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him quiet on the surface, but the hurricaneand the tempest have raised him from the ground."
The feeble impression made on the venders of sedition and blasphemy by the Society for the Suppression of Vice, gave rise to a new confederacy, which, under the imposing name of the '* Constitutional Association," promised to take under its especial protection, both the altar and the throne. Skilfully availing themselves of the general panic, the alarmists announced to a credulous and deluded public, that a sanguinary revolution was fast approaching, and that on the ruins of the boasted constitution of Britain, a new government would be reared, founded in crime, infidelity, and blood. The olumns of the New Times and the Quarterly Review were enlisted in their service: the tocsin was sounded throughout the country; the fears of the fundholder were awakened for his worldly wealth; and the religious devotee trembled for her future salvation. The meetings at Manchester and Spa Fields, and the conspiracy in Catostreet, were highly favourable to the success of the speculation.
Nothing less was predicted by the political prophets of Bridge-street, than the destruction'
.of property, the pollution of religion, and the murder of the King and Cabinet. But the patriotism of the associators was not satisfied with merely announcing the near approach of this dreadful calamity; their disinterested philanthropy induced them to do still more, and they endeavoured to quiet the fears they had excited, by promises of deliverance. ** Open your purses," cried Mr. Murray, to the trembling supporters of church and state. "Give us a check on your banker," exclaimed the honorary secretary. This appeal to the friends of social order was not made in vain: voluntary donations from the pious and loyal soon supplied them with funds. Their list of subscribers, included dignitaries of the church, the favourites of the court, expectant placemen and government contractors.
Provided with ample funds, the association determined to signalize their prowess, and prove themselves worthy of the patronage they had received. In the beginning of their career, they promised to employ the mild and winning influence of persuasion to bring back the erring and deluded to the paths of orthodoxy; and as they announced their intention of engaging the literary services of the ablest writers, it was expected that reason and argument would have been the only weapons
<made use of to refute and expose the sophistries of infidelity. This plan of operation however, was never put into practice. These champions of royalty and episcopacy followed the old beaten track of the Vice Society, and invoked the aid of the civil magistrate to arrest the progress of irreligion. By thus abandoning their Original determination, they afforded, at the outset of their labours, a triumph to their opponents, who very plausibly contended that this alteration in the mode of attack; amounted to a tacit admission, by the gentry in Bridge-street, that the sceptics had formed a correct estimate of the weakness of Christianity. "For," said the free-thinkers, "if this new confederacy, after a long and attentive consideration of the subject, had been convinced that the religion of Jesus was founded upon a rock, and that the gates of hell could hot prevail against it, they would have adhered to their original declaration, and instead of stifling inquiry, have courted the keenest investigation, and- endeavoured to propagate the truth by argument, and argument only. What reason then' can be assigned for this change of system? To what cause are we to attribute this sudden variar tion in the tactics of an association, who pledged themselves to-their subscribers. to write down the supporters of heterodoxy?"
That they were aware of the impolicy of persecution was evident, and therefore it was boldly stated that they declined the contest from fear. Unfortunately for the established church, it suffered" more: from the support of its friends, than the attacks of its enemies. The association had. raised great expectations: the promised productions were looked for with eagerness: their funds were sufficient to remunerate talent exerted in their cause, and as they were openly encouraged and praised by the hierarchy and the court, the virtuous, moral, and religious public hoped that the time was fast approaching, when the specious sophistries of French philosophy would be unravelled, and the purity and truths. of the gospel made plain to the commonest understanding. But when the bubble burst, and fines and imprisonment were employed to protect the Revelation of ..God; when the cause, of truth was advocated by the bayonet and the dungeon, the public began to' suspect that Mr. Murray, and his associates, had undertaken a task beyond their abilities, and many worthy individuals who from conscientious, but mistaken motives, had subscribed, now perceived that they had been duped out of their money.
- But this was the least evil that occurred
The followers of deistical opinions became confirmed in their disbelief, and many who had never doubted of the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures, imbibed the sentiments of Paine. Nor did the mischief stop here, the people not only became immoral and irreligious, but turbulent and refractory; Pompous advertisements appeared in the newspapers, (containing a list of most of the dignified clergy, and most of the nobility with munificent donations) and it was readily believed that the association was a tool in the hands of ministers. With this impression on their minds, it is not to be wondered at, if the people relaxed in their veneration for the church, and wavered in their allegiance to the throne. We are not among those, who consider the public infallible in their judgments, nor are we desirous of being regarded as the apologists of insubordination; but we do maintain, that, when large funds were levied by the adherents of an administration, which had passed the Six Acts, and placed in the hands of a set of men of ruined character, for the express purpose of putting down discussion, the people were justified in suspecting the government of a systematic attempt to overturn' the liberty of the press. Let it be observed, that these angry political feelings were never excited against