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ground every day. There cannot be a more convincing proof of the general fury against religion, even in the early stages of the revolution, and the general intent of its final extirpation, than the horrid dilapidation and destruction by the mobs, of nearly all sacred edifices throughout France, when so many castles, the objects also of their vengeance, were left antouched. The prevailing opinion of many of the superior people and literati, is, as heretofore, atheism, or, as it is sometimes styled, naturalism. The works of Volney have contributed much to the dissemination of such principles among the people ; probably it would not be too much to assert, that they are prevalent with the very lowest class. In proof of this, a variety of instances, at different periods of the revolution, might be adduced. Since the revolution in France, protestantism is said to have decreased much ; and the religion which remains is chiefly the Roman Catholic, with an affected display of all the ancient ceremonies, which
they imagine to be politic in these times of total laxity in religious discipline.” No considerable attempts have been made to promote free inquiry with respect to religion, and to propagate the knowledge of pure christianity. The French public in general are said to be totally indifferent to the subject in all its branches; even books of infidelity have now no attraction, the public mind being absolutely satiated, or rather surfeited therewith. The chief attempts either in favour of religion, or in counteraction of the popular atheism of the country, were made by the remaining members of the old clergy, who were enabled to step forward on the unlimited toleration which was decreed; and by Thomas Paine, as the apostle, or head of the theophilanthropists.t. Great expectations were entertained at the first opening of the churches which had been shut so long. The churches, both in Paris, and in various parts of the country, were remarkably well filled at first; and such accounts were transmitted to England, as to afford great hopes of a considerable incipient change in the minds of the French ; and, if authorities may be relied on, to attract considerable sums to that country in support of the catholic religion : however, it soon appeared that the greater part of the congregation were actuated by no better motives than curiosity, or even ridicule; and the places of worship soon became deserted. Paine had very little better success than the Roman Catholic party. The sect of
* This acoount is confirmed by the testimony of a modern author, who observes that the reformed religion does not make any progress in France, but a fondness for the rites and ceremonies of the ancient system displays
See Moody's Sketch of Modern France, for 1796 and 1797.
t This sect hid formed various little societies in Paris,
theophilanthropists never extended beyond Paris; at least not in any degree to deserve mention ; and there it has ever been confined to a few unimportant, or, as they have been called, Quakerly individuals. -—In fine : one of the most striking features in the French character, from the commencement of the revolution to the present time, has been a total indifference to, or rather rooted contempt of religion of every sect and party; and this prejudice has been purely spontaneous: for, from the first, the zeal of the sans cullottes, against every thing generally held sacred, has even outstripped that of the philosophers, their leaders. No force can be alleged : for,
provided a man does not dip himself in political and counter-revolutionary intrigues, he may safely profess and practise any religion which he shall chuse, and may publish it, and recommend it to the people unmolested. Some religious books, in consequence, have been published; but they have met with even less attention than infidel publications are wont to do in that country. It has been observed that the elderly people in France have rather relaxed in their devotions, and that the difficulty is so great in educating in the belief and profession of the christian religion in a country almost universally infidel, that the attempt begins to be given up, and in every part is absolutely impracticable.” Since the above account was written, we are informed, that in Languedoc an earnest desire has been expressed to have protestant clergymen sent amongst them ; and that there are evidences that some such are labouring with great zeal in Alsace, in connexion with the society at Basil.t The following contains the most correct account which could be obtained of the present state of the Roman
* London Monthly Magazine, for 1799, vol. vii. pp. 129, 130, t Missionary Magazine, for November, 1800.
Catholic religion in France. The Roman Catholic is still the predominant religion in France; and the people have been unanimous in inviting their priests to return, and have received those who have returned with great affection: they appear now publicly and unmolested, even in their former dress. The French constitution of the clergy, after having been made the handle of a most cruel persecution, is now buried among the rubbish of the different constitutions, to which Buonaparte
put an end, by the late revolution. The clergy is comprehended in the state law, which allows all the emigrants to return who have not carried arms against France, on condition they will make a promise of fidelity to the present constitution before the prefect of the department, remaining, however, under the particular inspection of government during the war, and a whole year after ; therefore they are no more subject to the pain of death.*
Tim F dominant sect of christians in these provinces, are those who are called the reformed church. They are severe Calvinists, who maintain the doctrine of the synod of Dort.t-Roman Catholics, among whom are the Jansenists. They are, in proportion to the inhabitants of the proVinces, as two to three.—The Remonstrants, or Arminians, who only have churches in Holland, Utrecht, and Friesland. The greatest part of
them are inhabitants of Holland, principally Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Geuda.-Lutherans are a very great and increasing number.—Collegiants, formed by the persecution of the remonstrant-ministers in 1619. They have no peculiar minister; but every one learns and preaches what he thinks useful: at present they are only in Holland.— Quakers are a small number. —Herrenhutters ; and at Amsterdam, Persians, and mem
* The compiler of the View of Religions was favoured with this informa
tion, April, 1801, by Dr. Matignon, who now officiates at the Roman Ca
tholic church in Boston.
