Thursday, October 15, 2015


Vox Dei

Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957), Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with Special Reference to the XVII and XVIII Centuries (1950; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 363-364 (footnotes omitted):
But what lends an added touch of horror to the Camisard murders is that they were done not merely in the name of religion but under the direct influence of a religious inspiration. The cynical brutality of governments in crushing out revolt, the mean and hateful revenges taken by an oppressed people, may shock our sense of humanity; but the motives of them are too easily credible, too much akin to the baser instincts in our our own nature, to make us feel the full force of Lucretius' Tantum relligio. It is when good men, or what seem to be good men, interpose on the side of barbarism, and preach against clemency as something in itself hateful to God, that we begin to despair of the weak vessels we human creatures are. Such are our feelings when we read of the Covenanting minister whose sermon on the Amalekites led to the massacre of the prisoners at Philiphaugh. Such are our feelings when the Camisard prophets override the wishes of their military leaders by insisting that women and children must be put to the sword with the rest. Yet these men, to all appearances, were men of conscience; la Rivière, a pupil of Vivens, justified the massacres when he stood his trial, on the ground that St. Paul told the Corinthians to take away the wicked from among them. That is the worst of it; the ultrasupernaturalist faced with a moral problem believes that the solution is given to him directly by the voice of God, and from that arbitrament there is no appeal.

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