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few only ;-it appears to them sin- which I must make by way of quali. gular, extravagant, impracticable: fication of this statement. First, butevery fresh adherent brings an- that though all actions may be traced other and another, which keep mul- up to the influence of opinions, all tiplying in geometrical progression, opinions are not equally operative; until the increase of numbers who nor do they influence all persons in advocate the opinion, and the more like manner. For some, being forfrequent repetition of the opinion it- tified by opposing principles, perself, causes it at last to arrest atten- haps at once resist them; and hence tion, and then perhaps to be receiv- the conflict which takes place contined with that measure of deference ually between light and darkness. which renders it influential to a cer. Secondly, there must be taken into tain extent, For if an opinion does account the aptitude of human nanot win us over to its advocacy, or ture to be influenced by principles of lead us to embrace it so far as to act evil, rather than principles of good : upon it; yet will it often neutrale for the former fall in more readily ize our opposition to it, and also our with the corrupt biits of the heart; course of conduct as influenced by and in the unregenerate, the hold some other opinion; and in this res- which principles of light have taken pect it effectually makes its way, upon the heart is but feeble, and and proves itself to be operative to offers but a faint resistance to the that degree.
powers of darkness when they are The influence of an opinion fre- permitted to assail it. quently reiterated and allowed is It is then, I apprehend, upon the further witnessed in cases where principles here contended for that persons are not affected by any in- the Scriptures proceed, when they crease of the numbers who advocate warn the Israelites, in the first it ; for the mere circumstance of place to be circumspect, and make the mind becoming familiarized to no mention of other gods, neither an opinion which it abhors, has a let it be heard out of their mouths;m tendency in the course of time to and when they further direct them, blunt the acuteness of those sensi- if an own brother, son, daughter, bilities which were provoked against wife or friend, should entice them it, till at length it is listened to pa- secretly, saying—“ Let us go and tiently, next with indifference, after serve other Gods, &c" not to conthat with complacency, and finally sent or hearken to him ; neither to it lays hold of and contaminates the pity, spare or conceal him, but suremind. What the poet says in re- ly to kill him.n The broaching of gard to vice is here often strikingly such a sentiment was considered a exemplified :
sufficient overt act, and to have a Vice is a monster of so frightful mien; necessary tendency, if borne with, That, to be hated, needs but to be seen; But seen too oft, familiar with its face,
to lead on to the deed itself; and We first endure, then pity, then embrace.* the very mention of the names of oThere are two remarks however ther gods in ordinary discourse was
* I have known several instances of individuals who from the mere circumstance of constantly reading a newspaper, the sentiments of which they have at first disapproved, have nevertheless imperceptibly fallen into a habit of thinking and speaking in the same strain, till at last they have become decidedly imbued with them, almost without being conscious of the change that has taken place in them. I mention this only by way of illustration.
m Exod. xxIII, 13; Josh, xxIII. 7. n Deut. XII. 6–11.
viewed, as calculated to familiarize evil hearts have full vent and a free the mind with the evil of idolatry, course given to them ; for he not onand to deaden that abhorrence of it ly is aware that, in the vast majoriwhich ought continually to exist. ty of instances, the evil treasure of So the righteous are afterwards ex- the heart will produce evil things ; horted, “ to cease to hear the in- (for “ how can they that are evil struction which causeth to err from speak good things ? for out of the the words of knowledge;'o and un- abundance of the heart the mouth der the New Testament they are ex- speaketh ;"9) but that they are actuhorted, that if any preach any other ally the spirits of demons themselves, , Gospel than that which the Apos- which in numerous instances speak tle had delivered, to let him be ac- by the mouths of men ;r for indeed cursed.p
" the whole world lieth in the wickMuch might be said here, were it ed one;" (Ev Ty Tovnpw.1 John v, 19.) not irrelevant to my present object,
aware of the objection upon the evil of persons, who know which may be readily brought forthe truth as it is in Jesus, habitu- ward, that restrictions upon the liberally listening, nevertheless, to that ty of the press or upon the freedom of instruction which is contrary to the utterance are liable to abuse; and “words of knowledge.” But I must that good and sound doctrine might turn rather to the subject which I be and has been suppressed, under purposed to treat of in the outset, erroneous apprehensions of its charand ask- how far that freedom of acter and tendency. The answer opinion, which the world now so loud- to this is equally ready.-If to tolly clamours for, is consistent with the erate this evil be contrary to the principles here stated ? and whether word of God, it is then our bounden the unrestricted liberty of the press, duty to walk by the spirit of that which is considered one of the great word, and leave the consequences bulwarks of civil and religious li- to Him. To take for example the berty, he not rather a mighty en- duty of a governor; it is the same as gine of Satan, whereby he is effec- that of the father of a family, only tually enticing men away from that on a larger scale: and if it be the duty service of God which alone is per- of the father of a family fect freedom ? I do not hesitate my- mand his children and his house. self to pronounce it an EviL. The hold after him, to keep the way of very circumstance, that the carnal the Lord,''s it is the duty of the man, and the men in particular who monarch, or of the state which acts are least under the influence of god- for Him, to do the same. Most men liness, should be so eager for it, agree
that power must be lodged in ought to be sufficient to lead him the state ; but is not power, exercisthat is spiritual to suspect it: for ed in the restraining and punishing why should the god of this world other offences, equally liable to aexcite his servants (which these are) buse? How comes it then, that the to contend for a principle, unless power should not be extended to that principle be the offspring of the suppress the publication of opinions wisdom which is from beneath ? He having a direct tendency to lead is crafty enough to know well the men int
apostacy from God, and importance to his kingdom of let- into the commission of all evil offen ting all the conceptions of men's ces against each other? Men will o Prov. XIX. 27. p Gal, 1.8, 9. 9 Matt. XII. 34, 35. r Ephes. II. 2;
1 Tim. iv. 1, 2; Rev. xvi. 13, 14, s Gen, xviii. 19,
" to com.
