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II. The Latin writers of this age complain in C E N T.
XIII. many places of the growth of infidelity, of daring
5 PARTI. and licentious writers, some of whom attacked publicly the doctrines of Christianity, while 0- Complaints
O of infidelity thers went so far as atheistically to call in ques- and athetion the perfections and government of the Su- ism among
the Latins. preme Being. These complaints, however they might have been exaggerated in some respects, were yet far from being entirely destitute of foundation; and the superstition of the times was too naturally adapted to create a number of intilels and libertines, among men who had more capacity than judgment, more wit than solidity. Persons of this character, when they fixed their attention only upon that absurd system of religion, which the Roman pontifs and their dependents exhibited as the true religion of Christ, and maintained by the odious influence of bloody persecution, were, for want of the means of being better instructed, unhappily led to consider the Christian religion as a fable invented and propagated by a greedy and ambitious priesthood, in order to fill their coffers, and to render their authority respectable. The philosophy of ARISTOTLE, which flourished in all the European schools, and was looked upon as the very essence of right reason, contributed much to support this delusion, and to nourish a proud and presumptuous spirit of infidelity: This quibbling and intricate philosophy led many to reject some of the most evident and important doctrines both of natural and revealed religion, such as the doctrine of a divine providence governing the universe, the immortality of the soul, the scripture account of the origin of the world, and other points of less mo- VOL. III. I; YE L . . ment.
certain that there still remain in these countries descendants of those, whom the holy War brought from Europe into Palestine ; though they do very little honour to their ancestors, and have nothang of Christians but the name. ****
CE N T.ment. These doctrines were not only rejected,
, but the most pernicious errors were industriously PARTI."
propagated in opposition to them, by a set of Aristotelians, who were extremely active in gain.
ing proseiytes to their impious jargon [a]. Frederic II. III. If the accusations brought against FREaccused of . DERIC II. by the Roman pontif GREGORY IX. impiety.
deserve any credit, that prince may be ranked among the most inveterate and malignant enemies of the Christian religion, since he was charged by
GREGORY (a) See Sti. THOMÆ Summa contra gentes, and BERNHARDI MONETÆ Summa contra Carbaros ei Waldenses. This latter writer, in the work now mentioned, combats, with great spirit, the enemies of Christianity which appeared in his time. In the fourth chapter of the fifth book, p. 416. he disputes in an ample and copious manner, against those who affirmed, that the soul perished with the body ; refutes, in the eleventh chapter, p. 477. those Aristotelian philosophers, who held, that the world had existed from all eternity, and would never have an end; and, in the fifteenth chapter, p. 554. he attacks those, who despising the authority of the sacred writings, deny the existence of buman liberty, and maintain, that all things, and even the crimes of the wicked, are the effects of an absolute and irresistible necessity. Add to these authors, STEPHANI TEMPIERII, Episcopi Parisiensis, Indiculus errorum, qui a nonnullis Magisiris Lutetiæ publice privatimque docebantur, Anno 1277. in Bibliotheca patrum Maxima, tom. xxv. p. 233; as also Bou. LAY, Histor. Acad. Puris. tom. iii. p. 433. and GERARDI DU Bois, Hist. Eccles. Paris. tom, ü. p. 501. The tenets of these doctors, will, no doubt, appear of a suprising nature ; for they taught, “ that there was only one intellect among all the human race; that all things were subject to absolute fate or necessity; that the universe was not governed by a divine providence; that the world was eternal, and the soul mortal ;" and they maintained these and such like monstrous errors, by arguments drawn from the philosophy of ARISTOTLE. But, at the same time to avoid the just resentment of the people, they held up, as a buckler against their adversaries, that most dangerous and pernicious distinction between theological and philosophical truth, which has been since used, with the utmost cunning and bad faith, by the more recent Aristotelians of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. “These things, said they, (as we learn from STEPHEN TEMPIER) are true in philosophy, but not according to the catholic faith." Vera sunt hæc secundum philosophum, non secundum fidem catholicam,
GREGORY with having said, that the world hadC E N T. been deceived by three impostors, Moses, CHRIST,P, and MAHOMET . This charge was answered pd by a solemn and public profession of his faith, which the emperor addressed to all the kings and princes of Europe, to whom also had been addressed the accusation brought against him by the pontif. The accusation, however, was founded upon the testimony of HENRY RASPON, landgrave of Thuringia, who declared that he had heard the emperor pronounce the abominable blasphemy above mentioned [c]. It is, after all, difficult to decide with sufficient evidence concerning the truth of this fact. FREDERIC, who was extremely passionate and imprudent, may, perhaps in a fit of rage, have let some such expression as this escape his reflexion, and this is rendered probable enough by the company he frequented, and the number of learned Aristotelians that were always sabout his person, and might suggest matter enough for such impious expressions, as that now under consideration. It was this affair that gave occasion, in after-times, to the invention of that fabulous account fd], which supposes the detestable book Concerning the three impostors, to have been composed by the emperor himself, or, by PETER DE VINEIS, a native of Capua, a man of great credit and authority, whom that prince [e]
[b] Matth. Paris, Histor. Major. p. 408. 459.-PETR. DE VINEIS, Epistolarum, lib. i.
