A Christian and a Pagan, that had been old acquaintance and fellow-travellers, had several discourses upon the way together, about religion; and coming into Italy, the Christian advised the Infidel, for his better safisfaction, only to go to Mass once, and then tell him what he thought of it. The Pagan accordingly went to chhurch, and being afterwards asked his opinion of the ceremonies and solemniry of the office, his answer was, “that he saw but one thing there that he disliked; which was, that it looked a little uncharitable for one man to eat and drink by himself, and all the rest to look on.”
The poison of this fable, in the liberty of jesting with holy matters, would need an antidote to go along with it, if it were not that it is a Pagan’s conceit, and consequently suitable enough to the character and humour of an infidel, to have the offices of christianity in derision. If we look at it on that side, it may serve for a reproof to those among ourselves that take the same freedom of scoffing at religion, and religious rites and ceremonies. These people pass in the world under the name of Christians, but in their hearts and manners they are little better than: the frolick of a merry word goes farther with them, than the conscience of their profession, and if they can elude the dint of a pinching conviction by some trivial jest, the conceit, they think, atones for the wickedness.