« ZurückWeiter »
the eighteenth century, amply refuted the assertions of those who represented the clergy of France as a rational and enlightened body of men. This might be true of numbers; but fill the revolution had empowered men to think, an incomparable majority of both clergy and laity were plunged in the deepest ignorance and credulity. Some have thought there was more of hypocrisy than persuasion among §: former : but their late sufferings have proved their fincerity. The conforming clergy seem, however, to gain ground. Their tenets appear more reasonable to the reflecting, and several of them are also decided republicans. Christianity has been by some of them described as the great charter of the original rights of man, and the union of church and state as antiChristian, and inimical to liberty. While such principles are avowed by ecclesiastics, and countenanced by government, it can hardly be doubted but they will finally preponderate: the sooner indeed, that all ideas of persecution are dropped, and the fanatical party left to indulge in all its extravagancies, without the least notice on the part of the state, which tracts them with a filent contempt, that more effectually exposes them to ridicule, than could be done by the measures of restraint. This revolutionary spirit, in religious matters, was not, in the mean time, confined to France. It had long been making a concealed progress in Italy and Germany, and the French revolution gave it fresh vigour. In the Austrian Netherlands, the influence of the Romith clergy, and the submissive disposition of the natives, in the concerns of re- - - - - - - ligion,
H IS TO R Y O F E U R O PE. [187
ligion, preserved it from alterations. But, in the united provinces, the freedom allowed to all persuafions had so completely, paved the way for innovations of this kind, that, on the irruption of the French, and the revolution effected in the Dutch government, the religion of the state was immediately abolished, and all sects declared upon a footing of equality. The stipends of their respective ministers were to be paid by their followers, and no other interference exercised by the ruling power, than to maintain liberty of worship to all who paid obedience to the laws of the country. A system so new to the ideas of all the nations in Europe, so re
In France, a General wish for Peace.—But the Popularity of the IP'ar trith
England/hill continued.—Overture of Peace from England to the French Republic.—Negociation for Peace at Paris.
Affairs, Maritime and Colonial, French and British.-Infidelity of the French Government to their Engagements to the Dutch.—French Preparations and Expedition for an Invasion of Ireland.—Defeated.—The Death of Catharine 11–And of the Rosignation of General Isashington.