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prayers in a church, instead of a land the most forward champions meeting-house? Would Mr. Locke of freedom, but because the Goand Sir Isaac Newton bave de- vernment have spurned them from served better of their country, if them, and forced them to assume, they had vehemently admired the in self-defence, an attitude of oppo. Athanasian Creed?
sition? Why are the Presbyteri. Opinions are only dangerous, it ans of Scotland, once so dreaded may be said, when they shock ge by the episcopal church of Engneral prejudice, or militate against land, the tamest supporters of a creed enacted by the legislature: every successive administration, in this sense, then, the opinions not excepting any one devoted of Protestant Dissenters in Fng- equally to Toryism and “ No land, of Episcopalians in Scotland, Pupery," -- but because Presbyte. . of Roman Catholics in Ireland, of rianisin nestles and is fondled in Protestants in Canada, are danger. the bosom of government? The ous ; in the same sense, the opini- Edinburgh Reviewers need not to ons of the Reformers of popery and be instructed in the recipe for of the first Christians were dan- curing faction, gerous; but what more is meant Let it be granted, nevertheless, by the danger in these cases, than that certain theological creeds the hazard to which the rising in. have a natural congeniality to some dependence of the human mind particular political theories ; forin. puts spiritual usurpation, or to stance, that Popery inclines to des. which even a state may bring potism, that Socinianism leans to. itself, by opposing in certain junc. wards a commonwealth :--still, tures the progress of opinion? government can have no more There is danger in running a right to prohibit and to attach mound across a stream ; the banks penalties to the religious system, will probably overflow and the than it has to proscribe the politi. neighbouring country be laid un- cal doctrine, by association with der water; but the evil is to be at, which alone it is confessed that it tributed to the mischievous indus. becomes pernicious; but what is try which set itself in opposition the right in this case ? Just no. to nature.
thing at all ; it being a tyranny But, it is said, particular reli- beyond any thing ever yet heard gious opinions may bave an affini. of, to convert an opinion in favour ty to certain political opinions ; of this or that form of government and, though innocent in them. into a crime. selves, may become noxious by From one singular expression the conibination. History, how- of the Reviewer's, it may be ga. ever, bears us out in saying that thered that his meaning, though a theological creed will, in the indistinctly expressed, is, that par. different circumstances of its pro- 'ticular forms of religion may be fessors, coalesce with widely dif. justly suppressed by the magis. ferent political predilections. A irate when united with seditious sect under persecution is invaria- practices : but would it not be sufbly opposed to the Court; its fe- ficient, for every wise and good sentments overcoming, in some purpose, to say that seditious prac. cases, its natural partialities. Why tices may and ought in every are the Roman Catholics of Ire. instance to be curbed and put
down, in whatever company found, though not for their Socinianisis whether with the followers of John but for their treason, Calvin, of Socinus, of the Preten. The suppression of the Romish der or of Sacheverel? In con. Caiholics is put as a contingent virnection with Socinianism, the Re. tue in the government--for that viewer makes mention of Repub. sect may be infected with the love lican habits ; by which he intends, of despotism, It would be a nowe take for granted, not any par. vel spectacle if a government were ticular mode of dress, not any pre. to busy itself in bunting down cise cut of the hair, not any pecu. this affection. No, no; there is Jiar compellation with which Soci. no danger to the Roinan Catholics nians greet each other, but at. from loving despotism,--unless it tempts to reduce Republican the. be despotism only a good way off. ories to practice on British ground: But this can be nothing else than now we see no reason why the dis, a jeu d'esprit of the Reviewer's, belief of the Trinity should lead who had somehow or other got to a hatred of King, Lords and into his mind the comic idea of a Cominons : if the term were not company of commissioners, aptoo quaint, the Unitarians might pointed by the Houses of Lords be fitly called Monarchists, their and Commons, under sanction of constant endeavour being to assent, the Court, to make inquisition af. according to a favourite phrase ter the love of arbitrary power, with some of the Fathers, the ab- with a view to bring the possessors solute Monarchy of the Deity. to punishment; and who could No fact is known to us that bears not persuade himself to drop it, the writer out in his suspicion of till he had indulged the vision of the likelihood of Socinianism be. Roman Catholics being whipped ing in union with treason: the by their Protestant brethren into public may lay aside all fears on this a sense of liberty. head; some of the Socinians are We may put a case which will rich, and wish for no change at all, perhaps