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by the paltry insinuation that a belief in the unity of God is productive of evil consequences and wicked practices. This is a mode of combating opposing sentiments altogether unworthy the cause for which those papers are professedly published, and altogether incompatible with the benevolent design of a Christian mission to the beathen. Could the bad conduct here alleged against the Mahommedans, be equally charged against the Christian Unitarians, there would be some show in this insidious way of arguing; but so far from this being the case, I would ask, is there any sect who, in spirit and practice, more sincerely exemplify the purifying principles of Christianity; who more strenuously oppose fanatical imposition and superstitious delusion, or more zealously endeavour to promote charity, peace, and philanthropy, amongst their fellow-men?
But let us for a moment, for the sake of illustrating its absurdity, adopt the same line of argument on the other side of the question. It is well known that the doctrine of the Trinity forms the “ rallying point" of the majority of Christians, and “the basis of their creed ;" and with regard to the Papists, in the first place, it is well known also that to them in past ages (if not in the present) belongs the charge of every species of superstitious, hypocritical, wicked and abominable practice; that the records of their conduct exhibit their priesthood as the most odious of their species in the committal of outrage, rapacity, and murder ; while at the same time it holds them to view as assuming to themselves the privilege, not only of impunity and indemnification, but of Divine approbation, for such deeds! And must we argue from these things that they were actuated by this fundamental faith of a Trinity ? And must the Mabommedan consider that Christianity is a false system on this account?
Again, in the orthodox established religion of this country, the doctrine of the Trinity is so far the basis of its creed, that it is declared therein that whoever does not believe it, shall, without doubt, perish everlastingly. Yet in this said establishmeut we see its priesthood supported in all the splendour and greatness of worldly affluence, by a system, which, but for the sanction of human laws, we should be warranted in designating by the same terms of crimination as those by which Mr. Ward has set out that of the Mahommedan plunderers. And do not these greedy ecclesiastics lull their consciences by incantations, as well
as the former, by urging their unwarrantable pretensions as successors of the apostles in justification of their rapacious claims? Yea, what is worse, the very book they pretend to revere as the word of God, by perversion, affords them many a roll of charms to shield them from accountability: Hence the provision made for the Jewish priesthood in the law of Moses, is adduced as a sufficient plea for an Archiepiscopal's acquittal in receiving from others' purses the annual sum of £21,000! Now, I question whether Mr. Ward himself does not consider this enormity of church pay a very oppressive and unjust appendage to that relia gion which he professes, and holds to be of a self-denying and anti-worldly nature; and yet it is very closely connected with that doctrine which forms the basis both of his and the established creed.
But suppose we advert to the conduct of those among Protestants whose zeal in favour of this fundamental doce trine has carried them to the farthest limit of intolerance, and led them to confiscate the property and persecute unto a most cruel and tormenting death the persons of their fellow- christians. Can the deed of this Mahommedan ruffian in robbing his neighbour of 4000 florins, and attempting to murder the magistrate, be at all compared for flagrancy to the deliberate and cold blooded transaction of Calvin in causing Servetus to be devoted to the flames as the victim of bigotry? And was not the cry of heresy, and a pretended regard for God's glory, as effectual a charm, not only for disguising the foulness of the act, but of signalizing it as a real service to God and the church, as that by which the other is said to consider himself protected?* But the doctrine of the Trinity was the rallying point of this persecutor and his party, and continues to be to his followers upto this day; nor would Mr. Ward, I presume, scruple to own himself as amongst the number of those who venerate his name. Now, although I am not here attempting to prove that a mere belief in this orthodox opinion incited or influenced Calvin to the course here
Supposing the heresies of those who suffered as martyrs to be really damnable, and that their persecutors really believed them so to be, how unspeakably ferocious must that feeling be by which they were influenced in despatching them to hell as expeditiously as possible, and that through the most tormenting medium, instead of allowing them to take their own course in goiug thither, by permitting them to live as long as they could !
complained of, yet I think I may venture to assert, that had he been a Unitarian, or a believer in the unity of God, i. e. that God is one, and not three, he would have left a much more honourable name behind him than that of a murderer. The fact is, that neither in this case, nor in that of the Mahommedan's, did faith in the respective doctrines in question actuate the mind to the perpetration of the crimes alleged; but a belief in something connected with it which gave each of them a false view of the character of God, by which they supposed him as malevolent as themselves.
THOUGHTS ON THE INJUSTICE AND THE EVIL OF AWARD
ING CIVIL PUNISHMENT FOR ATTACKS ON REVEALED RELIGION.
