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Roger Williams: A Study of the Life, Times and Character of a Political Pioneer

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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1909 edition. Excerpt: ...listening with interest to Dr. Johnson as he discoursed upon the theme. "Every society," said Johnson, "has a right to preserve public peace and order, and, therefore, has a good right to prohibit the propagation of opinions which have a dangerous tendency. To say the magistrate has this right is using an inadequate word; it is the society for which the magistrate is agent. He may be morally or theologically wrong in restraining the propagation of opinions which he thinks dangerous, but he is politically right." Said Dr. Mayo: "I am of opinion, sir, that every man is entitled to liberty of conscience in religion; and that the magistrate cannot restrain that right." "Sir, I agree with you," replied Dr. Johnson. "Every man has a right to liberty of conscience and with that the magistrate cannot interfere. People confound liberty of thinking with liberty of talking, nay, with liberty of preaching. Every man has a physical right to think as he pleases; for it cannot be discovered how he thinks. He has not a moral right, for he ought to inform himself and think justly. But, sir, no member of a society has a right to teach any doctrine contrary to what the society holds to be true. The magistrate, I say, may be wrong in what he thinks; but while he thinks himself right, he may and ought to enforce what he thinks." "But, sir, is it not very hard," argued Dr. Mayo, "that I should not be allowed to teach my children what I really believe to be the truth?" "Why, sir," returned Johnson, "you might contrive to teach your children extra scandalum; but, sir, the magistrate, if he knows it, has a right to restrain you. Suppose you teach your children to be... Hide synopsis

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