illustrate our argument on not even such au one as the Edin- the dangerousness of opinions. burgh Reviewers maintain to be the We hold, in common with most of only preventive of a much worse our countrymen, the immorality change; some of them have at- as well as illegality of bigamy, tained the summit of their ambiti, and think it justly punishable by on, in rising to seats in corpora. the civil magistrate. But if anotions, up to which they have ther clergyman, following the exscrambled, with broken consci- ample of Mr. Madan, should ences, over the Lord's Table; and write a book in defence of a plu. we believe a still larger number rality of wives, not otherwise ob. agree with the Quakers, in depre. jectionable than in regard of this cating all violence, even as the doctrine; we might lament that instrument of reformation. But such a book should have been if, in spite of past history and pre. writter, we might even fear its sent appearances, Socinians should consequences, but we could not, become traitors, let them be pun. consistently with our notions of ished, as the law has provided, right and our affection for freedom, hold the author deserving of civil conviction, that (altering a little. punishment. The writer, might his own statement,) it is quite however, go further, and put his jale lo argue this question in any theory into practice: in that case, other way, than os a question of we should deem him a fit object general, imprescriptable, inalien. of the magistrate's care, and should able right.. feel satisfaction in his suffering That we may not, however, the sentence of the law; but the dismiss the reader with a different criminal would suffer, in law and sentiment towards the reviewer from equity, not as the author of a that which we ourselves feel, whick book in favour of a plurality of is, upon the whole, one of high re. wives, but as a convicted biga- spect, we shall conclude this article mist.
with a further extract from the These remarks have scarcely Review under consideration, in left us room, fourthly, to notice which the merits of the Protesthe strange powers which the Re. tant Dissenters are candidly allowviewer requires government to ex- ed and liberally extolled. ercise in some cases, over religious “ Last year, Lord Sidmouth sects, under pain of being re- made a light scratch in the epiderputed insane. He allows a go- mis of the Dissenting church. Of vernment to assume that some the extraordinary consequences, classes of society are, from their we were all witnesses; and yet opinions, its enemies; and then there are persons who may think they are, of necessity, to be distin. it possible to revive the execution guished by any mark, rcligious, of the Test Acts! If there are no physical, or moral, that chances to such extravagant persons, why present itself. What is hereby may not those laws be repealed? intended, we really know not, ex. And never let it be forgotten; cept (what we can scarcely think,) against what species of men they that the holders of certain opini. have been enacted—against men ons are to be excommunicated as, who have run greater risks, and heretics (the religious merk), with greater unanimity, to prebranded on the forehead or de serve the free government and prived of an ear (the physical constitution of this country, than mark], and represented as wholly any other set of men whatever. unfit for social faith, complaisance During the reign of Charles II. and charity. [the moral. mark]. the small remains of liberty were We are inclined to impute to the chiefly preserved and cherished by reviewer rather no meaning than them. They resisted with effect, this: he appears to us betrayed the arbitrary designs of Charles into a want of sense, by a mo- and James II., when their own mentary condescension to intoler. immediate interest, would have ance, with which we have been led them to an unconditional sub. long persuaded that the friends of mission. They joined cordially liberty should stand in no other in the Revolution, and exposed relation than that of antagonists: themselves to the resentment of and so far from being persuaded a bigoted princess and an infatuby bis reasoning, we rise from the ated people, to secure the succes. examination of it with a renewed sion of the House of Hanover.
In two rebellions, the Dissenters, been a right never disputed. But without the exception of a single when this enquiror looked into the individual, showed a steady at- world, he would find a history even tachment to the present govern. of the Protestant Church stained ment; and they bave, at all with the blood of persecution, times and seasons, (and when and, like the prophet's roll, such praise was by no means due “ written therein, lamentation to the Church of England,) proved and mouruing and woe.” This themselves the steady friends of progress, or rather decline, of that mild, moderate, and toler- Protestants, from the claim of ant race of kings, by which we religious liberty to the practice of have been governed for the last religious persecution, was well. century.” pp, 163, 1.
described by an anonymous author, A. sixty years ago. I quote the follow
ing passage from, “ The Reflec. Sketch of English Protestant Per. tur, representing human affairs, secutiun.- Letter I. as they are, and may be improv.
