Imágenes de páginas

It is much the same with regard to most of those points, in which the protestants and us at present differ; some of them are of little or no consequence, others again are more serious; but even in these latter, the rage of disputation is so far subsided, that the protestants now-a-days, no longer preach upon controversial points in any of their churches.

Let us then seize this period of disgust or fatiety for such matters, or rather, indeed, of the prevalence of reason, as an epocha for restoring the public tranquility, of which it seems to be a pleasing earnest. Controversy, that epidenical malady is now in its decline, and requires nothing more than a gentle regimen. In a word, it is the interest of the state, that these wandering fects, who have so long lived as aliens to their father's house, on their returning in a submissive and peaceable manner, should meet with a favourable reception; humanity seems to demand this, reason advises it, and good policy, can have nothing to apprehend from it.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

If Non-TOLERATION is agreeable to the Law

of NATURE and of Society.


HE law of nature is that which nature

points out to all mankind. You have brought up a child, that child owes you a respect

a as its parent, and gratitude as its benefactor. You have a right over the productions of the earth which you have raised by the labour of your own hands; you have given and received a promile, that promise ought to be kepta

[ocr errors]

The law of society can have no other foundation in any case than on the law of nature. 6. Do not that to another which thou wouldeit not he should do unto thee”, is the great and universal principle of both throughout the earth: now, agreeable to this principle, can one man fay to another, “ Believe that which I believe, " and which thou thyself can'ít not believe, or “ thou shalt die ?” And yet this is what is every day said in Portugal, in Spain, and at Goa.

In some other countries indeed, they now con| tent themselves with saying, “ Believe as I do, I will hold thee in abhorrence; believe like me,



I will do thee all the evil I can : wretch, as thou art not of my religion, and therefore 6 thou hast no religion at all, and oughtest to ç be held in execration by thy neighbours, thy 66 city, and thy province.”

If the law of society directs such a conduct, the Japanese ought then to hold the Chinese in deteftation'; the latter the Siamese, who should persecute the inhabitants of the Ganges; and they fall upon those of India ; the Mogul fhould put to death the first Malabar he found in his kingdom; the Malabar should poignard the Persian ; the Persian massacre the Turk; and, altogether, thould fall upon us Chriftians, who have so many ages been cutting one another's throats.

The law of persecution then is equally ab furd and barbarous ; it is the law of tygers : nay, it is even still more favage, for tygers de. ftroy only for the sake of food, whereas we bave butchered one another on account of a fen. tence or a paragraph,




IF NON-TOLERATION was known among the




HE several nations with which history.

has made us in part acquainted, did all consider their different religions as ties by which they were united; it was the association of human kind. There was a kind of law of hospi.. tality among the Gods, the fame as amongst

If a stranger arrive in any town, the first thing he did was to pay his adoration to the Gods of the country, even though they were the Gods of his enemies. The Trojans. offered up prayers even to those Gods who fought for the Greeks.


Alexander made a journey into the defarts of Lybia, purposely to consult the God Ammon, to whom the Greeks gave the name of Zeus, and the Latins that of Jupiter, though both countries had their Jupiter and their Zeus amongst themselves. When they sat down before any town or city, they offered up facrifices and prayers to the gods of that city or town, to render them propitious to their undertaking. Thus, even in the midst of war, religion united mankind; and though it might sometimes prompt them to exercise the most inhuman cruelties, at other times it frequently foftened their fury.


I may be mistaken, but it appears to me, that not one of all the civilized nations of antiquity, ever laid a restraint upon liberty of thinking. They had all a particular religion ; but they seemed to have acted in this respect towards men in the same manner as they did towards their gods; they all acknowledged one fupreme Being, though they associated with him an infinite number of inferior deities :: in like manner, though they had but one faith, yet They admitted a multitude of particular systems.

The Greeks, for example, though a very religious people, were not offended with the Epicureans, who denied Providence and the exift. ence of the soul; not to mention divers other fects, whose tenets were all of them repugnant to the pure ideas we ought to entertain of a Creator, and yet were all of them tolerated.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »