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was industriously and extensively disseminated, not by the reformers only, but by thousands within the pale of the Romish church, who became tainted with the new philosophy. The French revolution, with all its horrors, may by the priesthood be ascribed to the spirit of irreligion, and hostility to the church that prevailed; but the philosophic inquirer will look farther, and ask whence those feelings arose; and to this question only one answer can be given. When religion is manifestly perverted into an engine of state policy, as it was by most crowned heads in Europe, and above all by the head of the church; when the appearance of sanctity is put on merely as a cloak, to conceal the `most enormous vices, as it long had been by the clergy, and especially by the monks; the perpetu`ation of such a system can only be insured by keeping the people hood-winked, and precluding them from the smallest ray of light. Of this truth the Romish church appear to have been well aware, from the jealous eye with which they watched the progress of science, and the care with which they kept even the scriptures from the eyes of the people. But in spite of their efforts, the spirit of inquiry had awakened with the revival of learning, while the invention of printing facilitated its advancement ; at the same time that the ruin of the Greek empire in the east, and the dispersion of its literary exiles, introduced into the west a better acquaintance both with the language and writings of the antients.
Thus the public mind began to awaken from its
slumber; and can it be wondered at, when their eyes were opened to such scenes of iniquity, if superficial observers, seeing little else besides fraud and hypocrisy in an order which they had been accustomed to esteem holy, should rashly conclude that religion was altogether a system of priestcraft and delusion, invented for the purpose of enriching the church, and keeping the people in quiet subjection to their rulers?
A. D. 1600 to 1700.-We have seen the means employed by the Romish church, to sustain its influence and authority, which were now manifestly on the wane; nor were these means ineffectual, at least in renewing the conflict with those who sought to shake off its spiritual tyranny.
Early in the sixteenth century, the flames of a religious war broke out in Austria, where the friends of the reformation were cruelly persecuted and oppressed by their Roman Catholic adversaries. The Bohemians, who became involved in it, were compelled, after the loss of the battle of Prague, in the year 1620, once more to bend their necks under the yoke of Rome. In this war, which raged in Germany with unrelenting animosity, for thirty years together, the protestants suffered every species of oppression; until at length the cause of
the reformation was again triumphant, and religious liberty was secured in the year 1648, by the peace of Westphalia.
From this time the Romish church no longer opposed the protestants by open war; but whereever the spirit of persecution could be exerted with impunity, there they oppressed them in the most grievous manner. Thus in Hungary, during the space of ten years, the reformers were involved in the most cruel calamities and vexations. In Poland they suffered no less, during the whole of this century. And in the valleys of Piedmont, the Waldenses were persecuted almost to extermination, especially in the years 1655, 1686, and 1696. In France the cause of the reformation was doomed to suffer the most fatal blow in the year 1685; for the weak and credulous mind of Louis the 14th. was induced at the instigation of the Jesuits, to revoke the edict of Nantes, in violation of the most solemn obligations; and thus deprived the protestants of the liberty of worshipping God according to their conscience. In Germany, the church of the Palatinate, which had long been at the head of the reformed, visibly declined from the year 1685, when a catholic prince was raised to that electorate; and from being the first, it at length became the least considerable of all the protestant assemblies in that country. But in England the efforts of the Romish church were effectually frustrated, and James the 2d. lost his crown from his attachment to the papal cause.
Thus we see that the cause of popery was at least partially triumphant, towards the close of this century; but in the next, the reign of bigotry and superstition was doomed to encounter enemies yet more formidable than those who brought about thẻ reformation. These were the spirit of infidelity, and that of hatred to the church; which from their rise in the latter half of the 16th century, had been continually increasing in the 17th, and reached their summit during the 18th.
The causes that most probably gave birth to these feelings, have already been traced up to the exposure of the frauds and impositions practised by the sacred orders, and fully exposed at the time of the reformation; while the conduct of the Jesuits was stated to have contributed not a little to their production, by undermining the foundations of reigion and morality.
A. D. 1700 to 1800.-Whatever the cause to which they are ascribed, there can be no doubt that hatred to the church, and the prevalence of infidedelity, were chiefly instrumental in bringing about á revolution, which has no parallel in the history of mankind; a revolution, which not only struck at the root of the Romish church, but for a time seemed to threaten with destruction every other form of religion, and to aim at nothing less than to loosen
all the bonds of social order, and involve the moral world in one wide chaos of confusion. The recen cy of this event renders any detail superfluous, Af ter Europe has been deluged with blood for twenty years together, we have witnessed the suspension at least of these calamities; though we can hardly expect that it will prove to be their termination, When we cast a glance at those countries where, as in Spain and Portugal, superstition still holds her sway over one class; and observe moreover the prevalence of infidelity in another; we can scarcely persuade ourselves that the conflict between irreligion and fanaticism has finally ceased. On the contrary, the attentive observer will find sufficient reason to believe, that the present interval is no more than a pause between the contending parties, to take breath, and gather fresh vigour, for the renewal of the combat,
As far as regards ourselves, we have indeed the consolation to observe, that the evils of this contest have been hitherto almost exclusively confined to those countries where the Romish religion prevails, as France, Spain, Italy, and Austria; and although we may not be wholly exempt from the influence of those causes which have given rise to it, yet is there reason to hope that they will never reach the dangerous height in this country which they have elsewhere attained.
Among the horrors of the late revolution, none was more conspicuous than the marked hostility to the church. Not only were its revenues seized,