David Johnston
The Rhetoric of Leviathan

The concept of magic is dismissed entirely. The ideas of miracles and prophecy are surrounded by hedges. As metaphysical ideas they linger on in his account, but only in a form that drains them of all political potency.

Throughout its history, the chief beneficiary of the belief in magic had been the Church of Rome. Its leaders had tapped this belief brilliantly. They had turned the eucharist, baptism, and many other rites that had originally been designed as acts of commemoration into magical ceremonies intended to inspire men with awe. They encouraged people to believe that their bodies could be entered and their souls possessed by evil spirits, and claimed to have the magical powers needed to exorcise these spirits. They invented the fiction of purgatory and used it as the basis of an elaborate doctrine of indulgences, asserting an ability to affect God's dispensation of individual souls.

By claiming the ability to influence the fate of men's souls, the Church of Rome managed to acquire an enormous reservoir of power over its members. This power made it into a 'Kingdome of Fayries,' a center of control over human beings based entirely upon the fantasies of superstitious Christians. The ultimate results of this control were disastrous. In every area except that limited territory over which it exercised civil sovereignty, the papacy became a kingdom within a kingdom, a center of power which often clashed with that of the sovereign. Subjects were asked to obey two masters, both of whom insisted that their commands be observed as law, 'which,' Hobbes observed, 'is impossible.'

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Through Eden took their solitary way.