so great that it was with difficulty that the lives of the ecclesiastics were saved. (Hecker, Epidemics of The Middle Ages, pp. 153, 154.)
1:366. A great deal of controversy had been excited in the middle ages about a Jew, who, being converted to Christianity in a desert, where there was no water, and being as was supposed in a dying state, was baptised with sand. There were also some cases of women baptising their children with wine. For full details about these, see Thiers' Traité des Superstitions.
2:366. Arts. ii. and ix.
3:366. Wall. The notion of a limbo had been so widely diffused that Sarpi says the Tridentine Fathers at one time hesitated whether they should not condemn as heretical the Lutheran proposition that unbaptised infants went into 'eternal fire.' We find Pascal, however, stating the doctrine in a very repulsive form: 'Qu'y a-t-il de plus contraire aux règles de notre misérable justice que de damner éternellement un enfant incapable de volonté pour un péché où il paroit avoir eu si peu de part qu'il est commis six mille ans avant qu'il fut en être? Certainement rien ne nous heurte plus rudement que cette doctrine, et cependant sans ce mystère le plus incompréhensible de tous nous sommes incompréhensibles à nous-mêmes.' (Pensées, cap. iii. § 8.) I have little doubt, however, that the more revolting aspect of the doctrine was nearly obsolete in the Church at the time of the Reformation. In the twelfth century, St. Bernard had said: 'Nihil ardet in inferno nisi propria voluntas.'
1:367. According to Wall, Calvin was the very first theologian who denied that the passage, 'Except a man be born of water and of the spirit,' &c, applied to baptism. (Vol. ii. p. 180.) Jeremy Taylor strongly supported Calvin's view: 'The water and the spirit in this place signify the same thing; and by water is meant the effect of the spirit cleansing and purifying the soul, as appears in its parallel place of Christ baptising with the spirit and with fire.' (Liberty of Prophesying, § 18.)
1:368. See Jonathan Edwards on Original Sin -- one of the most revolting books that have ever proceeded from the pen of man.
1:370. See, on the career of Pomponatius, Matter, Histoire des Doctrines Morales des trois Derniers Siècles, tom. i. pp. 51-67. Pomponatius was born at Mantua in 1462, and died in 1524. His principal work is on The Immortality of the Soul. He was protected by Leo X. (Biog. Univ.) Vanini said that the soul of Averroes had passed into Pomponatius. The seventeenth century furnishes some striking examples of this separation of the philosophical and theological points of view. Thus Charron, who as a philosopher wrote one of the most sceptical books of his age, was a priest, and author of a treatise on Christian Evidences. Pascal too, in whose great mind scepticism and faith were strangely interwoven, accepted with delight the Pyrrhonism of Montaigne as representing the ultimate fruits of reason, while firmly grasping Catholicism by faith. Luther himself had maintained that a proposition may be true in theology and false in philosophy -- an opinion which the Sorbonne condemned: 'Sorbona pessime definivit idem esse verum in philosophia et theologia, impieque damnavit eos qui contrarium docuerint.' (Amand Saintes, Hist. du Rationalisme en Allemagne, p. 29.)
1:372. Neander, Hist. of Dogmas, vol. ii. pp. 657, 658.
