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that, where there shall be nothing in common þut religion and virtue. We have pens enough, that only wait for the signal of the prince to draw up a plan of this kind ; but the advantages which would arise from it, would be soon loft, without the attention of government, and especially of the public censors.'
The remainder of the work relates to the institution of cenfors, and the advantages arising from such an institution; what the ingenious author advances upon this subject, appears to us to be as judicious as his manner is agreeable, and we make no doubt, but every good citizen will read it with pleasure. Versuch uber wichtige Warbeiten, zur Glückseligkeit der Menschen ;
bestens empfohlen allen Regenten der freyen Staaten, zur erdaurung und näthigen beferung : von einem redlich gesinnten Schweizer.
8vo. 1766. That is,
of Mankind; humbly submitted to all Governors of Free
cient, so it is the best form of government, if the king happens to be an angel. But kings not being always quite lo angelic as might be wished, mankind have generally been rather impatient under the government of arbitrary princes ; insomuch that, where it hath been in their power, they have thrown off the yoke, determining to govern themselves. It being however essential to the existence of a community that a legislative and exe.cutive power should somewhere exist, the people found themfelves under a necessity of giving back part of the liberty they had recovered, to a select number, who were to provide for the happiness and security of the whole. Thus have been established the several republics now existing. But from the natural love of power in the governors, on one hand, and the indolence of the people on the other, we find, in most republics, little more remaining of liberty than the name. There are no people in the world who pride themselves more on their freedom than the Swiss, and yet there are few nations more arbitrarily and more tyranically oppressed. The sensible, the worthy Author of this excellent book is, at this instant, scandalously persecuted by the very tyrants who forced the celebrated Rousseau to take refuge in this country. His name is Herfort, a learned, public-spirited divine, a citizen of Bern. Being known to be the author of this treatise, he hath lately been put under arrest in his own house, by the secret council (the inquisition) of Bern; all* the
• A very few excepted. The copy from which this article is extracted, fell into our hands by the fingular assiduity of our correspondent.
copies of his work are seized, and he will probably be deprived of his ftipend, and branded with infamy. Such are the rewards which these pious guardians of the liberties of the people are about to bestow upon a subject, whom justice, not to mention generofity, would have loaded with honours !
We fhall now speak of the contents of this obnoxious performance, especially that part which concerns Switzerland in particular. Our Author divides his work into 124 sections. He begins with general reflections on man, the body, the soul, their union, the pations, the general pursuit of and gradual approaches towards happiness. He thence proceeds to the confideration of oaths among the Greeks and Romans, which he obferves have been carried by Christians to a much higher pitch of severity. Having firft enquired into the utility of oaths, their nature, intention, abuse, obligation, rise and progress, “We have no example, says de, till in the seventh century, of an oath invented by the holy fathers, established by their influence, and, by their perfuation, swallowed by the people. The occasion was this : Sisenand, the second Gothic king, who was in porfession of all Spain, under the cloak of religion, the beft cloak for a tyrant, called a council at Toledo. Sixty-four bishops, part Spanish and part French, were the holy fathers which composed this famous assembly. To render more perfect the alreadyperfect church, was not the principal part of their intention; but to establish Silenand on his throne: for King Suintilla, who had been dethroned by this rebel, being a worthy prince, had many friends, and some power.
• Now Sisenand having usurped the crown by means of Dogobert I. king of France, and having but little dependence on the fidelity of his subjects, it became necessary to invent fome extraordinary means for his fecurity; it was the oath of allegiance ; a thing, till this time, entirely unknown. This lacred bridle therefore being to be put upon a Christian people, it was proper that the holy fathers should perform the part of grooms on the occasion. The oath itself is too great a curiosity to be omitted. It runs thus : Quicunque igitur à nobis vel totius Hispanic populis qualibet inspiratione vel ftudio facramentum fidei fuc, pro putriæ gentifque fuæ Gothorum ftatu, vel confervatione regia falutis policitus ejl, temeraverit, aut regem nece attrellaverit, aut poteflate regni exuerit, aut præsumptione tyrannica regni faftigium usurparerit, anathema fit, in conspeciu Dei Patris ex angilorum, atque ab ecclefiu catholica, quam prophanaverit perjurio efficiatur extraneus, & ab omni Christianorum coctu alienus, cum omnibus impietatis Juce ficiis. Quia oportet ut una pæna teneat obnoxios, quos fimilis error invenerit. Quod iterum jicundo replicamus, dicentes : quicunque ex nobis ufurpaverit,ut fupra. Anathema fit in conspectu Christi & apoftolorum ejus & damnatus in futuro Dei judicia habeatur cum
enparticibus suis, quia dignum est, ut qui talibus fociantur, ipfi etiam damnatione çorust participatione obnoxi teneantur. Hic etiam tertio acclamamus : quicunque ex nobis. -Anathema fit in conspectu Spiritus Sancti & martyrum Chrifioneque partem justorum habeat, fed cum diabolis & angelis ejus eternis fuppliciis condemnetur, una cum eis, qui eadem confpiratione nituntur, ut par poena perditionis conftringat, quos in perditionem prava focietas copulat ; et ideo si placet omnibus, qui adestis, hæc iterata sententia, vesira vocis eant confenfu firmate. Ad universo clero & populo diélum eft. Qui contra hanc veftram definitionem præfumferit, Anathema Maranatha : hoc eft in adventu Domini perditio fit, & cum Judo Iscariote partem habeat, & ipfi & focii eorum. Amen! Quapropter ipsi nos sacerdotes omnem ecclefiam Christi ac populum admonemus, ut tremenda hæc ac toties iterata fententia nullum ex nobis præsenti et æterno condemnet judicio, fed fidem promissam erga gloriofum dominum nostrum Sisenandum cuftodientes, ac fincera illi devotione famulantes, non folum divinæ pietatis clementiam in nobis provocemus, sed etiam gratiam antea facti principis mereamur ptfcipere. Amen.
