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Persians, do they marry their own daughters; nor, among the Bactri or Galli, do they violate the sanctity of marriage ; por, wherever they are, do they suffer themselves to be overcome by ill-constituted laws and manners."

Socrates did not destroy the idolatry of Athens, or produce the slightest revolution in the manners of bis country.

But the argument to which I recur is, that the benefit of religion being felt chiefly in the obscurity of private stations, necessarily escapes the observation of history. From the first general notification of Christianity to the present day, there have been in every age many millions whose names were never heard of, made better by it, not only in their conduct, but in their disposition; and happier, not so much in their external circumstances, as in that which is inter præcordia, in that which alone deserves the name of happiness the tranquillity and consolation of their thoughts. It has been, since its commencement, the author of happiness and virtue to millions and millions of the human

Who is there that would not wish his son to be a Christian?

Christianity also, in every country in which it is professed, hath obtained a sensible, although not a complete influence upon the public judgment of morals. And this is very important. For without the occasional correction which public opinion receives by referring to some fixed standard of morality, no man can foretell into what extravagancies it might wander. Assassination might become as honourable as duelling. Unnatural crimes be accounted as venial as fornication In this way it is possible, that many may be kept in order by Christianity, who are not themselves Christians. They may be guided by the rectitude which it communicates to public opinion. Their consciences may suggest their duty truly, and they may ascribe these suggestions to a moral sense, or to the native capacity of the human intellect, when in fact they are nothing more than the public opinion reflected from their own minds ; an opinion, in a considerable degree, modified by the lessons of Christianity. 6. Certain it is, and this is a great deal to say, that the generality, even of the meanest and most vulgar and ignorant people, have truer and wor. thier notions of God, more just and right apprehensions concerning his attributes and perfections, a deeper sepse of the difference of good and evil, a greater regard to moral obligations and to the plain and most necessary duties of life,

and a more firm and universal expectation of a future


state of rewards and punishments, than, in any heathen country, any considerable number of men were found to have had."*

After all, the value of Christianity is not to be appreciated by its temporal effects. The object of revelation is to influence human conduct in this life; but what is gained to happiness by that influence, can only be estimated by taking in the whole of human existence. Then, as hath already been observed, there may be also great consequences of Christianity, which do not belong to it as a revelation. The effects upon human salvation, of the mission, of the death, of the present, of the future agency of Christ, may be universal, though the religion be not universally known.

Secondly, I assert that Christianity is charged with many consequences, for which it is not responsible. I believe that religious motives have had no more to do in the formation of nine-tenths of the intolerant and persecuting laws, which in different countries have been established upon the subject of religion, than they have had to do in England with the making of the game-laws. These measures although they have the Christian religion for their subject, are resolyable into a principle, which Christianity certainly did not plant, (and which Christianity could not universally condemn, because it is not universally wrong) wbich principle is no other than this, that they who are in possession of power do what they can to keep it. Christianity is answerable for no part of the mischief which has been brought into the world by persecution, except that which has arisen from conscientious persecutors. Now these perhaps have never been either numerous or powerful. Nor is it to Christianity that even their mistake can fairly be imputed. They have been misled by an error, not properly Christian or religious, but by an error in their moral philosophy. They pursued the particular, without adverting to the general consequence. Believing certain articles of faith, or a certain mode of worship, to be highly conducive, or perhaps essential to salvation, they thought themselves bound to bring all they could, by every means into them. And this they thought, without considering what would be the effect of such a conclusion, when adopted amongst mankind as a general rule of conduct. Had there been in the New Testament, what there are in the Koran, precepts authorising coercion in the propagation of the religion, and the use of violence towards unbelievers, the case would

Clark, Ev. Nat. Rev. p. 208, ed. v.

have been different. This distinction could not have been taken, or this defence made.

I apologize for no species nor degree of persecution, but I think that even the fact has been exaggerated. The slave-trade destroys more in a year, than the inquisition does in a hundred, or perhaps hath done since its foundation.

If it be objected, as I apprehend it will be, that Christianity is chargeable with every mischief, of which it has been the occosion, though not the motive; I answer, that if the malevolent passions be there, the world will never want occasions. The noxious element will always find a conductor. Any point will produce an explosion. Did the applauded intercommunity of the Pagan theology preserve the peace of the Roman world? Did it prevent oppressions, proscriptions, massacres, devastations ? Was it bigotry that carried Alexander into the East, or brought Cesar into Gaul ? are the nations of the world, into which Christianity hath not found its way, or from which it hath been banished, free from contentions ? are their contentions less ruinous and sanguinary? Is it owing to Christianiiy, or to the want of it, that the finest regions of the East, the countries inter quatuor maria, the peninsula of Greece, together with a great part of the Mediterranean coast, are at this day a desert: that the banks of the Nile, whose constantly renewed fertility is not to be impaired by neglect, or destroyed by the ravages of war, serves only for the scene of a ferocious anarchy, or the supply of unceasing hostilities ? Europe itself has known no religious wars for some centuries, yet has hardly ever been without war. Are the calamities, which at this day afflict it, to be imputed to Christianity ? Hath Poland fallen by a Christian crusade ? Hath the overthrow in France, of civil order and security, been effected by the votaries of our religion, or by the foes ? Amongst the awful lessons, which the crimes and the miseries of that country afford to mankind, this is one, that, in order to be a persecutor it is not necessary to be a bigot; that in rage and cruelty, in mischief and destruction, fanaticisin itself can be outdone by infidelity.

