Images de page

"his head expofed to the violence of the weather, he proceed. "ed on his journey. At Marnesa, he took up his lodging in "the town hofpital, and let his hair and nails grow, and begged "from door to door, and fafted fix days in the week, and "whipped himfelf thrice a day, and was feven hours every day "in vocal prayer upon the bare ground; and he shortly after "had fuch clear divine revelations, fay his biographers, that in 66 a moment of time he understood the greatest mysteries of re"ligion, and the moft fubtle fpeculations in philofophy, efpecially the way of God's making the world was made clear to "him, but not fo as he could express it to others. In one of

his extafies, he continued eight days, in which, fays his "biographer, he faw the frame and model of the fociety of the "Jefuits. He went a pilgrim to Jerufalem; in returning "through Spain, he was brought before a Spanish com"mander; now fays his hiftorian, it had been his custom not “to give men any titles of respect, but to call them only by "their common names; and being brought before the com"mander, would not so much as take off his hat to him, &c. &c.”

If the reader wishes to know more of this celebrated fanatic, let him confult, befides Stillingfleet, Douglas's Criterion, from p. 69 to 75. Bayle's Dictionary, article Loyola, and Mr. Wharton's Enthusiasm of the Church of Rome demonftrated, in obfervations on the life of Ignatius.

About the end of the 16th century, there arofe in Savoy a fect of enthufiafts who pretended to be prophets, and who afterwards made many difciples in London, where they were patronized by Sir Richard Bulkeley, a man of fome note and learning, on whom they had wrought a cure, which he conceived to be fupernatural. A very particular and curious account of them was published in 1709 at London, and annexed to the 4th edition of Dr. Hicke's Spirit of Enthufiafm exor. cifed-it is entitled, "The New Pretenders to Prophecy exa"mined, and their Pretences fhewn to be groundless and "falfe," by N. Spinckes, M. A. This author gives a particular account of their conduct, and quotes their own predic tions. These pretended faints, affected to fpeak languages, when infpired, of which, out of their extafy, they declared themselves incapable. But they were Hebrew, Greek, and Latin

[ocr errors]

Latin, tongues unknown, and therefore useless to those whom they addreffed; nay, they declare, that they themselves, when out of their extasies and agitations, understood not what they said in them. They spoke even those languages barbarously, imperfectly, and almoft unintelligibly, and improved as learners might be supposed to do; but what is most decifive, they could not fpeak the living tongue of the nation wherein. they came to teach; the French prophets could not speak Englifh, nor the English, French. They alfo pretended, that miracles were wrought by them; but, of fifteen perfons whom they attempted to heal, they themselves reprefent, that to the tumor of one a bladder was applied, and that it was dreffed three or four times a day; that a second was only beginning to recover; that five had received no benefit; a fixth but little; a seventh no benefit at the time, though she afterwards recovered. They also pretended to prophecy, but their prophecies were sometimes of events of the moft trifling nature, easily produced, and therefore easily foreseen: as, when one is faid to tell them by inspiration," that there was a number of good people "at hand, who, in looking for the affembly, had loft their way "in the woods or fields:" or, when rational conjecture might avail, as of the deaths of perfons in fickness, or peculiar fituations of danger, without however fpecifying the particulars that should attend them. Sometimes their miracles are plain frauds, as in the cafe of E. Gray, recited as above by Mr. Spinckes, p. 397. and in that of Mr. Lacy, 405. Some were antic tricks and strange agitations, "falling flat upon the floor "at once like a board, &c. &c."

But the confummation of their folly, as it was the period of their influence, was their celebrated prophecy of the refurrection of Dr. Emes, which it was pofitively predicted, fhould take place on the 25th of May, 1708, five months after his interment, publicly, by a miraculous power to be exercised by Mr. Lacy. This prophecy was pronounced repeatedly while the prophets underwent great agitations; but when the time came, and the city bands were placed around to prevent any disturbance, no Mr. Lacy appeared, no refurrection took place. Mr. Lacy published some foolish reasons to account for the divine promise not being fulfilled, but, alas! they could not reftore


