"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the
introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined,
imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world
fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and
error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited
by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably
a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one
of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and ours that
one, we should wish to see the 999 wandering sects gathered
into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot
effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable
instruments. To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged;
and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it
ourselves. But every state, says an inquisitor, has established
some religion. "No two, say I, have established the same."
Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments? Our
sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long
subsisted without any establishment at all."
a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make
another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors
of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour.
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we
have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds
of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that
His justice cannot sleep forever."
neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law."
is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse],
and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no
more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences
of our own nightly dreams." - letter to General Alexander
Smyth, Jan. 17, 1825