1:373. Neander, Hist. of Dogmas, vol. ii. pp. 658, 659. Bossuet made a violent attack upon this notion of Zuinglius, which he regarded with extreme horror because, as he plaintively observes, supposing it to be true, then 'le péché originel ne damne personne, pas même les enfants des paiens.' (Variations Protestants, liv. ii. c. 21.) The remarks of Bossuet are especially worthy of attention on account of the great clearness with which he maintains the universality of the belief in the damnable nature of original sin in all sections of the Christian Church. He has, however, slightly overstated the doctrine of Zuinglius. The Reformer distinctly declared original sin to be simply a disease, and not properly a sin. From his language in his Treatise on Baptism, it was inferred that he asserted the salvation of pagan infants. However, in 1526, he wrote a short treatise On Original Sin, in which he said that his former work had been misrepresented; that he maintained indeed that the word 'sin' was only applied to our original malady by a figure of speech; that he was quite sure that that malady never in itself damned Christian children, but that he was not equally sure that it never damned pagan children. He inclined, however, strongly to the belief that it did not: 'De Christianorum natis certi sumus eos peccato originali non damnari, de aliorum non itidem; quamvis, ut ingenue fateor, nobis probabilior videtur sententia quam docuimus, non temere pronunciandum esse de gentilium quoque natis et eis qui opus legis faciunt ex lege intus digito Dei scripta.' (P. 28.)
1:374. Chillingworth treated the subject with his usual admirable good sense: 'This is certain, that God will not deal unjustly with unbaptised infants; but how in particular He will deal with them concerns not us, and so we need not much regard it.' (Religion of Protestants, chap. vii.) Jeremy Taylor strongly rejected both original sin, in the sense of transmitted guilt, and the damnation of infants that was inferred from it.
1:377. I take these references from Palmer On the Church (vol. i. pp. 11-13, 3d ed.), where there is much evidence on the subject collected. Mr. Palmer contends that the Fathers are unanimous on the subject, but Barbeyrac shows that at least two, and those of the earliest (Justin Martyr and Clemens Alexandrinus), admitted the possible salvation of the pagans (Morale des Pères, ch. xi. § 11), and that the first expressly said that Socrates and Heraclitus in the sight of God were Christians. I am afraid, however, there is no doubt that the great majority of the Fathers took the other view. Minucius Felix thought the dæmon of Socrates was a devil. (Octavius, ch. xxvi.)
2:377. De Fide, § 81; and again, still more explicitly: 'Omni enim homini qui Ecclesiæ Catholicæ non tenet unitatem, neque baptismus neque eleemosyna quamlibet copiosa, neque mors pro nomine Christi suscepta proficere poterit ad salutem, quamdiu eo vel hæretica vel schismatica pravitas perseverat quæ ducit ad mortem.' (§ 22.)
3:377. Palmer, On the Church, vol. i. p. 13. And again the Synod of Zerta in A.D. 412. 'Whosoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however innocently he may think he lives, for this crime alone that he is separated from the unity of Christ will not have life, but the wrath of God remaineth on him.' This statement is said to have been drawn up by St. Augustine. See Hawarden's Charity and Truth, pp. 39, 40 (Dublin, 1809).
1:378. I know nothing in the world sadder than one of the sayings of Luther on this matter. I quote it from that beautiful old translation of The Table Talk by Bell: 'It were a light and an easy matter for a Christian to suffer and overcome death if he knew not that it were God's wrath; the same title maketh death bitter to us. But an heathen dieth securely away; he neither seeth nor feeleth that it is God's wrath, but meaneth it is the end of nature and is natural. The epicurean says it is but to endure one evil hour.' A distinguished living antiquarian, comparing the heathen and the mediæval representations of death, observes: 'Dans la société païenne, toute composée du sensualisme et de licence, on se gardait bien de répresenter la mort comme quelque chose de hideux; il ne parait même point que le squelette air été alors le symbole de l'impitoyable divinité. Mais quand le Christianisme eut conquis le monde, quand une éternité malheureuse dut être la punition des fautes commises ici bas, la mort qui avait semblé si indifférente aux anciens devint une chose dent les conséquences furent si terribles pour le chrétien qu'il fallut les lui rapporter à chaque instant en frappant ses yeux des images funèbres. (Jubinal, Sur les Danses des Morts, p. 8.)
1:380. It is remarkable that Aristotle, whom the schoolmen placed almost on a level with the Fathers, owes his position entirely to the early heretics; that the introduction of his philosophy was at first invariably accompanied by an increase of heresy; and that the Fathers, with scarcely an exception, unequivocally denounced it. See much curious evidence of this in Allemand-Lavigerie, École Chrétienne d'Édesse. (Thèse présentée ê la Faculté des Lettres de Paris, 1850.)
