TO an ingenious friend I am indebted for the present, and two subsequent articles.
The following short extract from a French writer, about the year 1500, may serve to shew, that the cry against Innovation is not peculiar to the clergy of the present day, even against the opinions of the most moderate amongst their own body.
Such persons were the brave bishops of the Lionnois, who assembled a Synod to reform the regulations of Saint Anthony in that province. The Monks of that place were dislinguished by the title of the Hogs of Saint Anthony: they afflicted themselves with the pains of making eight repasts in one day, to shew the weakness of Human Nature!
There were fome Jesuits, and some young bishops, who made fine harangues, and long ones too, to demonstrate that such constitutions admit of change, habitâ ratione temporum: that what our ancestors had done with a good intention, was, at this day, ridiculous. But to all these reasons the sub-prior of Saint Anthony only replied, snoring, with this grave and remarkable sentence—Let us keep ourselves, in our time, from novelties.
The contest was renewed with vigour on the other side: but the sub-prior, with his triple chin, persisted in the same argument; stammering out—Let us keep—let us keep—keep ourselves—&c.
However silly this reply of our well-fed prior may seem, it is the same which has now the force to resist all the salutary reforms which Reason and Good-sense fo loudly call for in Institutions, not only rendered obsolete by Time, but defective and unjust in their original principles. It is the same grave and unmeaning exclamation, which, from the mouth of a senator, obstructs an equal representation; and, from that of an archbishop, a revival of articles, which few can believe, though so many are bound to profess.
Mudge, a writer of differing principles from the communicator of this article, has described the evils of anarchy, in a sermon on that subject, by the following admirable figure—when Innovation becomes Anarchy, the similitude is just. “Every man projected and reformed, and did what was right in his own eyes. No image can better express such a condition, than that of a dead animal in a state of putrefaction; when instead of one noble creature, as it was when life held it together, there are ten thousand little nauseous reptiles growing out of it, every one crawling in a path of it's own.”