網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fane uses.

call priests; but with no ceremony, no Christ and the Holy Ghost; that it is to dignity, no distinctive mark of pre-emi- } them that Ananias and his wife have lied, nence.

and it is they who punish them with sudIt was the office of the ancients or eld- den death ; —that, indeed, this miracle ers to distribute the alms. The younger was worked for the purpose of terrifying of them were chosen by a plurality of all such as, while giving their goods to Foices, to serve the tables, and were the Church, and saying that they have seven in number; all which clearly veri- given all, keep something back for profies the reports in common.

The judicious Calmet shows Of jurisdiction, of power, of com- us how the fathers and the commentators mand, not the least trace is to be found. differ about the salvation of these two

It is true that Ananias and Sapphira primitive Christians, whose sin consisted were struck dead for not giving all their in simple though culpable reticence. money to St. Peter, but retaining a small Be this as it may, it is certain that the part for their own immediate wants, with- apostles had no jurisdiction, no power, no out confessing it—for corrupting, by a authority, but that of persuasion, which trifling falsehood, the sanctity of their is the first of all, and upon which every gifts; but it is not St. Peter who con other is founded. demns them. It is true that he divines Besides, it appears from this very story Ananias's fault; he reproaches him with that the Christians lived in common. it, and tells him that he has lied to the When two or three of them were gaHoly Ghost ; after which Ananias falls thered together, Jesus Christ was in the down dead. Then comes Sapphira; and midst of them. They could all alike rePeter, instead of warning, interrogatesceive the Spirit. Jesus was their true, her, which seems to be the action of a their only superior; he had said to judge. He makes her fall into the snare } themby saying, “Tell me whether ye sold the “Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is land for so much.” The wife made the } your master, even Christ ; and all ye are same answer as her husband. It is as- brethren. And call no man your father tonishing that she did not, on reaching the upon earth ; for one is your father, which place, learn her husband's death-that is in heaven. Neither be ye called masno one had informed her of it—that she ters; for one is your master, even did not observe the terror and tumult Christ." which such a death must have occasioned, In the time of the apostles, there was no and, above all, the mortal fear lest the ritual, no liturgy, there were no fixed hours officers of justice should take cognizance for assembling, no ceremonies. The disof it as of a murder. It is strange that ciples baptised the catechumens, and this woman should not have filled the breathed the Holy Ghost into their house with her cries, but have been mouths, as Jesus Christ had breathed quietly interrogated, as in a court of } upon the apostles ; and as, in many justice, where silence is rigidly enforced. { churches, it is still the custom to breathe It is still more extraordinary that Peter , into the mouth of a child when adminisshould have said to her, “ Behold the tering baptism. Such were the beginfeet of them which have carried thy hus- nings of Christianity. All was done by band out at the door, and shall carry thee inspiration-by enthusiasm, as among the out,"-on which the sentence was in- } Therapeutæ and the Judaïtes, if we may stantly executed. Nothing can more re- for a moment be permitted to compare semble a criminal hearing before a des- | Jewish societies, now become reprobate, potic judge.

with societies conducted by Jesus Christ But it must be considered that St. } himself from the highest heaven, where Peter is here only the origan of Jesus he sat at the right hand of his Father.

Tiine brought necessary changes: the deigned to employ these apparitionsChurch being extended, strengthened, these visions, in favour of the Jews, who and enriched, had occasion for new laws. were then its cherished people. APPARITION.

It may be that, in the course of time,

some really pious souls, deceived by It is not at all uncommon for a person { their enthusiasm, have believed that they under strong emotion to see that which had received from an intimate communiis not. In 1726, a woman in London, cation with God that which they owed accused of being an accomplice in her only to their intlamed imaginations. In husband's murder, denied the fact ; the such cases, there is need of the advice of dead man's coat was held up and shaken } an honest man, and especially of a good before her, her terrified imagination pre- physician. sented the husband himself to her view ; The stories of apparitions are innumeshe fell at his feet, and would have em- rable. It is said to have been in consebraced him. She told the jury that she quence of an apparition that St. Theohad seen her husband.

