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press : or can otherwise look upon any attempt that way, than as the greatest impiety, the cruelleft, the wickedest, the most irreligious thing that can be imagined. Would it not be sacrilegiously robbing God of the only worship he delights in, “the worship of the heart and
understanding?" Can there be Religion or Virtue without Reason, Thought, and Choice? Or can Reason, Thinking, Knowledge, and Choice, subsist without the only conceivable means of making men wife and and understanding, rational, and virtuous ? What is the kingdom of CHRIST? doth not our Saviour delight in calling it Light, and a Kingdom of Light? And what did he come to destroy but the kingdom of darkness? And can there be a kingdom of light, without the liberty, the unconstrained liberty, of diffusing light and knowledge? What is the Reformation, or whai does it mean, but the Liberty, the absolute and perfect Liberty of correcting and refuting errors, and of undeceiving mankind? What is it that we call PROTESTANTISNI, but a resolution stedfastly and undauntcdly to oppose all encroachments upon rational Liberty, the Liberty of the judgment and understanding; and to maintain it as our most valuable treasure, our greaieit ard noblest privilege, in comparison of which, all other rights are mean and trifling, and hardly deserve the name of bleffings and advantages ? A free Protestant
Country, without the Liberty of the Press, is a contradiction in terms; it is free Navery, or inchained Liberty. Light and Darkness are not more opposite than Liberty and the Deprivation of the means of being rational.
Who, that loves mankind, is not forry that any thing is ever published tending to confound men's understanding, mislead their judgments, or deprave their morals? But is there any more likely method for sense to prevail against absurdities, than leaving her at full liberty to paint them in their native colours ? Can truth be better armed against error than with the mighty blade of uncontrouled Reason? Or virtue more surely triumph over immorality, than by
the vigorous execution of the truly wholefome laws purposely framed for her fupport?
I hate all calumny and defamation, as I hate the corruption of heart, from which alone it can proceed; and do with the utmost zeal detest those prophaners of Liberty, who pretending to be friends to it, have recourse to such black diabolical methods. But I take the laws already in force amongst us to be a more than sufficient preservative (at least as far as human prudence is able to provide) against all the abusive overt-acts I am now expressing my abhorrence of : and as such we have reason to esteem them very valuable securities of our Li- . berties and reputations. But because
wicked things are publish'd must there be no publishing ? I know it is objected that there is a medium between an absolute Liberty of the Press, and an abfolute Suppression of it. Which I admit; but yet aver the mediuin (by which either Licensing or nothing at all is meant) is far worse on all accounts than either extreme. For though we are indeed told, that Licenfers would serve us with wholesome goods, feed us with food convenient for us, and only prevent the distribution of poison ; sure such cant was never meant to impose on any, but those who are asleep, and cannot see one inch before them. Let no True Briton therefore be deceived by such fallacious speeches, but consider the necessary con