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vilege, which cannot be denied to him, or taken from him."
It would far exceed the intended bounds of this publication, were I to undertake the confideration of all the reasons for and against the propriety and advantages of the civil adoption of a religious establishment. Very solid and subtle arguments are produced by the oppofite partizans; and it would require a very long treatise indeed, to digest the substance, analyze the reasoning, and elucidate the conclusions of the historical, political, philosophical, and theological writers upon this subject. The application of the simple principles, that I have already endeavoured to establish, will perhaps, conduct the mind more clearly and immediately to the true point, than the most elaborate, minute, and impartial investigation of all the reasons and arguments, that have been written upon the subject. It must Many reasong
for not making be allowed, that in the present situation of human affairs, many very cogent arguments may government be alledged against the adoption of such an juftify the aboestablishment in a new government, which do lition of it in an not in the least weaken the necessity of maintaining and preserving it, when once established in an old one. As the latter case alone affects our constitution, I shall drop every confideration of the former.
a civil establish. ment in a new
to be punished
opinion of reli
In the English, as well as every other community, each individual member of it has the
same right, duty, and obligation to follow the Man ought not dictates of a sincere conscience. As long, for speculative therefore, as in this he does nothing to injure gion. nor offend the community, so long ought he
not in any manner to be punished or chastised for differing either in doctrine or discipline from that religious society, which has received the civil sanction of the state. Therefore, says Dr. Priestley, in his Essay on the First Principles of Government, * “ as a being capable of immortal life (which is a thing of infinitely more consequence to me, than all the political considerations of this world) I must endeavour to render myself acceptable to God, by such dispositions and such conduct as he has required, in order to fit me for future happiness. For this purpose, it is evidently requisite, that I diligently use my reason, in order to make myself acquainted with the will of God; and also, that I have liberty to do whatever I believe he requires, provided I do not moleft my fellow creatures by such assumed liberty.”
İn vain will any individual attempt to paljudge any .co
liate or justify an action, that is offensive or injurious to the community, by the plea or
defence of its being directed or enjoined by ligionla
The community will not
tion that iends to subvert government to be dictated by res
his religion; for as it is by the particular ordination of Almighty God, that fociety is neceffary for man, and society cannot subsist without government; and as Almighty God left the particular form of goverment to the option of each community, and has in the most express manner enjoined and commanded the individuals of every community to submit to, and obey that government, which in exercise of the liberty, which he had granted them, they have formed for themselves, it is evident, that the community is fully warranted in judging, that no action, which tends to disturb or subvert the end or preservation of the government, can have been directed or enjoined by that deity, whose justice and consistency are equal with all his other infinite perfections. These false pretences or calls of conscience to disapprove, resist, or oppose the religion sanctioned or established by the state, are more pointedly reprobated by the learned divine, whom I have so often quoted. *"A pretence of conscience for opposing the right of the magistrate (or supreme sovereign power) to establish any religion at all, cannot be supported by the plea of a special mission from
• Rogers's Vindication, p. 149, 150.
God; because a doctrine so absurd and destructive to human society, reason cannot admit to be from God: and he, who pretends to come from God with such a message, brings with him such an internal disproof of his mission, as would overrule any outward proofs of it; and he may as well pretend a revelation, requiring him to tell us, there is no God.”
Every man is presumed to be affected towards his religion, in proportion as he thinks, and feels, that it is the pure effect of his own voluntary choice *. From hence arise the love and reverence, which the majority of the English nation bear to their church; and from hence also is redoubled the obligation upon all diffenters from that church, to submit unto, because they are supposed to join and concur in all the acts of the legislature,
by which the church receives the civil fancThe consciences tion of the state. Nor can their consciences of individuals not concerned be in any manner affected by such concurthe religion which receives
* Mr. Burke, a professed member of the national the civil eftabDihnient, church, speaks, as all other such members feel about it.
« First, I beg leave to speak of our church establishment, which is the first of our prejudices; not a prejudice deftitute of reason, but involving in it profound and extensive wisdom. I speak of it first. It is the first, and last, and midit in our minds." Reflections on the RevoluLion in France, p. 136.
in the truth of
rence, although they should disapprove of, or condemn the tenets of that church; since, as Dr. Rogers observes, a religion becomes not one jot the more true for being established. The difference, therefore, is great
between the submission, which, upon the principles of all civil government, we are bound to Thew generally to the civil sanction or estab. lishment, which the state gives to any religious system, and the intellectual adoption of the peculiar tenets and doctrines, which diftinguish that particular fociety from any other. The toleration, which the legislature grants to those, who differ from the established religion, is the only proof that needs be alledged, that they do not mean to force or impose the belief of their religious tenets upon the consciences of any member of the society. For *“ what can be more just and equitable, than to leave every person at full liberty to act according to his own understanding, in matters which regard none but himself?”
Before I leave this subject, it will be proper to say something upon the nature of church lands, or ecclesiastical property, concerning which many erroneous notions are
* Noodt's Discourse on Liberty of Conscience, P. 97, 98.