Images de page

P. 137.

Enthufiaftic writings abound, like the 66 history of Mahomet, with the accounts of nocturnal "vifions, &c."

Vid. Koran, chap. 17. Abulfeda's Hiftory, chap. 19. Maracci, prodromi ad refutationem Alcorani, tom. 2. Part 2. p. 13.

"Sometimes like the priesteffes of old, overpower"ed by the influence of their god, or like the devo"tees proftrate at the tombs of modern faints, their infpiration is difplayed by convulfions and agitati66 ons, &c. Sometimes like Lord Herbert, when "wound up to the height of devotion, they mistake "the voice of a still small wind, as a voice from God."


Vid. Leland's deistical writers, vol. i. p. 24. 4th edition, 1764. For an account of pagan enthufiafms, confult Plato's Timæus, Operum tom. 3. p. 71.-Editio Stephani, cum Interpretatione Serrani, 1578.

Jamblichus de Myfteriis Egypti, paffim, particularly cap. 8. in fine.

Plutarchus de Defectu Oraculorum, Operum tom. ii. p. 432 and 436. Editio Xylini Francofurti, 1620.

Cicero de Divinatione, particularly lib. 1. fec. 37. Edit. Oliveti. Conformable to the representations of these authors, are the poetic fictions of Virgil, Æn. lib. 6. line 45 to 50, and 76 to 80, and Lucan's Pharfalía, lib. 5. line 110 to 120, and 148 to 195,

Plato and Jamblichus are fo much to my purpose, I am tempted to translate a short paffage from each. Plato having defcribed the different parts and ufes of the human frame, afferts, that the structure of the liver rendered it a fit instrument for carrying to the imagination nocturnal vifions and impres fions, fometimes gloomy and terrific, fometimes gentle and delightful; and adds, that here alfo was fixed the feat of prophetic vifion (afrua); for, fays he, " They who formed "the human frame, remembering the command of the fupreme Father, that they should make man as excellent as "poffible, formed even this lefs noble part, that it should have "fome apprehenfion of truth, and therefore they placed in it "the feat of prophetic vifion; and it is a fufficient proof that




"God connected this power of prophecy with the irrational 66 part of man, that nobody ever attains to true and inspired "prophecy while in his fober reafon; but when the power of "his understanding is impeded by fleep, or fubdued either by "disease, or fome direct divine infpiration; for, it is the fober man alone who can understand what is spoken or fignified, "whether in dreams, or directly by this prophetic and inspired "nature; and to explain the vifions thus beheld, and to distin66 guifh what any thing points out and to whom, whether it be "good or evil, future, paft, or prefent; for it is not the part "of the perfon agitated by the fury of inspiration, whether

he ftill continues under its dominion or not, to judge of "what is feen or spoken by himself, &c."

Jamblichus is ftill more exprefs in defcribing the agitation, and even frenzy that attended the supposed inspirations of paganism. He is endeavouring to prove the reality of these inspirations; and he argues, that divination and prophecy do not arife from the paffions of the mind, nor the different tempe rament of the body, nor from both together," Let us then, "fays he, inveftigate the caufes of this divine fury, which are "nothing else than illuminations defcending from the gods "themselves, and the spirits by them infufed; and a complete "and abfolute poffeffion, by which they overpower the whole 63 man, which abforbs all our faculties, and puts a stop to every natural operation, and motion, producing words which are not understood by the fpeaker, but which they pronounce "with a tongue moved by a divine fury, while they are entirely fubfervient, and inftrumental to the energy of the god who "poffeffes them. Of this kind is every true infpiration "(Eboracμos); and from thefe caufes does it arise, &c." This is therefore the regular and allowed description of pagan infpirations; and conformable to this are the reprefentations of the poets, as well as the philofophers.



If the reader wifhes for a curious and entertaining view of fanaticism, let him confult Stillingfleet, on the Idolatry of the Church of Rome, chap. 4. entitled, Of the Fanaticism of the Romish Church. Stillingfleet's Works, Vol. V. page 90 to 136, edition of 1709. He will read of St. Bridget," in whofe holy "extafies were five rays coming from the five wounds of our


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Saviour to five parts of her body; and the prayed that the *wounds might not appear, and immediately the colour of the

blood was changed into pure light, and her confeffor faw "these fplendid wounds on her body." But by what inftrument, (adds Stillingfleet), did he fee the wound in her heart. Vid. p. 94. Alfo, of the virgin Juliana, "who had many ex

tafies and raptures; and in her prayers, almost always faw "the moon in her brightness, but with a faip taken off from

her roundnefs, at which he was much troubled. At last "it was revealed to her, that the moon fignified the church,

and that fraction, the want of one folemnity more to be ob“ferved in its upon which fhe received a command from hea"ven to proclaim the observation of this folemnity." And a friend of her's Ifabella, in an extafy, "faw all the heavenly

orders upon their knees, fupplicating God, that, to confirm the faith of Christians, this feast should be observed, &c. &c,” Ib. p. 97, 98. quoted from Bzovius, a Roman Catholic author,

St. Benedict, faw the foul of Germanus, bishop of Capua, in a fiery circle, carried by angels to heaven.-Above all, he faw all the world under one ray of the fun. Stillingfleet, ut fupra, p. 101.