dore, in the beginning of the fourth It is not wonderful that Theodoric saw century, went and set fire to the temple in the head of a fish, which was served of Amasia, and reduced it to ashes. It up to him, that of Symmachus, whom is very likely that God did not command he had assassinated—or unjustly exe- } this action, in itself so criminal, by which cuted; for it is precisely the same thing. several citizens perished, and which ex

Charles IX., after the massacre of St. {posed all the Christians to a just revenge. Bartholomew, saw dead bodies and blood, God might permit St. Potamienne to not in his dreams, but in the convulsions appear to St. Basilides ; for there resulted of a troubled mind seeking for sleep in no disturbance to the state. We will not vain. His physician and his nurse bore deny that Jesus Christ might appear to witness to it. Fantastic visions are very St. Victor. But, that St. Benedict saw frequent in hot fevers. This is not seeing the soul of St. Germanus of Capua carin imagination ; it is seeing in reality. ried up to heaven by angels; and that The phantom exists to him who has the two monks afterwards saw the soul of St. perception of it. If the gift of reason, Benedict walking on a carpet extended vouchsafed to the human machine, were from heaven to Mount Cassino ;-this is not at hand to correct these illusions, all not quite so easy to believe. heated imaginations would be in an al- It may likewise, without any offence most continual transport, and it would be to our august religion, be doubted, impossible to cure them.

whether St. Eucherius was conducted by It is especially in that middle state, be- } an angel into hell, where he saw Charles twixt sleeping and waking, that an in- Martel's soul; and whether a holy herflamed brain sees imaginary objects, and } mit of Italy saw the soul of Dagobert hears sounds which nobody utters. Fear, chained in a boat by devils, who were love, grief, remorse, are the painters who { flogging it without mercy; for, after all, trace the pictures before unsettled imagi- } it is rather difficult to explain satisfactonations. The eye which sees sparks in rily how a soul can walk upon a carpet, the night, when accidentally pressed in a } how it can be chained in a boat, or how certain direction, is but a faint image of it can be flogged. the disorders of the brain.

But, it may very well be, that heated No theologian doubts, that with these brains have had such visions ; from age natural causes the Master of nature has to age we have a thousand instances sometimes united his divine influence of them. One must be very enlightened To this the Old and the New Testament { to distinguish, in this prodigious number bear ample testimony. Providence has of visions, those which came from God

117

APPARITION.

himself

, from those which were purely the ; the order of the divine warnings, and the offspring of imagination.

conduct of divine grace.” The illustrious Bossuet relates, in his The reader, then, must peruse this funeral oration over the Princess Palatine, story with the same reverence with which two visions which acted powerfully on its hearers listened to it. These extraorthat princess, and determined the whole dinary workings of Providence are like the conduct of her latter years. These hea- miracles of canonised saints, which must venly visions must be believed, since they be attested by irreproachable witnesses. are regarded as such by the discreet and And what more lawful deponent can we learned Bishop of Meaux, who pene- have, to the apparitions and visions of the trated into all the depths of theology, and Princess Palatine, than the man who emeven undertook to lift the veil which co- }ployed his life in distinguishing truth from vers the Apocalypse.

