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demonstratively gives a monstrous advantage to what each of its defenders most decidedly condemns as soul-destructive error ;-not unlike the combination of the old feudal lords to maintain their respective tyranny over their own vassals, however strongly the individuals forming this coalition might disapprove of the treatment which all other vassals received at the hands of their masters. The truth is, that experience having convinced the various religious parties that it is impossible to extend their particular persuasion over all the world, their present object is to keep their own. The indignation of civilised mankind is roused at the idea of parents who distort or mutilate their children, with a view to securing them pecuniary advantages when grown up; but alas ! the distortion of the mind, in its most helpless infancy, is considered a duty on the part of parents, whatever the direction, character, and tendency of the distorting and maiming may be. Now, if the first labour of education is the transmission of parental prejudices and the consequent perpetuation of religious error (for every party acknowledges that whatever the rest teach is erroneous), is it not madness to expect any approach to Christian truth and unity ?
The next extraneous influence which deserves attention is that of open bribery, practised by the two main coalitions which derive power from Christianity—the Church of England and the Church of Rome. What are religious establishments but systems of seduction, employing the most permanently powerful allurements known to the human heart for the purpose of securing assent to the peculiar doctrines on which the power of those rival hierarchies are grounded ?-Popular reverence, subsistence with the prospect of wealth, honours of the highest description in view
or in possession--all is regularly employed in support of Divine Truth, revealed Truth, unquestionable, luminous Truth, as each of the rival Churches will tell you.—And thinking multitudes hear this, without a suspicion whether they are not mocked by such a statement !—Employ the same means in another direction, and in the course of two generations you may have established even the most diabolical error.
Can we, then, be surprised at the anomalous state of Europe-of the British Empire in particular—respecting religion? It is, it must be, one of perfect confusion and disorder, producing uneasiness in public and private, standing in the way of well-meaning Governments, preventing the progress of education, perpetuating ignorance, fanaticism, and heart-embittering division.
Now, we ask, is this to continue for ever? Is there any prospect of settlement of even an approach towards a concentration of sober, considerate, well-grounded opinion upon this subject? The blindest enthusiast, if he has any knowledge of the real state of things, will hardly expect that the mass of European intellect shall cordially embrace any of the religious creeds which have so long contended for mastery.—What, then, is the direction which the daily-growing multitude of reflecting men is taking ? Clearly that of looking upon religion as a treacherously-deceitful phantasm, an ignis fatuus which allures people to the most exhausting and dangerous wanderings. Would Heaven that this state of mind would plainly and honestly manifest itself; for in that case it would produce discussion, and rouse the spirit of free enquiry—the only path that can lead mankind to whatever portion of truth it is capable of in this life. But the present spirit of DISBELIEF among us declines con
troversy as unfashionable, and is attended by too great a love of personal ease to engage in a contest with any sort of error which does not DIRECTLY and PALPABLY interfere with some external, material interest.
In the mean time, the same spirit of disbelief, but unsubdued by artificial manners, is descending lower into the broad basis of society—the working classes. Left to themselves, or, what is still worse, addressed only in the tone of fanatical declamation, adjuring them, in the nineteenth century, to be faithful to the notions and modes of thinking of dark ages long past, both they and their children cannot but grow every day more and more strangers in mind to that still numerous, externally powerful, proud, and obstinate class, who would reduce mankind to the size and shape of their own intellects.—And yet, painful to acknowledge ! this class will, for a time, succeed in keeping a great part of that multitude in their pay, and boast that England is, and will ever be, Conservative.
This delusive dependence, arising partly from the love of ease which times of general prosperity nourish, and partly from the difficulty of knowing the real extent of a disguised mode of thinking, may continue till either unlooked-for distress or provocation shall disclose where the real strength of living, not formal, conviction lies : and who could then make the voice of Rească be heard ?—who could hope for time an:1 leisure for the slow working of true Reform?
The unnatural and dangerous alliance of Church and State, which makes that which is most contested and uncertain among civilised nations, the main support of order, the most real of all social wants, was established through error and wide-spread delusion ; but, though erroneous, that conviction was real. That same conviction, though
greatly reduced in its extent and power, still exists in a degree that deserves respect. The idol which it supports cannot, should not, be assailed by main violence, for, colossal as it is, it could not fall suddenly to the ground without danger to every thing around it. Opinion set it up on its pedestal, and Opinion should remove it thence. Long, we fear, must be the rational process of deposition ; yet sincerity, openness, and perseverance on the part of all who wish for that event, would wonderfully hasten it. Unhappily, nothing whatever is doing with a view to the CONCENTRATION of thought on the evils which are daily pressing upon the country in the shape of Religion. Desultory attacks of various kinds are frequently made against the external and visible source of those evils—the Established Church ; but scarcely a word is ever said in reference to the deep-seated errors, the false mental principles, which, much more than its property and political power, support that Church ;-false principles, which, indeed, were that Church removed, would set up another still worse, if they had full sway.
What, then, it will now be asked, can a Journal, extremely limited in its circulation, do towards the mighty work proposed ?-We simply answer : it may begin it. Suppose that it succeeded in forming a centre of thought for eight hundred or one thousand minds,-persons who, having enjoyed the uncommon blessing of being brought up free from the deadening influence of all dogmatical clergies and ministries, have few obstacles to surmount in their progress towards ulterior religious truth. Suppose that the God of Truth, in whose name and for whose glory we undertake this task, grants us the power of bringing those minds, not into absolute unity of opinion, which is
impossible, but into unity of Method for casting off the deep-rooted errors, the remnant of that immense mass of delusion with which Rome for nearly fourteen centuries overlaid the best portion of mankind, converting Europe into an Augean stable of superstition, which no Herculean strength of reformation could clear at once. Suppose this not improbable result, and consider the advantages which might grow from it at no very distant time. Were it only through the regular spread of right notions implanted by domestic education, through the transmission of clear, improving, mind-fertilising principles in our readers' families, what a nucleus of intellectual, moral, religiouslyrational strength, might be collected among the Unitarians themselves! We employ that name again, not in the sense of party, but in that of intellectual union. In the progress from the priestly tyranny of superstition towards the full liberty of the children of God, it cannot be denied that the Unitarians have always marched in the front. Occupying that position, especially in Church-encumbered England, the work of progress belongs especially to them : all other denominations, as such, are fixed, chained down to the past; they must cease to be what they are, before they can make a step forward. Our bond of union, on the contrary, consists in the rejection of every thing that proposes to fix the human mind upon any one spot of its infinite progress. There are, indeed, brilliant, star-bright points in the line of that progress : our eyes turn constantly towards them with feelings of joy and confidence, for they give us the assurance that we are not wandering in empty space without guidance; but we will not stop to gaze at them in idleness ; they are not made to make us cast anchor, but rather to induce us boldly to spread our sails and shape our course