ed." 8vo. 1750. Jan. 1, 1812. 66 Two hundred years ago, it
was orthodoxy in Christendom As I perceive that you have in. to have no religion, but a blind serted (vol. vi. p. 524.) my letter obedience to the arbitary constitu. of May lust”, at the close of which tions and iniuuctions of the court I proposed to offer you a Sketch of of Rome, all enquiry being then English Protestant Persecution, I looked upon as heresy or infidelity. shall now proceed to make a few But ceriain intrepid heroes arose selections from the too ample ma- to demolish this usurped authority, terials, which our history has af. that oppressed and enslaved Europe, forded, on that melancholy sub. by power and craft. The foundation ject. One who should contine bis ;
is upon which they erected their enquiries to the New Testament, battery was the right of enyuiry ; would little suspect that Christians and the duty of every man to hear had allowed themselves to assume and exainine before he believes or encourage a civil controul over and indges.
er and judges. any man's religious, or even irre. " The Romish clergy appealed to ligious, profession. And while he antianity for
ne de antiquity for the truth of their heard re-echoed from every anti- doctrine: but were shown that papal community, “ the Bible, the false doctrines may be ancient, Bible alone, is the religion of Pro- i
ro- they pretended, that religious dis. testants,” he might easily conclude putes had long since been decided, that religious liberty, among such after the exactest scrutiny ; but Protestants, had furnished no ma.
were answered, that nobody has terials for history; on the best a
pest a right of determining for another, possible account, because it had w
sad what the scripture delivers, as
articlus of faith; and that whoever * As our correspondent's former letter pretends to do it, puts himself in merely proposed the series of communi. the place of the scripture. They cations, which the present Letter commences, we have entitled this article,
article. alleged the scriptures were dark Letter I.
in many places, so that every one
could not discover the true mean- was done with circumspection in ing; and that the generality language, though not in fact; for should be contented with the in. they retained the old form of terpretation of those who under- speech, that every man should stood the originals. It was replied, search the scriptures; but with that all who understood the origi. this reserve, that the discoveries nal languages did not agree in and judgments made, must entire. ther interpretation, and that what ly agree with theirs; and that one learned man called right, after a free and exact enquiry, all another chided wrong. The Catho. should subscribe articles settled by lics pretinded, if ail were allowed assemblies of divines, Which the liberty of enquiring, numerous amounts to this : You may be. erroneous sects must needs be the lieve what you find to be right; consequence ; but were told, it but nothing is right besides what was better some errors should pre. we believe. Such liberty of envail, than men have no faith. For quiry is a treacherous compliment, if the common people, before the that chains down the prisoner, Reformation, were ever questioned and tells him he is free.” about their religion, they could
(Reflector, 3314-333.) only answer, they believed what. their priests believed ; that their It is observed by Sir Thomas priests believed what the church Browne, (Rel. Med, Sect. 4.) that believed; and that the church " as there were many Reformers, had the same belief as the pope. so likewise many reformations; But what faith the pope held they every country proceeding in a knew not. Few of them had particular way and method.” In ever seen the Bible, or heard it England, according to a remark mentioned ; insomuch, that many of the late Bishop Hurd, quoted in thought the New Testament a your 3d vol. (p. 530.) the Refor. dangerous book, compiled by Lu- mation advanced under the eye of ther. The arguments of the first the magistrate, which that prelate Reformers being therefore found considered as no small advantage. unaniswerable, the Reformation had It certainly had the advantage of the good success wbich all the preserving the English Reformers world know's.
of the national church, from " During the change, before the inconsistency described by the things were settled, the Refouers anonymous author lately quoted ; continued to use the saine argu. for I am not aware that they ever ments, which had already procured ventured to declare for the right of them so much advantage; but as private judgmeni. soon as a few churches were found. Henry the Eighth, the father of ed, so as to dread no disturbing the Reformation in England, under power, the reformed began to whose eye it first advanced, though waver in their principles ; and with an infant's tottering steps, employed the same kind of argu. certainly designed notbing less ments against others, who separa. than the admission of such a right. ted from them, as the Romash He acknowledged no liberty but clergy had used against the origi. that 'of'indulging his own violent nal Reformers, This, however, passions; and while he displaced