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ON RELIGIOUS PFRSECUTION.
LETt F. R VI 11. • We do not pretend to destroy error by force and “ violence.” I)iscourse of the Clergy of France to Louis 13th.
MIFA BAND, in his System de la Nature, which may be considered the Bible of Materialism, says, that “Preists unceas: “ ingly repeat, it is pride, , vanity, and “ the desire of distinguishing himself from “ the generality of mankind, that deter“ milies man to incredulity. In this they act like the great, who treat all those as “ insolent who refuse to cringe before “ them. Would not every rational inan “ have a right to ask a Priest—Where “ is thy superiority in matters of reason“ing 1–What motives can I have to sub“ mit my reason to thy delirium ?--On “ the other hand, may it not be said to the Clergy, that it is Interest that “ makes them priests; that it is Interest “ which renders them. Theologians; that * it is the Interest of their pride, of their “‘avarice, and their Systems, of which tley alone reap (i.e. beat it.”–11 is a great misfortune that the bulk of Mankind can seldom give those persons credit for virtue or sincerity whose opinions are nucl: “I josed to their own.—f or my part, as a pricitive U bristian) I am a decided eneury to an order of t.en called Priests, because I am convin, ed that Jesus was too sensible a person to have invented, on encouraged, in the slightest degree, an inst, ation so pregnant with Casanjity to the Choch of God as that of Priestcraft. – And titough I think that the Sys
tems of Religion most in vogue at present eught to be denoulinated Priestianity, instead of Christianity,
I am bv. no means so is liberal as to assert that all priests are hypocrites. I am seriously persuaded that numbers of them take up their office entirely through zeal and enthusiasm in the cause of Christ, and with the sole view to the salvation of souls, by bringing them within the paie of their conventicle. ‘I his, to be sure, is most applicable to the dissenting interest; for having, in the days of my youth, been a fanatic, at:d a pleacher among theid, "I ought to be acquainted with some of the motives that influence - their conduct. With regard to the State religion, its ministers are brought rp. to it in a more tradessa-like manuer, and are not likely to
be so sincere and serious as those who are induced to officiate through the inapulse of their own feelings, which is commonly termed, “a call of God.” If a nobleman or gentleman has several sons, the principal part of his fortune goes to the eldest, and the remainder must fleece the public in the character of a priest, a soldier, or a legalized pickpocket. How many a young man is brought up to the trade of a priest with
out having the least taste for the craft, .
or a single serious view; yet, before he can be admitted into the exercise of his business; he is obliged to make a false oath, aud" swear he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take that office upon him, when he ought rather to say, “I am moved by the spirit of emolument.”— But even these kind of men, unless they are thinkers, are not always hypocrites. Though they do not act up to the character of a spiritual christian, their education has led them to believe in the t1uth of their religion.---I am aware that thousands of them do not credit
besides being persecuted by the Priests and all fanatical bigots. A man can only be credulous, or abound in faith, or incredulous,and be a sceptic,according as those thi::gs which are proposed for his belief striae his understanding, over which he has no command ; he must submit to be guided by the impressions it receives, whether strong or weak, right or wrong, He is much more likely to be governed by ambition, pride, vanity, ostentation, and sordid a varice, when he puts on the garb of religion, (so current a cominodity with the world in general,) than if he confessed himself an infidel, which would immediately raise the public voice against him, and cause him to be looked
upon as a bad man, who, wanting faith
in incomprehensibles and incredibles, could not possibly possess good morals, or be a worly member of society. The ignorant, bigotted, end superstitious, are many ; the enlightened, rational, and sceptical, very few, and those few often concealed. The stimulus to action must therefore be on the side of the hypocritical religious, rather than on that of the ostentatious oeist. But I cannot, easily believe that there are any persons who have faith and profess infidelity, because I can see so few cases where a person would have an interest in so doing. Nothing is more absurd than to think people cannot be sincere in the opinions they profess, merely because they appear monstrous or ridiculous to us. Such is the effect of education, habit, situation, and circumstances, that I can credit the superstition even of learned Bishops, and eminent Philosophers; and such is the force of human reason, when once the mind is set free, that I can equally give credence to its arrival at the speculations of Deism, the doubts of Scepticism, and even the cold and cheerless decisions of Materialism (so unflattering to self) with the same implicit sincerity as the dying Christian, or Mahomedan, yields his soul into the hands of his Maker.—The reason why I have said thus much of the Priesthood, without coming to Religious Persecution, my favourite theme, is that I consider the spirit of persecution to have
