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a Protestant; and especially a Clergyman, a Scholar and a Philosopher.
i. In matters of opinion, it is evety man's natural right and duty to think for himself, and to judge upon such evidence as he can procure to himself, after he has done his best endeavours to get information. Human decisions are of no weight in this matter. Another man has no more right to determine what Mr. WhisTON's opinions shall be, than Mr. Whiston has to determine what another man's opinions shall be. It feems amazing to consider; how one man can presume he has such right over another; and how any man can be so weak as to imagine another has such right over him. Supposé, lays (a) STILLINGFLEET, a man living in the times of the prevalency of Arianism, when almost all the guides of the Church
Å 3 declar'd (a) Stillingfleet's Anfwer to several Trearises, soc. pr. 1.
declar'd in favour of it, when several great Councils oppos'd and contradicted that of Nice, when Pope LIBERIUS did subscribe the Sirmian Confession, and communicated with the Arians, what advice would you give such a one if he must not exercise This own judgment? Must be follow the present guides? Then he must join with the Arians. Must he adhere to the Nicene Council. But there were more numerous Councils which condemn'd it. What remedy can be suppos’d in such a case, but that every person must search and examine the several doctrines, according to his best ability, and judge what is best for him to believe and praEtise?
2. As it is every man's natural right and duty to think, and judge for himself in matters of opinion ; so he should be allow'd freely to profefs his opinions, and to endeavour, when he judges proper, to convince others also of their truth; provided those opinions do not tend to the disturbance of society.
For 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 manat Chartres 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 communication with others, did not even make such 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 indispos'd 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 profession 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 tliat whereof he himself is perswaded, nor can any man have any other rule of teaching truth, but his own sentiments.
If such liberty of profeffing and teaching be not allow'd, error, if autoriz'd, will keep its ground: and truth,if dormant,will never be brought to light; or, if autoriz'd, will be supported on a false and absur'd foundation, and such as would equally support error ; and, if receiv'd on the foot of autority, will not be in the least meritorious to its professors.
Nor are these all the ill consequences flowing from the disallowance of this liberty : for noching has been a greater source of mischief among men, than the violent means, that have been us’d, and, indeed, are necessary to be us'd to destroy such original and fundamentalrights and duties of men as to think and judge for themselves, to profess what they believe true, and