Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

sumptuous, and paradoxical, have eagerly communicated to ihe world their opinions : mounted upon the charity of vanity, they have made much of little things, trying to reverse the argument of the proverb, ex nihilo nihil fit.

Some have exclaimed—Very fit subjects, indeed, for deification after death, were those who were never known to do the least good while living! To make vows of idleness and beggary in the midst of ignorance, enthusiasm, and nastiness, and glorying in such infamy while here, and their admirers sainting them afterward, is an eccentric stretch of the human mind scarcely credible, but which the Romish calendars, in which no day was free from a saint, and some days ride double, will evince. In some countries no man dare plough his own ground on certain days, because he must commemorate some unknown person, whom another unknown person has placed in heaven by his own private authority. Certain it is, that the saints cause a considerable waste of time, for the Portuguese, on account of the number of saints' days and holidays, in which they are not allowed to labour, waste a third part of the year.

But of the validity of this saintship, it has been remarked, that there never was, is, or will be, so holy a man, (Christ only excepted,) who hath not been spotted with sin himself, and had need to pray continually for remission and forgiveness of his own sins,--and yet prayers are addressed to saints ! Dead men, who, if they are allowed cognizance of the fact, must be eternally blushing for the absurdity of those who offer them up. Canonization, however, does not now take place until fifty years after the death of the person.

ST. ANTHONY'S SERMON TO THE FISH. St. Anthony, who lived about six hundred years ago, is the favourite saint of Padua: in the church there, is a magnificent monument to his memory. His life was extraordinary ; but the most remarkable part of it was his admirable sermon to an assembly of fishes, and which, being a very extraordinary thing, and the only sermon to be found in this work, we shall give entire. But first we should preinise, that, when the heretics would not regard his preaching, he betook himself to the sea-shore, where the river Maxechin disembogues itself into the Adriatic. He here called the fish together, in the name of God, that they might hear his holy word. The fish came swimming towards him, in such vast shoals, both from the sea and from the river, that the surface of the water was quite covered with their multitudes. They quickly ranged themselves according to their several species, into a very beautiful congre

ment.

gation, and, like so many rational creatures, presented theinselves before him to hear the word of God. St. Anthony was so struck with the miraculous obedience and submission of these devout fish, that he found a secret sweetness distilling upon his soul, and at last addressed himself to them in the following words :-“ Although the infinite power and providence of God, my dearly beloved fish! discovers itself in all the works of his creation, as in the heavens, in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars ; in this lower world, in man, and in other perfect creatures; nevertheless, the goodness of the Divine Majesty shines out in you more eminently, and appears in a more particular manner, than in any other created beings. For, notwithstanding you are comprehended under the name of reptiles, partaking of a middle nature between stones and beasts, and imprisoned in the deep abyss of waters; notwithstanding you are tossed among billows, thrown up and down by tempests, deaf to hearing, dumb to speech, and terrible to behold; not withstanding, I say, these natural disadvantages, the Divine Greatness shows itself in you after a very wonderful manner. In you are seen the mighly mysteries of an infi. nite Goodness! The Holy Scripture has always made use of you as the types and shadows of some profound sacra

Do

you think that, without a mystery, the first present that God Almighty made to man, was of you, O ye fishes ? Do

you think that, without a mystery, among all creatures and animals, which were appointed for sacrifices, you only were excepted, 0 ye fishes! Do you think there was nothing meant by our Saviour Christ, that, next to the paschal lamb, he took so much pleasure in the food of you, Oye fishes ? Do

you think it was by mere chance, that, when the Redeemer of the world was to pay a tribute to Cæsar, he thought fit to find it in the mouth of a fish? These are all of them so many mysteries and sacraments, that oblige you, in a more particular manner, to the praises of your

Creator. It is from God, my beloved fish, that you have received being, life, motion, and sense. It is he that has given you, in compliance with your natural inclinations, the whole world of waters for your habitation.

It is he thai has furnished it with lodgings, chambers, caverns, groutos, and such magnificent retirements, as are not to be met with in the seats of kings, or in the palaces of princes. You have the water for your dwelling, a clear transpareni element, brighter than crystal : you can see from its deepest hollow, every thing that passes on its surface : you have the eyes of a lynx, or of an Argus : you are guided by a secret and unerring principle, delighting in every thing that may be beneficial to you, and avoiding every thing that may be

ent to you.

hurtful :

: you are carried on by a hidden instinct, to preserve yourselves, and to propagate your species : you obey, in all your actions, works, and motions, the dictates and suggestions of nature, without the least repugnance or contradiction. The colds of 'winter and the heats of summer are equally incapable of molesting you. A serene or a clouded sky are indiffer

Let the earth abound in fruits, or be cursed with scarcity, it has no influence on your welfare. You live secure in rains and thunders, lightnings and earthquakes : you have no concern in the blossoms of spring, or in the glowings of summer; in the fruits of autumn, or in the frosts of winter. You are not solicitous about hours or days, months or years ; the variableness of the weather, or the change of seasons : in what dreadful majesty, in what wonderful powers, in what amazing providence, did God Almighty distinguish you among all the species of creatures that perished in the universal deluge! You only were insensible of the mischief that laid waste the whole world. All this, as I have already told you, ought to inspire you with gratitude and praise towards the Divine Majesty, that has done so great things for you, granted you such particular graces and privileges, and heaped upon you so many distinguishing favours. And since for all this you cannot employ your tongues in the praises of your Benefactor, and are not provided with words to express your gratitude, make at least some sign of reverence, bow yourselves at his name, give some show of gratitude, according to the best of your capacities, express your thanks in the most becoming manner that you are able, and be not unmindful of all the benefits which have been bestowed upon you.

