Графични страници
PDF файл

parallel with Socrates — the Being whom thousand millions of intellectual creatures, of whom I am a humble unit, take to be their Redeemer, with an Athenian philosopher, of whom we should know nothing except through his glorification in Plato and Xenophon ? — And then to hitch Latimer and Servetus together! To be sure, there was a stake and a fire in each case, but where the rest of the resemblance is I cannot see. What ground is there for throwing the odium of Servetus's death upon Calvin alone? Why, the mild Melancthon wrote to Calvin *, expressly to testify his concurrence in the act, and no doubt he spoke the sense of the German reformers; the Swiss churches advised the punishment in formal letters, and I rather think there are letters from the English divines, approving Calvin's conduct ! — Before a man deals out the slang of the day about the great leaders of the Reformation, he should learn to throw himself back to the age of the Reformation, when the two great parties in the church were eagerly on the watch to fasten a charge of heresy on the other. Besides, if ever a poor fanatic thrust himself into the fire, it was Michael Servetus. He was a rabid enthusiast, and did every thing he could in the way of insult and ribaldry to provoke the feeling of the Christian church. He called the Trinity triceps monstrum et Cerberum quendam tripartitum, and so on.

* Melancthon's words are:-“Tuo judicio prorsus assentior. Affirmo etiam vestros magistratus juste fecisse quod hominem blasphemum, re ordine judicata, interfecerunt.” 14th Oct. 1554. - ED.

Indeed, how should the principle of religious toleration have been acknowledged at first ? — It would require stronger arguments than any which I have heard as yet, to prove that men in authority have not a right, involved in an imperative duty, to deter those under their control from teaching or countenancing doctrines which they believe to be damnable, and even to punish with death those who violate such prohibition. I am sure that Bellarmine would have had

small difficulty in turning Locke round his fingers' ends upon this ground. A right to protection I can understand; but a right to toleration seems to me a contradiction in terms. Some criterion must in any case be adopted by the state; otherwise it might be compelled to admit whatever hideous doctrine and practice any man or number of men may assert to be his or their religion, and an article of his or their faith. It was the same Pope who commanded the Romanists of England to separate from the national church, which previously their own consciences had not dictated, nor the decision of any council,—and who also commanded them to rebel against Queen Elizabeth, whom they were bound to obey by the laws of the land; and if the Pope had authority for one, he must have had it for the other. The only true argument, as it seems to me, apart from Christianity, for a discriminating toleration is, that it is of no use to attempt to stop heresy or schism by persecution, unless, perhaps, it be conducted upon

the plan of direct warfare and massacre. You cannot preserve men in the faith by such means, though you may stifle for a while any open appearance of dissent. The experiment has now been tried, and it has failed; and that is by a great deal the best argument for the magistrate against a repetition of it.

I know this, – that if a parcel of fanatic missionaries were to go to Norway, and were to attempt to disturb the fervent and undoubting Lutheranism of the fine independent inhabitants of the interior of that country, I should be right glad to hear that the busy fools had been quietly shipped off - anywhere. I don't include the people of the seaports in my praise of the Norwegians; – I speak of the agricultural population. If that country could be brought to maintain a million more of inhabitants, Norway might defy the world; it would be attapxns and impregnable; but it is much under-handed now.

January 12. 1834.



I HAVE drawn up four or perhaps five articles of faith, by subscription, or rather by assent to which I think a large comprehension might take place. My articles would exclude Unitarians, and I am sorry to say, members of the church of Rome, but with this difference — that the exclusion of Unitarians would be necessary and perpetual; that of the members of the Church of Rome depending on each individual's own conscience and intellectual light. What I mean is this: - that the Romanists hold the faith in Christ, — but unhappily they also hold certain opinions, partly ceremonial, partly devotional, partly speculative, which have so fatal a facility of being degraded into base, corrupte

« ПредишнаНапред »