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pons, as are employed in modern times, to produce conformity. The same spirit of intolerant pride which now manifests its hatred of free inquiry, by fines and imprisonments, endeavoured, formerly, to coerce and subjugate the human understanding, by excommunications and interdictions. It will also be perceived, that every attempt at a forcible suppression of inquiry, originated in an ambitious desire of the party in power, to dictate a creed to the party out of power: in which there appears to have been a much stronger disposition to secure temporal authority, than to promote the spirit of the Gospel. That the system was impolitic, the separation of the eastern and western Churches, the memorable schisms, which produced the double pontificate, and the Reformation, abundantly testify. If then, in those dark days of credulity and superstition, which preceded the Reformation, when Dissenters were unknown, when the art of printing was undiscovered, when reading was confined to the clergy, and when the head of the Church was considered as holding a divine commission, differences of opinion silently and progressively gained ground, does it not argue insanity to suppose that, in the nineteenth century, fines and imprisonments will produce that conformity which the Church of Rome,
in the plenitude of its greatness, vainly struggled to command.*
At the commencement of this section, the sceptical argument against the usefulness of Christianity was examined, and we endeavoured to show that the miserable condition of society is to be ascribed to the neglect of the moral precepts of the Gospel. Into the discussion of this question we shall now enter more at length, and proceed to illustrate and confirm the truth of our opinions, by an inquiry into the comparative degree of happiness enjoyed by the different states of Europe; in which examination, we propose to investigate the causes of the remarkable difference. In the speeches and writings of English patriots, it frequently happens that the orator or author
* Though Luther is justly entitled to the merit of having completed the triumph of the Reformation, he did not pull the first brick out of the building. The first enemies of the Catholic Church were the pride, ambition, and avarice 'of her own ministers; which paved the way to ruin before the new doctrines were promulgated. The unity and infallibility of the Popes had been destroyed, before the Augustine Friar commenced his attacks. The double pontificate, by breaking the chain which connected the Pontiffs with St. Peter, put an end to the one, and the decree of the Council of Constance, annihilated the other. Instead, therefore, of the reformed doctrines having occasioned disunion in the Church, the disunion of the Church gave rise to the reformed doctrines.
returns thanks to Providence, for having cast his destiny in a free, prosperous, and civilized nation; and though the expression of gratitude may, in some instances, be ascribed to an overweening national conceit, still it cannot be denied, that the people of this country are infinitely more virtuous, more enlightened, and consequently more happy, than any of their continental neighbours. Now the question has often been asked, how does it happen that the Deity, who is the common father of all mankind, and therefore incapable of showing a preference to any particular nation, should permit Britain and Holland to be prosperous, while Spain and Italy are sunk in a demoralizing superstition? To those who feel interested in the solution of this difficulty, th© following explanation is offered.*
It has been already stated, that the moral precepts of the Gospel point out a sure road to present, as well as future happiness. Among those precepts is the following: "Unto whom much is given, of him much will be required;" and in illustration of it, Christ delivered the
* The existence of moral and physical evil has long been a subject of controversy; and which, it is probable, will be terminated when the Arian Heresy is explained to the satisfaction of the world.
parable of the talents; in which the diligent servant is rewarded, for having increased the money entrusted to him by his master, and the slothful servant, who wrapped up his talent in a napkin, is reproached for idleness, and punished. In this different treatment of the two servants, the obligation of physical and mental exertion is exemplified and enforced; and it may also be observed, that in the precept and parable, there is an implied confirmation of the sentence, which declares, that man shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. There are some superficial freethinkers, who argue against the benevolence of God, on account of this decree; but the folly and sinfulness of their objections may be readily exposed. Who are the most miserable class of society? Those who are devoured by what, in fashionable life, is called ennui, a feeling of lassitude and disgust, which proceeds entirely from want of occupation. To kill time, is the study of the rich; for which reason the gaming table is the frequent resource of generous minded men, who have not a particle of avarice in their composition. If the sceptic replies, that the goodness of God would have been more apparent, in constructing man after a different fashion, in which he would neither feel tired with labour, or disgusted with idleness, we answer, that it does not become a
finite being to conjecture what ought to have been done by a being of infinite wisdom. Perhaps the present state of human existence is a state of probation: there are men of learning and piety who hold this opinion; but even if it be not so, God has provided man with faculties to enable him to fulfil his destiny. If he had ordained that man should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, and not endowed him, both mentally and corporeally, with adequate powers, then it would be just to deny his benevolence: but such is not the fact. When the Deity breathed into man the breath of life, he also communicated a portion of the mens divinior, that ethereal spirit, which, when properly exercised and directed, is sufficient to ensure happiness. Let any man look among his own acquaintance, and he will see that those who have increased their talent by industry, enjoy the comforts of prosperity, and that the idle wasters of time, who have wrapped up their talents in napkins, are either struggling with embarrassments, or tortured by the tcedium vita. Now, classes of individuals are, as it were, the epitome of a nation: and as it is found that those persons (no matter in what country they may have lived) who have imitated the example of the diligent servant, have possessed a greater share of happiness than their indolent fellow citizens; so, by parity