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Religion and Morality
"The only way that religious truth can be established is by
martyrdom... There is no other way of ascertaining the truth,
but by persecution on the one hand and by enduring it on the
104. Martyrdom; Religion
"Sir, if a man is in doubt whether it would be better for him to
expose himself to martyrdom or not, he should not do it. He must
be convinced he has a delegation from heaven."
Talking on the subject of toleration, one day when some friends
were with him in his study, he made his usual remark, that the
State has a right to regulate the religion of the people, who are
the children of the State. A clergyman having readily acquiesced
in this, Johnson, who loved discussion, observed, "But, Sir, you
must go round to other States than our own. You do not know what
a Bramin has to say for himself. In short, Sir, I have got no
further than this: Every man has a right to utter what he thinks
truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it.
Martyrdom is the test."
Boswell: Life of Johnson; anecdote provided by Bennett
Langton. Note the phrase "who loved discussion," which may
indicate that Johnson was playing devil's advocate.