• Who can read this baih, says our author, without disgust and shuddering? From this anathematizing, Gothie, monftrous production, we fix the aera when the poor Christians firft began to be loaded and shackled with horrid oaths, whose curses extended to eternity. The clergy, however, foon found means to excuse themselves from the above oath of allegiance. In the ninth century they were generally excused, and Pope Honorius II. expresly forbad its being administered to them.
The author continues his animadversions on the subject of oaths with equal spirit, reason, and learning; interspersing his remarks with frequent historical anecdotes, and pertinent quotations. He observes, that since we are taught by daily experience, that the strongest oaths, by frequent repetition, cease to answer the purpose for which they were intended, it follows that they oughe never to be used when there is a possibility of obtaining truth by any other means. He then considers the doctrine of scripture upon this subject, particularly that passage in the New Testament in which Christ positively forbids alb fwearing whatsoever. Swear not at all, neither by beaven, &c. but let your conversation be rea, yea, and nay, nay, &c. On this remarkable passage he quotes the various opinions and explanations of all the celebrated commentators. Having thus considered the subject in all its different points of view, the author proposes a form of oath, which he thinks, might with a safe conscience be taken by people of all perfuafions. The oath here proposed is adapted first to the sovereign, and then to the Tubject. After a preliminary acknowledgement of the existence, omnipotence, mercy, juftice, omniscience, omnipresence and eternity of God; the words of the oath are there. I bow
down in humble veneration, before the throne of thy glory, and call thee to witness the upright intention of my heart, to fulfil the following obligation:
That of the sovereign.
Neither to undertake nor conceal any thing that may injure the fiate.
To leave nothing undone, which may conduce to the publick good.
That of the subject. Not to misuse my liberty, which I enjoy under the gracious government of those, whom God hath appointed to rule over
To be to them ever obedient and faithful, and neither de signing nor concealing any thing prejudicial to their power and honour.
Dutifully to submit to punishment, if ever I should trespass against their laws.'
In this oath the person swearing denounces no curfe against himself, as is usual with us, in the words, so belp me God; to all which cursing our author is a great enemy, as he deems it the height of folly and madness, to stake one's eternal salvation, against any sublunary consideration whatsoever. With regard to testimonial oaths, he condemns them as profane and ineffec. tual, and is of opinion that a positive assertion would answer the same purpose, since the weight of an evidence depends not upon the oath he has taken, but on his character. An honest man will not assert a falsehood, and a villain will wear ang thing, To thefe succeeds the confideration of religious oaths, which took their rise in the year 489, when Euphemius, patriarch of Constantinople, refused the coronation of Anastasius, the Greck Emperor, unless he would swear to maintain the parity of the faith. Anno 723, the dignified clergy were ordered to take the sanie oath, to which, says our author, Pope Gregory II. thought fit to add the two words fidelity and cbedienu. But to whom? to Chrift; no ; his kingdom is not of this world.: to Peter's Statholder, who inherited his sword.' In the year 1129, the Concilium Tholofanum ordered, that every male, above twelve years old, should swear to his belief of the church of Rome, and to discover and persecute all here ricks to the uimost of his abilities. Thus the poor people fwore, that they believed what they neither understood, nor were permitted to enquire into : what the church of Rome believed they were totally ignorant. Did ont worthy reformess !clease their followers from this imposition ? No: they decreed
that both princes and people should swear to promote and abide by the faith.
We come now to that part of the book, which hath drawn down upon the author the vengeance of those weak, uncharitable magistrates, from whom he might justly have expected protection and reward.
Beginning with the history of the Helvetic confeflion, Although, says oùr author, it be a disagreeable task to expose our own failings, yet a regard to truth will not suffer me to conceal the transactions of my country: He then quotes a passage from Hortinger's church-history of Switzerland, to the following effect. Bullinger had already in 1562, committed to paper a summary of the doctrines, which in his writing, and preaching he had inculcated, intending, that after his death, it should be delivered to the government, as a testimony of the constant uniformity of bis doctrine ; which was also read and approved by Peter Martyr. This his intention he inserted in his will, when in 1564 he was visited by the Plague. But being restored to the ardent supplications of his congregation, the holy providence of the Almighty presented an opportunity of publishing this confession of faith, for the edification of the church of God.'
In short, Bullinger's confession of faith met with so much approbation, that the churches of Geneva, Bern, and Zurich, thought fit to publish it as the creed of the united Calvinistical communities. The kirk of Scotland, with several others, petitioned to have their names inserted; but it was thought more advisable, that the church of each nation should have its own separate confession. 'acknowledge, says our author, this confeflion to be a valuable memorial of the belief of the unenlightened times, in which it was conceived ; and that it beams forth as much celestial wisdom, as that of Augsberg, or any other ; but, in erecting it as a standard, and a compulsive law, enforced by bitter oaths, seems it not that we have fallen into the error of the church of Rome, exculpating the Ifraelitish worship of the golden calf?' He then proceeds, with great perfpicuity and strength of argument, to expose the absurdity of swearing to the truth of any creed whatsoever, unless with the church of Rome, we admit the infallibility of chose, by whom it was composed. It is allowed, says he, by all those who are capable of reasoning, that the understanding can judge of truth only, according to the degree of evidence. Suppose, for instance, a man fhould swear that a piece of cloth was blue, and that seeing it afterwards in a better light, he should find it to be green, he will certainly believe it to bę green, though he should a thousand times have sworn that it was blue. Many other arguments equally conclusive, are advanced by