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[376] conscience, the equality of opinions before the law
Chap. IX.}
and in its defence he was the harbinger of Milton, the precursor and the superior of Jeremy Taylor. For taylor Limited his toleration to a few Christian sects; the philanthropy of Williams compassed the earth: Taylor favored partial reform, commended lenity, argued for forbearance, and entered a special plea in behalf of each tolerable sect; Williams would permit persecution of no opinion, of no religion, leaving heresy unharmed by law, and orthodoxy unprotected by the terrors of penal statutes. Taylor still clung to the necessity of positive regulations enforcing religion and eradicating error; he resembled the poets, who, in their folly, first declare their hero to be invulnerable, and then clothe him in earthly armor: Williams was willing to leave Truth alone, in her own panoply of light,1 believing that if, in the ancient feud between Truth and Error, the employment of force could be entirely abrogated, Truth would have much the best of the bargain. It is the custom of mankind to award high honors to the successful inquirer into the laws of nature, to those who advance the bounds of human knowledge. We praise the man who first analyzed the air, or resolved water into its elements, or drew the lightning from the clouds; even though the discoveries may have been as much the fruits of time as of genius. A moral principle has a much wider and nearer influence on human happiness; nor can any discovery of truth be of more direct benefit to society, than that which establishes a perpetual religious peace, and spreads tranquillity through every community and every bosom. If Copernicus is held in perpetual reverence, because, on his death-bed, he published to the world that the

1 The expression is partly from Gibbon and Sir Henry Vane.

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