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object in this religion ; nor one object but assorts with its operation. This is not the place to pursue such a subject. Let it suffice to add, jurisprudence is perfect in proportion as it fits the nature of man, and universal toleration in matters of conscience is a tendency towards that perfection : Sub judice lis est.*

If these letters be intitled the principles of the petitioners, it is not because they are published by the knowledge or consent of the petitioners, but because they contain what the writer takes to be the real sentiments of those gentlemen. If their principles be called secret, it is not because the gentlemen concerned in petitioning have kept them SO, but because people seem not to have taken suffi cient care to understand what they have published; and therefore plead for and against they know not what. These letters were first written for the private use of an intimate friend, and are now, with a few alterations, made public only for the sake of diffusing right notions of religious liberty among plain people; for whose sakes also the outlandish phrases are translated : for these reasons little or no notice, except in the last letter is taken about the controversies among the petitioners themselves. It may not be improper however to add a word or two on that subject here.

One set of ministers believe that the magistate hath an authority to require a religious test, and they also approve of the test, which he does require. These gentlemen subscribe the articles conscientiously, and have no other concern in petitioning than to obtain for their brethren the same liberty which themselves enjoy, that is, a freedom from penal laws.

* The cause is before the judge,

A second class own the magistate's authority to require a test, but dislike, because they disbelieve, the present test; and ask to be freed from subscribing any thing but the holy scriptures, Though this be the substance of both the peti presented by the established and dissenting clergy, yet whoever would understand the merits of the cause must observe that the same request by different men produces two very different questions. With the ministers of the established church the question is, has a christian church a right to require any religious test of her oron ministers? But with the dissenting clergy the question is, has one christian church a right to force her creed on the ministers of another christian church? Ought the Greek chnrch to impose her creed on the church of Rome ? Ought the church of England to force her's on the church of Scotland ? and vice versa.

A third class, without inquiring into the nature of the test, wholly deny the magistrate's authority to require any religious test at all. The far greater part of those that have petitioned for a change of the test from human articles to the holy scriptures, are said to be of this number. Some indeed (as it is reported) have taxed them with inconsistency, and even with dishonesty, for asking a right of a power which they disown. But these charges are

cruel and ungenerous, and they might just as well undertake to prove that Brutus or Cicero betrayed the cause of civil liberty because they chose different means of procuring it. Cicero makes this just distinction. My general view, Brutus, says this great man, with regard to public affairs, has always been the same with yours; though my DIEASYRES in some particular cases have been perhaps a little more vehement. Epist, V. I take it, says he in another letter to Brutus, to be the part of hin, who acts as one of the leaders in state af, fairs, to insure even the PRUDENCE of his measures to the public: and for my part, since I have assumed so much to myself, as to take the steerage of the republic into my hands, I should not think myself less culpable, if I should draw the senate into any thing IMPERTINENTLY, than if I had drawn them into it TREACHEROUSLY. Epist. VIII. It is a good remark of Dr. Middleton's, that, though Cicero had blamed, in a letter to Ato ticus, an action of Brutus, and applauded in the senate that same action, yet there was nothing inconsistent in his conduct. But, says the Dr. with a proper allowance for different circumstances, this will be found intirely consistent; and both the one and the other perfectly agreeable to Cicero's character : first, to give the best advice to Brutus that he was able ; and if that was rejected, then to make the best construction, and the best use of the measures, which Brutus chose to pursue. Why have not christians as much charity for their brethren, as Cicero a heathen had for his ?


Various are the lights in which this controversy may be considered, and each has its peculiar advantage, though his measures will be noblest who considers it in every point of view. To those that love to trace things to their principles it may be considered philosophically; if a philosophical datum be hurt it falls. To others a theological discussion would be most eligible ; if any doctrine of christianity be injured it would destroy itself. Some view it in a civil light, and as in a free state every individual has a proportional interest in laws that affect his conscience, as a proprietor of lands has in acts for the inclosure of a field, or the drainage of a fen, it would be happy if men valued their consciences as they value their wastes or their bogs. To others, again, a historical deduction would elucidate best. And, (by the bye) it is pity but some gentleman of learning and leisure, who also has a free access to registers, records, and manuscripts, would give the public a faithful and candid history of the British church from the remotest to the present times. Such a history, composed on some such plan as Velly's History of France, would be a most agreeable present to his country. A thousand interesting events would appear, a thousand lively anecdotes would occur, a thousand rational reflections would be interspersed : truth would narrate her travels in the grave and the gay, and readers would be driven either to place religion less in words and disputes, modes and forins, and more in its scripture essence, love to God and man ; or

to slaunder their auncestors by deliuering them over to the deuil of hel.

But let the subject be viewed in what light soever it will, the reformation will be allowed a good and laudable work; and the reformation allowed, the principles of the petitioners cannot be denied. The most that can be doubted is their prudence; and could any imprudencies of individuals be proved, the goodness of their designs would be a sufficient apology. Yet where is the imprudence of wishing felicity to the crown by contenting the state, piety to the church by gradually meliorating the spirits of her members? Who would hesitate a moment about which he should accept, had he the offer of governing a college or keeping a jail? Intolerance makes churches and states resemble the last.

Others have laboured, and we have entered into their labours, is the thankful acknowledgment of thousands in Britain. With a mixture of horror and pleasure, as men on the beach view a tempest at sea, they ken the gloomy papal storm, at first vapouring in the brain of a proud priest, then louring in the features of a surly synod, anon communicating itself to the state, then bellowing at the bar, thundering in the church, lightning at the stake, dreadfully and unmercifully overwhelming their pious predecessors in every imaginable distress. Yet with the highest satisfaction they behold their grandsires weather the point, outlive the storm, and bring the vessel, though all shattered and torn, into the harbour : Harry the eighth him

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