appearance ?—who combated vigorously He says, then, that the Princess Pala- against the nuns of Port-Royal on the tine, having lent a hundred thousand formulary—against Paul Ferri on the cafrancs to her sister the Queen of Poland, techism-against the minister Claude op sold the duchy of Rételois for a million, the variations of the Church -against and married her daughters advantageously. Doctor Dupin on China—against Father Happy according to the world, but un- Simon on the understanding of the sacred fortunately doubting the truths of the text-against Cardinal Sfondrate on preChristian religion, she was brought back } destination-against the Pope on the to her conviction, and to the love of these rights of the Gallican church-against the ineffable truths, by two visions. The Archbishop of Cambray on pure and disfirst was a dream, in which a man born interested love. He was not to be seblind, told her that he had no idea of duced by the names, nor the titles, nor light, and that we must believe the word } the reputation, nor the dialectics of his of others in things of which we cannot adversaries. He related this fact; thereourselves conceive. The second arose } fore he believed it. Let us join him in from a violent shock of the membranes his belief, in spite of the raillery which it and fibres of the brain in an access of has occasioned. Let us adore the secrets fever. She saw a hen running after one of Providence: but let us distrust the of her chickens, which a dog held in his { wanderings of the imagination, which mouth. The Princess Palatine snatched |Mallebranche called la folle du logis. For the chick from the dog; on which, a these two visions, accorded to the Prinvoice cried out, “Give him back hiscess Palatine, are not vouchsafed to every chicken ; if you deprive him of his food, one. he will not watch as he ought.” But the Jesus Christ appeared to St. Catharine princess exclaimed, “No, I will never of Sienna; he espoused her, and gave her give it back."

a ring. This mystical apparition is to be The chicken was the soul of Anne of {venerated, for it is attested by Raymond Gonzaga, Princess Palatine ; the hen was of Capud, general of the Dominicans, the Church ; and the dog was the Devil. who confessed her, as also by Pope UrAnne of Gonzaga, who was never to give { ban VI. But it is rejected by the learned back the chicken to the dog, was effica- Fleuir, author of the Ecclesiastical His

tory. And a young woman, who should Bossuet preached this funeral oration now boast of having contracted such a to the Carmelite nuns of the faubourg marriage, might receive as a nuptial preSt. Jacques, at Paris, before the whole sent a place in a lunatic asylum. house of Condé; he used these remark- The appearance of Mother Angelica, able words_“ Hearken ; and be espe- } abbess of Port-Royal, to Sister Dorothy, ciallv careful not to hear with contempt is related by a man of very great weight

cious gruce.

among the Jansenists, the Sieur Dufossé, z phant very small; and what we call small, author of the Mémoirs de Pontis. Mo- } is to insects a world. ther Argelica, long after her death, came The same motion which would be rapid and seated herself in the Church of Port- to a snail, would be very slow in the eye Royal, in her old place, with her crosier of an eagle. This rock, which is impein her hand. She commanded that Sister netrable by steel, is a sieve consisting of Dorothy should be sent for, and to her more pores than matter, and containing a she told terrible secrets. But the testi- thousand avenues of prodigious width mony of this Dufossé is of less weight leading to its centre, in which are lodged than that of Raymond of Capua, and Pope multitudes of animals, which may, for Urban VI., which, however, have not aught we know, think themselves the been formally received.

masters of the universe. The writer of the above paragraphs Nothing is either as it appears to be, has since read the Abbé Langlet's four or in the place where we believe it to be. volumes on Apparitions, and thinks he Several philosophers, tired of being ought not to take anything from them. constantly deceived by bodies, have in He is convinced of all the apparitions their spleen pronounced that bodies do verified by the church ; but he has some not exist, and that there is nothing real doubts about the others, until they are but our minds. As well might they have authentically recognized. The Cordeliers concluded that, all appearances being and the Jacobins, the Jansenists and the false, and the nature of the soul being as Molinists, have all had their apparitions little known as that of the matter, there and their miracles. “Iliacos inter muros is no reality in either body or soul. peccatur et extrá."

Perhaps it is this despair of knowing

anything which has caused some Chinese APPEARANCE.

philosophers to say, that Nothing is the Are all appearances deceitful? Have { beginning and the end of all things. our senses been given us only to keep us This philosophy, so destructive to be in continual delusion? Is everything ing, was well known in Molière's time. error? Do we live in a dream, sur- Doctor Macphurius represents the school; rounded by shadowy chimeras? We see when teaching Sganarelle, he says, “ You the sun setting, when he is already below must not say, 'I am come,' but it seems the horizon: before he has yet risen, we to me that I am come; for it may seem see him appear. A square tower seems to you, without such being really the to be round. A straight stick, thrust into case.” the water, seems to be bent.

