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fon 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 surrounding 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 feldom 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 interest to obey.—Mahometanism and Popery appear then to have been the
parents of Infidelity-an offspring born to be their chastisemento. Barruel has inge
Amongst the causes 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 themselves openly in reflections injurious to the dignity of the sacred writings, and, by an excess of blafphemy 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
niously traced the doctrines of " liberty and equality" as taught by modern Infidels, to the founder of the Manichean herefy in the third century".
And we may
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, “ was declared by a folemn decree of the council of Trent, an authentic, i. e. a faithful, accurate, and perfect translation.” In the true spirit of this decree, Morini was employed in a laborious work (Biblicarum, feu 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 Molheim's Eccl. Hift. vol. iv. p. 213. and Mill's Prolegom. 1318, 1326.
The pious reader will not fail to observe a fignal inftance of Divine retribution, when the monster Infidelity, thus produced by Papal corruption, has become the prime instrument of the downfall of its parent.
f Curbicus, a Persian flave, who changed his name to Manes, called himself an Apostle of Jesus Christ, taught the antient opinion of the Magi concerning two principles, or. Gods, the one good, the other evil ; denied the resurrection of the body, &c. and was flayed alive for his impostures by order of the Persian King.
I am aware that it was an artifice of the Papal Church to extend the deservedly unpopular name of Manicheans to many fects, which had nothing in com
admit this statement to be just, though we deny some of the opinions which he has connected with it. The hidden meaning of these words may have lain long concealed; it may have been occasionally directed to the purposes of vice and rebellion by particular societies ; and those focieties may voluntarily, or involuntarily, have been claffed with heretics, whose only crime was disobedience to the Church of Rome. But whether the doctrines now inculcated by these mystic terms arose in the third century with the Manichcans, or were the offspring of the eighteenth, it is certain
mon with the Manicheans, but their opposition to the ruling powers of the Church of Rome. What the Abbé Barruel fays upon the subject must therefore be received with helitation : fince, though I admit the merit of his labours, and the truth of his facts, I am not dirposed to subscribe to all his opinions, and to confound, as he too often has done, the cause of Christianity with that of Popery. We may however trace the origin of Free-Masonry to the Dionysiacs of Asia Minor, and may yet suppose these doctrines to have been engrafted upon their symbols in particular focieties, while others remained perfectly ignorant of any such mystical sense having been annexed to them. And this has indeed been the case with the generality of the English Lodges who knew nothing of the mysteries of their brethren on the continent.
they never became active powers till they appeared as " the horns of the fecond beast,” or Infidelity, and were employed by him to delude mankind so far as make the image” which is now their scourge. “ The disciples of Manes aimed at the abolition of all laws, and of Chriftianity, by means of fuperftition and fanaticism. The spirit of the mysteries, and the allegory adopted by the modern fophisters, remain the same. It is always Kings and Christianity that are to be destroyed, empires and the altar to be over: turned, in order to re-establish the liberty and equality of human nature &," without laws or social order. But these have in, deed far exceeded their predecessors both in the object of their views, and the means of accomplishing it. It is by a war of extermination to the enemies of their system, that they mean to establish Atheism.
The growth of Infidelity in those countries blessed with the light of the Reformation, appears much more extraordinary than its birth in the period of the Papal power. And in order to account for this,
8 Barruel, vol. ii. p. 417.
we must observe, that Infidelity at first masqued itself with
of the principles which
birth to, or at least brought forward, the Reformation itself. It professed attachment to moral virtue, and hatred of superstition--zeal for truth, and disregard of authority--an enlarged charity, and a reliance upon reason. Such scepticism appeared an object of pity rather than of cenfure. And anxious to prove, that, in universal benevolence and candor, Christians at least equalled these philofophers, many Protestant writers addressed them in a style of compliment upon their discernment and liberality--quitted the strong holds of Scripture doctrine--ada vanced to meet them on their own ground, and argued upon what they called the principles of natural religion solely. They granted that “ faith depends not on the will, but on the understanding”-that “ when the evidence for the truth of any proposition is full and clear, it constrains assent, but that no blame is imputable for rejecting a proposition for which the mind cannot see evidence”-and that “ we are not called upon to believe what we cannot comprehend.” Of such dangerous conceffions the insidious enemy took advantage;