2:380. Middleton's Free Enquiry, Introd. p. 86.
1:382. Palmer, On the Church, vol. i. p. 13.
2:382. See a great deal of evidence of this in Palmer.
3:382. This passage is given in full by Bossuet, Variations Protestantes, liv. ii. c. 19. The original Confession was published by Bullinger in 1536, with a very laudatory preface.
1:385. The doctrine of double predestination was, however, maintained in the ninth century by a monk named Gotteschalk, who was opposed by Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, in the spirit of a theologian, and by Scotus Erigena in the spirit of a freethinker. For an account of this once-famous controversy see the learned work of M. St. René Taillandier, Scot Erigène et la Philosophie Scholastique (Strasbourg, 1843), pp. 51-58; and for a contemporary view of the opinions of Gotteschalk, see a letter by Amulo, Archbishop of Lyons (the immediate successor of Agobard), printed with the works of Agobard (Paris, 1666). According to Amulo, Gotteschalk not only held the doctrines of reprobation and particular redemption, but even declared that the Almighty rejoiced and exulted over the destruction of those who were predestinated to damnation. Gotteschalk was condemned to be degraded from the priesthood, to be imprisoned, and to be scourged. (Llorente, Hist. de l'Inquisition, tom. i. p. 20.)
2:385. 'Sic humana voluntas in medio posita est ceu jumentum. Si insederit Deus, vult et vadit quo vult Deus, ut Psalmus dicit: "Factus sum sicut jumentum et ego semper tecum." Si insederit Satan, vult et vadit quo vult Satan. Nec est in ejus arbitrio ad utrum sessorem currere aut eum quærere, sed ipsi sessores certant ob ipsum obtinendum et possidendum.' (De Servo Arbitrio, pars i. sec. 24.)
1:386. 'Hic est fidei summus gradus, credere illum esse clementem qui tam paucos salvat tam multos damnat; credere justum qui sua voluntate nos necessario damnabiles facit; ut videatur, referente Erasmo, delectari cruciatibus miserorum, et odio potius quam amore dignus. Si igitur possem ulla ratione comprehendere quomodo is Deus misericors et justus, qui tantum iram et iniquitatem ostendit, non esset opus fide.' (Ibid. sec. 23.)
2:386. 'Est itaque et hoc imprimis necessarium et salutare Christiano nosse, quod Deus nihil præscit contingiter, sed quod omnia incommutabilia et æterna, infallibilique voluntate et prævidet et præponit et facit. Hoc fulmine sternitur et conteritur penitus liberum arbitrium.' (Sec. 10.) I give these sections according to Vaughan's translation (1823), for in the original edition (1526) there are no divisions, and the pages are not numbered. Melanchthon, in the edition of his Commonplaces, expressed extreme predestinarian views, but omitted them in later editions. Luther, in his old age, said he could not review with perfect satisfaction any of his works except, perhaps, his Catechism and his De Servo Arbitrio (Vaughan's Preface, p. 57). There is a full notice of this book in one of Sir W. Hamilton's essays.
