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tlemen, would it be, before you, as individuals, might have to complain of oppression? The babits, usages, and feelings of the British public, shew that, upon all religious topics, and comments upon the measures of Government, free toleration and free discussion is the common law of the land, and that whoever dares to infringe upon these rights, commits a bigb crime against the people. A free discussion of the first, helps to correct the superstitious errors of weak men; and of the latter, to keep the Ministers within the bounds of moderation, in the measures they pursue. Hence, then, from this unwritten law, from the vox populi
, which is acknowledged to be the vox Dei, I stand acquitted, and 'my prosecutors condemned, in daring to infringe upon the common babits and rigbts of the people.
Had there been no toleration act in existence, the habits and consent of the people to be tolerant to each other, would have answered the same purpose ; let us have the trial by jury in its greatest purity, and we need no laws, they only beget animosities, and lead lawyers to incite to expensive law suits, which would always be better seitled without them, by twelve plain and honest men in the capacity of Jurors.
But we have a toleration act which allows every man to adore God in bis own way. Since the reformation, all meu are free to believe or disbelieve the dogmas entertained by each other, at their option ;there exists no law to compel a man to believe this, that, or the other, nor none from expressing or publishing his opinions, whatever they may be, or of descanting upon the sacred_volume, in what way be pleases. If doing so displeases the King, Peers, or Commons, why do they not make a law to do away with the toleration act, and at once to establish an Hierarchy or Government of Priests. They dare not do this, they have had an experience of what it would lead to, and are better politicians than to admit them to uncontrouled power again.I rather believe the next move in the Priesthood will be to throw ibe doors wide open, and have no religion by law, but to admit all to an equal right, to participate in the affairs of the country.
At present, what is more common amongst the numerous sects of Christians which swarm in these countries, iban for one sect to discuss and impugn the dogmas, creeds, and opinions, of other sects-and all to abuse and reprobate the Freethinker, Deist, and Sceptic? and shall Deists alone, as moral, as peaceable, and bumane as any of them, and as great admirers of the wondrous power of God, through the stupendous works of nature; shall they alone have their powers of mind cramped, to suit the wbims of a dominating faction-orthe forms and ceremonies, and creeds, and dogmas, established by particular sects? Shall Deists he prevented from taking an excursive range in the great field, the wide expanse of nature, in discorering the power of God by his handy works, and through them to lift their souls up in admiration and praise of his transcendant glories.
Have not the visionaries of all religions vaidly attempted to describe what the God they worship is-is this not a species of idolatry and paganism?
The Deists, more modest, more consistent, and more wise, imagine no such vain thing: they glorify him through the immensity of bis works, and cry aloud what hand but divine could produce such order and harmony, alike in a world and an atom? They have not the sbameless effrontery, to pretend to say, whether he be composed of matter, or spirit; whether he has parts or po parts; whether he occupies a heaven, or fills all space; whether he is confined to re. gions, above all worlds; or whether he is here and every where present. These disputes, they leave to the followers of the Egyptian Thoth, who pronounce him to be composed of matter, and to Pytbagoras, who beld that he was pure spirit.-Deists know these opinions were subjects of mere conjecture, and they know that from these bave originated all the delusions and follies, wbich now perplex weakminded people.
Satisfied in beholding the glorious works of a Creator, and in partaking of bis bounty, Doists leave these inextricable difficulties to be
discussed, by the idle and gross visionaries, who liken God to man. Seeing, then, that the Christians have taken a freedom with the Deists--and abused them upon all occasions, in their writings, in the pulpit, and at the bar; are the Deists to remain for ever dumbfounded, as if they could not render a reason for their notions of tho works of nature, and the admirable wisdom of a divine Creator ? Seeing that the Christians take a free latitude in their theological speculations, are the Deists to be debarred from canvassing the errors of Christians, who rail against each other and proclaim, to all tbe world, that many of their doctrines are heresies? Justice and right reason protest. loudly against those who would prevent free dis. cussion. In what is it that the Christians excel, that they should possess an exclusive privilege to rail at and abuse all wbo differ from them in opinion, aud to deal out their anathemas against Jews, Turks, and Infidels, as they call all those who cannot believe a revelation, a miracle, and prophesy, which appear to them improbable, false, or delusive ?
