This argument seems almost to imply, that, if moral demerit did attach to error or unbelief, they would then become legititimate objects of penal restriction. Mr. Brougham's position is, that man has no control over his belief, and therefore ought not to be called to account for it at a human tribunal. The expounder and defender of his doctrine in the Westminster Review, labours to prove, that the infidel is, or may be, the most virtuous man, the most meritorious as respects the honest way in which he deals with evidence; and on this account, it is represented as unjust to visit him with punishment.

The cause of religious liberty is under small obligations to such backers as these. If we must choose between the Romanist, who contends that unbelief is a crime, and therefore ought to be punished, and the liberalist, who contends that it ought not to be punished; because it involves no moral delinquency; we must pronounce for the former. But there is, happily, no occasion to embrace the political blunder of the one, as the only alternative to the moral blunder of the other. Our position is, that man is not accountable to man for his moral character, except so far as his conduct infringes upon the rights of others, and renders him a political offender; that moral delinquency is not the legitimate subject of human legislation, but such acts of delinquency only as come under the description of political crimes.

Whether unbelief be voluntary or not, criminal or not, it will, we presume, be at once admitted, that the state of a man's heart towards his Maker must involve accountability of the most awful kind. If his heart be not right with God, his character must be, in the most important respect, deeply criminal. • If there be not sin in this enmity', Dr. Wardlaw justly remarks, there is no sin in the universe; nor is it even possible that a conception of sin can be formed by the human mind." But can a man's not loving God, his being at enmity against the law and will of his Maker, render him obnoxious to human laws ? Can his disposition of heart, although decidedly vicious and criminal in the highest degree, be treated as an offence cognizable at a human tribunal? He is a bad man; ought he to be punished simply for being such ? No; man, for his religious delinquency, as well as for his religious opinions, is answerable to God alone. A man may be not merely impious, but immoral; he may be guilty of the basest ingratitude, the most hardened selfishness, the most reckless profligacy; and yet, not violating the laws which protect the rights and property of others, he may not be politically an offender. Will it be said, that he is not accountable for such conduct, because, by a human tribunal, he is not punishable ? It is obvious, that legislative restrictions and penalties cannot reach to many acts of the most flagrant criminality. In other words, the moral government of God cannot be administered through the medium of political institutions. It was never intended, that civil government should answer the purpose of moral discipline; that it should either enforce the claims, or avenge the cause of God. Those evil doers which it is alone competent to restrain, are such as are not subject to the conservative authority instituted for the protection of the personal rights of the community. And whatever political authority, whether it call itself civil or ecclesiastical, attempts to extend its jurisdiction to the consciences or the characters of men, is guilty of usurping the Divine prerogative, and assumes the character of an oppressor. To govern the heart, to control the character, to dictate to the conscience, to change the will, require the attributes of Deity; and the means and instruments by which this moral government is administered, have no affinity to political sanctions.

It cannot be necessary, then, to prove that error is innocent, in order to take away all pretext from religious intolerance. It is very true, that governments are very incompetent judges of what is truth and what is error; and churches, even infallible churches, are much in the same predicament as soon as they begin to legislate on the subject. But supposing the Church to be right in its decision, and the government to be in unison with that Church, the heresy or infidelity which it denounces, however criminal in a moral respect, cannot be visited with political penalties without manifest injustice; without a violation of every sound principle of legislation. If the state is not endangered, nor the rights of individuals invaded, no political offence is committed, and no political penalty can be righteously incurred. The existence of such heresy and error is a great evil, calling for the most active counteraction by other means than force or fine (into which all political penalties resolve themselves); but the arm of power is not the remedy for moral evil. The tares and the wheat must grow together until the harvest.

