In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

FrRevol_701-750.indd 39 3/16/12 1:18 PM CHAPTER XI Ofthe Mixture ofReligion with Politics. It is very often said that France has become irreligious since the Revolution . No doubt at the period ofall crimes, the men who committed them must have thrown off the most sacred of restraints. But the general disposition ofmen at presentis not connected with fatal causes, which happily are very remote from us. Religion in France, as it was preached by priests, has always mixed itself with politics; and from the time when the popes absolved subjects from their oath of fidelity to their kings, until the last catechism sanctioned by the great majority of the French clergy, a catechism in which, as we have seen, those who did not love and serve the Emperor Napoleon were threatened with eternal damnation; there is not a period in which the ministers ofreligion have not employed it to establish political dogmas, all differing according to circumstances. In the midst of these changes, the only invariable thing has been intolerance toward whatever was not conformable to the prevailing doctrine. Never has religion been presented merely as the most inward worship of the heart, without any connection with the interests of this world. We are subject to the reproach ofirreligion when we do not accord in opinion with the ecclesiastical authorities in the affairs ofgovernment; but a man may be irritated against those who seek to impose upon him their manner ofthinking in politics and, nevertheless, be a very good Christian. It does not follow that because France desires liberty and equality in the eye of the law, that the country is not Christian; quite the contrary. Christianity accords eminently with this opinion. Thus, when man shall cease to join what God has separated, religion and politics, the clergy will have less power and less influence, but the nation will be sincerely religious. All the art ofthe privileged persons ofboth classes consists in establishing that he who wishes for a constitution is partisan and biased; and he who 7.39 FrRevol_701-750.indd 40 3/16/12 1:18 PM PART VI dreads the influence ofthe priests in the affairs ofthis world, an unbeliever. These tactics are well known, for, like all the rest, they have only been renewed. Sermons in France, as in England, in times ofparty have often treated of political questions, and, I believe, they have but little edified persons of a contrary opinion by whom they were heard. We do not much attend to a sermon which we hear in the morning from a preacher with whom we have been disputing the day before; and religion suffers from the hatred which political questions inspire against the priests who interfere in those discussions. It would be unjust to pretend that France is irreligious because the nation does not apply, according to the wish ofsome members ofthe clergy, the famous text that all power comes from God; a text, the honest interpretation of which is easy, but which has been wonderfully useful in treaties made by the clergy with all governments supporting themselves on the divine right of force. I will cite on this occasion some passages ofthe Pastoral Instruction of the Bishop of Troyes,1 who, when he was almoner to Bonaparte, delivered a discourse at the christening ofthe King ofRome at least as edifying as that with which we are going to be engaged. It is unnecessary to add that this Instruction is of 1816. The date of a publication in France can always be recognized by the opinion which it contains. The Bishop of Troyes says, "France wishes for her King, but her legitimate King, because legitimacy is the first treasure of a nation, and a benefit so much the more invaluable as it compensates for all others and can by no other be supplied." Let us pause one moment to pity the man who thinks thus for having served Napoleon so long and so well. What an effort! What constraint! But, after all, the Bishop of Troyes does no more in this respect than many others who still hold places; and we must render him at least the justice that he does not call for the proscription of his fellow-flatterers of Napoleon: this is no small matter. I will pass over the flattering language ofthe pastoral letter; a language 1. Anne-Antoine (1747- 182)), Count of Boulogne and Bishop of Troyes (from 1809) and Peer of France (from 1822 to...

pdf

Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.