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mass of exhalations which causes winds, rain, snow, hail, and thunder, heaven. We have decomposed the thunderbolt, as Newton disentangled light. We have perceived that these thunderbolts, formerly borne by the eagle of Jupiter, are really only electric fire ; that in short we can draw down thunder, conduct it, divide it, and render ourselves masters of it, as we make the rays of light pass through a prism; as we give course to the waters which fall from heaven, that is to say, from the height of half a league from our atmosphere. We plant a high fir with the branches lopped off, the top of which is covered with a cone of iron. The clouds which form thunder are electrical; their electricity is communicated to this cone, and a brass wire which is attached to it conducts the matter of thunder wherever we please. An ingenious physician calls this experiment the inoculation of thunder.
It is true, that inoculation for the small-pox, which has preserved so many mortals, caused some to perish, to whom the small-pox had been inconsiderately given; and in like manner the inoculation of thunder ill-performed would be dangerous. There are great lords whom we can only approach with the greatest precaution, and thunder is of this number. We know that the mathematical professor Richmann was killed at Petersburgh, in 1753, by a thunderbolt which he bad drawn into his chamber :-“ Arte suâ periit.
As he was a philosopher, a theological professor failed not to publish, that he had been thunderstruck like Salmoneus, for having usurped the rights of God, and for wishing to hurl the thunder : but if the physician had directed the brass wire outside the house, and not into his pentup chamber, he would not have shared the lot of Salmo.. neus, Ajax Oïleus, the emperor Carus, the son of a French minister of state, and of several monks in the Pyrenees.
What is toleration? It is the appurtenance of humanity. We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies,—it is the first law of nature.
When, on the exchange of Amsterdam, of London, of Surat, or of Bassora, the Guebre, the Banian, the Jew, the Mahometan, the Chinese Deist, the Brahmin, the Christian of the Greek Church, the Roman Catholic Christian, the Protestant Christian, and the Quaker Christian, traffic together, they do not lift the poniard against each other, in order to gain souls for their religion. Why then have we been cutting one another's throats almost without interruption since the first council of Nice?
Constantine began by issuing an edict which allowed all religions, and ended by persecuting. Before him, tumults were excited against the Christians, only because they began to make a party in the state. The Romans permitted all kinds of worship, even those of the Jews, and of the Egyptians, for whom they had so much contempt. Why did Rome tolerate these religions? Because neither the Egyptians, nor even the Jews, aimed at exterminating the ancient religion of the empire, or ranged through land and sea for proselytes; they thought only of money-getting; but it is undeniable, that the Christians wished their own religion to be the dominant one. The Jews would not suffer the statue of Jupiter at Jerusalem, but the Christians wished it not to be in the capitol. Saint Thomas had the candour to avow,
that if the Christians did not dethrone the emperors, it was because they could not. Their opinion was, that the whole earth ought to be Christian. They were therefore necessarily enemies to the whole earth, until it was converted.
Among themselves, they were the enemies of each other on all their points of controversy. Was it first of all necessary to regard Jesus Christ as God? Those
who denied it were anathematized under the name of Ebionites, who themselves anathematized the adorers of Jesus.
Did some among them wish all things to be in common, as it is pretended they were in the time of the apostles? Their adversaries called them Nicolaïtes, and accused them of the most infamous crimes. Did others profess a mystical devotion? They were termed Gnostics, and attacked with fury. Did Marcion dispute on the Trinity? He was treated as an idolater. .