emanated from Priestcraft. If in the present instance, therefore, I labour uore in developing the cause, than in describing the offect, I trust I shall be considered as still supporting the title I am writing under, which I deem equally comprehensive with that of toleration, upon which entire treatises have been published. The Priesthood of every sect promulgate dogmas, which they assert are essentially necessary to be believed by those who wish to obtain salvation. They shew some ancient traditions, which they tell us are infallible, and were written by divine inspiration ; that they are the words of eternal truth ; and that if we cannot enthusiastically believe every iota of them, we shall be consigned to everlasting damnation. In consequence of these doctrines, the nurse begins to impress certain notions on our memory the moment we can talk; next the school-master confining them through the medium of a catechism, whereby we are asked certain questions (the wisdom or absurdity of which our infantine capacities are not capable of comprehending) and answers are put into our mouths, ready cut and contrived
These, by constant recapitulation, are
deeply imprinted on our minds, and we believe them the dictates of reason and truth.--Then comes the Priest, who puts his seal to the statement, already writen upon the blank sheet of our youthful understandings; inforces, with a particular emphasis, those ideas which have previously been infused in the mind; and inspires us with a peculiar reverence for sacerdotal offce. Having been brought to this trade, like other men to their respective avocations, he works upon the ignorant and superstitious with the same facility that the skilful muscan plays upon a well tuned instrument. We are instructed by him to read certain books and to believe implicitly every word they contain; to study them with a view to applaud and adore the matters they treat of; and we are terrified at the infamy with which those are branded who are so unfortunate as to doubt or disrespect any thing mentioned in those books, or that is uttered by the priest. We are honored up by the horrid sentence of an eternal roasting, if we should die without being able to believe ili those points, which our priest says are requisite to procure us a pass-port to the
to bring his calling into discredit, or to
tinue us in these errors, of which he only
mansion of bliss. He carefully conceals from our knowledge every thing likely
injure the profits of his craft. We thus grow up, bigotted to a variety of opinions adopted without examination, and which we have no better ground for erediticg than that we have been told they are correct, and that our friends and those around us think as we do. We are taught to refuse the evidence of our senses, to give up our reason as an unfaithful guide, and blindly to conform ourselves to the mandates of our spiritual director, whose interest it is to con
reaps the advantage.
Mr. CoB Bett, The infamy of the “ Times” newspaper needs not any further illustration than what has been given to it by a variety of your able correspondents, in addition to your own invaluable efforts in the glorious cause of exposing public delusion, and attempting to destroy that credulity of our countrymen which renders them the perpetual dupes of any one who will attenupt that species of deception, which is now almost proverbial with the conductors of our daily press. But there is one palpable contradiction to itself, which will, perhaps, cause even some of its readers to blush
APRIL, 8, 1815.
Peace or War, [438 Louis, and we are called upon to consider this trifiing coterie of the friends of parental sovereignty, as the nation of France. “Oh, it is quite “impossible (says the Times) but that “there must be a great many that are “devoted to the parental government of “Louis.” And this great number did absolutely nothing at the only time when any thing could be done. Unattended by an armed force that deserves cuy consideration in a country like France, the Emperor reached his capital without any inolestation: yet this we are told is no proof he was wished-for by the people. The air resounds with general acclamations and ’tis merely the cry of the rabble. But when the real raible begin to cry out on their side, their feeble crics are the voice of the nation, forsooth ! and we are not to look in the capital of France for the voice of the people, but in the obscure retreats, which are the patrimony of those who are interested in raising the deiusive hope of effectual resistance. I am, &c. JUVENIS.
PEACE OR WAR 2
Will she unsheath her bloodstain'd sword again,
at the confidence they repose in it, when they see the wretched prevarication and contemptible double-dealing it is obliged to resort to, to give its rhapsodies even an ideal plausibili'y.
You have doubtless perceived, Sir,
that the editor of the Times, constantly
Bongporte is as recocero his throne—not
A few, confessedly, i.
And swell the dreadful lost of England's slain :
In such a cause, will England wreck iner fame,
Do they not know, REForm alone can save
Barge prope:tion of tileo, are in favour of
That she must bend beneath a foreign yoke,
Buckinghamshire. Amon PATRIAE.
RETRENCHMENT AND REFORM.
