Hannah More.

The complete works of Hannah More online

. (page 72 of 135)
Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 72 of 135)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


oftfae instnieton of youth, who having tbemsetrei esca-
ped from the hereditary preiodice of all sects, point oat
to the baman race their inalienable rights, founded upon
that sublime wisdom which pervades aU nature. Reli-
fiouB faith impressed on the mind of an infknt seven
years old, wiU lead to perlbct slavery: or dogmas at that
an are only arbitrary commands. Ah ! what is belief
without examination, without conviction. It renden
nen either melancholy or mad, kc

* Lefislatora 1 Virtue wants neither temples nor syna-
giincs. It is not from priesU we learn to do good or
noble actions. No religion must be taught In schools
which are to be national ones. To prescribe one would
be to prefer It to all othere.— There history must speak
of sects, as she speaks of other events. It would become
your wisdom, perhaps, to order that the pupils of the re-
public should not enter the temples befbre the age of
seventeen. Reason must be taken by surprise, &e.
Hardly war« children tram befbre they fell into the hands
of priastsk who first blinded their eyes, and then deliver-
ed them over to kings. Wherever kings cease to govern,
t cease to educate '



and Christianity as eccentric 7 When atheism
shall be considered as a proof of accomplished
breeding, and religion as the stamp of a vulgar
education 1 When the regular course of ob^i-
ence to masters and tutors wiU consist in re-
nouncin(|r the hope of everlasting happiness, and
in deridmg the idea of future punishment?
When every man and every child, m conformity
with the prinoipleB professed in the convention,
shall presume to say with his tongue, what hither
to even the fool has only dared to say in heart,
Tto Mere t« no Qod.^

Christianity, which involves the whole duty
of man, divides that duty into two portions — the
love of Gkxl and the love of our neighbour. Now,
as these two principles have their being from
the same source, and derive their vitality from
the union ; so impiety fbmisbee the direct con-
verse—That atheism which destroys all belief
in, and of course cuts off a)l love o^ and com-
munion with God, disqualifies for the due per.
formance of the duties of civil and social life.
There is, in its way, the same oonsisten<^, a^^ree-
ment and uniformity, between the principles
wbinYk constitute an infidel and a bad member
of society, as there is between giving * glory to
God in the highest,* and exercising *■ peace and
good will to men.*

My fellow Christians ! This b not a strife of
words ; this is not a controversy about opinions
of comparatively small importance, such as you
have been accustomed at home to hear even good
men dispute upon, when perhaps they would
have acted a more wise and amiable part had
they remained silent, sacrificing their mutual
dififerences on the altar of Christian charity :
But this bold renunoiatioD of the first great fun-
damental article of fkith, this daring rejection
of the Supreme Creator and Ruler of the world,
is laying the aze and striking with a vigorous
stroke at the rootof all human happiness. It is
tearing up the very fijundation of human hope,
and extirpating every true principle of human
excellence. It is annihilating the very exist-
ence of virtue, by annihilating its motives, its
sanctions, its obligations, its object, and its
end.

That atheism will be the favoured and the
popular tenet in FVance seems highly probable ;
whilst in the wild contempt of all religion, which
has lately had the arrogance to call itself tolera-
tion, it is not improbaUe that Christianity itself
may be tolerated in that country, as a sect not
persecuted perhaps, but derided. It is, how
ever, far from clear, that this will be the case,
if the new doctrines should become generaUy

• It is a nmarkable drcomsUnoe, that though the
French are continually binding themeelves by oaths,
they have not mentioned the name of Ood in any oath
whieh has been invented since the revolution. It may
also appear curious to the English readers, that though
in almost all the addresses of congratulation, which
were sent by the associated clubs from this country to
the National Cktnvention, the success of the French arms
was in part ascribed to Divine providence, yet in none
of the answen was the least noUce ever taken of this.
And to show how the same spirit spreads itself among
every description of men in France, their admiral I<a-
toucbe. aAer having described the dangera to which his
shfp was exposed in a storm, says, * we owe our exist-
ence to the tutelary Genius which ^aUhesover the des-
tiny of the French republic, and the defenders of liberty
and equality.*



