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<a"<j 01 fa,\anoi ^axouffi fiat TO,; srtoi Qtcav iwoias, xou TO.; ifigi <rcnv iv " Aoou ^laXy 
otix /*>J *a) a; irv%i* sis ra <rA^ jruQiitKya.ytiv iraXu 
ahoyus lx)3aXXs/v aur. Polyb. B. VI. 54. 






Printed by W. CLOWES and SONS, 
Stamford Street. 








Ismdon, August } 1838. 





Par. Page 

1 7. Introductory Explanations 1 5 

8. Of prevalent Theories ...... 6 

9. 10. Theory of Hooker 7 

11, 12. Comment 9, 10 

13, 14. Of Warburton 11, 12 

15 17. Comment ........ 13 

18, 19. Of Paley 14, 15 

20. Comment 16 

21, 22. Of Coleridge . . . . . . 17 

23. Comment 18 

24, 25. Of Chalmers 19, 20 

26. Comment ........ 20 

27. Of Hobbes and of Bellarmine and others . . 21 
2830. Explanations . . . . . . . 22, 23 



Par. Page 

1. The phrase "Church and State" .... 24 

2. The argument from utility generally ... 25 

3. The general doctrine ...... 26 

418. Argument for the obligation hereby incumbent on 

governors as men ...... 27 37 




it on the nation, 

23. And to 
7. For tfc volutei? priBopfe is insBffieient 

t8 31. AM the state may hive the means of giving pecu- 


4247. And has int 


54 62. Especially when we anire at the Church 
rhieh shoald be established sic si v by hex 

67. The resadt of Establishment arises in natural order 

-71. Danger and erf i 
72-77. Duty hmitedtDthcBseofi 

73. TheargaEM*aaJMiBV . 
19 M. Applied ..... 




40 13 

53 57 
57 1 







W. : ,- 

1. ObettHB, tiaat pcKBOBal ittigioEi dctetionted oy tlie 

5 I*. It voaMi^iTaBaetnlnoaBBfatfMlity of tvo duties 87 S9 
11 14. Ai^BBMBt VBMBI the allegaftBMi of svpenor activity in 

f2 5 

-IT : .r : :- ... : :::_r :.- -:- 


42-44. And of) 

45. Case of Rone 
4648. General; 


lift, 1M 




1 2. Objection, that the Church if 

ntaey ; and noCia 
3, 4. Necessary kw of adjustment far the 

ed b the 





1. Sketch of the subjects of Y. and VI. 

2. We most go &r 

3. Thevseandabt 
424. Hov treated befcre the 

2531. Views of Lather, to he distiBewhedfroiB the 
i of the erents eaweeted with the 


38 M. Case f the E^tish 

41 57. 


. IS 143 

. 144154 
. 151155 

. 155. 15< 


. 1571*7 


Pat. Page 

58 60. The free diffusion of the Scriptures does not contra 
dict it 168170 

61 67. The foregoing view historically illustrated .' . 171 175 




Par. Page 

1 13. Of toleration, and how it is related to liberty of con 
science and to private judgment . . . 176 183 

1418. Subject indicated, and forms of European state policy 

with respect to private opinion in religion classified 183 187 

19 26. Nationality a leading feature of the English Reform 
ation . . .... . . . 188194 

27, 28. A vicious influence subsequently developed . . 194, 195 

29 48. An historical sketch of the policy of the state respect 
ing religious differences down to the Revolution of 
1688 . ..... 196-209 

4960. A similar outline from the Revolution of 1688 to the 

present day . .... 209217 

61 72. Steps by which a state may progressively advance 
from the toleration of different religions, or forms 
of religion, to a recognition of their perfect equal 
ity, by the indiscriminate admission of their pro 
fessors to office, and by affording to them a com 
mon support . .... 217 226 

73, 74. Nor is it likely to rest there 227, 228 

75, 76. Our own position . . ... , . 229, 230 

77. A retrospect of the argument .... 231 

78 83. A parallel and co-operating political influence . . 231234 





1 . The subject is not res Integra .... 236 

2. Certain distinctions to be taken . 237 


Par. Pag,. 

3. Hypothetical standard of comparison . . . 237 

4. Signs of the nationality of the Church in England . 238 

5. How far it is constitutionally distinguished from that 

of Scotland ....... 240 

6 13. Case of the Scottish establishment argued . . 241 245 
14, 15. Illustrative facts ....... 246 

16 21. Illustrative facts in England. Navy Army Pri 
sons Workhouses Schools Vote for Protestant 
Dissenters ....... 247251 

2228. Illustrative facts in Ireland. College of Maynooth 
Regium Donum National System of Education 
Chaplains in Gaols, in Workhouses . . . 251 255 

29, 30. Case of the Colonies 256, 257 

31 40. Illustrative facts in the North American Colonies . 258 263 
41 53. Illustrative facts in the West Indian Colonies . . 264 267 
54 56. Illustrative facts in the Mediterranean Colonies . 267, 268 
57 64. Illustrative facts in the Australian Colonies . . 268 274 
65 67. Illustrative facts in the East Indies . . . 274276 
68 70. Concluding remarks 276 278 


Par. Page 

I 3. General sketch 279281 

4, 5. Result on the science and art of government, as a de 
clension from its nature ..... 281, 282 
6, 7. Form of the development . . . . . 283, 284 
8 16. It naturally terminates in social atheism . . . 285 292 
1723. Universality of primeval religion, its subsequent re 
striction, and reintroduction of universality with 

Christianity 293298 

24 26. Abandonment of this universality appears consequent 

on the abandonment of nationality of religion . 298 30 J 
27 33- Which also seems to prepare for the consummation of 
the human apostacy, and the destruction of social 
morality . 301-307 




34. And disappoints the prophecies 

,35, 36. Civil results on character 

3749. Signs of the times bearing on our own particular case 311319 

5052. Existence of the Church, independent of the connec 
tion ; it is the State which demands our solici 
tude . . .... Wtf*i#! 320, 321 

53, 54. Conclusion .:..... 322 323 






1 7. Introductory Explanations. 8. Of prevalent Theories. 9, 10. 
Theory of Hooker. 11, 12. Comment. 13, 14. Of Warburton. 15 
17. Comment. 18, 19. Of Paley. 20. Comment. 21, 22. Of Cole 
ridge. 23. Comment. 24, 25. Of Chalmers. 26. Comment. 27. Of 
Hobbes and of Bellarmine and others. 28 30. Explanations. 

1. PROBABLY there never was a time in the history of 
our country, when the connection between the Church 
and the State was threatened from quarters so manifold 
and various as at present. The infidel, with sagacious 
instinct, following out all that tends to the general di 
minution of religious influences ; the Romanist, who, in 
order to erect his own structure of faith and discipline, 
aims first at the demolition of every other, and who 
seems, in general, to deem us so involved in fatal error, 
that we must pass through the zero of national infi 
delity in order to arrive at truth ; the professor of 
political economy, who considers this connection as a 
visionary theory, only and mischievously known by its 
tendency, when obtruded into practice, to interfere 



with what he deems the substantial interests of man 
kind ; * the democrat, who naturally desires to strip 
government of all its highest duties, and leave to it 
the performance of no more than mechanical func 
tions : of all these it was perhaps, on the whole, to be 
expected that they should unite upon any seemingly 
favourable occasion to press for their common object ; 
and they have so united. 

2. But others of a different stamp are beginning to 
view the connection of church and state with an eye of 
aversion or indifference : men attached to the state, but 
more affectionately and intimately cleaving to the 
church unwilling to regard the two as in any sense 
having opposite interests, but wearied, perhaps exas 
perated, at the injustice done of late years, or rather 
during recent generations, by the temporal to the spi 
ritual body injustice, inasmuch as the state has too 
frequently perverted and abused the institutions of the 
church by unworthy patronage, has crippled or sup 
pressed her lawful powers, and has, lastly, when those 
same misdeeds have raised a strong sentiment of dis 
favour against its ally, evinced an inclination to make 
a separate peace, and surrender her to the will of her 
adversaries. Such being the case, we can hardly won 
der, though we may lament it, that some attached mem 
bers of the church are growing cool in their appro 
bation of the connection, under the influence of a 
nascent and unconscious resentment ; and, while they 

* See, for example, the preface to the " Principles of Political Eco 
nomy," by Mr. Poulett Scrope, M.P. 


seem at least to waver upon the question, there are 
others who, although they are themselves unshaken in 
their attachment to the principle, yet defend it upon 
grounds untenable for their purpose, and better fitted 
to be occupied as positions against them. 

3. If, therefore, we believe that the connection of 
church and state, rescued on the one hand from Papal, 
and on the other from Erastian, tyranny of either power 
over its ally, be conformable to the will of God, essen 
tial to the permanent well-being of a community, im 
plied and necessitated by every right idea of civil 
government, and calculated to extend and establish the 
vital influences of Christianity, and therewith to in 
crease and purify the mass of individual happiness ; 
then, as holders of that belief, are we all the most im 
peratively summoned to its defence in this the most 
critical period of its history. 

4. The point of view from which it is now proposed 
to contemplate and discuss the question, is that which 
men occupy as members of a state ; and the aim is to 
show, that the highest duty- and highest interest of a 
body politic alike tend to place it in close relations of 
co-operation with the church of Christ. It is from this 
position that I propose to regard it ; first, because the 
combatant in defensive warfare naturally resorts STTI TO 
xapvov, to the quarter which is threatened and in dan 
ger ; because the church is not likely to be the moving 
party in measures for the dissolution of this connection, 
while the state has, it is too certain, given signs, though 
perhaps unconsciously, of that inclination ; and therefore 
it is the mind of the state, not of the church, which 

E 2 


requires to be more fully exercised upon this subject, 
in order to the better knowledge and fulfilment of its 

5. But besides the fact that we are more ignorant of 
our duty as citizens than as churchmen, in respect of the 
connection, we shall find another reason for instituting 
the investigation in the former capacity rather than the 
latter. The union is to the church a matter of second 
ary importance. Her foundations are on the holy hills. 
Her charter is legibly divine. She, if she should be 
excluded from the precinct of government, may still 
fulfil all her functions, and carry them out to perfection. 
Her condition would be anything rather than pitiable, 
should she once more occupy the position which she 
held before the reign of Constantine. But the state, in 
rejecting her, would actively violate its most solemn 
duty, and would, if the theory of the connection be sound, 
entail upon itself a curse. We know of no effectual 
preservative principle except religion ; nor of any per 
manent, secure, and authenticated religion but in the 
church. The state, then, if she allows false opinions 
to overrun and bewilder her, and, under their influence, 
separates from the church, will be guilty of an obstinate 
refusal of truth and light, which is the heaviest sin of 
man. It is of more importance, therefore, for our inte 
rests as a nation, that we should sift this matter to the 
bottom, than for our interests as a church. Besides all 
which, it may be shown that the principles, upon which 
alone the connection can be disavowed, tend intrinsically 
and directly to disorganization, inasmuch as they place 
government itself upon a false foundation. 


6. These are the main reasons for handling the ques 
tion in that sense which most applies to individual 
Christians, anxious to be informed how they may best 
discharge their duties in respect of this connection, as 
members of the state : while, at the same time, we 
shall find ourselves led by the proposed process to ex 
actly the same conclusion, as if, setting out from an 
opposite quarter, we were called upon to assist in 
directing the operations of the church, with reference 
to the best means of extending its utility. There is 
a substantial conformity between our several duties, 
though not always an apparent one. The only question 
is, respecting the order of the processes by which they 
are demonstrated. 

7. Our inquiry, however, is into the grounds and rea 
sons of the alliance, not into its terms. The precise 
arrangements, by which the respective rights of the 
contracting parties are to be preserved, are matter of 
very great importance, but they are entirely distinct 
from the preliminary question, whether they ought to 
be contracting parties at all. There are indeed, points 
of contact between the two subjects, but they are inci 
dental, and it is enough to indicate that which is the 
specific object of these pages, and which constitutes an 
object of adequate magnitude when taken alone, while 
the other, it is true, is alike important and neglected. 
Milton* wrote to Sir Harry Vane the younger, 

besides, to know 

Both spiritual power and civil, what each means, 

What severs each, thou hast learnt, which few have done 

* Sonnet xvij. 


but the praise which was rarely due in his clays, ought, 
I fear, to be still more rarely given in our own. 

8. It does not appear that our literature is well sup 
plied with works which would meet the necessity above 
described, and furnish men with sound principles 
(automata summa) upon the fundamental conditions 
of the union between the church and the state. Bishop 
Warburton has written upon it with much acuteness 
and ability, but in the dry and technical manner of a 
man who lived in times when there was no strong 
pressure in one direction requiring to be warmly and 
feelingly met from another. Mr. Coleridge has dealt 
admirably with the subject in his ' Idea of Church and 
State;' but he does not carry out his conceptions into 
detail, nor apply them to practice sufficiently to meet 
the wants of general readers. Dr. Chalmers has 
handled some points connected with this inquiry in a 
manner the most felicitous, but, in other parts of his re 
cently published lectures, he has laid down principles, 
we fear, not less seriously detrimental to our cause. 
The work of Dr. Paley on Moral and Political Philo 
sophy is a store-house of anything rather than sound 
principles. Hooker looked at the question under in 
fluences derived from the general controversy with the 
Puritans, and rather with reference to the terms than 
to the grounds of the connection. None of these writers 
regarded the subject in the aspect most imperatively 
required by present circumstances : namely, that which 
shows that governments are, by " dutiful necessity," 
cognizant of religious truth and falsehood, and bound 
to the maintenance and propagation of the former. 


We proceed, however, to give summaries of the re 
spective theories of the above-mentioned writers. 

9. If the 6th, 7th, and 8th books of the ' Ecclesiasti 
cal Polity' are to be taken as representing the opinions 
of Hooker, at least they cannot be said to do so with the 
accuracy, nor consequently with the authority, which 
belongs to the earlier and larger portion of the work. 
In the 8th book, however, he teaches,* that the same 
persons compose the church and the commonwealth 
of England, universally; that the same subject^ is 
therefore intended under the respective names of 
church and commonwealth ; and it is thus variously 
named only in respect of accidents, or properties and 
actions,| which are different. His opponents contended 
for a personal separation, which precluded the same 
man from bearing sway in both ; he for a natural one, 
which did not forbid such an union of authorities. 
" The church and the commonwealth are in this case, 
therefore, personally one society, which society" is 
" termed a commonwealth, as it liveth under whatsoever 
form of secular law and regiment a church, as it hath 
the spiritual law of Jesus Christ." Banishment, how 
ever, casts out of the church ; but excommunication 
does not cast out of the commonwealth. 

10. In this society, considered as a church, the king is 
" the highest uncommanded commander.")] He holds 
his entire office under the law, and by the willing 
consent and subjection of the people, though still by 
divine right, even while at man's discretion.^]" His 

* Ecclesiastical Polity, book viii. c. i. 2. t Ib. c. i. 5. 

$ Ib. c. i. 2. $ Ib. c. i. 2. || Ib. c. ii. 1. f Ib. c. ii. 6. 


chief ecclesiastical powers are, the title of headship ; 
the right of calling and dissolving the greater assem 
blies ; that of assent to all church orders, which are to 
have the force of law ; the advancement of prelates ; 
the highest judicial authority ; and in general an ex 
emption from the ordinary church censures to which 
others are liable, at least from excommunication : but 
the question of this last he declines to determine.* 
The conveyance of power is not to each sovereign 
in succession, but to one originally, from whom the 
rest inherit ; and the body cannot help itself, but 
with consent of the head, while there is one. The 
king's judicial power is subject to church law; and 
it is the head of all, simply because not confined to 
a district, but legally reaching to all.f Regal power| 
is not naturally limited to the good of men's bodies. 
Kings have " authority over the church, if not col 
lectively, yet divisively understood ; that is, over each 
particular person in that church where they are kings." 
He does not contend for the particular || title of head 
to be applied to the sovereign, if that be offensive. 
The subject in which this power is to reside^]" need 
not be one personally. The commonwealth, when the 
people are Christians, being ipso facto the church, the 
clergy alone aught not to have the power of making 
laws** " Quod omnes tangit, ab omnibus tractari ct 
approbari debet^ And historically the fact is,ff that 
canons of the clergy in their synods have generally 
taken no effect as laics without the approbation of 

* Ecclesiastical Polity, book viii. c. ix. 2. t Ib. c. viii. 1. $ Ib. c.iii. 2. 
$ Ib. c. iv. 6. || Ib. c. iv. 8. ^[ Ib. c. iv. 7. ** Ib. c. vi. 7, 8. tt Ib. c. vi. 9. 


governors ; not even those of the council of Trent in 
Romish kingdoms. Until that approbation, they are 
but the opinions of wise men on the subject-matter. 
The parliament, by 1 and 2 Phil, and Mar. c. 8. ratified 
by enactment the cardinal-legate's dispensation, to give 
it the force of law. The king's power of assent is a 
power derived to him from the whole body of the realm.* 
Secular courts here regulate secular causes, spiritual 
courts spiritual causes. 

1 1 . We have now extracted matter enough to show the 
general doctrine of the Eighth Book of the Ecclesiastical 
Polity on the relations between church and state. Arid 
thus much at least is clear : there can be no doubt that 
it teaches, or rather involves, as a basis and precondition 
of all its particular arguments, the great doctrine that 
the state is a person, having a conscience, cognizant of 
matter of religion, and bound by all constitutional and 
natural means to advance it. It is impossible not to 
recognise throughout the book a texture of thought 
such as pre-eminently distinguished the great man 
whose name it bears. And yet, on the other hand, it 
contains some statements which lead us to rejoice that 
he is not responsible for it as it stands, and that it does 
not carry with, it the weight of his plenary authority; 
the authority of that noble and sanctified intellect, to 
which Pope Clement VIII., according to Walton, paid 
so just and eloquent a tribute.*!" " There is no learning 
that this man hath not searched into, nothing too hard 
for his understanding. This man indeed deserves the 
name of an author : his books will get reverence by age, 

* Ecclesiastical Polity, book viii. c. vi. 11. t Walton's Lives, p. 228. 


for there is in them such seeds of eternity, that, if the 
rest be like this (the first), they shall last till the last 
fire shall consume all learning." The perfect copies of 
the three last books were unhappily lost after his death : 
the rough draughts were given to Dr. Spencer, his 
friend, and made up by him according to the best of his 
ability ; and he writes of them in very strong terms, 
that there were left " nothing but the old, imperfect, 
mangled draughts, dismembered into pieces : no favour, 
no grace, not the shadow of themselves remaining in 
them."* And again, " the learned will find in them 
some shadows and resemblances of their father's face." 
12. Although the book speaks of the natural sepa 
ration of the two societies, and so lays a ground for 
clear reasoning upon their mutual relations, yet in other 
places it seems to lose sight of the distinction between a 
society and the mere total of the individuals who may 
belong to it ; and to assume that the people of England 
composed one society which bore two different names, 
rather than two societies accidentally co-extensive as to 
the persons they comprised. And even this we know was 
not in strictness true. There were, even under Eliza 
beth, known members of the state who were not members 
of the church. Some confusion appears to arise from 
the want of a clearer line. For example, it is said that 
the canons even of general councils are only the prelimi 
nary opinions of wise men upon the subject-matter until 
they have received the royal assent. Now we may 
grant that they want the assent of the state in order to 
take effect as a part of the law of the land ; but who 

* Walton's Lives. Hooker, p. 25. 


will doubt that they have a validity inforo conscientice, 
affecting the members of the church, independently of 
any civil approbation whatever ? Another most import 
ant question is raised respecting the derivation of power 
from the body at large. This theory fell in with 
Hooker's purpose, because he was thus enabled to limit 
the ecclesiastical headship, and show it to be secondary 
to the body, though superior to individuals. We need 
not here examine into its soundness, as it is not within 
our scope. It is enough to say, that it bears out the 
theory of union between church and state, so long as 
the body which he contemplates is composed mainly of 
members of the church, and its conscience, represent 
ing the result of the general belief of the people, yields 
homage to her doctrines. The religious duty of kings 
was " the weightiest part of their sovereignty,"* even 
while heathens. Do they then lose it, he asks, by em 
bracing Christianity ? 

13. Bishop Warburton, in the ' Alliance of Church 
and State, 'f taught that civil society, being defective in 
the control of motives and in the sanction of reward,J 
had in all ages called in the aid of religion to supply the 
want. The state contemplates for its end the body and 
its interests ; has for its means, coercion ; for its ge 
neral subject-matter, utility. The church is a religious 

* Book viii. c. vi. 13. 

t See Postscript to the Fourth Edition (' Works,' vol. vii. p. 320), 
where a partial summary is given. 

$ There is a much nobler and purer statement of the inadequacy of 
the state, taken alone, to fulfil its purposes, in No. IX. of ' Letters to a 
Member of the Society of Friends,' pp, $0-52 ; ascribed to the Rev. F. 
Maurice, chaplain of Guy's Hospital, 


society, of distinct origin ; having for its end the sal 
vation of souls; for its subject-matter, truth; for its 
instrument, persuasion ; regulating motives as well as 
acts ; and promising eternal reward. Though sepa 
rate, these societies would not interfere, because they 
have different provinces ; but, the state having needs as 
above stated, and the church wanting protection against 
violence, they had each reasons sufficient for a voluntary 
and free convention. 

14. Accordingly, the societies united ; not indeed 
under any formal engagement with all the stipulated 
conditions, but like sovereign and people in the original 
contract. That is, the theory of the alliance accurately 
represents the true idea according to which they ought 
to unite. And this idea was actually realised by the 
then existing state of things in England ; where an 
established church and a free toleration were made 
perfectly to agree by the medium of a test-la w, with 
out which, either dissenters will obtain political power 
and destroy the church ; or, in the other extreme, the 
church will persecute dissenters. And the conditions 
of the union are, that the church receives a free mainte 
nance for the clergy ; a share, for her security, in the 
legislative body ; and a coactive power to be used in 
her spiritual courts for a purpose which is also a state 
purpose, namely, the correction of certain forms of 
vice. In return for which, she surrenders to the state 
her original independency, and subjects all her laws 
and movements to the necessity of the stale's previous 
approval. If there be more than one such religious 
society or church, the state is to contract with the 


largest; to which will naturally belong the greatest 
share of political influence. 

15. The greatest moral defect in this theory is that 
indicated by the concluding sentence. The state is to 
contract with the largest religious society. The adop 
tion of a national church is then with it matter of cal 
culation, and not of conscience. The state in this view 
has no conscience. It is not contemplated in the 
bishop's work as a moral person, having responsibility 
before God, nor as an aggregation of individuals, each 
having personal responsibilities, and bound in all things 
according to their capability to serve God, His church, 
His truth : therefore under obligation to regard that 
service as in itself an end of positive value, independ 
ently of the resulting benefits to the state. 

16. The propositions of this work generally are to be 
received with qualification. It is a very low theory of 
government which teaches, that it has only the care of 
the body and bodily goods ; and might seem besides to 
imply, that all physicians are more peculiarly statesmen. 
There was far more truth in the eu fjv* of Aristotle ; 
under which we may consider that the state, bound to 
promote the general good of man, finds the church 
ready made to its hand, as the appointed instrument for 
advancing that department of human well-being which 
is spiritual, and contracts with it accordingly. 

17. And there does appear to be something reasonable 
in the objection of Bolingbroke to the representation of 
the alliance in the light of a fact, on the ground that it is 
a fiction. But, says Warburton, it is no more a fiction 

* Arist. Pol. iii. 5. 


than the celebrated original compact. Nor is it : but 
both are fictitious : and Bolingbroke also censures the 
teachers of the original compact for having represented 
men as if they had at some time anterior to civil 
society been independent, when it is notoriously untrue ; 
and this untruth is made the basis of other and greater 
untruths concerning the derivation of power from the 
people, and the consequent denial of a divine authority 
in government. In fact, Warburton appears to have 
adopted the views of Locke, and to have copied his 
representation of the alliance from the original com 
pact, not himself objecting to the use that has been 
made* of that arbitrary mode of stating the case, but, 
on the contrary, considering any derivation of political 
from patriarchal rule as an absurdity. 

18. Dr. Paley-f- has supplied us with a view of reli 
gious establishments, distinguished by his own great and 
highly characteristic merits, but likewise tainted by the 
original vice of his false ethical principles, and by the 
total absence of any substantive conception of the visible 
church. According to this author, the rights, offices, 
order, family, and succession of the priesthood, were 
parts of the Jewish religion, as well as the means of 
transmitting it. But no form of outward institution 
enters into the composition of Christianity. " The au 
thority, therefore, of a church establishment, is founded 
upon its utility :" and the end is " the preservation and 
communication of religious knowledge." Regard to 
political ends has only served to deteriorate the church 

* Postscript to the Fourth Edition. 
t Moral and Political Philosophy, book vi. chap. x. 


wherever it has been allowed. Three things, accord 
ingly, are requisite : 

1. A clergy, or order of men set apart for religion. 

2. A legal provision for their maintenance. 

3. The restriction of that provision to the ministers 
of a particular sect. 

19. He contends for the necessity of a clergy "to 
perpetuate the evidences of Revelation, and to interpret 
the obscurity of those ancient writings in which the 
religion is contained ;" and to conduct public worship 
with decency. From these peculiar occupations he 
deduces the necessity of a separate maintenance. Vo 
luntary contribution would yield but an insufficient 
supply, and would lower the tone of instruction. As 
to the third condition, the form of religion ought to be 
such as to comprehend all existing differences of opi 
nion ; but if the prevailing opinions be " not only so 
various, but so contradictory," as to render their junc 
tion impossible, then, where patronage is allowed, and 
one set of people appoint the teachers whom another 
set are to hear, there must be a test the simplest pos 
sible to secure some unity of proceeding. Such test, 
therefore, " may be considered merely as a restriction 
upon the exercise of private patronage." Again, if the 
parishioners chose their ministers without a test, into 
lerable discords would arise. The recognition of all 
sects appears scarcely compatible with that which is 
the " first requisite in a national establishment the 
division of the country into parishes of a commodious 
extent." One sect, therefore, should be preferred. But 
tests ensnare consciences, often come to " contradict the 


actual opinions of the church, whose doctrines they 
profess to contain," and proscribe tenets long after they 
have ceased to he dangerous. Any form of Christianity 
is better than none, as all tend to good. This justifies 
the magistrate's interference ; which therefore carries no 
violation of religious liberty while he is only " providing 
means of public instruction." But where his faith 
differs from that of the majority, he should establish the 
latter, as the chances of truth are equal. Toleration 
promotes truth; but exclusion may perhaps be de 
fended where disaffection happens to be connected with 
certain religious distinctions. Generally there is no 
reason why these should prevent men from discharg 
ing civil functions together, more than differences of 
opinion on questions of " natural philosophy, history, or 

20. The views here given of the office of the clergy, 
of the visible church, of creeds, of the method of weigh 
ing different forms of Christianity, and of the irrelevancy 
of religious distinctions to the discharge of civil duties, 
are full of the seeds of evil. The truths which the 
author seems to have perceived with clearness were, 
the national benefits of a recognition of religion ; the 
futility of the allegation that the civil magistrate is not 
competent to its advancement, or not justified in " pro 
viding means" for that end; the compatibility of an 
establishment for religion with religious liberty ; the 
need of a provision for preserving as well as diffusing 
the truth ; and the tendency of the voluntary method 
of support to deteriorate the quality of pastoral instruc 


21. The argument of Mr. Coleridge "on the Consti 
tution of the Church and State according to the Idea of 
each" is alike beautiful and profound. He shows, from 
an analysis of the parts of the body politic, that, in order 
to its well-being, there must necessarily enter into its 
composition an estate, whose office it shall be to supply 
those governing and harmonising qualities of character, 
without which the remaining elements cannot advan 
tageously cohere.* His first estate is that of the land 
owners, or possessors of fixed property, barons and 
franklins providing for the permanency of the nation. 
His second, that of the merchants, manufacturers, arti 
sans, " the distributive class," whose especial office it 
is to secure the progressiveness of the nation, and per 
sonal freedom, its condition. In the king, again, " the 
cohesion by interdependence and the unity of the coun 
try were established." But these, viewed alone, are as 
it were but the material me^ns for attaining their seve 
ral ends. 

22. There must be a soul, underlying and animating 
them all, a cultivation of the inward man, which is the 
root, the corrective, and the safeguard of civilisation. 
The nourishment of this paramount ingredient of na 
tional life constitutes the function of a third great 
estate : living on reserved property for more free devo 
tion to its duties, and divided into two classes ; a smaller 
number dwelling at the fountain-heads of knowledge, 
guarding the treasures already acquired, opening new 
shafts and mines, and dispensing! their acquisitions to 

* Church and State, p. 42. 

t Che di su prendono, e di sotto fanno, DA\TB, Paradiso, II. 123. 



their brethren ; the second division of this estate, a 
far larger number distributed throughout the country, 
supplying for every spot a resident guide and teacher ; 
and thus connecting each part of time and each part of 
the nation with the rest respectively. Such is the na 
tural "clerisy" of a state. Upon such a theory, drawn 
according to human principles, supervenes what Mr. 
Coleridge has felicitously termed the (in reference to 
this theory) "happy accident" of the Christian church,* 
" the sustaining, correcting, befriending opposite of the 
world, the compensating counterforce to the inherent 
and inevitable defects of the state as a state ;" not 
primarily to any particular state, inasmuch as the whole 
world is her inheritance, but yet with applicability, by 
subdivision into branches, to each particular state. 

23. It may be well to observe, with reference to the 
analysis of the two first estates, that its classification is 
true on a large scale, not in minute detail : it is the de 
lineation of a painter, not of an anatomist ; and yet the 
painter has regard to anatomy, but he generalises its 
results. The landed estate is not entirely permanent ; it 
is also productive and progressive ; but, on the whole, 
the habits of mind and action which belong to it are in 
disposed to change. It hangs more evidently on superior 
power, and has less of self-dependence. The trading 
class appears more an agent, and less subservient : thus 
it has more of the spirit of egotism, and is consequently 
more inclined to judge, and to alter what has been 
judged already; while, on the other hand, there are 
influences which check this tendency, as the necessity 

* Church and State, p, 133. 


of order and tranquillity to the prosperity of trade, and 
to the regular action of the labour-market ; and the 
disposition of those who have acquired property to pass 
into the class of landholders. But these explanations 
in no way detract from the substantial truth of Mr. 
Coleridge's definition ; and I do not venture any further 
to incumber the masterly sketch which he has drawn. 

24. The profuse and brilliant eloquence of Dr. Chal 
mers, and the warm heart from which its colouring 
is principally derived, have necessarily contributed to 
render the scientific development of his views less ac 
curately discernible than it would have been had he 
written more apathetically. His lectures on church 
establishments teach that Christianity is the sure found 
ation of order and prosperity ; that the efforts of indi 
viduals, without aid from government, are insufficient to 
bring it within reach of the whole population ; that the 
territorial division of the land into manageable districts, 
with a general cure of souls over all persons within them, 
is the most efficient method of giving to Christianity an 
universal influence : that such division cannot well be 
carried into effect but by a church of one given deno 
mination. Again, with respect to the religious tenets 
within which a government may choose its national 
establishment, he contends that the church should be 
wholly independent in respect of its theology * that 
there should be " maintenance from the one quarter, 
and an unfettered theology from the other :" but he 
subsequently, in effect, qualifies this doctrine. f 
* Lecture ii. p. 37. t Lecture iv. p. 115. 

c 2 


25. He teaches that the government should deter 
mine what shall be its establishment, if possible, simply 
by the answer to the question, " What is truth ?" but 
if not, then with a modified view to the benefit of the 
population at large. He considers a state incompetent 
to enter upon the details of theological discussion, but 
abundantly qualified to decide upon certain broad and 
leading principles. Upon the former consideration he 
holds them justified in selecting, or in adhering to the 
selection of, any one of the Christian denominations, 
which, being Protestant, are also evangelical ; as, for 
example, Methodist, Independent, Baptist : he does 
not, however, supply any precise test for determining 
to what extent the epithet " evangelical " may be ap 
plicable. But, upon the latter consideration, he teaches 
that the state is competent, nay, that any man,* " with 
the ordinary schooling of a gentleman," and " by the 
reading of a few weeks," may qualify himself to de 
cide upon the broad question which separates Protest 
antism from Popery, namely, whether the Scriptures be 
or be not the only rule of faith and practice in religion. 

26. It did not enter into the purpose of Dr. Chalmers 
to exhibit the whole subject, but even in these propo 
sitions he has, it may be apprehended, put forward 
much questionable matter. He appears by no means 
to succeed in showing, upon his own principles, that 
his territorial establishment must be of one denomi 
nation : he would probably find it impossible, upon 
stricter investigation, so to define Evangelical Protest- 

* Lecture iv. p. 119. 


autism as to make it an universal criterion for the 
guidance of governments : it might further be argued, 
that he has surrendered the condition without which all 
others fail, in omitting from his calculation the divine 
constitution of the visible church ; and that while he 
does not so much as inquire whether on the one side 
it would be difficult or easy to reject the unevangelical 
Protestants, he has on the other, very greatly under 
rated the difficulty of the questions at issue between the 
church of Rome and her opponents. But no more : it 
is painful even to indicate points of difference from a 
man so distinguished, so excellent, so liberal and one, 
too, who has studied and explained the machinery of a 
religious establishment with such admirable effect. 

27. The reader will probably agree that it is unne 
cessary, with a view to the practical purposes before 
us, to enter upon any detailed investigation of two 
other theories of the connection between Church and 
State, which embody the respective extremes of opi 
nion adopted on the one hand by Hobbes, and on the 
other by Bellarmine and ultramontane Romanists. 
They are theories of derivation, rather than of connec 
tion, properly so called. According to the first, the 
Church and her religion are mere creatures of the 
state. According to the second, the temporal power 
is wholly dependent and subordinate. These views are 
not avowed amongst ourselves. A third extreme opi 
nion of a different kind, namely, that the magistrate has 
no concern with religion, is that against which the 
general argument of the succeeding chapter is directed. 


28. It remains to observe, before proceeding to the 
formal investigation of our subject, that, when we speak 
of the Church of England as having actually entered 
into connection with the State, we use a phrase which 
has more of historical truth, undoubtedly, than belongs 
to the celebrated original compact with which Bishop 
Warburton compares it. But the alliance probably 
was made by Ethelbert rather under an impression of 
personal conscience, than in any deliberate view of what 
we may term scientific results, or upon any formal 
specification of terms. In speaking, therefore, of its 
having been made on such and such conditions, we use 
the language of convenience, not of historical precision ; 
and the meaning merely is, that we are stating the 
terms which justify the connection in respect of their 
fulfilling the duties and the purposes of both the bodies 

29. It is not easy to find any single word which 
accurately describes the relation subsisting between the 
two societies, in respect of the degree of its intimacy. 
Alliance means too little : it puts too much out of view 
the Christian conscience of the state, and seems to sup 
pose too great an original distance between the parties ; 
whereas, in their personal composition, they very greatly 
mix ; and when Warburton says the state will ally with 
the largest communion, because that will have most 
influence in the legislature, this should mean that the 
majority of persons composing the legislature will have 
such a conscience as will approve and establish that 
communion. The word incorporation would evidently 


be as much too strong. Even union, though it is on 
many accounts convenient, may convey too much if it 
be understood as making two into one. Connection is 
too indeterminate, but is, perhaps, on the whole, for 
some reasons, the most convenient, as most free from the 
risk of misapprehension ; while, by the term " relations," 
our language enables us to express in the most compre 
hensive form whatever functions or qualities of the two 
societies admit of mental association. 

30. Lastly, the argument which follows is not speci 
fically addressed to infidels ; hardly, indeed, to persons 
in a state of systematic separation from our national 
church ; nor, on the other hand, to those who have 
deliberately considered* all its conditions, and their own 
obligations as its members ; but to those who form the 
mass of the educated community, and whose minds have 
imbibed a general belief of the lawfulness and duty of 
public support of religion, yet 'without any clear and 
reasoned conclusions either upon the grounds or the 
limits of that duty. I presume, therefore, on but a very 
small portion of favourable predispositions in the mind 
of the reader, while I shall hope to show him, that a sin 
cere believer in no more than the general principle of 
Theism will, upon looking attentively at the nature and 
the necessities of the state, and its capabilities in respect 
of religion, be led on, by regular and progressive in 
ferences, to the full adoption of the principle which de 
mands the continued union of the church with the con 
stitution of the country. 




1. The phrase " Church and State." 2. The argument from utility ge 
nerally. 3. The general doctrine. 418. Argument for the ob 
ligation hereby incumbent on Governors as men. 1 921. Argument 
for the obligation incumbent on the Nation as a person, to profess 
a religion. 22. And to propagate it. 23 27. For the voluntary prin 
ciple is insufficient. 2831. And the State may have the means 
of giving pecuniary aid. 32 41. And has other extrinsic means. 
42 47. And has intrinsic competency. 48 53. And adequate in 
ducements. 54 62. Especially when we arrive at the Church. 63. 
66. Which should be established singly by her Members. 67. The 
result of Establishment arises in natural order. 6871. Danger and 
evil otherwise accruing. 7277. Duty limited to the use of due means. 
78. The argument summed up. 7986. Applied. 

1. THE phrase of " Church and State," so familiar to our 
mouths, has been adopted in the present day as a watch 
word by a great political combination, which is un 
justly dealt with when it is called a party, because it 
comprehends men of many parties, united not from un 
faithfulness to their peculiar principles, but from fall 
ing back in the movement of events upon those which 
they hold in common. Doubtless many of those who 
use the motto have well considered its meaning, and yet 
that is not a matter of narrow compass, obvious to the 
eye upon a superficial view, but a deep fundamental 
truth of human society, nay, more, of human nature, 


prolific of results alike affecting individual character 
and public institutions, so that it may be within the 
bounds of truth to believe that, however sincere in al 
most all cases, however intelligent in many, those may 
be who are now contending throughout all ranks for 
the maintenance of the union between church and state, 
yet the phrase is, to most among them, no more than 
the index of an hereditary or personal attachment, most 
valuable in itself, but greatly needing, and capable of 
effectually receiving, the (as it were) extrinsic support 
of distinct intellectual conviction. 

2. It is not a repetition of the arguments of Bishop 
Warburton that is here intended, or a mere exhibition, 
in any form, of the uses of this connection. Protection 
received on the one hand, and obedience inculcated on 
the other 3 are facts in themselves which I, at least, am 
not about to deny, and they undoubtedly manifest an 
interchange of benefits, such as should tend to support 
the credit of the alliance itself. But in our period the 
uses are questioned and denied, and it is necessary that 
we fall back upon the examination of its rights. No 
theory upon a subject essentially ethical, Avhich has 
reference to results alone, will be found sufficient in the 
day of trouble. It may be that the same proposition is 
applicable to theories founded upon causes alone. The 
fact is, that the all-wise God has given us evidence 
enough to support our convictions, but not too much; a 
strength according to our need, but not beyond it. Had 
questions of the deepest interest been so palpably and 
undeniably plain as to need no extrinsic support, i'aith 


could not have been tried ; while, had those extrinsic 
props been wanting, it could not have survived the 
trial. We cannot then afford to dispense with any 
class of confirmatory arguments and evidence tending 
to uphold our practical principles ; but we must travel 
both backwards into the region of causes, and forwards 
into the region of results, in order to do them and our 
own consciences full justice in the time of need. 

3. Under this complex view, then, let us proceed to 
declare, as follows, the general doctrine which is em 
bodied, as respects our own case, in the phrase " Church 
and State." That in national societies of men generally 
the governing body should, in its capacity as such, pro 
fess and maintain a religion according to its conscience, 
both as being composed of individuals who have indivi 
dual responsibilities to discharge and individual pur- 
puses to fulfil, and as being itself, collectively, the seat 
of a national personality, with national responsibilities 
to discharge, and national purposes to fulfil : that it 
must have the extrinsic, and, in proportion as it is a 
good government, will have the intrinsic, qualifications 
for professing and maintaining such religion : that re 
ligion offers sufficient inducements to such a policy : 
that as, in respect of its extension, it should, for the 
benefit of the state, be the greatest possible, and we are 
therefore bound to show, in considering the above-men 
tioned national purposes, that the direct aid of the state 
promotes that extension ; so, in respect of its quality, it 
should be the purest possible, that is to say, should be 
the Catholic Church of Christ : that such adoption by 


the state follows in the way of natural order upon the 
general prevalence of a religion in the community : that 
the means should be appropriate, and such as are au 
thorised by the rules both of the religion and of the 

4. Let us now proceed to explain and support the parts 
of the foregoing statement. First, that there should be 
a profession and maintenance of religion by the govern 
ing body. By its profession is meant the observance 
of its ordinances, on the part of those who compose that 
body, throughout their acts done in that particular ca 
pacity ; by its maintenance, the upholding of its insti 
tutions through the instrumentality of influence and 
pecuniary support, in proportion as they may be at its 
disposal, with the ultimate view of offering that religion 
to every individual within the nation. 

5. But it is generally, and not universally, that we are 
to plead for the literal fulfilment of this duty. All com 
munities do not exhibit a natural growth, and the rela 
tions of governor and governed may exist under some 
partial convention, which precludes the immediate and 
full development of all the functions which belong to 
them as a general rule. For example in Saxony the 
royal family is Roman Catholic, the nation Lutheran : 
in British India, a small number of persons, advanced 
to a higher grade of civilization, exercise the powers of 
government over an immensely greater number of less 
cultivated persons, not by coercion, but under free sti 
pulation with the governed. Now the rights of a go 
vernment, in circumstances thus peculiar, obviously 


depend neither upon the unrestricted theory of paternal, 
principles, nor upon any primordial or fictitious contract 
of indefinite powers, but upon an express and known 
treaty, matter of positive agreement, not of natural or 
dinance. It would be an absurd exaggeration to main 
tain it as the part of such a government as that of the 
British in India to bring home to the door of every 
subject at once the ministrations of a new and totally 
unknown religion : yet even here the general obliga 
tion to advance the well-being of the governed subsists 
in all its force; there must, therefore, be the desire 
and the endeavour to propose and propagate Chris 
tianity to an extent only limited by the degree in which 
the people are found willing to receive it ; and the 
denial of this obligation is an error far more pernicious 
than even the attempt to precipitate its fulfilment. 

6. Why, then, we now come to ask, should the go 
verning body in a state profess a religion ? First, be 
cause it is composed of individual men ; and they, being 
appointed to act in a definite moral capacity, must sanc 
tify their acts done in that capacity by the offices of 
religion ; inasmuch as the acts cannot otherwise be 
acceptable to God, or anything but sinful and punish 
able in themselves. And whenever we turn our face 
away from God in our conduct, we are living atheisti- 
cally. It is the deliberate avowal of the principle of 
turning away from him, of living (( without God in the 
world," which constitutes atheism in its ordinary, though 
not its strict, signification. This was the atheism of 
Lucretius, and his is pre-eminently an atheistic sect : 


" Omnis enira per se Divum natura necesse est 
Immortal! sevo summa cum pace fruatur, 
Semota ab nostris rebus, sejunctaque longe."* 

He does not forbid men to pay acts of worship, but he 
says, " Avoid referring the facts of the world to divine 

government," or else (in his too beautiful language), 

" Nee delubra Deutn placido cum pectore adibis ; 
Nee, de corpore quse sancto simulacra feruntur, 
In mentes hominum divinae nuntia formoe, 
Suscipere haec animi tranquilla pace valebis."t 

It is, therefore, the recognition of actual relations 
between God and man that saves us from atheism, and 
not an abstract acknowledgment of His existence. 

7. It is most important to stop for a moment and re 
flect that, while on Christian principles we are com 
manded to discharge our social duties " as unto the 
Lord " and not to man, so, even in the view of rational 
ism, we must ever bear in mind that, whatever be the 
functions, whatever the external circumstances, of each 
particular person, he has a nature and a law within him, 
which protest against being absorbed and lost in the 
external energies required by those functions ; which 
claim to rule over him and to direct the paramount 
conditions of his life ; and by the supersession of which 
he surrenders his human birthright and patrimony, the 
inward and central freedom of his being, and becomes 
but as a captive, chained, though it may be to a tri 
umphal car. 

8. There is a striking and almost an indignant re 
monstrance on this subject contained in an oration which 

* Lucr. I. 57. f L cr - VI. 74. 


was recently delivered by Mr. Emerson, an American, 
at an American Cambridge.* He says, " There is one 
man present to all particular men only partially or 
through one faculty." "The individual, to possess him 
self, must sometimes return from his own labour to em 
brace all the other labourers." " The planter, who is 
man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom 
cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. 
He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, 
and sinks into the farmer, instead of man on the farm." 
And so it is with us, that he who holds offices of public 
trust runs a thousand hazards of sinking into a party- 
man, instead of man employing party for its uses 
into a politician, instead of man in politics into 
an administrator, instead of man in administration. 
Upon the observance of a distinction substantially 
analogous to this depend alike the freedom and dignity 
of our being, and that highest result of its highest 
dignity and freedom, its implicit submission to God ; 
for thus only do we keep in view the reflective nature 
of man and the judicial powers with which his con 
science is intrusted. 

9. In fulfilment, then, of his obligations as an indivi 
dual, the statesman must be a worshipping man. But 
his acts are public ; the powers and instruments with 
which he works are public : acting under and by the 
authority of the law, he moves at his word ten thousand 
subject arms; and, because such energies are thus 

* Oration delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Boston. 
James Munro and Co. 1838. 


essentially public and wholly out of the range of mere 
individual agency, they must be sanctified not only by 
the private personal prayers and piety of those who fill 
public situations, but also by public acts of the men 
composing the public body. They must offer prayer 
and praise in their public and collective character, in 
that character wherein they constitute the organ of the 
nation, and wield its collected force. Wherever there 
is a reasoning agency there is a moral duty and a 
responsibility involved in it : the governors are reasoning 
agents for the nation, in their conjoint acts as such. 
And therefore there must be attached to this agency, 
as that without which none of our responsibilities can 
be met, a religion. And this religion must be that of 
the conscience of the governor, or none. He cannot, 
that is, cannot rightly, believe one and profess another. 
It is with profession alone that we are at present con 
cerned. For these reasons, then, the public profession 
of religion ranks among the personal obligations of 
governors as individuals. 

