Imágenes de páginas

their leaders; but as it respects the leaders themselves, it is otherwise. The National Assembly of France, when they wished to counteract the priests, and to reject the adoption of the Roman Catholic faith as the established religion, could clearly distinguish between genuine and corrupted Christianity.* Deists can distinguish between Christianity and its abuses, when an end is to be answered by it; and when an end is to be answered by it, they can, with equal facility, confound them.

"Herbert, Hobbes, Shaftesbury, Woolston, Tindal, Chubb, and Bolingbroke, are all guilty of the vile hypocrisy of professing to love and reverence Christianity, while they are employed in no other design than to destroy it. Such faithless professions, such gross violations of truth, in Christians, would have been proclaimed to the universe by these very writers, as infamous desertions of principle and decency. Is it less infamous in themselves? All hypocrisy is detestable; but I know of none so detestable as that which is coolly written, with full premeditation, by a man of talents, assuming the character of a moral and religious instructor. Truth is a virtue perfectly defined, mathematically clear, and completely understood by all men of common sense. There can be no haltings between uttering truth and falsehood; no doubt, no mistakes, as between piety and enthusiasm, frugality and parsimo ny, generosity and profusion. Transgression, therefore, is always a known, definite, deliberate villainy. In the sudden moment of strong temptation, in the hour of unguarded attack, in the flutter and trepidation of unexpected alarm, the best man may, perhaps, be surprised in to any sin: but he who can coolly, of steady design, and with no unusual impulse, utter falsehood, and vend hypocrisy, is not far from finished depravity."

"The morals of Rochester and Wharton need no comment. Woolston was a gross blasphemer. Blount solicited his sister-inlaw to marry him, and being refused, shot himself. Tindal was originally a Protestant, then turned Papist, then Protestant again, merely to suit the times; and was at the same time infamous for vice in general, and the total want of principle. He is said to

* Mirabeau's Speeches, Vol. II. pp. 269–274.


have died with this prayer in his mouth, If there be a God, I desire that he may have mercy on me.' Hobbes wrote his Leviathan to serve the cause of Charles I. but finding him fail of success, he turned it to the defence of Cromwell, and made a merit of this fact to the usurper; as Hobbes himself unblushingly declared to Lord Clarendon. Morgan had no regard to truth, is evident from his numerous falsifications of scripture, as well as from the vile hypocrisy of professing himself a Christian in those very writings in which he labours to destroy Christianity. Voltaire, in a Letter now remaining, requested his friend D'Alembert to tell for him a direct and palpable lie, by denying that he was the author of the Philosophical Dictionary. D'Alembert, in his answer, informed him that he had told the lie. Voltaire has, indeed, expressed his own moral character perfectly in the following words: 'Monsieur Abbe, I must be read, no matter whether I am believed or not.' He also solemnly professed to believe the Catholic religion, although at the same time he doubted the existence of a God. Hume died as a fool dieth. The day before his death he spent in a pitiful and affected unconcern about this tremendous subject, playing at whist, reading Lucian's Dialogues, and making silly attempts at wit, concerning his interview with Charon, the heathen ferry-man of Hades.”*

Collins, though he had no belief in Christianity, yet qualified himself for civil office by partaking of the Lord's supper. Shaftesbury did the same: and the same is done by hundreds of Infidels to this day. Yet these are the men who are continually declaiming against the hypocrisy of priests! Godwin is not only a lewd character, by his own confession; but the unblushing advocate of lewdness. And as to Paine, he is well known to have been a profane swearer, and a drunkard. We have evidence upon oath that "religion was his favorite topic when intoxicated;"† and from the scurrility of the performance, it is not improbable that he was frequently in this situation while writing his Age of Reason.

*The last two paragraphs are taken from Dr. Dwight's excellent Discourses on The Nature and Danger of Infidel Philosophy, pp. 45—47.

+ See Trial of T. Paine, at Guildhall, for a Libel, &c.



