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dence; that men should not only, be resigned to the will of the Gods, but should rejoice therein, whether in pleasure or in pain ; the death of children, or of the nearest and dearest friends, was to be viewed as the manifestation of that superior wisdom, which was alike perfect in all its operations. One of them makes this appeal“ O world, all things are suitable to me, which are suitable to thee. Nothing is too early or too late to me, which is reasonable for thee. All is fruit to me which thy seasons bring forth. From thee are all things; in thee are all things; for thee are all things. One man says, O beloved city of Cecrops. Wilt thou not say, O beloved city of God ?"
The eternal evidence of truth has operated alike, in every age of the world, pointing men to perfection; and every where the natural appetites are leading to their own gratification. It is not assumed that the ancients were better either in their principles or practice, than those of succeeding generations; but it is sufficient to show, that the increase of virtue, has never been dependant upon outward circumstances; that though some men may call themselves Christians, and others Infidels; they are neither better nor worse for bearing those titles.
The parallel could be made very perfect be
tween men of every age and nation, by whatever name they may be called, or however high their profession. There is but little difference between the different sects of Christians; they are all subject to ordinances which perish with the using; some of one form, and some of another. Some baptise ; some sprinkle with water; some partake of the typical body of Christ; some put on what they term a plain dress; some wash each others feet: they all plead scripture authority ; but what is most inconsistent, each sect finds fault with those which it does not it. self adopt.
All men are subject to ordinances, who take the Bible for the rule of their conduct; for what are ordinances but those things which are ordained; and whether they have been written since the promulgation of the scriptures; contained in books or creeds, they are precisely of the same nature, though one may specify one thing and another another; they all tend to idolatry, by putting written rules in the place of that power, which ought alone to rule and to reign in the hearts of the children of menthey sap the foundation of liberty of conscience, by prescribing what men shall do: and as these rules and ordinances do exist in every sect, so we find that there is not, perhaps, one indivi
dual of them, which either in practice or principle, allow that the most honest and virtuous, should be governed by the sincere conviccions of their own minds, even in those things which injure in no way, either the peace of society in general, or of their fellow members in particular.
Liberty of conscience is but a name, where there are written rules of conduct : and those who undertake to defend both, are led into extraordinary contradictions and inconsistencies. Thus we find those champions who most zealously defended liberty of conscience, when the tide turned, and they undertook to make rules for the religious conduct of other men, were led into the dilemma of pulling down what they had been building up: but in order to save appearances, or perhaps from not seeing their real condition, they called themselves the true church, assumed the power of vicegerents of Heaven, and usurped the authority of interfering between God and man.
Written rules for the conduct of men in their religious duties, proceed from the weakness of human nature, which confides rather in them, than in the power of divine love—a fear exists for some darling idol, and they are the consequences of it; as confidence increases in them,
societies naturally sink lower and lower, till they cease to be religious societies altogether. For what is religion but a dependance upon God ? and when men depend upon lower objects, in the same degree religion ceases, and a formal profession takes the place of it, which has them for its basis to them every thing is referred, and by them every thing is judged if things go on in correspondence with them, all is well, and whoever transgresses them, is vi. sited with the anathemas of the sect, without regard to the real good or evil of their actions; because being limited by them, which is the only object of rules at all, they can be no longer subject to God-thus written ordinances, hold the supreme place, their pale encloses all order, and limitations for the conduct of men, in refe. rence to the Divine Being. They become idols that are fondly cherished, and those feelings, which Divine goodness has placed in our hearts are sacrificed to their preservation.
This is no picture, but unvarnished truth, and the enlightened mind must be convinced of it. Observe the conduct of Prostestant societies, do we not see in them the operations of the same feelings, that appear to exist in what is termed "the mother church?” though no formal inquisition is tolerated, yet the loss of
personal liberty, fines and imprisonment have been the consequences of a deviation from written rules; even among those who most of all profess to be clear of ordinances, and to be led and guided by the unerring spirit of truth !
The mind that has been enlightened to see its own natural state, may view there, the seed of every species of vice that exists in the world; as it is nourished it becomes a plant: so in each society as it is separated from the one standard of all truth; it nourishes the evils which are in. cident to every other. And the fact is not so extraordinary, as that each should profess to be the true church, and assume priveleges which belong thereto however disguised the same features are recognised in all. It is not alone in their common idolatry, in their being subject to ordinances, and denying liberty of conscience, that we detect them; they all pay priests wages; all recur to the law as an ulterior resort, to support what they call their religious rights; all concur in attempting to give men religious education; all depart so far from the spirituality of the Christian religion, as to appoint set times and places for the performanee of divine worship.
I feel myself at liberty to attempt no more than a general view of the truth of my asser