formed; and that your petitioner, immediately after his formation, was blessed and sanctified by his Creator.*

That your petioner was highly honoured many thousand years after his creation, insomuch that a man who presumed to degrade your petitioner by gathering a few sticks, was put to death without mercy.t

That a blessing was promised to all who gave due honour to your petitioner.‡

That your petitioner continued to be honoured and esteemed till within a few hundred years ago.

That since that period your petitioner has been gradually deprived of the honour due unto him, notwithstanding the promises and threatenings held out to those who should honour or dishonour your petitioner.

That your petitioner is now held in so little estimation, that he is obliged by the rich to serve them for routs, concerts, and other fashionable amusements; by some he is used for working a windmill; by some for printing newspapers and selling them; by some for keeping open shop, and selling shoes and other things; by some for corn-porters to work on; by some for driving cattle to market; by some for digging up gardens; by some for driving stage coaches; by some for watermen to ply on; by butchers for selling meat; by a vast number for administering to their pleasures, and many other degrading employments, which your petitioner was by no means created for.

That for those things great wrath and judgments may be expected; and that by dishonouring your petitioner many persons have come to an untimely end.

That your petitioner is grieved to the heart to see such vast numbers of people obnoxious to the divine wrath and displeasure of an omnipotent God, by the dishonour they cast on your petitioner.

That, a short time ago, a society was formed to endeavour to restore your petitioner the honour he has been deprived of; but that no visible effect has appeared from their exertions.

Therefore, your petitioner humbly prays you will take his case into your most serious consideration, and that you will use your utmost endeavours to restore to your petitioner that honour he has been so unjustly deprived of, and thereby avert the divine displeasure, which now hangs over the nation for these things. And your petitioner, &c. &c.

† Num. xv. 36.


lviii. 13.

Gen. ii. S.


THERE is a curious old oriental fable, the recital of which may, I think, be not without its use. This fable tells us, that somewhere or other, I forget where, there was once a temple furnished with a multitude of pillars, one of which had the singular property of conferring immortal youth and happiness, on all who took hold of it for a few hours. Of course, it may be supposed that multitudes of pilgrims flocked to the temple from all lands, in order to share the virtue of the golden pillar; and as by the rules of the place, no person was allowed to visit it above once, it was very important not to mistake the pillar which they clasped.

Once on a time, the fable proceeds to say, a number of pilgrims arrived at the temple in a dark night. The rules of the place forbidding them to stay above a certain number of hours, it was necessary for them to seek out the golden pillar immediately. But it being impossible, from the darkness, to distinguish one pillar from another, they differed in their choice: each seized hold of a pillar for himself, and each obstinately maintained himself to be in the right. Here the story closes with this remark; "The morning alone can show which of these travellers had attached himself to the golden pillar.”

The fable is understood to point out the different religions which divide the globe, and which are represented by the various pillars of the temple. One only can be the right one: but in the opinion of this oriental fabulist, it is impossible in this world, to determine which is that one; and I suppose the intended moral to be, the necessity of universal toleration and charity.

The recollection of this apologue the other evening (I originally heard it many years ago) excited in my mind a good deal of reflection. I could not believe that mankind were really left in so much doubt with respect to their most important concerns, as the fabulist seems to imagine. The night (methought) must be dark indeed, in which no means can be found of distinguishing, in the open air, between a pillar of gold and a pillar of lead; nor is it at all impossible to discover the true religion, if we honestly use those faculties which God has given us for this purpose. We may be very tolerant and very benevolent, without thinking one religion as likely to be right as another; for why may not charity exist without scepticism?

I then proceeded to consider the number of pillars in the christian church. At this moment (I reflected) how many reli

gious controversies shake even this island to its centre! How many and what different assertions about the primitive doctrines! With what confidence every body claims the golden pillar to himself! Surely the twilight about us is bright enough to show us the object of our wishes, if we did not darken our own sight with the scales of passion, prejudice, and perverseness. Here also we enjoy this vast advantage over the heathen idolater, that in the scriptures we have an exact model, as it were, of the golden pillar: we carry the model in our own hands, and an attentive observation will enable us to compare it, obscure as the night may be, with the pillar to which we stand nearest; nor is there any thing to prevent our pursuing the comparison till we are successful. The want of sunshine, instead of rendering us indifferent, should only serve to quicken our attention.

These thoughts hovered about my mind all the evening, till at last, having fairly watched me asleep, they would not even then betake themselves to rest, but assumed the shape of the following dream.

Methought I saw an edifice like that which the fable describes; it was a vast roof raised on innumerable pillars, and I understood it to be called THE PROTESTANT CHURCH. I saw also a great number of travellers, who had just arrived at this building, and whom I imagined to be in search of the golden pillar. It was a somewhat dark and cloudy night; occasionally, however, the clouds broke a little, and gave way to a faint moonlight; nor was the gloom on the whole so thick and intense, as to render the eyes of the travellers useless, or their search entirely hopeless. They could easily see both one another, and the general form and appearance of the pillars of the building.

