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he takes notice how certain atheists of his time, by observing this use of religion, were fortified in their folly, in thinking it was invented by statesmen to keep men in awe. An idle vision, which I have so thoroughly confuted in another place *, that, I persuade myself, it shall, for the future, be only thought fit to go
in rank with the tales of nurses, and the dreams of Freethinkers.
But if they mean, that I have endeavoured to make religion a convenient engine to ambitious and intriguing politicians to work the clergy, as the tools of power, in a separate interest from the community, this is a very gross calumny. I have expressly declared, that where I speak of religion's serving the state, I always mean, by the state, a legitimate governinent, or civil policy founded on the natural rights and liberties of mankind. And, so far is this plan of alliance from contributing to those mischiefs, that it effectually prevents them : and, what is more, is the only scheme of an ESTABLISHMENT which can prevent them.
To conclude all, We live in an age when the principles of public liberty are well understood: and, as corrupt as the age is, we must needs imagine, there are many real lovers of their country. But then a certain licentiousness (which is the spirit of the times) is as fatally apt to delude honest men in their ideas of public good, as to infect corrupt men in their pursuit of private satisfactions. Now, as such are always apt to embrace with warmth any project which hath the face of advancing public interests, I do not wonder they should be drawn in, to think favourably of an attempt which professes only to vindicate the comMON RIGHTS OF SUBJECTS; or that they should be Divine Legation of Moses, B. III. Sect. 6.
inclined to judge hardly of a writer, who frankly opposes those pretensions. “ Because” (to use the words of the great author last quoted *) " such as
openly reprove supposed disorders of state, are “ taken for principal friends to the common benefite “ of all; and for men that carry singular freedome “ of mind. Under this fair and plausible colour, " whatsoever they utter passeth for good and currant. “ That which wanteth in the waight of their speach, “ is supplied by the aptness of mens minds to accept " and believe it. Whereas on the other side, if we “ maintaine things that are established, we have to “ strive with a number of heavy prejudices, deeply “ rooted in the hearts of men, who think that herein
we serve the time, and speak in favour of the pre" sent state, because thereby WE EITHER HOLD OR
Hooker's Eccl. Pol. Lib. I. Sect. ),
NOTES TO BOOK III.
P. 243. [A].
culous excess, in which we find it in the writings of J. J. Rousseau, the Celebrated Citizen of Geneva. Yet, with the appearance of the like extravagant caprice in the other extreme, he deprives men of that most precious branch of their liberty, the worshipping of God according to their conscience. “ As to Re
ligions once established, or tolerated in a state, I o think it (says he, in a letter to the archbishop of “ Paris) unjust 'and barbarous to destroy them by “ violence; and that the sovereign hurts himself in « maltreating the followers of them. There is a great “ difference between men's embracing a new religion, “ and living and continuing in that in which they
were born. The first only are punishable. The “ civil power should neither suffer diversities of opi“nion to be new planted, neither should it proscribe o those which have already taken root. For a son “ is never in the wrong for following the religion of “ his father; and the public peace requires that there “ should be no persecution.”--Lettre à M, De Beaumont, l'Archeveque de Paris, p. 86. I have given the original in another place.
This one might expect from a man of paradox ; but, to find so sage an advocate for liberty as M. de Montesquieu speaking in the same strain, appears at first sight, very unaccountable.--" Sce then (says “ he) the fundamental principle of civil laws with
“ regard to religion. When the civil power is the “ master, whether it will receive a new religion into “ the state, or whether it will not, It should not re« ceive it. When it hath already gotten footing in " the state, it should be tolerated."-Voici donc le principe fondamental des loix politiques en fait de religion. Quand on est Maître de recevoir dans un état une nouvelle religion, ou de ne pas recevoir, il ne faut pas l'y établir; quand elle y est établie, il faut la tolérer.-De l'Esprit des Loix, l. 25. c. X.
This decision of these two philosophic legists appears to be as contradictory to their own general principle, as it is absurd and unjust in itself. The only way I know, of accounting for it, is to suppose (and I believe I do small injury to truth in supposing it) that both of them consider RELIGION as a mere ENGINE OF STATE; an useful one indeed, when rightly applied; but very mischievous when not conducted by as able politicians as themselves. Suppose this; and then, as discordant as their decision is to their civil principles of liberty, it is very consonant to their religious principles of an engine of state. For if religion be only thus to be considered, any one mode of it will serve the turn : more than one may be too much, and occasion civil disorders ; therefore more than one ought not to be admitted. But if several have already taken root, they are to be tolerated and left in peace, for the very same reason: because the attenipt to eradicate them might be attended with the same civil mischief which a new introduction of them would produce.
But neither of these celebrated writers seemed to consider, that though they regarded religion as a mere engine of state, yet that RELIGIONISTS thought otherwise, and esteemed it of divine original; and that con
sequently, it was matter of consCIENCE to Believers to worship God according to that mode which they judged most acceptable to him. Now to restrain such in the exercise of what they deem their chief duty, is one of the greatest violations of the NATURAL RIGHTS of mankind : Yet these two ingenious men openly profess, nay boast, that the defence and preservation of THESE RIGHTS was the great and principal end of their learned labours,
P. 251. [B]. The equal conduct of the best and greatest of our monarchs, in his very different stations of Prince of Orange, and King of England, will do great credit to this reasoning. When king James, a papist, demanded of his son-in-law, with whom he was then on good terms, his approbation of a TOLERATION and ABOLITION OF THE TEST: The Statholder readily concurred with the scheme of a toleration, but utterly condemned an abolition of the test, When after wards, he became king of a free people, the Protestant Dissenters, likewise, in their turn demanded both: His conduct was uniformly the same: He gave them a toleration, but was advised not to give his consent to the abolition of the test.
End of NOTES to Book III,