deal to the victory, it seemed not unreasonable 
that they should have some share in the 
spoil. They were weary, besides, of humouring 
the people, and of depending upon 
their caprice for a subsistence. In making 
this demand, therefore, they consulted their 
own ease and comfort, without troubling 
themselves about the effect which it might 
have, in future times, upon the influence and 
authority of their order. The civil magistrate
who could comply with their demand 
only by giving them something which he 
would have chosen much rather to take, or 
to keep to himself, was seldom very forward 
to grant it. Necessity, however, always 
forced him to submit at last, though frequently 
not till after many delays, evasions, and 
affected excuses
But if politics had never called in the aid 
of religion, had the conquering party never 
adopted the tenets of one sect more than 
those of another, when it had gained the 
victory, it would probably have dealt equally 
and impartially with all the different sects
and have allowed every man to choose his 
own priest, and his own religion, as he 
thought proper. There would, and, in this 
case, no doubt, have been, a great multitude 
of religious sects. Almost every different 
congregation might probably have had a 
little sect by itself, or have entertained some 
peculiar tenets of its own. Each teacher
would, no doubt, have felt himself under the 
necessity of making the utmost exertion
and of using every art, both to preserve and 
to increase the number of his disciples. But 
as every other teacher would have felt himself 
under the same necessity, the success of 
no one teacher, or sect of teachers, could have 
been very great. The interested and active 
zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous 
and troublesome only where there is either 
but one sect tolerated in the society, or 
where the whole of a large society is divided 
into two or three great sects; the teachers 
of each acting by concert, and under a 
regular discipline and subordination. But 
that zeal must be altogether innocent, where 
the society is divided into two or three hundred, 
or, perhaps, into as many thousand 
small sects, of which no one could be considerable 
enough to disturb the public tranquillity
The teachers of each sect, seeing 
themselves surrounded on all sides with more 
adversaries than friends, would be obliged to 
learn that candour and moderation which are 
so seldom to be found among the teachers of 
those great sects, whose tenets, being supported 
by the civil magistrate, are held in veneration 
by almost all the inhabitants of extensive 
kingdoms and empires, and who, therefore, 
see nothing round them but followers
disciples, and humble admirers. The teachers 
of each little sect, finding themselves almost 
alone, would be obliged to respect those of 
almost every other sect; and the concessions 
which they would mutually find in both convenient 
and agreeable to make one to another, 
might in time, probably reduce the 
doctrine of the greater part of them to that 
pure and rational religion, free from every 
mixture of absurdity, imposture, or fanaticism
such as wise men have, in all ages of the world, 
wished to see established; but such as positive 
law has, perhaps, never yet established, and 
probably never will establish in any country; 
because, with regard to religion, positive law 
always has been, and probably always will 
be, more or less influenced by popular superstition 
and enthusiasm. This plan of 
ecclesiastical government, or, more properly, 
of no ecclesiastical government, was what 
the sect called Independents (a sect, no 
doubt, of very wild enthusiasts), proposed to 
establish in England towards the end of the 
civil war. If it had been established, though 
of a very unphilosophical origin, it would 
probably, by this time, have been productive 
of the most philosophical good temper and 
moderation with regard to every sort of religious 
principle. It has been established in 
Pennsylvania, where, though the quakers 
happen to be the most numerous, the law, in 
reality, favours no one sect more than another; 
and it is there said to have been productive 
of this philosophical good temper and 
But though this equality of treatment 
should not be productive of this good temper 
and moderation in all, or even in the greater 
part of the religious sects of a particular 
country; yet, provided those sects were sufficiently 
numerous, and each of them consequently 
too small to disturb the public 
tranquillity, the excessive zeal of each for its 
particular tenets could not well be productive 
of any very hurtful effects, but, on the contrary
of several good ones; and if the government 
was perfectly decided, both to let 
them all alone, and to oblige them all to let 
alone one another, there is little danger that 
they would not of their own accord, subdivide 
themselves fast enough, so as soon to 
become sufficiently numerous
In every civilized society, in every society 
where the distinction of ranks has once been 
completely established, there have been always 
two different schemes or systems of morality 
current at the same time; of which the one 
may be called the strict or austere; the 
other the liberal, or, if you will, the loose 
system. The former is generally admired 
and revered by the common people; the 
latter is commonly more esteemed and adopted 
by what are called the people of fashion
The degree of disapprobation with which we 
ought to mark the vices of levity, the vices 
which are apt to arise from great prosperity
and from the excess of gaiety and good humour
seems to constitute the principal distinction