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tions, without descending into particulars ; for as I have already said, the knowledge of their reality must come from internal conviction ; without this, any effort to believe, would be useless.
It can hardly be supposed, that the stipend of a little money, is the only, or even the principal object of those who receive it, for preaching and praying for their fellow-men. The applause and approbation that is incident to their situation as public teachers--the superior respect that is shewn them, and the estimation in which they are held, is often a recompense dearer than this; for although it may be certain, that very little applause or respect may follow many of them, yet the general observation is true, that more is bestowed on then, than they would be considered entitled to, as laymen, in private life. If I could see any society that placed their public preachers on the footing they ought to stand-as members of the common familyI would pass over the conduct of individuals, and confess, that that one paid no priests wa. ges; but on the contrary they are privileged men; they are excused from services which others of perhaps greater godliness are subjected, and by a sort of common consent, a respect is shown them, somewhat corresponding to
their eloquence and power of utterance ; thus we behold the efforts which are made to give to each of them a seat, equal to the distinction which it is supposed he has a right to hold, and the pulpits or forms, which are appointed for them, are considered so much better than com. mon seats, that others have been subjected to imprisonment for occupying them; and we see ministers themselves so far acquicscing in it, as to suppose they are not at liberty to do certain things which other men may do, merely because they are such; thus they pay homage to their own profession-These things havę but one root-an idolatry that worships strange Gods.
Let me observe, that the mere receiving money for preaching, if it has no place in the mind, is not in any degree subversive to the end; cannot be considered as the price of unrighteousness; and is of a loss subtle nature, than that other species of priest wages, of which I have spoken.
Men feeling their individual weakness, place their confidence either in that which is human or Divine ; and it flows into the channel cor. respondent to the state they are in; when they are outward in their views, the law of force is resorted to; not being gathered into that rest
which knows no harm and feels no offence; the contradiction is exhibited of a recurrence to human power, to preserve religious rights! from this cause has sprung every species of persecution, from the fire and faggots, and gibbets of other countries, to the more mild exercise of the law in our own.
We have no account of any intolerance so great, as that which Christendom has exhibited; it will continue to be seen, while men depart from the only sure rule of life; to be governed by written laws, and will increase or decrease as they are more or less adhered to.
Great efforts are making to spread the scriptures. If the reading of them has any other effect than to lead people to the Divine Light within themselves, of which they abundantly speak, it will increase the intolerance by setting up idols, which can alone be preserved by the edge of the sword.
In the different sects the effect is the same, they all have their particular order, their forms and their ceremonies to preserve; they can see the origin of persecution in others, because they condemn their forms; but cherishing their own, they see it not in themselves. They are all much alike, and they speak the same language relative to teaching men religion.
Though some sects establish theological schools, which others condemn, yet the moment that people acknowledge the possibility of religious education, they acknowledge the principle, that men may be taught of men. If this is true, they may make ladders and climb up to heaven. The Light of the power of God in the soul, is the only teacher-people may speak their views of virtue and vice, but it is that alone, which convinces of good and evil. I should be a bigot indeed to believe this power did not extend to all; that children coming into the world, without their own consent, una. ble to make choice of their situations; were not equally the subjects of Divine care; or that the condition of such as are born, in what are called the sinks of pollution and wickedness, were not on à footing with those nurtured in schools of morality and decorum.
Men who have established standards of vir. tue and rules for godliness, are led to judge and condemn conduct, which does not correspond therewith--but they cannot read the heart, they know nothing of its feelings and peculiar temptations. Different men from the same motives pursue paths widely different. If one consults his selfishness in getting drunk, and another in preaching and praying, and a third in encou
raging gluttony ; are they not actuated by the same motive ? but bring them to the outward standards of virtue which are established ; and one appears a sinner, another a saint, a third a man of liberality, whose fine entertainments tempt people to eat.
As we judge of men, so of children, by some standard which we have set up for ourselves, not only of their moral conduct, which we can see and estimate ; but of their virtue or vice in the sight of that holy and Divine Being, who alone can judge the heart.
It argues a want of confidence in the justice of God, to suppose that children alike innocent, have a better promise of salvation in one situation than another; or that they are in any
degree dependant for their religion, upon the un. certain education they may receive, from those who surround them; and yet I have no disposition to break down the barriers which men have thought proper to establish, for the prevention of moral evils, or to discourage the education of children; but let us not undertake too much; we may perhaps mould their moral conduct, and this may be proper, but we cannot change their hearts; for outward laws in reli. gion are non-entities.
Upon one subject the different seets of Chris