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revelation, and prevented all examination into its evidence or doctrines, notwithstanding the many declarations it contains to the contrary : If ye believe not me, said our Saviour, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him *; which is a manifest appeal to the understanding of the Jews, implying, that they ought to infer his mission from the wonders which he wrought. Go, says he elsewhere, and show John these things :—the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them; and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me t; which conveys another appeal of the same nature. On another occasion he directs the Jews to search the scriptures, because in them was eternal life 1. And when the Pharisees with the Sadducees required of him a sign from heaven, he answered, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, there cometh a shower, and so it is; and when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, there will be heat, and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? Yea, and why cven of yourselves judge ye not what is right* ? Which contains a vehement exprobration of their neglect to make the same use of their understandings in spiritual as they did in natural things. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Bereans are commended as more noble (EU/Ev=5&poi, better-born, or of a more liberal and generous nature) than those of Thessalonica, because they received the word with all readiness, and searched the scriptures daily whether these things were sot. Prove all things, says the apostle to the Thessalonians, hold fast that which is good [. And again he thus addresses the Corinthians : My brethren, be not children in understanding, howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be menş. I have cited these passages to show, that christianity both commands and encourages a fair and serious examination; that its genius is noble and generous, and rejects all violent and coercive methods; as being perfectly sufficient by its own light and efficacy alone, without any aid from such mechanical force, both to convince the understanding, and to captivate the heart to the obedience of faith. .
* John x. 38.
+ Matt. xi. 5,6.
John v. 39.
3. A third argument against intolerance in religion is, that it affords a presumption against the religion itself it is meant to support; as may appear from the following considera
And, first, we may observe that, in general, violence is less a character of strength than of weakness, and especially in things intellectual or moral. When a man is clear and decided in his judgment, he is better able to brook opposition than when he is cloudy and wavering. He feels the force of the old adage, magna est veritas et prevalebit; he is secure and temperate in the defence of a cause which he knows must triumph; and is more disposed to regard its enemies with forbearance and pity, than to pursue them with a rash and cruel resentment. There are few persons, I suppose,
who may not recollect, that in their literary or religious debates, they have been most gentle and tolerant, when they have had the clearest evidence on their side; and that a consciousness of strength has, in this case, inspired them with moderation; and, on the contrary, that they have been most intolerant and irascible when reason has most failed them. Nor was the honest countryman much out in his judgment, who (as is said) excused his going to hear a Latin disputation at the university, by observing, that he should know which of the parties was foiled in the contest, by noting him who first lost his temper. Thus a violent spirit furnishes to the most simple bystander a presumption against the goodness of the cause in which it is employed; and to him who is actually galled and smarting under the rod of persecution, we cannot wonder if this presumption should be advanced to a reputed certainty.
Another branch of this argument against intolerance may thus be deduced. Divine truth is perhaps of all other the most difficult to be attained or communicated. Its
ancient alliance with the human mind being broken, we are now apt to regard it with suspicion, to entertain it with jealousy, to be startled with any slight objection against it, and to be offended with every appearance of intemperate zeal or of misconduct in its friends or advocates. An experience of these sad effects of our common apostasy will dispose a wise and good man to forbearance; he will say, let those deal harshly with opposers, who have never known the difficulties that lie in the way of truth, and the darkness in which it is often involved; who have never been duly sensible of the weakness of human understanding, and of the innumerable prejudices and passions which impede its progress, and fetter its exertions. Hence, from a want of forbearance, may be inferred a want of examination, or serious inquiry; and what we have not sought, it is not probable we have found. · And thus will the conclusion again follow, that intolerance in religion forms by itself a just objection against the very religion it is meant to support.
It may further be observed under this