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distinguish what I have learned from others, from the results of my own meditation.
“ It is on such principles that the majority of the people of England, far from thinking a religious national establishment unlawful, hardly think it lawful to be without
In France you are wholly mistaken, if you do not believe us above all other things attached to it, and beyond all other nations ; and when this people has acted unwisely and unjustifiably in its favour (as in some instances they have done most certainly) in their very errors you will at least discover their zeal.
“ This principle runs through the whole system of their polity. They do not consider their church establishment as convenient, but as essential to their state ; not as a thing heterogeneous and separable ; something added for accommodation; what they may either keep up or lay aside, according to their tem-, porary ideas of convenience. They consider it as the foundation of their whole constitution, with which, and with every part of which, it holds an indiffoluble union. Church and state are ideas inseparable in their minds, and scarcely is the one ever mentioned without mentioning the other.”
I do not wish, much less do I undertake to prove, that Mr. Burke's reasons for thinking a religious establishment in our constitution profound and extensive wisdom, are stronger and more conclusive, than Dr. Priestley's are for thinking it the extreme of folly, and very mischievous. But I do contend, that considering Mr. Burke and Dr. Priestley as two individual members of the English community, each of them has an equal right to form his own mind upon this subject, as well as upon everyocher subject of legislation; and that very
same right does every other individual of the Tufted critve nine millions poffefs
. It fuffices therefore, the whole, that a majority of these nine millions chuse to
have such a religious establishment; it is evi
dent, from what has been before said, that the reasons be leis minority, though they should be actuated by convincing than the better reasons, will nevertheless be con
cluded by the act of the majority, though the latter should be influenced by the weaker reasons. This is a fundamental principle of society, and consequently of all civil government. If it be once broken in upon, an irreparable breach will be immediately made in the constitution, that will ensure and accelerate the total dissolution of government; for po human law can have force or efficacy
those of the mic nority.
upon any other principle. If this principle be withdrawn from one law, it is withdrawn from all; and then the firmest bulwark of the wiseft legislators will crumble into an impalpable substance, and be irrevocably scattered by the weakest breath that reaches it. Hence may be seen the difference between principles and rules; the former are universally and unexceptionably true and applicable to all poffible cases; the latter admit of exceptions, which are even said to strengthen and establish the rule,
A principiis nunquam recedendum: True principle will carry us through every difficulty, that can possibly be started by the enemies of our constitution; for I must ever call those enemies to the state, who disavow and oppose the fundamental principles of our constitution and government. The most feeling ground, upon which Dr. Priestley seems to combat against the civil establishment of a religion in a state, is that of the maintenance provided and secured by the state, for the ministers, teachers, and guardians of their religion. *“ Let it not be said Dr. Priestley that the church of England would have the tythes. impudence, if it had the power, to collect its
• Priestley's Letters to Mr. Burke, Let. vi. f. 59.
tythes from every country in Christendom, though every parish should be a finecure, and all their bishops be denominated in partibus. Let there be an appearance, at least, which now there is not, of some regard to religion in the case, and not to mere revenue. Often as I have urged this subject, and many as have been those, who have animadverted upon my writings, hardly any have touched. upon this; they feel it to be tender ground; they can, however, keep an obftinate silence; they can shut their ears and turn their eyes to other objects, when it is not to their purpose
to attend to this.” The obligation Were I merely answering the objections of equal upon a!l. Dr. Priestley, I should content myself with
insisting, that the majority of the community had chosen to incorporate an ecclesiastical establishment as an essential part in their civil constitution; that this ecclesiastical esta. blifhment should be guided and preserved by bishops, and their inferior clergy; that they should be maintained by certain porcions or allotments of the national produce or pro-. perty; and that therefore the diffenting minority were effectually bound, as members of the community, to contribute their quota in tythes, or otherwise, towards the maintenance of that clergy, to whom the act of the
to pay tithes
majority had given not only a legal subfiftence, but a legal right to possess, enjoy, and defend the maintenance and civil advantages allotted to them by the community; for these they do not enjoy by virtue of their spiritual ordination, but as the free and voluntary gift or offering of the community. This alfo is a direčt emanation from the sovereignty of the people.
Since Dr. Priestley, though avowedly of the dissenting minority, so warmly insists upon the folly and mischief of supporting a religious establishment, I shall take the liberty of submitting to the public some of the reasons and motives, that appear to have operated in favour of it upon the majority of this community; for he certainly will not refuse to the majority of the community, the right of grounding their acts upon reasons and motives; nor can he prevent those reasons and motives from operating their effect upon
such individuals as may feel their force.
* « So tenacious are we of the old eccle- Reasons why fiaftical modes and fashions of institution, that the majority very little alteration has been made in them present reli
gious systeine since the fourteenth or fifteenth century, adhering in this particular, as in all things else,
• Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 148, 149, 150.