"St. Francis was converted by dreams and visions, in which he was fometimes swallowed up in God, as Bonaventure, the "author of his life, expreffes it. One day, when he was alone

in a folitary place, he fell into an extafy of joy, and had full "affurance of the remiffion of his fins; and being transported “beyond himself, he was catched up in a wonderful light, "wherein his mind being enlarged, he forefaw all that should * come to pass concerning his order."


But ftill more diftinguished for fanaticifm, was Ignatius Loy. ola, founder of the order of the Jefuits. Vid. Stilling fleet, ut fupra, from p. 118 to p. 124. who quotes only the lives written of him by his own order. "His zeal having been inflamed by ftudying the lives of the faints, he in a fit of zeal one night "got out of his bed, and fell down on his knees before the "image of the blessed Virgin, and in that pofture vowed him"self her devotee. He foon after put on a long coat of fack❝cloth, with a cord about it, at which he hung a bottle of wa


ter, with a wicker fhoe on one foot, and the other naked, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"his head expofed to the violence of the weather, he proceed. "ed on his journey. At Marnesa, he took up his lodging in

the town hofpital, and let his hair and nails grow, and begged "from door to door, and fafted fix days in the week, and "whipped himself thrice a day, and was feven hours every day "in vocal prayer upon the bare ground; and he shortly after had fuch clear divine revelations, fay his biographers, that in a moment of time he understood the greatest mysteries of religion, and the most subtle speculations in philosophy, espe*cially the way of God's making the world was made clear to "him, but not fo as he could express it to others. In one of


his extafies, he continued eight days, in which, fays his "biographer, he faw the frame and model of the fociety of the "Jefuits. He went a pilgrim to Jerufalem; in returning "through Spain, he was brought before a Spanish com"mander; now fays his hiftorian, it had been his custom not "to give men any titles of respect, but to call them only by "their common names; and being brought before the com"mander, would not fo much as take off his hat to him, &c. &c."

If the reader wishes to know more of this celebrated fanatic, let him confult, befides Stillingfleet, Douglas's Criterion, from p. 69 to 75. Bayle's Dictionary, article Loyola, and Mr. Wharton's Enthufiafm of the Church of Rome demonstrated, in obfervations on the life of Ignatius.

About the end of the 16th century, there arofe in Savoy a fect of enthufiafts who pretended to be prophets, and who afterwards made many difciples in London, where they were patronized by Sir Richard Bulkeley, a man of fome note and learning, on whom they had wrought a cure, which he conceived to be fupernatural. A very particular and curious account of them was published in 1709 at London, and annexed to the 4th edition of Dr. Hicke's Spirit of Enthufiafm exorcifed-it is entitled, "The New Pretenders to Prophecy exa"mined, and their Pretences fhewn to be groundless and "falfe," by N. Spinckes, M. A. This author gives a particular account of their conduct, and quotes their own predic tions. These pretended faints, affected to fpeak languages, when infpired, of which, out of their extafy, they declared themselves incapable. But they were Hebrew, Greek, and



Latin, tongues unknown, and therefore ufelefs to thofe whom they addreffed; nay, they declare, that they themselves, when out of their extafies and agitations, understood not what they faid in them. They fpoke even those languages barbaToufly, imperfectly, and almost unintelligibly, and improved as learners might be fuppofed to do; but what is moft decifive, they could not speak the living tongue of the nation wherein they came to teach; the French prophets could not speak English, nor the English, French. They also pretended, that miracles were wrought by them; but, of fifteen perfons whom they attempted to heal, they themselves reprefent, that to the tumor of one a bladder was applied, and that it was dreffed three or four times a day; that a fecond was only beginning to recover; that five had received no benefit; a fixth but little; a seventh no benefit at the time, though fhe afterwards recovered. They also pretended to prophecy, but their prophecies were fometimes of events of the most trifling nature, easily produced, and therefore easily foreseen: as, when one is faid to tell them by inspiration, "that there was a number of good people "at hand, who, in looking for the affembly, had loft their way "in the woods or fields:" or, when rational conjecture might avail, as of the deaths of perfons in sickness, or peculiar fituations of danger, without however fpecifying the particulars that should attend them. Sometimes their miracles are plain frauds, as in the cafe of E. Gray, recited as above by Mr. Spinckes, p. 397. and in that of Mr. Lacy, 405. Some were antic tricks and strange agitations, "falling flat upon the floor "at once like a board, &c. &c."

But the confummation of their folly, as it was the period of their influence, was their celebrated prophecy of the refurrection of Dr. Emes, which it was pofitively predicted, fhould take place on the 25th of May, 1708, five months after his interment, publicly, by a miraculous power to be exercised by Mr. Lacy. This prophecy was pronounced repeatedly while the prophets underwent great agitations; but when the time came, and the city bands were placed around to prevent any disturbance, no Mr. Lacy appeared, no refurrection took place. Mr. Lacy published fome foolish reasons to account for the divine promife not being fulfilled, but, alas! they could not reftore.


[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »