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f < Call no man master upon earth , for one is your Master , even Christ , " If there be those who ask , " Why stand ye thus Apart from other men , apart from us ? Why ever thus , diverging from our side , Betray our weakness and our force divide ?"
We pray for strength , for meekness from on high ? And ; thus prepar ed , we humbly answer why , It is not that our spirits love you less , Though less than some , perhaps , our lips profess ; 'Tis not that , steel'd in mail , our bosoms rise , Impervious to religious sympathies ; Nor yet that , rais'd above or sunk below The common lot , your joys we disavow ; We feel them all : —with cheerful crowds to meet
And breathe united praise , indeed is sweet ; The harmonious chime , the solemn Organ ' s call , The voice of multitudes—we hear it all I And , if we dar'd approach forbidden ground , There , there , delighted , would our feet be found ; With you our hearts would burn ; with you to pray
For half the selfishness of life would pay . — Yet pardon : —louder still a voice within To humbler courts our feet hath pow ' j * to win , Because we feel that , humble though they be ; There and there only can our souls be free . No feeble being , prone , like us , to err , Assumes the tone of God ' s Interpreter , Bids all beside be impotent , be blind ,
Degrades our reason , and dethrones the mind ; This—and because we will not stoop to bear A yoke our Master never bade us wear , Nor make the Scriptures bow before a Creed , Nor force all human eyes alike to read , Nor give a bounty to the souls that make Shipwreck of conscience for promotion ' s sake , Nor yield to man that " glorious liberty " Which Christ , our Master , gave us—this is why
More though there be , yet this alone we name , Freedom of thought , the Christian ' s dearest claim ; Freedom to judge , compare—to use the power Which Heav ' n bestows , and humbly seek for more . Here , though we err , 'tis comfort still to know We bind on none that heritage of woe ;
We feel our weakness : and that feeling stays , Even in its birth , the wish a church to raise , Where our frail thoughts and weak attempts to read Heaven's book aright , transferr'd into a creed , Might give the law toother times , —and be Our children ' s children ' s ground of Heresy .
THE DISSENTERS' PLEA .
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Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1827, page 12, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1792/page/12/