He had no sooner done speaking, but-bebold a miracle ! the fish, as though they had been endued with reason, bowed down their heads, with all the marks of a profound humility and devotion ; moving their bodies up and down with a kind of fondness, as approving what had been spoken by the blessed father St. Antonio. The legend adds, that after many heretics, who were present at the miracle, had been converted by it, the saint gave his benediction to the fish, and dismissed them.-Addison's travels in Italy.

ST. ANTHONY. St. Anthony, (not the Paduan Anthony, the patron of fishes,) is the protector of horses, mules, and asses; for, on this saint's day, at Rome, a priest, in a surplice, stands at the door of the church, and, with a long brush, dipped, as often as occasion required, into a pail full of holy water, scattered this unction three times upon the horses, as they entered the court. The

priest receives for this horse-baptism large wax-candles, money, &c. (Owen's Travels, 2, 65.)-We believe that this is the St. Anthony, who is commonly thought to have great command over fire, and a power of destroying, by flashes of that element, those who incur bis displeasure. He, consequently, cures the erysipelas, or St. Anthony's fire. The relics of this saint were transferred from Egypt to Constantinople, and thence to Dauphine, in France, where a church was built on the spot where ihey were deposited, and a new order of friars established, who, by the following story, were up to the good of the convent. A certain monk of the fraternity, who was well acquainted with the prepossession of the vulgar concerning the power of this saint, used, on Sundays, to preach in public, in different villages within a certain distance of the convent. One day he assembled his congregation under a tree, wherein a magpie had built her nest; into which he had previously found means to convey a small box filled with gunpowder, which he had well secured therein ; and out of the box hung a long thin match, that was to burn slowly, and was hidden among the leaves of the tree. As soon as the monk or his confederate, had touched the match with a lighted coal, he began his sermon. In the meanwhile, the magpie returned to her nest ; and, finding in it a strange body, which she could not remove, she fell into a violent passion, and began to scratch with her feet, and chatter unmercifully. The friar affected to hear without emotion, and continued his sermon with great composure ; only he would now and then lift up his eyes towards the top of the tree, as if he wanted to see what was the matter. At last, when he judged the fire was very near reaching the gunpowder, he pretended to be quite out of patience, be cursed the magpie, and wished St. Anthony's fire might consume her, and went on again with his sermon; but he had scarcely pronounced a few periods, when the match, on a sudden, produced its effect, and blew up the magpie with her nest; which miracle wonderfully raised the character of the friar, and proved, afterwards, very beneficial both to him and his convent.-(Stephen, Apologie pour Herodote.)

sr. St. Thomas Becket, an insolent priest, in the reign of Hen

the Second, became, at length, archbishop of Canterbury and lord-chancellor. In 1171, he was murdered by four gentlemen in the cathedral of Canterbury. In 1173, he was canonized by a Papal bull. Miracles were wrought at bis tomb, a catalogue of which filled two folio volumes: at the same time, the university of Paris were publicly debating," whether the

ST. THOMAS BECKET.

ry

soul of Becket was in heaven or hell.” His body was taken up, and put into a magnificent shrine, which was visited and enriched with gifts and offerings. One hundred thousand are said, in one year, to have made their reverence; and some judgment of this may be formed, by the account given of the offerings made to the three greatest altars in Christ's church,

for one year.

CITING THE DEAD.

Some very ingenious gentleman, (we wish we could record his name,) invented a process of citing the dead to appear, and then answer to certain charges to be brought against him; but if he did not answer, (as we suppose was generally the case,) then he or she was condemned for contumacy, and an edict passed against their bones. We have no doubt this wonderful invention originated from the Inquisition, which has been guilty of blunders of this sort from time immemorial, because they have nothing better to do. In England, this folly was practised. Cardinal Pole, the pope's legate, after Queen Mary's inauguration, went to the University of Cambridge, and began this sort of process against Bucer and Fagius, two worthy gentlemen, deceased. These dead persons were cited by a first and second edict, but no answer; then several witnesses were produced against them once and again; still no answer! accordingly, sentence was passed upon them for contempt of court, and their dead bodies were ordered to be dug up, and strung to a large stake fixed in the ground, in the marketplace, and there burnt, which was done. What a great partiality had these Romanists to fire, since they even condescended to burn dead bones, rather than burn nothing at all. Brookes, Bishop of Gloucester, did the same at Oxford, by Catherine, the wife of Peter Martyr, whose body was also taken up. Pope Boniface did more; he unsainted a saint. He caused Sir Herman of Ferrara to be dug out of his grave and burnt, after he had been esteemed as a saint for more than twenty years,--thus unsettling body and soul, as far as he was able. The last possessor of Restalrig, the ancient seat of the Logans, was accused, (five years after his death,) of being concerned in the Gowrie conspiracy, and was cited to appear ; but, proving contumacious, his estate was forfeited, his nes burnt, and his heirs declared infamous. SINGULAR NARRATIVE OF MARSHAL TU.

RENNE. The celebrated Viscount Turenne, in his earlier youth, was a man of pleasure in the innocent sense of that word; it was his

« ElőzőTovább »