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been long ago told by good authority, that from their fruits ye foall know them; and I confidently affirm what nobody will deny, that the mild spirit of the British constitution never will be disgraced by the intolerance and persecution of those, who know the use of no other, than the spiritual weapons of St. Paul to propagate their doctrine, who recommend the truth of it by their meekness, humility, and peaceable submission to the powers of the state, and command respect by the charity they practise towards their neighbour, and the edifying example of their own innocency. · As God has left the choice and form of government to each community, so has he given to each community, the necessary powers and means for its own preservation, which in their nature must be variable, that they may fit and be suitable, to that indefinite variety of circumstances and occasions, which in the occurrences and fates of empires are poflible to arise. Dr. Kippis in his fermon upon the centenary commemoration of the revolution has expressed an idea highly liberal in its tendency, and which if carried into execution would perhaps add the most lasting fecurity to the peace, welfare, and prosperity of our excellent constitution. * " Perhaps it
• Dr. Kippis's Serr:on, p. 29.
may be reserved for the farther glory of this. reign to abolish all penal laws in matters of religion, and to puc every man on the fair footing of being answerable to God only for his conscience, while he gives fecurity for his civil allegiance and peaceable behaviour, as a member of the community.”
TN the variety of natter, which the nature I of my undertaking has obliged me to touch upon, I have unintentionally exceeded the limits, to which I originally meant to confine myself. The importance however of the questions themselves will, I hope, screen me from the imputation of prolixity. I have throughout the work endeavoured to make a faithful and candid representation of every fact, that I had occasion to speak of; if any however shall be found to have been misconceived or misrepresented, I folemnly disavow the intention of misleading others, though I may have erred myself.
Attempts have been lately made with much rancour and much insolence to misrepresent and vilify our constitution. I have exerted my humble efforts to counteract them; and I shall ever boast of my wishes to represent to my countrymen the constitution of this kingdom as the most perfect work of human policy. If in the gradual formation of it, we have been more fortunate or more wise, than our neighbours, we may also still boast of being the foremost towards attaining the highest possible 3
perfection of civil government. We have a basis still to work and improve upon, formed of the venerable materials of millennial experience, which time and circumstances have cemented, settled, and incorporated into a body of the most durable solidity. A basis widely different from those composed of the crumbling plaister of Paris, upon which the modern state architects have been unable to erect with stability the slightest temporary superstructure.
The alliance which our constitution has instituted between church and state has obliged me to enter further into the topic of religion, than a mere dissertation upon the civil constitution of a country might seem to require. I am aware of the extreme difficulty of treating religious subjects in a manner satisfactory to all persons. It has neither been my province nor my intention to discuss the merits of any religious persuasion whatever; and if any reflection or observation have escaped me, that can displease or offend the theologians * of any
* I am sensible, that in quoting the authorities of some of our constitutional and legal writers, I have sometimes adopted phrases, which may not stand the severe ordeal of theological precision : for instance, it is usually said, that the king of England appoints! bishops, &c.; now neither in legal, conflitutional, nor theological accuracy, is this word appoint proper; becaule it is not confonant with the fact. For if by the word appoint we are to understand the gift or collation of real spiritual power or jurifdi&tion, which the act of confecration gives not, and which consists in the power of commanding in spiritual matters under pain of fin, spiritually
religious fociety, I trust in the spirit of that Christian meekness, to which they all lay claim, that the unintended offence will be forgiven. But if in tracing and discussing the principles of civil government, I have endeavoured to caution my countrymen against the effects of certain political doctrines, which have already proved fundamentally injurious to our constitution, I have done it from the conviction, that as the English constitution is not repugnant to the faith of a true christian, so principles subversive of this constitution cannot have been revealed by the divine author of that faith. I no more attribute these turbulent and anarchical principles to the doctrines and faith of any society
• censuring and excommunicating, &c. it is evident, that the law
velts no such prerogarive, right, or power in the crown. For upon the avoidance of a bishoprick, by itatute 25 H. VIII. c. 20. the king (Bl. vol.i. p. 379) sends to the dean and chapter his usual licence to proceed to election, called the congè d'elire, which was the constant usage for many centuries before the reformation; and this congè d'elire is accompanied with a letter mislive from the king, containing the name of the person, whom he would have them elect; and if the dean and chapter delay their ele&tion above twelve days, ale nomination shall devolve to the king, who may by letters patent appoint such person, as he pleases. This election or nomination, if it be of a billion, must be signified by the king's letters patent to the archbishop of the province; if it be of an archbishop to the other archbishop and two bishops, or to four bishops, requiring them to confirm, invesi, ara consecrate the person so elected.” This confirination, investiture, and confecration are the acts, bywhich the confiitution supposes the real spiritual jurisdiction to be conferred upon the bishop. Before the reformation this confirmation and invefliture were made by the bishop of Rome, as the Roman catholics held hiin to be the spiritual supreme xad of their church, and from him deduced the gradations and regularity of their hierarchy. But though the nation have renounced that religion, and have transferred to their king whatever part of the headship of the civili