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side of dissent. In England, it has ever been the fashion to support the established church, and discourage secession, by coercion and exclusion ; yet all that the state, the pillory, and civil disabilities have done is, to multiply dissenters, and widen the breach originally made. In the case of men like the Puritans, - men of iron, to whom all the principalities and powers on earth were as nothing compared with the commands of God, on whom worldly comforts and worldly miseries could not operate as temptations or dissuasives where the interests of religion were concerned, - such a course comes under that melancholy class of offences which are blunders as well as crimes. It has been eloquently remarked, by one of the most prominent statesmen of the age,
even when religious feeling takes a character of extravagance and enthusiasm, and seems to threaten the order of society, and shake the columns of the social edifice, its principal danger is in its restraint. If it be allowed indulgence and expansion, like the elemental fires, it only agitates and perhaps purifies the atmosphere ; while its efforts to throw off restraint would burst the world asunder."
Few religious writers have excelled Neal, either in ardor or argument for liberty of conscience. He has anticipated Macaulay in several propositions contained in his paper in the Edinburgh Review, on “Church and State”; and, indeed, most of Macaulay's writings on the period of the Rebellion and the Protectorate evince a close study of Neal. Though the latter preserves a strain of decorous loyalty and contented submission to the settlement of the clashing claims of Churchmen and Dissenters by the Revolution of 1688, he has many sly thrusts at the injustice and imperfection of the laws. He takes the position, in one of his prefaces, that it is the office of the civil magistrate to protect his loyal subjects in the free exercise of their religion ; not to incorporate one religion into the constitution, and make conformity to that the test of loyalty and faith. He contends, that religion and civil government are distinct things, and stand upon a separaté basis. “To incorporate one religion into the constitution, so as to make it a part of the common law, and to conclude from thence that the constitution, having a right to preserve itself, may make laws for the punishment of those that publicly oppose any one branch of it, is to put an effectual stop to the progress of the Reformation throughout the Christian world; for by this reasoning our
first reformers must be condemned”; and he proceeds to show, that, if a subject of France wrote against Catholicism, he might, on the reasoning of Churchmen, be punished as a disturber of the public peace, because “ Popery is supported by law, and is a very considerable part of their constitution. 12
The exercise of private judgment on matters of religion, if it sometimes produces superstition, more often overthrows error. It is that intellectual action among a people, which gives vitality to their worship and creeds. " It prevents faith from degenerating into a ceremony, and transfers belief from the lips to the soul. It is almost the only limit to the besotted bigotry, or the smooth indifference, which so often accompanies unquestioned religious dogmas. It is always most active when the established form of religion is most tyrannical or most debased. And it is the school in which true manliness and true godliness of character are nurtured. The faith that has grown up in a man's soul, which he has adopted from his own investigations or his own inward experience, is the faith that sustains men in temptations and in the blaze of the fires of martyrdom. In faith like this, we perceive the heroic element in the character of the Puritans.' It is this which endows their history with so many of those consecrations usually considered to belong exclusively to poetry and romance. To a person who sees through the mere shows of things, the annals of the Puritans are replete with the materials of the heroic. There is no aspect of human nature more sublime, than the spectacle of men daring death, and things worse than death, under the influence of inspiration from on high. Their actions, thus springing from religious principle, and connected by a mysterious link with the invisible realities of another world, impress us with a deeper veneration than we can award to the most tremendous struggles for terrestrial objects. That is no common heroism, which fears nothing but God's justice, which braves every thing for God's favor. That is no common heroism, which breasts the flood of popular hatred, which bares its forehead to the thunders of dominant hierarchies, which scorns alike the delusions of worldly pomp and the commands of worldly governments, which is insensible to the jeers of the scoffer and the curse of the bigot, which smites at wickedness girded
round with power, which is strong in endurance as well as in action, which marches to battle chanting hymns of devotional rapture, and which looks with an unclouded eye to heaven amid the maddening tortures of the rack. Men who have thus conquered the fear of death, the love of ease, the temptations of the world, who have subdued all the softer passions and all the sensual appetites to the control of one inflexible moral purpose, who have acted through life under the sense, that there is a power on earth more authoritative than the decisions of councils, and mightier than kings, are not the men whom worldlings can safely venture to deride, or for whom placid theologians can afford to profess contempt.
