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of human knowledge; it may be sufficient to instance in political and natural science.
As all our duties, civil as well as natural, bear some relation to religion, and are bound upon us by its authority, it must be obvious to every one, how easily a spiritual jurisdiction, erected by fanatical, superstitious, or designing men, may be made to extend itself over affairs that are purely secular. And, in fact, such a jurisdiction, during many former ages, was extended over a great part of the christian world. The reciprocal rights and duties of sovereigns and subjects, which it is of so much importance to establish, and so extremely dangerous to nullify or relax, have been often entirely superseded by the usurped power of the Roman pontiffs, who, at their pleasure, have imposed sovereigns over some nations, and released other nations, or the same, from all obedience to their sovereigns. In the year thirteen hundred and two, Matthew Visconti, lord of Milant, was summoned before the inquisition, at the instance of pope John the Twenty-second, and branded with heresy, for no other reason than his
attachment to his superior lord, Lewis, the emperor of Bavaria ; and other feudatory chiefs were treated in like manner, and on the same account *. In the last general states held in France before those summoned at the commencement of the late revolution, when a motion was made by the tiers etat, or the commons, for the establishment of a law, “that no spiritual power could deprive kings of their rights, and that it was high treason for any one to teach they might justly be deposed or murdered;" the cardinal du Perron vehemently contended against the proposition, asserting, “ that the papal power was direct as to spirituals, indirect as to temporals; and that he was commissioned to declare, in the name of the whole Gallican church, that whoever denied the power of the pope to depose kings, should be excommunicated t." When the principles of political science are thus contracted by an arrogant tribunal, whose authority, if any one presume to question, he is treated as a heretic, their progress cannot fail to be greatly impeded.
* L'Histoire Generale, par Voltaire, ch. 118.
+ Id. ch. 206. This happened in 1614. It is true, the French clergy held a different language in 1682. (Id. ibid.) What they hold at present I cannot tell.
Nor has natural science suffered less under the baleful influence of a superstitious tyranny. Nature and religion corresponded to each other at their origin; they correspond to each other still; for christianity is the religion of nature as now fallen; and that science which more clearly unfolds the present constitution and laws of the natural world, is favourable to the christian system, and is favoured by it. All this is reversed in the case before us; since between superstition and a sound philosophy there can be no agreement. Hence her menacing denunciations against inquiries which might detect her ignorance, and endanger her pretensions :
Furiarum maxima juxtà
VIRGIL. This persecuting rage has been experienced by learned and inquisitive men at different periods. It was experienced in the thirteenth century by our renowned countryman, Roger Bacon, who was accused as a magician by the general of his order, and by pope Clement the Fourth cast into the prison of the inquisition at Rome, where he remained shut up for many years, and for no other cause, that we know of, than his superiority to the age in which he lived. It was experienced by the equally renowned Florentine, Galileo, who, three hundred years afterwards, was thrown into the same prison in the same city, for maintaining the earth's motion and the sun's immobility; a heresy which, at length, he was brought to abjure, and in a manner the most humiliating *. Such things have been, and may again be, should perverted science invite the return of superstition, and abused liberty drive the
* It may not be displeasing to some of my readers to find here a more particular account of this extraordinary transaction, as history affords us few documents which show more strongly the repugnancy between superstition and true philosophy. It was one Scheiner, a Jesuit, who denounced the above opinion of Galileo to the inquisition, which, after examination, condemned it as heretical; and directed Cardinal Bellamine tu ex
postulate with the author, and to require him to renounce · the said opinion, and no more to teach it by word or
writing; which the philosopher having promised, he
was for that time disinissed. But afterwards, taking advantage of two inquisitorial decrees of a different tenor, he ventured to republish his former doctrine, and, in consequence, was again summoned before the holy office, and received its solemn and definitive sentence, of which the following is an extract.
“ We, Gaspar Borgia, &c. cardinals of the holy Roman church, specially deputed by the holy apostolic See, to be inquisitors against heretical pravity throughout the whole christian republic. Whereas you, Galileo, son of the late Vincent Galileo, of Florence, aged seventy, were informed against in the year 1615, in this holy office, that you maintained as true a certain false doctrine, held by many, viz. that the sun was in the centre of the world, and immoveable, and that the earth moved even with a daily motion.-We do by this our definitive sentence, judge and declare, that you the aforesaid Galileo have rendered yourself vehemently suspected of heresy to this holy office, and consequently that you have incurred all the censures and penalties appointed by the sacred canons, and other constitutions, against such offenders ; from which, notwithstanding, 'tis our pleasure that you should be absolved, provided that you do first, with a sincere heart, and faith unfeigned, abjure, curse, and detest before us the aforesaid errors and heresies, and every other error and heresy, contrary to the catholic and apostolic Roman church, in