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another, without taking notice of any determinate sepse, and so did fight as it were with so many Hercules' clubs made of pasteboard, which causes a great sound, but does no execution towards the ending of disputes. For as no man will ever be so extravagant as to affirm, that a triangle is a quadrangle, or a square a circle, having the distinct ideas of those figures in his mind; so it would be as impossible for him to pronounce of any thing else falsely and absurdly, if he had as perfect and settled a notion of the things concerning which he seems to pronounce. But this first and main principle of wisdom being neglected, it is no wonder that men clash as ridiculously and causelessly as those two country clowns, who in their cups had like to have gone to blows, because the one professed himself a Lutheran and the other a Martinist.
knowledge. Truth is How not in conformityd if he be
thentain; if her hushe is compared as well as
Milton on Heresy and Implicit Faith. Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowledge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in scripture to a streaming fountain ; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
There is not any burden that some would gladlier post off to another, than the charge and care of their religion, There be, who knows not that there be of protestants and professors, who live and die in as errant an implicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy man, addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many piddling accounts, that of all mysteries he cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do ? Fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. What does he therefore, but resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor, to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs; some divine of note and estimation that must be. To him he adheres, resigns the whole warehouse of his religion, with all the locks
and keys into his custody, and indeed makes the very person of that man his religion ; esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more within himself, but is become a dividual movable, and goes and comes near him according as that good man frequents the house. He entertains him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptuously laid to sleep; rises, is saluted, and after the malmsey, or some well spiced brewage, and better breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem, his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion.
Another sort there be, who, when they hear that all things shall be ordered, all things regulated and settled, nothing written but what passes through the customhouse of certain publicans that have the tonnaging and poundaging of all free spoken truth, will strait give themselves up into your hands, make them and cut them out what religion ye please. There be delights, there be recreations and jolly pastimes, that will fetch the day about from sun to sun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream. What need they torture their heads with that which others have taken so strictly and so unalterably into their own purveying ? These are the fruits which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wished were such an obedient unanimity as this? What a fine conformity would it starch us all into ? doubtless a staunch and solid piece of framework, as any January could freeze together. From A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing.'
.. No Virtue without Trial. Impunity and remissness for certain are the bane of a commonwealth ; but here the great art lies, to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work. If every action which is good or evil in man at ripe years, were to be under pittance, prescription, and compulsion, what were virtue but a name, what praise could be then due to well doing, what gramercy
to be sober, just, or continent ? Many there be that complain of divine providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing ; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions. We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force; God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. Wherefore did he create passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of virtue? They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin. **** Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewel left; ye cannot bereave him of his covetousness. Banish all objects of lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exercised in any hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste, that came not thither so; such great care and wisdom is required to the right managing of this point. Suppose we could expel sin by this means; look how much we thus expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue ; for the matter of them both is the same ; l'emove that, and ye remove them both alike. This justifies the high providence of God, who though he commands us temperance, justice, continence, yet pours out before us even to a profuseness all desirable things, and gives us minds that can wander beyond all limit and satiety. Ib.
Liberty of the Press. I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the church and commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors. For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are ; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other
hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image ; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a lise beyond life. It is true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom. Ib.
He moves with mild, commanding air,
'Tis all a trancing hush beneath,
They long for one revenging hour
That leads to vales of heavenly rest. * The gentle sons of peace and love,
Who dry one source of human tears,
His liberal sunshine widely falls