Tertullian, Praxeas, Origen, Novatus, Novatian, Sabellius, Donatus, were all persecuted by their brethren, before Constantine; and scarcely had Constantine made the Christian religion the ruling one, when the Athanasians and the Eusebians tore each other to pieces; and from that time to our own days, the Christian church has been deluged with blood. The Jewish people were, I confess,
barbarous nation. They mercilessly cut the throats of all the inhabitants of an unfortunate little country upon
which they had no more claim than they had upon Paris or London. However, when Naaman was cured of the leprosy by being plunged seven times in the Jordan,when, in order to testify his gratitude to Elisha who had taught him the secret, he told him he should adore the god of the Jews from gratitude, he reserved to himself the liberty to adore also the god of his own king; he asked Elisha's permission to do so, and the prophet did not hesitate to grant it. The Jews adored their god, but they were never astonished that every nation had its own. They approved of Chemos having given a certain district to the Moabites, provided their god would give them one also. Jacob did not hesitate to marry the daughters of an idolater. Laban had his god, as Jacob had his. Such are the examples of toleration among the most intolerant and cruel people of antiquity. We have imitated them in their absurd passions, and not in their indulgence.
It is clear that every private individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. This admits of no difficulty.
But the government, the magistrates, the princes! how do they conduct themselves towards those who have a faith different from their own? If they are powerful foreigners, it is certain that a prince will form an alliance with them. The Most Christian Francis I. will league himself with the Mussulmans against the Most Catholic Charles V. Francis I. will give money to the Lutherans in Germany, to support them in their rebellion against their emperor; but he will commence, as usual, by having the Lutherans in his own country burnt. He pays them in Saxony from policy; he burns them at Paris from policy. But what follows? Persecutions make proselytes. France will soon be filled with new Protestants. At first they will submit to be hanged, afterwards they will hang in their turn. There will be civil wars; then Saint Bartholomew will come; and this corner of the world will be worse than all that the ancients and moderns have ever said of hell.
Blockheads, who have never been able to render a pure worship to the God who made you! Wretches, whom the example of the Noachides, the Chinese literati, the Persees, and of all the wise, has not availed to guide! Monsters, who need superstitions, just as the gizzard of a raven needs carrion! We have already told you—and we have nothing else to say--if you have two religions among you, they will massacre each other; if you have thirty, they will live in peace. Look at the Grand Turk: he governs Guebres, Banians, Christians of the Greek church, Nestorians, and Roman Catholics. The first who would excite a tumult is impaled; and all is tranquil.
Of all religions, the Christian ought doubtless to inspire the most toleration, although hitherto the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men,
Jesus, having deigned to be born in poverty and lowliness, like his brethren, never condescended to practise the art of writing. The Jews had a law written with the greatest minuteness, and we have not a single
line from the hand of Jesus. The apostles were divided on many points. St. Peter and St. Barnabas eat forbidden meats with the new stranger Christians, and abstained from them with the Jewish Christians. St. Paul reproached them with this conduct; and this same St. Paul the pharisee, the disciple of the pharisee Gamaliel,—this same St. Paul, who had persecuted the Christians with fury, and who after breaking with Gamaliel became a Christian himself,-nevertheless went afterwards to sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem, during his apostolic vacation. For eight days he observed publicly all the ceremonies of the Jewish law which he had renounced; he even added devotions and purifications which were superabundant; he completely judaized. The greatest apostle of the Christians did, for eight days the very things for which men are condemned to the stake among a large portion of Christian nations !
Theudas and Judas were called Messiahs, before Jesus : Dositheus, Simon, Menander, called themselves Messiahs, after Jesus. From the first century of the church, and before even the name of Christian was known, there were a score of sects in Judea.
The contemplative Gnostics, the Dositheans, the Cerintheans, existed before the disciples of Jesus had taken the name of Christians. There were soon thirty churches, each of which belonged to a different society; and by the close of the first century, thirty sects of Christians might be reckoned in Asia Minor, in Syria, in Alexandria, and even in Rome.
All these sects, despised by the Roman government, and concealed in their obscurity, nevertheless persecuted each other in the hiding holes where they lurked ; that is to say, they reproached one another. This is all they could do in their abject condition: they were almost wholly composed of the dregs of the people.
When at length some Christians had embraced the dogmas of Plato, and mingled a little philosophy with their religion, which they separated from the Jewish, they insensibly became more considerable, but were always divided into many sects, without there ever