In these the tendency of the Syllabus towards obscurantism and papal despotism, and its incompatibility with modern thought, were clearly pointed out; and the evidence against papal infallibility, resting, as the Letters asserted, on the False Decretals, and accepted without controversy in an age of ignorance, was ably marshalled for the guidance of the council.
The controversy was assumed to be against prejudice, ignorance, obscurantism; what monks were to Erasmus the clergy as such were to Woolston.
The first English scholars of the Renaissance, like Erasmus on the continent, did not see the logical outcome of their own discoveries, nor realize that the campaign against obscurantism would develop into a campaign against Roman orthodoxy.
If ecclesiastical authority fostered what was commonly regarded as intolerant obscurantism, to be enlightened meant to be prepared in spirit for that reform which soon developed into the Revolution.
Animated by an intense love of truth and devotion to public duty, he waged war on such ecclesiastical systems as seemed to him to favour obscurantism, and to put the claims of sect above those of human society.