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William Stephens Quotes #1131470
#1. For if you look over the State of Religion as it standeth in Christendom, there is no Church whatsoever which will accept you as a Member of its Communion, but upon some particular terms of Belief, or Practice, which Christ never appointed, and it may be such as an honest and a wise Christian cannot consent to. I am not more able to give up my Reason to the Church of England, than to give up my Senses to the Church of Rome; it looks like a Trick in all Churches to take away the use of Mens Reason, that they may render us Vassals and Slaves to all their Dictates and Commands.
William Stephens Quotes #306910
#2. Thus that Upright Judge, whose three Letters my Friend having read, did well approve of 'em, acknowledging, that with great Exactness he had distinguished between Religion and Priest-craft: And he added, If you will shew me, Sir, any Christian Church where that distinction is observed, I will become a Member of it. I recommended the Church of England; he presently told me that he had read the 39 Articles, and observed that 3 of them were wholly design'd to uphold the Power of the Clergy over the People. And then he bad me only compare the Design, which has been, and still is, carrying on under the Name of the Church of England, with the Design of the Christian Religion, as 'tis described by Sir Matthew Hale; and I should find one in all its parts a Contradiction to the other. 'Tis plain (said he) the Clergy do not allow of Sir Matthew's Notions, nor will they suffer us to take any thing for Religion, that is distinguished from their particular Interest. To what end have so many Persecutions and Penal Laws been set a foot by the Clergy in Christendom? was it to bring Men to any one Point of that full Description of Christian Religion, which you cited from Sir Matthew Hale? or only to bring them to that short Article of their Clergy Religion, i.e. to submit to their Power?
William Stephens Quotes #962756
#3. I remember one Gentleman objected to the Christian Faith, that it made Men insolent, quarrelsom and ill-natur'd. From whence I concluded, (as I told him) that he had never read over the Gospells; truly he could not say that he had read 'em carefully, but yet that in reading the History of what had passed in Christendom, he observed that most of the Quarrels in which this part of the World had been engaged, arose from contentions among the Christian Priesthood. Church-History is chiefly a relation of Church-mens Wrangles, and D. Cave in a late Book of his has denominated every Century from some eminent Quarrel which arose among the Clergy. But besides this, what was the Holy War, what all the holy Massacres and Croisados which filled Europe with Blood, but the Inventions of the Holy Church? And what is holy Inquisition, but a perpetual Series of Murthers carry'd on in barbarous Forms of Law against the common Sense of Mankind? Does History account for any Barbarities so great as those committed by the Popes? Any Cruelties so savage as those of the Holy Inquisition? Any Murthers so solemn, and religiously brutal as the Acts of Faith? Any Pragmaticalness so insufferable as that of the Jesuits? is not their Humanity extinguished by their Christian Religion? Such is their Malice that no Man can eat Bread where they have to do, unless he submit his Faith to their guidance, witness the present French Persecution.
William Stephens Quotes #871712
#4. Besides (said he) do you not observe what a keen Edge Christian Faith puts upon the ill-nature of Divines, when they are disputing about matters of Religion? 'Tis common for Philosophers, Lawyers, Physicians, &c. to differ about matters which concern their Professions, and write one against another: But you will find some Temper and Decorum observed in their Writings. But let the Controversy be about any Branch of Christian Faith; and then see the Odium Theologorum, the Malice of Divines in the late Writings of two of your Church Doctors against each other; at least this shews that Christian Faith doth not improve the Temper of such Men who are of mean Birth, and narrow Education.

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