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only had something apou which they could rest as måtter of fact.” MURRAY." It seems to me, that we are not angry at a man for controverting an opinion which we believe and value; we rather pity him.” Johnson. “Why, sir, to be sure, when you wish a man to have that belief, which you think is of infinite advantage, you wish well to him ; but your primary consideration is your own quiet. If a madman were to come into this room with a stiek in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be, to take care of ourselves: we should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards. No, sir, erery man will dispute with great good humour upon a subject in which he is not interested. I will dispute very calmly upon the probability of another man's son being hanged; but if a man zealously enforces the probability that my own son will be hanged, I shall certainly not be in a very good humour with him.“ Boswell. “ If a man endeavours to convince me, that my wife, whom I love very much, and in whom I place great confidence, is a disagreeable woman, and is even unfaithful to me, I shall be very angry, for he is putting me in fear of being unhappy.” MURRAY.
But, sir, truth will always bear an examination;" JOANSON. “ Yes, sir, but it is painful to be forced to defend it. Consider, sir, how should you like, though conscious of your innocence, to be tried before a jury for a capital crime, once a week ?"
A Quaker having objected to the “ observance of days, and months, and years," Johnson answered, “The church does not superstitiously observe days,
merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christinas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be stated day for commemorating the birth of our Sa, viour, because there is danger, that what may be done on any day will be neglected.”
He said to Boswell, at another time, “Sir, the holydays observed by our church are of great use in religion. There can be no doubt of this in a limited sense; I mean, if the number of such consecrated portions of time be not too extensive. The excellent Mr. Nelson's Festivals and Fasts, which has, I understand, the greatest sale of any book ever printed in England, except the Bible, is a most valuable help to devotion; and in addition to it, I would recommend two sermons on the same subject, by Mr. Pott, archdeacon of St. Albaus, equally distinguished for piety and elegance. I am sorry to have it to say, that Scotland is the only Christian country, catholic or protestant, where the great events of our religion are not solemnly commemorated by its ecclesiastical establishment, on days set apart for the purpose.”
Boswell mentioned an acquaintance of his, .a sectary, who was a very religious man, who not only attended regularly on public worship with those of his communion, but made a particular study of the Scriptures, and even wrote a commentary on some parts of them, yet was koown to be very licentious in indulging himself with women; maintaining, that men are to be saved by faith alone, and that the Christian religion had not prescribed any fixed rule for the intercourse between the sexes, JOHN.
« Sir, there is no trusting to that crazy piety.”
" To find a substitution for violated morality,” he said, “is the leading feature in all perversions of religion,”
Besides tending to refute the notion of Johnson's bigotry, the following very liberal sentiment has the additional value of obviating an objection to our holy religion, founded upon the discordant tenets of
Christians themselves : “ For my part, sir, I think : all Christians, whether papists or protestants, agree
in the essential articles, and that their differences are trivial, and rather political than religious."
At another time, he and Boswell talked of the Roman Catholic religion, and how little difference there was in essential matters between ours and it.
JOHNSON. " True, sir; all denominations of Chris. á tians have really little difference in point of doctrine, á though they may differ widely in external forms. * There is a prodigious difference between the ex.
ternal form of one of your presbyterian churches in Scotland, and a church in Italy; yet the doctrine taught is essentially the same.”
In a literary party at Mr. Dilly's, the subject of toleration was introduced. Johnson. “ Every society has a right to preserve public peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the pro. pagation of opinions which have a dangerous tendency. To say the mugistrate has this right, is using arī ivadequate word: it is the society, for which the magistrate is agent. He may be morally or theologically wrong iu restraining the propagation of opinions which he thinks dangerous, but he is politically right.” Mayo. “ I anı of opinion, sir, that every man is entitled to liberty of conscience in religion; and that the magistrate cannot restrain that right." JOHNSON. “ Sir, I agree with you : every man has a right to liberty of conscience, and with tbat the magistrate cannot interfere. People confound liberty of thinking with liberty of talking; nay, with liberty of preaching. Every man has a physical right to think as he pleases; for it cannot be discovered how he thinks. He has not a moral right ; for he ought to inform himself, and think justly. But, sir, no member of a society has a right to teach any doctrine contrary to what the society holds to be true. The magistrate, I say, may be wrong in what he thinks; but while he thinks him. self right, he may and ought to enforce what he thinks.” Mayo." Theu, sir, we are to remain always in error, and truth never can prevail; and the magistrate was right in persecuting the first Chris. tiaus." JOHNSON. “Sir, the only method by which religious truth can be established is by martyrdom. The magistrate has a right to enforce what be thiuks; and he who is conscious of the truth has a right to suffer. I am afraid there is no other way of ascertaining the truth, but by persecution on the one hand, and enduring it on the other.” GOLD
“ But how is a man to act, sir ? Though firmly convinced of the truth of his doctrine, may he not thiuk it wrong to expose himself to per
secution ? Has he a right to do so? Is it not, as it were, committing voluntary suicide ?” Johnson.
Sir, as to voluntary suicide, as you call it, there are twenty thousand men in an army, who will go without scruple to be shot at, and mount a breach, for five-pence a day.” GOLDSMITH. “But have they a moral right to do this ?" JOHNSON. “Nay, sir, if you will not take the universal opinion of mankind, I have nothing to say. If mankind cannot defend their own way of thinking, I cannot defend it. Sir, if a man is in doubt whether it would be better for him to expose himself to martyrdom or not, he should not do it: he must be convinced that he has a delegation from Heaven.” GOLDSMITH.“ I would cousider whether there is the greater chance of good or evil upon the whole: if I see a man who has fallen into a well, I would wish to help him out of it; but if there is a greater probability that he - shall pull ine in, than that I shall pull himn out, I would not attempt it. So were I to go to Turkey, I might wish to convert the grand signor to the Christian faith ; but when I considered that I should probably be put to death without effectuating my purpose in any degree, I should keep myself quiet.” JOHNSON. “ Sir, you must consider, that we have perfect and imperfect obligations. Perfect obligations, which are generally not to do some. thing, are clear and positive; as, “thou shalt not kill ;' but charity, for instance, is not definable by limits. It is a duty to give to the poor; but no man can say how much another should give to the poor, or when a man has given too little to save his soul.
In the same manver, it is a duty to instruct the ignorant, and, of consequeuce, to convert inti.