# The synod of Dort, held in 1618, made the strictest motion of predestination an essential article in the Dutch church. None but Calvinists hold any employment of trust or profit. This synod was succeeded by a very
severe persecution of the Arminians.
Reformation in the Low Countries. - *
See Geraud Brandt's History of the
bers of the Grecian church; to which add many thousand jews:-There is at present, notwithstanding the rigid placards against the Roman Catholics and Socinians, a prevailing spirit of candour and catholicism among the different denominations. The ministers of the gospel belonging to the dominant church are maintained by the civil magistrate; those of the dissenters by their own churches, who have acquired funds for various purposes, by gifts, testaments, legacies, and donations of private men. Deism, in the worst sense of the word, is not common in this country. Few men who love to be called philosophers: some profligates and boys constitute this class.” Such is the liberal toleration allowed by the government of Holland, that scarcely a religious community is to be named which has not some place of public worship in Amsterdam. The Portuguese synagogue is perhaps the noblest temple, in which the jewish worship has been celebrated since the dispersion of that people. It is a lofty, spacious building, fitted for the purposes of religion, according to the ordinances of the
and the talmud. The jews of Germany and Holland, whose creed varies from that of their Portuguese brethren, have also a noble synagogue ; and in different quarters of the city there are other temples where the rites of the hebrew worship are celebrated. The number of jews in Amsterdam is supposed to amount to eighty thousand. The late revolution in government has not produced any changes in the ecclesiastical policy of the United Provinces. The ministers of the established church, that of the reformer of Geneva, though
they are almost without ex
ception, attached to the old government, and consequently hostile to the new, continue to receive their regular salaries from the state, and perform unmolested the duties of their sacred functions. The churches, and other places dedicated to pious uses, are all attended on days of public worship. The sabbaths are kept in Amsterdam with becoming solemnity; and there is a general attention paid to religious subjects in most parts of Holland. See Fell's Tour to the Batavian Republic, published 1801. There were in the seven provinces, previously to the Frcinch invasion, one thousand five hundred and seventynine pastors of the established church, ninety of the Walloon church, eight hundred Roman Catholics, fifty-three Lutheran, forty-three Arminian, and three hundred and twelve Baptist preachers.” The Dutch opened a church in the city of Batavia in 1621, and from hence ministers and assistants were educated for the purpose of missions, and sent into the east, where thousands embraced the christian religion at Formosa, Java, &c. There are churches at Ceylon, Sumatra, and Amboyna. In Batavia there are four Calvinistic churches, and several places of worship for different religions. Of late, since their sufferings from the French invasion, we are informed that many have united at Rotterdam and Friesland, for the purpose of extending the
* Extract of a letter from a gentleman of character in Holland to his friend in America, written before the invasion of Holland by France.
gospel among the heathen..t A new sect of jews is established at Amsterdam, whose followers are daily increasing. It differs from others, by rejecting all those rites which have been introduced since the Mosaic law into the jewish religion. The founder and prosessor of this sect is a jew of considerable talents, and of an enlightened mind. Towards the close of the last year the difference of religious opinions caused a schism in the synagogues of Amsterdam. As the new jewish sect abolished all the usages with which the rabbins loaded the law of Moses, the heads of the synagogues applied to the Batavian magistrates for assistance, hoping by their interposition to bring back the separatists into the old society. But no attention was paid to their application, because it militated against the principles of toleration ; and a complete schism ensued. More than a hundred families joined the reformers, and have now a separate synagogue.:
–-to-osAUSTRIAN AND FRENCH NETHERLANDS.
The established religion here is the Roman Catholic ; but protestants, and other de
nominations, are not molested. There are two archbishops and nine bishops in this place.;
* Zimmermann, p. 186.
# Monthly Magazine for August, 1800.
f Missionary Magazine.