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ever is most revolting in the catalogue of human crimes , adultery and incest and murder , with all their terrific eff ects , must be viewed as the best modes which unlimited wisdom could devise of leading the perpetrators of
these offences to spotless purity and endless peace- All the deeds , cruel ty and bloodshed which took place during * the existence of the Jewish polity ; all the excesses of impurity and
profligacy prevalent among the most polished nations of antiquity ; all the sanguinary proceedings of the Inquisition in the darkest period of papal susperstition y and all the enormities and tortures of the African slave trade
in more recent times , though m direct contradiction to the laws of God , and the general interest of society , though at variance with the plainest precepts of Christianity , and the best feelings
of the human heart , must appear to tliose who adopt this theory of the origin of evil , to be nothing more than the wisest preparatory measures that could be ordained for the moral
improvement of the race of man , and to constitute an essential part of that divine system of education by which the mind is to be trained to perfect virtue and interminable happiness . In short , the worst crimes of the very ivorst man that ever imbibed the
breath of heaven , must , according to this view of things , not only contribute to the permanent prosperity of the world at large , but must be deemed absolutely requisite for the ultimate perfection of his own character , and for the final completion of his own welfare .
In spite , however , of these consequences , it is strenuously maintained , that without this explanation of the existence and tendency of evil , it would be impossible to vindicate the Divine character ; for if benevolent at all , it
must be infinitely so ; and nothing must be infinitely so ; and nothing can be more truly preposterous than the attempt to reconcile the boundless benevolenc e of the Creator with a preponderance of misery among his intelli gent creatures .
While the , preceding doctr ines , therefore , involved a 3 they are i # difficulty and contradiction , are advocated by Unitarian writers of eminence , they * nust , in my # ppre ) ieasion , be destructive of the ^ rgu tn eji t r advanced by . the
party to which they belong , against the , nfryster ious nature of some of the orthodox opinions of the National Church . ; Clericus Cantabrigiensis *
The NoncGftformist * No- XXVII . 341 ,
--The Nonconformist . No . XXVII . An Essay on the Causes of the Decline of Nonconformity . rT ^ HEKE are few subjects that JL appeal with a stronger interest to man than those which stand connected with religion . Whether it be
viewed in a moral or in a speculative light , or presented as a matter of history , it affords ample scope for interesting reflection . No sooner does the attention become awakened tp its importance , than the mind seeks relief in an external profession , and it then
obviously becomes a question of some interest , Under what form has the teaching of it been best administered ? From the period of the Reformation , and indeed long before , there have been various religious bodies in the nation , contending foi > supremacy .
and all upon the reasonable presumption , that the scheme they proposed approached the nearest to scripture and to antiquity . If the means adopted for deciding their pretensions had been equally rational , truth would have stood some chance in the contest , and
good sense would not have been offended . But the current of history goes to prove that nothing is so arbitrary and unnatural as the ascendancy of religious sects . From the reign of Henry the VIII . to that of Elizabeth , and within the short space of twenty
years , the national religion underwent four or five several changes , to suit the temper of the sovereign ; and , at each change , the foregoing profession was proscribed as false and impious . When James I . ascended the throne , the ecclesiastical fabric , reared by Elizabeth , was thought to be in
jeopardy , the new king having been trained in the hot- ^ ed of Prejs byterianism . That it was not then overturned , was owing more to the humour of James , than to any want of pliability in the Parliament or the nation ; for it is pretty evident that the bishops and counters were locking forward to suciv
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), June 2, 1823, page 341, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1785/page/29/