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trodden, intricate, and arduous paths, brought a greater accession to men of knowledge of thofe powers by which he is peculiarly diftinguished, than any book that had ever been written. It tended also to sharpen and invigorate the faculties. But the caution with which it examined different species and degrees of evidence, a caution right as far as it merely prevented error, sometimes refused to admit truth; fought proof of a different kind from that which the nature of the subject required; doubted !, where, in the plain judgment of common sense, no doubt could exist, and afforded supposed data from whence ingenious men might form the most visionary theories.”
? He denied that we had any certain evidence for the exa istence of any objects but ourselves individually, and of the
: * Berkeley and Hume, pursuing Locke's principles, denied the existence of external objects. His hypothesis respecting governments being founded on a fiction, is necessarily inconclusive in point of reasoning. But the writings of the Whigs during the reigns of George I. and II. assumed the existence of the supposed original compact, as an axiom as indisputable as any of Euclid's; and while practically, wisely, and vigorously supporting our excellent Conftitution, theoretically defended principles, according to which all existing governments might be subverted; and upon which the French Philosophists have founded their system of anarchy
Thus the prevalence of metaphysical difquisitions powerfully aslifted the growth of Infidelity in those countries where the liberal spirit of the reformation tolerated discussion upon religious and political subjects. Considered as matters of mere speculation, and admired as enlarging the sphere of knowledge, the tendency of thefe writings was not always perceived by minds which Religion guarded from the mischief. They saw the dazzling meteors shoot harmless into space. But Infidelity faw clearly how their course might be directed to guide mankind to her dominions ; and the dissensions that prevailed among the numerous sects which sprung from the doctrines of Luther and Calvin, unhappily assisted the execution of this design,
It is said, with a design of disgracing our country, that the doctrines of the English Infidels, Toland, Tindal, Hobbes, Collins, and Bolingbroke, inspired the first idea of abolishing Christianity and disorganizing fociety; and that it was in England Voltaire conceived the hope of being able to extirpate religion. But do we, as a nation, deserve this opprobrium ?' To fay nothing of the Manichean origin of
and misery. I am indebted for these excellent remarks to a very able writer in a periodical publication. See the AntiJacobin Mag. No. II,
this idea, we have only to look at the impiety and licentiousness which had uninterruptedly Teigned in the courts of Rome and Italy, from a much earlier period than the age of Voltaire, and to recollect the names of Aretin, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Descartes, and above all, perhaps, of Bayle, to trace the source from whence our English Infidels derived their opinions. ** It is certain that in the sixteenth century there lay concealed in different parts of Europe, several persons who entertained a virulent enmity against religion in general, and in a more especial manner against the religion of the Gospel; and who, both in their writings and in their private conversation, fowed the feeds 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 I. rés turned too often with the feeds of vice and infidelity, which they gathered with the knowledge and the manners of more polished countries. And the court of Charles II. displays
Mosheim, Eccl. Hist,
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 à zeal in its cause, which the annals of no other nation can furnish.
It is then very certain that Infidelity had long been prevalent upon the continent, before the Rival of Fulian o 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 confiderable latitude to speculations from which evil had not yet been demonstrated to accrue, he furnished himself with the doctrines” of the English Philofophers. Unaccustomed probably to their mode of argument, and pretended depth of reasoning, he considered himself as
? Barruel, p. 28, 33.
P Anti-Jacobin Mag. No. II.
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 suppose would be speedy. Votaries of new opinions are beyond others sanguine in their expectations of proselytes to be made, and easy in their belief that numbers are actually made. Voltaire, affociating with men of his own sentiments” (and it is well known he was little noticed by men of an 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 fupport him, he conceived that it would be no very difficult task.” But the ease 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