Finally, it war, as it is now carried on between nations, produce less misery and ruin than formerly, we are indebted, perhaps, to Christianity for the change, more than to any other cause. Viewed therefore even in its relation to this subject, it appears to have been of advantage to the world. It hath humanized the conduct of wars; it bath ceased to excite them.


The differences of opinion, that have in all ages prevailed amongst Christians, fall very much within the alternative which has been stated. If we possessed the disposition which Christianity labours, above all other qualities, to inculcate, these differences would do little harm. If that disposition be wanting, other causes, even were these absent, would continually rise up, to call forth the malevolent passions into action. Differences of opinion, when accompanied with mutual charity, which Christianity forbids them to violate, are for the most part innocent, and for some purposes useful. They promote inquiry, discussion, and knowledge. They help to keep up an attention to religious subjects, and a concern about them, which might be apt to die away in the calm and silence of universal agreement. I do not know that it is in any degree true, that the influence of religion is the greatest, where there are the fewest dissenters.

are all


The Conclusion. IN religion, as in every other subject of human reasoning, much depends upon the order in which we dispose our inquiries. A man who takes up a system of divinity with a previous opinion that either every part must be true, or the whole false, approaches the discussion with great disadvantage. No other system, which is founded upon moral evidence, would bear to be treated in the same manner. Nevertheless, in a certain degree, we introduced to our religious studies under this prejudication; and it cannot be avoided. The weakness of the human judgment in the early part of youth, yet its extreme susceptibility of impression, renders it necessary to furnish it with some opinions, and with some principles or other. Or indeed, without much express care, or much endeavour for this purpose, the tendency of the mind of man, to assimulate itself to the habits of thinking and speaking which prevail around him, produces the same effect. That indifferency and suspense, that waiting and equilibrium of the judgment, which some require in religious matters, and which some would wish to be aimed at in the conduct of education, are impossible to be preserved. They are not given to the condition of human life.

It is a consequence of this situation that the doctrines of sazio in cime a jeding he mos mi me D 5 at mnr3 I smilicaims mi nierze im ucí co Oniic. 35 Im le. ing. Hai tie ziedi puch too Sering *mirsimy jeng rasantet 7 the stuterrassing ni jirn E. in vie ny rices rich 357ezt **** I. Darici de muralesan ct the 16831,1 s um procesi, den i 751 mii cocctent tincem, kao ? an 1szimmzz y rejet de vie. Bot a tha 166 CE era rien e. 13. Ta de re igion? The nimal 1917 stato a BEST OC sich ackcowlest raportance tent. je irst pula to the teral and entertai ruh or in peindes al to that

When we once feel a torta. Wen we once perceiro a grand of cestiality in a bicy. we shall proceed with satesy to iparire into the interpretio of its Tesorts, and into the doctrines which have been deduced from them. Vor will it either endanger oer itib, or diminish or alter or motives for obedience. if resbeald discover that these concisions are formed with diferent degrees of protralvility, and postesa different degrees of importance.

This conduct of the jodersta tirg. dictated by every rule of right reasoning, will ophold personal Christianity even in those coontries in which it is establisbed under forms the most liable to difficulty and objection. It will also have the further effect of guarding us against the prejudices which are wont to arise in our minds to the disadvantage of religion, from observing the numerous controversies which are carried on amongst its professors, and likewise of inducing a spirit of lenity and moderation in our judgment, ay well as in our treatment, of those who stand, in such controversies, upon sides opposite to ours. What is clear in Christianity we shall find to be sufficient, and to be infinitely valuable; what is dubious, unnecessary to be decided, or of very subordinate importance; and what is most obecuro, will teach us to bear with the opinions which othors may have formed upon the same subject. We shall way to those, who the most widely dissent from us, what Augustine said to the worst heretics of his age : « Ili in vos na viant, qui noscient, cum quo labore verum inveniatur, et quam dinlelle caveantur errores--qui nesciunt, cum quantâ dificultate sunetur oculus interioris hominis qui nesciunt, quibus sopirils et gemitibus fiat, ut ex quantulacunque parte poweit intelligi Deus." Ajudgmont, moreover, which is once pretty well satisfi

· Auga Centr. Ep. fundo mnp. 2. n. 2. 3.

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