May 2, 1828. “ A true Christian may suffer on the account of his religion, but he can never make others suffer on account of theirs : whatever may 'be the consequence of it, we are not to support Christianity by force. Our blessed Saviour, rather than make use of compulsion, would choose to be without a follower. John vi. 67.” LARDNER.“
It is little to the honour of our age and nation, that punishment continues to be ipflicted for attacks on Revealed Religion. The principle and spirit of such persecutions are perfectly opposed to the manly, kind and conciliating genius of the Gospel. Far from needing this officious interference, Truth disdains it, as weak, vindictive, unjust and inexpedient. He who believes that Christianity is divinely true, knows that it will be established, and not invalidated, by opposition. Force, reasoning, sarcasm,* ridicule, have been employed, jointly or in turn, against our religion : and what has been the consequence? The consequence has been, that in the minds of vast numbers of persons there exists a stronger and more enlightened faith in the evidences and the doctrines of this religion. Such assaults have occasioned able and satisfactory defences: they have directed the attention of men to the Scriptures themselves, which, as the effect of being closely and impartially studied, have been more consistently explained and better understood.
* That this weapon—this supposed touchstone-was lavishly, yet in vain, applied to Christianity, at an early period, we learn from Acts xvii. 18–32, and from Origeu's treatise against Celsus.
Of the theological controversies in the last century, none was so important as the Deistical: on both sides, no small portion of acuteness, talent and learning was brought to the discassion; and every well-informed disciple of Christ bas particular cause of being gratified by the result. Among the benefits so produced, one, I think, has not been perceived and valued as it deserves. Those admirable illustrations of the most difficult books of the New Testament—the epistles of Paul, &c.-which appeared in long succession, and for which we are indebted, respectively, to Locke, Peirce, Hallett, Chandler, Benson, Sykes, &c., are really fruits of the controversy of which I have been speaking: and richer and more salutary fruits it could not well have yielded. " Christianity can never have its free course among men of improved understandings, and even among rational creatures in general, while gross misrepresentations of it are substituted in the place of the simple and perfect original."
I have frequently asked myself, What would have been the issue of a cognizance by the Magistrate of the tenth section of Hume's Inquiry, &c., and of the fifteenth chapter of Gibbon's History, &c. ? Let us imagine that those pages had been suppressed by public authority, and the writers, printers, and venders visited with fines and imprisonment. It is possible that, even in such a case, the world might have been favoured with the masterly and decisive answers which these portions of the two works severally received: but then the good impressions made by such replies would have been diminished and contracted by means of an appeal to the arm of power. The evidence which triumphs over the reasoning of Hume on Miracles, and over Gibbon's statement of what he chooses to style the secondary causes of the growth of Christianity, is invincible: with more plausible opposition, and with assailants of superior talent and knowledge, it is not likely to encounter. I rejoice, therefore, that human laws have not interposed to prohibit the circulation of these writings. Although, in the affairs of men, we cannot reasonably expect unmixed good, and even although partial and temporary evil may be apprehended from the manner in which certain unbelievers conduct their warfare against Revealed
* Observations on our Lord's Conduct, &cę, by Archbishop Newcome. Preface,
Religion, yet this consideration sinks into nothing, when compared with the mighty benefits of an unrestricted discussion of a subject thus supremely interesting.
There is a meanness, a want of equity and candour, a poor and wretched policy, in selecting very insignificant men as objects of punishment for assailing Christianity; while the volumes of Hume and of Gibbon are sold by every bookseller, and find a place in every library. I would not prosecute any unbeliever : still, if prosecutions of this kind are to be set on foot, how incongruous to single outobscure individuals as the victims of them, and take no- notice of writers whose eminent abilities and reputation may give weight to even their erroneous opinions and allegations ! Yet, with one exception, created perhaps by the author's political character and lucubrations, this is the course which has been long pursued. Men, of whom the public would have heard nothing but for the occurrence of their names in criminal informations or in indictments, have obtained a temporary regard, merely because they have suffered for the expression of their sentiments.
Of all persons the ministers of the Christian religion should be the last to instigate or countenance the prosecution of any class of unbelievers ; the last to substitute fines and dungeons for conciliatory arguments. They say, and with justice, that the Gospel is founded' on an ima inoveable rock : yet in the same breath they pronounce that punishment must be inflicted on men by whom, or through whose agency, the claims of the Gospel are opposed. Were not this topic much too serious for a smile, I might be amused by such palpable inconsistency of language and of reasoning. Surely, nothing but the habit of viewing religion as a matter of state, could have dictated the sentences which I shall now extract from Dean Hodgson's Life of Bishop Porteus : the biographer, speaking of Paine's Age of Reason, says,
“ The progress of a work like this was to he checked instantly, and with a high hand. It is true, an antidote, and with all thinking men a niost effectual one, lad been sent abroad into the world, in the admirable answer of Dr. Watson, Bishop of Llandaff; but still it was necessary to inflict some signal punishment on the person who, in violation of all decency, had dared to be the publisher of The Age of Reason."