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JANUARY 1, 1835.
F. XAVIER'S MIRACLES.
The church of Rome has seldom or never abstained from any opportunity of claiming for herself and her agents the exercise of more than human power. Miracles have been announced with all the assurance and devotion of reality, and have been published on the spot, and at the very time, where and when they professedly took place. There never has been any backwardness on these matters ; nor have her emissaries been deterred by any fear of scandal or detection. A singular hardihood has characterized their proceedings at all periods and under all circumstances.
To the paper on Xavier's Miracles, in a former Number, it may be interesting to add some extracts from the apparently authorized and official abridgment of the transactions of the Jesuit Missionaries in the East Indies, published at Cologne, 1574, under the title of “ Rerum a Societate Jesu in Oriente Gestarum volumen, continens Historiam jucundam lectu omnibus Christianis, præsertim iis, quibus vera religio est cordi. In qua videre possent, quomodo nunquam Deus Ecclesiam suam deserat, et in locum deficientium a vera fide, innumeros alios in abditissimis etiam regionibus substituat.”. The dedication, dated 1570, states, that among other ends, the publication of these matters “would greatly strengthen and corroborate, by human and divine testimonies, atque miraculis (and miracles), the truth of the catholic religion, the majesty of the apostolic see, and the supreme power of the Roman pontiff, which, at the present day,” continues the writer, “ is especially assailed by all kinds of oppression and deceit.” The first paper of this book gives an abstract of Xavier's journey to India, (1541,) his labours, his piety, temperance, and other virtues; it also distinctly attributes to him the power of
VOL. VII.-Jan, 1835.
working miracles. That this account of his holiness, and his exercise of divine power, was made on the spot, and at the time, may probably be denied ; but there seems to be no reason for doubting that an authorized statement was formally drawn up very soon after his decease. Xavier, after eleven years' toil in India, died in 1552. Before that period, the fame of his wonderful performances had reached Portugal; and, some short time after, King John, “ moved with the magnitude and excellence of the things he had heard, commanded his governor of India, by his letter, to give an accurate account of Xavier's acts and miracles.” A copy of the king's letter, dated 1556, is given in this book, and though the word miracula does not occur in it, yet an equivalent phrase does. The substance is, the king directs" that all the wonderful actions of this man, and the things beyond the power of nature (super nature vires) which our Lord hath effected by him, while yet living or dead, should, on the best evidence, be authentically drawn up, substantiated, and attested." This was accordingly done. So that it is clear that a cotemporary reputation of Xavier's working miracles existed, and that every possible pains were taken by authority to disseminate his fame and character.
It would be a curious task to compare the accounts of conversions by the Jesuit Missionaries with those given by some of our modern societies. The numbers turned from idols by the former, in a short time, seem prodigious. In one town 25,000 were converted by Xavier, in 1547 ; and, at another place, 10,000 in one month, and " he hoped that, in the course of that year, he would make 100,000 Christians.”
In all the accounts of miracles, a similarity with those of the Scriptures may be generally noticed. They seem, in fact, to be versions of the same transactions. The Jesuit relaters, however, are seldom content with equalling the scripture miracles; but commonly attach some more extraordinary circumstances and details. Thus Xavier is represented as answering questions and doubts, not singly and in order (as our Saviour did), and as the other Jesuit fathers did ; but by one and the same answer “ he solved ten or twelve different propositions as satisfactorily as if he had given to each its appropriate reply.” And this, of course, is considered as effected by his divine power! The following is, however, the general summary of his “ admirable acts beyond human power in Japan:”—he gave “ speech to a dumb manthe use of his limbs to one that was lame-hearing to one deafand divinely restored soundness to another deaf or dumb.” But in another region (Cape Comorin), “ he not only divinely cured many sick persons, given up by the physicians, and cast out unclean spirits, but also recalled dead persons to life.” An instance is there related of a young man having died, who had many rela
tions. His townsfolk, with much lamentation, brought the dead mian to Xavier, who, taking him by the hand, at once restored him to life. Another case follows. A Christian woman came to Xavier, and requested him to go to her son who was dead. He consents. Having knelt down and prayed to God, he purifies (lustrat) the body of the child by the sign of the cross. Immediately the child comes to life again, and is as strong and healthy as ever! The Christians who were present exclaim, “ A miracle !” but Xavier beseeches them that they would tell no man, (rem uti silentio contegant.)
Not only did Xavier work all these and other miracles, but he also was no mean prophet. (Prophetiæ dono conspicuus. Multa post futura, multa longe remota prædixit, quæ humanitus sciri nullo pacto possent.) Several instances are related, which it is not worth while to detail.
After his death, his body lay covered with quick lime for the space of three months; at the end of which time, it was not in the least decayed ; but, on the contrary, emitted the most fragrant odour. 'It was thence carried to Malaca," and, to prove that the virtue of his sanctity had not deserted his dead body, no sooner did it reach the city, than a plague and famine, which had been some time raging, ceased. (Quo ut illatum est (mirum dictu] sæviens per eos dies pestilentia in urbe, famesque statim sedatur.) At “ Malaca” ihe body continued some months buried ; and, being exhumed on its further progress to its destination at Goa, its aid, when supplicated by the sailors, was beneficially exerted. It was, at last, with much ceremony, committed to the earth, where its remaining free from all corruption to the present day, is no mean proof of the saint's chastity and virginity. (Ubi illæsum ab omni tabe hodieque persistens, non levi argumento indicat castimoniam viri, ac virginitatem.)
