The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 340

with his lordship's own
words. See Vol. II. p. 472, 473.

"The following Parable against Persecution was communicated to me
by Dr. Franklin of Philadelphia, a man who makes a great figure
in the learned world: and who would still make a greater figure
for benevolence and candour, were virtue as much regarded in this
declining age as knowledge."

* * * * *

"The historical style of the Old Testament is here finely imitated;
and the moral must strike every one who is not sunk in stupidity
and superstition. Were it really a chapter of Genesis, one is apt
to think, that persecution could never have shown a bare face among
Jews or Christians. But alas! that is a vain thought. Such a passage
in the Old Testament would avail as little against the rancorous
passions of men, as the following passages in the New Testament,
though persecution cannot be condemned in terms more explicit.
_Him that is weak in the faith, receive you, but not to doubtful
disputations. For, &c._" B. V.

[96] Dr. Franklin, as I have been told, has often imposed this
parable upon his friends and acquaintance, as part of a chapter of
Genesis. B. V.




_A Letter concerning Persecution in former Ages, the Maintenance of
the Clergy, American Bishops, and the State of Toleration in Old
England and New England compared[97]._


SIR,

I understand from the public papers, that in the debates on the
bill for relieving the dissenters in the point of subscription to
the church articles, sundry reflections were thrown out against
the people, importing, that they themselves are of a persecuting
intolerant spirit, for that when they had the superiority, they
persecuted the church, and still persecute it in America, where they
compel its members to pay taxes for maintaining the presbyterian or
independent worship, and at the same time refuse them a toleration
in the full exercise of their religion, by the administrations of a
bishop.

If we look back into history for the character of the present sects
in Christianity, we shall find few that have not, in their turns,
been persecutors and complainers of persecution. The primitive
christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the pagans, but
practised it on one another. The first protestants of the church of
England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practised it
against the puritans: these found it wrong in the bishops, but fell
into

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