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the latter part of the same century. But neither in Great-Britain, nor on the continent, did they make any considerable impression upon public opinion. In the year 1624, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a man of considerable talents, and learning, published his book concerning Truth, at Paris. It was afterwards published in England, together with two others. A fourth was added to them after his death. In these he attempted to reduce Deism to a system. From this time, writers of this class multiplied, both in Great-Britain and on the continent of Europe. In such a world as this, it was impossible that they should not find adherents.
About the year 1728, the great æra of Infidelity, Voltaire formed a set design to destroy the Christian religion. For this purpose he engaged, at several succeeding periods, a number of men, distinguished for power, talents, reputation, and influence; all deadly enemies to the Gospel ; Atheists; men of profligate principles, and profligate lives. This design he pursued with unabated zeal 50 years; and was seconded by his associates with an ardour, and industry, scarcely inferior to his own. In consequence of their united labours, and of the labours of others, from time to time combined with them, they ultimately spread the design throughout a great part of Europe ; and embarked in it. individuals, at little distances, over almost the whole of that continent.-Their adherents inserted themselves into every place, office, and employment, in which their agency might become efficacious, and which furnished an opportunity of spreading their corruptions. They were found in every literary institution from the Abecedarian school to the Academy of sciences; and in
office, from that of the bailiff to that of the Monarch. They swarmed in the palace; they haunted the church. Wherever mischief could be done, they were found : and, wherever they were found, mischief was extensively done. Of books they controlled the publication, the sale, and the character. An immense number they formed ; an immense number they forged; prefixed to them the names of reputable writers, and sent them into the world, to be sold for a song ; and, when that could not be done, to be given away. Within a period, shorter than could have been imagined, they possessed themselves, to a great extent, of a control, nearly absolute, of the literary, religious, and political state of Europe.
With these advantages in their hands, it will easily be believed, that they left no instrument unemployed, and no measure untried, to accomplish their own maliguant purposes. With a diligence, courage, constancy, activity, and perseverance, which migist rival the efforts of demons themselves, they penetrated into every corner of human society. Scarcely a man, woman, or child, was left unassailed, wherever there was a single hope, that the attack might be successful. Books were written, and published, in innumerable multitudes, in which infidelity was brought down to the level of peasants, and even of children; and poured with immense assiduity into the cottage, and the school. Others of a superior kind, crept into the shop, and the farm-house; and others of a still higher class, found their way to the drawing room, the university, and the palace. The business of all men, who were of any importance, and the education of the children of all such men, was, as far as possible, engrossed, or at least influenced, by these banditti of the moral
world; and the hearts of those, who had no importance, but in their numbers, and physical strength. A sensual, profligate nobility, and princes, if possible still more sensual and profligate, easily yielded themselves, and their children, into the hands of these minions of corruption. Too ignorant, too enervated, or too indolent, to understand, or even to inquire that they might understand, the tendency of all these efforts, they marched quietly on to the gulf of ruin, which was already opened to receive them. With these was combined a priesthood, which, in all its dignified ranks, was still more putrid; and which eagerly yielded up the surplice and the lawn, the desk and the altar, to destroy that Bible, which they had vowed to defend, as well as to preach; and to renew the crucifixion of that Redeemer, whom they had sworn to worship. By these agents, and these efforts, the plague was spread with a rapidity, and to an exa tent, which astonished heaven and earth: and life went out, not in solitary cases, but by an universal extinction.
While these measures were thus going on with a success scarcely interrupted, Dr. Adam Weishaupt, professor of the Canon Law in the University of Ingoldstadt, a city of Bavaria, a man of no contemptible talents, but of immense turpitude, and a Jesuit, established the society of Illuminees. Into this establishment he brought all the systematized iniquity of his brotherhood ; distinguished beyond every other class of men for cunning, mischief, an absolute destitution of conscience, an absolute disregard of all the interests of man, and a torpid insensibility to moral obligation. No fraternity, for so long a time, or to so great an extent, united within its pale such a mass of
talents; or employed in its service such a succession of vigorous efforts. The serpentine system of this order Weishaupt perfectly understood. The great design of the Jesuits had always been to engross
power and influence of Europe, and to regulate all its important affairs. The system of measures, which they had adopted for this end, was superior to every preceding scheme of human policy. To this design Weishaupt, who was more absolutely an Atheist than Voltaire, and as cordially wished for the ruin of Christianity, superadded a general intention of destroying the moral character of man. The system of policy, adopted by the Jesuits, was, therefore, exactly fitted to his purpose : for the design, with this superaddition, was exactly the same.
With these advantageous preparations, he boldly undertook this work of destruction ;. and laid the axe at the root of all moral principle, and the sense of all moral obligation, by establishing a few fundamental doctrines, which were amply sufficient for this purpose. These were, that God is nothing ; that Government is a curse, and authority an usurpation; that civil society is the only apostacy of man ; that the possession of property is robbery ; that chastity and natural affection, are mere prejudices; and that adultery, assassination, poisoning, and other crimes of a similar nature, are lanful, and even virtuous. A large branch of the Masonic Societies in Germany and France had already adopted the same objects, as the great and controlling ones of all their personal and united labours. Here secrecy furnished the most advantageous opportunities for the formation of every design, and the most advantageous contrivance for its successful execution. Here the spirit of hostility against religion and government was kindled, and blown up into a flame.
Here, in a word, all that vice could wish, and profligacy attempt, was proposed, matured, and set forward for execution: Under these circumstances, were founded the societies of Illuminism. They spread, of course, with a rapidity, which nothing but fact could have induced any sober mind to believe. Before the year 1786, they were established in great numbers throughout Germany, in Sweden, Russia, Poland, Austria, Holland, France, Switzerland, Italy, England, Scotland, and even in America. In all these was taught the grand and sweeping principle of corruption, that the End sanctions the Means ; a principle which, if every where adopted, would overturn the universe.
The design of the founder and his coadjutors, was nothing less than to engross the empire of the world, and to place mankind beneath the feet of himself, and his successors.
Voltaire died in the year following the establishment of Iluminism. His disciples with one heart, and one voice, united in its interests; and, finding a more absolute system of corruption than themselves had been able to form, entered eagerly into all its plans and purposes. Thenceforward, therefore, all the legions of Infidelity are to be considered as embarked in a single bottom ; and as cruising together against order, peace, and virtue, on a voyage of rapine and blood.
The French revolution burst upon mankind at this moment. Here was opened an ample field for the labours of these abandoned men in the work of pollution and death. There is no small reason to believe, that every individual iliuminee, and almost, if not quite, every infidel, on the continent of Europe, lent his labours, wlien he could; and his wishes, when