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“Who knows not that TRUTH is strong, next to the ALMIGHTY: Give her but room, and do not bind her : Let her and falsehood grapple: who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”
PRINTED BY J. & J. HARPER, 82 CLIFF-ST.
There may be persecution even in this free country.-The exciting cause of persecution, and the scope of its power.-Design and object of the publication.-Board of Superintendants what.Short relation of L. B. Van Dyck's case.
In this free country, we felicitate ourselves on our happy exemption from the evils of tyranny in civil or ecclesiastical concerns. We have, in no respect, felt a prouder pre-eminence, than in the enjoyment of religious freedom. By the provisions of the constitution of this country, we are secured against the passage of laws to create any religious establishment, or to prohibit to our people the free exercise of religion. The arm of the civil authority therefore may not put forth its power to elevate one denomination, or to depress another. We know nothing by experience, of persecution for conscience' sake, waged by the civil magistrate, in these United States; and in as much as ecclesiastical power is not directly exerted against property, liberty, or life, we are ignorant of the enforcement of religious opinions, by the infliction of pecuniary fines, confiscation of property, imprisonment, banishment, or death. Although the evils of persecution are thus greatly mitigated, the evil itself is not removed. Men form religious opinions in this country, as well as in countries less free; and whenever multitudes agree in adopting the same sentiments, they are very prone to become too positive that themselves are right, and that those who differ from them are wrong. This is bigotry. The progress to intolerance is very easy and natural. And
wherever intolerance of the religious opinions of others has once taken possession of the human heart, persecution will surely follow, if there be the occasion and the power of its
The power of persecution, even in this country, is very formidable. Denying its exercise to the civil magistrate, is only lopping off one of the many heads of the hydra. The individual who, in this comparatively happy land, falls under the displeasure of his own sect, may not be made to suffer the miseries of persecution in its more palpable forms of outward coercion and punishment; but he may find arrayed against him, the whole force of what there is of ecclesiastical power; of public opinion under a wrong and malicious direction; of evil surmisings, backbitings, slanders, hatred, contempt, insult, the opprobrium of heresy, suspension from church membership, and final excommunication. If he be a minister of the gospel, or have chosen that calling as the business of his life, he may, by the force of persecution, even in this free and happy land, be driven from his chosen or actual employment, and in his infirmities or old age be compelled to throw himself upon the charity of the public for the supply of himself and family with their daily bread.
The design of this pamphlet is to lay before the public a history of the persecution waged against Leonard B. Van Dyck; a young man who, having received his theological education in the Seminary of the Reformed Dutch Church, and desiring to be licensed in that church to preach the gospel, was refused by the Board of Superintendants; and was subsequently followed up, with unrelenting perseverance, by the whole ecclesiastical strength of the church, until he has finally escaped beyond the boundary of her jurisdiction and the reach of her power. He was persecuted by his own denomination, not for any delinquency in moral or religious conduct, but for what was deemed a crime equally heinous, his doubts on certain disputed, abstruse points of theology, which can never have. the remotest influence on his affections or conduct towards God or man.
The object of this publication is not so much to vindicate