War of Anti-Christ with the Church - Rev. G. E. Dillon


The career of this abandoned, unhappy, but most extraordinary man is the subject of this chapter. It was in his day and by his means that Atheism became perfected, generalized, and organized for the destruction of Christianity, Christian civilization, and all religion. He was the first, and remains still, the greatest of its Apostles. There is not one of its dark principles which he did not teach and advocate; and from his writings, and by their means, the intellectual and every other form of war against the Catholic Church and the cause of Christ are carried on to this day and will be to the end.

His real name was Francis Mary Arouet, but, for some reason which has never been clearly explained, he chose to call himself Voltaire. He was the son of good parents, and by position and education should have been an excellent Catholic. He was trained by the very Jesuits whom he afterwards so hated and persecuted. He was destined for the profession of the law and made good progress in literary studies. But the corruption of the age in which he lived soon seized upon him, overmastered him, and bore him along in a current which in his case did not end in vice only, but in vice which sought its own justification in Infidelity.

From the beginning, the fool said in his heart "there is no God," and in the days of Voltaire the number of these fools was indeed infinite. Never before was vice so rampant in countries calling themselves Christian. If the Gospel was preached at all in that age it was certainly to the poor; for the rich, as a rule—to which there were, thank God, many exceptions—seemed so sunk in vice as not to believe in a particle of it. The Courts of Europe were, in general, corrupt to the core; and the Court of the Most Christian King was perhaps the most abandoned, in a wide sense, of them all. The Court of Catherine of Russia a scene of unblushing lewdness. The Court of Frederick of Prussia was so corrupt that it cannot be described without doing violence to decency, and even to humanity. The Regent Orleans and Louis XV had carried license to such an extent as to render the Court of Versailles a veritable pandemonium. The vices of royalty infected the nobles and all others who were so unfortunate as to be permitted to frequent Courts. Vice, in fact, was the fashion, and numbers of all classes, not excepting the poorest, wallowed in it. As a consequence, the libertines of the period hated the Church, which alone, amidst the universal depravity, raised her voice for purity. They took up warmly, therefore, the movements which, within or without her pale, were likely to do her damage. With a sure instinct they sided in France with Gallicanism and Jansenism; and they welcomed the new Infidelity which came over from England and Germany, with unconcealed gladness.

Voltaire appeared in French society at this most opportune moment for the advancement of their views. Witty, sarcastic, gay, vivacious, he soon made his way amongst the voluptuaries who then filled Paris. His conduct and habit of ridiculing religion and royalty brought him, however, into disfavor with the Government, and at the age of twenty-seven we find him in the Bastille. Liberated from this prison in 1727, but only on condition of exile, he crossed over to England, where he finally adopted those Infidel and anti-Christian principles which made him, for the half century through which he afterwards lived, what Cretineau-Joly very justly calls "the most perfect incarnation of Satan that the world ever saw."

The Society of Freemasons was just then perfected in London, and Voltaire at the instance of his Infidel associates joined one of its lodges; and he left England, where he had been during the years 1726-27 and '28, an adept in both Infidelity and Freemasonry. He returned to the Continent with bitterness rankling in his breast against Monarchical Government which had imprisoned and exiled him, against the Bastille where he was immured, and, above all, against the Catholic Church and her Divine Founder. Christ and His Church condemned his excesses and to the overthrow of both he devoted himself with an ardor and a malignity more characteristic, certainly, of a demon than of a man.

A master of French prose hardly ever equaled and never perhaps excelled, and a graceful and correct versifier, his writings against morality and religion grew into immense favor with the corrupt reading-public of his day. He was a perfect adept in the use of ridicule, and he employed it with remorseless and blasphemous force against everything pure and sacred. He had as little respect for the honor or welfare of his country as he had for the sanctity of religion. His ruffian pen attacked the fair fame of the Maid of Orleans with as little scruple as it cast shame upon the consecrated servants of Christ. For Christ he had but one feeling—eternal, contemptuous hatred. His watchword, the concluding lines of all his letters to his infidel confederates, was for fifty years ecrasons nous l'infame, "let us crush the wretch", meaning Christ and his cause. This he boasted was his delenda est Carthago. And he believed he could succeed. "I am tired," said he, "of hearing it said that twelve men sufficed to establish Christianity, and I desire to show that it requires but one man to pull it down." A lieutenant of police once said to him that, notwithstanding all he wrote, he should never be able to destroy Christianity. "That is exactly what we shall see," he replied. Voltaire was never weary of using his horrible watch-word.

