The glorious Prospect of better Times, which are fast approaching.
From The Critic Philosopher.
Luke i. ver. 51.
THE Gothic pride of absurd prejudices, cemented by the ignorance and weakness of our fore∣fathers, must fall to the ground; and on its ruin must be raised the immortal temple of reason, of liberty, of justice! At the sight of this glorious fabric, des∣potism will shudder, tyranny shall be struck dumb; irritated pride must murmur; unmasked avidity shall be confounded; and philosophy, smiling at her great work, will secretly applaud herself for the trophy thus erected to her honour. The RIGHTS OF MAN, engraved by nature upon his heart, in indelible cha∣racters, restored to their original perfection: that primitive equality on which all were formed, must Page 65take place of artificial inequality effected by self-created nobility, be placed on a proper footing, and change its nature, objects, and pretensions; the cler∣gy must be reformed and brought back to that sim∣ple, evangelical modesty, that most beautiful orna∣ment, which a proud and worldy spirit has long dis∣figured.
The rich must be convinced, that while they live sumptuously, and while the POOR are fed with a few of the scanty crumbs which fall from their table, they act quite contrary to the tenor of that gospel, which they say they believe. It is not in nature or reason, that one man should destroy twenty thousand a year, and another sh•uld be left without the common ne∣cessaries of life: —No, every creature which nature hath formed with a mouth and digestive powers, has an equal right to participate of her blessings.
To conclude, we trust that the glorious fabric of freedom, reared up, as it were, by the hand of Oni∣potence, will soon appear. A fabric that will stand fir• and un•haken, as being fenced round with bar∣riers, which will mock the dark designs of treachery, and bid defiance to the impotent efforts of despo∣tism and corruption.
Mr. Burke's tyrannical system of politics, and confined ideas of liberty, published in his late pamph∣let, must fall to the ground; and every scheme, or plan, made use of to oppress the human race, must be destroyed. Wealth and property must be wrested from the hands of rapacity and indolence, and di∣vided amongst mankind at large, in proportion as they merit it. Then will those of useful invigorated industry shine as useful members of the community. 'Tis true, nations like individuals seem subject to in∣fatuation, and while they are under its influence, they submit to treatment which would shock them, if they were in their proper senses. Men can assign no other reason for bearing oppression, than that they bore it before.—The world is grown old in error, I grant, but it should not on that account preclude re∣form. Page 66Notwithstanding its great age, society is hardly yet got beyond its first elements! Legisla∣tors have hitherto only drawn lines or boundaries to confine mankind, instead of tracing plans to make them happy. In all their general institutions, they seem to have been ignorant that man is a being formed for love and friendship: they have rather considered him as in a state of perpetual warfare with his fellow-creatures. Hence it is, that the systems of all governments, and the spirit of their laws, have been directed rather to separate than to unite the different members of society; by granting peculiar privileges to some; by restraining others; by render∣ing the meltitude passive, and giving activity and power only to a few; by occasioning superabundance in palaces, and famine in the peasant's cot; by coun∣teracting, in short, the designs of God and nature, in the impartial diffusion of their blessings.
Laws, founded upon such unnatural principles, have kept the whole machine of society in a state of perpetual discord and distraction. They have hinder∣ed the rich from becoming humane, by giving a sanction to their insolent luxuries. They have rob∣bed the poor of every right, even of permission to utter their complaints: they have chained down ge∣nius; clipped the wings of thought; and chilled, with freezing pressure the warm sallies of sensibility: —By treating man as a ferocious animal, those laws have made him so in reality. They made him jea∣lous of his fellow-creatures: they erected a wall of prejudice and division between one people and ano∣ther: their voice, like that of demons; crying out to the inhabitants of every country, be guarded against strangers and foreigners, and look upon them as your natural enemies.—By these means, a sort of constant hostility has been kept up in the universe, man being at war with man, nation with nation, and empire with empire!
We have a book, which we call our guide to eter∣nal happiness; it teacheth us, that all the human Page 67race descended from one man, and that we are all brethren; yet we are, by our own laws, daily en∣acting a specific distinction, and giving one part of us a statute authority to commit rapine and plunder the other. We believe that a divine prophet came down, exerted himself, and died for the redemption of all nations from misery and punishment; and while we sacrifice to him for this unparalelled love, we overwhelm one another with the very evils, which he, by his examples and sufferings, taught us to avoid.