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little time since, that there was no other name than "CARLILE" over the door 84, Fleet Street?
Witness: I do not recollect.
Defendant: Is there not " R. Carlile?"
Witness: There may be.
Defendant: I thought you said you knew the nature and obligation of an oath.
Recorder: The simple difference of an initial letter can be no prevarication.
Defendant to Witness: Did you not positively asseverate on your oath, when that question was put to you, viz. whether there was any other letter, that there was not. Witness: I do not know that I did.
Defendant: You may go down.
Mr. Raven the chief Clerk to the Solicitor of the Treasury, was then put into the witness box and examined by the Defendant.
Defendant: What do you consider to be the nature and obligation of an oath?
Mr. Raven: To speak the truth, and nothing but the truth? Defendant: Who are you, Sir?
Mr. Raven: William Raven.
Defendant: Are you my ostensible prosecutor?
Mr. Raven: No, I am clerk to the Solicitor of the Treasury?
Defendant: Who is the Solicitor of the Treasury?
Mr. Raven: Yes.
Defendant: What is your opinion of blasphemy?
Mr. Raven: I consider it is reviling our blessed Saviour, and speaking evil of the Christian religion.
Defendant: What is the Christian religion?
Mr. Raven: A belief in the doctrines of our Saviour.
Defendant: Have you not heard, or do you not know, that there are innumerable sects of Christians under different denominations, who believe in tenets contrary to the Church of England?
Mr. Raven: Yes, certainly.
Defendant: Are they blasphemers?
Mr. Raven: I have nothing to do with that-I have told you my opinion.
Defendant: You may go down.
The libel was then read over, after which the prisoner addressed the Jury to the following effect:
Gentlemen of the Jury,-Under any other circumstances than those for which I am arraigned before you, did I stand here under different charges from those stated in the indictment, perhaps I might feel something like a want of assurance to address you. As it is, emboldened by a feeling of conscious innocence, I stand here to defend myself from a false and most unwarrantable aspersion af my character. I am charged with being a wicked, malicious, and evil disposed person. It is with all the dignity which an honest man must feel, that I stand forward to rebut these charges: for I consider it is the duty of every one who possesses a regard for his character, to use all his efforts in order to free himself from any calumny tending to injure him in the estimation of society, and it behoves him in that particular to adhere as closely as possible to the truth, especially when the appeal is made to an impartial and an enlightened Jury of his countrymen. Deeply impressed, as I am, Gentlemen, with the importance of the subject which you are about to try, it cannot be wondered at that I should wish to convey to your minds a similar feeling. I assure you it is not my intention to offer any thing calculated to give offence. You are my judges, as well as my jurors, for you sit there as censors of my conduct; and it may be to me a difference of life or death, for an imprisonment of some years is the worst of all deaths. Therefore, if it were for nothing else, my safety would induce me to look upon you with a kind of awful respect; and though the cause which has brought me here banish every thing like fear from my bosom, I am not insensible to the difference between pleasure and pain-between freedom and imprisonment; for while I would contemn the bad man's frown, I am not insensible to the good man's approbation. If, Gentlemen, any of you should have entered that box actuated by any prejudice regarding previous convictions, I beseech you, I implore you, cast it from you, as an opportunity now offers wherein you may secure to yourselves immortal honour. The current of public opinion is already extremely adverse to these prosecutions, and I have just and ample grounds for hoping, that this may be the last case of the kind; but you, by your verdict this day, may give the finishing stroke to the already tottering fabric of persecutions for matters of opinion. As I wish not to occupy more of your time than is necessary, I shall be as brief as possible. To shew, Gentlemen, that there were always (even in the most barbarous times) some good men in the world who were adverse to such persecutions, I shall take the liberty of reading a few extracts from the ancient fathers of the Church, and
the primitive Christians, in order that my prosecutors may see how necessary it is to desist from such measures.
St. Athanasius says, book 1st, "It is an execrable heresy, to endeavour to compel by force, by blows and imprisonment, those who annot be convinced by reason.'
"If," says he in another place, "they persecute, this alone is a sufficient proof, that they are not actuated by piety, or by the fear of God. It is a characteristic of piety, not to constrain, but to persuade, in imitation of our Saviour, who left every one the liberty of following him as they chose. As to the Devil, as he hath not the truth on his side, he hath recourse to axes and hatchets"
Lactantius says, book 3rd, "Constrained religion is no religion. We should persuade not compel; religion does not take upon itself to command.”
Salvianus says, 66 These men are in error, but they do not know it. In our society they are considered as mistaken, but in their own they are right. They consider themselves so orthodox, that they call us heretics. What they are with regard to us, we are with regard to them. They are in error, but conscientiously so; what will be their fate hereafter, God alone knoweth; in the meantime he tolerateth them." St Augustine says, "Let those evilly intreat you, who are ignorant how much labour it requireth to find the truth, and how difficult it is to preserve one's self from error! Let those evilly intreat you, who are ignorant with what difficulty the eye of the inner man is healed, so that he can behold his sun. Let those evilly intreat you who are ignorant with what sighs and groans it must be effected, that you can in the slightest degree understand the Deity! Finally, let those evilly intreat you who are not deceived by those same errors by which you are yourselves deceived!" St. Hilarius says, "You make use of constraint in a cause which only requireth reason. Ye employ force where there is only a want of intellect." The Constitutions of St. Clemens Romanus say, "The Saviour hath permitted men the use of their will, not punishing them with a temporal death, but summoning them to give an account of their actions in another world." The fathers of the Council of Toledo say, “Never do any act of violence towards any one to bring him to the faith; for God hath pity on whom he will; and whom he will he hardeneth.”
