Turning our liberty into licentiousness

There is so little of the Author of Christianity left in his own religion, that an apprehensive believer is ready to exclaim, with the woman at the sepulchre, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.’ The locality of Hell and the existence of an Evil Spirit are annihilated, or considered as abstract ideas. When they are alluded to, it is periphrastically; or they are discontinued not on the ground of their being awful and terrible, but they are set aside as topics too vulgar for the polished, too liberal for the learned, and as savouring too much of credulity for the enlightened.

While we glory in having freed ourselves from the trammels of human authority, are we not turning our liberty into licentiousness, and wantonly struggling to throw off the Divine authority too? Freedom of thought is the glory of the human mind, while it is confined within its just and sober limits; but though we may think ourselves accountable for opinions at no earthly tribunal, yet it should be remembered that thoughts as well as actions are amenable at the bar of God; and though we may rejoice that the tyranny of the spiritual Procustes is so far annihilated, that we are in no danger of having our opinions lopped or lengthened till they are brought to fit the measure of human caprice, yet there is still a standard by which not only actions are weighed, but opinions are judged; and every sentiment which is clearly inconsistent with the revealed will of God, is as much as throwing off his dominion as the breach of any of his moral precepts. This cuts up by the roots that popular and independent phrase, that ‘thoughts are free,’ for in this view we are no more at liberty to indulge opinions in opposition to the express word of God, than we are at liberty to infringe practically on his commandments.

~ Hannah More