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RELIGION, (Of learned and of prudent men.) A DIVINE of Wirtemberg affirms that Reinesius, who went to the Lutheran churches, and communicated with the Lutherans, spoke so ill of their divines, and of their doctrine, and liturgies, that he was worse than a professed adversary. Hence he concludes, either that he was of the religion of prudent men, or that he favoured it; for he openly declared that he followed a certain religion in certain points, and another religion in other points. That divine had explained in another place what he meant by the religion of prudent men.
Here is the substance of his discourse. “A Dutchman said one day, that the religion of Grotius was that of learned men. Being asked what religion it was, he answered, they believe what they please.' Kromaier, a divine of Leipsic, held it for a certain thing that Grotius had followed the religion of prudent men, which is a mixture of many religions, and is made up of several doctrines suited to our taste and interest. It is called the religion of prudent men, because the wise men of this world pitch upon it with great prudence, as they think, and keep it as long as they please; it is also called the political and philosophical religion. It goes by the first of these two names, because the politicians make choice of it; for they are men who will be free in that point, and who turn themselves all manner of ways. It is styled philosophical, because it frees a man from the obligation of believing; and it is well known that a philosopher submits to no human authority, and will not swear to the words of any master ; “liber homo philosophus nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri.” The author mentions two other epithets; he says that this religion of prudent men is called "eclectic," or "eclogistic." I wonder he said nothing of the sect of the
eclectic philosophers, founded by Potamon of Alexandria, who lived in the time of Augustus, who were neither Platonists, nor Stoics, nor Peripatetics, nor of any other particular sect; but they took out of every one of them what they liked best, and left the rest. Such is the notion of the religion ascribed to Reinseius. It was a religion of choice, a mosaic work, a work made up of in-laid pieces. There are more people than is commonly believed, who form such a religion to themselves, and do not boast of it. They might be called in Latin miscelliones.—Art. REINESIUS.
(of a Sovereign.) In regard to the spirit, the heart, and the religion of a sovereign, Plutarch testifies, that those who governed in Lacedemon, acknowledged no other justice than that which tended to the advantage and aggrandizing of the state.
It was among them the rule and the measure of law and honesty, if a thing were useful to the public, it immediately passed for lawful. I believe Plutarch says the truth; but he ought not to have confined his observations to the city of Sparta alone. Those of Athens and Thebes had no better principles ; and generally speaking, they are the maxims of all states: the only difference is in the degrees; some save appearances better than others. However, Agesilaus was quite abandoned to this iniquitous morality. Being suspected to have induced Phebidas to surprise the citadel of Thebes in full peace, and by a fraud, which made all Greece exclaim, he represented, “that they ought first to examine whether the action was of advantage to the state; and that every person ought, in his private capacity, to do what tended to the advantage of the state. He obtained that Phebidas should be acqnitted, and that a garrison should be sent into the Citadel. In his Egyptian expedition, did he not abandon Tachos, who had hired his assistance, and embrace the interests of Nectanebus, for this reason alone, because it was more for the interest of the Lacedemonians to support the latter than the former ? an action which, under the mask of public good, was downright treachery, as Plutarch himself has observed. In conversation, Agesilaus talked of nothing but justice ; his discourses upon this subject were the finest in the world. Hearing that a certain thing was pleasing to the “great king,” he demanded, “ how is he greater than I, if he is not more just ?” Fine theory! but his practice did not answer it, when his kingdom was in question. I am apt to believe that, for private views, he could not easily have acted against conviction; and this is the reason why I pretend he had the religion of a sovereign. How many kings and princes are zealous for their religion, just, and honest in themselves; but if it be thought for the public good to annoy their enemies, most of them, if not all, follow the maxims of Lacedemon! I believe a book entitled, “ The Religion of a Sovereign,” would sell well; it would cause the " Religio Medici" to be forgotten.
Two days ago, I heard a person of merit say, " that an Italian prince, demanding too advantageous conditions, in negociating a treaty of peace with a powerful monarch, who had taken most of his dominions from him, the envoy of that monarch answered him; - but what security will you give the king, my master, if he comply with all your demands ?' • Answer him, replied the prince, that I engage my word to him, not in quality of a sovereign, for
as such I must sacrifice every thing to aggrandize myself, and lay hold of every opportunity of contributing to the glory and advantage of my dominions ; tell him then, that I engage my word to him, not in this quality (which would be to promise nothing) but as a gentleman and an honest man."" Though this language does not answer
the ideas of those who have introduced in the style of the chancery the set form, "we promise upon the faith and word of a king ;" yet it is very sincere and very just.
Let us make two remarks more. First, I distinguish between the belief of Urban VIII, and that of Mapheus Barbarini. The religion of a sovereign, as such, and religion, personally speaking, are two things.
My other remark is this. Agesilaus had a very great respect for his gods; he would not suffer their temple to be plundered nor prophaned, either in Greece, or in the country of the barbarians; and he reckoned those as sacrilegious, who ill treated an enemy that took refuge in a temple. During the march of his troops, he lodged always in the most sacred temples, to have the gods witnesses of his most private domestic actions. This was his personal religion, but as soon as he looked upon himself as a king, the good and the advantage of his kingdom were his chief divinity, to which he sacrificed virtue and justice, divine and human laws. I cannot tell whether all those that cite this sentence thus translated from Euripides,
Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia
Violandum est : aliis rebus pietatem colas, comprehend all the energy of it: one may see in it the spirit of those that acquire kingdoms, and of those that govern states; they fall sometimes into superstition. Look upon Agesilaus's particular conduct; it is very regular, “ aliis rebus pietatem colas;" he does not swerve from equity, but as he is a king, “regnandi gratia violandum est. As a man, he will tell you sincerely, “ amicus usque ad aras;" but if he speak according to his thought as a sovereign, he will tell you, “ I will observe the treaty of peace so long as the good of my kingdom requires it; I will laugh at my oath as soon as the maxim of state will have it so. If he would rather have the Persians violate the truce, than to begin to violate it himself, it is because he
hoped for a great profit from that conduct of the Persians. Our good Agesilaus, who would have thought it a sin against good morality, if he had been well clothed, and if he had made good cheer, made no scruple to be the usurper of a kingdom. Thus certain casuists damn women without remission that dress themselves too delicately: they can neither suffer their ribbons nor their jewels; but they do not only permit men to revolt, and to engage themselves in a civil war, but even exhort them to it.—Art. AGESILAUS.
RELIGIOUS MURDER. Peter DE LA Place was born in the country of Angoulême: he was in his youth so well educated in learning, that he alone of all his brothers resolved to follow the study of the law, in which he made such proficiency, that before he was twenty-two years of age, he composed a paraphrase on actions, and about that time began to frequent and practise at the bar of the parliament of Paris, where he acquired the character of a sensible, well-spoken, and conscientious man ; for which reason, Francis I chose him for his advocate in his Court of Aids, at Paris. He executed that office with the greatest integrity, and therefore Henry II chose him, himself, out of many, to be his first president in the Court of Aids. He inwardly embraced the faith of the reformed churches in the year 1554, and professed it openly after the death of Francis II: but the troubles that arose soon after, obliged him to retire, for the security of his person, io his own. house in the country of Picardy. The calm returning in the year 1562, he went to the king to clear himself of several malicious aspersions which some enemies had thrown upon him; and after his majesty was satisfied with his defence, he paid his respects to the prince of Condé, who immediately committed to him the charge and superintendency of all his household afVOL. III.