Page images
PDF
EPUB

what religion it should eftablish, it continues so still.” And the same learned author, who is remarkable for perspicuity and strength of argument, further says; * « Nothing, therefore, can be more unjust or impertinent, than those suggestions, that upon my principles, popery will be the true religion in Spain, presbytery in Scotland, and Mahometism in Turkey. These are, indeed, the established religions in those places; but not one jot the more true for being established. To the laws establishing religion, civil obedience is due, in the fame measures and under the same reserves in Spain, as in England; but assent of judgment against private convictions is no part of the obligations arising

from the establishment in either." Changes in luc- Thus did our British ancestors adopt for religion in this fome centuries the Druidical institutions;

after that, they embraced the Christian religion, under king Lucius, which was preached to them by St. Damianus, fent hither from Rome for that purpose by St. Eleutherius; and when the Saxons conquered the island, a part of the community retired into the mountains of Wales, to preserve their liberties and religion from the innovations and en

cefsion of the

gountry:

[ocr errors]

* Rogers's Vindication, p. 208.

croachments

new

croachments of their new masters. The Saxons, however, continued for many years to keep up the religious establishment in the community, which they had brought with them out of Germany. About four hundred years after the preaching of St. Damianus, the English Saxons, who then properly were the community or political society of this country, were converted to christianity by St. Augustine and his fellow preachers, sent also for this purpose from Rome by St. Gregory the Great. From this time then, until the reformation, the majority of this community adopted the Roman Catholic religion, and made it the established religion of the country.

When I speak of the adoption of religion Christianity e either by one or more individuals, I 'wish Itablished and ever to be understood to speak of it, as of the preaching, and

the adoption of free act of a free agent. True it is, that our it free and voblessed Redeemer came upon earth to estaba lish the Christian religion; and his injunction to mankind to submit to and adopt it is mandatory and unexceptionable ; but then it is equally true, that the act of submission to, and adoption of it, must necessarily be the free and voluntary act of the individual. It was by preaching, that our blessed Lord himself and his apostles and their successors propa

G3

propagated by

luntary.

gated

gated and established the Christian religion: the effects of preaching are persuasion and conviction; and these essentially presuppose the freedom of the person to be persuaded and convinced. Persuasion and conviction formally exclude 'every idea of necessity and compulsion.

From the first formation of man to the present hour, the following faying of dean Tucker was equally true : *“ No human authority ought to compel man to surrender to any one his right of thinking and judging for himself in the affairs of religion, because this is a personal thing between God and his conscience, and he can neither be saved nor

damned by proxy.” Original confti. The very earliest traces of our constitution nection of bespeak its interwoven texture of church Itate, with state. Upon the avowed assumption, fociety, yet the particular form of government, which each particular fociety should adopt, was left to the free option of the fociety, and necessarily remains open to whatever changes or improvements the same society shall think proper, convenient, and neceffary, from time to time to introduce. So although a religious establishment be essential to the English constitution, yer the particular form of that establifhment must as neceffarily remain open to the general sense and option of the community, as the freedom of each individual's intercourse and communication with his creator muft for ever res main perfectly uncontrouled. Without entering, therefore, into any polemical controverfy or dispute about the particular tenets, doctrines, or principles of what once was, or what now is the religion fanctioned by the law of England, whatever my own religious opinion or belief may be, I am bound by principle to allow to my neighbour the same liberty and right of following the dictates of his conscience, which I claim to myself; and whatever the right ofa that mode of worship may be, in the free give civil Yancand confcientious adoption of which the ma- ever they.conjority shall concur, the community hath the cur in. unimpeachable right of countenancing and fupporting it by civil sanctions, or, in other

that religion generally promotes morality, our ancestors wisely determined, that a religious establishment should be fanctioned by the community, and the legal establishment of it should form an essential part of the English constitution. Now although government, as we have before seen, be essential to

tutional con

church and

* Vid. Religious Intolerance no part of the general plan, either of the Mosaic or Christian Dispensation, by Jof, Tucker, D. D, Dean of Glouc, 1774.

fociety

G4 words,

tion to what

words, of making it the established religion of the country; for the adoption of a particular church establishment by the state has precisely the same binding obligation upon the community, as the enacting any other civil regulation or ordinance whatsoever ; but *“ a religious estabļishment is no part of Christianity, it is only the means of inculcating it.”

The civil establishment of religion in a country cannot, by possibility operate any effect upon the nature or truth of the religion itself; thus the Presbyterian religion in England, where it has no civil establishment, is one and the same religion as it is in Scotland, where it is the established religion of the country. The Roman Catholic religion iş

one and the same, since it hath ceased to be * the established religion of this country, as it

was, whilst it was fanctioned and established by the law of the land. The effects of this civil sanction or establishment are neceffarily of a mere civil nature; thus are the ministers of the established religion supported, maintained, and dignified by the state ; they form a separate body from the laity; are bound by

fres of

a civil establimh. maent merely civil.

* Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, ? vol. &; X; P. 303.

ordinances,

« PreviousContinue »