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low and deep, that she may crush the giant powers of rebellious darkness; I would have her head raised up to that Heaven, to which she conducts us. I would have her open wide her hospitable gates by a noble and liberal comprehension; but I would have no breaches in her wall; I would have her cherish all those, who are within, and pity all those, who are without; I would have her a common blessing to the world, an example, if not an instructor, to those, who have not the happiness to belong to her; I would have her give a lesson of peace to mankind, that a vexed and wandering generation might be taught to seek for repose and toleration in the maternal bosom of Christian Charity, and not in the harlot lap of infidelity and indifference. Nothing has driven people more into that house of seduction than the mutual hatred of Christian Congregations. Long may we enjoy our Church under a learned and edifying episcopacy. But episcopacy may fail, and religion exist. The most horrid and cruel blow, that can be offered to civil society, is through Atheism. Do not promote diversity; when you have it, bear it; have as many sorts of religion as you find in your country; there is a reasonable worship in them all. The others, the infidels, are outlaws of the Constitution; not of this Country, but of the human race. They are never, never to be supported, never to be tolerated.

Under the


systematick attacks of these people, I see some of the props of good government already begin to fail; I see propagated principles, which will not leave to Religion even a toleration. I see myself sinking every day under the attacks of these wretched people-How shall I arm myself against them? by uniting all those in affection, who are united in the belief of the great principles of the Godhead, that made and sustains the world. They, who hold Revelation, give double assurance to the Country. Even the man, who does not hold Revelation, yet who wishes, that it were proved to him, who observes a pious silence with regard to it, such a man, though not a Christian, is governed by religious principles. Let him be tolerated in this Country. Let it be but a serious religion, natural or revealed, take what you can get; cherish, blow up the slightest spark. One day it may be a pure and holy flame. By this proceeding you form an alliance, offensive and defensive, against those great ministers of darkness in the world, who are endeavouring to shake all the works of God established in order and beauty-Perhaps I am carried too far; but it is in the road, into which the honourable gentleman has led me. The honourable gentleman would have us fight this confederacy of the powers of darkness with the single arm of the Church of England; would have us not only fight against infidelity, but fight at the same time

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with all the faith in the world except our own. In the moment we make a front against the common enemy, we have to combat with all those, who are the natural friends of our cause. Strong as we are, we are not equal to this. The cause of the Church of England is included in that of religion, not that of religion in the Church of England. I will stand up at all times for the rights of conscience, as it is such, not for its particular modes against its general principles. One may be right, another mistaken; but if I have more strength than my brother, it shall be employed to support, not oppress, his weakness; if I have more light, it shall be used to guide, not to dazzle him.

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On a motion for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal and alter certain Acts respecting Religious Opinions; May 11, 1792.*


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NEVER govern myself, no rational man ever did govern himself, by abstractions and universals. I do not put abstract ideas wholly out of any question, because I well know, that under that name I should dismiss principles; and that without the guide and light of sound well-understood principles all reasonings in politicks, as in every thing else, would be only a confused jumble of particular facts and details, without the means of drawing out any sort of theoretical or practical conclusion. A Statesman differs from a Professor in an University; the latter has only the general view of society; the former, the Statesman, has a number of circumstances to combine with those general ideas, and to take into his consideration. Circumstances are infinite, are infinitely combined; are variable and transient; he, who does not take

*This motion was made by Mr. Fox; and was chiefly grounded upon a Petition presented to the House of Commons by the Unitarian Society.


them into consideration, is not erroneous, but stark mad-dat operam ut cum ratione insaniat-he is metaphysically mad. A statesman, never losing sight of principles, is to be guided by circumstances; and judging contrary to the exigencies of the moment he may ruin his Country for ever.

I go on this ground, that Government, representing the society, has a general superintending control over all the actions, and over all the publickly propagated doctrines of men, without which it never could provide adequately for all the wants of society; but then it is to use this power with an equitable discretion, the only bond of sovereign authority. For it is not, perhaps, so much by the assumption of unlawful powers, as by the unwise or unwarrantable use of those, which are most legal, that Governments oppose their true end and object; for there is such a thing as tyranny as well as usurpation. You can hardly state to me a case, to which Legislature is the most confessedly competent, in which, if the rules of benignity and prudence are not observed, the most mischievous and oppressive things may not be done. So that after all, it is a moral and virtuous discretion, and not any abstract theory of right, which keeps Governments faithful to their ends. Crude unconnected truths are in the world of practice what falsehoods are in theory.

A reasonable, prudent, provident and moderate


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