Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

he hated violence in religion; and there were many more of the same cast. Parties, however, ran so high that precipitance would have lost all, and Henry was obliged to proceed by slow and cautious steps.. · The deputies of the reformed churches soon waited on his majesty to congratulate him, and to pray for liberty. The king allowed them to hold a general assembly, and offered them some slight satisfaction : but the hardy veteran Hugonots, who had spent their days in the field, and who knew also that persons, who were of approved fidelity, might venture to give the king their advice without angering him, took the liberty of reminding him that they would not be paid in compliments for so many signal services. Their ancestors, and they had supported his right to the crown along with their own right to liberty of conscience, and as Providence had granted the one, they expected that the other would not be denied. The king felt the force of these remonstrances, and ventured to allow them to hold provincial assemblies; after a while, to conyene a national synod, and, as soon as he could, he granted them the famous Edict OF NANTZ. · The Edict of Nantz, which was called perpetual and irrevocable, and which contained ninety-two articles, beside fifty-six secret articles, granted to the protestants liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religion; many churches in all parts of France, and judges of their own persuasion; a free access to all places of honor and dignity, great sums of money to pay off their troops; an hundred places as pledges of their future security, and cer, tain funds to maintain both their preachers and their garrisons. The king did not send this edict to be registered in parliament till the pope's legate was gone out of the kingdom, so that it did not get

there till the next year. Some of the old party in the house boggled at it very much, and particularly because the hugonots were hereby qualified for offices, and places of trust : but his majesty sent for some of the chiefs to his closet, made them a most pathetic speech on the occasion, and with some difficulty brought them to a compliance. It is easy to conceive that the king might be very pathetic on this occasion, for he had seen and suffered enough to make any man so. The meanest hugonot soldier could not avoid the pathos, if he related his campaigns. But it is very credible, that it was not the pathos of his majesty's language, but the power in his hand, that affected these intolerant souls.

No nation ever made a more noble struggle for recovering liberty of conscience out of the rapacious hands of the papal. priesthood, than the French. And one may venture to defy the most sanguine friend to intolerance to prove, that a free toleration hath, in any country, at any period, produced such calamities in society as those, which persecution produced in France. After a million of brave, men had been destroyed, after nine civil wars, after four pitched battles, after the besieging of several hundred places, after more than three hundred engagements, after poisoning, burning, assassinating, massacreing, murdering in every form, France is forced to submit to what her wise chancellor de L'Hospital had at first proposed, A FREE TOLERATION. Most of the zealous leaguers voted for it, because they had found by experience, said they, that violent proceedings in matters of religion prove more destructive than, edifying. A noble testimony from enemies mouths!

France now began to taste the sweets of peace, the king employed himself in making his subjects

happy, and the far greater part of his subjects endeavored to render him so. The protestants applied themselves to the care of their churches, and as they had at this time a great many able ministers, they flourished, and increased the remaining part of this reign. The doctrine of their churches was calvinism, and their discipline was presbyterian, after the Genevan plan. Their churches were supplied by able pastors; their universities were adorned with learned and pious professors, such as Casaubon, Daille, and others, whose praises are in all the reformed, churches; their provincial, and national synods were regularly convened, and their people were well governed. Much pains were taken with the king to alienate his mind from his protestants subjects : but no motives could influence him. He knew the worth of the men, and he protected them till his death. This great prince was hated by the popish clergy for his lenity, and was stabbed in his coach by the execrable Ravillac, May 14, 1610, whose name inspires one with horror and pain.

Lewis XIII. was not quite nine years of age, when he succeeded his father Henry. The first act of the queen-mother, who had the regency during the king's minority, was the confirmation of the edict of Nantz. Lewis confirmed it again, in 1614, at his majority, promising to observe it inviolably. The protestants deserved a confirmation of their privileges at his hands; for they had taken no part in the civil wars and disturbances, which had troubled his minority. They had been earnestly solicited to intermeddle with government : but they had wisely avoided it.

Lewis was a weak ambitious man, he was jealous of his power to excess, though he did not know wherein it consisted. He was so void of prudence, that he could not help exalting his flatterers into favorites, and his favorites into' excessive power. He was so timorous that his favorites became the objects of his hatred, the moment after he had elevated them to authority; and he was so callous that he never lamented a favorite's death or downfall. By a solemn act of devotion, attended with all the farce of pictures, masses, processions, and festivals, he consecrated his person, his dominions, his crown and his subjects to the Virgin Mary, in 1638, desiring her to defend his kingdom, and to inspire him with grace to lead a holy life. The popish clergy adored him for thus sanctifying their superstitions by his example, and he, in return, lent them his power to punish his protestant subjects, whom he hated. His panegyrists call him Lewis the just : but they ought to acknowledge that his majesty did nothing to merit the title till he found himself a dying.

a dying. · Lewis's prime minister was an artful, enterprizing clergyman, who, before his elevation, was a country bishop, and, after it, was known by the title of Cardinal de Richlieu : but the most proper title for his eminence is that, which some historians give him, of the Jupiter Mactator of France. He was a man of great ability : but of no merit. Had his virtue been as great as his capacity, he ought not to have been intrusted with government, because all cardinals take an oath to the pope, and although an oath does not bind a bad man, yet as the taking of it gives him credit, so the breach of it ruins all his prospects among those, with whom he hath taken it. · The jesuits, who had been banished, in 1594 from

France for attempting the life of Henry IV. had been recalled, in 1604, and restored to their houses, and one of their society, under pretence of being responsible as an hostage for the whole fraternity, was allowed to attend the king. The jesuits, by this mean, gained the greatest honor and power, and, as they excelled in learning, address, and intrigue, they knew how to obtain the king's ear, and how to improve his credulity to their own advantage.

This dangerous society was first formed in 1534 by Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish deserter, who, being frighted out of the army by a wound, took it into his head to go on pilgrimage, and to form a religious society for the support of the catholic faith. The popes, who knew how to avail themselves of enthu, siasm in church government, directed this grand spring of human action to secular purposes, and, by canonizing the founder, and arranging the order, elevated the society in a few years to a height that astonished all Europe. It was one opinion of this society, that the authority of kings is inferior to that of the people, and that they may be punished by the people in certain cases. It was another maxim with them, that sovereign princes have received from the hand of God a sword to punish heretics. The jesuits did not invent these doctrines; but they drew such consequences from them as were most prejudicial to the public tranquillity : for, from the conjunction of these two principles, they concluded that an heretical prince ought to be deposed, and that heresy ought to be extirpated by fire and sword, in case it could not be extirpated otherwise. In conformity to the first of these principles, two kings of France had been murdered suc: cessively, under pretext that they were fautors of heretics. The parliament in this reign, 1615, condemned the first as a pernicious tenet, and de clared that the autiority of monarchs was dependent only on God: but the last principle, that related to

« EdellinenJatka »