The following is a summary of the pleasant disputation, which our dear friend Freind and the Bachelor Don Papalamiendos held, in the presence of the Earl of Peterborough. This familiar conversation was called the dialogue of the "Buts." As you read it you will discover why.
THE BACHELOR.—But, sir, notwithstanding all the fine things you have said, you must admit that your respectable established church did not exist before the time of Don Luther and Don Ecolampade; consequently, it is quite new, and can hardly be said to belong to the family.
FREIND.—You might as well say I am not a descendant of my grandfather, because another branch of the family, living in Italy, seized on his will, and my claims. I have fortunately found them again; and it is now quite clear that I am my grandfather's grandson. You and I are, as it were, of the same family; but with this difference. We read our grandfather's testament in our mother tongue, while you are forbidden to read it in yours. You are the slaves of a foreigner; we listen to the dictates of reason.
THE BACHELOR.—But suppose your reason should lead you astray? For, in a word, you have no faith in our University of Salamanca, which has declared the infallibility of the pope, and his indisputable control of the past, the present, the future, and the paulo-post-future.
FREIND.—Neither did the apostles. It is written that Peter, who denied his master Jesus, was severely rebuked by Paul. I have not examined the case to see which was in the wrong; perhaps, as is the case in most disputes, neither was right; but I do not find one passage in the Acts of the Apostles to prove that Peter was considered the master of his companions, and of the paulo-post-future.
THE BACHELOR.—But St. Peter was certainly archbishop of Rome; for Sanchez tells us that this great man came there in the reign of Nero, and filled the archbishop's throne twenty-five years under the same Nero, who only reigned thirteen. Besides, it is a matter of faith, and Don Gullandus, the prototype of the inquisition, affirms it (for we never read the Holy Bible), that St. Peter was at Rome during a certain year, for he dates one of his letters from Babylon. Now, since Babylon is visibly the anagram of Rome, it is clear that the pope by divine right is lord of the world; moreover, all the licentiates of Salamanca have shown that Simon Grace-of-God, first sorcerer and counsellor of state at the court of Nero, sent his compliments by his dog to Simon Barjona, otherwise called St. Peter, as soon as he came to Rome; that St. Peter, who was scarcely less polite, sent also his dog to compliment Simon Grace-of-God; and then they diverted themselves by trying which could soonest raise from the dead a cousin german of Nero's; that Grace-of-God only succeeded in effecting a partial restoration, while Barjona won the game by wholly restoring the dead man to life; that Grace-of-God sought to have his revenge by flying through the air like Saint Dædalus; and that Barjona broke his legs, by making him fall. On this account St. Peter received the Martyr's crown, being crucified with his heels upward. Therefore we have proved that his holiness the pope ought to reign over all who wear crowns; that he is lord of the past, the present, and of all the futures in the world.
FREIND.—It is clear these things happened in the days when Hercules separated at a stroke the two mountains Calpe and Abyla, and crossed the straits of Gibraltar in his goblet. But it is not on such histories, however authentic they may be, that we base our religion. We found it on the gospel.
THE BACHELOR.—But, sir, on what passages of the gospel? I have read a portion of the gospel in our theological tracts. Do you base it on the descent of the angel to announce to the Virgin Mary that she had conceived by the Holy Ghost? On the journey of the three kings after the star? On the massacre of all the children of the country? On the trouble the devil took to carry God into the wilderness, to place him on a pinnacle of the temple, and on the summit of a mountain from whence he beheld all the kingdoms of the world? On the miracle of water changed into wine at a village wedding? On the miracle of two thousand pigs drowned by the devil in a lake at the command of Jesus? On—?
FREIND.—Sir, we respect these things because they are in the gospel; but we never speak of them, because they are too far above our weak human reason.
THE BACHELOR.—But they say you never call the Holy Virgin, Mother of God?
FREIND.—We revere and cherish her. But we think she cares very little for the titles given her in this world. She is never styled the Mother of God in the gospel. In the year 431, there was a great dispute at the council of Ephesus to ascertain if Mary was Theotocos; and if Jesus Christ, being at the same time God and the son of Mary, Mary could be at the same time mother of God the Father and God the Son. We do not enter into these disputes of Ephesus. The Royal Society at London does not concern itself with such controversies.
THE BACHELOR.—But, sir, you talk of Theotocos. What may Theotocos mean, if you please?
FREIND.—It means Mother of God. What, are you a Bachelor of Salamanca, and don't understand Greek?
THE BACHELOR.—But Greek! Of what use can Greek be to a Spaniard? But, sir, do you believe that Jesus Christ has one nature, one person, and one will; or two natures, two persons, and two wills; or, one will, one nature, and two persons; or, two wills, two persons and one nature; or,—?
FREIND.—This, also, belongs to the Ephesian controversy and does not concern us.
THE BACHELOR.—But what does concern you, then? Do you suppose there are only three persons in God, or that there are three Gods in one person? Does the second person proceed from the first person, and the third from the two others, or from the second intrinsecus, or only from the first? Has the father all the attributes of the son except paternity? And does the third person proceed by infusion, by identification, or by spiration?
FREIND.—This question is not mooted in the gospel. St. Paul never wrote the name of the Trinity.
THE BACHELOR.—But, you always refer to the gospel, and never make mention of St. Bonaventura, of Albert the Great, of Tambourini, of Gullandus, of Escobar.