1:387. On Calvin's views, see especially his De Æterna Dei Prædestinatione, and his Institut. Christ. lib. iii. c. 21-23. But perhaps their clearest and most emphatic statement is in a work of Beza, De Æterna Dei Prædestinatione, contra Sebastianum Castellionem (published in the Opuscula of Beza, Genevæ, 1658). The pointed objections on the score of moral rectitude of his rationalistic opponent brought the enormities of the Calvinistic doctrine into the fullest relief. There is a curious old translation of this work, under the title of Beza's Display of Popish Practices, or Patched Pelagianism, translated by W. Hopkinson (London, 1578). Beza especially insists on the unfairness of accusing Calvinists of asserting that God so hated some men that He predestinated them to destruction; the truth being that God of His free sovereignty predestinated them to destruction, and therefore to His hatred; so that 'God is not moved with the hatred of any that He should drive him to destruction, but He hath hated whom He hath predestinated to destruction.' Another point on which Jonathan Edwards especially has insisted (in his Freedom of Will) is that there can be no injustice in punishing voluntary transgression, and that the transgressions of the reprobate are voluntary; men having been since Adam created with wills so hopelessly corrupt that without Divine assistance they must inevitably be damned, and God having in the majority of cases resolved to withhold that assistance. The fatality, therefore, does not consist in man being compelled to do certain things whether he wishes it or not, but in his being brought into the world with such a nature that his wishes necessarily tend in a given direction.
2:387. Calvinists, indeed, often protest against this conclusion; but it is almost self-evident, and the ablest writer of the school admits it in a sense which is quite sufficiently large for his opponents: 'If by the author of sin is meant the permitter or not hinderer of sin, and at the same time a disposer of the state of events in such a manner for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and purposes that sin, if it be permitted or not hindered, will most certainly and infallibly follow; I say, if this be all that is meant, I do not deny that God is the author of sin.' (Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of Will, p. 369.) The predestination of the fall of Adam, whose will was not hopelessly corrupt, has of course its own peculiar difficulties.
1:391. See Laing's Sweden, pp. 108-141, where this question is minutely examined. This is a mere question of figures. The following passage from another work of the same writer is less susceptible of decisive proof, and is, I am inclined to think, somewhat overstated, but is nevertheless very suggestive: 'The Swiss people present to the political philosopher the unexpected and most remarkable social phenomenon of a people eminently moral in conduct, yet eminently irreligious: at the head of the moral state in Europe, not merely for absence of numerous or great crimes, or of disregard of right, but for ready obedience to law, for honesty, fidelity to their engagements, for fair-dealing, sobriety, industry, orderly conduct, for good government, useful public institutions, general wellbeing, and comfort; yet at the bottom of the scale for religious feeling, observances, or knowledge, especially in the Protestant cantons, in which prosperity, wellbeing, and morality seem to be, as compared to the Catholic cantons, in an inverse ratio to the influence of religion on the people.... It is a very remarkable social state, similar, perhaps, to that of the ancient Romans, in whom morality and social virtue were also sustained without the aid of religious influences.' (Laing's Notes of a Traveller, pp. 146, 147.) Dr. Arnold said, I think truly, that the popular notion about the superior prosperity of the Protestant over the Catholic cantons is greatly exaggerated: it exists in some cases and not in others.
1:393. Thus, not to quote Roman Catholic authorities, Jeremy Taylor, in the Ductor Dubitantium, lib. iii. c. 2, lays down several cases of justifiable falsehood.
1:394. See on this subject the evidence collected in Middleton's Free Enquiry; the curious panegyric on the habit of telling lies in St. Chrysostom On the Priesthood; the remarks of Coleridge in The Friend, and of Manry, Croyances et Légendes, p. 268. St. Augustine, however, is in this respect an exception. In his treatise Contra Mendacium he strongly denounces the tendency, and especially condemns the Priscillianists, among whom it appears to have been very common, and also certain Catholics who thought it justifiable to pretend to be Priscillianists for the purpose of discovering the secrets of that sect. The most revolting aspect of this subject is the notion that heretics are so intensely criminal as to have no moral rights -- a favourite doctrine in Catholic countries where no Protestant or sceptical public opinion exists. Thus the Spanish Bishop Simancas -- 'Ad pænam quoque pertinet et hæreticorum odium, quod tides illis data servanda non est. Nam si tyrannis, piratis, et cæteris prædonibus quia corpus occidunt fides servanda non est, longe minus hæreticis pertinacibus qui occidunt aromas.' (De Catholicis Institutionibus, p. 365.)