Upon the news of the suppression of the Jesuits reaching him, he exclaimed: "See, one head of the hydra has fallen. I lift my eyes to heaven and cry 'crush the wretch'." We have from himself his reason for using these blasphemous words. He says, "I finish all my letters by saying 'Ecrasons l'infame, ecrasez l'infame.' 'Let us crush the wretch, crush the wretch,' as Cato used one time to say, Delenda est Carthago, Carthage must be destroyed." Even at a time when the miscreant protested the greatest respect for religion to the Court of Rome, he wrote to Damilaville: "We embrace the philosophers, and we beseech them to inspire for the wretch all the horror which they can. Let us fall upon the wretch ably. That which most concerns me is the propagation of the faith of truth, and the making of the wretch vile, Delenda est Carthago."

Certainly his determination was strong to do so; and he left no stone unturned for that end. He was a man of amazing industry; and though his vanity caused him to quarrel with many of his confreres, he had in his lifetime a large school of disciples, which became still more numerous after his death. He sketched out for them the whole mode of procedure against the Church. His policy as revealed by the correspondence of Frederick II, and others with him, was not to commence an immediate persecution, but first to suppress the Jesuits and all Religious orders, and to secularize their goods; then to deprive the Pope of temporal authority, and the Church of property and state recognition. Primary and higher-class education of a lay and Infidel character was to be established, the principle of divorce affirmed, and respect for ecclesiastics lessened and destroyed. Lastly, when the whole body of the Church should be sufficiently weakened and Infidelity strong enough, the final blow was to be dealt by the sword of open, relentless persecution. A reign of terror was to spread over the whole earth, and to continue while a Christian should be found obstinate enough to adhere to Christianity. This, of course, was to be followed by a Universal Brotherhood without marriage, family, property, God, or law, in which all men would reach that level of social degradation aimed at by the disciples of Saint Simon, and carried into practice whenever possible, as attempted by the French Commune.

[Footnote: To show how early the confederates of Voltaire had determined upon the gradual impoverishment of the Church and the suppression of the Religious orders, the following letters from Frederick II, will be of use. In the first dated 13th August, 1775, the Monarch writes to the then very aged "Patriarch of Ferney," who had demanded the secularization of the Rhine ecclesiastical electorates and other episcopal benefices in Germany, as follows:—

"All you say concerning our German bishops is but too true; they grow fat upon the tithes of Sion. But you know, also, that in the Holy Roman Empire the ancient usage, the Bull of Gold, and other antique follies, cause abuses established to be respected. If we wish to diminish fanaticism we must not touch the bishops. But, if we manage to diminish the monks, especially the mendicant orders, the people will grow cold and less superstitious, they will permit the powers that be, to dispose of the bishops in the manner best suited to the good of each State. This is the only course to follow. To undermine silently and without noise the edifice of infatuation is to oblige it to fall of itself. The Pope, seeing the situation in which he finds himself, is obliged to give briefs and bulls as his dear sons demand of him. The power founded upon the ideal credit of the faith loses in proportion as the latter diminishes. If there were now found at the head of nations some ministers above vulgar prejudices, the Holy Father would become bankrupt. Without doubt posterity will enjoy the advantage of being able to think freely." ]

In the carrying out of his infernal designs against religion and society, Voltaire had as little scruple in using lying and hypocrisy as Satan himself is accredited with. In his attacks upon religion he falsified history and fact. He made a principle of lying, and taught the same vice to his followers. Writing to his disciple Theriot, he says (Oeuvres, vol. 52, p. 326):—"Lying is a vice when it does evil. It is a great virtue when it does good. Be therefore more virtuous than ever. It is necessary to lie like a devil, not timidly and for a time, but boldly and always."

He was also, as the school he left behind has been ever since, a hypocrite. Infidel to the heart's core, he could, whenever it suited his purpose, both practice, and even feign a zeal for religion. On the expectation of a pension from the King, he wrote to M. Argental, a disciple of his, who reproached him with his hypocrisy and contradictions in conduct. "If I had a hundred thousand men I know well what I would do; but as I have not got them I will go to communion at Easter and you may call me a hypocrite as long as you like." And Voltaire, on getting his pension, went to communion the year following.

[Footnote: In 1768 Voltaire wrote as follows to the Marquis de Villevielle:— "No, my dear Marquis, no, the modern Socrates will not drink the hemlock. The Socrates of Athens was, between you and me, a pitiless caviler, who made himself a thousand enemies and who braved his judges very foolishly. Our modern philosophers are more adroit. They have not the foolish and dangerous vanity to put their names to their works. Theirs are the invisible hands which pierce fanaticism from one end of Europe to the other with the arrows of truth. Damilaville recently died. He was the author of 'Christianism unveiled,' and many other writings. No one ever knew him." ]

It is needless to say that he was in life, as well as in his writings, immoral as it was possible for a man to be. He lived without shame and even ostentatiously in open adultery. He laughed at every moral restraint. He preached libertinage and practiced it. He was the guest and the inmate of the Court of Frederick of Prussia, where crime reached proportions impossible to speak of. And lastly, coward, liar, hypocrite, and panderer to the basest passions of humanity, he was finally, like Satan, a murderer if he had the power to be so. Writing to Damilaville, he says,— "The Christian religion is an infamous religion, an abominable hydra which must be destroyed by a hundred invisible hands. It is necessary that the philosophers should course through the streets to destroy it as missionaries course over earth and sea to propagate it. They ought to dare all things, risk all things, even to be burned, in order to destroy it. Let us crush the wretch! Crush the wretch!"

