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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 also is a direct 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 fome 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 prefer their very little alteration has been made in them present reli
gious fyftem. 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.
to our old settled maxim, never entirely nor at once to depart from antiquity. We found these old institutions, on the whole, favourable to morality and discipline; and we thought they were susceptible of amendment, without altering the ground. We thought that they were capable of receiving and meliorating, and above all, of preserving the accessions of science and literature, as the order of providence should successively produce them. And, after all, with this gothic and monkish education (for such it is in the ground-work) we may put in our claim to as ample and as early a share in all the improvements in science, in arts, and in literature, which have illuminated and adorned the modern world, as any other nation in Europe; we think one main cause of this improvement was our not despising the patrimony of knowledge, which was left us by our forefathers.
« It is from our attachment to a church establiment, that the English nation did not think it wife to entrust that great fundamental interest of the whole, to what they trust no part of their civil or military public service; that is, to the unsteady and precarious contribution of individuals. They go further ; they certainly never have suffered, and never will suffer, the fixed estate of the church to be
converted into a pension, to depend on the treasury, and to be delayed, with-held, or perhaps to be extinguished by fiscal difficulties; which difficulties may sometimes be pretended for political purposes, and are, in fact, often brought on by the extravagance, negligence, and rapacity of politicians. The people of England think, that they have constitutional motives, as well as religious, against any project of turning their independent clergy into ecclesiastical pensioners of state. They tremble for their liberty, from the influence of a clergy dependent on the crown ; they tremble for the public tranquillity, from the disorders of a factious clergy, if it were made to depend upon any other than the crown. They therefore made their church, like their king and their nobility, independent.
« From the united considerations of religion and constitutional policy, from their. opinion of a duty to make a sure provision for the consolation of the feeble, and the instruction of the ignorant, they have incorporated and identified the estate of the church with the mafs of private property, of which the state is not the proprietor, either for use or dominion, but the guardian only, and the regulator. They have ordained, that the pro
vision of this establishment might be as stable as the earth on which it ftands, and should not fluctuate with the Euripus of funds and actions."
I have now, I hope, adduced sufficient reafons and arguments to convince my readers, that every community is fully competent to make a civil establishment of that religion, which the majority of the community shall find it their duty to adopt and follow; and consequently, that our present church estab
lishment forms an essential part of the Eng . Division of the lith constitution: and from hence arises the people into clergy and laity. first constitutional division of the community,
or people, into clergy and laity, whose several and respective rights and duties in the state, I shall hereafter explicitly set forth.
" Had I inferred the truth of our religion from its civil establishment, the deists might have treated the argument with that levity which Mr. Chandler advises ; but a deist of common sense might perceive, that I appealed to the laws of our establishment, not for the conviction of his understanding, but the correction of his insolence. Where the truth of the Christian religion was the ques
Rogers's Vindication of the Civil E dablishment of Religion, sect. i. p. 19!.
tion before me, I used other arguments; but when a private subject took upon him publicly to oppose the right of the legislator to enact any such law, to represent this
power as unjust and tyrannical, and under these characters to dissuade all submission to it, these I think actions inconsistent with the obligations of a subject, and that the execution of our laws may justly be called for in restraint of them. The truth of a religion depends on its proper grounds. If it was false before it was established, the establishment will not make it true; and he, who from the evidence of the thing is convinced it is false, cannot upon any authority believe it true.”
From what has been said in this and the Civil eftablithaforegoing chapter, I hope it will sufficiently gion of the fame appear, that the sanction, which the laws give other civil Law. to the establishment of the church of England throughout England, and to presbytery throughout Scotland, is in its tendency and effects merely of a civil nature ; consequently, that the obligation of submitting to it, is the very same as the obligation of submitting to any other civil law whatever. Now, every external and public disavowal of, or opposition to the civil exactions of the legif
ment of reli.