2:394. Since the last note was written, this subject has been discussed at some length by Dr. Newman, in his Apologia pro Vita sua. I do not, however, find anything to alter in what I have stated. Dr. Newman says (Appendix, p. 77): 'The Greek Fathers thought that, when there was a justa causa, an untruth need not be a lie. St. Augustine took another view, though with great misgiving, and, whether he is rightly interpreted or not, is the doctor of the great and common view that all untruths are lies, and that there can be no just cause of untruth.... Now, as to the just cause, the Greek Fathers make them such as these -- self-defence, charity, zeal for God's honour, and the like.' It is plain enough that this last would include all of what are commonly termed pious frauds.
1:397. In a very curious book called Theologiæ Christianæ Principia Mathematica. (Londini, 1699.)
1:398. The reader may find a review of it made on those grounds in Laplace, Théorie des Probabilités. It is manifest that, if correct, obedience would be due to any impostor who said he dreamed that he was a Divine messenger, provided he put his promises and threatenings sufficiently high.
2:398. Thus in the seventeenth century the following was a popular Catholic argument. Protestants admit that Catholics may be saved, but Catholics deny that Protestants can; therefore it is better to become a Catholic. Considering that this argument was designed, by playing on superstitious terrors, and by obscuring the sense of the Divine goodness, to induce men to tamper with their sense of truth, and considering too that its success depended mainly on the timidity, self-distrust, and modesty of the person to whom it was addressed, it may probably be regarded as thoroughly base and demoralising as any that it is even possible for the imagination to conceive. Yet it was no doubt very effective, and was perfectly in harmony with the doctrine we are considering. Selden asked, 'Is their Church better than ours, because it has less charity?' and Bedell, in a passage which Coleridge justly pronounced one of the most beautiful in English prose, compared the two churches in this respect to the rival mothers before Solomon.
1:400. It has been observed by a very able French critic (M. Littré) that the increasing tendency, as civilisation advances, to substitute purely psychological for miraculous solutions is strikingly illustrated by a comparison of Orestes with Hamlet. The subject of both pieces is essentially the same -- a murdered king, a guilty wife, a son distracted between his duty to his dead father and to his living mother; but while the Greek found it necessary to bring the Furies upon the scene to account for the mental paroxysms of Orestes, the Englishman deemed the natural play and conflict of the emotions amply sufficient to account for the sufferings of Hamlet.
1:402. Coleridge, Buckle, and Mill.
2:402. 'And yet (to speak the whole truth), just as we are deeply indebted to light because it enables us to enter on our way, to exercise arts, to read, to distinguish one another, and nevertheless the sight of light is itself more excellent and beautiful than the manifold uses of it; so, assuredly, the very contemplation of things as they are, without superstition or imposture, without error or confusion, is in itself more worthy than all the produce of discoveries (Novum Organon.)
1:403. Thus De Maistre, the great apostle of modern Ultramontanism, assures us that 'dans l'étude de la philosophie, le mépris de Locke est le commencement de la sagesse;' and that 'l'Essai sur l'Entendement Humain est très-certainement, et soit qu'on le nie ou qu'on en convienne, tout ce que le défaut absolu de génie et de style peut enfanter de plus assommant.' (Soirées de St. Pétersbourg, 6me Entretien.) Bacon he calmly terms 'un charlatan,' and, speaking of his greatest works, says: 'Le livre De la Dignité et de l'Accroissement des Sciences est donc un ouvrage parfaitement nul et méprisable.... Quant au Novum Organon, il est bien plus condamnable encore, puisque, indépendamment des erreurs particulières dent il fourmille, le but général de l'ouvrage le rend digne d'un Bedlam.' (Examen de la Philosophie de Bacon,) In the same way, though in very different language, the Tractarian party, and especially Dr. Newman (both before and after his conversion), have been ceaselessly carping at the psychology of Locke and the inductive philosophy of Bacon.