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government, and furnish a solution to some of the great moral questions that had so long distuessed the conteinplative part of mankind. How did they answer to these expectations? 'The more daring spirits, such as Diderot and Condorcet, shot up boldly into atheism; defied religion, and insulted morality. D'Alembert, more cool and cautious, seems to have oscillated long, but at last as La Harpe tells us) judged that probability was in favour of the existence of a God. However, he had so little respect for his probable divinity, that he could sneer bitterly at the moral administration of the world; and declare, in one of his letters, that he was much of the same mind with Alphonsus, who said, that if he had been in the divine councils at the commencement of things, he could have shewn how to make a better creation. Voltaire and Rousseau clung stoutly to their theism; but the former, who furiously assailed the Pentateuch, because it dishonoured God by the representations it gives of his character, has more passages in his writings of scandalous impiety and profaneness than could, we verily believe, be collected from all the works of Jews and Christians during three thousand years: and the latter, though less impious, has done more to recommend licentiousness and confound all moral sentiments than perhaps any other author that ever lived. So it was in substance with the rest. They patronised negatives. And though our very instincts direct us to the attainment of knowledge, and truth has been the object most ardently pursued by the highest minds in every age, these great masters of wisdom were content to live and die in a willing and senseless scepticism respecting every thing which best deserves to be investigated-which speaks in accents the most thrilling to our hopes and our fears.
Philosophers should be humble. Those, more especially, who question rather than decide, should recommend their doubts by a tone of caution and modesty. The new academy never dogmatized: but the philosophers of France were superior to precedent and authority. If a prize were offered to the most imperious, irritable, scornful, dogmatic, and polemical body that has ever existed among lettered men, the authors of the Encyclopædia would bear away the palm. Not their brethren the old Epicureans, not the followers of Abelard and Ockham
the schoolmen; not the pedants of the sixteenth century; not the colleges of the Jesuits, or the doctors of the Sorbonne, could in such a contest maintain a rivalry with that illustrious fraternity. Touch but one of the brotherhood and all the corporation was in arms; neither virtue, nor talents, nor character, nor station could protect the niserable offender from the stings of the exasperated live. Almost all who were not their friends were treated as their enemies; and their enemies were fools or hypocrites. They despised every thing and every body (themselves excepted); and at last they despised one another. It is quite amusing to see how by continually living in their own little circle of antipathies they acquired the true sectarian spirit; and though they began with exclaiming against want of charity in the churchmen, learnt to discard even the appearance of charity towards all but mien of their own party. It was thus towards Frenchmen, it was thus towards foreigners. Hume and Gibbon were tolerated, but Johnson was " a superstitious dog ;” and Mr. Burke complains that there was an air of contemptuousness about them which greatly detracted from the pleasure of their society. Among all the European communities they seem to have respected none but this country; and one of the principal reasons for this partiality appears to have been given by the learned Marquis de Condorcet, who tells us, that “the philosophy of Bolinbroke commented on by Pope had established in England a system of rational theism, with morals suited to firm and reflective spirits." However, as Frenchmen are apt to ridicule without reason, so for once they applauded without knowledge: for Bolinbroke's pompous inanities never deceived any body but his scholar, who was frightened out of his wits when he heard they meant infidelity; and in spite of Bolinbroke, and of men much abler than he, Christianity has at all times been heartily believed and loved by the mass of the population in this country.
Christianity, considered apart from its divine credentials, was a great experiment upon mankind; and no one, we think, will deny that it materially exalted the general tone of morals, and produced the best specimens of individual excellence which the world has witnessed. The rejection of Christianity and return to a more natural condition was also an experiment; and it was fairly made, though upon a smaller scale. Let its value be estimated by its results. Revelation was first rejected in France by men of education and reflection; by the literary and scientific members of the coinmunity. Can a single individual of the body be mentioned who accredited his principles by a strict and consistent morality? We have never heard of one; and all the most considerable characters among them were notoriously sullied with great and flagitious vices. Voltaire told the most deliberate falsehoods, which even his biographer, M. de Condorcet, does not attempt to excuse; though (to shew the severity of his own morals) he maintains that lying is justifiable if oppression makes its expedient. Rousseau abandoned his own offspring. D'Alembert insulted his Creator. Diderot cheated his patroness; and his writings are an outrage on all decency. Mar, montel deserted the object of his early affections, who had been faithful to him through years of absence and silence; and he had the heartlessness to put his infamy upon record for the amusement of his grandchildren, without breathing a single sigh of contrition or regret. In the midst of all these things they continued to applaud each other abundantly, and talked loudly of reason and virtue. By degrees the principles of the philosophers were diffused among the people, and at length the whole nation, by a general effort, threw off the yoke, and publicly renounced Christianity. What ensued? What bright gleams of opening glory and happiness illuminated the auspicious enterprise? What new constellations arose to shed their influence on a happier æra? All was darkness and horror. The heavens seemed to be “ hung with black.” France was for a moment blotted out of Europe; and then reviving, like a Bedlamite from his trance, poured out her frantic rage on every surrounding nation. The fall of Christianity, instead of being hailed like its birth by angelic voices, speaking peace and love, was proclaimed by the groans of widows and orphans, and the savage howlings of demons. The Gospel descended upon earth attended with a heavenly train of graces and virtues, with the charities which soften and embellish this life, and prepare us for a better. The religion of nature ascended from beneath with a company suited to her character; murder, profligacy, proscription; and civil anarchy and military despotism.
