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POPERY IN FRANCE."
• When we attribute to the influence of popery a large proportion of the moral and political disorders under which this distracted country still labours, every one acquainted with the workings of that mystery of iniquity, wherever it is either embodied into the institutions of the state, or exercises a dominant authority over the prejudices and passions of a considerable number of the people, will at once recognize the statement as only asserting what might naturally have been expected. It is true that (Roman) catholicism is not, it feels, with bitter mortification, that it is not, what it once was; and what, within a very recent period, it fully expected, ere long, to be again, in France; it is true that, stripped of its wealth, and reduced to a very modest competency, it no longer walks abroad in the gorgeous pomp, nor revels in the luxurious indolence of days that are past; it is true, that the only recognized ascendancy it now enjoys is that of being the religion of the majority of Frenchmen, though it would, doubtless, be more correct to say that the majority of Frenchmen have no religion at all; and that, by the larger proportion of the educated community, it is treated rather with the contempt due to a detected imposture, than with
From “ First Impressions ; a Narrative of a residence in France : By the Rev. J. Davies."
the prostrate submission once awarded to its decrees; but in spite of all this, Popery, as an instrument of powerful, though for the most part silent and indirect influence, is still in active and vigorous operation over the length and breadth of this benighted land. After the horrible massacres and disgusting impieties of the revolutionary era, which, though avowedly directed against itself, were the natural growth of its corrupt deposits, it arose under the fostering wing of Napoleon, to whom all creeds and forms of religion were alike, with a strong re-action in its favour. The great mass of the common people looked back with horror and shame upon the scenes of barbarity, blasphemy, and persecution, which had been enacted during a protracted season of national delirium. Many of them had sympathized with their pillaged, proscribed, and exiled pastors : and they now hailed their restoration, and received their religious ministrations; which, in fact, were the only ministrations that were offered to their acceptance, with increased veneration and delight. Protestantism, on the contrary, which at this season lost a golden opportunity of extending its salutary conquests, had sunk into a cold and lifeless form ; occupying a kind of midway position between the absolute negations of Deism, and a cognate system which deprives christianity of all that gives it a character of energy and importance. Apostate Protestantism, thus neglecting the high and honourable mission of attempting to evangelize a long abandoned population, and contenting itself with being merely recognized and salaried by the state, Popery had the whole land again before it, and although it could not achieve thc conquest of the
scepticism and hardened infidelity of those who would not be subjugated to the yoke of any religion, it very soon assumed a complete ascendancy over the mass of the rural population, and over the great majority of the females of all the gradations of society.
The priesthood, having thus gained the ear of those numerous and, in some respects, influential classes of the community, have not been backward to avail themselves of the various advantages it has afforded them. Without adverting, for the moment, to that mixture of good which unquestionably attends their labours, they never fail to turn their ascendancy to the account of more firmly rivetting the chains of superstition-of closing every avenue against the access of pure and unadulterated truth, and of fomenting a spirit of the most bigotted and rancorous hostility, against a dynasty and a system of government, which they consider to be at variance with the paramount interests of their own ecclesiastical dominion. It is altogether a mistake to suppose that Popery, because it is stripped of its ancient insignia of secular authority, and has been forced to retire from the throne, the camp, the legislative chamber, and the institute of science, is extinct or powerless in France. Though it has been chased, amid the horrors of intestine conflict, by a still more reckless, heartless, and sanguinary rival, from the high places of wealth, and dignity, and command, yet, like Marius, amidst the marshes of Minturnæ, it still keeps its head above water, and from those thick fastnesses of ignorance and superstition, over which it holds sway, only awaits the opportunity of putting forth a vigorous effort for the re-establishment of its
pristine supremacy. It is true that it exhibits every symptom of having reached its grand climactericthat it has arrived at the era of its decrepitude, and that it will not be very long before it will fall prostrate, like Dagon, before the ark of the covenant ; not, indeed, by the hand of human violence, but by a more efficacious and resistless energy, issuing from the throne of the Eternal. In the meantime, it is working incalculable mischief through the whole length, but more especially at both extremes of the social scale. It cherishes all the pride, and bigotry, and morbid disaffection of the noble-it blinds the understanding, in the same proportion as it ferments the passions of the peasant; while it affords a plausible excuse to the scoffer and the infidel, to reject the claims of the gospel, in that grotesque and fantastic play of mimic phantasmagoria, by which it intercepts, from the eyes of the people, the beams of eternal truth.'
Introduction, page 15.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN
MADAM, I am most unwilling to tread the dangerous path of controversy, but trust I shall not be entering this fearful track, if I venture to submit a few remarks, in reply to a communication which appeared in your Magazine for May, on the subject of female attire. Were I silent on this occasion, it might seem as though I had intended to convey a condeinnation, which your correspondent conceives to have been implied by me: “that Ladies wearing earrings were not christians. Indeed I had not the most distant idea of pronouncing such an uncharitable accusation, though I should very much rejoice if no christian wore these appendages. Is not Eta rather paradoxical in her observations: a vain and ridiculous christian seem to me contradictory terms. I think, too, she will find it difficult to prove the assertion : that “good women, in past ages, did wear earrings,' although she conceives several passages of scripture establish the fact. I am unacquainted with the parts to which she refers, and the one given is incorrectly quoted. In Gen. xxiv. the word earring occurs in the singular number only, and the marginal translation is, an ornament for the forehead -quite a distinct thing from the earrings which the