We shall not now enter upon the question of the criminality of error. That subject is fully and satisfactorily treated by Dr. Wardlaw and Mr. Taylor in the works before us; and in the admirable discourses of Barrow, (whose authority, strange to say, has been adduced in support of the dogma, that belief is involuntary,) it had already received an occasional but masterly illustration. The public are under obligations to the Editor of the present judicious reprint of this portion of his writings. A writer in the Westminster Review had said, The proof that • belief is not voluntary, is well put by Barrow in his first ser


mon on Faith, but the passage is too long for insertion. The following is the passage referred to, in which it will be seen that Barrow is putting the sentiment in question, preparatory to his exposing its fallacy.

• That faith should be thus highly dignified, has always appeared strange to the adversaries of our religion, and has suggested to them matter of obloquy against it. They could not apprehend why we should be commanded, or how we can be obliged to believe; as if it were an arbitrary thing depending on our free choice, and not rather did naturally follow the representation of objects to our mind. They would not allow, that an act of our understanding, hardly voluntary, as being extorted by force of arguments, should deserve such reputation and such recompenses; for if (argued they) a doctrine be propounded with evident and cogent reason, what virtue is there in believing it, seeing a man, in that case, cannot avoid believing it, is therein merely passive, and by irresistible force subdued? If it be propounded without such reason, what fault can it be to refuse assent or to suspend his opinion about it? Can a wise man then do otherwise? Is it not in such a case simplicity or fond credulity to yield assent; yea, is it not deceit or hypocrisy to pretend the doing so ? May not justly then all the blame be charged rather on the incredibility of the doctrine, or the infirmity of reasons enforcing it, than on the incredulity of the person who does not admit it? Whence no philosophers ever did impose such a precept, or did assign to faith a place among the virtues.

To clear this matter, and to vindicate our religion from such misprisions, and that we may be engaged to prize and cherish it, I shall endeavour to declare, that Christian faith does worthily deserve all the commendations and the advantages granted thereto; this I shall do by considering its nature and ingredients, its rise and causes, its efficacy and consequences.' pp. 31, 32.

He proceeds to remark, in the first place, that, “as to its na• ture, faith does involve knowledge; knowledge of most

worthy and important truths, knowledge peculiar and not • otherwise attainable, knowledge in way of great evidence and 'assurance. Secondly, · Faith has also divers ingredients, or

inseparable adjuncts, which it doth imply, rendering it com• mendable and acceptable to God. As • Faith implies a good use of reason. This is that which commends any virtue ; that a man acting after it, does act wisely, in conformity to the frame and design of his nature, or like a rational creature; using his best faculties in the best manner, and in their proper operations towards the end intended by the all-wise Creator. This is that upon which all dispensation of justice is founded; a man being accountable for the use of his reason, so as to deserve reward for the right management, and punishment for the misuse of it; this is that, consequently, on which God so often declares himself to ground his judgement; so that, in effect, he will justify men for being wise, and condemn them as guilty of folly; whence, in the language of Scripture, wisdom and virtue or piety are equivalent terms, and a fool signifies the same with a vicious or impious person. And if ever a man deserves commendation for using his reason well, it is then when, upon mature deliberation, he embraces the Christian doctrine ; for so doing is a most rational act, arguing the person to be sagacious, considerate, and judicious; one who carefully inquires into things, seriously weighs the case, and judges soundly concerning it.

• It was a foul aspersion cast upon our religion by its ancient opposers, that it did require “ a mere belief, void of reason," challenging assent to its doctrines without any trial or proof. This suggestion, if true, were, I confess, a mighty prejudice against it, and no man, indeed, justly could be obliged to admit it upon such terms.'

pp. 39, 40.

pp. 43, 44.

Indeed, if we seriously weigh the case, we shall find, that to require faith without reason, is to demand an impossibility ; for faith is an effect of persuasion, and persuasion is nothing else but the application of some reason to the mind, apt to draw forth its assent. No man, therefore, can believe he knows not what or why. He that truly believes, must apprehend the proposition, and he must discern its connexion with some principle of truth, which, as more notorious to him, he did before admit; otherwise he only pretends to believe, out of some design, or from affection to some party ; his faith is not so much really faith as hypocrisy, craft, fondness, or faction.