Digitized by



Google



908



THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



prevalent Atheists are not without their bigot-
ry i they too have their spirit of exclusion and
monopoly in a decree not inferior to the roost
superstitious monks. And that yery spirit of
intolerance which is now so much the object of
their invectiye, would probably be no less the
rule of their practice, if thei/ will should eyer
be backed by power. It is true that Voltaire
and the other great apostles of infidelity have
employed all the acuteness of their wit to con-
yince us that irreligion never persecutes. To
prove this, every art of false citation, partial ex-
tract, suppressed evidence, and gross misrepre-
sentation, has been put in practice. But if this
unsupported assertion were true, then Polycarp,
Ignatius, Justin, Cyprian, and Basil, did not
suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Then the famous Christian apologists, most of
them learned converts from the pagan philoso-
phy, idly employed their zeal to abate a clamour
which did not exist, and to propitiate emperors
wno did not persecute. Then Tacitus, Trajan,
Plinpr, and Julian, those bitter enemies to Chris-
tianity, are suborned witnesses on her side.
Then ecclesiastical history is a series of false-
hoods, and the book of martyrs a legend of ro-
mance.*

That one extravagant mischief should produce
its opposite, is agreeable to the ordinary course
of human events. That to the credulity of a
dark and superstitious religion, a wanton con-
tempt of all decency, and an unbridled profane-
ness should succeed, that to a government abso-
lutely despotic, an utter abhorrence of all re-
straint and subordination should fbUow, though
it is deplorable, yet it is not strange. The hu-
man mind in flying from the extreme verge of
one error, seldom stops till she has reached the
opposite extremity. She ^renerally passes by
with a lofly disdain the obvious truth which lies
directly in her road, and which is indeed com-
monly to be found in the midway, between the
error she is flying from, and the error she is
pursuing.

Is it a breach of Christian charity to conclude,
from a view of the present state of the French,
that sirice that deluded people have given up
Goo, God, by a righteous retribution, seems to
have renounced them for a time, anid to have
given them over to their own heart's lost, to
work iniquity with greediness f If such is their
pre&ent career, what is likely to be their appoint-
ed end 7 How fearfully appbcable tothem seems
that awful denunciation against an ancient,
oflending people—* The Lord shall smite thee
with madness, and blindness, and astonishment
of heart*

It is no part of the present design to enter in-
to a detail of their political conduct ; but I can-
not omit to remark, that the very man in their
long list of kings who seemed best to have de-
served their assumed application of most Chris-
tiarij was also most favourable to their aoquisi-

* It may tw objected bere, that this is not applicable
to tbe itate of ranee ; for that tbe Roman eroperon
were not atheisU or deiati, but polytbeists, with an etta-
bliabed religion. To thia it may be answered, that mo-
dem infidels not only deny the ten pagan persecutions,
but accura Christianity of being the only persecuting
religion ; and affirm that only those who reAjse to em-
brace it discover a spirit of toleration.



tion of liberty :* his moderation and humanity
facilitated their plans and increased their power,
which, with unparalleled ingratitude, they em-
ployed to degrade his person and character in
the eyes of noankind, by the blackest and most
detestable arts, and at length to terminate hit
calamities by a crime which has excited tht
grief and indignation of all Europe.

On the trial and murder of that most unfortu-
nate king, and on the inhuman proceedings
which accompanied them, I shall purposely
avoid dwelling, for it is not the design of these
remarks to excite the passions. I wUl only say,
that so monstrous has been the inversion of fdl
order, law, humanity,. justice, received opinion,
good faith, and religion, that the conduct of his
bkx>dy executioners seems to have exhibited tbe
most scrupulous conformity with the principler
annoimced in the speeches we have been con
sidering. In this one instance we must not caH
the French an inconsequent people. Savage
brutality, rapine, treason and murder have been
the noxious fruit gathered from these thorns*
the baneful produce of these thistles. An over-
turn of all morals has been the well-proportioned
o£^pring of a subversion of all principle.

