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truth, will feel himself dissatisfied with it; and, after the fullest examination of its import, when compared with the nature of Christianity and the facts of history, compelled to reject it, as impertinent and deceptive. It is not true that the profession of Christianity was opposed to the secular authority of the State, obedience to civil government being inculcated by the Gospel, and exemplified in the conduct of Christians. Christ was not the rival of Cæsar, por did he call mankind to become his followers for the purpose of engaging them in contention with political rulers. Christianity never presented itself in a hostile attitude against the power of the State; it was, and ever must be, friendly to the order of society and the office of lawful magistracy. It is uniformly the same in all periods in its aspect towards civil government. The secular power was opposed to Christian profession as often as restraint and suffering were inflicted by the persons exercising it against Christians. In this respect the supreme secular
in the hands of Constantine and bis successors, was opposed to the Christian religion ; for they favoured only their own party, with exemption from persecution. The heathen Emperors were not always persecutors of Christians; they frequently permitted their Christian subjects to en. joy an interval of rest. Their forbearance, however, is not to be construed as importing a union between the Church and the power of the State. Nor could their conversion to the Christian faith have identified their government with the institute of the Gospel, as masters of its influence. Christianity can never form a union with the supreme power of a State, its object being, altogether, of a different kind from the end to which civil author rity is legitimately directed. Christianity addresses itself to men as individuals, never as they constitute a political body: Nothing of its nature and adaptations can be learned but from the New Testament, in which the whole will of its founder is deposited. Since, therefore, neither Constantine, nor any of his successors, can supply the authority of a subsequent revelation, empowering them to preside over the dispensation of the Gospel, their acts and deeds, in connexion with religion, must ever stand on record as violations of right, in despite of the Gospel, usurpations of Christ's authority, and outrages on the conscienees of mankind. To represent them in any other shape, is to confound all moral distinctions.
The will of civil rulers, moved and guided by worldly and ambitious prelates, ordering a part of their subjects to be tormented and destroyed, or degraded from their proper level in society, and providing indulgences and riches for another part of them, is too frequently the chief business of union between the secular power of a State and the Church. The resistance of the ministers of the Christian religion in Constantine's time, to the patronage which he offered them, might have been as a sovereign medicine in the crisis of an alarming disorder: their flatteries and their compliances were as unctions, which, while they smooth the skin, strike inward, and envenom the life-blood. No other proof is required, than the proceedings of the Council of Nice, recorded as they are by most partial writers, in which the celibacy of the clergy was almost adopted as an ecclesiastical canon, and
principle was grossly sacrificed to worldly interest, amid the ebullitions of party spirit, and the tumults of discordant opinion, to evince that the spirit of primitive subjection to Christ, by which alone the purity of his institutions can be preserved, was not the prevailing temper among the prelates who received Constantine's commands as law. The influence and authority which that Emperor began to exercise over the affairs of religion, were, in their consequences, most fåtal to the rights of civil rulers ; more pernicious to the interests of true piety, and more destructive to the rights and lives of mankind, than a thousand other plagues. Only the lightest woes were falling, when Heathen Emperors were the persecutors of Christians; the heaviest were to come in succeeding times, and the first of them descended when Constantine proclaimed himself to be the arbiter of religious profession. In the distribution of the gifts which he so profusely lavished on the obsequious bishops of his court, he scattered the seeds of most bitter miseries, which in their mature growth were the portion of civil rulers. The degradation of sovereigns, who were compelled to bow their lofty heads to the Popes of Rome, and own themselves their vassals, -a melancholy and inglorious bondage,--the sequestration of their king doms, and shame and sufferings in their most humiliating and wretched forms, sprang from the unholy usurpation of secular. authority over the consciences of mankind : a righteous but terrible retribution.
We quit this part of the subject with the strongest protestation against any appeals to the proceedings of Constantine, as precedents by which to settle questions of Christian import; and we would adınonish Mr. B. that by referring to them for the purpose he has in view, he argues our liberty, by citing examples, not of justice, but of tyranny.
We cannot conceal our surprise, that the Author of this inquiry should, after the facts which he has detailed, after the persecuting edicts to which his book contains more than one reference, and after the confiscations and banishments which he has recorded as resulting from the dominion 'over conscience which this emperor claimed and exercised, assert, that Constantine manifested a most anxious desire to preserve the peace of
the church unbroken.' (See p. 32.) This is clearly the language of encomium ; but in reference to such a person and to such transactions, can language like this be appropriate? What persecutor has not manifested a most anxious desira to preserve the peace of the Church unbroken? When Charles the IXth of France perpetrated the atrocities of Bartholomew's day, when Louis the XIVth revoked the edict of Nantz, and proscribed the Protestants of his kingdom, they respectively manifested a most anxious desire to preserve the peace of the Church unbroken. So also did Mary, when she kindled the fires of Smithfield; so did Elizabeth, when she condemned the Puritans; so did James the First, when he executed Arians; and so has every tyraunizer over human conscience. The Inquisition itself was established for the very purpose of preserving the peace of the Church ; and its most atrocious measures might be vindicated by the application of a rule which would give validity to the acts of Constantine. If the latter are of authority as precedents, merely because they are recorded facts, so are the former. If the one be assumed as correct in practice, because sanctioned by the clergy among whom Constantine presided, whose will was their law; so, for a similar reason, are the other. What does our Author mean in the sentence with which he concludes his account of the proceedings in the Council of Nice ?