His doctrine thus expressed found fatal effect in the French Revolution, and it will obtain effect whenever his disciples are strong enough in men and means to act. I have no doubt his teachings have led to all the revolutions of this century, and will lead to the final attack of Atheism on the Church. Nor was his hatred confined to Catholicism only. Christians of every denomination were marked out for destruction by him; and our separated Christian brethren, who feel glad at seeing his followers triumph over the Church, might well ponder on these words of his: "Christians," he says, "of every form of profession, are beings exceedingly injurious, fanatics, thieves, dupes, imposters, who lie together with their gospels, enemies of the human race." And of the system itself he writes: "The Christian religion is evidently false, the Christian religion is a sect which every good man ought to hold in horror. It cannot be approved of even by those to whom it gives power and honor."

In fact, since his day, it has been a cardinal point of policy with his followers to take advantage of the unfortunate differences between the various sects of Christians in the world and the Church, in order to ruin both; for the destruction of every form of Christianity, as well as Catholicism, was the aim of Voltaire, and remains as certainly the aim of his disciples. They place, of course, the Church and the Vicar of Christ in the first line of attack, well knowing that if the great Catholic unity could be destroyed, the work of eradicating every kind of separated Christianity would be easy. In dealing, therefore, with such a foe as modern Atheism, so powerfully organized, as we shall see it to be, Protestants as well as Catholics should guard against its wiles and deceits. They should, at least, regarding questions such as the religious education of rising generations, the attempted secularization of the Sabbath and state-established Christian Institutions, and the recognition of religion by the State, all of which the Atheism of the world now attempts to destroy, present an unbroken front of determined union. Nothing less, certainly, can save even the Protestantism, the national, Christian character of Great Britain and her colonies from impending ruin.

Although Voltaire was as confirmed and malignant a hater of Christ and of Christianity as ever lived, still he showed from time to time that his own professed principles of Infidelity were never really believed in by himself. In health and strength he cried out his blasphemous "crush the wretch!" but when the moment came for his soul to appear before the judgment-seat of "the wretch," his faith was shown and his vaunted courage failed him.

The miscreant always acted against his better knowledge. His life gives us many examples of this fact. I will relate one for you. When he broke a blood vessel on one occasion, he begged his assistants to hurry for the priest. He confessed, signed with his hand a profession of faith, asked pardon of God and the Church for his offences, and ordered that his retraction should be printed in the public newspapers; but, recovering, he commenced his war upon God anew, and died refusing all spiritual aid, and crying out in the fury of despair and agony, "I am abandoned by God and man." Dr. Fruchen, who witnessed the awful spectacle of his death, said to his friends, "Would that all who had been seduced by the writings of Voltaire had been witness of his death, it would be impossible to hold out, in the face of such an awful spectacle." But that spectacle was forgotten, and consequently, before ten years passed, the world saw the effects of his works.

Speaking of the French Revolution, Condorcet, in his Life of Voltaire, says of him, "He did not see all that which he accomplished, but he did all that which we see. Enlightened observations prove to those who know how to reflect that the first author of that Great Revolution was without doubt Voltaire."

It never was the intention of this man to let his teachings die, or beat the air, so to speak, with mere words. He determined that his fatal gospel should be perpetuated, and should bring forth as speedy as possible its fruits of death. Even in his lifetime, we have evidence that he constantly conspired with his associates for this end, and that with them he concocted in secret both the means by which his doctrines should reach all classes in Europe, and the methods by which civil order and Christianity might be best destroyed.

St. Beuve writes of him and of his, in the Journal des Debats, 8 November, 1852:—"All the correspondence of Voltaire and D'Alembert is ugly. It smells of the sect, of the conspiracy of the Brotherhood, of the secret society. From whatever point it is viewed it does no honor to men who make a principle of lying, and who consider contempt of their kind the first condition necessary to enlighten them. 'Enlighten and despise the human race.' A sure watchword this, and it is theirs. 'March on always sneering, my brethren, in the way of truth.' That is their perpetual refrain."

But not only did he and his thus conspire in a manner which might seem to arise naturally from identical sentiments and aims, but what was of infinitely greater consequence, the demon, just as their sad gospel was ripe for propagation, called into existence the most efficacious means possible for its extension amongst men, and for the wished-for destruction of the Church, of Christian civilization, and of every form of existing Christianity. This was the spread amongst those already demoralized by Voltaireanism, of Freemasonry and its cognate systems of secret Atheistic organization.