What virtues do they possess or practise, not practised by any other people, and by the Deists? It is time for Christian people to learn modesty, to practise the precepts of the founder of their religion, and to consider that God is no respecter of persons :-above all, if they will become public prosecutors, it is necessary to come with clean hands into Court. Were we to go into the history of Sbarpe and Murray, and many of their coadjutors, and employers, it would be casy for us to sbew that they were very dirty in handling the filthy lucre of the world, scraped up, in a way, not the most honourable and Christianlike imagivable. If Christians were really wbat they profess to be: and I am very willing to allow that there are thousands of very good and amiable people amongst them, were I to say otherwise, I should consider it a libel upon my countrymen, the greatest part at present being Christians; why arrogate to themselves all the virtues ? Are they obedient to good laws ? So are Jews, Turks, and Infidels. Do they submit to good government? So do these. Do they love their children and revere their parents, are they friendly and hospitable, will they entertain strangers kindly? Even so do ali other people. Are they industrious, patient under affliction, sober, honest, and discreet? Are not Deists and others as much so as they ?
What virtue is it they possess, not possessed by Pagans, Turks, and Infidels, as Christians stigmatise those, who are not of their faith, and whom they bold in derision? Or do they admire the practice of virtue more than the Deists, who deride their superstitions ? But I come here, Gentlemen, to defend a right, not to call in question the errors or supposed errors of any man, but in defending myself it was impossible to do myself justice, to avoid topics which have been painful to me to utter, and may have been so for you to hear. You, most likely, are Christians; in God's name enjoy in peace and quietude your opinions, mine may be the same as yours ; but let Deists also enjoy their opinions.
Were governments so unwise, as to make war upon, or to persecute, if they could, other governments, because the people were of different religious opinions, no people of any nation could ever be at peace. What sort of men are those, then, that compose the self-created Bridge-street Associalion, who call themselves the Constitutional Association ?
Here the Court again interrupted the prisoner in conséquence of alluding to the Constitutional Association.
Common Serjeant.-What right have you to allude to the Constitu tional Association ? they have not been mentioned during the whole proceedings.
Prisoner. -Mr. Adolphus, in opening the case, stated, that the Constitutional Association were the prosecutors.
Who are they who have the effrontery to impeach the opinions of any man, and to cause all the bubbub which they have done ? Upon what law of tbe land, upon what section of the supposed constitution, found tbey thiş proseoution? I am bold to say they cannot point to either, and my legal opponents, as well as the Judge on the Bench, knows that I am correct io my observations. If I am otherwise, I call upon them to put me right: it is what they owe to you, Gentlemen, to me, and to the British public, to shew us the law of the Constitution, which gives authority to such a band of conspirators as the Bridge-street gentry are, merely upon their own conceit and caprice, to immure a fellow subject in prison, for an imaginary offence upon theological subjects, or strictures upon ministers and forms of government.
Having thus called upon the legal authorities to justify the proceedings of my enemies, upon any known law of the land, I defy_the whole host of Bishops, Doctors in Divinity, Masters of Arts-Rec. tors, Vicars, and Curates to boot, to sbew that they bave received a mission from above, to commence a prosecution against any man for any religious opinions, bowever expressed or published. If, then, they cannot shew an authority, what becomes of Sharpe and Murray, those most respectable agents of the Bridge-street Associated, affiliated Conspirators, against the liberties of Englishmen, falsely calling themselves the Constitutional Association ? Gentlemen, are we to be mocked out of our liberties by cant, bypocrisy, and the assumption of false titles-and by men, too, of the most contemptible characters? Is it come to this, then, in Old England, the far-famed England so noted all over the world for liberty, that the liberties of Englishmen are to be handied about by men, clubbing together their money and their malice, for the avowed purpose of crushing every man, who differs from them in opinion, or complains of existing abuses, and the oppressions of public men or the King's servants ?
Gentlemen, you can assist greatly by your verdict of acquittal this day, to put a stop to these despotic practices. If a person offends, has not the law provided the King with legal advisers and legal power and assistance, in the Crowo Lawyers, to bring him to the bar of justice, without bands of conspiraiors, spies, and inforiners, lo use the strong arm of power to overrule men's consciences ?