But this is not all; for the very service-book, and the rod of discipline (flagellum) used by Xavier, were endued with superhuman power. The former being a remedy of tried virtue, (expertæ virtutis remedium,) was highly prized. Many, who were suffering under severe illnesses, were healed by the book being placed upon their bodies. Especial care, also, was taken of the flagellum, which possessed the same power of restoring health, but which was to be used only on important occasions. The writer remarks, that he did not permit its use often, lest it should be worn away by constant use. (Nec enim sæpius permittebat ille, veritus ne usu nimio attritum absumeretur.) This precious instrument, it is affirmed, derived its power from the merits of F. Xavier.
I have thus glanced at the course of miracles stated to have been effected by this Jesuit, who, I do not mean to deny, was possessed of much zeal and many amiable qualities. From the
paper, in the magazine, to which I have alluded, it appears that Acosta was aware of these wonders in the East; he
says, “ they had been published.” Now, as this volume which I have used was printed at Cologne some years before Acosta's book, it is not very improbable that he had seen these very statements. They were originally written in Spanish ; and contain a greal deal of interesting information on the eastern nations, besides details of missionary labours. There seems to be no hesitation in attributing to their missionaries and their religious offices, on all occasions, the working of miracles. These reports of their proceedings, written at the time to their superiors, and, with their authority, afterwards promulgated, are evidently rendered more “palatable by the savoury narratives” which abound in them. They are now valuable to us as presenting full proof of the unalterable assumption of the church of Rome on all opportunities, and of the mode which was adopted to uphold her credit in the old world, by splendid announcements of the manifestations of her glory and her miracles in the new. These relations are not merely dreams, or what may be considered miraculosa, but actual and declared performances, such as no man can do who has not been “ endued with power from on high !”
R. W. B.
THE MANOR HOUSE.
The heat and oppression of many days in summer, or the tempestuous character of a lengthened winter, must make the English people often feel the inaptitude of their present domestic architecture to mitigate the inconveniences of either season; while it is impossible to be resident in mansions built three centuries ago, without enjoying the coolness of the shady quadrangular court in the time of summer, and feeling its protecting security during the inquietude and turbulence of the severer season. It was during one of the most oppressive days of the late harvest, that I had numbered many painful steps in order to gain the presence of a thoughtful scholar, and to enjoy a morning's conversation with him, and with an acute and clever friend who, for the same purpose, liad come from afar to visit him. But, like the pilgrim, from the fatigues of the Arabian desert, I arrived too much worn in body to present for a while any offerings on the shrine I had come to visit. While in that state of lassitude, in which the nerves were seeking to recover their tone of action, it was proposed to visit the village church, to which I gave a glad and instant acquiescence, knowing how restoring to all exhausted sensibilities
are the associations that usually gather about that sacred spot. I found myself, however, in some degree disappointed, by the presence of a modern chapel of Grecian simplicity, which gratified the taste without awakening strong and romantic feelings in the heart, producing rather the consciousness of an agreeable quietude than of that deep and established repose which the works and records of man excite when separated from us by long and dark intervals of time. It bore the aspect of what, in truth, it almost was the chapelry of the titled patriarch of the place, to whose abode it was closely adjoining. The rich shrubberies that skirted the church-yard were in the pleasure grounds of the park, and through them we approached the lordly manor house, whose general aspect recalled the days of ancestral dignity. Its porch of stone, ornamented with a shield of blazonry, led into a plain marble-paved hall, whose old and homely decorations and refreshing coolness were an instant contrast to the heat and brightness of the summer air without. Through an arched doorway we entered from thence into the quadrangle of the building, crossing which, another arched way, in the opposite side, led from the quadrangle into the many-terraced walks and gardens that surrounded this ancient dwelling. It was on the stone benches, that were built on each side the wall within this spacious porch, that we seated ourselves, enjoying the fragrant breezes that passed from the shrubs and flowers of the garden through the deep gateway, while every impression received from the spot led the mind to a feeling of security and privacy, of coolness and stillness, restoring the animal spirits to that thoughtful tranquillity so necessary to the enjoyment of easy and intellectual converse.
That was, I observed, a happy state of society when the builder of this mansion lived-a period when he was looked up to with obedient and filial attachment by the neighbouring poor, when the controul of his patriarchal character preserved a moral restraint among them, conferring the happiness arising from subordination and dependence so indispensable to the nature of man, both to preserve him from evil and to awaken and fix all his best feelings upon some object of respect and affection. The strong and living ties that in those days bound man to man with the chains of the heart, have been gradually weakened, and are now almost destroyed, and political economy has taken their place on the part of the rich, and a consequent hard and heartless astuteness on the part of the poor; and this condition of character is increased and strengthened in both by many well-known, and by some less suspected, causes. Among the latter it is possible may exist the sharp and too-intellectual system of our education, developing chiefly a shrewd and usurping spirit, by which the modest, docile dispositions of boyhood, full of subinissive and