The debt of gratitude, which the world owes to the Puritans, for the stand they took for the rights of conscience and the liberties of mankind, has never been freely paid. Their influence on modern civilization, moral, religious, and political, has rarely been justly estimated. The austerity of iheir manners, the peculiarities of their speech and dress, the rigor of their creeds, have been allowed to divert attention from their manifold virtues. Yet it would be difficult to name any body of men, connected by a religious bond, that has been so fruitful, not merely in divines, but in warriors, statesmen, and scholars. Milton, Selden, Hampden, Cromwell, Eliot, Pym, Knox, Baxter, Bunyan, among many others eminent in action or speculation, are
names which have become woven into the texture of history. In the department of theology, the labors of the Puritans have been absolutely gigantic ; and whatever may be the estimate of their importance, no one can fail to appreciate the prodigious masses of learning which they patiently piled up as defences of the gospel, and the acuteness and grasp of thought with which they often seized the darkest and most tangled questions of metaphysical divinity.
But it is in the position they occupy in English history, that we most delight to contemplate the Puritans. We believe, that, as a body, they were the most sincere and zealous advocates of the Reformation. The taint of selfishness, of political expediency, of worldly ambition and worldly Justs, is seen in the motives which influenced the secession of the Church of England from the Church of Rome. It was a political more than a religious movement. It had its first inspiration from appetite, not from conscience. We
reverence the Puritans for their honesty, in refusing to submit to the exactions of the new oppression, - for their dislike of any coquetry between Protestantism and Popery, for their opposition to the mingling of temporal with spiritual interests, and to the coöperation of the church in the sins and corruptions of the state. Their stern and sturdy adherence to what they deemed the requisitions of conscience and the will of God will never cease to act as an inspiration to all who raise, in after times, the banner of revolt against accredited tyranny and established_falsehood. Through the reign of Elizabeth, of James the First, of Charles the First, of Charles the Second, constantly pelted as they were with satire, and exposed to the most brutal wrongs and contumelies
with literature, fashion, taste, power, all arrayed against them, - they ever preserve those titles to respect, which cling to virtue and religion. Compared with the greedy politicians, the time-serving priests, the effeminate and dissolute courtiers, the venal writers, who honored them with their hatred or their ridicule, they loom up in almost colossal proportions, and frown rebuke on the corruptions of their age. We are not blind to their errors; we do not sympathize with their theology; we could wish that much of their enthusiasm had received a better direction, and that much of their piety had been accompanied by more kindliness of spirit ; but when we consider the trials they underwent, the school of persecution in which they were trained, the character of the abuses which they assailed, the meanness and baseness of too many of their adversaries, and the inestimable services they rendered to the world, their faults and errors seem to dwindle before the light of their faith, their virtue, and their heroic self-devotion.
The Puritans - there is a charm in that word which will never be lost on a New England ear. It is closely associated with all that is great in New England history. It is hallowed by a thousand memories of obstacles overthrown, of dangers nobly braved, of sufferings unshrinkingly borne, in the service of freedom and religion. It kindles at once the pride of ancestry, and inspires the deepest feelings of national veneration. It points to examples of valor in all its modes of manifestation, in the ball of debate, on the field of battle, before ihe tribunal of power, at the martyr's stake. It is a name which will never die out of New England · hearts.
Wherever virtue resists temptation, wherever men meet death for religion's sake, wherever the gilded baseness of the world stands abashed before conscientious principle, there will be the spirit of the Puritans. They have left deep and broad marks of their influence on human society. Their children, in all times, will rise up and call them blessed. A thousand witnesses of their courage, their industry, their sagacity, their invincible perseverance in well-doing, their love of free institutions, their respect for justice, their hatred of wrong, are all around us, and bear grateful evidence daily to
We cannot forget them, even if we had sufficient baseness to wish it. Every spot of New England earth has a story to tell of them; every cherished institution of New England society bears the print of their minds. The strongest element of New England character has been transmitted with their blood. So intense is our sense of affiliation with their nature, that we speak of them universally as " fathers."
.” And though their fame everywhere else were weighed down with calumny and hatred, though the principles for which they contended, and the noble deeds they performed, should become the scoff of sycophants and oppressors, and be blackened by the smooth falsehoods of the selfish and the cold, there never will be wanting hearts in New England to kindle at their virtues, nor tongues and pens to vindicate their name.
ART. IX. - 1. Remarks on the Seventh Annual Report
of the Hon. Horace Mann, Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Boston: Little & Brown.
1844. 8vo. 2. Observations on a Pamphlet entitled “ Remarks on the
Seventh Annual Report,” &c. [By George B. EM
ERSON.] Boston : Little & Brown. Svo. 3. Reply to the “ Remarks ” of Thirty-one Boston School
masters on the Seventh Annual Report, &c. By HORACE Mann, Secretary of the Board. Boston: Fowle & Capen. 8vo. pp. 176.
Pruth. No inhabitant of Boston or its immediate vicinity needs to be informed of the causes and nature of the unhappy contro