FREIND.—Because I do not call myself a Dominican, a Franciscan, or a Jesuit. I am satisfied with being a Christian.
THE BACHELOR.—But if you are a Christian, tell me if you conscientiously think the rest of mankind will be damned?
FREIND.—It does not become me to limit the compassion or the justice of God.
THE BACHELOR.—But to come to the point, if you are a Christian, what do you believe?
FREIND.—I believe with Jesus Christ that we ought to love God and our neighbor, forgive our enemies, and do good for evil. These are the maxims of Jesus. So true are they, that no legislator, no philosopher, ever had other principles before him, and it is impossible that there can be any other. These truths never have and never can meet with contradiction, save from our passions.
THE BACHELOR.—But, in regard to the passions, is it true that your bishops, priests, and deacons are all married?
FREIND.—Quite true. St. Joseph, who passed for the father of Jesus, was married. James the Less, surnamed Oblia, brother of our Lord, was his son, who, after the death of Jesus, spent his life in the temple. St. Paul—the great St. Paul—was a married man.
THE BACHELOR.—But Grillandus and Molina assert the contrary.
FREIND.—Let them say what they please, I prefer believing St. Paul himself on the subject. In I. Corinthians, ix: 4-7. he says: "Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the lord, and Cephas. Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare at any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof?"
THE BACHELOR.—But, sir, did St. Paul really say that?
FREIND.—Yes, he said that and very much more.
THE BACHELOR.—But, really, that prodigy of the efficacy of grace?—
FREIND.—It is true, sir, that his conversion was a great miracle. I admit, from the Acts of the Apostles, that he was the most cruel satellite of the enemies of Jesus. The Acts say that he assisted at the stoning of Stephen. He admits himself, that when the Jews condemned to death a follower of Christ, he would see to the execution of the sentence, "detuli sententiam", I admit that Abdia, his disciple, and the translator Julius, the African, accused him of putting to death James Oblia, the brother of our Lord; but his persecutions increase the wonder of his conversion, and by no means prevented his having a wife. I assure you he was married. St. Clement of Alexandria expressly declares it.
THE BACHELOR.—But St. Paul, then, was a worthy man of God! Really, I am grieved to think he assassinated St. Stephen, and St. James, and am surprised to find he traveled to the third heaven. But pray continue.
FREIND.—We gather from St. Clement of Alexandria that St. Peter had children; one St. Petronilla is mentioned among them. Eusebius, in his History of the Church says that St. Nicolas, one of the first disciples, had a very handsome wife; and that the disciples blamed him for being over-fond and jealous. "Sirs," said he, "let any one take her who likes; I give her to you."
In the Jewish economy, which should have lasted for ever, but to which nevertheless the Christian dispensation succeeded, marriage was not only permitted, but expressly enjoined on priests, since they were always of the same race. Celibacy was considered infamous.
It is certain that celibacy could not have been considered a very pure and honorable state by the first Christians, since we find among the bishops excommunicated by the first councils, chiefly those who oppose the marriage of priests; such as Saturnians, Basilidians, Montanists, Encrasists, and other ans and ists. This accounts for the wife of Gregory of Nazianze bearing another Gregory of Nazianze, and enjoying the inestimable felicity of being at one and the same time the wife and mother of a canonized saint,—a privilege which even St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustin, did not enjoy.
By the same reason I might name as many and even more of the ancient bishops who were married, and account for your not having had in the earlier ages of the church bishops and popes who indulged in fornication, adultery, and even worse crimes. Things are not so now. This is also the reason why the Greek church, the mother of the Latin church, allows priests to marry. In a word, the reason why I myself am married, and have a son, as fine a fellow as you can wish to see.
Besides, my dear bachelor, have you not in your church seven sacraments which are outward signs of things invisible? Does not a bachelor of Salamanca enjoy the advantage of baptism as soon as he comes into the world; of confirmation as soon as he has committed a few follies or understands those of others; of communion, though a little different from ours, when he is fourteen years of age; of holy orders, when they shave the crown of his head and give him a living of twenty, thirty, or forty thousand piastres; and lastly of extreme unction, when he is ill? Must he then be deprived of the sacrament of marriage, when he is in health? Especially when God united Adam and Eve in marriage: Adam, the first bachelor in the world, since, according to your schools, he had knowledge by infusion; Eve, the first female bachelor, since she tasted the tree of knowledge before her husband.
THE BACHELOR.—But, if things are so, I may cease my "Buts." This is certain, I adopt your religion; I will belong to the established church of England; will marry an honest woman, who at least will pretend to love me while I am young, take care of me when I grow old, and whom I will bury decently, should I survive her. I think this is better than roasting men and enticing girls after the fashion of my cousin Don Caracucarador, the inquisitor of the faith.
This is a faithful summary of the conversation between Mr. Freind and the Bachelor Don Papalamiendos, since called by us Papa Dexando. This curious dialogue was drawn up by Jacob Hull, one of my lord's secretaries.
After this conversation the Bachelor took me aside and said:
"This Englishman, whom I took at first for an anthropagus, must be a very good man; for he is a theologian and can keep his temper."
I informed him that Mr. Freind was tolerant, or a quaker, and a descendant of the daughter of William Penn, who founded Philadelphia. "Quaker, Philadelphia," he cried, "I never heard of those sects."
I gave him some information on the subject. He could scarcely believe me. It seemed to him like another universe. And, indeed, he was in the right.