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ence.

For a considerable length of time however, infidelity was confined to the higher and the literary orders; the hunble and unambitious Christian was happily placed without the sphere of its influ

The project of the wily serpent was as yet in its infancy,: and little did those nobles, who encouraged it, imagine, that they were unwarily helping to construct an engine destined for their own destruction. But, as the period of the third woe-trumpet approached, Satan took at once both a wider and more systematic range. Infidelity was diffused in a manner unknown in any former age. No class of society was exempt from its poison. Publications, adapted to the comprehension of the lower orders, were zealously distributed throughout every country in Europe by the secret clubs of the illuminated: and, as a mind unused to argument can readily see an objection, without being able accurately to follow the train of reasoning which pervades the confutation of it, a captious doubt, once injected into the head of a poor and illiterate man, can scarcely ever be removed even by the clearest demonstration of the evidences of Christianity*. Impudent assertion

now

* A learned and much revered friend of mine (the Rev. R. Hudson, A. M. head-master of the Grammar School at Hipperholme), some time since put into my hands a small tract, which was industriously circulated in his neighbourhood. It was replete with a variety of quibbling questions, which the merest sciolist in theology would find little difficulty in answer

now occupied the place of proof: and a conviction of false representation was little regarded by those, whose object was to disseminate error, and who had regularly calculated that an atheistical publication would be read by many that would probably never see the answer to it. Formerly infidelity was conveyed in the shape of a professed treatise ; and they, who chose to peruse it, were at least aware of what they might expect. Hence a careful Christian parent knew how to secure his inexperienced offspring from the effects of its poison. But now, there is scarcely a book which he dares to trust in the hands of his children, without first thoroughly examining it himself: and, even after

all

ing, but which were perfectly well adapted to puzzle the intellect of a plain unsuspecting labourer. In order to avoid the necessity of annexing the printer's name to a publication, it was ingeniously ante-dated. It was by small tracts of this "sort," says the present worthy Bishop of London, " dissemi« nated 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 so generally brought

about), the public renunciatio:1 of the Christian Faith. In “ order to produce the very same effects here, and to pave " the way for a general apostasy from the Gospel, by conta“minating the principles and shaking the faith of the inferior “ classes of the people, the same arts have been employed, the “ same breviates of infidelity have, to my knowledge, been “ published and dispersed with great activity, and at a consi“derable expence, among the middling and lower classes of « men in this kingdom.” Charge, 1794.

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all his precautions, his son may accidentally take up a treatise on botany or geology, and rise from the perusał of it, if not an infidel, yet a sceptic. In short, the lurking poison of unbelief has of late years been “served up in every shape, that is

likely to allure, surprise, or beguile, the ima

gination ; in a fable, a tale, a novel, a poem ; " in interspersed and broken hints; remote and

oblique surmises; in hooks of travels, of philo

sophy, of natural history; in a word, in any “ form rather than that of a professed and regular disquisition *

The sure word of prophecy has taught us where to look for the real origin of these infernal productions. “ Woe to the inhabiters of the earih « and of the sea ! for the devil is come down unto

you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." It has done more. It has explicitly described to us the character of those abandoned men, those hardened scoffers, whom Satan was about to employ as his wretched tools in the last days t. The existence. of such men we have witnessed with our own eyes: but, till lately, we were not aware of their existence in any other than their mere individual capacity. We have at present however upon record the confession of an arch-atheist, that there has long been in Europe, particularly in papal Europe,

* Paley's Moral Philosophy. + See the prophecies relative to the last timcs collected together in the Third Chapter of this l’ork,

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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 atheism.

“ 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, had “ 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 ac

count, 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 philo

sophy, 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 pumphlet of

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* 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 amply tasted the fruits of it,

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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 ty.

ranny; 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

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 su

perstition 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 safeguard of mankind; inveighing with en“ thusiastic 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,

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