Page images

Divine Providence from the government of the world, they must admit things still more incomprehensible, namely, either that the world owes its origin to the fortuitous concourse of atoms, or that God having created it, and planted rational beings on the face of it, left them afterwards to be the sport of chance, or the slaves of necessity. Instances of this kind might be multiplied to an indefinite extent: for which ever way we turn, we see many things connected with the material and spiritual world, which far exceed our powers

of comprehension, and for which our reason can in nowise account.

Should the deists acknowledge the truth of this, and allow the incomprehensibility of many articles of natural religion, but urge that the Christian revelation contains doctrines absolutely contradictory to the positive inferences of human reason, we can easily defy them to the proof. What can reason infer against the possibility, or even probability, of an union between the divine and the human nature? What premises can it establish subversive of the possibility of such an event ? Will it ground them

upon the nature and essence of the divinity? But of these, as has been proved above, it is utterly ignorant; or will it ground them upon the knowledge that it has derived from the visible creation respecting the divine attributes ? But there is nothing in the power, wisdom, or goodness of God, which, in so far as these may be inferred from the works of the creation, can in any way militate against the possibility of a divine incarnation; SO far from it, that if an unbeliever grant the possibility of the creator appearing to creatures, the probability must also be granted that the divinity would so veil its glories as to render it possible for mankind to sustain the majesty of its presence without being blinded by its splendid emanations.

But what fitter veil could be found than a body fashioned like those beings, to whom God had originally given the dominion of the earth, and whose instruction and salvation would form the only object of his appearance ? Nor again, in the mystery of the Trinity in Unity is there any proposition contradictory to the inferences of human reason. If unity were predicated of three material individuals, reason, grounding its conclusions on the evidence of sense and observation, might safely deny the possibility of the truth of such a proposition. But as it is predicated of a spiritual being, of the mode of whose existence, and of the nature of whose essence, man is utterly ignorant, the proposition is placed beyond the reach of human reason, which consequently can neither affirm its falsehood nor deny its truth. No more can it be maintained that the doctrine of Atonement contains any thing contradictory to our reason or experience. Men themselves often pardon the living for the sake of the dead, the wicked for the sake of the good. In truth had it contained any thing contradictory to the inevitable conclusions of reason, how can we account for the universal prevalence of this doctrine, and the practice resulting from it, among all the nations of the earth?

non vult, aut neque vult neque potest, aut et vult et potest. Si valt et non potest, imbecillus est, quod in Deum non cadit. Si potest et non vult invidus est, æque alienum a Deo. Si neque vult neque potestet invidus et imbecillus est, ideoque neque Deus. Si volt et potest, quod solum Deo convenit, unde ergo sunt mala ? Aut cor illa non tollit? Lactantius de lrå Dei, cap. 13.


These three articles of our faith, and those which necessarily flow from them, are the peculiar doctrines of Christianity which the natural man is most unwilling to receive, and a belief in which he esteems an intolerable burden. But we have shown that they do not contain any proposition to which a mind well tutored in the philosophy of facts can rationally object, if the evidence in favour of their having been communicated from God be well grounded. If men neglect the true God, and set up in his stead the dreams and phantoms of their own distempered imaginations, and arbitrarily impute to these attributes of righteousness, wisdom, goodness, and power, founded upon their own unsupported suppositions, errors and delusions will necessarily follow, and human inve:itions occupy the place of divine revelation. To correct this mischievous principle, which is ever active in the minds of men, we must perpetually have recourse to the authority of the Scriptures. On them and on them alone must we found our faith, on them must we ground our principles, and from them deduce our motives to action. Convinced that they all have been given by inspiration of God,' we must submit our reason to the obedience of faith, and restrain at its commencement that inquisitive spirit which fain would presumptuously pry into those mysteries which the Angels contemplate with awe. This is not reducing our reason to slavery; all the questions which it can hope to treat with success will still be open to its researches. Let it turn its attention to these, and not spend its strength on subjects which cannot profit. Let it not, with the barbarians mentioned by Herodotus, discharge its feeble arrows into the clouds and darkness from whence the lightning flashes, and the thunderbolt descends. The force of such missiles will soon be spent, and in their descent to their native earth they may chance to fall on the heads of those who have discharged them.


ART. V.- Vie et Révélations de la Sæur Nativité, Religieuse

converse au Couvent des Urbanistes de Fougères ; écrites sous sa Dictée; suivies de sa Vie intérieure, écrite aussi d'uprès ellemême par le Réducteur de ses Révélations, et pour y servir de

suite. Paris. 1817. 3 tom. 12mo. WE E are informed by the editor, or rather author, the Abbé

Genet, that 'this work has been examined in manuscript by more than an hundred profound theologians, and more particularly in London : to wit, by seven or eight (Roman Catholic) bishops and archbishops, twenty or thirty vicars-general of different dioceses, doctors and professors of theology in different aniversities, abbés, authors of various bighly esteemed works, and more than fourscore curés, rectors, and other priests, English as well as French, equally distinguished for their piety and their learning. All had desired to see it published; many declared that they had perused it with the greatest pleasure and the greatest edification, and had been more affected by it than by any other book or production whatsoever; many had transcribed it to serve for their habitual meditations; but the extraordinary nature of the work did not permit them to give, with the official sanction of their names, the high eulogium which they had passed upon it in private, both by writing and by word of mouth. M. Genet highly approves this caution. Nevertheless, he has favoured us with some of their approbations. Dr. Douglas, he tells us, then titular bishop of London, not understanding the French language suffi ciently to form a judgment for himself, deputed the task to cer+ tain of his clergy, and among others to the reverend Mr. (now Dr.) Milner, who signified his opinion in these words:

