Obrazy na stronie

blies, and never without feeling, remorse, and contrition of heart.”

On the bishop's objecting to them: that they had however been baptized that they submitted their children to this sacred rite ; that they celebrated their marriages under the sanctions of their oaths founded on the mysteries of the christian religion; that there was accordingly a contradiction in their principles : they gave him for answer:

“ That they were baptized, because, as children, they had no power to refuse themselves to the usage: they let their children be baptized, because the laws of their country and regularity enjoined it, and so likewise they conformed in their marriages and other contracts: but, in fact, they thought as little of baptism as of original sin ; and they firmly believed, that nothing was requisite to everlasting happiness, but the belief in one God, and the keeping of his ten commandments. All the rest they affirmed was of human invention, which they never would admit for divine."

This confession of faith, three men, who spoke in the name of the congregation, delivered to the bishop in their rude mother-tongue, point for point. The doctrine of the One sole God they proved from various texts of the old testaments and the new. From the apocalypse they quoted some prophecies and other passages that mention the downfall of old Babylon (which name they apply to tritheism) interpreting them in their favour, live as brethren, and exhort one another in a sort of enthusiasm to persevere in their persuasion.

Several of them, who were heard apart touching their confession of faith, with perfect presence of mind made answer:

Our belief is in One only God, and our law consists in few words: Cuin dobrzu, a warug sezleho, i. e. Ad well, and avoid evil.”

According to the testimony of the parish-priest and the senechal, these people formerly used to commit depredations in the forests by cutting down timber trees for their own

But this they did upon principle. The Lord, said they, causes the forests and trees to grow before our houses: why should we not make use of this his bounty, when we are in want of it? But that ever since they made a declaration of their confession of faith in the official chancery, they had forsaken their wood-thievery, and were generally remarkable for quiet behaviour and good morals.


Their notions of government differ not less from the usual. tenets. “ Mankind, say they, elected their own princes. They are bound to protect us, and we ought to obey them when they do their duty by us. It is a human fiction, that the ruler, particularly they who abuse their authority, are appointed directly by God.

These families have since been transported into Transylvania, because their sect was thought dangerous to morality, to the

peace of the country, and especially to the rest of the country people who are lukewarm as ignorant in the christian religion; and because, as was pretended, they were addicted to proselyting, and sought to increase their party, in their families by persecution, and from the other congregations by seduction.

The bishop in his report, ascribes the main cause of this defection from what is commonly called christianity, to the old intolerance of the priests and the laws, and the dry and dull discourses of the curates. He justly holds it to be impossible that men in their sober senses can allow themselves so far to be imposed upon as to take for the word of God and the doctrine of the fathers, a string of miraculous tales and the other trash of which the doctrine of the monks consists, under which moreover self-interest is always peeping out. Such christians, continues this reverend philanthropist, must be so much the more suspicious, when they see insensible pastors, who look more to the wool than to the weal of their sheep, throw firebrands at every doubt, in order to torment their children; stigmatize them as heretics, blast their name by excommunications, and make them pine away in dreadful dungeons. A grievance under which the country-people of Bohemia for a long time past have had the misfortune to labour.

More of the like deists have since made profession before their proper officials; and this sect having mostly taken root among the ignorant and discontented, would probably have been gaining ground from day to day, had not the monarch bethought himself of methods for reducing both them and their accusers to silence.

At present nothing more is heard of them; and the wise precautions of the emperor proceed without impediment.

* His expression is, well-organi zed men.


The reflections that must croud upon the mind of every thinking reader, on perusing this credible though too uncircumstantial account, are in no need, it is to be hoped, of any obstetrical assistance. We will only take the liberty to of. fer a few questions to the common sense of our readers, of whatever party, religion, or tribe they may be. What is the toleration about which there has been so much writing and noise in our days? Is it merely the arbitrary favour of a monarch who can do whatever he will or a duty arising from an unalienable right of man, the right to liberty of conscience? Have they who profess themselves to be of the Augsburg, or the Helvetic confession, an other and better right to be tolerated than the general right of every man, by virtue whereof he cannot be compelled by outward acts to declare that to be true which he is persuaded in his mind to be conceit and error? Does the law of nature allow the setting bounds to liberty of conscience? And (if any one should think he may reply to this question in the affirmative) whereon can this right of setting bounds to liberty of conscience be founded? What is a liberty which may be confined within as narrow bounds as he chuses who has the authori, ty in his hands?

