Sivut kuvina

of impiety and error, and instilled their odious principles into weak and credulous minds. It is even reported, that in certain provinces of France and Italy, schools were erected, from whence these impious doctrines were issued". The histories of those times bear witness, that our English youth who travelled so early as the reign of James J. returned too often with the seeds of vice and infidelity, which they gathered with the knowledge and the manners of more polished countries. And the court of Charles II. displays in a very striking manner, the principles and habits which the King and Nobles had learnt upon the continent. The general detestation of the hypocrisy and fanaticism of the Puritans tended to heighten their Irreligion, and encouraged them to publish their opinions ; but the kingdom at large was not infected by them, and the following reigns exhibit in every rank of people an attachment to Religion, and a zeal in its cause, which the annals of no other nation can furnish... i

It is then very certain that Infidelity had long been prevalent upon the continent, bea

* Melheim, Eçcl. Hift.


fore fore the Rival of Juliano was led by vanity and wickedness to form his plan for its Establishment: and that from his early youth Voltaire had embraced Antichristian principles. " p Visiting England, whose mild and tolerant laws, not restraining opinions previous to the actual experience of their hurtfulness, afforded a considerable latitude to fpeculations from which evil had not yet been demonstrated to accrue, he furnished himself with the doctrines” of the English Philosophers. Unaccustomed probably to their mode of argument, and pretended depth of reasoning, he considered himself as greatly strengthened by the acquisition ; and already an enemy to,Christianity, “ he became desirous of its overthrow; an overthrow, which the ardor of his temper, and the vivacity of his imagination, made him fuppose would be speedy. Votaries of new opinions are beyond others fanguine in their expectations of profelytes to be made, and easy in their belief that numbers are actually made. Voltaire, associating with men of his own sentiments". (and it is well known he was little noticed by men of an

• Barruel, p. 28, 33.
p Anti-Jacobin Mag. No. II.


opposite description), “ found many admirers of Bolingbroke, and thence drew a very common, but very fuperficial inference, that most of the English men of letters were tinctured with the same notions. Besides being desirous that Christianity should be destroyed, he was ambitious that it should be destroyed by himself; and having, as he supposed, the learned men of a most learned nation to support him, he conceived that it would be no very difficult task.” But the case with which he propagated the most pernicious doctrines of his system, the number of assistants he gained over to his plan, and its astonishing success upon the continent before England was acquainted with the design, will surely deliver her from the odium of this reproach. And the glorious stand she has made in defence of her Religion and her Constitution, from the moment she understood the attack, must positively contradict the false and infolent assertion, that “ England was their

[ocr errors]


Thus have we endeavoured to show the gradual “ rising of the second beast,” to the time when it obtained its wondrous form and magnitude in the system of Vol


[ocr errors]

taire, and his disciples. Till that period the operations of Infidelity were carried on fecretly-secretly at least, when compared with the corruptions and persecutions of the Papal, and the avowed hostility of the Mahometan powers and in a desultory

manner : but the publication of the system · of Voltaire constituted the important Epoch

in its history, which gave a new face to
the world in general. Till that system
had made some progress in its work, it
was usual with unbelievers to say, that
their tenets were philosophically true, but
theologically false 9; and indeed they were
always ready to profefs what was required
of them. The writings of Infidelity were
till then confined to the perufal of the
learned they were seldom mentioned in -
public conversation even by their adherents.
The bulk of the people felt it to be a fort
of crime to meddle with such poisoned
darts, conscious that their little store of
knowledge would be unable to furnish an
immediate antidote, if unhappily they
should receive a wound. But they doubt-

9 These things, said they (as we learn from Stephen Tampier), are true in philosophy, but not according to the Catholic faith. Mosheim, vem iii. p. 146.

ed not the existence of an antidote--they doubted not but the superior skill and knowledge of those persons, whose businefs it was to defend religion, would be fully able to repel the attacks of its enemies, As soon, however, as the chąrms of novelty, the boldness of assertion, the force of ridicule, or the arts of fophistry, insinuation, and flattery, had secured a party in the higher classes of society, among those whom libertine habits, metaphysical paradox, or heretical opinions had prepared for the seeds of Infidelity, the sphere of its action was enlarged in a manner unknown in any former age. It was reserved for the more ingenious wickedness of modern Inñ adapt their publications to the prejudices, passions, and habits of the middle and lower ranks of people. Books, pamphlets, and ballads, there have ever been, that outrage decency and common sense. But these were confined to a certain class of readers, whose lives were already tainted with im. morality. The publications to which I alļude, more artfully attacked the prineiples as well as the passions of men, by mingling professions of attachment to true Religion and Civil Government, with the most virulent display of corruptions in the Church and in


« EdellinenJatka »