Such, Gentlemen of the Jury, were the opinions of many of the ancient Christians, and whole volumes might be filled with similar quotations which Christian persecutors are apt to forget. It will, no doubt, be said, that we are not punished for our religious opinions; but our disbelief of all is
the great mischief. But still, Gentlemen, it is an opinion, although we do not attach any thing with it, connected with religion; and still, until there is a mutual toleration on all matters of opinion, we shall be hostilely divided, so as to form something like a sect.
And, now, Gentlemen of the Jury, for what I have further to offer in my defence, I am indebted to the kind suggestions of a regular and canonically ordained clergyman of the established church, a member of the University of Cambridge, and an able writer on the evidences of the Christian religion. This reverend and learned gentleman instructs me to remonstrate to you, that the evidences of that religion, of which he has been many years the sincere and conscientious advocate, receive a fatal blow by means of these prosecutions, and are indeed entirely given up, by all who think the interference of human laws and penalties necessary to their defence. This wrong, this blasphemy against Christianity, not we, but our persecutors have committed; and it is a blasphemy more grievous and more criminal than any that it could be in our power to commit: because it is on their part a sin against light and knowledge—a sin against the positive precepts of that Blessed One, whom we not knowing, therefore only disbelieve; but whom they, professing to believe, recognize only to insult, worship, and trifle with, adore and disobey. And, consequently, where the writings for which I am prosecuted have made one infidel, the measures which they have adopted have made a thousand. Who, then, are the enemies of Christianity? Who are they whose conduct aims directly to take away from suffering humanity the balm of spiritual consolation-to overcloud the last bright prospect of another and a better world—to dissolve the mystic charm that makes victory sit upon the fading cheek, and triumph sparkle in the dying eye-to loosen all the holds and stays of moral virtue, and set the soul afloat on the waves of a shoreless scepticism? It is not I-not we-not any books which we have published or sold-not any thing which we have done or could do. It was never in our intention, never in our will, never in our power; but it is the act and deed of our prosecutors; it is they who give Christianity the fatal wound-'tis they who have produced in all men's minds the latent and deep-working leaven of scepticism; they have excited the universally extending suspicion which the eye cannot avoid seeing, and from which the mind cannot turn away. They have exhibited Christianity in features of caricatures, and set up Jesus on the pedestal of Dagon. If there were any thing to the dishonour of Christianity contained in the books, for the sale of which I am
prosecuted, it was at least not forced upon public observation; no one was obliged to purchase or read them: they did not present a lie on the title page; they did not profess to be what they were not; they did not say, "This is Christianity." Yet if Christianity be a gracious and beneficial dispensation, surely they exhibit as much of it as the conduct of our prosecutors; who act as if they deemed violence and cruelty necessary to its defence, and thus, in the sight of all men, by their manifest and overt acts, proclaim that they themselves think Christianity has no brighter evidence than such as may glimmer through the bars of a prison. I am instructed, therefore, to call upon you, as Christians, by your verdict this day, to vindicate the honour of the Christianity you profess-to disappoint the machinations of those more dangerous enemies to Christianity, those traitors within your walls, who are secretly sapping its foundations,, and working a deadlier mischief to your citadel than all the power of avowed enemies could pour on you from without. Disappoint the purposes of those mistaken and vindictive men. Let your verdict be responsive, not to the angry passions and sinister interests of a faction, but to the calm judgment and good sense of all the wise and good men in the world: in the number of which you will not find one but who would contemplate any other than a verdict of acquittal with chagrin. and sorrow. Let your verdict fearlessly respond to what must be the sincere dictate of your conscience; let it shew your respect at least for that part of Christianity which requires that you should do unto all men as you would they should do to you; let it shew your respect for yourselves, that you will not, for the sake of a little favour with these great men, be induced to deliver over a victim to their resentment; let it shew your becoming remembrance of the similarity of my situation this day to that of “the author and finisher of your faith." Act but as he would have you act, and I am sure to be acquitted. Against this, the only sophistry that I can fear is, that tyrannical dogmatism which would be for making short work of this question, and under the pretext of precedent and law, seek at once to cut me off from all hopes of justice, and you, from the fair exercise of your functions as jurors, on which alone my hopes of justice rest. You may be told, perhaps, with just as much reason as an Eastern Caliph would condescend to give, that "I knew the penalty incurred-I had sufficient example," and so forth as the oriental despot would say, "There is the law-there is the offender, and there is the punishment; and all the jury has to do is to read that law, seize that offender,