But, notwithstanding the consistency, in this
instance, between cause and consequence; so
new and surprbing have been the turns in their
extraordinary projects, that to foretell what their
next enterprize would be from what their last
has been, has long baflied all calculation, has
long bid defiance to all conjecture. Analogy
from history, the study of past events, and an
investigation of present principles and passions
judgment, memory, comparison, combination and
deduction, afibrd human sagacity but very slen-
der assistance in its endeavours to develope their
future plans. We have not even the data of
consistent wickedness on which to bolJd rational
conclusions. Their crimes, though visibly con-
nected by uniform depravity, are yet so surpri
singly diversified by interfering absurdities, as
to furnish no grround on which reasonable argu-
ment can be founded. Nay, such is their incre-
dible eccentricity, that it is hardly extravagant
to affirm, that improbability is become rather an
additional reason for expecting any given event
to take place.

But let us, in this yet happy coimtry, learn at
least one great and important truth f>om tbe
errors of this distracted people. Their coDdoct
has always illustrated a position, Which is not
the less sotmd fi>r having been often controvert-
ed — ^That no degree of wit and learning, no pro-
{rress in commerce, no advances in the know
edge of nature, or in the embellishmentsof art,
can ever thoroughly tame that savage, the fiotv-
ral human heart, without rkligioic. The arts
of social life may give sweetness to manners,
and grace to language, and induce, in some de-
gree, a respect for justice, truth, and humanity ;
but attainments derived fh)m such inferior canses
are no more than the semblance and the shadow
of the qualities derived from pure Christianity.
Varnish is an extraneous ornament, but tme

* Of this the Ftench themselves Were so well persiia*
ded, that the title of Re$torateur de la UbtrU Frmm€0im,
was solemnly given to Lonis XVIth by the C-oasUtatiii
Assembly.



Digitized by



Google



THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



309



poliah 18 a proof of tlie solidity of the body on
whose surfaco it is produced. It depends greatly
on the nature of the substance, is not superin-
duced by accidental causes, but in a good mea-
sure proceeds from internal soundness.

The poets of that classic country, whose style,
sentiments, manners, and religion, the French
80 affectedly labour to imitate, have left keen
and biting satires on the Roman vices. Against
the late proceedings in France, no satirist need
employ his pen; that of the historian will be
<^uite sufficient Truth will be the severest sa-
tire ; fact will put fable out of countenance ; and
the crimes which are usually held up to our ab-
horrence, and are rejected fur their exaggera-
tion in works of invention, will be regarded as
flat and feeble by those who shall peruse the re-
cords of the tenth of August, of the second and
third of September, and of the twenty-first of
January.

If the same astonishing degeneracy in taste,
principle, and practice, should ever come to
flourish amon^ u^ Britain may still live to exult
in the desolation of her cities, and in the de-
struction of her finest monuments of art ; she
may triumph in the peopling of the fortresses
of her rocks and her forests ; may exult in be-
ing once more restored tq that glorious state of
liberty and equalify, whoq all subsisted by ra-

Cine and the chase ; when all, O enviable privi-
!ge ! were equally savage, equally indigent, and
equally naked ; her sons may extol it as the re-
etoration of reason, the triumph of nature, and
the consummation of liberty, that they are again
brought to ^d on acorns, instead of bread !
Groves of consecrated misletoe may happily suc-
ceed to useless cornfields ; and Thor and Woden
mar hope once more to be invested with all
their bloody honours

Let not any serious reader feel indignation,
as if pains were ungenerously taken to involve
their religious with uieir political opinions. Far
be it from me to wound, unnecessarily, the feel-
ings of a people, many of whom are truly esti-
mable : but it is much to be suspected, that cer-
tain opinions in politics have a tendency to lead
to certain opinions in religion. Where so much
is at stake, they will do well to keep their con-
sciences tender, in order to which they should
try to keep their discernment acute. They will
do well to observe, that the same restless spirit
of innovation is busily operating under various,
though seemingly unconnected forms; to ob-
serve, that the same, impatience of restraint, the
same contempt of order, peace, and subordina-
ti^n, which miakes men bad citizens, makes them
bad Christians ; and that to this secret and al-
most infallible connexion between religious and
political sentiment, does France owe her present
jnparalleled anarchy and impiety.

There are doubtless in that unhappy country
multitudes of virtuous and reasonable men, who
rather silently acquiesce in the authority of
their present turbulent government, than em-
brace its principles or promote its projects from
the sober conviction of their own ludgment
These, together with those conscientious exiles
whom this nation so honourably protects, may
yet live to rejoice in the restoration of true li-
berty and soUd peace to their native country,



when light and order shall spring from the pre
sent darkness and confusion, and the reign of
chaos shall be no more.