Each of the pillars bore a title in illuminated characters, which, however, rather dazzled than assisted the sight; but methought, the pilgrims were particularly warned not to pay an implicit attention to these titles: they were desired to rely solely on a close examination of the pillars themselves; and to help them in this task, I perceived that each of them was furnished with a small model of the golden pillar. These models, I thought, were made of such materials as would not hastily decay of themselves, but yet frail and apt to be injured when treated with neglect.

I now felt extremely anxious to learn how these pilgrims fared, and I resolved to watch the progress of their search with care. But how great was my surprise on perceiving the greater number of them paying no attention to the object of their jour 3 T


ney, and hardly even looking at any of the pillars! To this groupe I advanced nearer, and observed that they were formed in different sets or parties, and that, quite forgetting the golden pillar, they were mostly employed in amusing themselves and each other with mixed conversation on various subjects. They joked, they laughed, they sung; and perhaps they went so far as to remark on the huge size of the temple, or the cloudiness of the night. As I seemed to myself to be a spectator of this scene, methought I approached one of these merry triflers, and begged to remind him of his business in that place. He replied with easy politeness, that " he had only just arrived, and that it wanted many hours of the time when he should be obliged to quit the temple." I rejoined, that time passed very quickly away when persons were agreeably employed, and that even the morning (which was understood to be the utmost limit of their time) might surprise him before he was aware. He answered, rather tartly, that he "intended to begin his search almost directly:" and then resumed his jovial occupations.

I thought I might perhaps expostulate more successfully with another person whom I perceived sitting alone at a short distance, apparently in a thoughtful, if not a sullen mood; but I had hardly begun to question him, when he cut me short, by complaining in a grumbling tone of the darkness of the night: " It was impossible (he said) to do any thing to any purpose in such a night, and he was determined not to wear his eyes out in seeking what he knew could never be found." I begged him to reflect on the importance of the object, and at least to use all the means in his power; but he preserved a sulky silence, and I retired.

I next accosted a man apparently sedate and grave, and yet, as far as the night allowed me to observe, of a cheerful countenance; who was walking backwards and forwards, and occasionally resting against any pillar that happened to be next to him. "Sir, (said he) I have just now satisfied myself, after much thought, of the folly of expecting from this golden pillar all the benefits that it is said to confer. What is gold but matter? And who does not know that matter has none of these wonderful properties?" I observed, that he had the best authority for believing what he had heard of the golden pillar; and that, where nothing contradictory was affirmed, I thought he was bound to believe what was said on credible evidence. The philosopher put me by, exclaiming in a contemptuous tone, "Sir, Sir, talk to old women, of these marvels!"

I cannot now distinctly remember all the scenes of this kind to which I was witness. I only remember that some of the pilgrims were quietly sleeping, others feasting, and others quarrelling. Most of all, however, I was surprised to see a small party sitting together, and most diligently admiring the model of the golden pillar, remarking its symmetry and measuring its proportions; while they seemed totally to forget that they were come there to find the golden pillar itself.

But though the majority were so negligent, yet a very considerable number had actually taken possession of the various pillars of the edifice. I now approached some of these; and first, some who had attached themselves to the very outermost of the pillars, and indeed to pillars which seemed to me hardly to belong to the same building as the rest, nor did I think they were really connected with the roof. But the most amazing circumstance was, that the shapes of these pillars were, in every respect, totally unlike that of the model, nor could I conceive how, in the darkest night, any one of them could be mistaken for the golden pillar. I therefore set myself with eagerness to learn the cause of this phenomenon.

A young man near me had planted himself by a pillar, which was inscribed with the words, universal charity. It was an irregular spiral, and on placing my eye near it, there was light enough plainly to perceive, that so far from being gold, it was an ill-cemented composition of a variety of base materials. I was astonished at the apparent contentment of the youth, notwithstanding the vast difference between his pillar and his model; but, on looking nearer, I perceived that he had almost broken his model to pieces, in attempting to twist it into the shape of the pillar. The morning discovered this to be the pillar of LATITUDINARIANISM.

Close to this were two pillars; the one, inscribed unitarianism; the other, rational christianity; which were in the morning, found to be respectively the pillars of SOCINIANISM and ARIANISM. These also were strikingly unlike the model: that of socinianism, in particular, reminded me of a Mahomedan minaret, while the other seemed a vamped-up fragment of some old Athenian column, But it soon appeared that the models in the hands of the persons who had taken their stand by these pillars, were perpetually becoming more and more like the pillars; for both the Arian and the Socinian champions were bitterly complaining of the "spurious additions" that had been patched on the model, and using every endeavour to file these supposed additions away, till at last they left hardly any thing behind.

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