Intolerant Tolerance Has Been Around a Long Time!

8 Aug

It is curious that sometimes people arguing for more tolerance are the most intolerant people of all.

In a letter to a friend in Scotland, Jonathan Edwards noted just this kind of thing happening in his day:

“I have observed that these modern, fashionable opinions, however called noble and generous, are commonly attended, not only with a haughty contempt, but an inward, malignant bitterness of heart towards all the zealous professors and defenders of the contrary spiritual principles, that do so nearly concern the vitals of religion, and the power of experimental godliness.

This, be sure, has been the case in this land.

I have known many gentlemen (especially in the ministry) tainted with these large principles, who, though none seem to be such great advocates for liberty and freedom of thought, and condemn a narrow and persecuting spirit, so much as they; yet in the course of things have made it manifest that they themselves had no small share of a persecuting spirit.

They were indeed against anybody’s restraining their liberties, or pretending to control them in their thinking and professing as they please; and that is what they mean truly, when they plead for liberty. But they have that inward enmity of spirit towards those others mentioned, that if they see an opportunity to persecute them under some good cloak, and with some fair pretext, will eagerly embrace it, and proceed with great severity and vehemence.”

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