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more lenient punishment for victims who, in their opinion, had no prospect during the interminable space of a boundless eternity, but that of pajfing from one fire into another. If in enacting such laws, they had consulted the true spirit of religion, I believe the reformation of their own hearts would have been ' a more acceptable sacrifice to the Divinity, than hecatombs of human victims. "No God nor man," fays Tertullian, "should be pleased with a "forced service." "We are not to persecute "those whom God tolerates," fays St. Augustine. That faith is fictitious which is inspired by the edge of the sword.
But still the nature of society is such, that when once the common land-marks are set up, it opposes the hand of the individual that attempts to remove them. Where one common mode of worship is established, and fenced by the laws of the state, whoever attempts to overthrow it, must expect to meet with opposition and violence, until custom softens the rigour of early prejudices, and reconciles us to men whose features and lineaments are like our own, but still seem strange to us because their thoughts are different. . . r
How far opposition to religious innovations .is justifiable, is not our business to discuss. But
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the experience of ages evinces the fact ; and in dissimilar circumstances, Mt. Wesley has made the trial. In kingdoms, where, as in the Roman Pantheon, every divinity had its altars, speculative deviations from the religion established by law, the 'singularity of love-feasts and nocturnal meetings, so unusual among the modern Christians of every denomination, roused the vigilance of the magistrate, and influenced the rage of the rabble. Now, that custom has rendered Mr. Wesley's meetinghouses and mode of worship familiar, and that all denominations enjoy a share of that religious liberty, whereof he would fain deprive his Roman Catholic neighbour, his matin hymns give no Uneasiness either to the magistrate, Or his neighbours. But had Mr. Wesley raised his notes on the high key of civil discordance— had he attempted by his sermons, his writings and 'exhortations, to deprive the bishops of the established religion, of their crosiers; kings of their throne's; and magistrates of the sword of justice; long ere now would his pious labours. have been crowned with martyrdom, and his name registered in the calendar of Fox's saints. Such, unfortunately, was the case of John Huss. Not satisfied with overthrowing what was then the established religion, and levelling ,iht fences of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, he strikes 4t the root of all temporal power, and civil authority. thorny. He boldly asserts that " Princes, rna"gistrates, &c. in the state of mortal sin, are *' deprived ipso fa£io of all power and jurif"diction."* In this doctrine was enveloped the seeds of anarchy and sedition, which subsequent preachers unfolded to the destruction of peace and tranquillity, almost all over Europe; and which Sir William Blackstone describes as follows: "The dreadful effect of such a reliu gious bigotry, when actuated by erroneous "principles, even of the Protestant kind, are ** sufficiently evident from the history of the u Anabaptists f in Germany, the Covenanters *' in Scotland, and the deluge of sectaries in. "England, who murdered their sovereign, **, overturned the church and monarchy, shook
* See the acts of the comitai of Constance in L'Abbe's Collection of councils.
f This is no imputation on the Anabaptists of our days, who are as peaceable and good men as any others. Men's opinions change with the times, as in different stages of life we change our thoughts, and fettle at the age of forty the roving imagination of sixteen. Custom, and mutual intercourse ainongstfejjlp^-suhjects of every deaomir nation, would £bcm quench the remaining sparks of religious feuds, if distinctive laws were abolished. But, unfortunately for -the .society ia which we live, the laws, whose aim should be to unite the inhabitants, aw.calculated to divide them. My neighbour distrusts me, because ;the penal taws- held me forth as a reprobate
"every pillar of law, justice, and private pro* "party, and most devoutly established a king** dom of saints in their stead."*
John Huss, then, after broaching the abovementioned doctrines, and making Bohemia the theatre of intestine war, is summoned to ap pear before the council. He obtains a safeconduct from the emperor Sigismund, commanding governors of province, &c. not to molest him on his journey to, or return from, Constance; but to afford him every aid and
assistance. assistance. In all the provinces and cities through which he passes, he gives public notice of his intention to appear before the council and stand his trial. But instead of standing his trial, and retracting his errors, he attempts fc> make his escape, in order to disseminate, and make them take deeper root. 'He is arrested and confined, in order that he mould take his trial, after having violated his promise, and abused a safe-conduct granted him for the purpc se of exculpating himself, or retracting his errors, if proved against him before his competent judges. It is here to be remarked, that John Huss was an ecclesiastic; and thatia spiritual cafes the bishops were his -only and competent judges. The boundaries of the two powers, I mean the church, and state, being kept distinct; the censer left to the pontiff, and the sw crd to the magistrate; the church confined to her spiritual weapons; privation of life and limb, and corporal punishments being quite of the province of the state; one should not interfere with the other. As the body of the criminal is under the controul of the magistrate, too jealous of his piivilege to permit the church to interfere with his power;—so, erroneous doctrines are under the contronl of spiritual judges, too jealous of their prerogatives to permit the civil magistrate to interfere with their rights.—Hence, when the partizans
before I was born, and during my life encouraged him to seize my horse, or drag me before a magistrate for saying my prayers j which reduces me to the fad necessity of hating him, or considering him as an enemy, if in the great struggle between nature and grace, religion does not triumph. Before Lewis the fourteenth and George the first, repealed the laws against witches, every disfigured old woman was in danger of her life, and considered as a sorceress. Since the iu itch-making laws have been repealed, there is not a witch in the land, and the dairy-maid is not under the necessity of using counter charms to hinder the milk from being enchanted from her pail. Tims', if the penal laws, which by a kind of Omnipotence create an original sin, making rogues of catholics before they reach their hands to the tempting fruit, were once repealed, they would be as honest as their neighbours, and the objects of their love and confidence.:
• Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. IV. chap. 8.