allow that the parent of the state erated in print, which would not be should punish theft, murder, adulte- endured for a moment if uttered by ry &c. how comes it that they should the lips. Many, for example, would not see the importance of check- not suffer an individual to have acing the promulgation of those senti- cess to their families, if they conments and opinions that necessarily ceived that his conversation would lead to these offences ? It is because be infidel, or calculated to vitiate the “ the God of this world hath blind- sense of moral purity and propriety; ed the minds of them that believe who nevertheless will suffer newsnot.”t How unwise and infatuated papers, novels, poetry and other would that man be thought, who printed works to find entrance, in having a tree in his garden produ- which they know passages having a cing fruit, which he was
tendency to weaken the bonds of would prove deleterious and destruc- religion and virtue continually creep tive to his children if picked up and in, and often appear in naked and eaten, should content himself with undisguised language. It is quite having the fruit picked up as it fell deplorable also to notice, how the from its boughs and cast away, in- love of “ filthy lucre” deadens the stead of having the tree that produ- sensibilities of the mind and blinds ced it cut down : yet thus it is when the heart in this respect. Many permen punish the fruit of opinions, sons engaged in trade would at once and allow the opinions themselves see the impropriety of uttering into flourish and take root undisturb- fidel language, or of giving countened. It is like attempting to kill ance to or repeating those converthe viper, yet suffering men to hatch sational opinions of others, which the cockatrice egg, which break- they conceive prejudicial to religion, eth out into a viper.”u Ah! “ he morals, or good government. - And that eateth of their eggs dieth,' let it be proposed to pay them for saith the Lord :—the very princi- so doing, and to make a gain by reples are pernicious and deadly to the tailing blasphemy or sedition orally, soul !
and I verily believe that the majoriThe delusion however with which ty of the class to which I now allude, Satan has continued to bewilder men would shrink with horror from the in regard to the press is singular suggestion, and view such a step from its great absurdity. He seems as leading them into the depths of to have succeeded in investing it baseness and apostasy. Yet, marwith a degree of obscurity, and at the velous to say ! print this same lansame time to have cast a certain ha- guage in a book, and convert it lo around it, which has caused many thus by means of the press into an to regard it as a sort of divinity, article of merchandize, and many (which if they do not actually wor- of them can give it circulation and ship they defer to,) unable to per. make a gain from it without any ceive, that it is after all nothing more scruple,-not seeing that the moral than the words and conceptions of turpitude of the action is just the mere men, and that words printed same ; but acting as if there were have in reality no greater majesty some deity in the press, or some than words spoken, and should be deity in trade, who has power to redealt with in precisely the same lease his votaries, when engaged in Yet there are numerous
his service, from all responsibility instances in which things are tol. to the Lord Jehovah.
t 2 Cor. iy. 4.
u Isa. LIX, 5. v Ibid.
