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PREFACE

BY

THE EDITOR.

Public opinion whether founded in truth or falsehood is uncontroulable. The institutions of religion and the laws of society may oppose formi. dable barriers to restrain, but they must ultimately yield to its influence. It is the irrevocable law of human nature that the general will consentaneously and firmly expressed shall triumph. Erroneous opinion, the result of ignorance and prejudice, and sanctioned by custom, has ever been mighty for evil, and in the ages that are past has exercised and maintained an almost omnipotent dominion. Against this usurpation of her throne, Truth has modestly ventured to assert her claims; but her voice has been drowned in the loud clamour of popular indignation, and those who with superhuman courage have dared to espouse her cause have been vicariously immolated to appease the dæmon invested with her awful and high prerogatives. Many a victim has perished in the gloom

of a dungeon and expired on the scaffold, and at the stake. The very weapons of truth as well as her advocates have been violently wrested from her defence. It has been deemed high treason against established authority to seek her in the exile to which she has been driven, or to make an appeal in her behalf through the various mediums of public and accredited instruction. The pulpit, the press, and the intercourse of social life have been placed under the severe interdiction of uttering an expression or a thought that would seem to favour the most trivial of her interests. The world has never been her friend nor the world's law. Whatever she has acquired have been the laurels of dearly purchased victories, achieved by the prowess and sufferings of her champions and martyrs. Like her glorious prototype it has been her lot to be despised and rejected of men. Still, however, in the darkest periods, and amidst the insolent triumphs of her adversaries, a few there have been who have sought her sorrowing, who have paid her the homage of their tears, and who have dared though their lives and estates were the instant forfeiture, to proclaim her the sovereign mistress of their destiny. Chivalrous and brave, they have loved persecution for her sake, and her smile, the smile of immortality has irradiated with glory the disgrace which settled upon their tomb.

But let it not be imagined that their conflicts and their woes have been wasted in vain attempts to raise a fallen greatness. Not an effort, not a pang

has been lost. Error has trembled on her throne and her prophetic soul even now writhes in dread anticipation of her fatė. That throne she must abandon ;--the rightful majesty so long expelled returns with a crown of insufferable brightness, too dazzling for the misty eye-balls of falsehood, and of her impious train to look upon. The mightiest names are enrolled in her list of worthies. Law she has emancipated from the trammels of feudal barbarism ; science from the restrictions of the schools ; and religion from the manacles of superstition. Self-evident truths, as they were once deemed, are now denounced as exploded puerilities ; and men whose names were synonymous with infamy, Galileo and Milton, and others, are heard with admiration and reverence. The minds, even of the common vulgar, are no longer confined within the narrow prejudices which once seemed to be their sad and perpetual inheritance. Bold and singular opinions walk abroad with fearless independence challenging investigation ;--the press is comparatively free, and nothing but licentiousness, treason, and blasphemy are prohibited or restrained. The present age, thanks to the achievements of the wise and good, may be considered as the commencement of the Millenium of truth. Ancient and forgotten doctrines which were uttered in unheeding ears, or which were heard only to be reprobated, possessing still the vigour of immortality which obscurity and neglect could never impair, because they were homogenous parts of that truth, every particle of which must live for ever, now venture

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forth, favoured by the spirit of the age, to plead for themselves ; and though their progress is confessedly slow, and they have still to contend with inveterate prejudice, yet every day enlarges the sphere of their influence, and increases the weight of their authority.

It has, also, sometimes happened, in furtherance of the cause of knowledge and consequently of happiness, that the errors and evils which, for centuries, have triumphed over the human mind, and perverted the laws and institutions of society, have at length run themselves out ; or circumstances have arisen to expose their absurdity, or to abrogate

their power.

A great vital question involving the interests of morality and religion, and deeply affecting the well being of the community, it is probable will be brought under discussion by the unhappy differences which prevail between the most illustrious personages in the realm, and which agitate, in an unexampled and most alarming degree, the feelings and passions of the whole nation.

It will, perhaps, not be deemed too much to affirm, that if the laws regarding royal marriages had been consonant either with reason or religion, or if the subject of divorce, as it regards the community in general, had been properly understood and embodied in our canon and civil codes that what we now so deeply deplore, could not have taken place; and that the two distinguished individuals who occupy a station of such distressing celebrity,

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