Baltus, John Francis

, a learned French Jesuit, was born at Metz, June 3, 1667, and received into the society of Jesuits, at Nancy, in Nov. 1682. In 1700, when he took the four vows, he was professor of Hebrew in the college of Strasburgh, and before that, when much younger, he taught the lower classes at Dijon, and gave essons on rhetoric at Pont-a-Mousson. In his youth he studied Greek and Latin with ardour, and afterwards applied with equal zeal to Hebrew and Christian antiquities, until his continued study had injured his health. With a view of restoring it by travelling, he was sent from Strasburgh to Dijon, where he had the care of the public library. In 1717 he was called to Rome, and for some time was censor of the press but the air of Rome disagreeing with him, he returned to France, where he was successively rector of the Jesuits colleges at Dijon, at Pont-a-Mousson, and other places. His last employment was that of librarian, at Rheims, where he died, March 9, 1743. He was in very high esteem among his brethren, and acquired considerable reputation by his works, which are, 1. “Oraison funebre de M. Pierre Creagh,” archbishop of Dublin, Strasburgh, 1705, 4to. 2. “Reponse a l’histoire des Onicles de M. de Fontenelle,” Strasburgh, 1707, and 1709, 8vo. It was the general sentiment of the church that the pagan oracles were the work of demons, and that they were silenced by the power of Jesus Christ, until Van Dale, an Anabaptist physician at Haerlem, endeavoured to prove, that these oracles were merely the quackish contrivances of the heathen priests, and that instead of attributing their silence to the power of Christ, we ought to refer it to the destruction of their temples by the Christian emperors. Fontenelle, when writing on this subject, adopted the opinion of Van Dale, and gave it to the public in his own polished and popular style, which induced Baltus to answer him as the chief propagator of this new doctrine, and to address his book to him. Fontenelle made no reply | but Le Clerc, in his Bibiiotheque Choisie, for 1707, criticised Baltus’ work in such a manner as to draw from him, 3. “Suite de la Reponse, &c.” Strasburgh, 1708, 8vo, and both the answer and continuation were translated into English by Hickes, and printed 'at London, the first in 1708, and the other in 1709. At the conclusion of the preface to the continuation, he announced another work, in which he promised to examine more closely the platonism attributed to the fathers of the church, and the custom of referring the greatest mysteries of our religion to certain ideas and opinions invented by a pagan philosopher. This he published accordingly under the title 4. “Defense ties Ss. Peres accuses de Platonisme,Paris, 1711, 4to. Dupin has given a good analysis of this learned work in the second volume of his ecclesiastical authors of the eighteenth century. 5. “Jugement des Ss. Peres sur la morale de la philosophic paienne,” Strasburgh, 1719, 4to. 6. “Reflexions spirituelles et sentimens de piete ciu II. P. Charles de Lorraine,” a trans^ hition from the Italian, Dijon, 1720, 12 mo. 7. “La Vie de Sainte Fabronie,” from the Greek, ib. 1721, 12mo. 8. “Les actes de S. Barlaam,” from the Greek, ib. 1720, 12mo. 9. < Sentimens du R. P. Baltus, sur le traite de la foiblesse de l’esprit humain.“These remarks on M. Huet’s work were addressed to the abbe Olivet, and were printed in the literary and historical memoirs of father Molets. 10. ct La religion Chretienne, prouvee par l‘accomplisserncnt des propheties de l’ancien et du nonveau Testament, suivant la methode des Ss. Peres,Paris, 1728, 4to. 11. “Defense des propheties de la religion Chretienne,Paris, 1737, 3 vols. 12mo. In this he examines and refutes the opinions of Grotius at great length, and shews that the most ancient fathers of the church, as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, &c. never thought of interpreting the prophecies of the old Testament in a double sense but applied them in their literal meaning to the Messiah. The same sentiments he defended in a letter inserted in the Memoires deTrevoux, for March, 1738. 1