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the State--by mifrepresenting the nature of Liberty, and asserting the right of every man to think for himself upon all subjects, and the duty of every man to act according to his own sentiments—by throwing ridicule upon the most serio is subjects; and employing slander, invective, and falsehood, whenever and wherever it seemed likely to forward their purpose.
It is indeed curious to reflect upon the progress of infolence and impiety. In 1786, the increased diffusion of Infidelity was thus noticed by a celebrated writer* : “ Infidelity is now served up in every shape that is likely to allure, surprise, or beguile the imagination; in a fable, a tale, a novel, a poem, in interspersed and broken hints ; remote and oblique surmises; in books of travels, of philosophy, of natural history; in a word, in any form rather than that of a professed and regular disquisition,”
In the excellent Charge before mentioned to have been delivered in 1794, the Bishop of London speaks thus : “ Hitherto we have had to contend only with the To
• Paley's Moral Philosophy, p. 395.
lands, the Tindals, the Bolingbrokes, and the Humes of the age; men whose writings could fall only into the hands of a few in the higher ranks of life, and were not likely to make much impression on well informed and well cultivated minds. But the pieces to which I allude are addressed to the multitude, and are most dexterously brought down to the level of their understandings. They compress the whole poison of Infidelity into the narrow compass of an essence, or an extract, and render irreligion easy to the meanest capacity. They are, in short, most artful snares, laid for those numerous and valuable classes of men who have hitherto escaped the contagion either of atheism or deism; the mechanic, the manufacturer, the tradesman, the farmer, the servant, the labourer. On these (to whom the subject is quite new, and who have neither time nor talents for examining questions of this nature) the bold affertions, the intrepid blafphemics, and coarse buffooneries, which constitute the whole merit and character of these productions, are perfeétly well calculated to impose, and to stand in the place of argument and proof. It was by small tracts of this fort, disseminated among the lower
orders in every part of France, that the great body of the people there was prepared for that most astonishing event (which, without such preparation, could never have been so suddenly and fo generally brought about), the public renunciation of the Chriftian faith. In order to produce the very fame effect here,' and to pave the way for a general apostasy from the Gospel, by contaminating the principles and shaking the faith of the inferior classes of the people, the same arts have been employed, the fame breviates of Infidelity have, to my knowJedge, been published and dispersed with great activity, and at a considerable expence, among the middling and lower ranks of men in this kingdom.”
“ At this day," observes Dr. Priestley in 1796, " and especially since the Revolution in France, unbelievers appear without any difguise, openly insulting the Christian religion, and assailing it by wit and argument; and the writings of unbelievers, now that they can do it with impunity and even applause, are exceedingly multiplied.” And when we consider the profligate falsehoods, the coarse obscenity, the daring blafphemy, which now more openly than
ever insult our Reason, Virtue, and Relie gion, in every form that art can place them, or the most shameless effrontery present them when we see that every virtue, every sentiment, every feeling, religious, moral, or iven natural, is made by turns a common subject of ridicule with the vicious, the thoughtless, or the designing votaries of Infidelity—and when we see the Government of a great nation daily issuing the most direct and glaring violations of truth and honour, in its manifestoes, decrees, and official representation of facts, even to its own subjects-a fyftem abfolutely unknown to any former age-we should surely believe, that the Power of this hydra had attained its zenith, if the prospect of a rising generation educated in these principles, and formed by these examples, did not forbid the hope-a hope to which, I fear, the word of Prophecy is equally unfavourable!
Prophetic intimations of the “ last days,” ex
aftly corresponding with the Character,
Principles, and Conduct, of modern In- fidels.
Having thus taken å general sketch of the face of the world, let us pause to compare it with a general view of the Prophetic intimations concerning these “ last days," before we examine the particular resemblance between THE NEW SYSTEM OF PHILOSOPHY WITH THE SECOND BEAST; AND THE REVOLUTIONARY TYRANNY OF FRANCE WITH THE REIGN OF THE IMAGE ; according to the interpretation adopted in the Introductory Chapter. The Prophets have indeed delineated these “ false teachers," who have occasioned this wretched scene, with a most correct, and, as it were, hifioric pencil; and this general view of their character, principles, and conduct, will be found to agree so exactly with THEIR OWN DESCRIPTIONS OF THEM. SELVES, and with the appropriate prophecies of “ the second beast and his image,” that it will both clucidate and strengthen their particular application.