Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/32

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SHELLEY.


" WHEREFORE I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him; neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Which glorious scripture we may surely understand to mean, that a man may believe or disbelieve in any book, any historical or legendary personage, any dogmatic formula, and yet be in a state of salvation; that only he who rejects and violates the holy spirit of love and truth, the Conscience of the World, he cannot (because he will not) be saved. Jesus, though absorbed in his personal mission, could speak this truth of sublime toleration; but eighteen centuries have not taught his disciples the wisdom of believing it and acting upon it. Whom he absolved, they dare condemn.

Probably no man of this century has suffered more and more severely, both in person and reputation, from this rash convictive bigotry than Percy Bysshe Shelley. Florence to the living Dante was not more cruelly unjust than England to the living Shelley. Only now, nearly