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[448] understanding, under pretence of protecting religion
Chap. X.}
The reckless mind, rashly hurrying to the warfare against superstition has often, though by mistake, attacked intelligence itself; but religion, of itself alone, never had an enemy; except indeed as there have been theorists, whose harmless ingenuity has denied all distinction between right and wrong, between justice and its opposite. Positive enactments against irreligion, like positive enactments against fanaticism, provoke the evil which they were designed to prevent. Danger is inviting. If left to himself, he that vilifies the foundations of morals and happiness, does but publish his own unworthiness. A public prosecution is a mantle to cover his shame; for to suffer for opinion's sake is courageous; and courage is always an honorable quality.

The conscientious austerity of the colonists, invigorated by the love of power, led to a course of legislation, which, if it was followed by the melancholy result of bloodshed, was also followed, among the freemen of the New World, by emancipation from bigotry, achieved without any of the excesses of intolerant infidelity. The inefficiency of fanatic laws was made plain by the Fearless resistance of a still more stubborn fanaticism.

Saltonstall wrote from Europe, that, but for their severties, the people of Massachusetts would have been ‘the eyes of God's people in England.’ The consistent Sir Henry Vane had urged, that ‘the oppugn-

ers of the Congregational way should not, from its on principles and practice, be taught to root it out.’ ‘It were better,’ he added, ‘not to censure any persons for matters of a religious concernment.’1 The elder

1 II. Mass Hist. Coil. i. 37

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