And yet some feelings of compassion are due to the men and to the nation whom we have condemned. They saw not the religion of Christ such as it proceeded from the hands of its divine Author, lowly and self-denied, benevolent and spiritual, separated from sin, and superior to the vanities and the sufferings of this transient scene. They saw it debased by its alliance to a superstitious establishment, and sustained by a civil authority at once arbitrary and contemptible. They saw the profession of Christianity often united to the practice of vice, or the policy of a worldly ambition; its dogmas peremptorily enforced, and its precepts habitually relaxed. The rapid progress of infidelity in France sufficiently proves the decay in that country of essential religion. The Gospel in all its power, appealing to the consciences of men, and carrying its credentials in the practice of those who acknowledge it, is alone capable of contending long against the pride and passions of a people who have once thrown off the bondage of an ignorant and implicit faith; and those who bave the weakness to place their reliance on the authority of ancient institutions, or the seemly pomp of rituals and services, will assuredly discover, when it is too late, that these are but the perishable forms in which religion is enshrined, not the living and immortal spirit which can aloue protect itself and us in the hour of danger. This is a truth which the guilt and the sufferings of France are peculiarly calculated to enforce. While we reprobate the men who conspired against Christianity, and deplore their success, let us never forget that there were other conspirators still more formidable, and to whom that success is chiefly to be attributed; - the unfaithful ministers and professors of religion, who rendered it weak by their dissensions, odious by their bigotry, and contemptible by their crimes.
Art. XVII.---An Apology for promoting Christianity in
India ; containing Two Letters addressed to the Honourable East India Company, concerning the Idol Juggernaut, and a Memorial presented to the Bengal Government in 1807, in Defence of the Christian Missions in India; printed by Order of the Honourable the House of Commons. To which are now added, Remarks on the Letter addressed by the Bengal Government to the Court of Directors, in Reply to the Memorial: with an Appendix containing various official Papers, chiefly extracted from the Parliamentary Records relating to the Promulgation of Christianity in India. By the Rev. Claudius Buchanan, D. D. London. Cadell and Davies.
1818. There are some instances in which the Vor populi takes the philosophic part of a nation by surprise; and, while the few thinkers are anxiously elaborating a new principle, or hammering out a reformation upon their tardy anvil, the multitude at once elicit the principle, and carry the reform into execution in a moment. Such has been the case with the great question so recently determined in parliament, of (if for convenience we may coin the word) christianizing India. National prejudice had for a long time set strongly against any plans of active religious operations in India. Men, at once devout and philosophic, were slowly discussing the subject in their closets, and now and then throwing a sort of hesitating pamphlet on the tables of the literary. Little impression, however, was made. The opinions of Anglo-Indians, till some of these gentlemen were better known, were suffered to have much weight in the argument. But, on a sudden, the tide of popular opinion rose to an almost unexampled height, and bore down every obstacle. Parliament was inundated with petitions, of which not less than 900 found their way to its tables. Members began to reconsider their decisions upon a point on which the mass of their constituents appeared to think so differently from themselves; and the practical wisdom, and, perhaps, we may add, the enlightened piety of the administration placing them on the side of the petitioners, the church of God rejoiced to find a new patent put into its hand to dispatch its emissaries to the sixty millions of India. Instead of the reluctant progress in which a nation usually moves towards its emancipation from prejudices and low passions, the country sprang towards its object, and took by assault the fortress it might have been impracticable to gain by sap. The change was really astonishing. The advocates of the missions went to sleep at night, and found, when they rose in the morning, their opponents, like the troops of Sennacherib, “all dead men!” We rejoice in the event as the victory of the national church, which is virtually enlarged by every accession to the church of Christ. It is usual for the defeated party, who, like the Parthians, shoot their arrows in their flight, to attribute all the efforts in this cause to what is called, by way of derision, an evangelical fervour. In whatever degree this charge may associate us with the first evangelists, in our zeal for the conversion of the heathens, we gladly plead guilty to it. But if it be meant to impute to us either a headlong determination to convert, at all risks, and by all
; or an indifference as to the character of the religion, or the discipline of the church, which shall be established in India; we hope, before' this 'essay is finished, to vindicate our understandings and our temper. But it is now time to inform our readers what is the specific object of this paper. It is not, then, our intention to retread the ground with which every foot in the nation is now familiar, or to re-examine the objections which have been so often advanced and still oftener confuted. But having met with this little document of Dr. Buchanan's, which sheds much new light on the subject, and establishes points of which there was before a deficiency of evidence, we think it due to him and to the cause to assist in making it known. Our readers will not be surprised that we are intluenced in part by a desire of discharging what is due to Dr. Buchanan. The fact is, that this great cause owes perhaps more to him than to any other human being. The very peculiar circumstances of his life almost authorize us to speak of him, as called” to this apostleship. Carried by a succession of truly singular events to India, he no sooner planted his foot on its burning soil, than he seems to have strained every faculty of his soul to pour over these parched plains the waters of life. By day and by night, in publ.c and in private, in the college and in the caveru), on