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astonished world. They best therefore have proved, without the fightest reference to the subject, the exact fulfilment of the Prophecies respecting this extraordinary Antichristian power.
The amazing prevalence of Infidelity has indeed engaged the attention of many earlier writers; for since the establishment of Christianity it has never appeared so formidable as in the present age: but it was not till confidence of success emboldened Condorcet to publish in 1785, the “ secret correspondence” of the master movers of the plan, that the public mind received the smallest intimation of the Cause. Nor did it then, unhappily, give credit to the extent of its existence, or the possibility of its success. In this country the discovery was scarcely noticed; though an excellent Prelate, whose ardent zeal in the cause of Christianity is united with genuine philanthropy, endeavoured in 1794, to direct the attention of the public to this diabolical confpiracy against the religion and the happiness of man.
a An episcopal Charge will, how.. ever, be confined to a certain class of Readers. The alarm was given to religionists, but not to
* See the Bishop of London's Charge to his Clergy.
Platesmen, till events, incredible before they actually took place; excited general astonishment, and led men eagerly to seek their origin. And at this moment of enquiry, Barruel and Robison laid before the public a mass of facts, which most satisfactorily traced these events to
the machinations of societies formed for the express purpose of producing them:
But Voltaire conceived his horrible design about the year 1720 ; and the fect of the Illuminati, a specimen of its effects, was founded in 1976. The question therefore recurs, what could give rise to these societies ? and how can we account for the fuecess of their schemes ? It must be acknowledged, that the ideas of Infidelity, which had long been floating in the world, were first embodied into a practical System of wickedness by Voltaire, d'Alembert, Frederic II: King of Prussia, Diderot, and their confederates in iniquity b; and that the disciples of this junto first gained the civil POWER to aid and openly avow adherence to the cause of Infidelity. But I think we may venture to affirm, that at no other period of the world could this system have been formed, or this power created. And having already
shown that this is exatly
, the period asigned by the prophetie word of God for the appearance of the “ second beast and his image,” we are authorized to assert, that the present reign of the Infidel Antichrif has been expressly foretold.
Ştill, however, it will be asked, why should this period produce this monstrous progeny
१ This question involves fuch a variety of matter fo secretly connected, that any thing like accurate investigation would exceed the limits of a chapter. But I shall endeavour to point out the principal causes; and these will, I think, conduct us to the only adequate explanation.
A writer d, who considers himself as an advocate for Christianity, whilst he is labouring to remove its foundations, afferts, that “ the great father of modern unbelievers among Mahometans and Christians, was Averroes, a Saracen Mahometan of the twelfth century.” He was devoted to the philosophy of Aristotle, whose writings are said to have made all the unbelievers in the age of Petrarch and that of Leo the tenth. He held “.the eternity of the world, and the existence of the one universal intellect, the source of all human intelligence, into which every separate intelligence will finally be resolved; and consequently he denied the distinct existence and proper immortality of the human soul." The Arabian imposture may be thus considered as the father, but surely Infidelity was brought forth by the mother of harlots." When the revival of letters enabled men to see the mass of absurdities, contradictions, and impieties, which were taught by the church of Rome to be essential parts of Christianity, Scepticism was the natural result of this discovery. Reason just risen from her flumber, seized the truths presented to her view with all the eagerness which novelty could excite. Proud of the treasures she had acquired, and yet ignorant how to manage them to advantage ; disgusted with surrounde ing bigotry and superstition, impatient of controul, and dazzled with the light, though glimmering, which now broke through the darkness of the middle ages, she too seldom distinguished Religion from the gross corruptions with which it had been loaded, and, usurping the seat of judgment, she often decided upon subjects not amenable to her tribunal, and blindly opposed the authority of a Power which it was both her duty and her in
c See Introductory Chapter, vol. i. p. 370, and 387.
• Priestley's Discourses on the Evidences of Revealed Religion. 6
terest to obey.--Mahometanism and Popery appear' then to have been the parents of Infidelity-an offspring born to be their chastifement. Barruel has ingeniously traced the doctrines of “ liberty and equality" as taught by modern Infidels, to the founder of the Ma
Amongst the caufes by which Popery had an obvious tendency to produce Infidelity, must be reckoned their treatment of the Holy Scriptures.. “ The Popes,” says Mosheim,“ permitted their champions to indulge themfelves openly in reflections injurious to the dignity of the sacred writings, and, by an excess of blasphemy almost incredible (if the passions of men did not render them capable of the greatest enormities), to declare publicly, that the edicts of the Pontiffs, and the records of oral tradition, were superior in point of authority, to the express language of the Holy Scriptures.” It is well known that the Romanists decried the facred original as much as possible, and that the Vulgate translation, because it abounded in errors, and might be more easily perverted to their purpose, declared by a solemn decree of the council of Trent, an authentic, i. e. a faithful, accurate, and perfeët translation." In the true spirit of this decree, Morini was employed in a laborious work (Biblicarum, seu mavis Anti-Biblicarum Exercitationum, says Mill) the object of which was to destroy the credit of the original, and to support that of the Vulgate, as the only complete and unerring rule of faith. See Mofheim's Eccl. Hift. vol. iv. p. 213. and Mill's Prolegom. 1318, 1326.
The pious reader will not fail to observe a signal instance of Divine retribution, when the monster Infidelity, thus produced by Papal corruption, has become the prime inftrument of the downfall of its parent.