Puslapio vaizdai

• in the same calling wherein he was called ;" considering, in a • word, that change is really the characteristic of error, and un• alterableness the attribute of truth, of holiness, of Almighty * God himself, we consider that when private judgment moves in • the direction of innovation, it may well be regarded with suspi

cion, and treated with severity. Nay, we confess even a satis• faction, when a penalty is attached to the expression of new doctrines, or to a change of communion. We repeat it, if persons have strong feelings, they should pay for them; if they think it a duty to unsettle things established, they should show • their earnestness by being willing to suffer. We shall be the • last to complain of this kind of persecution, even though di

rected against what we consider the cause of truth. Such dis. advantages do no harm to that cause in the event, but they bring home to a man's mind his own responsibility; they are a • memento to him of a great moral law; and warn him that his private judgment, if not a duty, is a sin.' *

This is, in some respects, a remarkable passage. One would almost suspect that it must be a plagiarism from some ancient writer, were it not that people do not generally steal infected garments, nor, like old Elwes, appropriate as precious, things they have picked up out of the kennel. We almost involuntarily look for marks of quotation, or some archaisms of expression which would fix the date of the paragraph some two centuries ago. For ourselves, we peruse these arguments, thus recalled from the dead, with feelings much akin to those with which we should witness the exhumation of a mummy from the depths of the Pyramids, or the exhibition of some uncouth-looking weapons dug out of an ancient tumulus ;-wondering the while at the strange chance by which things so long buried in darkness thus

revisit the glimpses of the moon.' We seem to be present at the awakening of some Rip Van Winkle, who had been sleeping, not, like him of the Sketch Book, for twenty, but two hundred years. Why, these arguments are but a feeble repetition of those which Locke so utterly demolished in those matchless specimens of cogent and almost scornful logic—the second and third letters on Toleration;' and which Bayle had refuted before him, in his amusing commentary on the words compel them to

* British Critic, July 1841.- It is not our wont to make lengthened references to contemporary Journals. If we have departed from the usual conrse on the present occasion, it is assuredly, not because the Jorrnal in gnestion is intrinsically entitled to much notice, but because it is generally considered to be the chief organ and representative of the party who advocate the principles of the Oxford Tracts.

come in. We can hardly bring ourselves to believe that the greater part of those who in general agree with the Journal from which the above passage is extracted, can sympathize with the views of this writer. If they do, the people of England would do well to watch with double jealousy and suspicion the progress of • high church principles.' 'If men such as he should achieve that triumph of their principles for which they are professedly striving, the dearest privileges of Englishmen would no longer be safe.

There is nothing whatever to distinguish the doctrines of this writer from those which characterize the most barefaced, naked system of ancient persecution ;-nothing which might not have fallen from the lips of a Gardiner or a Bonner-nay, from those of a Nero or a Dioclesian. For there is absolutely nothing to limit the principles laid down; and those principles, thus unlimited in themselves, and pushed to their legitimate extent, are sufficient to authorize any atrocities. That which is established, no matter what, has on that account presumption in its favour of being right and true; and therefore, wherever 'private judgment at all * exerts itself in the direction of proselytism and conversion,' it must show cause,' before it is tolerated, why it should not be * convicted forth with as a breach of the peace, and silenced in

stanter as a mere disturber of the existing constitution of things.' It must show cause. To whom? Why, to the very parties, to be sure, who are interested in suppressing it—who believe that it has

no cause to show;' and until they are satisfied—for the innovators are surely satisfied--that it has warrant for what it says, it may be suppressed instanter, and

convicted of a breach of the peace! A man must not preach Christianity at Rome, till he shows cause to the satisfaction of a Nero or a Dioclesian that there is a sufficiency of reason on his side; and, till then, he may be suppressed instanter. That our author did not mean even to exclude this, the strongest case, is evident by his own allusion to the introduction of the Gospel :' he has plainly left us to infer from his principles, that though it was right of the Apostles to preach, it was equally right in the heathen to persecute them for so doing; they not having 'shown cause'-as how could they to Pagans ?-that their case was admissible, and that there was nothing in it which might not be got over.' The same principles would of course justify the Papists in persecuting the Protestants, and Protestants in persecuting the Papists; and every form, either of truth or error, that happens to be established, in persecuting every exercise of private judgment that happens to be at variance with it. It must be confessed that these are comprehensive principles of persecution, but we acknowledge that we do not like them the worse for that: they are at all


events consistent, however indescribably absurd. The accident of previous possession determines, it seems, the right to suppress, and whether it be truth or error, it is all the same : only, as truth is one, while error is multiform, error will have the advantage of this ruthless consistency in a hundred cases to one. And as truth and error are armed with equal right to employ this concise method of suppressing instanter;' so, as in the older systems of persecution, there is here nothing whatever to limit the degree of severity or violence which it may be deemed necessary to employ for that purpose. The duty is to “suppress instanter,' unless sufficient cause be shown to those who are disinclined to see it; and we presume, that as, when they do not see it, they are bound to suppress instanter, they are at liberty to take any steps for that purpose which may be effectual; for to limit them to the use only of means which may be ineffectual, and which sturdy recusants may set at defiance, would be altogether nugatory. A right of suppressing error, provided it can be suppressed by the stocks or the pillory, conjoined with a liberty to let it run rampant if hanging or burning is necessary, would be a curious limitation; and, as it would be unreasonable to set any such limits, so it would be impossible. What is excess of severity in the code of one set of persecutors, is childish lenience in that of another. One man might be satisfied with the pillory, while another might be satisfied with nothing less than the rack. Our modern apologist for ancient cruelty has wisely attempted no such limitation ; but, under the general expression of satisfaction' at the

infliction of penalties,' has left every variety of persecutors to select their own. Help yourselves, gentlemen, is virtually, though we hope not designedly, his language, according to 'your diversified tastes and appetites. The table is bountifully spread—the pillory--the rack—the scourge—the boot—the gibbet-the axe— the stake-confiscation-mutilation-expatria' tion—are all very much at your service, whenever those who • broach novel opinions do not “ show cause,” to your satisfaction, that you would be wrong if you attempted to repress them.''