[c] Herm. GYGANTIS Flores Temporum, p. 126.-Cur. Frid. AYRMANN, Sylloge Anecdotor. tom. i. p. 639.
[d] See Casim. OUDINI Comment, de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis, tom. üi. p. 66.-ALB. HENR. DE SALLENGRE, Memcirs d'Histoire et de Litterature, tom. i. part I. p. 386.
[e] The book entitled Liber. de ili Impostoribus, sive, Tractatus de Vanitate Religionum, is really a book which had no existence at the time that the most noise was made about it, and was spoken of by multitudes before it had been seen by any one person. Its supposed existence was probably owing to an impi. L 2
CEN T. had chosen for his prime minister, and in whoin
:, he placed the highest confidence.
ous saying of SIMON OF TOURNAY, doctor of divinity in the university of Paris in the thirteenth century, which amounts to this, “ That the Jews were seduced out of their senses by Mo. SES, the Christians by Jesus, and the Gentiles by MAHOMET.” This, or some expressions of a similar kind, were imputed to the emperor FREDERIC, and other persons, and that perhaps without any real foundation ; and the imaginary book, to which they have given rise has been attributed by different authors to FREDERIC, to his chancellor PETER DE VINEIS, to ALPHONSO, king of Castile, to Boccac, Pogge, the ARETINS, POMPONACE, MACHIAVEL, ERASMUS, OCHINUS, SERVETUS, RABELAIS, GrORDANO BRUNO, CAMPANELLA, and many others. In a word, the book was long spoken of before any such work existed ; but the rumour that was spread abroad encouraged some profligate traders in licentiousness to compose, or rather compile a bundle of miserable rhapsodies, under the famous title of the
Three Impostors, in order to impose upon such as are fond of these pretended rarities. Accordingly, the Spaccio della Bestia Triomphante of GIORDANO BRUNO, and a wretched piece of impiety, called the Spirit of Spinoza, were the ground-work or materials from whence these hireling compilers, by modifying some passages and adding others, drew the book which now passes under the name of the Three Impostors, of which I have seen two copies in manuscript, but no printed edition. See LA MONNOYE's Dissertation sur le Livre de ini Imposteurs, published at Amsterdam in 1715, at the end of the fourth volume of the Menagiana. See also an Answer to this Dissertation, which was impudently exposed to the public eye, in 1716, from the press of Scheurleer in the Hague, and which contains a fabulous story of the origin of the book in question. Whoever is desirous of a more ample and a very curious account of this matter, will find it in the late PROSPER MERCHANE's Dictionaire Historique, vol. ii. at the article IMPOSTORIBUS.
Concerning the state of letters and philosophy during
I THE Greeks, amidst the dreadful cala-C E N T.
XII. mities, discords, and revolutions, that PĀRT II. distracted and perplexed their unhappy country,
! 'The state of had neither that spirit, nor that leisure, that are learning anecessary to the culture of the arts and sciences. mong the Yet, under all these disadvantages, they still retained a certain portion of their former spirit, and did not entirely abandon the cause of learning and philosophy, as appears by the writers that arose among them during this century. Their best historians were Nicetas, CHONIATES, GEORGIUS ACROPOLITA, GREGORIUS PACHYMERES, and JOEL, whose Chronology is yet extant. We learn from the writings of GREGORY PACHYMERES and NICEPHORUS BLEMMIDA, that the Peripatetic philosophy was not without its admirers among the Greeks; though the Platonic was most in vogue. The greatest part of the Grecian philosophers, following the example of the later Platonists, whose works were the subject of their constant meditation, inclined to reduce the wisdom of Plato and the subtilties of the Stagirite into one system, and to reconcile, as well as they could, their jarring principles. It is not necessary to exhibit a list of those authors, who wrote the lives and discourses of the saints, or distinguished themselves in the controversy with the Latin church, or of those who employed ; L 3