I shall conclude this catalogue of worthies with a brief abstract of the Confessions of J. J. Rousseau. After a good education, in the Protestant religion, he was put apprentice. Finding his situation disagreeable to him, he felt a strong propensity to vice; inclining him to covet, dissemble, lie, and at length to steal; a propensity of which he was never able afterwards to divest himself. "I have been a rogue," says he, "and am so still sometimes, for trifles which I had rather take than ask for."*

He abjured the protestant religion, and entered the hospital of the Catechumens at Turin to be instructed in that of the Catholics; "For which in return," says he, "I was to receive subsistence. From this interested conversion," he adds, "nothing remained but the remembrance of my having been both a dupe and an apostate." t

After this, he resided with a Madame de Warrens, with whom he "lived in the greatest possible familiarity." This lady often suggested, that there would be no justice in the Supreme Being, should he be strictly just to us; because, not having bestowed what was necessary to make us essentially good, it would be requiring more than he had given. She was, nevertheless, a very good Catholic, or pretended at least to be one, and certainly desired to be such. If there had been no Christian morality established, Rosseau supposes she would have lived as though regulated by its principles. All her morality, however, was subordinate to the principles of M. Tavel; (who first seduced her from conjugal fidelity by urging, in effect, that exposure was the only crime,) or rather, she saw nothing in religion that contradicted them. Rosseau was far enough from being of this opinion; yet he confessed he dared not combat the arguments of the lady nor is it supposable he could, as he appears to have been acting on the same principles at the time. "Finding in her," he adds, "all those ideas I had occasion for to secure me from the fears of death, and its future consequences, I drew confidence and security from this source."

* Confessions, London Ed. 1796, Vol. I. pp. 52, 55, 68.

+ Vol. I. pp. 125, 126.

Vol. II. pp. 88, 103-106

The writings of Port Royal, and those of the Oratory, made him half a Jansenist; and notwithstanding all his confidence, their harsh theory sometimes alarmed him. A dread of hell, which, till then, he had never much apprehended, by little and little disturbed his security, and had not Madame de Warrens tranquilized his soul, would at length have been too much for him. His confessor also, a Jesuit, contributed all in his power to keep up his hopes.*

After this, he became familiar with another female, Theresa. He began by declaring to her that he would never either abandon or marry her. Finding her pregnant with her first child, and hearing it observed in an eating house, that he who had best filled the Foundling Hospital, was always the most applauded, “I said to myself," he tells us, "since it is the custom of the country, they who live here may adopt it. I cheerfully determined upon it without the least scruple: and the only one I had to overcome was that of Theresa; whom, with the greatest imaginable difficulty, I persuaded to comply." The year following a similar inconvenience was remedied by the same expedient no more reflection on his part, nor approbation on that of the mother. "She obliged with trembling. My fault," says he, "was great; but it was an error."t

He resolved on settling at Geneva: and, on going thither and being mortified at his exclusion from the rights of a citizen by the profession of a religion different from his forefathers, he determined openly to return to the latter. "I thought," says he, "the gospel being the same for every Christian; and the only difference in religions the result of the explanations given by men to that which they did not understand, it was the exclusive right of the sovereign power in every country to fix the mode of worship, and these unintelligible opinions; and that, consequently, it was the duty of a citizen to admit the one, and conform to the other, in the manner prescribed by the law." Accordingly, at Geneva he renounced Popery.‡

* Vol II. p. 127.

+ Part II. Vol. I. pp. 123. 154, 155. 183. 187. 315.

† Part II. Vol. I. pp. 263. 264.

After passing twenty years with Theresa, he made her his wife. He appears to have intrigued with a Madame de H—. Of his desires after that lady he says, "Guilty without remorse, I soon became so without measure."*

Such, according to his own account, was the life of uprightness and honour which was to expiate for a theft which he had committed when a young man, and laid to a female servant, by which she lost her place and character. Such was Rosseau, the man whom the rulers of the French nation have delighted to honour; and who, for writing this account, had vanity and presumption to expect the applause of his Creator. "Whenever the last trumpet shall sound," says he, "I will present myself before the sovereign Judge, with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, Thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. Power eternal! Assemble round thy throne the innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals. Let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings, let each in his turn expose, with equal sincerity, the failings, the wanderings of his heart; and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man."‡

*Vol. I. pp.

311, 378. + Vol. I. pp. 155. 160. + Vol. I. p. 1.

« AnteriorContinuar »