Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 establishment is no part of Christianity, it is only the means of inculcat

ing 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 is one and the same, since it hath ceased to be the established religion of this country, as it was, whilft it was fanctioned and established by the law of the land. The effects of this civil fanction or establishment are necesarily of a merę 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

The effects of aćivil establishment merely civil.

• Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, 2 vole C, X, P. 303

ordinances,

ordinances, regulations, and canons, to which the laity are not subject; in

many

instances they are made corporations, and are enabled to sue and be sued in their corporate capacity; and are entitled to many civil immunities, rights, liberties, and privileges in the state. Thus, says Dr. Rogers, a dignitary The civil eftabclergymen of the established religion, * “ The no alteration in church, or religious fociety established re- the religion. mains the same religious society it was before, subsisting on the foundation it was first built on, with the fame offices and administrations, the fame social rules, and the fame terms of union between the members. The establishment (e. g.) of that religious fociety we call the Church of England, does not alter that fociety in its nature or essentials, but is purely adventitious to it. It would remain the same Christian church, if the ftate should think fit to establish Mahometism. The commission and office of its partors to all purely ecclesiastical effects the same, and the mutual duties arising from the relation between them and their flock the same. And if by the rules of Christian religion, an unnecessary departure from them be sinful, it will continue to be so, whatever

[blocks in formation]

the civil power may determine about it. The establishment of any religion being purely a civil act, can have only civil effects. I have endeavoured to allign the proper limitations to the magistrate's power in matters of religion; within those limitations, his laws concerning it have the same legal effects, and are attended with the same legal obligations, on himself and his subjects, that other civil laws have, within their proper extent. The general effect of an establishment, and from which all others arise, is, that the laws or rules of a religion, or of a church profeffing that religion, are thereby incorporated, or made a part of the laws of that civil community. All the power of legislation, which the magistrate has, is to make civil laws for that community. If he has any power to make laws with regard to religion, those laws must be civil laws, a part of the body of the civil laws of that community. Thus the thirty nine articles, the liturgy, ordinal, discipline, and polity of the church of England are incorporated into, become the matter, and made a part, of the body of our laws; legal effects are annexed to its adminiftrations, legal provisions made for its , support, and certain rights and privileges

settled

subjects not the

[ocr errors]

settled by law on the pastors and professors
of it.

“ The first particular effect I observe of
these laws is, that they give the professors of
that religion a legal property, in the privi-
leges and advantages, they confer on them,
and consequently a right to be protected by
law in the enjoyment of them."

I have before faid, that our intellectual The legislature operations are not under the controul of the intellect to its civil or political power of the society. The requisitions, legislature, therefore, never attempts to enjoin the internal mental approbation, but only the external peaceable submission to its requisitions. *“ It was never in my view to offer the civil authority, as a ground of assent in matters of religion, even thus far, much less as an authority, which ought to over rule our own convictions. The magiftrate or legislator, as such only commands, and the submission due to him under that character, is not affent of judgment, but obedience of practice, so far as may consist with prior obligations.

The nature and ends of society. require an obedience, either active or passive to his laws, whether we approve the matter of them or not; but the

• Rogers's Vindication, p, zó7.

naturc

nature and ends of society do not acquire afsent to his judgment: and my denying to private subjects a right publicly to oppose his laws, does not in the least imply an obligation to affent to his judgment in the matter of them.” When, therefore, the community

or legislature passes a new law, the freedom The diffent of fome invali of my thoughts upon the subject of it, is in no dates not the act of the majority. manner impaired nor affected by the enacting

of it; but my internal or intellectual disapprobation or dissent, can never warrant any positive or external contempt of, or resistance to the law. If such resistance were permitted, no law could acquire a binding force without the universal consent of every individual member of the legislature. It is an universal maxim of legislation, that when a law has once been enacted by the majority of the legislature, it is as binding upon those, who opposed, as upon those, who consented to the passing of it. When, therefore, the legislature enacts, that a certain religious worThip shall be fanctioned and supported by the state, * " the conclusion asserted by the law is not, This is a true religion ; much less, this is the only true religion (for he may believe feveral other schemes of religion

• Rogers's Vindication, p. 207.

equally

« PreviousContinue »