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“ in the morning, and go on thy way. And the
man said, Nay; for I will abide under this tree. “ But Abraham pressed him greatly : so he turn
ed, and they went into the tent: and Abraham “ baked unleavened bread, and they did eat. “ And when Abraham saw that the man blessed
not God, he said unto him, Wherefore dost thou
not worship the most high God, creator of hea“ ven and earth? And the man answered and said, “ I do not worship thy God, neither do I call
upon his name ; for I have made to myself a god “ which abideth always in mine house, and provi, “ deth me with all things. And Abraham's zeal
was kindled against the man, and he arose and " fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows, $ into the wilderness. And God called unto A« braham, saying, Abraham, where is the stran
ger? And Abraham answered and said, Lord, he “ would not worship thee, neither would he call
upon thy name; therefore have I driven him
out from before my face into the wilderness. “ And God said, Have I borne with him these hun“ dred ninety and eight years, and nourished him, “ and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion “ against me ; and couldst not thou, who art thy“ self a sinner, bear with him one night?” The historical style of the Old Testament is here finely imitated; and the moral must strike every one who is not sunk in stupidity and superstition. Were it really a chapter of Genesis, one is apt to think, that persecution could never have shewn a bare face among Jews or Christians. But alas ! that is a vain thought. Such a passage in the Old Testa ment; would avail as little against the rancorous passions of men, as the following passages in the New Testament, though persecution cannot be condemned in terms more explicit.“ Him that “ is weak in the faith, receive you, but not to “ doubtful disputations. For one believeth that " he may eat all things; another, who is weak, “ eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth, despise “ him that eateth not; and let not him which “ eateth not, judge him that eateth. Who art " thou that judgest another man's servant ? to his
own master he standeth or falleth. One man “ esteemeth one day above another; another “ esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be “ fully persuaded in his own mind. But why dost " thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set “ at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand “ before the judgment-seat of Christ, every one “ to give an account of himself to God. I know, " that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to “ him that esteemeth any thing unclean, to him it “ is unclean. The kingdom of God is not meat “ and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy “ in the Holy Ghost. Let us therefore follow af. " ter the things which make for peace, and things “ wherewith one may edify another *.” Our SaEe 3
Epistle of Paul to the Romans, chap. xiv.
viour himself declared against persecution in the most express terms. The Jews and Samaritans were of the same religion; but some trivial differences in the ceremonial part of worship, rendered them odious to each other. Our Saviour being refused lodging in a village of Samaria, because he was travelling to Jerusalem, his disciples James and John said, Lord, wilt thou that we “ command fire to come down from heaven, and
consume them, even as Elias did ? But he “ rebuked them, and said, The Son of Man is “ not come to destroy mens' lives, but to save " them *.'
It gives me real concern, that even the hot fire of persecution did not altogether purify our Reformed clergy from that satanical spirit. No sooner were the Dissenters settled in New England, where they fled to avoid persecution, than they set on foot a persecution against the Quakers, no less
* Luke ix. 54.
+ Toleration in religion, though obvious to common understanding, was not however the production of reason, but of commerce. The advantage of toleration for promoting commerce, was early discovered by the Portugueze. They were too zealous Catholics to think of so bold a measure in Portu-' gal; but it was permmitted in Goa, and the inquisition in that town was confined to Roman Catholics. There is a sin. gular example of toleration in the Knights of Malta.
That fraternity was instituted to make perpetual war against the Turks; and yet of late years they have erected a mosque for their Turkish prisoners.
furious than what they themselves had suffered at home. Nor did the Reformed clergy in Scotland lose sight of the same magisterial authority that had been assumed by their predecessors of the Romish church, on the ridiculous pretext of being ambassadors to men from Jesus Christ. Upon a representation, anno, 1646, from the commission of the kirk of Scotland, James Bell and Colin Campbell, bailies of Glasgow, were committed to prison by the parliament, merely for having said, that kirkmen meddled too much in civil matters. Could a despotic prince have exerted a more arbitrary act? but the church was all-powerful in those days*. Ee 4
* The Christain religion is eminent for a spirit of meekness, toleration, and brotherly love; and yet persecution never raged so furiously in any other religion. Such opposition between practice and principle, is a singular phenomenon in the history
Let us try to account for it. In the Pagan 'religion, I discover few traces of persecution. Tutelar deities were universal ; and, far from imposing these deities on others, every nation valued itself on being the only favourite of its own deity. Priests by profession have ever been ambitious of imposing on the laity peculiar forms of worship and peculiar religious tenets; but the Greeks and Romans had none such. The Jews had priests by profession; and they were beside a gloomy people naturally inclined to persecution :: they hated their neighbours, and were hated by them. The Mahometan religion was sown in a fertile soil. The Arabians were warlike; but ignorant and easily deluded by a warm
I would do justice to every church, not excepting that of Rome; and it is doing that church no
imagination. The Koran is finely contrived to impose upon such a people.
The ambition of Mahomet corresponded to the warlike genius of his countrymen ; who were taught to convert all men to his religion, by the simple but effectual argument of fire and sword. This spirit of persecution accompanied that of conquest.
The latter is now extinguished by luxury and sensuality; and there scarce remains any vestige of the former.
Among an illiterate and credulous people, directed by the light of nature to worship the Deity, but without any established form, every innovation is peaceably and cordially admitted. When Christianity was introduced into Britain, the Druids, as appears from Ossian, had lost all authority. The people were prepared for the new religion; and there could be no persecution where there was none to oppose. Upon that plain people, the Christian religion had its genuine effect : it softened their manners, and produced a spirit of meekness and brotherly love. Never was practice more concordant with principle. The scene is very different where a new religion is introduced in opposition to one long established. Zeal for a new religion inflames its converts; and as violent pasi sions are infectious, those who adhere to the established wora ship are by degrees equally inflamed. Mutual hatred and persecution are the never-failing consequences. This was the case in the countries where the Christian religion was first promulgated.
When that religion began to make a figure, the Roman empire was finely prepared for its reception. The fables of Paganism, which pass current as important truths in days of ignorance, were now exploded as childish and ridiculous. The