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tutions are sometimes doomed to pay the expenses of the trial which condemns them, and of the scaffold on which they are executed.
Infringements of religious liberty invade the rights of princes as well as of subjects, and seem the result of their being blinded by bigotry, or overruled against their own interest by a faction calling itself a church. Their prerogative is liinited, and agents and counsellors must be selected from a party. There may be talent, wisdom, loyalty and zeal; but their possessor must remain unemployed and obscure, perhaps be driven to seek his meed of wealth and fame in foreign service, because a test interposes between prince and subject. This subservience to a church has ruined many sovereigns: this undue power has been their destruction. It lost Spain the United Provinces. It impoverished France, and enriched England by that tide of Protestant emigration, which so mightily advanced our manufacturing superiority. It made execrable the memory of Henry VIII. With Mary's name (herself an amiable woman) it has for ever connected the epithet of bloody. It stained the brilliant reign of Elizabeth. It made James I. the ridicule of all nations. It brought Charles J. to the block. It made Charles II. the pensioner of France. It hurled James II. from the throne, and consigned the royal family of Stuart to beggary, contempt and exile. What
ever evils sovereigns may dread in religious liberty, surely they cannot be greater than those of intolerance.
But why should not the medium of an establishment with toleration be universally satisfactory? For this reason, that a medium between good and evil is not so desirable as good unmixed. There is something disgraceful and galling in the term toleration. It implies inferiority; it imputes criminality ; it brands with disgrace. Admitting the right to tolerate is also admitting the right not to tolerate, i.e. to persecute. It is admitting the authority and capacity of governments to decide between religious truth and error, orthodoxy and heresy, pure worship and idolatry. They are no more qualified than authorized, if we may judge by experience. What idolatry so gross as not to be established? What religion so pure as not to be persecuted ? Is Christianity true ? Its author and founders were dissenters and martyrs. Is the Athanasian Creed the gospel ? Athanasius was banished. Is Arianism true? Arius was excommunicated and deposed, and perhaps poisoned ; and many of his followers put to death. Are Dissenters right? They suffered long and heavily. Is the Church? Its first, primate was burnt for heresy. Calvinists, Arminians, Papists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Quakers, all have been legally criminal and punished, and all their discordant theories in
different circumstances have been the religions of rulers. There should be better credentials than these before their judgment is deferred to. What has a Dissenter done that he is to be only tolerated ? He has read the Scriptures, considered their meaning, overcome the prejudices of education, or the power of fashion ; *made sacrifices to conscience : and is he therefore disgraced ? The Episcopalian himself becomes a Dissenter across the Tweed; he is tolerated there : and why is he there inferior to the very Presbyterian on whom he looks down here? Does crossing a river, or the sea, change religion into superstition, truth into error, conscientiousness into criminality ? « Toleration," says an admirable writer, " is a disgrace to those who assume the right of granting it, and an insult to those who are compelled to receive it. For what would you tolerate? Would you tolerate what is right or what is wrong ;-the performance of a duty, or the commission of a crime?" (k)
But perfect religious liberty would be an innovation. On what? Paganism; for thence came the connexion of religion with the state :Popery; for thence came dominion over conscience in Christianity.
It commends itself, therefore, to the Christian and the Protestant. What are all improvements but innovations ? What were Moses, Christ, the Apostles, the
Reformers, the founders of the Church of England, those who invited William III., and those who settled the crown on the house of Hanover? All innovators. Or if the word must bear an odious sense, what is slavery, tyranny, persecution, toleration, but innovation; for “ from the beginning" of civil society, or of Christianity, “it was not so." Nor is the experiment new or dangerous. The liberal toleration which this country has enjoyed for ages, is a good preparation for it, and on the continent excited the same dreadful predictions of mischief, fanaticism and anarchy, as are repeated against the nobler system of Christian equality. In many of the American States, in Holland, the trial has been amply successful: look too at Canada; Papist and Protestant are there on equal terms; both, or neither, established or tolerated. Each is taxed only for his own church. T'he stream has here risen above the fountain, and that is given to the colony, which is denied to the parent state.
By the first article of the constitution of Pennsylvania, which is a declaration of the rights of conscience, William Penn, the Quaker, gave a new and noble example to legislators, which we hope they will one day imitate,
It runs thus: “In reverence to God, the Father of lights and spirits, the author as well as object of all divine knowledge, faith and worship, I do, for
me and mine, declare and establish, for the first fundamental of the government of this country, that every person that doth or shall reside therein, shall have and enjoy the free possession of his or her faith, and exercise of worship toward God, in such way and manner as every such person shall in conscience believe is most acceptable to God. And so long as every such person useth not this Christian liberty to licentiousness, or the destruction of others, that is to say, to speak loosely or profanely or contemptuously of God, Christ, the holy Scriptures, or religion; or commit any moral evil or injury against others in their conversation; he or she shall be protected in the enjoyment of the aforesaid Christian liberty, by the civil magistrate.”
Would religious liberty hurt Christian truth, enfeeble its evidences, dim its brightness, or bound its influence? No: Christianity is injured by adventitious aid. She stands best alone. “ Imposture is destitute of a firm foundation of its own to stand upon. However specious it may appear to be, it cannot abide the eye of the examiner. Reason revolts at it, and revelation condemns it. Its only dependence is upon something adventitious. It naturally turns its eye to political authority, and the power of the sword. Destitute of arguments, it can only force its way by sanguinary laws.
These it procures,