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to invalidate and even destroy the use, and being of the nature of a simple fact, leaves no room for recurring to a venal judge's interpretation. These properties demand punishment, as mak, ing it both necessary and safe. But there is another kind of abuse that destroys not, but only discredits the use; and in which the matter of right being intimately involved in that of fact, a magistrate bas the largest latitude of interpretation : bere punishment, for very obvious reasons, is neither necessary nor safe. That the abuse of ridicule, viz. against religion, is of this latter kind, is evident.-But besides these two kinds of abuse, which we may call original, there are two others derived from these, and compounded of them : as first, an abuse that only discrédits the use, though it be of the nature of a simple fact; and of this kind is that which is the subject of the se. cond head of this discourse, viz. the Dissemination of the Ministry of the Established Worship: secondly, an abuse that destroys the use, but where yet the matter of fact is intricately involved in that of right; of wbich kind is the subject of our third head, viz. a vicious Disregard to Truth and Falsehood, Now in neither of these cases, should I think it fitting for the State to interfere : In the first it is not necessary; in the second it is not safe. And I presume it to be a maxim in politics, not to punish, but where these two qualities of necessity and safety concur. In a word then, all that we desire is your amendment; without any sinister aim of calling upon the magistrate to quicken you. So I leave you, as I dare say will he, to yourselves.
“ Mend when you can, grow better at your leisure.
“Nor let any good man be above measure scandalized for your faults ; or more impatient for your reformation than mere charity requires. I do not know what panic the present monstrous growth of infidelity may have thrown some of us into : I, for my part, confide so much in the goodness of our cause, that I too could be tempted to laugh in my turn*.”
One thing in this argument of the bishop against prosecuting free discussion is very remarkable and very important. He says expressly, that it is not safe to make subject to punishment any ollence wbich cannot beso exactly limited and defined, as that nothing shall be left to the arbitrary interpretation of the judge; the venal judge he calls him ; justly intimating, that a judge is as liable to infirmities as other men, and from
* Dedication to the Freethinkers of The Divine Legation of Moses,
his situation sure to be exposed, at the hand of power, to more than ordinary temptations.
We hope it is not reserved to the present day to see renewed those unhappy scenes which such men as Campbell and War. burton thus fervently deprecate.
One remark it may be piecessary to make; not, we think, on account of the sincere, but on account, possibly, of the captious and hypocritical. It is one thing, to say, that the expression of such or such an opinion ought not to be punished ; and another, and a very different thing, to approve of the opinion itself. There are many erroneous and many pernicious opinions, opinions fraught with ruin to the dearest interests of mankind; of the expression or publication of which, we should notwithstanding deprecate and oppose the punishment with every lawful
lawful effort of wbich our Maker has rendered us capable. Many persons entertain opinions respecting government, which are tantamount to the declaring that absolute monarchy is the best form of government; and there are many publications solely or chiefly employed in giving currency to these doctrines. We decm (and we hope it will not be thought unjustly) these opinions to be extremely pernicious in their tendency ; but there is no degree of ear. nestness with which we should not contend against any proposal to restrain the publication of them by punishment. There are many persons who are jealous of the liberty of the press; and we daily bear doctrines zealously propagated respecting it, which if carried into practice would destroy that great source of human improvement; that test and security of freedom ; that prime instrument by means of wbich the calamities that beset mankind are daily removed, and the felicities of which this our state of existence is susceptible, are daily increased. Yet with equal intensity should we exert ourselves to prevent any measure which should restrain the freedom of declaring opinions hostile to the liberty of the press. When we oppose, ourselves, therefore, along with great and good men, to the restraining by punishment the declaring of opinions inconsistent with Christianity, we only rank Christianity among the other great instruments of human good; and say that the more certain its truth, the more absurd as well as wicked it is to seek any other arms than those of reason for its propagation and support.
As we think that this grand point cannot be too strongly supported, either by agument, or by the authority of men, the most admired for their wisdom and virtue, who have enter
tained, respecting it, sentiments corresponding with our own, we shall adduce in its behalf two passages from two of the most celebrated divines, and two of the greatest characters, which the church of England, or any other church, ever produced. The first is from the remarkable Discourse of Jeremy Taylor, on the Liberty of Prophesying *. “It is, says he, 6. unnatural and unreasonable to persecute disagreeing opi. nions. Unnatural; for understanding, being a thing wholly spiritual, cannot be restrained, and, therefore, neither punished by corporal inflictions. It is in aliena republici, a matter of another world. You may as well cure the colic by brushing a man's clothes, or till a man's belly with a syllogism. These things do not communicate in matter, and therefore neither in action nor passion. And since all punishments, in a prudent government, punish the offender to prevent a future crime, and so it proves more melicinal than vindictive, the punitive act being in order to the cure and prevention ; and since no punisłmment of the body can cure a disease in the soul; it is disproportionable in nature, and in all civil government, to punish where the punishment can do no good. It may be an act of tyranny, but never of justice. For, is an opinion ever the more true or false for being persecuted ? Some men have belicyed it the more, as being provoked into a confidence, and vexol into a resolution. But the thing it. self is not the truer: and though the hangman may confute a man with an inexplicable dilemma, yet not convince his understanding; for such premises can infer no conclusion but that of a man’s life: and a wolf may as well give laws to the understanding, as he whose dictates are only propounded in violence, and writ in blood : and a dog is as capable of a law as a man, if there be no choice in his obedience, nor discourse in his choice, nor reason to satisfy his discourse. And as it is unatural, so is it unreasonable, that Sempronius should force Caius to be of his opinion, because Sempronius is consul this year, and commands the lictors. Force, in matters of opinion, can do no good ; but is very apt to do hurt; for no man can change his opinion when he will, or be satisfied in his reason that his opinion is false because discountenanced. If a man could change his opinions when he lists, be might cure many inconveniences of his life: all his fears and his sorrows would soon disband, if he would but alter his opinion, whereby he is persuaded that such an accident that affects him is an
* Sect. 13. $ 10, 11.