The production on the whole appears to me very wonderful for its sublimity, energy, copiousness, learning, orthodoxy and piety. Hence I have no doubt of its producing great spiritual profit to many souls, whenever you shall think proper to give it to the public.' And again

I cannot speak too highly of the sublimity and affecting piety of these Revelations in general.” And again— When you see our good friend M. G.(enet) present my respectful compliments to him, and tell him bow desirous I was of seeing him when I was the other day at Somers

It is impossible that you or any other person should have a greater veneration for the Revelations of his spiritual daughter than I ! have; or be more anxious to see them in print, for the edification of the good, and the conversion of the wicked.'

So far Dr. Milner, alias John Merlin. Mr. Rayment, another English priest, très distingué par ses connaissances théologiques, in the province of York, translated the manuscript into English, and said he would not exchange the translation for a library.



Mr. Hodgson, Dr. Douglas's vicar-general, called it a work of infused theology. And the reverend Father Bruning, an English Jesuit, speaks of it thus : May I add, on the whole, were scrip ture no more, and all the most valuable treatises of instructive, moral, doctrinal, and theological science no more to be met with in other books, they might all be recovered in this one, and with interest beyond.' "The Abbé Barruel also appears among the persons who have given it their sanction, he being one of the divines to whom the Abbé Genet was most desirous of communi'cating it when in manuscript.

• The more I read it,' says this well known author, the more I find it edifying and adınirable, and the more I discover in it something more than human. I see in it a thousand things which I had never seen elsewhere; and it affects me more than any other book. I make it my most ordinary meditation, and I hope that God will make use of it for my conversion and my spiritual advancement. Recommend me, I entreat you, to the prayers of your good Nun.'

With these sanctions a book is brought forward, the history of which, says the editor, may almost be read in that of Jeremiah's prophecies. The nun had charged himn in the name of God to keep the precious deposit carefully during a certain season, and publish it when the time should be indicated. He had so kept it during ten years of persecution and exile. Heaven appeared now to have given the sign, and the edifying death of the inspired nun, which had removed her from all persecution, had also diffused the odour of her virtues and excited an ardent desire for any thing which might make her better known to the world; and, therefore, the Abbé Genet,' without consulting too much the suggestions of a prudence which is always pusillanimous,' brings to light, he says, these details, in which all mankind are interested, and over which the public has an incontestable right, as being solely intended for their edification and happiness. That no solemnity may be wanting, he affixes these texts of scripture as mottos to his title-page, his avant-propos, and his preliminary discourse :

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.' 'It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but it is honourable to reveal the works of God.' 'Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world.'

Jeanne le Royer, as she was called before she professed as a nun, was the daughter of poor parents, and born in the village of Beaulot, two leagues froin Fougères. In youth her person was agreeable and her health robust; having, however, an early

use his

desire for a religious life, she overcame all the opposition of the devil, the world, and the flesh, and all the dangers of her condition. That no injustice may be done to the Abbé, we shall

own manner of expression. The assistance of her good angel and her trust in the Blessed Virgin were on many occasions useful to her; but the most tender and most lively devotion imprinted on her soul was that toward the thrice holy sacrament of the altar, her love for the adorable

person of our Lord having always been proportionate, if that may be said, to the favours which she actually received. Heureuse l'âme qui sait entretenir avec son Dieu cette douce correspondance de tendresse réciproque, ce délicieux commerce d'amour qui fait le paradis de la terre! At the age of fifteen or sixteen she lost her father; her intention then was to live with her mother, and support her. by her labour as long as she lived; but the mother soon died also, and Jeanne, who was then left destitute, had no other wish than to obtain admission into some convent as servant, the better to keep her vow of continence and secure her salvation; and this . she made the object of her prayers to the Virgin. Houses of Retreat are occasionally opened in Roman Catholic countries for the reception of those devotees who desire to put themselves : upon a spiritual regimen for a certain time, under the care of a director, or conscience-keeper, and have not the means of doing this effectually at home. The Jesuits made great use of this device for establishing their authority over weak minds. Notice was given that a house of this kind was opened in the suburb of Fougères; thither Jeanne repaired: though a cabal was formed against her, she was at last admitted without a dowry; and upon taking the vows she assumed the name of Sister Nativité.

· These good nuns,' says the Abbé," knew her already sufficiently to chuse her in preference to the other applicants; but wbo could have told them then, that the poor girl to whom they granted for charity the lowest place among their servants, would soon be, and, in fact, already was, the most favoured by God; that she would one day become the glory, the ornament, and, perhaps, the resource and support of their order, and an oracle of religion for her own age and for following ages !'

Sister Nativity entered now with the best will upon all the virtues of her profession : in other words, upon a course of those practices which the monastic orders borrowed from eastern superstition, for the misery of their poor deluded votaries, the corruption of Christianity, and the degradation of human nature; watching and fasting, haircloth and self-flagellation, formed a part of this spiritual regimen. She regaled herself sometimes with laying this tles and nettles in her bed; and one day she was surprized in the act of sipping gall mixed with other things equally loathsome. VOL. XXXIII. NO, LXVI.

· Chaque


« PreviousContinue »