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by his own weak reason. Societies are formed, kingdoms and empires are established, laws are framed for their preservation; the arts are cultivated, but still by man, unaided by inspiration from on high. From the earth, our philosopher passes into a cometary system, where he finds beings of a nature superior to those who dwell upon the earth, which he had forsaken in company with the genius of his dreams-beings that rise or descend in the degrees of their perfection according to the use to which they have applied the powers which have been imparted to them.
Such were the wanderings of the philosopher, in which Philalethes most probably intended to pourtray the wild fancies of those, who, scorning the guides which religion presents to them, lose their understanding, and with it a belief in all revelation. We will follow our friends from Rome to the summit of Vesuvius, and will there listen to their discussions on the vision.
After having listened to the narration of Philalethes, Ambrosio, our Catholic friend, remarks, that the vision “is not only incompatible with revelation, but likewise with reason and every thing that we know respecting the history or traditions of the early nations of antiquity.” (p. 68.) The Catholic is taught to revere the sacred scriptures, and to prefer the narratives therein contained to all the specious systems of a wild philosophy, and to all the fables, how numerous soever and widely extended they may be, that have come down to us from the pagan nations of antiquity. If we examine the inspired records, we shall find, in every page, that there was a light from on high to direct man's steps through life-that from the beginning of the world his mind was assisted by a Divine revelation, which taught him the duties which he owed to his Creator and to his fellow-man. This light was, we know, almost extinguished, and this revelation was obscured, in many of the nations of the earth—and hence that state of barbarism in some, hence in others, who arrived at a degree of civilization in society, that corruption of all morality, and those frightful and confused ideas of religion, which the history of the pagan world presents. It is thus that Ambrosio would argue with Onuphrio, who, following his boasted reason, is not sure that the religion of the Jews was superior to that of the Sabæans, who worshipped the stars, or to that of the ancient Persians who adored the sun, as the visible symbols of divine power; and who would, like the ancient Romans, give a place in his Pantheon to all the gods. And here we must pause to find fault with some of the opinions expressed by Ambrosio; for although from the tone of the whole book, we must suppose that the judgment of Sir Humphry Davy was highly in favour of the doctrines of the Catholic Church, yet we must not be
surprised, even when his Catholic dramatis personæ speak, to hear sometimes opinions in which Catholics cannot concur. To account for the mode in which revelations were conveyed to the patriarchs of old, he supposes, (p. 80) that their ideas were so modified that, on many occasions, they imagined that they enjoyed the actual presence of the Divinity, and heard his voice; but as religious instinct probably becomes feebler in their posterity, the vividness of the impressions ceased, and they became visions or dreams, which, with the prophets, seem to have constituted inspiration. Now, unless we destroy the literal and evident meaning of innumerable passages of the divine writings, we must reject these opinions of Ambrosio. For how can it be said, that those parts of scripture which tell us that the Lord spoke to man, are not to be interpreted in that sense which their words seem so clearly to signify? . Can it be asserted, that the conversation which is said to have taken place between our first parents and their Creator, was no more than the voice of remorse speaking to their troubled conscience; if not, then the Lord must have spoken. The same must be said of the words of the Lord to Cain, after the murder of his innocent brother. To whom did the murderer say, that he was not his brother's keeper? Certainly to him who asked him, “Where is thy brother Abel ?” That the voice of the Lord was heard many ages after the time when it is said no more to have spoken to men, is evident from the books of the New Testament. When our Redeemer had come from the waters of the Jordan, a voice was heard in Heaven, “ This is my beloved son;" and the same words were repeated amidst the glories of his transfiguration on Mount Thabor. Again; it is, indeed, certain that God can—for he has often done so-convey his inspirations to men, by visions or dreams; but it is also as certain, that the inspiration which was poured upon the prophets, came to them by other means; we have only to read their writings to convince ourselves of this truth. are more inclined to quarrel with our friend for his opinions respecting the miraculous cures of the demoniacs recorded by the evangelists.
“ The Divine intelligence chooses, that men should be convinced according to the ordinary train of their sensations. * * *
The popular opinion of the people of Judea was, that certain diseases were occasioned by devils taking possession of a human being; the disease was cured by our Saviour, and this, in the gospel, is expressed by his casting out devils.”—p. 81.
The evangelical writers, when speaking of those persons, whom we call demoniacs, express themselves in such terms, that it is manifest that they understood them to be persons really in
fested by evil spirits. “ They presented to him all sick people, that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and such as were possessed by devils, and he cured them."* In this text, it is evident, that St. Matthew distinguishes the sick and the infirm from those who were possessed by evil demons, all of which were cast out by the power of our Redeemer. The words addressed by our Lord to the spirit that revealed its name-Legion, cannot have been spoken to a disease of the body with which the possessed man was afflicted. We might adduce the instances of the devils which are said to have been dumb; of those which exclaimed—“What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth ;”—and of those that were permitted (at their own request) to enter into the herd of swine; to prove that the assertions of Ambrosio cannot be sustained. If we were to maintain these opinions; were we to say, that the idea of demoniacs was nought else than a fiction of Jewish superstition; we should be obliged to admit, as a consequence, (blasphemous as it would be)—that our Saviour led into error, not only those of his followers who were contemporary with him upon earth, but also every succeeding generation. For his manner of acting on all occasions, where those “having devils” were presented to him, and his defence of the by which he wrought these wonders,—by the finger of God, and not by Beelzebub, -show that the devil was really in possession of the bodies of those, from whom the sacred writers state that evil spirits were expelled. These opinions savour much of those dangerous ideas of rationalism with which the works of so many modern commentators upon the Holy Scriptures abound,-men who seem to imagine, that a spirit of rashness, and a store of profane learning, are sufficient to guide them into the most hidden recesses of the word of God. We would have wished that Ambrosio had been more explicit in his replies concerning the incarnation and death of our Redeemer. The idea of an integrant part of the essence of God animating a human form, may be philosophical ; it hardly expresses the sublime idea which revelation imparts of the second person of the adorable Trinity taking to itself our human nature. He should have told his opponent, that it was not the Godhead that suffered the cruel torments of the cross, and that, therefore, there is nothing repugnant to reason in all that the inspired historians narrate of the sufferings of the son of God. Philalethes, who had been the cause, and who had remained a silent listener of the discussion, at length acknowledges, that the reasonings of his Catholic companion compel him to break down the fanciful
• Matthew iv, 24.