* The reasoning by which this writer attempts to establish these conclusions, is as curious as are the conclusions themselves. He actually thinks that the fact of being established, is a presumption of truth in a world where there are a thousand different systems of religious opinion established ; and yet it is not possible that more than one of these can be the absolute truth! He actually thinks that fixedness, is presumption of truth in a world where the most steadfast and ancient systems of re. VOL. LXXVI. NO, CLIV.


We should consider it as a melancholy waste of time to attempt a formal proof of the wickedness and folly of persecution. Yet, as it appears that in the year of grace 1841, it was possible for one who could at least write and spell—whatever other attributes of a rational nature he might have or want-to apologize for it, or rather to panegyrize it; it may not be uninstructive to exhibit, in one or two paragraphs, the crushing arguments by which the principles of religious freedom were first established; and the various modifications of the theory of persecution which its advocates were contented to frame, before they would wholly forego it. And most impressive it is to see how tenacious of life the monster was ;-how many and oft repeated the exorcisms by which the demon was at length expelled.

We shall merely state the principal arguments; to state them is now enough. It was argued then-That it is not within a ruler's

ligious opinion have been, and are, notoriously, those of the worst superstition ! – Unalterableness,' a mark of truth in a world where the great innovation that is at length to remedy its miseries was reserved till four thousand years after its creation !_Change,' a characteristic of error in a world the great law of which is incessant change! It is true that “unalterableness' is an attribute of truth, inasmuch as truth is always one and the same; but he would have us infer that what has been long “unaltered' is true ;' if this were so, as already shown, there would be a thousand different and conflicting systems of truth in the world. With equal logic, this writer actually imagines that the injunction, Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called,' has something to do with the determination of the present question ;—that an in. junction not capriciously to change our secular profession can be any warrant for inflicting penalties on those who innovate on established opinions in religion, because it is a probable case that they are actuated thereto by caprice and tickleness; or that it can justify acquiescence in opinions or practices which the conscience disapproves! Truly, this text of • abiding in that calling wherein we are called,' is a short method of effectually settling the scruples of a restless conscience, and of insuring, to the world's end, that there shall be no further conversions from one system of opinions to another. The various castes are fixed, and let not any go out of them. He that is a Brahmin, let him be a Brahmin still; he that is a Mahometan, let him be a Mahometan still; he that is a Chris. tian-Calvinist or Arminian, Episcopalian or Presbyterian-let him be such still; for, • let every man abide in that calling wherein he is called.' One cannot wonder, after this, that Thomas Aquinas should have been able to prove that it is the duty of inferiors in the Church to submit to their superiors, from the words, • The oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them;' nor at the astuteness of that Papist who affirmed the propriety of worshipping the saints, because it is written God is wonderful in all his works.'

province to determine the religion of his subjects—he having no commission to attempt it; not from Scripture, for Peter and Paul preached Christianity in defiance of the magistrate; not from compact on the part of the people, for few would, and none could if they would, surrender to another the care of their salvation : That religion, except as intelligent and voluntary, is nothing worth: That in the very nature of things, the employment of force to make men believe, is a palpable absurdity : That, for example, the thumbscrew can never make a man believe the doctrine of the Trinity; and that, if it make him say he believes it when he does not, all that the thumbscrew does is to make the man a liar and hypocrite, in addition to being a heretic: That the unprincipled will escape by conforming, and only the conscientious be punished; so that the sole result is perjury on the one hand, and gratuitous suffering on the other: That the alleged power is as inexpedient as it is unjust ; for rulers are no more likely to know the truth than private persons, nor so likely as many, as is proved by the diversity of opinions among rulers themselves : That if the rulers' religion be a false one, all the above evils are aggravated, for error has then all the advantage; those who are really converted being converted to error; those who only say they are converted, embracing error with a lie in their right hand; while the suffering falls solely on those who are in possession of the truth : That, supposing the right to compel resides in the magistrate, it must reside in every magistrate; and as truth is but one and error multiform, there will, on the whole, be a hundred-fold as much force employed against the truth as for it: That if it be said, as was often most vainly said, • it is the duty of the magistrate to compel only to the true religion,' the question returns, who is to be the judge of

truth ?' while, as each ruler will judge his own religion to be true, this is but going a roundabout way to the same point: That the system, if justifiable at all, will authorize and necessitate the utmost severities; for if it be the duty of the magis. trate to compel all to adopt his religion, the methods which will most surely and speedily effect this, will be the best ; that therefore, burning, hanging, torture, being the most thorough and most likely to be successful, are to be preferred : lastly, That after the most remorseless and protracted application of the system, history affords the most striking proofs that it can never be successful; that the uniformity sought can never be obtained; that the conscientious are only the more fully convinced of the truth of their system, whether it be truth or error ; that fortitude will be prepared to endure all that cruelty is prepared to inflict; and that not only in the history of Christianity, but in that of all re

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