Methinks all these questions are easily to be answered. What decides in this matter is either ratio status, or com

If the former, and it depends solely on the will of a ruler, or on his opinion of political conveniency, whether the persons who live under his government ought, or ought not, to have liberty of belief or conscience; then it is clear that it also depends on his will, to revoke the imparted liberty, whenever his judgment concerning what he holds to be compatible with his political interest, shali alter. Let who will rejoice in such a liberty!-But, to speak roundly and honestly on the subject, it is absurd to say, “that liberty of belief depends on any man's will.” It is an universal, inborn, unalienable right of human nature.' He that has the right to fetch his breath, to see with his eyes, to go upon his feet, &c. he has also the right to believe whathe believes, and is not obliged to give any man an account of his belief. All religions are grounded upon opinion and belief. Were they grounded on mathematical certainty, on complete and palpable evidence, then there would never have been more ihan one sole religion in the world. As this is not the case, then has every man the right to be of that opinion, in relia gious matters, i. e. in all that concerns his belief in the Supreme Being and his relation towards him, of the truth whereof he feels himself convinced, and whereby his mind and conseience are composed. The man that has other religious opinions cannot indeed fail of believing that the former is mistaken; he is even at liberty to acquaint him with bis opinion: but he has no right to force him to his opinion. The legislator in any civil society has no right to do this. He has no right to establish any religion by compulsory laws, and none to hinder or suppress, any by compulsory laws. The established religion is nothing more than the religion of the majority; and the epithet dominant connected with religion is complete nonsense. For no religion can have a right to dominate over another. The ruler, as sovereign of the state, is protector and overseer of religion. The former he is inasmuch as the general duty is incumbent on him, to protect every member of the state in all his rights, i.e. not to permit that he be deprived of their enjoyment, or disa turbed in it. He is therefore obliged to protect every individual in that religion which he has; and if two hundred religions were to start up at once in his dominions, all the two hundred have equal right to his protection. But he is likewise overseer of religion; in so far as he is obliged to prevent the inward security or quiet of the state from being disturbed by a spirit of making converts, a spirit of persecution and other sallies of a mistaken zeal, or from the tempers of men misguided by the arts of priests and levites; and by virtue of this regal duty, he may-not punish opinions, as crimes—but forbid actions, which, by a natural consequence would disturb the tranquility of the state. Whoever, then, in contempt of the laws, shall proceed to commit such actions, may be punished for his disobedience. But should these actions be of such a kind, that the trans. gressor

mon sense.

of the law held himself bound in his conscience to do them; that is, in other words, should believe himself to be in that case “where we must obey God rather than man:” then is he not punishable for disobedience; and the utmost penalty incurred, would be, to be obliged to withdraw, with all his property, from the country.

(To be Continued.)

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Comments on the sacred writings of the Jerts and

Christians : Genesis.


VV E have already passed over the eleven first chapters of this book, in which there appeared much matter of various kinds, which called loudly for remark and reprehension. The next six chapters assume in some measure a different character, and seem to be less deserving of theological comment and criticism: The fighting of five king's against four-the number of sheep and cattle which Abraham and Let possessed, their travels and the pitching of their tents, together with an hundred other historic circumstances of inferior and trifling consequence, are all matters in no shape whatever interesting to the people of the present age; but any man who can call such a bundle of historic anec. dotes, whether they are true or false, a revelation from God, must possess a very confused intellect, and be totally ignorant of the'true meaning of words. As to the familiar conversation which is said to have taken place between God and Abraham, and which is related in the seventeenth chapter, every body knows, who has any acquaintance with the principles of pure theism, that such a thing is inconsistent with the nature of the divine character, and that God never appears in any other way but in the splendor and energy displayed every where throughout the vast system of the universe. In this chapter God is said to have made a special covenant with Abraham ; the fact is, however, that God is not partial, and of course he no more made a covenant with Abraham than with any other rational being upon earth. He has covenanted with all mankind upon earth, that if they will improve their faculties, practice justice and

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