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Do&trines, according to his best Ability, and judge what is best for him to believe and practise ?
2. As it is every Man's natural Right and Daty to think, and judge for himself in Matters of Opinion ; so he should be allow'd freely to profess his Opinions, and to endeavour, when he judges proper, to convince others also cf their Truth; provided these Opinions do not tend to the Disturbance of Society.
For unless all Men be allow'd freely to profess their Opinions; the Means of Information, in Respect to Opinions, must in great Measure be wanting, and just Inquiries into the Truth of Opinions almost impracticable ; and by Consequence our natural Right and Duty to think and judge for ourselves must be subverted, for Want of Materials, whereon to employ our Minds. A Man, by himself, can make no great Progress in Knowledge. He is like to the (6) young Man at Chartres
(6) Histoire de l'Academie Royale des Sciences An. 1703. p. 22, 23. de l’Edition d'Hollande.
in France ; who, being deaf and dumb from his Birth till the Age of four and twenty, took in but few Ideas; and who, tho' he had good natural Parts, yet for Want of Com-munication with others, did not even make fuch Inferences from the Comparison of those Ideas, as were very obvious and might be expected from him. A single Man is unable, by his own Strength, to take in the Compass of Things necessary to understand his own Opinions fully; and besides, a Man is indisposed to use his own Strength, when an undisturb'd Laziness, Ignorance, and Prejudice give him full Satisfaction as to the Truth of his Opinions. But if there be a free Profef hon or Communication of Notions; every Man will have an Opportunity of acquainting himself with all that can be known from Men ; and many, for their own Satisfaction of Mind, will make Inquiries, and, in order to know the Truth of Opinions, will desire to know all that can be said on any Side of a Question. .
.Unless Men are allow'd to endeavour to convince others of the Truth of their Opinions; all Teaching must be laid aside, and Men will
be hinder’d from doing the greatest Act of Humanity and Charity for one another. For no Man can teach others, but by endeavouring to convince them; nor ought any one to teach another any Thing, but That whereof he himself is perfuaded; nor can any Man have any other Rule of teaching Truth, but his own Sentiments.
If fuch Liberty of professing and teaching be not allow'd, Error, if authorized, will keep its Ground; and Truth, if dormant, will never be brought to Light ; or, if authorized, will be supported on a falfe and absurd Foundation, and fuch as would equally fupport Error ; and, if received on the Foot of Authority, will not be in the leaft meritorious to its Professors.
Nor are these all the ill Consequences flowing from the Disallowance of this Liberty; for Nothing has been a greater Source of Mischief among Men, than the violent Means, that have been used, and, indeed, are neceffary to be used to destroy such original and fundamental Rights and Duties of Men, as to
think and judge for themselves, to profess what they believe true, and to teach what they believe true to others.
3. Whoever desires that Truth should take Place, should be well-pleased to have all Men of Learning, Penetration, and Integrity, publish their Opinions. For such Men are the most capable of finding out Truth themfelves, and of setting it in a due Light before others. Would not every Man of Understanding and Honesty be glad to know the most intimate Thoughts of such Men, as HOOKER, HALES, CHILLINGWORTH, MEDE, WilKINS, WHITCHCOT, MORE, CUDWORTH, SPENCER, TILLOTSON, Bacon, FALKLAND, Selden, Milton, MARSHAM, BOYLE, TEMPLE, and Locke, ( for Example) and be sorry that such like Men ever have been, or are, under any Restraints from speaking their Minds, and wish that they might speak their Minds on all important Questions in Philosophy and Theology, like Mr. WHISTON ; who has not many Superiors in Learning and Penetration, and seems superior himself to most in Integrity? Is it not ridiculous, that Men of the greatest Integrity and
Capacity should be under any Discouragement from making Inquiries, after Truth, and under any Difficulties for publishing Writings in Consequence of their Inquiries; and that none can safely speak in Matters of Speculation, but the blind Followers of the Blind, or the interested Followers of the Interested?
- 4. Not to permit and encourage ingenious, learned, and honest Men to profess and defend their Opinions, when different from ours, is to distrust the Truth of our own Opinions, and to fear the Light. Such Conduct must, in a Country of Sense and Learning, increase the Number of Unbelievers; already so greatly complain’d of; who when they see Matters of Opinion not allow'd to be profess’d and impartially debated, justly think they have foul Play, and therefore reject many Things as false and ill-grounded, which otherwise they might receive as Truths. And it must do so efpecially, when it is consider'd what a numerous Clergy we have; who are all bred Scholars, and have Literature chiefly in their Hands, and are many of them Men of great Parts, Learning, and Leisure ; who understand, and practise all the Arts of Persuasion, and have