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of an idol, that has put Jesus Christ on a level with Moloch, and whose false oracles persuaded mankind, that the ears of a God of cornpaffion and tenderness, were pleased with the groans of victims tied to the stake, or famishing in dungeons, or hovels,-may induce others to lift under the banner of benevolence, and pave the way for abler hands to raise the structure of human happiness, on the ruins of religious frenzy.
Locke has handled the subject, as a prosound philosopher: Voltaire as a partial satirist in a declamatory style, more with a view to censure the scriptures, than to establish it on its proper grounds: I am confined to the provinee of a divine, and in that quality shall arraign at the bar of religion itself, the calamities to which the
' mistakes, or paffions of men, have given rise,
under pretence of vindicating the Deity. The bigot will consider 'me as a latitudinarian, to whom all religious are indifferent ; and as one who writes in such' a manner, as to dispensc men with the obligations of subrhitting to the church. He is mistaken: Iam a stedfast Catholic, who acknowledge but one God, one faith, and one baptism. I am not an architect who would build the edifice of my faith on disferent vplans; nor an ambassador who would sign two contradictory treaties in my legation.
Every Every person is bound to enquire 'after the truth, and when he finds it, to embrace its dictares. If he neglect it, let the blame lie at his own door. Let charity and zeal induce his neighbour to instruct, and persuade him, when there is a probability of reclaiming him from error. But let not Violence, oppreffion, and wanton insults be used in order to compel him.
God has given him free will, and liberty of * chusing either fire or waterffi' The sanguinary'' '
divines, who think it lawfuhin 'supreme magistrate to inflict a capital' punishment, on misguided religionists, (for they do not allow one individual to kill or oppress another, on account of difference of religion) acknowledge that heretical and idolatrous kings, should not be deposed or killed, by their Christian or orthodox subjects: because, say they, " dominion is not " founded in grace, but in free will."
I would fain know, by what right Christian, idolatrous, or orthodox kings, can deprive their' heathen, Christian, heretical, or orthodox subjects of their lives or properties, on account of their mental errors. But the sm'pture commands to ohey kings in 'what is lawful : and, where does it command kings to kill or oppress their subjects? When it recomnflnds justice and mercy to the rulers of the earth, does it make any
distinction between their heathen, heretical, or B 2 ' orthodox
orthodox subjects? The church disclaims the' right of the sword, and the use of fines and confiscations to promote her spiritual ends. The civil powers are not competent judges of speculative errors. How come people then, to=
\ be oppressed between the civil powers, and theestablished church in any state? If it be answered, that the established church in any state, can exercise the right of the sword, not by herself but by her magistrate. The death then, of the criminal, must entirely lie at the hangman's door; and the judge who passed a final. doom on him has no share in the executioneAway then, for ever, with the odious and fallacious distinction.
Are the Catholic and Protestant princes of _
Germany, who have granted a free exercise of their religion, to all their subjects, worse Chris-_ tians than the Catholic and Protestant princes of barbarous times, who were their subjects> executioners ? The Catholics and Protestants, who say their prayers in the same church, in that tolerat'ing country, are they worse Christians, than the Catholics and Proteflants whom Henry' the Eighth used to couple together, on the same hurdle, and order to the place of execution? Or is the church that sees her children receive thesacraments at the railslof the sanctuary, wherein the Protestant minister, andthe Catholic Priest of
'. '. ficiate
ficiate by turns, less enlightened and less tenacious of her doctrine, than she was in the time of pope Innocent the Third? Death, fines, and confiscations, then, on the score of conscience, when the religionist behave: as a peaceable subject, are the ungraceful offspring of lawless rule. Tyranny begot it: ignorance foflered it: and barbarous divines have cloathed it with the flolm garments of religion.
S T A T E
H A S the supreme power in any state, a right to vindicate the Deity, by fines, forfei: tures, confiscations, oppresslon, or the death of men, whose only crime is an erroneous religion, which does not disturb the peace ofsociety, whether they be Jews, Mahometans, Christians, here: ties, or Catholics, provided they believe a supreme being, and rewards and punishments in a future state; for all people exclude from civil toleration, those who confound vice and virtue in the horrors of the grave. Because the links of society are dissolved, when vice loses its horror, and virtue its attractions : when the heart is steeled against the fear of an invisible Judge,
and the.conscience is unshackled from its bonds ?
Answered in the negative. For life, liberty, the power to accumulate a fortune by honest' means: