Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

not, the right to defend, vindicate, protect, ceremonial types and shadows; and Chris. and support, at the

public expense, the reli- tianity, under the auspices of its glorious gion of that church?

Author, has happily succeeded it, as the This question is also decided in the ultimatum of divine revelation, and the affirmative, by the example and authority great antitype of all the sacrificial and ritual of the same paramount power. The Jewish institutions of that initiatory scheme of church was fortified with a multitude of salvation : and it is unquestionably true, ecclesiastical laws, enacted by God himself that the kingdom of God, that is, the kingfor its government; protected by the secular dom of grace upon earth, and of glory in power, and its priesthood amply provided heaven, “is not of this world;" it sprang for, by contributions, rendered “compul- not from a terrestrial source, nor does it sory” by divine authority, upon the whole associate with either the maxims or the body of the nation. And after the theocracy practices by which the affairs of this world of Judaism was exchanged for a human are usually conducted. All this is readily monarchy in the same nation, the adminis- granted; but l challenge Argus, or any tration of the ecclesiastical laws, both penal other advocate of the same cause, to prove and salutary, devolved upon the civil au- from this concession, that any state upon thorities; who were required to carry them earth has not an indefeisible right” to into execution, and which continued until embrace the christian religion, to establish, the Babylonish captivity.

and associate itself with, a christian church, During that period, the Jewish national and to exert the power with which God priesthood existed in the plenitude of its hath invested it, in the vindication, defence, glory; yet, though incorporated with the and support of that religion. Nay, I go state, it acted in subordination to the mo- farther, and challenge him to prove that narchical power. But after the return from all this is not 'well-pleasing and acceptable Babylon, the chief authority, both in church in the sight of God. He neither has done, and state, appears to have been vested in nor can do any such thing; and yet, until the HIGH PRIEST, and, subsequently, to the he does it, all his arguments are futile and princes of the Asmonean race, and the SAN- nugatory; those being the only principles HEDRIM, or great council of the nation. upon which his assertions of the injurious This arrangement was also evidently in the effects of church establishments can posorder of Providence, and thus the union of sibly rest. the church with the state, in that highly The great and fundamental defect of favoured but rebellious nation, was clearly your correspondent's hypothesis is, that it is sanctioned by divine authority, until its founded on fallacious principles; he argues final subjugation by the Roman power. from the abuse of a thing against its legiThus we see, sir, that both the erection timate use; and erroneously concludes,

“national church establishment,” and that because corruptions have crept into its conservation and support, as well as church establishments, therefore they are a national provision for its priesthood, hav. pernicious. nuisances, and ought not to be ing been once enacted, and providentially tolerated in a christian country! With preserved for many ages by divine autho- equal truth and reason might he have said rity, it is morally impossible that such insti- "The human heart is often found to be tutions can have any inherent tendency to the seat of moral corruption, therefore it destroy, depreciate, or counteract the reli- never can associate with the religion of the gion they are intended to cherish and sup- Son of God, nor become the temple of the port. And I believe the establishment of Holy Ghost ! and, consequently, the these facts overthrows the main pillars of Gospel can never reassert its primitive the theory advocated by your correspondent power, till so unnatural an alliance be “Argus ;" who, with his “hundred eyes," dissevered, wherever it exists,” and that does not appear to have any clearer views religion be for ever separated from that of his subject than a man of common sink of corruption, the human heart !" sense, blessed with only two! The main what, I ask, are the fifty pairs of eyes pillars of his structure thus demolished, the which your correspondent professes to poswhole fabric erected upon them falls of sess, good for, if they cannot discover the course along with them. I shall, however, obvious absurdity of such conclusions ? with

your permission, proceed to gather up In attempting to evade the force of some a few of its mutilated fragments, for the of my former observations,* ARGUs qualifies purpose of exposing the fragile materials of the broad assertion, marked with an italic which they are composed.

of a

letter, in the preceding paragraph, by the The world, sir, has now done with Ju

* Vide Imperial Magazine for April, 1831, p. 170, daism, as a divinely established system of

&c.

