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cerity ; and with equal truth it might be added, that my assent to the repeated request to publish was given with considerable hesitation.Amongst other reasons for this, one, and not the least, was, a dread of the imputation of vanity, in presenting myself before the public as an antagonist to a man of such distinguished eminence. My imagination has fancied what might be said ; and I have sensitively shrunk from the fancy, and almost resolved upon suppression. It is possible, I am aware, that this sensitiveness may itself be one form of the very principle of which it dreads the surmise. It may be allied to that description of modesty which Cowper represents as lurking
“ Conceal'd within an unsuspected part,
The vainest corner of our own vain heart." -Should any of my readers be charitably disposed to trace it to this lurking-place, I shall only say, that I hope they are mistaken.
The subject of these Discourses pertains to a department of knowledge, in which, perhaps, without a breach of charity, it may be feared, the mind of Mr. Brougham, with all the energy, and riches, and versatility of its highly cultivated powers, (of which his Inaugural Address is itself
so fine a specimen) has been more a stranger than in most others ; and if his decisions in this department be hasty and erroneous, the very celebrity which he has attained, and the extent of influence thence arising, only render the ne. cessity the more urgent, and the duty the more imperative, of attempting their exposure. The subject itself is one on which correct conceptions are of the very highest moment,-connected as it is with incomparably the most interesting of all the prospects that lye before us ;--the account, namely, which we have every one of us to render to our Supreme Ruler and righteous Judge. The position which I have undertaken to question has been advanced with all publicity; it has been, in a manner, assumed as a fundamental axiom, and no ordinary stress has been laid upon it; and the application of it has been carried out to a very bold and startling length. -By such considerations, connected with the fact that no one else, so far as I know, has intimated any intention of taking up, at least from the
press, the defence of what I cannot but deem important truth, I have been induced to lay my sentiments before the public. If any, agreeing with me in the substance of these sentiments, shall yet be disposed to say" Non tali auxilio"-I must console myself with the consciousness of having “ done what I could.”
In mentioning the publicity with which the position here combated has been advanced, and the extreme length to which the application of it has been carried, I do not refer merely to the time when the Inaugural Discourse was delivered, but to a subsequent occasion, in a still higher quarter. The following is an extract of Mr. Brougham's speech in the House of Commons, on presenting a petition from Mr. Richard Carlile, as reported in the Morning Chronicle news paper of July 1, with the comments of the Editor :
“ It was no offence against the Law to entertain any “ set of opinions, either upon religious or political sub“jects; neither was it any to discuss them, provided they “ were discussed with decency and propriety. If a man
was an Atheist or an Infidel, it was his misfortune, not “his fault; but if he indecently and improperly published “those opinions, then he was amenable to the laws of his “country. He should look upon an Atheist or an Infidel, “ if there were any such, with pity, not with blame ; and “ he should consider him to be a rash man who would un“dertake to punish the free discussion of such subjects, pro“vided that discussion was conducted with decency, as he " considered that such discussion, instead of being injuri“ous, would be beneficial to religion.".
“Mr. Brougham did himself great honour,” says the Editor, “by the eloquent and manly manner in which, on “presenting a petition from Richard Carlile, be reprobat“ed the sentence under which that individual had so long " suffered.
“ His arguments were a very apposite commentary on “the beautiful passage in his Inaugural Discourse, at “ Glasgow, printed at the request of the Principal, Profes
sors, and Students, of that University, and therefore " adopted by that learned and highly respectable body:- The “great truth has finally gone forth to all the ends of the “ earth, That man shall no more render account to man for “his belief, over which he himself has no control. Hence“ forward nothing shall prevail upon us to praise or to “ blame any one for that which he can no more change " than he can the hue of his skin, or the height of his sta“ture.' It is the more meritorious in Mr. Brougham, and “ the University of Glasgow, to adopt so liberal a principle, " that the nation in general, is, we believe far from being “ ripe for it."
What the Editor of the Morning Chronicle here says about the sentiment in question having been adopted and sanctioned by the learned and highly respectable body" of the University of Glasgow, is exceedingly foolish, and undeserving of any serious comment: nor is it for me to say, how far the eulogium bestowed upon that body on such a ground would be received with complacency by its members. What I wish the reader to mark, is, the length to which the ap
plication of the said sentiment is carried, and carried with this Editor's unmeasured applause. I am a decided friend to that freedom of discussion for which Mr. Brougham contends, and am as fearless as he can be about its ultimate results to the cause of truth. I am a decided friend too to liberality of sentiment, and to charitable judgment of character. But that infidelity,--and not infidelity only, but even atheism itself, is to be regarded by us as a man's misfortune and not his fault, is, in my mind, a licentious extension of charity beyond all scriptural and all reasonable bounds. That an atheist is to be pitied, I grant. There is not, amongst all on earth that can claim compassion, a more truly pitiable being. O the dreary wretchedness of that soul, if such a soul there be, that has quenched to itself the light of creation, and divested the universe of a presiding and pervading Deity! But amongst the grounds of my pity, I must be permitted to include the state of the man's heart, as well as of his understanding. A blameless atheist-an atheist that has arrived at his miserable conclusions without the perverting influence of moral pravity, under one or more of its various modifications, is a character, I honestly confess, of which I am