Tuesday, 10 September 2013

THE APOCALYPSE.

On the appearance of the Rev. G. Crossly's 'New Interpretation of the Apocalypse,' we gave an extract--" The character of Mr. Pitt," illustrative of the style and principles of the volume. We now give a fragment from the sketch of the " French Revolution." On the theological value of the work we await the opinions of the learned in those matters. The interest of the topic, the singularity of the great prophecy itself, and the unquestionable novelty and originality of the views taken of it by the present writer, will, of course, attract the inquiry of the Scholars and Divines of our church; but there is much even for the general reader. One of the author's purposes has been to show that the whole series of European revolutions, and leading changes of success and empire, has been the direct work of Providence, and with the direct object of protecting and purifying Protestantism. The early European wars ; those of France and Italy, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries ; of England and France, in the fourteenth and fifteenth, &c. down to the French Revolutionary war, are thus shown to have been predicted, and to have formed a regular consecutive system of Providential government. The proof of this is detailed with satisfactory references to historic authorities and documents.

The present extract is given, not as being better or worse than a hundred others in the volume, but as being easily separated, and as referring to a peculiarly interesting period—the preparation for the overthrow of the French monarchy. The writer discovers the primary cause of the convulsion, in the banishment of Protestantism from France, in 1685. The exile of that illustrious rival suffered the Gallician church to sink into ignorance and public ineptitude. The quarrels of the Jesuits and the Jansenists broke out, each party loading the other with charges of imposture, and each stooping to the most humiliating and extravagant contrivances,— pretended miracles, &c. &c.— until both had equally become objects of national ridicule.   

"In the midst of this tempest of scorn, an extraordinary man arose, to guide and deepen it in public ruin; Voltaire, a personal profligate, possessing a vast variety of that superficial knowledge, which gives importance to folly; frantic for popularity, which he solicited at all hazards; and sufficiently opulent to relieve him from the necessity of any labours, but those of national undoing; holding but an inferior and struggling rank in all the manlier provinces of the mind, in science, poetry, and philosophy ; he was the prince of scorners. The splenetic pleasantry which stimulates the wearied taste of high life; the grossness, which, half concealed, captivates the loose, without offence to their feeble decorum ; and the easy brilliancy which throws what colours it will on the dark features of its purpose, made Voltaire the very genius of France! But, under this smooth and sparkling surface, reflecting like ice all the lights thrown upon it, there was a dark and fathomless depth of malignity. He hated morals ; he hated man ; he hated religion. He sometimes burst out into exclamations of rage and insane fury, against all that we honour as best and holiest, that sounded less like the voice of human lips than the echoes of the final place of agony and despair.

"A tribe, worthy of his succession—showy, ambitious, and malignant—followed ; each with some vivid literary contribution, some powerful and popular work, a new deposit of combustion in that mighty throne, on which stood, in thin and fatal security, the throne of France. Rousseau, the most impassioned of all romancers, the great corrupter of the female mind ; Buffon, a lofty and splendid speculator, who dazzled the whole multitude of the minor philosophers, and fixed the creed of materialism; Montesquieu, eminent for learning and sagacity---in his 'Spirit of Laws' striking all the establishments of his country into contempt, and in his 'Persian Letters' levelling the same blow at her morals ; D'Alembert, the first mathematician of his day, an eloquent writer, the declared pupil of Voltaire, and, by his Secretaryship of the French Academy, furnished with all the facilities for propagating his master's opinions; and Diderot, the projector and chief conductor of the Encyclopedia, a work justly exciting the admiration of Europe, by the novelty and magnificence of its design, and by the comprehensive and solid extent of its knowledge; but in its principles utterly evil, a condensation of all the treasons of the school of anarchy, the Lex scripta of the Revolution.

"All those men were open infidels; and their attacks on religion, such as they saw it before them, roused the Gallican Church, but the warfare was totally unequal. The priesthood came armed with the antiquated and unwieldly weapons of old controversy, forgotten traditions, and exhausted legends. They could have conquered them only by the Bible ; they fought them only with the Breviary. The histories of the Saints, and the wonders of Images, were but fresh fund for the most overwhelming scorn. The Bible itself, which Popery has always laboured to close, was brought into the contest, and used resistlessly against the priesthood. They were contemptuously asked, in what part of the sacred volume had they found the worship of the Virgin, the Saints, or the Host? Where was the privilege that conferred Saintship at the hands of the Pope? Where was the prohibition of the general use of Scripture by every man who had a soul to be saved? Where was the revelation of that purgatory from which a Monk and a Mass could extract a sinner? Where was the command to imprison, torture, and slay men for their difference of opinion with an Italian Priest and the College of Cardinals?'

" To those formidable questions, the Clerics answered by fragments from the Fathers, angry harangues, and more legends of more miracles. They tried to enlist the Nobles and the Court into a Crusade; but the Nobles were already among the most zealous, though secret, converts to the Encyclopedie; and the gentle spirit of the Monarch was not to lie urged into a civil war. The threat of force only inflamed contempt into vengeance. The populace of Paris, like all mobs, licentious, restless, and fickle; but beyond all taking an interest in public matters, had not been neglected by the deep designers, who saw in the quarrel of the pen the growing quarrel of the sword. The Fronde was not yet out of their minds, the barrier days of Paris ; the municipal council which in 1648 had levied war against the Government ; the mob-army which had fought and terrified the Government into forgiveness, were the strong memorials on which the anarchists of 1793 founded their seduction. The perpetual ridicule of the national belief was kept alive among them. The populace of the provinces, whose religion was in their rosary, were prepared for rebellion by similar means; and the terrible and fated visitation of France began."

 The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 31 October 1827,

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