But it was said, and may be repeated here, that no person has a right to impugn the Scriptures, that they are part and parcel of the law of the land. What did Judge Ellenborough mean by such an assertion? What is the strict sense of the word? It is, that no man must attack the Scrip?ures.-What, then, is the word of God lounded upon so slender a basis, as to be overthrown by man? But why not aitaok ? Does not the book tell us to examine the Scriplures? Have they not been attacked in all ages, and have not many books been withheld, because they bad been attacked and were found not to stand the test of reason? Hare not commentators, in all the sects, attacked the commentaries of other sects, and put different constructions upon the same parts, as contrary as light and dark ? The Deists believe they contain many absurdities, many ambiguous apd many mischievous doctripes, which might have suited the people at the time they were writien, or rather the purposes of the parties concerned, but excepting some of the moral precepts, extremely ill calculated to make mankind happy in these times. And if they are so, I say every man has a right to attack what has a tendency to retard the progress of the happiness of the human race. Beside, Lord Ellenborough could but deliver his opinion, he could not, thauks to the semblance of a constitution, make that opinion law.
The Common Serjcant here observed, that he could not sit there, and hear the constitution called the semblance of a constitution, it was repeating the libel for which the defendant was prosecuted.
I will venture to predict, that the King, Peers, and Commons, will not do so. Therefore, Gentlemen, we may treat the opinion as an old woman's tale, or we may respect it as the opinion of a Judge ; but you will know better than to trifle with the liberties of your coun.. trymen and your own, to establish the opinion of any Judge as the law of the land.
And, Gentlemen, it Christianity be part and parcel of the law of the Jand, then it must be part of that law to prove all things and hold fast that which is good ; and to judge for ourselves that which is right.”. But how shall we do it, if the Bridge-street Association is allowed to indict us for discussing the merits or demerits of any system, of religion or politics ? This is deceiving us with a vengeance : first, telling us it is lawful to discuss ; then to imprison us immediately for discussing.
Gentlemen, the Bridge-strect gentry, I denounce as nothing less than a band of illegal incendiaries, exerting themselves to sel on fire the already agonized feelings of the suffering, and oppressed people : instruments employed for some dark and sinister purposes of power. And whoever of the law, aids and abets their designs, in the present prosecution, knows that he abuses the law and the toleration act, in bringing any one before a British Jury to prosecute him for any religious opinions.
The laws and customs of this couộtry allow the free exercise of every religious persuasion and every sort of worship, not only to every Englishman, but to every stranger that lands on British ground. This is the pride and boast of your countrymen in every clime; and properly it is so ; but how much longer can they so boast, is the Bridge-street unconstitutional society be allowed to bave their own way in their malicious and illegal practices ?
Even if a number of Pagans were to settle in these countries, they would be allowed, not only to give evidence and make oath in their own way, according to the custom of their own religion, in our Courts of Justice, they would not only be allowed to build Pagan temples, to their Gods, to put up the figures of their Gods; but to worship them without' bindrance or molestation: nay, if the Bridge-street agents, Murray and Sharp, dared to interrupt them, they would be chargeable with breaking the peace.
If, then, free toleration and protection are allowed and given to Jews, Turks, and Pagans ; shall not Deists be allowed to admire and praise a sapreme Being through his wondrous and marvellous works? If they are put down,
or if they are persecuted, tined, imprisoned and famished, because in their consciences they cannot believe tbe dogmas put forth by Christian people, where is the boasted impartiality of our laws? Where the toleration, the humanity, tbe forbear. ance, or the divine power of the Christian religion and above all, wbere is the prudence and policy of the Government, unless it has become its policy to suffer a gang of conspirators to goad and harass the already suffering apd oppressed people iuto, madness, that out of their desperate attempts to resist their oppressions, open and undisguised despotism may be established ? Really, this appears, one would almost believe, to be the intention ; or why suffer such men to play the tyrants in the very face of justice, under the nose, and possibly by the sanction of the ministers of state ?
