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is the most perfect degree of freethinking; and leaves the reader to form the conclusion. However, he seems to allow, that a man may be a tolerable freethinker, though he does believe a God; provided he utterly rejects“ providence, revelation, the Old and New Testament, future rewards and punishments, the immortality of the soul," and other the like impossible absurdities. Which mark of superabundant caution, sacrificing truth to the superstition of priests, may perhaps be forgiven, but ought not to be imitated by any who would arrive (even in this author's judgment) at the true perfection of freethinking.

SOME THOUGHTS

ON

FREETHINKING.

WRITTEN IN ENGLAND, BUT LEFT UNFINISHED.

ISCOURSING one day with a prelate of the kingdom of Ireland, who is a person of excellent wit and learning, he offered a notion applicable to the subject we were then upon, which I took to be altogether new and right. He said, that the difference betwixt a madman and one in his wits, in what related to speech, consisted in this; that the former spoke out whatever came into his mind, and just in the confused manner as his imagination presented the ideas: the latter only expressed such thoughts as his judgment directed him to choose, leaving the rest to die away in his memory; and that, if the wisest man would, at any time, utler his thoughts in the crude indigested manner as they come into his head, he would be looked upon as raving mad. And, indeed, when we consider our thoughts, as they are the seeds of words and actions, we cannot but agree that they ought to be kept under the stricta est regulation; and that in the great multiplicity of ideas which one's mind is apt to form, there is nothing more difficult than to select those which are most proper for the conduct of life. So that I cannot imagine what is meant by the mighty zeal in some people for asserting the freedom of thinking; because, if such thinkers keep their thoughts within their own breasts, they can be of no consequence, farther than to themselves. If they publish them to the world, they ought to be answerable for the effects their thoughts produce upon others. There are thousands in this kingdom, who, in their thoughts, prefer a republic, or absolute power of a prince, before a limited monarchy; yet, if any of these should publish their opinions, and go about, by writing or discourse, to persuade the people to innovations in government, they would be liable to the severest punishments the law can inflict; and therefore they are usually so wise as to keep their sentiments to themselves. But, with respect to religion, the matter is quite otherwise: and the public, at least here in England, seems to be of opinion with Tiberius, that Deorum injuriæ diis curæ. They leave it to God Almighty to vindicate the injuries done to himself, who is no doubt sufficiently able, by perpetual miracles, to revenge the affronts of impious men. And, it should seem, that is what princes expect from him, though I cannot readily conceive the grounds they go upon; nor why, since they are God's vicegerents, they do not think themselves at least equally obliged to preserve their master's honour as their own; since this is what they expect from those they depute, and since they never fail to represent the disobedience of their subjects, as offences against

God. It is true, the visible reason of this neglect is obvious enough: the consequences of atheistical opinions, published to the world, are not so immediate, or so sensible, as doctrines of rebellion and sedition, spread in a proper season. However, I cannot but think the same consequences are as natural and probable from the former, though more remote: and whether these have not been in view among our great planters of infidelity in England, I shall hereafter examine.

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