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[267]

But why are you willing that these things should be freely discussed? Simply because you are persuaded that your views of anti-slavery, peace, temperance, religious liberty, etc., are based on a solid foundation, and cannot be successfully overthrown; nay, the more they are attacked, the more truthful you think they will appear. Just so! Hence you invite, solicit, demand, the most thorough inquiry into their validity. But the slaveholder, the warrior, the rum-drinker, the bigot, do not like to see their views on slavery, war, temperance, and religious liberty brought into the arena of free debate; they are one-sided, and dread nothing so much as “a fair field and no quarter.” . . .

Now what is true with regard to one subject or question, is equally true in regard to every other. Whoever holds to an opinion or sentiment which he is not pleased to see dealt with boldly and searchingly, gives evidence that he is conscious that it will not bear such treatment, or that he has taken it upon trust, usage, parental, educational, traditional authority, and not upon his own clear-wrought, unbiased convictions. Is it not so? Who shall presume to say to another, in regard to the examination of any creed, book, ordinance, day, or form of government—of anything natural or reputedly miraculous— “Thus far shalt thou go, but no farther” ? Beloved friend, are you not in just this state of mind, in regard to certain subjects the discussion of which you so much deplore? How is this to be accounted for? I will tell you.

You were born a member of the Society of Friends; your religious opinions you received upon authority, and you accepted them as a matter of course, sincerely and trustingly, as I did mine, and as nine-tenths of those who are born in Christendom do. Your theological views of man's depravity, the atonement, eternal punishment, the divinity of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, etc., you received as confidingly as you did your Quaker views of peace, anti-slavery, temperance, etc.,—only, the latter you have advocated and carried out to an extent much beyond the ordinary teachings of Quakerism on these points. But the latter views are true, and susceptible of the clearest demonstration; and their examination you court. The former are all wrong (in my judgment, I mean, though I was brought up to believe them), admit of no satisfactory proof, much less of demonstration; and a free examination of them gives you positive uneasiness! Your peace and anti-slavery views commend themselves to your understanding, your conscience, and

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