What can you think, Gentlemen, will come of all this prosecuting, fining, and imprisoning, and I may add, murdering of Englishmen, for the honest avowal of their opinions and their endeavours to obtain a redress of their grievances ? Are Englishmen composed of that texture of mind, to submit to tyrants or tyranny of any kind? or are they likely to give up received opinions, from ill treatment, perseou. tion, and cruelly ? Surely, their oppressors shew a great ignorance of the English character, forbearing to an extreme, but bold, daring, and determined, when goaded to resistance. And are not my prosecutors by their unholy and wicked zeal, by their opprincipled prosecutions, Tighting a torch, that may set the nation in a flame? Have they the hardihood, bave the ministers the impolicy to defy the feelings of the British people ?
You, Gentlemen, bave it this day in your power to put the whole tribe of conspiring knaves and zealots, spies and informers, to confusion; I was going to say to shame, but such men have not tho sensibility of honesty to blush ; hardened in their vileness, they brazen out all shame. But you can set an example to the present
17 and future times, of the prudence, judgment, and justice of a British Jury, in putting a stop to the career of great and petty tyrants. But what a thing to hint at ! for a man to stand up in an English Court of Law, and bave to talk of putting a stop to the bad conduct of tyrants ! what will posterity thiok of such times, and of English liberty? will they pot say, that I was libelling my country, or that the English people had lost their courage, to suffer such men to continue their evil practices for a day?
Gentlemen, I have been a great sufferer, from the evils I speak of; but I scorn to complain of my own individual sufferings and wrongs, while thousands and tens of thousands, of my poor countrymen, are in as woeful a condition. Rather than complain of oppression, I would resist it; and this is, I believe, the growing spirit of the people. They have petitioned for a redress of grievances, and have been refused it: the next step will be, a silent movement towards redressing their wrongs.
Having combated the principle, or more properly, the vice of intolerance, and pleaded my right, as well as the right of every other man, to promulgate matters of opinion upon religious and political subjects, I will proceed to discuss the sentiments contained in the pamphlet : and I trust, that I shall meet with no interruptions from the Court, wbich, I am sorry to say, have already too often occurred, but which I deem to be so extremely unfair, that in some cases it must operate as a perversion of justice.
Until I entered this Court, I was not aware what were the supposed objectionable parts of the pamphlet in question. It is true, I might bave obtained a copy of the indictment, bad I possessed the means of paying for it; but being poor, the law, or its courts, were not so open to me as they would have been to a rich man; so much for the impartiality of the laws. Not baving the means to purchase a copy of the indictment, I bave been obliged to prepare my defence in the best way I could, from the pampblet, bence I must trespass longer upon your time, than I might bave done, had my prosecutors served me with a copy of their indictment; which, under a just administration of the laws, they would be compelled to do ; but being thus compelled to read the whole of the phamphlet, will, in the end, prove more satsifactory, and will enable me the better to shew it to bo harmless, and to prove, more forcibly, my right to sell it.
But, in reading the whole of the pampblet, I do not wish you to consider, that I am desirous to bid defiance to law, reason, or justice. I shall read the whole over that I may the better avail myself of its context,-come at the truth, and clear myself from the charge brought against me. [ strenuously maintain the right to sell what another man publishes, upon all religious and political subjects; bow else, I would ask, should we now have been free from the superstitions and domina. tio n of the Romish Church ? how else, did it happen, that all other sects and religions were tolerated ? How else, van the Deists shew the barmlessness of their opinions, and controvert the attacks of their enemies ? And how else, than by printing and selling political works, could our ancestors have produced the glorious revolution ?
See " Address to the Reformers of Great Britain for June, 1821.”
It was my intention to have given half a dozen of the addresses into the Jory-box'; but the public robbers having broken into Mr. Carlile's shop, and taken all away, has prevented me. I have only been able to procure one from a friend.
In commencing my remarks upon the matter contained in this little book, I shall take the first article, paragraph by paragraph. There can be notbiog in the first paragraph to condemo-but a good deal to admire :--it contains a beautifully conciso observation upon the approaching events, and holds a cheering hope, that no one in the gatbering storm need feel any alarm but the public oppressors.
The second paragraph touches upon the affairs of North and South America, wbich are very interesting, but cannot be seditious to mention. The observations upon colonization are highly creditable to the