from Chapter IV, section 1, "Morse Precipitates the Controversy":
On the day appointed, the 9th of May, among the multitude of pastors who appeared before their assembled flocks and addressed them on topics of national and personal self-examination, was the Reverend Jedediah Morse. The deliverance which he made to his people was destined to have far more than a passing interest and effect. He took for his text fragments of the language that King Hezekiah addressed to the prophet Isaiah, as found in II Kings 19:3, 4: "This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke (or reviling), and blasphemy. . . . Wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left." Then the well-known minister of Charlestown proceeded to suggest a parallel between the desperate state of affairs within the little kingdom of Judah when the Assyrians, fresh from their triumph over the armies of Egypt, renewed their insolent and terrifying campaign against the city of Jerusalem, and the unhappy and perilous condition of affairs within the United States.
From this general observation Morse proceeded to take specific account of the circumstances that made the period through which the nation was passing "a day of trouble, of reviling and blasphemy." The main source from which the day of trouble had arisen, as the President's fast day proclamation had indicated, was the very serious aspect of our relations with France, owing to the unfriendly disposition and conduct of that nation. Here, and not elsewhere, was to be found the occasion of the unhappy divisions that existed among the citizens of the United States, disturbing their peace, and threatening the overthrow of the government itself. The settled policy of the French government, that of attempting the subjugation of other countries by injecting discord and division among their citizens before having recourse to arms, had been faithfully adhered to with respect to America.
Emboldened by its knowledge of the power which the French party in America has acquired, Morse continued, the government of France has shown itself disposed to adopt an increasingly insolent tone toward the government of this nation. The insurrections which the government of France has fomented here, its efforts to plunge the United States into a ruinous war, its spoliation of our commerce upon the high seas, its insufferable treatment of our ministers and commissioners as shown in the lately published state papers--these all tend to show how resolute and confident in its determination to triumph over us the French government has become.
If, said Morse, a contributory cause for the present "hazardous and afflictive position" of the country is sought, it will readily be found in "the astonishing increase of irreligion." The evidence of this, in turn, is to be found, not only in the prevailing atheism and materialism of the day, and all the vicious fruits which such impious sentiments have borne, but as well in the slanders with which newspapers are filled and the personal invective and abuse with which private discussion is laden, all directed against the representatives of government, against men, many of whom have grown gray in their country's service and whose integrity has been proved incorruptible. It is likewise to be discovered in the reviling and abuse which, coming from the same quarter, has been directed against the clergy, who, according to their influence and ability, have done what they could to support and vindicate the government. Nothing that the clergy has done has been of such a character as to provoke this treatment. And how "can they be your friends who are continually declaiming against the Clergy, and endeavouring by all means--by falsehood and misrepresentation, to asperse their characters, and to bring them and their profession into disrepute?"
When the question is raised respecting the design and tendency of these things, their inherent and appalling impiety is immediately disclosed. They give "reason to suspect that there is some secret plan in operation, hostile to true liberty and religion, which requires to be aided by these vile slanders." They cannot be regarded as mere excrescences of the life of the times; they are not detached happenings; they go straight down to the roots of things; they are deadly attacks upon the civil and religious institutions whose foundations were laid by our venerable forefathers. They mean that all those principles and habits which were formed under those institutions are to be brought into contempt and eventually swept aside, in order to give a clear field "for the spread of those disorganizing opinions, and that atheistical philosophy, which are deluging the Old World in misery and blood."
That this preparatory work has begun, that progress in the direction of its fatal completion has been made, that what is now going on in America is part of the same deep-laid and extensive plan which has been in operation in Europe for many years--these, Morse continued, are reasonable and just fears in the light of the disclosures made "in a work written by a gentleman of literary eminence in Scotland, within the last year, and just reprinted in this country, entitled, 'Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe'." The following facts are brought to the light of day in this volume: For more than twenty years past a society called THE ILLUMINATED has been in existence in Germany; its express aim is "to root out and abolish Christianity, and overthrow all civil government"; it approves of such atrocious principles as the right to commit self-murder and the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, while it condemns the principles of patriotism and the right to accumulate private property; in the prosecution of its infamous propaganda it aims to enlist the discontented, to get control of all such cultural agencies as the schools, literary societies, newspapers, writers, booksellers, and postmasters; it is bent upon insinuating its members into all positions of distinction and influence, whether literary, civil, or religious.
Practically all of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of Europe have already been shaken to their foundations by this terrible organization; the French Revolution itself is doubtless to be traced to its machinations; the successes of the French armies are to be explained on the same ground. The Jacobins are nothing more nor less than the open manifestation of the hidden system of the Illuminati. The order has its branches established and its emissaries at work in America. Doubtless the "Age of Reason and the other works of that unprincipled author" are to be regarded as part of the general plan to accomplish universal demoralization: the fact that Paine's infamous works have been so industriously and extensively circulated in this country would seem to justify fully this conclusion. The affiliated Jacobin Societies in America have doubtless had as the object of their establishment the propagation of "the principles of the illuminated mother club in France."