May I be permitted a short digression on the
subject of the conduct of Great Britain to these
exiles ? It shall only be to remark, that all the
boasted conquests of our Edwards and our Hen*
rys over the French nation, do not confer sueh
substantial glory on our own country, as she de-
rives from having received, protecteid, and sup-
ported among innumerable multitudes of other
sufferers, at a time and under circumstances so
peculiarly disadvantageous to herself, three thoU'
sand prieBtBy of a nauon habitually her enemy,
and of a religion intolerant and hostile to her
own. This is the solid triumph of true Chris-
tianity; and it is worth remarking, that the
deeds which poets and historians celebrate as
rare and splendid actions ; which they record
as sublime instances of greatness of soul, in the
heroes of the pagan world, are but the brdinary
and habitual virtues which occur in the common
course of action among Christians ; quietly per-
forming without effort or exertion, and with no
view to renown or reward ; but resulting natu-
rally and consequently from the religion to
which they belong.

So predominating is the power of an example
we have once admired, and set up as a standard
of imitation, and so fascinating has been the
ascendency of the convention over the minds of
those whose approbation df French politics com-
menced in the earlier periods of the revolution,
that it extends to the most trivial circumstances.
I cannot forbear to notice this in an instance
which, though inconsiderable in itself, yet ceases
to be so when we view it in the light of a pre-
vailing symptom of the reigning disease.

While the fantastic phraseology of the new
republic is such, as to be almost as disgusting to
sound taste as their doctrines are to sound mo-
rals, it is curious to observe how deeply the ad-
dresses, which have been sent to it from the
clubs* in this country, have been infected with
it, as far at least as phrases and terms are ob-
jects of imitation. In the more leading points
It is but justice to the French convention to con-
fess, that they are hitherto without rivals and
without imitators ; for who can aspire to emu-
late that compound of anarchy and atheism
which in their debates is mixed up with the pe-
dantry of a school-boy, the jargon of a cabal,
and the vulgarity and ill-breeding of a mob ?
One instance of the prevailing cant may suffice,
where a hundred might be adduced, and it is
not the most exceptionable. To demolish every
existing law and establishment ; to destroy the
fortunes and ruin the principles of every coun-
try into which they are carrying their destruc-
tive arms and their ftantic doctrines ; to untie
or cut asunder every bond which holds society
together ; to impose their own arbitrary shac*
kles where they succeed, and to demolish every
thing where they faiL This desolating system,
by a most unaccountable perversion of Unguage,
they are pleased to call by the endearing name
of fraternization ; and fraternization is one of
the favourite terms which their admiren in thif
country have adopted. Little would a simple
* See the coUeclioa of withernam ttam England



SIO



THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



ttrangor, unmitiiite<i in this new and larpriflin jr
dialect, uninstructed by the political lexicogra-
phers of modern France, imagine that the peace,
ful teriDi oTfeUow^iiixen and of hnAhtr^ the
winning offer offreedum and happiru$9^ and the
warm embrace of fratem^^ were only watch-
words by which they, in efiect,
Crybavoe,
And let ilip tbe dogs of war.

In Domberlesa other instances, the fashiona-
ble language of France at this day would be as
oninteUigible to the correct writers of the age
of Louis the XIV. as their fashionable notions
of liberty would be irxeconcilable with those of
the true revolution patriots of his great contem-
porary and victorious rival William the Third.

Such b indeed their puerile rage for novelty
in the invention of new words, and the perver-
sion of their taste in the use of old ones, that the
celebrated Voesius, whom Christiana of Sweden
oddly complimented by saying, that he was so
learned as not only to know whence all words
came, but whither they were going, would, were
ke adtnilUd to the honour of a sittings be obliged
to confess, that he was equally pimled to tell
the one, ^a to foretel the other.