There are some other circumstan- in this matter also : unless indeed ces equally glaring. It is a favourite the principle of a restricted liberty maxim now with many, that, admit- be admitted ; and then the very ting the evil tendency and abomin- thing is admitted which I would adable character of many published vocate : only that I would insist, it opinions of the day, you give in- is as much the duty of the censor to creased publicity to them by prose- prevent blasphemy and infidelity from cuting them ; and do likewise ex- uttering its voice, by means of the cite a more prurient desire in the press, as it is to prevent idolatry minds of many to read them, by for- from so doing. cibly withdrawing them from obser- It is not however my province or vation. One would have supposed my object to prescribe the remedy that with the example before men's or to point out the restrictions; nor eyes of the horrible state of morals should I ever be likely to be listened in a neighbouring country, and of to by those in power if I did. My obthe evil fruits there of a revolution ject has been to expose one of the brought about chiefly by the unbrid- devices of Satan, and to warn the led license given to the publication christian reader against him; so that of infidel sentiments -one would the believer may take heed that he have supposed, I say, that men would be not led away with the error of the have been struck by the great prac
wicked.” For there are many protical negation thus presented to their fessors of religion whom I have theories. But I would urge another heard in public utter things, in re. consideration. Where would the ad- gard to the freedom of opinions, and vocates of the unbridled licentious. the impropriety of any restrictions ness of the press draw the line and upon knowledge, which I deem very set the limit ?-If it be wrong to calculated to help on this delusion : forbid the utterance of blasphemy by and many things have I likewise met the infidel against the Lord Jesus with of the same character in books, Christ,* it is also wrong to forbid published by men affecting serious a treatise recommending absolute religion, which however it were inidolatry to the nation. No man can vidious to quote. Our duty is ragive a satisfactory reason, on the prin- ther to oppose the principle, whereciple which I now contend against, ever we have lawful opportunity of why an idolater, or a man favourable so doing ; and to strip off the vizor to idolatry, should not endeavour by from the assumed angel of light. means of the press
In my next I hope to draw attention to go and serve other gods.” If the to another device connected with press must be left at liberty in other this matter. matters, it must be left at liberty
to entice men
* Under the Mosaic Law the blasphemer of the Lord was commanded to be put to death. Lev. xxiv. 16. I am very far from intending to recommend the punishment of death in cases of blasphemy, &c. under a Gospel dispensation. That would be as much in the extreme one way, as the toleration of the evil is in the other. But it appears quite a duty, first to endeavour to suppress the nuisance and prevent the injury; and secondly, if possible, to correct the offender. I think it is Dean Swift who some. where states, in illustration of this subject, that as a man may be permitted to have poisonous drugs, so long as he keeps them for experiment only in his closet, but must be dealt with as a dangerous member of society when he begins to dispense them indiscriminately to the public; so men may enjoy their pestiferous opinions, whilst they can keep them to themselves, but they should not be allowed to sport with those opin. ions in public, and thus to endanger the welfare of mankind.
Review and Notices of books.
(1) The Name and Number of the to fall into an apathetic frame of Beast ; by the Rev. REGINALD RA- mind in regard to it; as if, amid the BETT, A. M. of Queen's College distracting theories and expositions Cambridge, and Vicar of Thornton, offered upon parts of prophecy, it Leicestershire.
were in vain to seek an explication
of them, and that the duty of the Lond. Seeley & Co. 8vo. pp, lvi and 306.
believer were to sit a passive specThere has perhaps been nothing tator only, waiting until it should which has more tended to discour please the Lord to cast some extraage christians from pursuing the ordinary light upon it. “ Here is study and investigation of prophecy, wisdom--Let him that hath underthan the conflicting interpretations standing count the number of the of various parts of it, which have Beast, &c,” This is the word of from time to time been published to the Lord respecting it; and it apthe world; and among those portions pears to us that when he excites his of prophecy which have chiefly suf- people in such terms as these to infered in this respect, we shall per- vestigate a particular mystery, it haps not be far wrong if we instance betrays a want of spiritual underthe two witnesses of Rev. xi and the standing and wisdom for any to treat name and number of the beast of Rev. the subject with neglect.
Such a multiplicity of solu- Turning then to the publication tions of the latter enigma have been of Mr. Rabett, we cannot but reoffered, and so greatly have some of gard its appearance as both seasonthem differed from each other, and able and useful. He does not inthe number 666 has consequently deed profess to have made any new appeared to possess such a peculiar and dazzling discovery: he merely facility of adapting itself to almost takes up an old and almost exploded any name, person, church or sect, hypothesis of the eminent Irenæus, by a little twisting and adjustment and having laid down the principles of letters, that whilst profane per- upon which the inquiry should be sons have altogether laughed at the conducted, he applies those princimatter, even men of piety have set- ples to vindicate the suggestion of tled down in the conclusion, that this ancient Father, and to exhibit there can be no certainty attach it- the fallacy of those numerous subself to any interpretation ; that what sequent theories, which have well soever degree of plausibility may nigh overwhelmed it. Without seem to belong to some one of the therefore meaning to assert, that solutions offered, it is effectually what Irenæus so long before the neutralized by the equal plausibility event advanced as a mere guess, has of those of a contrary character. been actually proved by the event Now, whatever may be the differ- and demonstrated by Mr. Rabett to ence of opinion in this matter, there be the real solution; yet do we conis one evil which we would most ceive that it is no mean service renearnestly warn our christian friends dered to the cause of prophetical inagainst : viz. not to suffer themselves terpretation thus to narrow as he