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to repounce it. So that the authority, which appoints a Good-Friday ceremonial, has just as much influence over a British subject, as he himself chooses to give it. If he choose to be a member of the national church, to which certainly there are many worldly inducements, he allows human authority over conscience, and he ought in conscience (if it be possible for conscience to agree to its own dissolution) to keep the fast : but if he think proper to dissent, to which certainly there are strong religious inducements, he is protected in disowning the authority, and the obligation is void. When human wisdom affects to adorn a religion of divine revelation, it presumes to paint a diamond, or to lace and embroider the seamless coat of one, whose simplicity is his evidence and his churches glory. When such as Austin and Gregory, primitive manufacturers of trumpery, imported their bales, and of fered their wares to the British church, they were objects of pity or contempt ; but when they presumed to use coercive measures to make the denizens of heaven purchase their trash: when a pope like Judas came in the night with halberds, and swords, and staves; when, worse than he, the traitor did not bring even a lanthorn to enable mento read his commission-Merciful God! couldest thou be angry with our ancestors for hand-cuffing the felon, and whipping him out of their isle! The punishment was too little for the crime. They should have burnt even his rags with fire ! .
The fury fiend with many a felon-deed,
The Piety of GOOD-FRIDAY. If piety be the discharge of duty towards God, there are only two short questions to answer. First, is the observation of an annual fast in commemoration of the death of Christ, a duty required by Almighty God? Next, how is this duty discharged by those, who think it a duty. : All duties, which God requires of all mankind, are contained in the moral law. Moral obligations are founded in the nature and fitness of things. There is a fitness between the care of a parent, and the obedience of a child. Filial obedience is therefore a moral duty. There is a fitness between civil government and taxes. Governors protect subjects, and subjects ought therefore to support governors. Taxes for the necessary support of government are therefore dues, and the payment of them moral obligation: but nobody ever yet pretended to make the celebration of Easter, a part of the moral law.
The other class of duties required of all christians is contained in positive institutes. Baptism is a positive institute; the celebration of the Lord's supper is a positive institute. They would not have been obligatory, they would not have been known, had not the christian legislator instituted them; and they are obeyed now they are appointed in proper submission to his authority. But has he appointed this fast ? Does it not wander about a mere beggar actually destitute of every token of a legitimate divine institute ?
· Since, then, the observation of this day is no part of piety, we are driven, for want of materials to fill up this article in decent guise, to the sad necessity of turning the tables, and of considering the impiety of this black, this bloody Friday. Were we to collect into one aggregate sum the impious actions that belong to the introduction, the establishment, the support of ceremonies, one of which is this day; were we to balance accounts between moral law, and human institute, we should be obliged to charge to the latter a most enormous and ruinous sum. We should set down the unwarrantable implication of the imperfection of christianity as Jesus Christ appointed it—the incorrigible obstinacy of judaizing bunglers, who united a provincial ritual with an universal religion—the rash enterprizes of minute philosophers, who associated the mummeries of Belial with the miracles of Christ—the paltry babbling of traditionists, whose impertinence put them" on pretending to give evidence to wise and grave men by their senseless repetitions of, I heard say, that he heard say, that she heard say, that they heard say—the self-employed and uncommissioned racket of councilş--the daring atchievements of those knights errant the popes of Rome-the base concessions and self contradictions of their hierarchical squires---their flattering, betraying, befooling, deserting, and assassinating emperors and kings—the subverting of all sound maxims of civil polity, every dictate of right reason, the sacred
bonds of society and the natural rights of mankind-the degrading of maģistracy, the banishment of thousands, the blood shedding: oor..(0 where shall we end?).• • . All these under a mask of hypocrisy;--- pious pretence of uniformity--thre erection of à godlyeorder in christěn'states amonge the holye flock that Jesu boughte with hys ovänd Bloode ! I know I shall be reputed a silly enthu. siast for what I am going to say; but what care I? When the bells chime to call people to celebrate Good-Friday, méthinks they say to me, count the cost....thinking christian, count the cost-1 do So, and I weep.... Am I not a fool ?.... I can't trelp it. : .. I pour out floods of tears to think what human ceremonies have cost all inankind, and particularly what a dreadful price my native couttry has paid for them; and I wish with Luther, that there were no feast-days among christians, except the Lord's day.
All christians are not of our opinion. Some think the observation of this day a duty of religion. Very well. I wish to be instructed. Permit me to see how the duty is discharged.
The far greater part of the members of the estabfished church pay no regard at all to Good-Frie day, nor do some of them know why it is appoin. ted.' There is no piety surely in professing a religion, which is neither understood nor obeyed. The greater part of opulent members of this community pay no other attention to the day than dining on fish in preference to flesh. This is not piety. Numbers of the clergy read the ritual, and deliver
a sermon composed by others, and this is their whole performance. Most artificers, and people of the lower class, imitate their superiors. Some of them do not observe the day at all, and others, who hate work worse than witchcraft, go in the morning to church, and in the evening to the alehouse, and there deposit piety till Easter Sunday, and then travel the same round again. Should a man lay aside secular affairs, abstain from food, dress in black, go to church, say after the parson, hear the sermon, and close the day without company and cards, who but a methodist would pretend to arraign the conduct of this man? And yet, most certain it is, he may do all these without performing one act of genuine piety.HB
In short, there are two general parents of religious action, custom and conscience. The first germinates, and produces a blind, sordid, sorry, crawling lusus, denominated religion, but really superstition. The latter, conscience, may be enervated by ignorance, sloth, scrupuloşity and secular interest; and in this ill state of health may produce a weak family of genuine moral virtues, and of silly deformed superstitions; but, being right in the main, she will always pay her first and chief attention to her moral offspring. Positive institutes, and even human inventions, may be obeyed by people of this kind; but they will never encroach on the rights of natural, necessary, moral law. If the ceremonial of religion supply the place of religion itself—if the former derogate from the