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 Penn in the reign of James II., and his active and influential support of the obnoxious declaration which precipitated the revolution of 1688, it could hardly have been otherwise than that his character should suffer from the unworthy suspicions and prejudices of his contemporaries. His views of religious toleration were too far in advance of the age to be received with favor. They were of necessity misunderstood and misrepresented. All his life he had been urging them with the earnestness of one whose convictions were the result, not so much of human reason as of what he regarded as divine illumination. What the council of James yielded upon grounds of state policy he defended on those of religious obligation. He had suffered in person and estate for the exercise of his religion. He had travelled over Holland and Germany, pleading with those in authority for universal toleration and charity. On a sudden, on the accession of James, the friend of himself and his family, he found himself the most influential untitled citizen in the British realm. He had free access to the royal ear. Asking nothing for himself or his relatives, he demanded only that the good people of England should be no longer despoiled of liberty and estate for their religious opinions. James, as a Catholic, had in some sort a common interest with his dissenting subjects, and the declaration was for their common relief. Penn, conscious of the rectitude of his own motives and thoroughly convinced of the Christian duty of toleration, welcomed that declaration as the precursor of the golden age of liberty and love and good-will
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