fabric of his dreams, to substitute religion for reason, and faith for what he had called instinct in man. The conversation had made the sceptic Onuphrio a Philo-Christian, and taught him to confess, that the faith of his friend was far better fitted to act as a means of contemplating the great truths relating to God and to man, than “ the smoked or coloured glasses of scepticism.”
We have now arrived at the most beautiful and most interesting portion of the “ Consolations in Travel;” that portion which forms the third dialogue. The travellers had journeyed onwards to the magnificent temples of Pæstum; and, speaking of the plain upon which these vast piles of antiquity stand, our author says;—. Were my existence to be prolonged through ten centuries, I think I could never forget the pleasure I received on that delicious spot.” (p. 102.) But our subject is not now temples or cities, Greek, Roman, or Saracen, that have left to us scarcely one visible trace of their existence. We will introduce to our readers a most interesting individual, with whom the travellers here became accidentally acquainted. It is well known that Sir Humphry Davy threw around the history of this person many of the adventures of his own life, and that he has expressed, in the words of the stranger, many of his own sentiments; and, although the character of Philalethes be still preserved, it is only to demonstrate how the opinions of the philosopher were converted into those of the Christian, and how nearly the latter came into harmony with those of Ambrosio. But the scene in which the Unknown first appears is too beautiful not to be repeated :
My companions began to employ themselves in measuring the circumference of one of the Doric columns, when they suddenly called my. attention to a stranger who was sitting on a camp-stool behind it. The appearance of any person in this place, at this time, was sufficiently remarkable ; but the man who was before us, from his dress and appearance, would have been remarkable anywhere. He was employed in writing in a memorandum-book, when we first saw him ; but he immediately arose and saluted us, by bending the head slightly though gracefully; and this enabled me to see distinctly his person and dress... When he spoke to our guide, I thought I had never heard a more agreeable voice, --sonorous, yet gentle and silver-sounded. His dress was very peculiar, almost like that of an ecclesiastic, but coarse and light; a large soiled white hat, on which was fastened a pilgrim's cockle-shell, lay beside him on the grouna; and, attached to a rosary of coarse beads, suspended from his neck, was a long, antique, blue-enamelled phial, like those found in the Greek tombs. He took up his hat, and appeared to be retiring to another part of the building, when I apologized for the interruption we had given to his studies, begged him to resume them,
VOL. II.-NO. iv.
and assured him that our stay in the building would be only momentary, for I saw that there was a cloud over the sun, the brightness of which was the cause of our retiring. I spoke to him in Italian; he replied in English, observing, that he supposed the fear of contracting the malaria fever had induced us to seek the shelter of the shade."
The first words of this conversation reveal to us Sir Humphry Davy beneath the romantic disguise of the Unknown. They relate to the powers of chlorine in repelling the attacks of the malaria; and the discoveries of Sir Humphry relative to this substance are known to the whole scientific world. The nature of the materials which form the mighty temples of Pæstum leads the stranger into a long dissertation on the formation of the travestine, and to a narration of the many observations that he had made on the Campagna di Roma, the accuracy of which can be immediately attested by those who have trodden on that sacred ground. This subject imperceptibly leads to another, closely connected with it, -the formation of our earth into its present state. The Unknown adopts the system of those geologists who argue, from the appearances of our globe in its inner parts, that it underwent many and violent revolutions before it arrived at that state in which it was fitted to receive man as an inhabitant. The remains of vast and now unknown animals that are scattered through the bowels of the earth, like the mighty ruins of great cities upon its surface, seem to speak to mankind of times gone by, when the whole globe was as different from that which we now behold it, as the barbarian of Africa or of Asia must consider the condition of those ancient kingdoms, whose cities are scattered beneath his feet, to have been different from that which they have assumed since he became their master. “ The megalosauri, with paddles instead of legs, and clothed in mail, in size equal or superior to the whale, and the great amphibia, plethiosauri, with bodies like turtles, but furnished with necks longer than their bodies," certainly argue an order of nature far removed from that which now surrounds us. He supposes, therefore, that the days of creation are epochæ, or indefinite periods, during which this state of things, that has now passed away, existed. This may be deemed a philosophical romance, as it is called by Ambrosio; but it is one that has attracted much of the attention of the most learned and most intellectual scholars of our age; some of whom, as the late Baron Cuvier, advanced so far in this department of modern science as to erect once more, in their vast and original forms, those monsters of other days, from the scattered ruins that have been dug from the earth. We will say, with Ambrosio, that in this system there is nothing contrary to the records of sacred Scripture; but we feel tempted also to say, with an inspired writer, that