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self often used to say, in allusion to a passage in Tertullian, vindicated its authority from the times; yet they who had believed from their youth the legends he had expunged, or who found their account in imposing them upon the credulity of other people, could not bear the loss of them with any patience, but cried out as violently against all attempts of this kind, as if the most important fundamentals of religion had been attacked.” He was not in the least affected with their clamours, but went on still, and undeceived not only the learned, but also some of the vulgar. He vigorously attacked the Monks in two other points; for he demonstrated the falsity of the pretended privileges, by virtue whereof they refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of bishops, and confuted the arguments on which they ground their claim to the administration of the sacrament of penance. Here follows what the abbot De Marolles said of him : " he found the art of discovering the most hidden truths, and the lovers of them are as much pleased with him for it, as those who are unqualified to discover or value them are uneasy at his having made such glorious conquests. However, they can reproach him with nothing, and it has not hitherto been possible for his adversaries to convict him of the least falsehood, or of one wrong inference, from the testimonies of the writers concerning the points he has examined. It is true, what we have seen of him is inconsiderable in comparison of what we ought to expect from him, applying himself as he does to the most serious studies upon important subjects ; but the most learned will always benefit themselves by the reading of his works, either by his method, or the certain discovery of truths, for which pure religion will have no less reason to glory, than infamous superstition to be concerned at it."
It is worth observing what Guy Patin said upon it. "I give you notice, that I have delivered a little
packet to a young man of Lyons . You will find in it, among others, M. de Launoi's book, wherein he undertakes to prove, that there never was such a saint as Renatus, nor any bishop of Angers of that name. It is the same who has written against Dionysius, the Areopagite, asserting that he never came into France, and against the scapulary of the Carmelites, and against Magdalen, pretending tht she never came into Provence. He is a doctor of divinity, a Norman, a man of mean look, but learned, and especially in ecclesiastical history. Some here call him a desperate and damned spirit, whom all should avoid; who turns every year a saint out of paradise, and it is to be feared, will at last expel God himself. Yet hitherto nobody has answered him. One of his friends told me, that he had long been a pensioner in the college of the Jesuits, who made use of him to approve, their books; but that at last they had discarded him for refusing to give his approbation to a new doctrine they had a mind to publish.” What follows is curious ; I have it from M. Menage, and it is he who speaks. “ M. de Launoi, doctor of Divinity of the faculty of Paris, pretends that several of our saints never existed, which occasioned M. Feramus to say of him :
Tu quoque, Launoi, veri indagator et index
Addita qui fastis Numina falsa doces.
Nor spares his pen one legendary saint.
Τον Λαυνοϊον ορας, ος συρφετον Ουρανιώνων
Ρίψε, σοδός τεταγών από βηλου Θεσσεσίοιο.
As Vulcan once was serv'd by Homer's Jove.
be ridiculous, were this verse my own; and I dare say it is thought very pretty for that application, on which M. Daillé, the father, who was particularly conversant with Homer, has often congratulated me.” The abbot Faydit has not observed that it is only the last verse which M. Menage has borrowed from Homer; he has quoted part of the first, as if it were to be found in the Iliad, and which is worse, he pretends that Jupiter turned out the whole rabble of the gods. It is certain that Homer says no more than " that Jupiter taking Vulcan by the foot, threw him down from heaven."
If it was not for fear of making too many digressions, I would
that it were to be wished that several learned men were suffered to do what M. de Launoi has done. The false saints are no less multiplied than the pretenders to nobility : so that as princes from time to time issue out commissions of inquiry, in order to reduce the usurpers of quality to their proper Plebeian state, the clergy should appoint some commissioners, as rigid as Boisseau, to examine the titles and patents of saintship. If the troops of the church triumphant should come to muster before honest commissaries, there would be found a great many faggots, not amongst the soldiers, but amongst the great officers, I mean among the saints who are daily invoked. The kalendar wants more to be reformed on that account, than with respect to the precession of the equinoxes; and whereas a bare defalcation of ten days was sufficient for this last reformation, the other would require a subtraction by hundreds and thousands. It is a long time that the year has been unable to afford a day for each saint ; they must be heaped one upon another in the same places, so that we may now say with Juvenal :
Nec turba deorum
JUVEN. Sat. 4. xiji, ver 6.
E’er gods grew numerous, and the heav'nly crowd,
CREECH. How many senators should we find in the celestial court vitio creati, should we proceed vigorously? Se how many volumes the acta sanctorum already amount to. One might apply to them this common distich:
Scripta giganteæ quorum sub pondere molis
Tristior Encelado bibliopola gemit.
And with Enceladus's torture groans. I would have this understood without prejudice to the esteem which is due to their learned compilers.
I must even acknowledge, to their honour, that they reject a great many fables, and that their since rity exposes them every day to the same complaints which were made against M. de Launoi. See father Papebroch's answer to the “ Exhibitio Errorum” of Sebastian of St Paul, a Carmelite ; you will there find that this Jesuit has cashiered many intruders out of the kalendar, and that upon very solid reasons. These intruders are not saints of a modern, but of very ancient date. Cardinal Bessarion, seeing at Rome the canonization of some persons, whose lives he thought none of the best, cried out, " that these new saints made him call in question the old ones.
“ Affe che questi santi moderni mi fanno assai dubitare delli passati.” But we may say, that there is infinitely more certainty in the modern, than in many of the ancient saints. We cannot doubt that the former lived on earth; and we have almost demonstrative proofs that the latter never did. A witty man said the other day, in good company, “that if he were to address the saints, he had rather chuse the new comers, Capistran, for instance, or Thomas de Villeneuve, than Catherine or St Alexis.” The judginent which Melchior Canus gave about the legendary writers has been approved at last. He said " that the lives of the ancient philosophers had been written with more judgment than those of the Christian saints. They are now more nicely examined ; the acts of the new saints are not filled with so many absurdities, yet they are not so carefully examined as they ought to be."
A canon of Passaw, a good preacher, and professor of divinity in the fifteenth century, said in one of his sermons,
" that if there were as many holy days as minutes, the
would not afford one for each saint," and he quotes Durandus, bishop of Mande, who observes, so that there are above five thousand saints for every day.” The author who quotes the sermon of the German canon adds, that All-Saints day was appointed to supply the want of days in the year, and to prevent the displeasure of those saints who might be angry for having no honour paid them.
“ Therefore since the saints of the pope's canonization are grown infinite, All-Saints day is contrived as a supplementary worship of them. Because, as they are supposed to be very fond of being worshipped, and to have a particular regard for their votaries, that there may be no room left for any of them to resent the not being taken notice of, this feast of All Saints is esteemed a supplementary worship, not only of the higher, but also of the lower, and every particular class of saints. And this, according to the same William Durandus, bishop of Mande, is a sort of expiatory commemoration, necessary to appease all the saints, who have not been particularly recorded. These are his words : Their numbers are too great to allow of particular holy days for them,' and therefore, as the same author has observed before, ' in order to supply the want of these,' says he, the general feast of AllSaints was instituted.' Those who make it their business to draw parallels will not fail to remember, upon this occasion, the precaution of the Athenians,