the credit of his fect. I find they had also prophefied, that one "Stephen Halford, a cutler, at Birmingham, fhould die on "February 3, 1707; that he fhould lie in the fame room for "three days, dead; that he should then be buried, and twenty "days after rise again."-The man who had been one of themselves, and firmly believed the prediction, was thrown into great agitations-but the time paffed, he did not die, and was fo convinced of the delufion as to forfake the fect. They allo prophefied, that within fix months, from the 29th of October, 1707, London fhould be deftroyed.-I mention these circumftances, to fhew how apt enthufiafts will be to prophecy, and how certainly fuch prophecy will deftroy their credit. We have another inftance of the rafhnefs of fanatics, as to prophecy, in the reveries of Brothers, who, in his revealed knowledge of the prophecies and times, p. 51. Dublin edition, 1795, in a paragraph, dated 1794, 1ft of the month, called July, writes thus: "The Lord God faid to me among other things, in a vifion "early in the morning, for I had been earnestly praying to "him the evening before, to haften my revelation to the Jews, " and inform me how long it would be until it took place, be"cause I was daily abused as an impoftor for publishing his "commands, by wicked men, every one of them led on under "the influence of an evil fpirit-You must be at Conftantinople, "in your way to Jerufalem, by this time the next year, I have raised "up one from the north, (meaning the revealed prince of the "Hebrews at this time), and he shall come, (meaning to Je « rusalem, from that northern part of the world alluded to). (England lies in the north, and it is indeed the country "meant) from the tifing of the fun he fhall call upon my "name, and he shall come upon princes as upon mortar, and "as the potter treads clay, p. 61. Who hath declared from "the beginning, that we may know, and before the time, "(meaning the prophecy is fulfilled, it being 2461 years from "its declaration then to its accomplishment, now this prefent year of 1795) that we may fay he is righteous, yea, there is none that fheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there "is none that heareth your words, ibid. The Lord God "commands me to fay to you, Nathaniel Braffey Halhed, that " as you are reviled, and confidered by your former acquaint



"ances as ruined and lost for speaking the truth, as he mani. "fefted it to you, for publishing your teftimony of me as his "fervant, you fball, by the expiration of three months, from this day, "have your choice, of being either governor-general of India, or prefi"dent of the Board of Controul in England, that all men may be "convinced, that he that rules in heaven, is able to exalt, or "to abafe; that he is ftill able, even at this late hour of a "wicked world, to reward the obedient to his blessed spirit, and "give the most eminent places on earth to whomsoever he "pleafes," p. 65.

For a proof of the irregularity and uncertainty with which fanaticifm produces its effects, confult Douglas's Criterion, where he examines the pretended miracles performed at the tomb of the Abbe Paris, from p. 175 to 190. He remarks, that the cures when real, were wrought on persons whose imaginations were ftrongly impreffed; that the applications were repeated, so that days and weeks, and even months intervened, between the first application and the relief. That they were of fuch disorders, as the imagination, and the force of nervous affections have particular influence upon; that the cures were attended with violent convulfions and agitations; that but a few of thousands had been healed. I take no notice of the multitude of forgeries and frauds about these miracles, as I only confider them fo far as they were influenced by fanaticism. Vid. also Dr. Elrington on Miracles, from p. 232 to 245, and from P. 299 to the end. Vid. alfo Bishop Douglas's Remarks on the Cure of the Evil, by the Royal Touch; where he states the ftrong probability, that even when fuch cures were real, they were wrought by the force of imagination, p. 203. His account of the cures performed by Mr. Greatrakes, by stroaking with the hand, is well worth our notice. This person, a gentleman of fome fashion in the county of Waterford in Ireland, began 1662, to have a strange persuasion in his mind, of which he was not able to give a rational account to others, that the gift of curing the king's evil was bestowed upon him, and he afterwards attempted agues, and all forts of diseases. But it must be observed, that many whom he was most anxious to heal, and who applied to him, he was unable to heal at all, as Lady Conway, whom he could not cure of a head-ach, though he


stayed at her house about three weeks or a month for that pur pofe-the cures were alfo effected gradually, and the operation of the hand frequently repeated. In many cafes there was occafion to make use of razors and other sharp instruments to lay open the fores. The number of thofe who received no benefit from him after repeated trials, greatly exceeded the number of those who were relieved; and many who received benefit, received no cure, but afterwards relapsed. Vid. Douglas, from p. 205 to 212. On the cure of Madame de la Foffe. Vid. Douglas, p. 230 to 233. it was gradual and imperfect. For a vindication of the miracles of our Lord from fuch imputation, Vid. ibid. from p. 250 to 271. I hope, that in the preceding work, chap. 1. I have not omitted any material obfervation of this excellent writer; it is to be lamented that his work is now extremely fearce.

P. 93.

2dly. The Conduct of Fanatics.

"Enthufiafts are overpowered by religi "ous melancholy and abstraction, devoted to ex"ceffive mortifications and fantaftic penances, &c. "They trample on the reftraints of order and decency; are impatient to court perfecution, &c. are "alienated from the relations and bufinefs of common life, &c."



P. 241.

"Are frequently impatient of contradic❝tion, and apt to perfecute, &c."

P. 220.

"Have sometimes indulged themselves " in vices, &c."

Vid. Beaufobre's Hiftoire du Manichees. Liv. 2. chap. 3. p. 189. Amsterdam, 1734. "Manes, to give his errors a di"vine authority, having difcovered in a folitary place a cave, "which contained an excellent fountain, he concealed provi"fions there, and then gave notice to his disciples, that he was going to be exalted to heaven, where he would remain one 66 year,

[ocr errors]


« PrécédentContinuer »