If it shall please the Almighty in his anger to
let loose this infatuated people, as a scourge for
the iniquities of the human race ; if they are de-
legated by infinite justice to act * as storm and
tempest fulHling bu word,* if they are commis-
sioned to perform the ei|fand of the destroying
lightning or the avengmg thunderbolt, let us
try at least to extract personal benefit from a
national calamity ; let every one of us, high and
low, rich and poor, enter upon this serious aud
humbling inquiry, how much his own individual
offences have contributed to that awful aggre-
gate of public guilt, which has required such a
visitation. Let us carefully examine in what
proportion we have separately added to that
common stock of abounding miquity, the de-
scription of which fi>rmed the character of an
ancient nation, and is so peculiarly applicable
to our own — Pridetfulneet of bread, and abun-
dance of idlenees. Let every one of us humbly
inquire, in the self-suspecting language of the
disciples of their Divine Master— Iiorl, is it I?
Let us learn to fear the fleets aos^ armies of the
enemy, much less than those iniquities at home,
which thb alarming dispensation may be in-
tended to chastise.

The war which the French had declared
against us, is of a kind altogether unexampled
in every respect ; insomuch Uiat human wisdom
is baffled when it would pretend to conjecture
what may be the event But this at least wc
may safely say, that it is not so much the force
of French bayonets, as the contamination of
French principles, that ought to excite our ap-
prehensions. We trust, tiuiX through the bless-
ing of God we shall be defended from tbeir open
iKMtiUties, by the temperate wisdom of our ru-
lers, and the bravery of our fleets and armies ;
but the domestic danger arising from licentious
and irreligious principles among ourselves, can
only be guarded against by the personal care
and rigilanoe of every one of us who values re-
ligion and the good order of society in this
woild and an eternity of happiness in the next



God grant that those who go forth to fight
our batUes, instead of being intimidated by the
number of their enemies, may bear in mind,
that * there is no restraint with God to save by
many 6t by few.* And let the meanest among
us who remains at home remember also, that
even he may contribute to the internal safety
of the country, by tbe integrity of his private
life, and to the success of her defenders, by fol-
lowing them with his fervent prayers. And in
what war can the sincere Christian ever have
stronger inducements and more reasonable en-
couragement to pray for the success of his coun-
try, than in this 7 Without entering far into any
political principles, the discussion of which
would be m a great measure foreign to the de-
sign of this lilUe tract, it may be remarked, that
the unchristian principle of revenge is not our
motive to this war ; eompteet is not our object ;
nor have we had recourse to hostility in order
to efiect a change in the internal government
of France.* The present war is undoubtedly
undertaken entirely on defensive principles. It
is in defence of our king, our constitution, our
religion, our laws, and consequently our liberty^
in the soAnd, sober, and rational sense of that
term. It is to defond ourselves from the savage
violence of a crusade, made against all religion^
as well as all government. If ever therefore a
war was undertaken on the ground of self de-
fence and necessity — if ever men might bo libe-
rally said to fight pro a&is et rocis, this seems
to be the occasion.

The ambition of conquerors has been the
source of great and extensive evils : religious
fanaticism, of still greater. But little as I am
disposed to become the apc^ogist of either the
one principle or the other, there is no extrava
gance in asserting, that they have seemed inca-
pable of producing, even in ages, that extent of
mischief^ that variety of ruin, that comprehen-
sive desolation, which phUoeophy^faUely so call.
ed, has produced in three years.

Christians ! it is not a small thing— -i< 1$ your
life ! The pestilence of irreligion which you de-
test, wiU insinuate itself imperceptibly with
those manners, phrases, and principles which
you admire and adopt It is the humble wisdom
of a Christian, to shrink from the most distant
approaches of sin : to abstain from the very ap-
pearance of evil. If we would fly from the dead-
ly contagion of atheism, let us fly from those
seemingly remote but not very indirect^ paths
which lead to it Let France choose this day
whom she will serve ; but as for its and ou»
housee, we will serve the Lord.

And, O gracious and long-sufifbring God ! be-
fore that awful period arrives, which shall ex
hibit the dreadful effects of such an education
as the French natioa are instituting ; before a
race of men can be trained up, not only without
the knowledge of Thee, but in the contempt of
Thy most holy law, do Thou, in great mercy
change the heart of this people as the heart of
one man. Give them not finally over to their
own corrupt imaginations, to their own heart's
lusts. But after having made them a fftarfUl

* See the report of Mr. Pitt's speech in the House a
Commons, on February 12, 1793, puUisbed bv WoodM



•'igitized by



Googk



Tflfi WORKS OF HANNAH MORR 311

•xample to all the nations of the earth, what a | abased ; so that they may happily find, whi



Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 72 of 135)