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fathers, and perhaps this might be no bad auxiliary to his prescribed mode of education, and prevent the springing up of faction in a state. It would likewise favour another object which the Doctor has professedly in view, viz. checking the growth of commerce.
• Supposing this wise system of perpetuation had occurred to our ancestors in the feudal times, and that an assembly of old English Barons, with their heads full of their feudal rights and services, had imitated the wise Spartans, and perpetuated the severe feudal institutions; what would England at this day have been (with the unrivalled reputation of uniformity and constancy in its laws) but the most barbarous, the weakest, and most distracted ftate in Europe ? It is plain from fact, that divine providence had greater things in view, in favour of these kingdoms, and has been conducting them through a series of gradual changes (arising from internal and external causes) which have brought us to our present happy condition, and which, if suffered to go on, will probably carry us to a pitch of happiness of which we can yet form no conception.
* Had the religious system of our oldest forefathers been established on these wife and perpetual foundations, we had now been pagans, and our priests druids. Had our Saxon conquerors been endowed with the same wisdom and foresight, we had been worshipping Thor, and Woden ; and had our ancestors three centuries ago catched this spirit, we had been blind and priestridden papilts.
There are some things in civil society, indeed, which our Author admits, require in their own nature to be eftablished, or fixed for a confiderable time; but there should be rendered as few and Imall as possible: it being an universal maxim, that the more liberty is given to every thing which is in a state of growth, the more perfect it will become. Dr. Priestley does not pretend to define what degree of citablishment is neceflary for religion; but thinks it very clear that education requires none. For our part, however, we conceive that the affair of religion is fo momensous, and so intimately connected with the business of education, that our Author should have been a little more explicit on this head. For if education requires no establishment at all, we do not conceive how religion can require any. Dr. Priestley, indeed, goes so far, in another part of his work, as to affert positively, that though political principles may require penal fanctions, religious and moral principles require none.' How ! Is it a matter of indifference what immoral principles are propagated in society? It is true, we readily admit with him, that, in reward to religious and speculative principles, the connection and
Caiion of opinions are such, that, if once we admit there are
which onght to be guarded by civil penalties, it will be ever imposible to distinguish, to general fatisfaction, between those which may be tolerated, and those which may not. But we imagine, on the other hand, that with regard to moral principles in general, people of different sects and persuasions are pretty well agreed. We are no less zealous than Dr. Priestley for freedom of thinking ; but cannot help, at the fame time, making a wide distinction between a liberty of speculation, and a liberty of reducing speculative principles to practical. Of what consequence would be the systems of faith, or the religious opinions of any man, to fociety, if they did not affect his moral sentiments or motives of action? And, whatever may be thought in general to the contrary, the connection between religion and morals is by no means so close and intimate as is imagined. Common experience affords us instances of individuals, and hiftory of whole nations, differing very widely in regard to the one, and agreeing very nearly with respect to the other. This confideration fould make a greater distinction than is usually made by political writers, between religion and morals: it should allo haveits weight with those who think it necdful to lay a restraint on free enquiry. As to our Author, he confeffes he thinks it would be • far better policy to remove the difficulties which lie in the way of free-enquiry, than throw fresh ones into it. Infidels, says he, would then be deprived of their most successful method of attacking Christianity, namely, infinuation ; and Christian divines might, with a more manly grace, engage with champions of deism; and, in fact, engage with more advantage, when they both fought on the same equal ground. As things are at prefent, I thould be ashamed to fight under the shelter of the civil power, while I saw my adversary exposed to all the severity of it.' It must be confeffed, that all this has the appearance of courage and generosity; but is it not a kind of bravado, intimating that the champion is induced to fight more for his own honour than for the cause he espouses? There is some kind of inconfiftency also in supposing that a person would be engaged to more advantage, if his hands were untied and at liberty, than if they were tied behind him. But the truth is, all these pompous pretensions of giving fair play to the adverfary, are for the most part mere parade. Dr. Brown and Bishop Warburton have made equal offers of this kind; and have extolled the liberty of the press in such extravagant terms, that their opponents could not possibly forbear thinking themselves laughed at. Our Author hath very justly exposed these pretended advocates for the privilege of thinking ; quoting a passage or two from Dr. Warburton's famous address to the deifts; on which he leaves Peter Annet (if he dare) to write a comment. · So far, fays Dr. Priestley, are Deists from having free liberty to publish their sensiments, that even many Christians cannot speak out with
safety. In present circumstances, a Christian, divine is not at liberty to make use of those arguments which, he may think, would supply the best defence of Christianity. What are with many
foundations of our faith are in a ruinous condition, and must be repaired before it will be to any purpose to beautify and adorn the superstructure; but the man who should have the true courage and judgment to go near enough to such rotten foundations would be thought to mean nothing less than to undermine them, and entirely destroy the whole fabric. His very brethren would stand off from him, and think him in league with their adversaries; and, by an ill-judging zeal, might call in the help of the ill-directed civil power to stop his hand. In consequence of which, notwithstanding his molt laudable zeal in favour of our holy religion, he might stand upon the same pillory, and be thrown into the same prison with poor and harmless infidels.'
