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THIS reftless and unrelenting Rage, which Chriftians practifed, at the Inftigation of their Clergy, upon one another, for Thoughts and Opinions which they could not help, was a ftrong and lafting Stumbling-Block in the Way of the Unconverted; who could have but fmall Appetite for a Religion, which disowned all Kindred to Peace and Humanity, and infpired its Votaries with fuch cruel Hatred, and fuch dreadful Fury: For, in fhort, that was the Religion which they were to embrace; a Religion no longer to be found in the Gospel of Chrift, but in the ridiculous Syftems, and selfish Inventions, of Priests. And it was no wonder that the Heathens were backward and afraid to embrace a Religion, in which the involuntary Mistake of a priestly Distinction, without a Meaning, might coft them their Lives, and ruin their Families.
So terrible and deformed had merciless Chriftian Priefts rendered the merciful and amiable Chriftian Religion! Their outrageous Zeal was become fo powerful, and had fuch: bloody Effects, that the Pagan Perfecutions were real Advantages to Chriftianity, as they gave it a breathing Time from the more fatal Perfecutions, and even Adulterations, of its own Pricfts; who, while the civil Sword was over D 3 their
their Heads, being obliged to abfcond or fly, could not throw about their Balls of Contention and War; and therefore, against their Will, left Religion to flourish, as it always did, under those Pagan Perfecutions, which their own turbulent and feditious Behaviour had often brought upon it. This is indeed their highest Praise, that the Church reaped Good from their Wickedness.
THE Pagan Perfecutions no fooner ceased, but the War of the Chriftian Priests recommenced; and the Perfecutions raised by them were ever more merciless, and more dreadful, than those which were raised by the Heathen Princes; forafmuch as they added, as far as they could, the Destruction of the Soul to that of the Body: So complete was their Vengeance! And, befides, it had no End: The Severity of the Heathens had long and frequent Intermiffions; but the Cruelty of the Priests was infatiable.
THE Perfecutions practifed by the Pagans, had moreover this Mitigation, that they were occafioned for the most part by the Words and external Behaviour of Chriftians, who contemned their Gods, neglected their Temples, and ridiculed their Manner of Worship: In all which, though they had Reason and Truth on
their Side; yet they provoked by fo doing thefe ignorant Bigots, whofe falfe Religion laid no Restraint upon their Paffions, but on the But the contrary greatly inflamed them. priestly War was waged against the Mind itself; the free and independent Mind! They would be controuling the voluntary, necessary, and invincible Motions and Operations of the Soul; and be putting Bonds upon the Imagination, which is as ungovernable as the Wind or the Sea. You must fay after them, nay, you muft think after them, and believe by their Direction; and either be Slaves or Hypocrites." A terrible and inflexible Tyranny! It was to no Purpose to alledge, that you could not perform Impoffibilities, nor fee with other Mens Eyes: You must be punished for what you could not help; you must be delivered to Satan, in fpite of your Innocence; and rewarded with Hell for your Sincerity, and Well-meaning: And the fame honeft Qualities which intitled you to the certain Favour of God, provoked the certain Vengeance of his pretended Embaffadors; to whofe Empire, Virtue and Truth are ever the most formidable Foes. To complete this ghoftly Barbarity, not appeased by Death and Damnation, your good Name must be murdered with your Body, D. 4 and.
and your Memory loaded with monftrous Calumnies, and bitter Defamations; which merciless Treatment could be expected only from that accurfed Spirit, who had been a Lyar and a Murderer from the Beginning; or from those who are acted by him. To pity you, was unpardonable; and to fpeak well of you, was to involve all those who did it, in your Doom. Thus holy Wrath is, of all others, the foonest kindled, the fierceft while it burns, and the flowest in going out, if ever it goes out.
IT would be endless to give Inftances of the bloody Spirit of fuch fort of Churchmen. They are the only Body of Men upon Earth who poffefs leaft of human Compaffion. They have been even ingenious in Cruelty, and fhewed vaft Invention in their rigid, various, implacable, and exquifite Manner of executing it. Ita feri, ut fe mori fentiat, feems to have been the Doctrine and Delight of the Church, as well as of Caligula. Neither he, nor Phalaris, nor Perillus, nor Nero, nor any other Pagan Monster, who made himself Sport with human Agonies and Mifery, has exceeded them in the Variety and Inhumanity of his projected Tortures, nor equalled them in the Length.
IT is a melancholy Observation, that the Mahometans, who by Principle use the Sword
as their great and most prevailing Apoftle for the Propagation of their Religion, do yet frankly tolerate Christianity, and every Sect of it, all over their Dominions; and that, on the contrary, Chriftians, who by the Doctrine of the Gospel are allowed the Ufe of no Means but thofe of Gentlenefs and Perfuafion, to promote the Faith of Jefus Chrift, do yet exercise Fiercenefs and Barbarity upon all who differ from them, where-ever the Mercy of the Govern ment does not reftrain the Cruelty of the Clergy. Thus far the Turks act, as if they were conducted by Grace, and obeyed the Precepts of our bleffed Saviour; and thus far the Chriftiansact, as if they had adopted the Spirit and Fiercenefs of Mahomet, and renounced the Gospel for the Alcoran.
HOWEVER, that I may not feem partial to the Mahometans, I fhall add this mournful Reflection; namely, That too many of the Chriftian Clergy do justly share with these Infidels, the infamous Praife of having almoft difpeopled the Earth. The Infidels have flain their Thoufands, and They their Ten Thousands. They have been the great Promoters of Cruelty, and the Sword; they have been the constant Patrons of Arbitrary Power, that mighty Engine, for rendering Mankind few and miferable; they Ꭰ ; have