Page images

particularly in papal Europe, a systematic combination of the scoffers of the last days for the purpose of at once overturning the throne and the altar, of letting loose at once those two dogs of hell anarchy and atheisnt.

“ There was a class of men,” says the notorious Condorcet, “ which was soon formed in Europe, with a view, not so much to discover and make deep research after truth, as to diffuse it : whose chief object was to attack prejudices in the very asylums, where the clergy, the schools, the governments, and the ancient corporations, bad received and protected them : and who made their glory to consist rather in destroying popular error, than in extending the limits of human knowledge. This, though an indirect method of forwarding its progress, was not, on that account, either less dangerous or less useful. In England, Collins and Bolingbroke; in France, Bayle, Fontenelle, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and the schools formed by these men ; combated in favour of truth.* They alternately employed all the arms, with which learning and philosophy, with which wit and the talent of writing could furnish them. Assuming every tone, taking every shape, from the ludicrous to the pathetic, from the most learned and extensive compilation to the novel or the petty pamphlet of the day ; covering truth with a veil, which, sparing the eye that was too weak to bear it, left to the reader the pleasure of guessing it ; insidiously caressing prejudices in order to strike at them with more certainty and effect; seldom menacing more than one at a time, and that only in part; sometimes soothing the enemies of reason, by seeming to ask but for a half toleration in religion, or a half liberty in polity; respecting despotism when they combated religious absurdities, and religion when they attacked tyranny : combating these two pests in their very principles, though apparently inveighing against ridiculous and disgusting abuses ; striking at the root of those pestiferous trees, whilst they appeared only to wish to lop the straggling branches ; at one time pointing out superstition, which covers despotism with its impenetrable

• What the truth was, for which Voltaire combated, a long life laboriously spent in the service of a hard task-master has amply shewn : and France has no less airply tasted the fruits of it.

shield, to the friends of liberty, as the first victim which they are to immolate, the first chain to be cleft asunder ; at another denouncing superstition to despots as the real enemy of their power, and alarming them with a representation of its hypocritical plots and sanguinary rage ; but never ceasing to claim the independence of reason, and the liberty of the press, as the right and safegaurd of mankind, inveighing with enthusiastic energy against the crimes of fanaticism and tyranny; reprobating every thing which bore the character of oppression, harshness, or barbarity, whether in religion, administration, morals, or laws ; commanding kings, warriors, priests, and magistrates, in the name of nature, to spare the blood of men ; reproaching them, in a strain of the most energetic severity, with that which their policy or indifference prodigally lavished on the scaffold, or in the field of battle ; in fine, adopting the words reason, toleration, and humanity, as their signal and call to arms. Such was the modern philosophy, so much detested by those numerous classes which exist only by the aid of prejudices. Its chiefs had the art of escaping vengeance, while they exposed themselves to hatred ; of concealing themselves from persecution, while they made themselves sufficiently conspicuous to lose nothing of their glory.”*

In order as it were that the meaning of this rhapsody may not possibly be mistaken, the same Condorcet plainly tells us, what effects this sort of truth, propagated by Voltaire, did produce. Celebrating the glories and benefits of the French revolution, he observes," that it would have been impossible to shew in a clearer light the eternal obligations which human nature has to Voltaire. Circumstances were favourable. He did not foresee all that he has done, but he has done all that we now see.”+ In order moreover, that we may not too candidly fancy, that Voltaire's zeal was only directed against the abuses of Popery, while he respected genuine Christianity, he himself unequivocally informs us, that

Cited by Kett from Esquisse d'un tableau bistorique des progrès de l'esprit humain, par Condorcet. For the original, see the Annual Register, p. 200; for the extract, Barruel's Mem. of Jacobinism, Vol. ü. p. 133.

Life of Voltaire, cited by Kett.



the very Gospel of the Messiah, whether embraced by protestants or papists, was the real object of his dnimosi

“I am weary,” says the pseudo-philosopher of Ferney, “ of hearing people repeat, that twelve men have been sufficient to establish Christianity : and I will prove, that one may suffice to overthrow it-Strike, but conceal your hand-The mysteries of Mithras are not to be divulged : the monster must fall pierced by a thousand invisible hands : yes, let it fall beneath a thousand repeated blows—I fear you are not sufficiently zealous ; you bury your talents ; you seem only to contemn, whilst you should abhor and destroy the monster-Crush the wretch."

By the incessant labours of Voltaire, his diabolical principles, even before the foundation of Weishaupt's order of the Illuminated, were protected by the sovereigns of Russia, Poland, and Prussia, and by an innumerable host of Landgraves, Murgraves, Dukes, and Princes. They had penetrated into Bohemia, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy. They had many zealous advocates in England : they had thoroughly impregnated France : and, in short, had more or less pervaded the whole Roman earth, where the dragon bad now taken bis station after his expulsion from the symbolical heaven.