But at the present day, a comic scene You see your face in a mirror, and the is not an argument, though it is some image appears to be behind the glass : it times better than an argument; and is, however, neither behind nor before it. there is often as much pleasure in seeking This glass, which to the sight and the after truth as in laughing at philosophy. touch is so smooth and even, is no other You do not see the net-work, the cothan an unequal congregation of pro-vities, the threads, the inequalities, the jections and cavities. Th finest and exhalations of that white and delicate fairest skin is a kind of bristled net-work, skin which you idolize. Animals a thouthe openings of which are incomparably sand times less than a mite discern all larger than the threads, and enclose an these objects which escape your vision; infinite number of minute hairs. Under they lodge, feed, and travel about in this net-work there are liquors incessantly them, as in an extensive country, and passing, and from it there issue continual { those on the right arm are perfectly igno exhalations which cover the whole sur- rant that there are creatures of their owi. face. What we call large is to an ele- species on the left. If you were so un

JOB.

fortunate as to see what they see, your ? Had Cæsar been born in the time of charming skin would strike you with Scipio Africanus, he would not have subhorror.

jugated the Roman commonwealth ; nor The harmony of a concert, to which would Mahomet, could he rise again at you listen with delight, must have on cer- the present day, be more than sheriff of tain classes of minute animals the effect Mecca. But if Archimedes and Virgil of terrible thunder; and perhaps it kills were restored, one would still be the best them. We see, touch, hear, feel things, mathematician, the other the best poet of only in the way in which they ought to his country. be seen, touched, heard, or felt by our

ARABS; selves. All is in due proportion. The laws

AND, OCCASIONALLY, ON THE BOOK OF of optics, which show you an object in the water where it is not, and break a If any one be desirous of obtaining a right line, are in entire accordance with thorough knowledge of the antiquities of those which make the sun appear to you { Arabia, it may be presumed that he will with a diameter of two feet, although it is gain no more information than about those a million times larger than the earth. To of Auvergne and Poitou. It is, however, see it in its true dimensions, would re- certain, that the Arabs were of some conquire an eye collecting his rays at an sequence long before Mahomet. The angle as great as his disk, which is im- Jews themselves say that Moses married possible. Our senses, then, assist much an Arabian woman; and his father-in-law more than they deceive us.

Jethro seems to have been a man of great Motion, time, hardness, softness, good sense. dimensions, distance, approximation, Mecca is considered, and not without strength, weakness, appearances, of what- reason, as one of the most ancient cities ever kind, -all is relative. And who in the world. It is, indeed, a proof of its has created these relations?

antiquity, that nothing but superstition

could occasion the building of a town on A-PROPOS,

such a spot; for it is in a sandy desert, ALL great successes, of whatever kind, where the water is brackish, so that the are founded upon things done or said people die of hunger and thirst. The d-propos.

country a few miles to the east is the most Arnold of Brescia, John Huss, and delightful upon earth, the best watered Jerome of Prague, did not come quite and the most fertile. There the Arabs d-propos : the people were not then suf- should have built, and not at Mecca. ficiently enlighted; the invention of But it was enough for some charlatan, printing had not then laid the abuses some false prophet, to give out his revecomplained of before the eyes of every ries, to make of Mecca a sacred spot and one. But when men began to read—when the resort of neighbouring nations.

Thus the populace, who were solicitous to es- it was that the temple of Jupiter Ammon cape purgatory, but at the same time į was built in the midst of sands. wished not to pay too dear for indul- Arabia extends from north-east to southgences, began to open their eyes, the re- west, from the desert of Jerusalem to formers of the sixteenth century came {Aden or Eden, about the fiftieth degree quite à-propos, and succeeded.

of north latitude. It is an immense It has been elsewhere observed, that country, about three times as large as Cromwell under Elizabeth or Charles the į Germany. It is very likely that its deserts Second, or Cardinal De Retz when Louis of sand were brought thither by the waters XIV. governed by himself, would have of the ocean, and that its marine gulphs been very ordinary persons.

were once fertile lands.

« 上一頁繼續 »