John Leland (Baptist)
John Leland (14 May 1754–14 January 1841) was an American Baptist preacher and evangelist, and a lobbyist for freedom of religion.
Unless otherwise stated, all works by Leland may be found in Greene, L. F., ed (1845). The writings of the late Elder John Leland. New York: G. W. Wood. Retrieved on 2015-04-25. . Page numbers refer to this volume.
The Virginia Chronicle (1790)
- A national church takes in the whole nation, and no more; whereas, the Gospel Church, takes in no nation, but those who fear God, and work righteousness in every nation. The notion of a Christian commonwealth, should be exploded forever. (p. 107)
- Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty that I contend for, is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest, to grant indulgence; whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians. (p. 118)
- Things should be so fixed in government, that there should be neither degrading checks, nor alluring baits to the ministry. … In some of the states, the property of preachers is free from tax. In Virginia, their persons are exempt from bearing arms. Though this is an indulgence that I feel, yet it is not consistent with my theory of politics. (p. 122)
The Rights of Conscience Inalienable (1791)
- The subject of religious liberty, has been so canvassed for fourteen years, and has so far prevailed, that in Virginia, a politician can no more be popular, without the possession of it, than a preacher who denies the doctrine of the new birth; yet many, who make this profession, behave in their families, as if they did not believe what they profess. For a man to contend for religious liberty on the court-house green, and deny his wife, children and servants, the liberty of conscience at home, is a paradox not easily reconciled. (p. 122)
- Government has no more to do with the religions opinions of men, than it has with the principles of mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principles that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing, i.e., see that he meets with no personal abuse, or loss of property, from his religious opinions. (p. 184)
- Truth disdains the aid of the law for its defence–it will stand upon its own merit. … It is error, and error alone, that needs human support; and whenever men fly to the law or sword to protect their system of religion, and force it upon others, it is evident that they have something in their system that will not bear the light, and stand upon the basis of truth. (p. 185)
An Oration delivered at Cheshire (5 July 1802)
- Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering intrigue. … If pure religion is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are void of it. Let honesty, talents and quick despatch, characterise the men of your choice. (p. 267)
The Government of Christ a Christocracy (1804)
- The fondness of magistrates to foster Christianity, has done it more harm than all the persecutions ever did. Persecution, like a lion, tears the saints to death, but leaves Christianity pure: state establishment of religion, like a bear, hugs the saints, but corrupts Christianity, and reduces it to a level with state policy. (p. 278)