Do you doubt that the least effects of nature were not used as marks of the wrath of heaven? It was to the interest of pontiffs, priests, and augurs, as much as it is to the interest of lawyers and doctors that there should be lawsuits and sickness. No wonder they took care that the people should not grow slack in their religion.
Philosophy can be compared to some powders that are so corrosive that, after they have eaten away the infected flesh of a wound, they then devour the living flesh, rot the bones, and penetrate to the very marrow. Philosophy at first refutes errors. But if it is not stopped at this point, it goes on to attack truths. And when it is left on its own, it goes so far that it no longer knows where it is and can find no stopping place.
There is not less wit nor invention in applying rightly a thought one finds in a book, than in being the first author of that thought. Cardinal du Perron has been heard to say that the happy application of a verse of Virgil has deserved a talent.
The movement of comets is part of the ordinary works of nature which, without regard to the happiness or misery of mankind, are transported from one part of the heavens to another by virtue of the general laws of motion.
Consider, I pray, whether you are not renouncing all shame and sincerity to advance such principles. Because a comet appears in a group of stars which the ancients thought fit to call the Virgin, therefore, shall our women be barren, or have frequent miscarriages, or die old maids. I know of nothing which hangs so ill together! To offer such things in seriousness, shows the greatest contempt of mankind, and the most scandalous lying impunity.