It is not however perfectly ascertained, that Voltaire wished for more than the overthrow of religion and royalty. Proud of his talents, he at first “ did not pretend to enlighten housemaids and shoemakers, equally contemning the rabble, whether for or against him :" but, after the German union, a yet more extensive plan of mischief was resolved upon. The infernal ingenuity of Weishaupt contrived a method of subverting not only religion and royalty, but all governments whatsoever : and Jacobinism, that consummation of united German and French villany, proposed to set mankind free from every restraint both of human and divine law, and to let them loose like wild beasts upon each other, an infuriated herd of anarchists and atheists.

• The reader will have observed, that, in one of the clauses of the foregoing deelamation of Condorcet, religion is used as the synonym of religious absurdities; and government and religion are declared to be the two pests, which the new philosophy combats in their very principles.

In this manner it was, that the dragon, quitting heaven for earth, and “having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,” prepared to vomit against the symbolical womap a noisome flood of mock philosophers, German and French, illuminated and masonic, “ with all their trumpery;" of philanthropic cut-throats, civic thieves, humane anarchists, and candid atheists; of high-born Catilines, and low-born buffoons ;* of enlightened prostitutes, and revolutionary politicians ; of popish priests, and protestant ecclesiastics, united only by the common bonds of apostate profligacy; of Jews, Turks,t infidels, and heretics ; of the catharmata of the prisons of Lyons and Paris, wretches who, escaping the just sentence of the law, commenced the reformers of the world ; in short, of all the filth and offscouring of all the kennels of all the streets of the great mystical city Babylon. At the sounding of the third woe-trumpet, the flood was at its height ; and threatened to carry away in wild indiscriminate confusion every thing sacred and venerable, every thing salutary and dignified, every thing wise, every thing lovely, every thing that adorns this life, every thing that fits us for a better life. Woe to the in babiters of the Roman earth ; for the scourge of an unheard of war impends over their devoted heads ! Woe to those that flounder in the miry waves of “ the vasty deep,” the turbid sea of republican uproar

“ foaming out its own shame ;" for the darkened sky portends a tempest of strange miseries hitherto unthought of! Short was the time that elapsed between the great earthquake and the blast of the seventh angel, when revolutionary France, in the phrenzy of democratic enthusiasm, established atheism and anarchy by law; held out the right hand of fellowship to the insurgents of every nation ; commenced a tremendous massacre of her enslaved citizens; proclaimed the Son of God to be an impostor, and

• During the French revolution, a comedian, dressed as a "priest of the Illuminati, publicly appeared, personally attacking Almighty God, saying, No, thou dust not exist. If thou bast power over the thunder-bolts, grasp them, aim them at the man wobe dares set thee at defiance in the face of thy altars. But no, I blaspheme thee, and I still live; no,

thou dosi not exist." (Barruel's Mem. of Jacobinism, Vol. iii. p. 217.) To the catalogue of low-born buffoons Mţ, Thomas Painc may with much propriety be added.

+ See Hist. the Interp. Vol. ii. p. 207, VOL. II.



his Gospel a forgery ; swore to exterminate Christianity and royalty from off the face of the earth, as she had blotted them both out of her own dominions; and madly unsheathed the sword against every regularly established government. But the Church of the Lord is founded upon a rock ; and he hath promised, that “the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.” Although “the heathen rage, and the people imagine a lie;" although the destroyers of the earth “set themselves in array, and the rulers take counsel together against Jehovah, and against his anointed; Let us break their bands asunder, and cust away their cords from us :" yet “he, that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh ; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Congregated Europe, so God willed, met the infidels in arms. Long and bloody was the contest; for the zohole earth helped the woman.Yet, potwithstanding the various successes of the atheistical republic, when the general pacification took place in the year 1801, the earth had swallowed up the flood, which the dragon cast out of his mouth. A trial had been made of modern philosophy; and even French vanity was compelled to own, that this its favourite child, however beautiful in theory, was but ill calculated for practice. Atheism was displaced from his throne, and Christianity, the apostate Christianity indeed of the Church of Rome, was nominally at least restored. This, although an unwilling homage paid to religion, was nevertheless not the triumph of the mystic womah. For that triumph we must look to reformed countries; and in a peculiar manner, I apprehend, to Britain and her virtuous sovereign. Here the raging flood has been in a remarkable manner swal. lowed up. Bursting as it did with hellish violence over papal Germany, Italy, and Spain ; here its proud waves, by the marvellous interposition of Providence, have been stayed. Superior to all Europe, France was unable to break the single strength of England, even when republican artifices had banded against her the united force of Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and Spain ; for England stayed herself upon her God. Adopting her Saviour's rule of judging men by their fruits, she perceived, ere long, that modern philosophy, notwithstanding its high preten.

« EelmineJätka »