Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/165

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149
Book Fires of the Revolution.

common sense itself. We cannot be surprised, therefore, since the English Parliament sinned in this way (as it does to this day in a minor degree), that the Irish Parliament should have sinned equally, as it did about the same time, in the case of a book whose title far more suggested heresy than its contents substantiated it. I refer to Toland's Christianity not Mysterious (1696), which was burnt by the hangman before the Parliament House Gate at Dublin, and in the open street before the Town-House, by order of the Committee of Religion of the Irish House of Commons, one member even going so far as to advocate the burning of Toland himself. It is difficult now to understand the extreme excitement caused by Toland's book, seeing that it was evidently written in the interests of Christianity, and would now be read without emotion by the most orthodox. It was only the superstructure, not the foundation, that Toland attacked; his whole contention being that Christianity, rightly understood, contained nothing mysterious or inconsistent with reason, but that all ideas of this sort, and most of its rites, had been aftergrowths, borrowed from Paganism, in that compromise between the new and old religion which constituted the world's Christianisa-