• God, therefore, neither does nor can enjoin us faith without reason; but therefore does require it, as matter of duty from us, because he has furnished sufficient reason to persuade us. And having made his doctrine credible, (a faithful or credible word, and worthy of all acceptation,) having given us reason chiefly to be employed in such matters, as he justly may claim our assent, so he will take well our ready surrendry of it to him, as an act of reason and wisdom becoming us.'

These passages will sufficiently shew, how far this profound Writer was from thinking that the infidel may be one who, having dealed faithfully with evidence, has come, unavoidably and involuntarily, to å wrong conclusion. But the following paragraphs are still more to the point.

· Whoever indeed will consider the nature of man, or will consult obvious experience, shall find, that, in all practical matters, our will, or appetite, has a mighty influence upon our judgement of things; causing men with great attention to regard that which they love, and carefully to mark all reasons making for it; but averting from that which they dislike, and making them overlook the arguments which persuade to it.' Whence men generally suit their opinions to their inclinations ; warping to that side where their interest lies, or to which their complexion, their humour, their passions, their pleasure, their ease, sway thenı; so that almost any notion will seem true, which is profitable, safe, pleasant, or anywise grateful : that notion false, which in any such respect does cross them. Very few can

abstract their minds from such considerations, or embrace pure truth, divested of them; and those few who do so, must therein most employ their will, by strong efforts of voluntary resolution and patience, disengaging their minds from those clogs and biasses. This is particularly notorious in men's adherence to parties, divided in opinion, which is so regulated by that sort of causes, that if you mark what any man's temper is, and where his interest lies, you may easily prog. nosticate on what side he will be, and with what degree of seriousness, of vigour, of zeal, he will cleave to it. A timorous man, you may be almost sure, will be on the safer side ; a covetous man will bend to that party where gain is to be had ; an ambitious man will close with the opinion passing in court; a careless man will comply with the fashion ; affection arising from education or prejudice will hold others stiff ; few do follow the results of impartial contemplation.

• All faith, therefore, even in common things, may be deemed voluntary, no less than intellectual ; and Christian faith is especially such, as requiring thereto more application of soul, managed by choice, than any other ; whence the ancients, in their description of it, do usually include this condition, supposing it not to be a bare assent of the understanding, but a free consent of the will.“ Faith," saith Clemens Alexandrinus, " is a spontaneous acceptance and compliance with divine religion.” And “ to be made at first, was not in our power ; but God persuaded us to follow those things which he liketh, choosing by the rational faculties which he hath given us, and so leadeth us to faith,” saith Justin the Martyr.

• The same is supposed in holy Scripture; where, of believers, it is said, that they did gladly, or willingly, receive the word, and they received it with all willingness or readiness of mind.

And to defect of will, infidelity is often ascribed:" Ye will not come unto me”, saith our Saviour, " that ye might have life"; and “ How often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" and “ The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come"; and “ Of this ", saith St. Peter of some profane infidels, “ they are willingly ignorant, that by the word of God the heavens were of old"; and the like St. Paul saith, “ that they received not the love of the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

• Indeed, to prevent this exception, that faith is a forced act, and therefore not moral, or to render it more voluntary and worthy, God has not done all that he might have done to convince men, or to wring belief from them. He hath not stamped on his truth that glaring evidence which might dazzle our minds; he does not propose it armed with irresistible cogency; he has not made the objects of faith conspicuous to sense, nor the propositions thereof demonstrable by reason, like theorems of geometry: this indeed would be to depose faith, to divest it of its excellency, and bereave it of its praise ; this were to deprive us of that blessedness which is adjudged to those who“ believe and do not see"; this would prostitute wisdom to be deflowered by the foolish, and expose truth to be rifled by the pro

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