his

following paraphrase, which he flatters him- government of Henry VIII., and Edward self will now command my concurrent ap. VI., and Elizabeth, enabled the British probation; viz. “ that Christianity can never nation and church to get rid of that acso thoroughly and fully evangelize a com cursed incubus upon all true religion, “the munity oppressed by the incubus of a papal power.” national church, as where its energies are That the providence of God uniformly uncramped by the withering and paralyz- superintends the affairs of his church ; thai, ing influence of secular policy." Every in reference to its interests, he “worketh all one must see, sir, that this is a mere petitio things after the counsel of his own will;" principii; it is a congeries of assumptions, that all the dispensations of his providence without the shadow of a proof, or even a are directed by a combination of consumsolid argument, to support them. As a mate wisdom, with unbounded benevolence, general observation, it is good for nothing; and infinite power; that, after all, because it is perfectly possible that a church judgments are unsearchable, and his ways may exist in union with, and supported by, past finding out,will perhaps be ada political state, as free from “ the withering mitted even by Argus himself ! And that, and paralyzing influence of secular policy," in spite of even his criticisms thereon, “ all as were the pure and undefiled religion, things are working together for good to them and the heaven-inspired souls, of Daniel, who love God." These, sir, are positions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the which I presume few of your readers will be corrupt court of Nebuchadnezzar! Only disposed to deny. Hence the impossilet the ministers of Christ feel and exhibit bility of proving, as Argus is bound to do, the power of the religion they profess; let that it was unwise in that Providence to them faithfully discharge the important permit even the deprecated union which, he duties of their sacred function; let them asserts issued in the assumption of the follow the illustrious examples of those bril- papal power.” liant stars of the Jewish politico-ecclesi But, sir, in thus permitting the religion astical“ establishment,” Samuel, Elijah, of the Bible to become, at least nominally, Elisha, Nathan, Micaiah, Ahijah, and that of the Roman empire, it obtained a Isaiah ; and, instead of sinking themselves footing in Europe, which it could not have into the vortex of corruption, they would be obtained by any other means. And alinstruments, as those ancient worthies were, though the churches, both of Rome and Conin the hand of the great Head of the church, stantinople, were ultimately overwhelmed of purging the state itself, and the hearts of with a torrent of corruption, yet both the statesmen also, from that corruption which records and the principles of genuine Chrisyour timid correspondent appears to think tianity have been preserved by that Proviis more than a match for both the grace and dence in inviolable purity, amidst all the the Spirit of the living God! Surely the clouds of ignorance, the ravings of superincredulous heart of this man cannot believe stition, and the fires of persecution, which that ever “ the kingdoms of this world shall papacy

inflicted

upon

the sacred cause become the kingdoms of our God and of of Christ, and upon his faithful followers. his Christ,” or he would never counsel the It was, sir, from amongst those clouds, and British church thus to run away from the out of those very fires, that emerged "the state, and leave it exposed to all the wiles noble army of martyrs," who, though brought of the grand adversary.

forth and nurtured in the very hot-bed of Your correspondent, sir, quotes the case corruption, sealed the truth of that religion, of “ Constantine's unnatural coalition of the which they rescued from the fames, with civil and ecclesiastical power,” as having their own blood. Thus popery itself be“ laid the foundation of those corruptions came the scaffolding, in and by which, which issued in the assumption of the papal the great Master-builder of Christianity power;" and, as a proof that every union erected his true church; and surely in this of church and state must be productive of respect the Church of England is entitled to similar effects, With equal truth and at least equal honour with the Church of reason might he have asserted, that, because Rome; and the permission of their exthe marriage of our late sovereign, George istence, in the order of Providence, dethe Fourth, was an unhappy one, therefore mands our acknowledgment that the inno other king ought ever to enter into the terests of true religion could not have been marriage state! To show the fallacy of this so well secured by any other arrangement. conclusion, I need only to re-state the fact, Sir, accurate definition is the life of sound that, instead of such a result issuing from argument; and, as your correspondent, althe union of church and state in England, though he has called in Dr. Paley to his it was that very union which, under the assistance, is evidently lame

upon

this 2D. SERIES, no. 17.-vol. II,

2 r

161.- VOL. XIV.

the

point, I shall, before I proceed, endeavour gations laid upon christian magistrates, and to correct his error. I believe, sir, all ac christian governments, to use the power, curate definitions must be founded upon the thus entrusted to them, for the conservation proper, natural, and generally accepted con of that religion they have embraced. The struction of words and sentences, and not affirmative assertion of that principle must upon any improper meaning, arbitrarily be conceded by every man who has himself imposed or forced upon them, pro re nata. any pretensions to the christian character ; It is according to the latter mode of de but it may be more difficult to define the finition that Argus asserts, upon Dr. P's legitimate extent, and the proper limitations, authority, that “the sine qua non of a of that interference. As this question em

religious establishment' is, that it should braces ahe most important points at issue be exclusively preferred by the state to between my opponent and myself, I shall every other sect, and be supported by com beg the favour of explicitly, yet briefly, pulsory provision for its maintenance.” stating my present views upon it. Hence, both the Dr. and his pupil are And, first, it is certain that a properly wrong; for it wants the word national pre- defined and well-regulated liberty of confixed to “religious establishment” to con science is the unalienable right of every stitute the construction for which they con. individual upon earth ; and, therefore, no tend; but, according to the former mode magisterial or political power can have of definition, which is the true one, every any authority to interfere with that privilege.* sectarian institution in the kingdom which On the contrary, it is the imperative duty has a place of worship, a stated ministry, of every christian government to secure that whether stationary or itinerant, and a pro- inestimable birthright inheritance to all its vision for that ministry, whether voluntary subjects; and, upon this basis, I fearlessly or compulsory, is, beyond all controversy, assert, that the spiritual tyranny and des“a church;” i. e., an ecclesiastical or potism of popery, which ever did, and ever religious establishment.”

will deprive its enslaved and wretched votaNow, sir, what is it that I contend for? ries of that glorious privilege, ought not to Why, first, that every nation, as such, ought be suffered to operate on British ground. to have a religion ; secondly, that that re Hence the British government owes to its ligion ought to be Christianity; thirdly, as God, to its religion, and to its country, the Christianity cannot be supported without a liberation of its subjects from that atrocious ministry, nor that ministry without a temporal provision, it is an imperative duty,

* This hackneyed phrase, “liberty of conscience," incumbent upon every christian nation, both when made a leading feature in such a discussion to appoint a ministry and to provide for it.

as the present, must be accurately defined, its boun

daries fixed, and its privileges ascertained. In the All these obligations are, as I apprehend, vocabulary of Argus, it appears to mean, when enjoined by the command of Jesus Christ, applied to individuals, the most unbounded and the recorded in Matthew xxviii. 19, and Mark

most licentious antinomianism in principle, and

irresponsibility in practice; but, with him, it has no xvi. 15. “Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, kind of existence, in reference to either nations, and teach ALL NATIONS, baptizing them,

states, or governments. None of these must pre

sume to possess, and much less to exercise it! In the &c.; and, by the corresponding declaration

annals of popery, it signifies liberty to overthrow of the apostle Paul, Rom. i. 5. “ By whom and exterminate, with fire and sword, both the pro

fession and the professors of every other religion (viz. the Spirit of holiness,) we have re

except its own, and to practise idolatry with imceived grace and apostleship, for obedience punity. None of these are its true meaning. Before to the faith among ALL NATIONS." Hence any one can exercise “liberty of conscience,” he

must have a conscience; and, before the laws of it is plain, that Christianity ought to be the God can sanction its liberty, it must be both an national religion of every nation under enlightened and a good conscience. Moreover, both

its judgments, and the acts which flow from its heaven; a proposition thus clearly founded

dictation, should correspond with the testimony of in divine authority; and it is equally cer divine revelation, before it can or ought to be retain, from the testimony of the Holy Ghost,

spected by any legitimate authority under heaven.

It was no kind of apology for the Irish papists, in by St. Paul, 1 Cor. ix. 3--14, that every 1798, who burned 200 or 300 helpless and harmless body of Christians ought to support its men, women, and children, in the barn of Sculla

bogue, that their consciences told them," it was ministry. Now, sir, as all civil authority

their duty to God and the church thus to massacre and political power are derived from, and protestants, for no other crime but the profession dependent upon, God ;* and as these are of that religion. And hence the British govern

ment, not then possessing the benefit of Argus's given by him, for the sole purpose of pro- principles, very properly "coerced” and restrained moting the interests of Christianity, both in this "liberty of conscience,” for the preservation of time and eternity, so it would be a hopeless, bolically conscientious zeal. And so should all the

true religion, and the extermination of such diaas well as an atheistical task, for any man powers which are ordained of God, for the preto attempt to prove that there are no obli servation of his worship, and the tranquillity of the

nations over which they preside, uniformly exter* Romans xiii, 1, 8.

minate all similar principles.

past !*

“yoke of bondage" and scourge of the any kind of control over the other “relihuman race. A debt, the obligations of gious establishments” of the kingdom, which have been accumulating, with terrific either in the appointment of their ministers, magnitude and most awful results, from its the mode of conducting their worship, the non-payment, for at least two centuries last regulation of their discipline, or the dicta

tion of their theological creeds, upon speSecondly. It is the duty of every chris. culative points of doctrine. With perfect tian government both to prohibit and pre- freedom of conscience, all these particulars vent the practice of idolatry, or the worship should be left to the regulation of each of any false god, within its dominions. church, on its own behalf; but, for the And this principle also brings the British reasons I have formerly assigned, I am government, as christian, into hostile col- decidedly of opinion, that all christian milision with the Church of Rome, which, in nisters should be paid by the state; yet, the sacrifice of the mass, is downright pal- with an understanding that their congrepable idolatry. The practice of popery, gations would always be at full liberty to therefore, ought not to be tolerated in any increase their stipends, if they pleased so to christian country. If it be said that this is do, according to existing circumstances. All an unauthorized interference with liberty of places of worship should, also, in my conscience, I reply, It not; for true humble opinion, under proper regulations, liberty of conscience, in a christian country, be erected, or purchased, and kept in reconsists in allowing every man to read, pair, at the expense of the government; think, judge, and believe for himself; and and, of course, be the property of the to practise true piety, as he is directed by nation, and let off by lease, ai a fair rent, the precepts of the bible; but it cannot law- to the respective occupiers.t fully extend to the violation of those pre- Fifthly. As uniformity is one great chacepts, by the corruption of the national racteristic of truth, and although it may be worship, and the consequent injury of the impossible, as well as improper, to coerce religion and morals of the country. For the human mind into its possession, yet, an unsound religion cannot produce sound with a theological system of uncorrupted morality; and, surely, it is the duty of truth, supported by divine authority, in our every government to protect the moral hands, a man of common sense would be integrity of its subjects.

almost tempted to think, that if wisdom, Thirdly. I apprehend no secular govern- sincerity, candour, genuine piety, and inment ought to possess the right of nominat- tegrity, were to preside at a general asing or appointing ministers to any church, sembly of British ministers of the gospel, unless it be to one, or more, exclusively of every existing denomination, convened selected as its own place of worship. Nor by delegation, something might be done, can any state, king, or government, ever under the auspices and at the expense of the possess authority to dictate any peculiar government, towards producing such a corform of prayer to their subjects ; nor, of respondence of principle, and co-operation course, to enforce uniformity over the king- of exertion, among the different sectarian dom, in reference to such form; nor to fix parties which now divide the religious or regulate the titles and rank of the clergy world, as would have a happy tendency to in any church except their own. But all promote the general interests of true resuch places of worship, as well as all others, ligion, far beyond what appears to be posshould unquestionably be gratuitously open sible in the present divided and distracted to every one choosing to attend the service state of that world. of God therein.

Indeed, it is impossible to calculate the Fourthly. After securing the worship of advantages which might, and probably the only true God, by and through the mediation of his Son Jesus Christ, in all

+ That some of these proposed regulations might religious assemblies tolerated in the country, be open to objections, I do not pretend to deny; as neither the state nor its church should have the imperfections of human nature, and the disor

dered state of all human affairs, render it morally

impossible for any system of church government, or * How the British government, and especially the ecclesiastical institutions, to meet and obviate the British monarchs, as, during their several reigns, exigencies of every case, or to evade every difficulty the “heads of the church," and the “defenders of that may occur therein. And it is often the case, its faith,” will exonerate themselves from the re- that, after all our efforts to obtain perfection, we sponsibility incurred in this behalf, and particularly have nothing left but a selection of the least of the for the encouragement and support given by them evils which are unavoidably placed in our way. By to popery, during even the last half century, is not the adoption of the measures suggested above, all for me to determine; but this I well know, that the evils arising from a monopoly of chapel proboth the government and the hierarchy will here- perty by ministers, and all the interminable diffiafter have an awful account to give for their re- culties attending trusteeship, would be effectually spective shares in that encouragement.

removed.

And CHRIST alone be all in all !"

would, accrue, to the knowledge and prac. unquestionable fact, that some, yea, and tice of genuine religion, if such a coalition much genuine piety, is, and ever has been, could be carried into effect; and I incline found in the established church of England; to think, that an effort to effect it would be instead, therefore, of diminishing the gewell worthy of the enlightened and liberal neral stock of piety in the nation, it is eviage and country in which we live. At any dent that the national church, with all its rate, in such a conference, the foundation faults, increases it; and, 'hence, the onus might be laid of an union society, agreeing probandi still lies upon Argus, of his asin all the essential and fundamental truths sumed fact,“ that more true religion would, of Divine revelation, and bearing a suitable at this day, have existed in the nation, than and appropriate designation, descriptive of is actually found therein, had it never posits truly catholic, christian, and philanthro- sessed a national church establishment.” pic character, the salutary influence of Here, sir, is the fulcrum of the argument, which might spread, and extend over the the pivot on which the whole controversy habitable globe, and to the latest posterity. turns. If Argus cannot prove this point, And, sir, I am bold to affirm, that it must (and prove it, I am certain, he never can,) be under the influence of some such in- all he has said, or ever can say, against the stitution, that, by the blessing of God, the utility of a national church, as such, goes religious world will, if ever it does, live to see for just nothing ! “Names, and sects, and parties fall,

T'he case of America, which Argus ad

duces in support of his hypothesis, is a It is not, sir, as a mere idle, speculative mere petitio principii, defective in all the theory, that I throw out the preceding sug- points necessary to give it any weight whatgestions ; but as, in all human probability, ever in the scale of argument. Whal, in this nation is on the eve of, at least, an the name of common sense, are the hundred ecclesiastical revolution, both in principle eyes of this man good for, if they cannot and in practice, I conceive it to be the duty, reveal to him the fact that to give his comas well as the privilege, of every one who parison the weight of a single feather in this wishes well to his country, to endeavour to discussion, he should prove, 1st, that there promote its spiritual as well as temporal is actually more genuine religion, and less happiness and prosperity. And this is my impiety, in America than in England; and sole object in thus writing.

2nd, that this difference in favour of the I have, in my former essay, fully ad. former is owing, exclusively, to its want of mitted, and deeply lamented, the awful ex- a national church?-Of these assumed facts, tent of corruption existing in the present he has not advanced even the shadow of a state of the British church; nor do I pre. proof; and yet he affects to treat my logic tend to deny its pernicious influence upon with scornful contempt! I ask him, where practical piety, and experimental religion, is his own ? Is this the best specimen he among the members of that church : but can afford of its paramount excellence ? surely, common sense tells us that it is not Meantime, my argument in favour of the the existence, but the abuses which have utility of the British national church estabcrept into the “national church,” and its lishment, founded upon the best possible illegitimate subjugation to the withering evidence, namely, its many excellent fruits, and paralyzing influence of secular policy, remains not only untouched by my oppothat has issued in those disastrous effects; nent, but for ever invulnerable, supported which, counteracting and frustrating the as it is by the impregnable facts, that as gracious designs of God in the institution popery fell before its triumphant power, so of that church, now call for the correcting at least nine-tenths of all the genuine piety hand of reformation, to check their farther now in the nation is its offspring.

remove their destructive For, sir, it is not Methodism only, but operation ; yet I can by no means ascribe almost every other species of soundly chrisso extensive a range to that influence, as tian Dissenterism, in this kingdom, that has would be requisite to support the theory of derived its theological principles, its specuyour correspondent.

lative divinity, and its practical piety, under For, as it is a perfectly gratuitous as- God, from the Church of England, as the sumption, on his part, that the very ex- immediate parent of them all; and in every istence of a national church is necessarily such instance, (I believe without exception) inimical to the interests of true religion, so it was the form of church government, the the conclusion by him founded thereon, too rigorous enforcement of discipline, viz. that Christianity would uniformly the defalcation in zeal and piety in the Nourish better without such a church, is clergy of the establishment, or some other palpably fallacious. This is clear, from the non-essential appendage to the church,

progress, and

« ForrigeFortsæt »