evil, and such an object formidable. Let him but believe himselí impregnable, or that he receives a benefit when he is plundered, disgraced, condemned, afllicted ; neither his sleeps need to be disturbed, nor his quietness discomposed. But if a man cannot change his opinion when he lists, nor ever does, heartily or resolutely, but when he cannot do otherwise; then, to use force may make him an lypocrite, but never to be a right believer : and so, instead of erecting a trophy to God and truc religion, we build a monument for the devil.”
How different the clear, rational, and satisfactory doctrine of this great and good man, from that of an attorney-general, and a lord chief justice, in the work of offering up an unliappy, victim ! “ Can there be any doubt,” said the attorney-general on a late occasion, “ that this blasphemous book, the great object of which is to lay the axe to the root of religion ; to expel it entirely from our minds; to persnade us that the whole of it is a fiction; to bring into disrepute that by which we are to be guided, and by means of which we hope finally to prevail in another and a better world ; can there be any doubt of its pernicious tendency?" Oh yes, most learned sir, great doubt. Listen, sir, to such men as Doctor Campbell, and with all your theological knowledge you need not be ashamed to do it; and lie will tell you, that the writings of infidels have done good to Christianity, and never can, from the nature of the case, do it any harm. Read, sir, the
passage at the beginning of this article. Dr. Campbell there tells you, that you do not at bottom believe Christianity; that by your conduct in this case you are proclaiming to all the world your distelief. Ile says, “ It is owing to a diffidence in the goodness of your cause, si. e. the truth of Christianity,) and in that alone, that you recur, for the suppression of infidelity, to any more forcióle method than a candid answer to its objections. He tells you, sir, that you are doing a disservice to religion, an act of a kind at which he was ashamed and grieved. Your words, sir, loudly profess belief; but whatever the power of your rhetoric, your actions, sir, are more eloquent things than your words. Listen now to Dr. Warburton. In the passage which we liave quoted above (p. 219) he says, “ You cannot inflict the punishment which you are at work inflicting, without great mischief to literary and religious liberty." “ Literary and religious liberty," sir, are precious things, whatever you may think of thein. And “the great mischief” which you are inflicting upon them, is inflicted by an act which does Christianity “ a disservice,” which implies
diffidence” of it in all those who authorize or are concerned in the transaction, howsoever they may pretend that it is their belief which is urging them to the preposterous act.
Even the Bishop of Landaff, Dr. Watson, says *, “ The freedom of inquiry, which has subsisted in this country during the present century, bas eventually been of great service to the cause of Christianity. It must be acknowledged that the works of our deistical writers have made some converts to infidelity at home, and that they have furnished the esprits forts of France and the frey-geisters of Germany with every material objection to our religion, which they have of late years displayed with mucli affectation of originality : but at the same time we must necds allow, that these works have stimulated some distinguished characters amongst the laity, and many amongst the clergy, to exert their talents in removing such difficulties in the Christian system, as would otherwise be likely to perplex the unlearned, to shipwreck the faith of the unstable, and to induce a reluctant scepticism into the minds of the most serious and best intentioned....... The Christian religion has nothing to fear from the strictest investigation of the most learned of its adversaries."
We would earnestly recommend the study of such works as Campbell's Essay on Miracles, and Watsou's Theological Tracts, to all attorneys-general. If we may judge by some Jate specimens of the theology of learned gentlemen, their speeches on religious libels would be much the better for it. They might cut a better ligure too than is often cut on these subjects, when they come to the bench. A chief justice so prepared, and so instructed, would not we think have said, as on a late occasion, “ Beside the doctrine thus laid down, (viz. the doctrine of the common law,) there are several statutes on the subject, particularly one made in the reign of King William, by which the denying of the Christian religion is punishable by severe penaltics ; and it is the humanity of those who prosecute, which has induced them not to indict under that act, the pains and penalties attached to which are much greater than those of the coinmon law.” We do hope that this is the last chief justice who will boast “ of the statute made in the reign of King William ;” though there was a little inconsistency in first boasting of the law, and then praising the humanity of leaving it unexecuted ; that is, praising its proper guardians for violating it. The lord chief justice, moreover, slipped a little in his law. The defendant, in the act
* Preface, p. 12, to a Collection of Theological Tracts.