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All those false miracles by which you shake the credit due to real ones, the numberless absurd legends with which you clog the truths of the gospel, serve only to extinguish the pure flame of religion in our hearts. There are too many persons, who desirous of being instructed, but who have not the time for acquiring instruction, say the teachers of my religion have deceived' me, therefore there is no religion : it is better to throw myself into the arms of nature than those of error; and I had rather place my dependance on her law than in the inventions of men. Others again unhappily
greater lengths : they perceive that imposture has put a bridle in their mouths, and therefore will not submit even to the necessary curb of truth : they incline towards atheism, and run into depravity, because others have been impostors and persecutors.
Such are undeniably the consequences of pious frauds and superstitious fopperies. Mankind in general reason but by halves : it is certainly a very vicious way of arguing to say, that because the golden legend of Voraginus, and the Flower of Saints of the jesuit Ribadeneira, abound in nothing but absurdities, therefore there is no God: that the Catholics have
macred a great number of Hugonots, and the Hugonots in their turn have murdered a great number of Catholics, therefore there is no God: that certain bad men have made use of confeffion, the holy communion, and all the other facraments, as a means for perpetrating the most atrocious crimes, and therefore there is no God. For my part, I, on the contrary, Mould conclude from hence, that there is a God, who after this transitory life, in which we have wandered so far from the true knowledge of him, and have seen so many crimes committed under the fanation of his holy name, will at length deign to comfort us for the many dreadful calamities we have suffered in this life; for if we consider the many religious wars, and the forty papal schisms, which have almost all of them been bloody ; if we reflect upon the multitude of impoftures, which have almost all proved fatal ; the irreconcileable animofities excited by differences in opinions, and the numberless evils occasioned by false zeal; I cannot but believe that men have for a long time had their hell in this world.
CII A P. XI.
The ill Coni quences of NON-TOLERATION.
WAT then, it
THAT then, it may be demanded, shall
every one be allowed to believe only his own reason, and to think that that reason, whether true or falfe, fhould be the guide of his actions? Yes, certainly, provided he does not difturb the peace of community ; for man has it not in his power to believe or disbeJieve *
but he has it in his power to pay a proper respect to the established customs of his country; and if we say that it is a crime not to believe in the establifhed religion, we ourselves condemn the primitive Christians our forefathers, and justify those whom we accuse of having put them to death.
It may be replied, that the difference here is very great, because all other religions are of men, whereas the Catholic, Apoftolic and Roman church is of God alone. But let me leriously ask, Whether the divine origin of our
* See Mr. Lock's excellent letter
religion is a reason for establishing it by hatred, rage, banishment, confiscation of goods, imprisonment, tortures, and murder, and by solemn acts of thanksgiving to the Deity for such outrages ? The more assured we are of the divine authority of the Christian religion, the less does it become weak man to enforce the observance of it: if it is truly of God, God will support it without his assistance. Perfecution never makes any but hypocrites or rebels; a shocking alternative! Besides, ought we to endeavour to establish, by the bloody hand of the executioner, the religion of that God who fell by such hands, and who, while on earth, taught only mercy and forbearance ?
And here let us consider a while the dreadful consequences of the right of non-toleration; if it was permitted us to strip of his poffeffions, to throw into prison, or to take away the life of a fellow creature, who, born under a certain degree of latitude, did not profess the generally received religion of that latitude, what is there would exempt the principal persons of the state from falling under the like punishments ? Religion equally binds the monarch and the beggar. Accordingly, we know that upwards of fifty doctors or monks have maintained this ex
ecrable doctrine, That it was lawful to depose, or even to kill, such princes who did not agree with the established church; and we also know, that the several parliaments of the kingdom have on every occasion condemned these abominable decisions of still more abominable di
+ The jesuit Busembaum, and his commentator the Jesuit La Croix, tells us, that it " is lawful to “ kill any prince excommunicated by the pope, of “ whatsoever country, because the whole world “ belongs to the pope ; and that whoever accepts “ of, or executes such commission does a meritori“ ous and charitable act.” It is this maxim which 'seems to have been invented in the mad-houses of hell, that has almost stirred up all France against the Jesuits, who are now more than ever reproached for this doctrine, which they have so often preached up, and as often disavowed. They have endeavoured to justify themselves by producing nearly the same maxims in the writings of St. Thomas D'Acquinas and several Dominicans I. It is true indeed, that this St. Thomas, the angelic Doctor and Interpreter of the Divine Will, advan
| Peruse, if you can get it, the letter of a layman to a divine on the subject of St. Thomas, a jesuitical phamphlet published in 1762,