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Nor is it necessary that the rude methods of persecution, at least such persecution as savage Rome adopted, should be applied. Exclusive favour is a more refined policy, acts with less odium, generates less resistance, and is more fatally successful. The multitude, if not too harshly commanded, are sure to pass into the religion of the state, while the stimulus of honours and rewards in no other way to be obtained makes many apostates from the cause of simple truth, and hourly thins the ranks of her virtuous adherents ; nor is this proneness to the religion of the state, whatever this religion be, to be counteracted but by the follies and mischiefs which spring out of unprincipled policy, however artfully conducted; and by the efforts of great and extraordinary characters, whom Providence in its mercy is pleased to oppose to the mistaken or wicked policies of this world. Unless so far as these palliatives and correctives operate, the very
idea of truth, as it is the truth of nature and of God, pass into general oblivion; its friends
are discountenanced, oppressed and persecuted; and though better sentiments of religion may not be wholly obliterated, yet the bulk of the nation is consigned to errour, and the means of recovery are diminished by that ignorance, and stupor, and obstinacy, which are the wretched progeny of a state religion.
Such is the character and such the tendency of every civil establishment of Christianity from the time of Constantine, when the unnatural union first commenced, to the present day. Insomuch that there is not one Christian establishment in Europe to which the enlightened and conscientious disciple of the New Testament can submit himself, without that violation which the New Testament condemns, whereby the freedom of the human mind, and the progress of truth which is promoted by free inquiry, are either totally crushed, or exceedingly retarded. But admitting that no dishonesty, no si
nister regard to worldly interests entered into the compact, yet it is absurd and in contradiction to all the history of reason and of truth, that any age or any one existing body of men should presume to fix the standard of truth, and say to fellow-man, Thus far shalt thou go and no further. Yet this presumption, and this defiance of the consequences, enter into the very essence of every state religion; it determines for all posterity the measure of truth, it interdicts all further inquiry. The lazy, the worldly, and the vicious fall in with so easy a plan, while the friends to truth become every day fewer and fewer, and the spirit of the world triumphs over the freedom of the human mind. The tale is still worse, if it be considered that the standard of religious truth, as the prescription of the magistrate, has in every instance been fixed, either in the period of gross darkness and ignorance, or when truth was only commencing her dawn, and when it was the rudest insult on God,
on Christ, and on the mind of man, to arrest her in the progress to her meridian splendour.
But there is not even a worldly policy in these laws, supposing that policy were allowed to trample on justice and religion. Selfish and usurping as is the end for which these laws were retained, they are as foolish as they are criminal, in as much as they subserve not the end in view. Dissenters can obtain no office, but through interest or favour; and we fear that there are Dissenters who will spring forward to every office that favour or interest can procure for them, whether the Test Laws be repealed
It would be our glory that this fear had no foundation, as we should then be the first of men and the first of Christians, whom a sense of honour and a sense of religion had rendered impregnable to the most powerful temptations of human na
But the conviction that the fear is too well founded, is one principal reason for which we virtuously solicit the repeal
of these offensive laws. For there are also Dissenters of a different description, who, if they felt not for their fellows, and for the honour of their country, would think it no misfortune, that, in being secluded from the offices of state, they were also secluded from that pollution which these offices too often bring along with them. But they cannot look with an indifferent eye upon the offences and stumbling-blocks which these laws interpuse to the integrity of their weaker brethren. The callous politician may laugh at such romantic sympathy, and insulting ly reply Their sins be on their own heads; but we have learnt from a Master whom we venerate more than him, to foster better sentiments, and to feel for the violation of the conscience and the religion of our brother, as well as for the violation of our
We feel also for a country, which can submit to be the tempter, which can bear with laws that are adapted to the purpose of seduction. As from the purest motives we wish that such offences might