Mr. Cop BETT.—The gross mis-management of the political concerns of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, seems to have acquired a sort of sanction from habit, so that als animadversion on the subject is deemed hackneyed, is regarded as a story too often told to interest further attention. But, Sir, you know very w ii, taat the axioms of morals are not less steady in their influence than those of physics, and that if it be physically impossible to render unequal means adequate to given ends, so is it alike impracticable to pursue ruinous courses of conduct, without ultimately incurring the inevitable ruin, attending such moral necessity. Is not, therefore, the scheme of expending mational treasure at the rate planned by the British Government, so widely unequal to the resources of the country, that it must, sooner or later, induce unavoidable ruin 7 Can the individual having five hundred pounds a year, afford, to expend at the rate of five thousand? Would he who could be at once so profligate and entertain an idea of lasting solvency, he deemed composmentis? Would not the Lord Chancellor of these realms, on application for that purpose, issue a decree of lunacy against the person who would attempt, to vindicate such an insaue-procedure? If small things then may be compared with great, what a dwarfish case of wasteful and wild expenditure is this, compared with what * gravely, is indeed legislatively, done and doing by the existing mode of Government To provide for the exigeneies of the day, without regarding the tremendous workings of a debt that can
not be seriously contemplated without hopeless dismay, seems to form the grand object of the parliamentary session.—The representative interests of the country would appear to be confined to authorising schemes of finance of an almost un-
bounded extent, and of course, fraught
with the eventual ruin of the people. To speak of the extravagant wasting of public money, of the corrupt purposes for which it is expended, and the grinding system of taxation by which it is furmished, is now become so very trite, so tamely common place, that it makes but little more impression on our “thinking “people” (as they have been piirased) than the usual cursory remarks on the prevailing weather. What is all this, senseless apathy, this base supineness, this stupid direliction of public spirit owing to? To say that we are degenerated, is a simple affirmation of an undeniable fact; but it would be important to state the cause of the degeneracy, for the purpose of retracing our wayward steps, that some chauce may be afforded of the British Isles being once again inhabited by Britons; that is to say, by a people worthy of those, who by manliuess, simplicity, courage, aud was dom, acquired the renown that raised and established the British name and character, This luckless degeneracy has for the most part grown out of the miserable taxing system, and the consequent unblushing dissipation of public money for ends and objects, at irreconcilable variance with the constitutional laws and liberties of the land. Money is a powerful engine of corruption, and the immense sums that have been wrung from the labours, and from the necessities even, of the people have been audaciously employed in purchasing, pensioning, and enslaving a large portion of the political independence of the country. No character is so despicable, either in self estimation or in public opinion, as the person who accepts a pecuniary consideration for indefinite services. In native and in honourable feeling, the Gelley. slave is a magnanimous being, compared to such a revolting wretch. The sentenced slave, has his person only fastened to the Galley, whilst his mind may be as free as the air he breathes, and alive to every just and generous sentiment that constitutes - the genuine pride and orna
ment of human existence; but the bought
and sold parasite, the dangler after pelf at the expence of all morality, possesses not a feeling but what degrades him beneath the beast of the field, and marks - him out as an object of universal disdain and contempt. How is this annihilating degeneracy to be reclaimed 2 You, Sir, have often answered the question, and if your admonition had been adopted, this country would have been at the present moment, at once the model and envy of the civilized world. You, Sir, have repeatedly said, that an unrestrained liberty of the press, a real annual representation of the people in parliament, with such retrenchment and economy in the national expenditure, as would supersede all necessity for burthensome taxation, would strike the hydra evil at its very source, would regenerate our fallen state, and cause our once happy nation, Phoemix-like, to emerge from the ashes of its own destruction, into resuscitated purity,
vigour, and prosperity.—Why then is not
this remedy tried? Can there be any risk in the experiment America has furnished a convincing proof of the beneficial effects of an unshackled press. It is, indeed, true, that it prints a great deal of falsehood; but then it also fearlessly tells the whole truth, which infinitely counterbalances and destroys the influence of what is false. It is the liberty to publish the false, and the restriction imposed on making known what is true, that do all the mischief. Mr. Sheridan once affirmed in the British House of Commons, that with the aid of a free press, he would defy whatever fleets and armies, state intriguers, spies, parasites, and traducers, that might be marshalled against him ; with that weapon alone, he would repel them all, would strip them of their imaginary power, and triumphantly hoid them up to merited derision and execration | By a real and an annual representation - all the sham work and foolish mockery of a wise institution would be avoided, whilst the shortness of the sitting would soon repossess the electors of that suffrage which they would take care to confide where it would not be likely to be abused. By this only wise and politic mode of procedure, an incessant check would be imposed on the representative, and the represented would be always able to correct the faults of representation. The British Constitution has provided this
guardian principle of political justice,
privilege. fully resumed, corruption, in all its forms
and authorises its application ; but British apathy and corruption have at least suspended, if not annulled this sacred If this master right were
and degrees, would soon shrink out of sight, and quickly cease under its beneficial influence; and without it no radical or lasting amendment can be effected. —Retrenchment means lopping off useless places, pensions, and emoluments, as the morbid excrescences of a corrupt and vitiating Government. The labourer is, indeed, worthy of his hire, but there should be no worthless hirelings for sinister purposes. The indispensable of. fices of Government should be frugally filled, and the most rigid economy should be observed in every department of the State. A system of Government founded on public justice and economy, will sustain itself by its own importance to the people. It becomes at once the basis of social order and of all public and private virtue. It will therefore be invulnerably secure ; the shafts of falsehood will not reach it, whilst the purity of truth will imperishably establish it. The Aherican
Government has this sort of moral secu
rity, and will continue to have it as long as it shall retain its present equitable and enlightened system of legislation. Its intrinsic worth will be its stable support, and all the powers on earth will not be able to overthrow it whilst it remains true to the sacred principles of freedom on which it is bottomed. Let the decrepid, the mutilated, and debased parent receive wholesome instruction from its offspring. Let America, in all its youth and vigour of legislative wisdom, admonish the councils of the British Government to unshackle the press, to give truth an unlimited imprimature, to be real in its representation, to be annual only in its legislative confidence, to abolish all useless expences, to be economical in all the out-goings of the State, to bring taxation within the moderate and natural limits prescribed by the unavoidable disbursements of Government. Then, indeed, and not till then, will the political condition of the British realms be regenerated and become worthy of her American sons, whose inimitable greatness, however, it must be confessed,' originated from a virtuous abandonment of British. degeneraoy. - A TRUE BRITON,