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nouncing Superftition to Despots as the real enemy of their power, and alarming them with a representation of its hypocritical plots and fanguinary rage ; but never ceala ing to claim the independence of reason, and the liberty of the press, as the right and safeguard of mankind; inveighing with enthusiastic energy against the crimes of fanaticism and tyranny ; reprobating every thing which bore the character of oppreifion, 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 feverity, 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, fo 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 perfe
cution, while they made themselves fufficiently. conspicuous to lose nothing of their glory.”
It is indeed certain, that, before the age which is now to be the object of our attention, there had long existed in Europe men, who, led by vanity or vice, did think, and act, and write, in the manner which Condorcet describes. But it does not appear, that these men were united by any one ruling aim or motive. Whoever will take the trouble of examining the writings of the last, and the very beginning of the present century, will find in many a degree of self-deception, and of visionary good, which, though tending to assist the cause of atheistic anarchy, cannot be deemed the produce of such a fyftem. Such men were sceptics, not atheists--republicans, but not anarchists-admirers of virtue, science, and freedom; not advocates for vice, enemies to learning, and destroyers of liberty. But nothing can more strikingly exemplify the necessity of Religion as the guide and curb of human reason, than the extravagancies into which such men have been led, and the dreadful weapons they have furnished
for the hands of their more formidable followers. Some men there undoubtedly were, who, actuated by direct and inveterate enmity to religion and civil government, separately attacked them both, with vehemence and skill; but it does not appear that even they formed any absolute plan, or league for their destruction. This seems to have been reserved for the demoniacal genius of Voltaire ; and the extract I have given from the pen of Condorcet, ought to be considered as an explanatory sketch of the system of his master, rather than a faithful account of the views of his predecessors. Professing to consider this new philofophy as beneficial to the world, he artfully represents it to have originated with men less likely to betray its real nature and tendency, than those whose avowed hatred of religion might render its design more liable to fufpicion. But on another occasion, when celebrating the glories and benefits of the French Revolution, he does ample justice to his Hero. “It appears,” says Condorcet in his Life of Voltaire, “ 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 to sew the exact resemblance between this new philofophy as it is called, and “ the second beast which had two horns as a lamb, and spoke as a dragon,” I fall select from the writings of its teach. ers, its principles, its end, and the means by which it pursues that end, before I consider the effects it has actually produced. The authorities for all these passages are before the public; and as they are allowed to be incontrovertible, it will be unnecessary to take up the page with references.
“ I am weary (said Voltaire) of hearing people repeat, that twelve men have been fufficient to establish Christianity: and I will prove that one may fuffice to overthrow it.” No precept is oftener repeated by Voltaire than “ strike, but conceal your hand." “ The mysteries of Mythra are not to be divulged, the monster (Religion) must fall, pierced by a thousand invisible hands : yes, let it fall beneath a thousand repeated blows.” “I know not why people are so obstinately bent on believing me the au. thor of the Philosophical Dictionary. The
greatest greatest service you can do me, is to assert, though you pledge your share in paradise, that I have no hand in that hellish work.-It is betraying one's brethren to praise them on such an occasion.” “O my brethren, we should march closed, as the Macedom nian phalanx; it was only vanquished when it opened. Let the real philosophers unite in a brotherhood like the Free-Mafons ; let them assemble and support each other ; let them be faithful to the association. Such an academy will be far superior to that of Athens, and to all those of Paris.” Aware of the evils of dissensions among the brethren, Voltaire was anxious for a reconciliation between the Atheists, Deists, and Spinozists, or at least an agreement not to difclose their differences. And Rousseau declares he wrote the New Eloisa for this express purpose. Wishing to animate the other Chiefs, their eager Principal would write, “ I fear you are not sufficiently zealous; you bury your talents ; you feem only to contemn, whilst you should abbor and destroy the monster.-Such is our fituation, that we shall be the execration of mankind, if we have not the better fort of people on our side. We must gain them, cost what it will. Labour therefore in the