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Being the Substance of a Lecture delivered at Ebenezer Chapel,
BY G. BEAUMONT,
" For we have not followed cunningly devised fables. II. Pet. i. 16.
RICHARD BAYNES, 28, PATERNOSTER ROW,
AND SOLD BY S. WILKIN, NORWICH.
P R E F A CE.
There is a time to speak, says Solomon; and there may also be a time to write : and writing can have but two warrantable objects
to do good or to prevent evil; and both these objects may be resolved into onedoing good.
Those who have any acquaintance with the works of the Fathers of the primitive church, Origen, Tertullian, Gregory Nazianzen, &c. will find that no small portion of their writings were occasioned by the heretic and erroneous doctrines of those days: those great and good men found that they had not only to proclaim the truth, but to defend it also.
What was a duty then cannot be less so now; for the truths of religion are not like temporal commodities, which
often fluctuate in value; they are like their heavenly author—the same yesterday, to day, and forever.
But though I am an advocate for the defence of truth, yet as every man has an equal right to judge for himself what is truth, I would by no means have the truth defended by any other weapons than the pen and the press. For it is a maxim with me, that if bible truth be fairly pitched against falsehood, it is great and will prevail ! I therefore seriously deplore the practice of prosecuting men for their opinions, even though those opinions are obviously of an evil tendency. Is not all sin of an evil tendency? But ought we therefore to prosecute all sin ? Is it not utterly impracticable? Besides, the claiming the right to prosecute erroneous opinions, involves in it a most dangerous principle; which is,—that a few legislators or church dignitaries, or both, have a right to judge and arbitrate what doctrines and opinions shall be current among the great mass of mankind! Wherever this principle
has been predominant, and God knows it has prevailed, and does prevail even at this time, to an alarming degree, it has been a source of more mischief, more sorrow and suffering, than
any other cause that can be mentioned. The Book of Martyrs, and both sacred and profane history, besides a multitude of biographies, will certify the truth of these allegations.
No man in the nation is more at variance with the Theological principles of Mr. Carlisle than myself; but I cannot think that the plan adopted by the higher powers for the suppression of his principles, was the best that could have been pursued. I have been made to understand that the prosecution of this man had the effect of causing a very great demand for his bad books; of the truth of this I have little doubt. Besides a public prosecution when the alleged crime is only for writing or publishing, generally excites public sympathy in behalf of the person prosecuted; and every degree of such sympathy is just so much of a drawback upon the intended utility of the prosecution.