No doubt can possibly be entertained of the binding force of a general council upon every part of the empire.'
If nothing more is intended by these expressions, than that the power of the emperor was employed to enforce the decrees of that council, and that the reception of the Nicene creed and submission to the determinations conveyed in the emperor's edicts relative to religion, were demanded on pain of suffering, no person contests the fact; and it is therefore very idle to set down with so much gravity, so very trite a conclusion. In this way, every instrument which has dictated to the faith of mankind, the canons and ecclesiastical decrees of councils and cabinets, together with all the penal sanctions by which they have been enforced, might be assumed as valid. The binding force of the most iniquitous laws, is equally indubitable with that of the Nicene council. Who questions the binding force of the sanguinary articles enacted by Henry VIII. ? presentations are evidently of no value; they are to all intents and purposes nugatory. They are facts in the history of religious persecution ; nothing more.
If, however, the Author employs such expressions with another intent, and exhibits the facts to which he refers, as precedents for either legislative enactments or our submission, which in fact is evidently the case, then we must inquire on what ground is built that authority which assumes the control of conscience. VOL. VII. N. S.
The question is plain and direct. Let it be plaivly and directly answered, without evasion and without sophistry. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction as explained by Mr. B. imports the regulation of religious affairs by the secular magistrate. But why should hé regulate religion? Religion may be defined as the regard which intelligent creatures owe to the Deity, of which his will is the sole standard : to ascertain that will, is therefore the business of every man. In what does the importance of religion consist, but in its relation to a future life, and to the eternal good or evil which awaits the moral probationer? The distribution of that good or evil which religion involves, is solely the prerogative of the Deity. To every individual belongs the right of personal judgement in religion. This principle being admitted, ecclesiastical jurisdiction cannot be a part of the rights of civil legislature. The principle which pervades Mr. Brown's Inquiry, is most hostile to the right of private judgement in religion, for it assumes in every page the right of the civil magistrate to control the religious opinion and practice ; and we think that it is a self-evident proposition, that if every man's science be exclusively empowered to manage the whole of his religious concerns, there can be nothing left for the cog. nizance and control of another person.
The object of this inquiry into the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Crown, is to maintain the interference of the secular authority in religious affairs, directly indeed in reference to the case of the Catholics. The Author, however, must have taken a very superficial view of his subject, if he does not perceive its bear, ing beyond the line of that controversy. It involves all classes of dissentients from the National Establishment, since the object is to obtain the acknowledgement of a controlling power in religion over the subjects of the empire. Lord Sidmouth's Bill was framed precisely on the principles assumed in the Inquiry. It was proposed as a measure of regulation, and included in its provisions a veto on the part of the Crown in the appointment of Dissenting teachers. It was properly considered as an attempt to fetter the conscience, and was successfully resisted as an invasion of the rights of Christians. Every reason on which opposition to that ill-advised and unjust proposal was founded, calls for the explicit reprobation of the principles which it is the design of the present work to countenance.
It must be remembered, that the claim of a peto, on the part of the Crown, against the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops, includes in its very nature a negative in the nomination of all Christian ministers. If the civil power may of right interfere in the regulations of a society as a religious society, objecting when it may be so pleased, to the leaders of its worship and the administrators of its ordinances, appointing to these offices persons of its own selecting, it asserts its competency to over-rule the dis. cipline of all Christian churches in the country. The right and practice of Dissenters of every description, Presbyterians, Independents, and Methodists, are therefore implicated. The rule which the “ Inquiry' would establish, prostrates all religious societies before the secular power'; for as that power is represented as a controlling authority, it is necessarily the judge of its own interference, and no difference can possibly exist between the treatment of one class of religionists, and that of another, but such as its caprice or judgement shall create. It is not the direction which the secular power may give to its decrees and acts, that can for a moment be contemplated as the radical objection against it; but it is to the right itself that exception must be taken. In this view of the argument, which we contend is the only one of importance, all religious classes of men, as the supporters of a cominon cause, are interested in the opposition which the maintenance of their most valuable rights demands to an invasion of them.
We can never permit ourselves to discuss so great a question as the present, on any narrow or selfish grounds. In our hands it must always be a general question, unlimited by connexion uncontrolled by attachment. We cannot separate any denomination of religious persons, from the question of religious rights since to all classes of religious professors those rights are the same. We purpose adverting to this view of the subject in the sequel of our remarks. In the meantime, we'may take the occasion to ask whether the Catholics of the United Kingdom cani be either enlightened or persuaded by the mode of instruction which the Author of the Inquiry' has adopted. Will they perceive a parallel in the cases adduced as proofs and illustrations of the coercive power of Constantine, and their present circumi stances? Not only do they object to the veto in the hands of a non-catholic government, as a measure utterly irreconcileable with the principles of their religion; but they are at variance with their opponents on the question of right. They oppose the demand of the veto as unjust; and can this objection be removed, and the whole question set at rest by accumulating proofs of a practice against which they protest? Mr. Brown proposes to collect such proofs down to the period when the Roman Catholic religion ceased to be the religion of the State. The change in the State from Popery to Protestantism is, however, the very circumstance which creates in the mind of a Catholic, the strongest of all reasons against the proposed submission.' On every view of the subject we are driven back to the question of right as the only proper one. If precedents be assuined as the rule of duty to Catholics, what can be expected as the result of such a method, but the confirmation of their