It is necessary, therefore, not merely to examine successive creeds, but also to study the types of character of successive ages. This latter department Edition: current; Arcigay La Salamandra Mantova When visiting Mantova don t waste [ 52 ] formed an offshoot of the established religion, and had never been separated from it with precision.
There was scarcely a village or a church that had not, at some time, been the scene of supernatural interposition. The Christian emperors revived these laws, and enforced them with extreme severity, but directed them against the religion of the pagans. Yet at one time no such improbability was felt, and hundreds of persons have been burnt simply on the Arcigay La Salamandra Mantova When visiting Mantova don t waste grounds I have mentioned.
The priest in the pulpit or in the confessional; the monk in his intercourse with the Edition: current; Page: [ 75 ] peasant; the Flagellant, by his mournful hymns, and by the spectacle of his macerations; above all, the inquisitor, by his judgments, communicated to the lower classes a sense of Satanic presence and triumph, which they naturally applied to the order of ideas with which they were most conversant.
It is easier for superstitious men, in a superstitious age, to change all the notions that are associated with their rites, than to free their minds from their influence.
All this was universally believed; and it was realised with an intensity which, in this secular age, we can scarcely conceive. Dominick, vainly hoping to crush a head that was sheltered by the guardian angel. Inspired by an intense religious enthusiasm, which they were nobly sealing with their blood, they thought much less of the civil Edition: current; Page: [ 45 ] than of the religious consequences of magic, and sacrilege seemed much more terrible in their eyes than anarchy.
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There was also no conviction that the reason should be applied to every department of theology, with the same unflinching severity as to any other form of speculation. In every scoff that was directed against their creed, in every edict that menaced their persons, in every interest that opposed their progress, they perceived the direct and immediate action of the devil.
The chariots Arcigay La Salamandra Mantova When visiting Mantova don t waste placed side by side, and the spectators thronged the circus. By professing to hold communion Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] with and to control supernatural beings, he can exercise an almost boundless influence over those about him and, among men who are intensely predisposed to believe in the supernatural, a very little dexterity or acquaintance with natural laws will support his pretensions.
They will blend with the illusions of age or sorrow or sickness, and will appear with an especial vividness in the more alarming and unexplained phenomena of nature. It seems, at first sight, a somewhat strange and anomalous fact that, during the period which elapsed between the sixth and thirteenth centuries, when superstitions were most numerous, and credulity most universal, the executions for sorcery should have been comparatively rare.
Again, if we turn to a different class of phenomena, nothing can be more certain to an attentive observer, than that the great majority even of those who reason much about their opinions have arrived at their conclusions by a process quite distinct from reasoning.
We have now passed so completely out of the modes of thought which predominated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and we are so firmly convinced of the unreality of witchcraft, that it is only by a strong effort of the imagination that we can realise the position of the defenders of the belief.
If, however, pushing our analysis still further, we ask what it is that determines our volition, I conceive that the highest principles of liberty we are capable of attaining are to be found in the two facts, that our will is a faculty distinct from our desires, and that it is not a mere passive thing, the direction and intensity of which are necessarily determined by the attraction and repulsion of pleasure and pain.