The harmless infidels, however, are not the only set of people that seem to have recommended themselves to our Chriftian champion. In the following passage he endeavours to do justice to the colerating principles of a very respectable sect of protestant diflenters :
• To the honour of the Quakers be it spoken, that they are the only body of Christians who have uniformly maintained the principles of Christian liberty, and toleration. Every other body of men have turned persecutors when they had power. Papists have persecuted the Protestants, the Church of England has per fecuted the Diffenters; and the Diflenters, in losing their name, lost that spirit of Christian charity, which seemed to be essential to them: short was their fun-fhine of power, and thankful may Britain, and the present dissenters be, that it was so. But the
Quakers, though established in Pensylvania, have persecuted none. This glorious principle seems so intimately connected with the fundamental maxims of their sect, that it may be fairly presumed, the moderation they have hitherto shown is not to be ascribed to the smallness of their party, or to their fear of reprisals. For this reason, if I were to pray for the general prevajence of any one sect of Christians (which I should not think it for the interest of Christianity to take place, even though I should settle the articles of it myself) it Thould be that of the Quakers ; because, different as my opinions are from theirs, I have so much confidence in their moderation, that I believe they would let me live, write, and publish what I pleased unmolefted among them. And this I own, is more than I could promise myself from any other body of Christians whatever; the Presbyterians, perhaps, least of all excepted.'
Our Author says, it is unquestionable, that there are more atheifts and infidels of all kinds in Spain and Italy, where religión is so well guarded, than in England; and we are perhaps principally indebted to the laws in favour of Christianity for what there is of deism with us. A stranger to Dr. Priestley's character might be apt to conclude, from the favourable epithets he bestows on infidels, and the warmth of his zeal for the free publication of deistical writings, that he is an advocate for their party; but as it appears that he only wants to set them upon fair ground, in order to drub them the more shamefully, they may posibly think themselves little obliged to him. By the way, however, we would advise him, as friends, not to be too fond of giving them any advantages : for, as they are not always the fairest of combatants, he may some time or other, fanguine as he is, happen to find himself over-matched by them, even on his own ground.
After a number of sensible and spirited observations on the subject of free-enquiry, our Author ends his third section with the following passage:
• England hath hitherto taken the lead in almost every thing great and good, and her citizens stand foremost in the annals of fame, as having shaken off the fetters which hung upon the human mind, and called it forth to the exertion of its noblest powers. And her constitution has been so far from receiving any injury from the efforts of these her free-born enterprising fons, that the is, in part, indebted to them for the unrivalled reputation the now enjoys, of having the best system of policy in Europe. After weathering so many real storms, let us not quit the helm at the apprehension of imaginary dangers, but steadily hold on in what, I trust, is the most glorious course that a human government can be in. Let all the friends of liberty and human nature join to free the minds of men from the shackles of narrow and impolitic laws. Let us be free ourselves, and leave the blessings of freedom to our pofterity *.'
There is so great a similarity of sentiment in what our Author hath advanced in this section, with the fubftance of the following spirited lines of an anonymous poet, that we cannot resist the temptation of inserting
In patriot policy, afraid
To make a nation good and great!
In the fourth and last section, Dr. Priestley endeavours to thew, that, supposing the proposed methods of education what
Thus patriots forfeit the pretence
Ah me! had custom never fail'd
But Ciftom ev'n Caprice hath broke,
May Brirons boast, of all mankind,