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or whether ignorantly, hoping to produce peace; or whether complaisantly, to please his court chaplains; or whatever was the cause, in the second year of his reign he called a council of about three hundred bishops to draw up a creed, to constitute canons for discipline, to require subscription, to punish with excommunication; in a word, to establish uniformity in religion by law. This unhappy procedure inflamed the established party with zeal, the excommunicated with revenge; it agitated the passions of mankind, and perpetuated war to this day.

Had his majesty studied nature to have known the fitness of such a law; or scripture to have found an authority from Christ; or his own honour, how he should inforce it; had he examined the matters in dispute, in which the best of his subjects might innocently err; had he meditated and mastered the subject in any point of view, he might have easily foreseen the consequences : but alas! his majesty did not understand his own religion; and while he meant, innocently perhaps, to serve it, fabricated an instrument to stab it under its fifth rib.

Calling of councils, framing of canons to catch and to kill, shedding of blood under the name and sanction of religion, were the common tricks of succeeding emperors; a complaint is brought against one that he spat on the altar; a process is carried on against the ashes of another, (Origen) for holding that glorified bodies were round; yea; if a man died in the faith, and it appeared in his will that he had left any thing to an

*

heretic, he should be excommunicated. Take care you that are in the church upon earth, for your governors can excommunicate even the blessed in heaven. They were excellent precautions to banish or murder the ejected heretic, to burn his books, and to cut off the hands of such copyists as dared to transcribe his works: if they had not used these precautions they might possibly have been answered, but arguments of this kind are unanswerable. This made old Latimer quaintly complain, if we say VÆ VOBIS, we are called CORAM NOBIS.

It would be very easy to shew that violence in religious disputes naturally generates persecution; nor would it be a difficult, though a very unpleasing work to prove, that plots, assassinations, massacres, cruelties of every name, have constantly been produced by denying a liberty of conscience; and more, that such dismal scenes will always fóllow the same practice, in the same proportion as liberty of conscience is refused. No pretence of prophesying is assumed, but let the cause be tried at the tribunals of reason, history, scripture, and experience.

Whether all men have understanding and conscience or no is not necessary now to enquire; it is certain all men pretend to one, most men to both, and a great many to both in a high degree. It is not said that all men formally claim the right of private judgment, nor that many men use it to good purpose ; but certainly all men act as if they thought they had that right. Even those that have written most for persecution for conscience-sakė, pretend to write, not from interest, ignorance, or bias of any kind, but, О strange! from convietion : thus granting their opponents all they claim Indeed, let men think and act as they will, the possession of intelligence, and the free use of that intelligence, are what all men naturally claim; not aware perhaps that the same arguments which justify that claim for themselves, do it also for others. A man of your sense will allow, that the most vulgar sayings of the common people as fully express their sentiments, and therefore ought to be allowed the same weight in settling the common sense of mankind on any subject, as the politer dialect of the well-bred man. A groom condemns the principles and conduct of a peer. Hold your tongue, cries the house-steward, you saucy dog, my Lord will send you about your business if he knows what you say: well, well, replies the jockey, you cannot hang me for thinking. Go down to Billingsgate, bid Bess open you some oysters, and, when she begins to swear, reprove her, ask her whether she cannot take sixpence without cursing and swearing? What's that to you? says she, pay for your oysters, and take yourself off, every tub must stand upon its own bottom. See now, these are the claims of mankind. Impose silence on one, and he tells you plainly that you can do nothing more, he has another right beside that of speech, and you go, and

* If we say wo be to you Scribes and Pharisees, we are directly prosecuted for heresy.

that he will exercise in spite of your teeth. Require the other to act as you do, and she tells

you no, I am accountable for my conduct, not you. You will pardon this, and as a judge, trying a cause in which both the above were concerned, would hear both in their own language, so will you gather the common notion of the right in question from the untaught evidences now introduced.

Perhaps you will say, this is depraved reason. Well Sir. Will you go to the tribunal of refined reason? Shall Locke be judge? Shall my lord Mansfield? whose fine speech you sent with Dr. Furneaux's excellent book. Comparisons may be odious; but to what fme reasoner will not get a spirit of persecution condemned to go to the place from whence it came, from thence to the place of execution, and there to be hanged till it is dead, dead, dead? The Lord in mercy annihilate the name and the thing!

You will add, some great men have pleaded for it. Ah! This is too true:

And as they are dispos'd can prove it,

Below the moon, or else above it. If learned men in the church of Rome argue for christianity against heathens and Jews, then the right of private judgment, the detestable character of a persecutor, the merit of those that suffer for conscience sake, are the topics; yea the catholic church of Rome has attributed a glory to exercises of these kinds which protestants never have. In their public masses they celebrate the merit of those martyrs that suffered for resisting the roman

heathen emperors, and plead that very merit, the merit of resistance, for the forgiveness of their own sins. A whole choir of monks will chant on the festivals of St. Laurence, and St. Vincent, and Saint nobody knows whom, the following elegant composition.

Ante REGEM accersitur,
Et de REBUS convenitur.

OCCULTIs ecclesiæ.
Sed non cedit blandimentis :
Emollitur aut tormentis

ejus avariciæ.
ILLUDITUR Decianus
Dum sustinet martyr sanus

pænarum angustias
Dat minister caritatis
Hostibus exuperatis

gratiarum copias.
Furit igitur PREFECTUS

Et paratur ardens lectus:
Insultantis viscera crates urit aspera

Sudat martyr in agone

SPE MERCEDIS ET CORONÆ
Quæ datur fidelibus PRO CHRISTO certantibus. *

* To preserve in a translation the sense and air, or rather, the nonsense and rimaille, or doggrel of these monkish rhymes is not a little difficult. The following humble imitation may serve instead of a better to convey their meaning.

Before the king St. Laurence stands,
To answer all his high demands

about the church's secrets.
H н

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