10. Let it not be thought a doctrine belonging to 
Christianity alone, and far less one savouring of fanati 
cism, that the acts of men in their governing capacity 
have need of being sanctified by Divine worship. 
Hear on this the language of Plato : " It will be for 
you, then, as it appears, Timseus, to proceed, when 
you have, according to law, invoked the gods." Ti- 
mseus : " Nay, Socrates, all minds in any degree well 
regulated call upon the Deity at the outset of every 
undertaking, be it small or great : but for us, who are 


about to institute some inquiry into the nature of the 
universe, how it was generated or whether it be eternal 
(Trspi TOU iravrog, y ysyovsv y xai a.yev=s sa-nv), unless we 
be altogether gone astray, it is essential that, addressing 
both gods and goddesses, we should pray that we may 
speak wholly according to their mind, and consistently 
with ourselves." * Government occupies in moral the 
place of TO Tcav in physical science : it requires, if any 
thing can require, the active providence of God, and 
this is a ground, or no circumstances will ever afford a 
ground, for associating with its arduous work the ordi 
nances of religion. 

11. Looking again to the other end of the scale, and 
passing from the most theistical of ancient philosophies 
to that one among modern nations whose public institu 
tions are least so of all wherein Christianity is generally 
professed by the people, the inquirer will derive even 
from the practice of America an attestation of our prin 
ciple, that, viewing governments as made up of human 
beings, there immediately and inevitably arises a neces 
sity for their having a collective worship. The meetings 
of her legislative body are opened with prayer. True 
it is that prayer may be and is offered by ministers 
of the most various and conflicting persuasions : by 
Roman Catholic, Anglo-American, Baptist, Unitarian : 
probably the enumeration has a far wider range in 
principle than even this. We speak not here of the 
abstract consistency or propriety of this heterogeneous 

* Timsous, 8. 


worship : but we highly value the acknowledgment, 
more conspicuous amidst such anomalies, that where 
there is a government there should be a worship, a 

12. We may state the same proposition in a more ge 
neral form, in which it surely must command universal 
assent. Wherever there is power in the universe, that 
power is the property of God, the king of that universe 
his property of right, however for a time withholden or 
abused. Now this property is as it were realised, is 
used according to the will of the owner, when it is used 
for the purposes he has ordained, and in the temper of 
mercy, justice, truth, and faith, which he has taught us. 
But those principles never can be truly, never can be 
permanently, entertained in the human breast, except by 
a continual reference to their source, and the supply of 
the Divine grace. The powers, therefore, that dwell in 
individuals acting as a government, as well as those that 
dwell in individuals acting for themselves, can only be 
secured for right uses by applying to them a religion. 

13. We have thus far considered the obligation of 
governors towards religion in general as signifying some 
recognised and established relations on the part of man 
towards God; but this, without its being intended in 
any degree to intimate that all religions, or even that 
all forms of religion couched under the Christian name, 
are of equal authenticity and value. This 'inquiry be 
longs to a distinct province. If we can show the obli 
gations of men to religion, much more shall we here 
after be able to show the obligation of Christians to 



Christianity, of Catholic Christians to the church ; and 
we do not weaken hut strengthen the argument hy 
proving how wide is the extent of its applicability. 
That argument is, that, according to the true and best 
theory of politics, individual persons charged with the 
functions of government are unable to fulfil them, 
according to the degree of light within their own con 
sciences, without professing a religion such as is ac 
cording to that light, and countenancing it by such 
means as they constitutionally possess ; that the prin 
ciple of an established religion is a natural and legi 
timate consequence of the mere fact of government, 
however defective the idea of religion entertained by 
the governors. 

14. It is true that the religion of the state will then in 
many cases be far from perfect, but its faultiness will 
belong to the original process by which the particular 
view on which it rests was attained, not to the obli 
gation of governors as such to uphold it. When we 
see the professors of a false creed indifferent to its pro 
pagation, although we may bless God for the result, 
we cannot but regard the fact as aggravating the case 
of the holders of such creed. The fault lies in the 
creed, not in the propagation, although it be continued 
and transmitted through it. It does not arise between 
the premises and the conclusion, but we are to look 
for it in the premises themselves. It is the fault of 
the materials, not of the structure ; and the way to 
amend it is, not by repudiating the principle of a 
national religion, but by endeavouring to recast that 


religion according to the laws of truth ; to change not 
its nationality, which is an accident, but its error, which 
is of the essence. 

15. Probable evidence, be it remembered, is binding 
upon us as well as demonstrative ; nay, it constitutes the 
greatest portion of the subject-matter of duty ; and so a 
dim view of religious truth entails an obligation to follow 
it as real and valid as that which results from a clear and 
full comprehension ; as real and valid, although it be true 
that different degrees of guilt are incurred by the disre 
gard of the one or the other. So, if I find a purse, which 
I conjecture belongs to my neighbour, I am as truly bound 
it is as legitimate a part of my moral duty to take 
it to him and ascertain the fact, as it would be at once 
to restore it if I absolutely knew him to be the owner ; 
and yet the sin of withholding it would vary according 
to the degree of probability in the evidence. Now this 
law holds good as well with regard to a partial as to 
an ambiguous view of truth : and thus a more limited 
perception of religion still leaves a case of obligation 
to profess and promote it, while any substantial pro 
position continues to be believed : just as, if our appre 
hension of the Divine will be indistinct and uncertain, 
we are nevertheless bound to follow it so long as a 
reasonable balance of probability remains in favour of 
the reality of our impressions. There is a close ana 
logy between the two cases ; in both there is a fraction 
or residue of truth, which residue we are bound to 

16. And here we may meet the objection which is 

D 2 


often urged in a startling form. " Then, if it be the 
duty of a Christian government to advance Christianity, 
it is the duty of a Mahometan government to advance 
Mahometanism." Now let us take a distinction. 
There are men even among us who view religion, and 
especially state religion, as a deceit intended to tame 
and subdue the people. It is to be feared that among 
Mahometans this is more extensively the case. I do 
not say that such a class of men are bound to propagate 
religion : but this I do not scruple to affirm, that, if a 
Mahometan conscientiously believes his religion to 
come from God and to teach Divine truth, he must 
believe that truth to be beneficial, and beneficial be 
yond all other things, to the soul of man ; and he must, 
therefore, and ought to. desire its extension, and to 
use for its extension all proper and legitimate means : 
and that, if such a Mahometan be a prince, he ought 
to count among those means the application of what 
ever influence or funds he may lawfully have at his 
disposal for such purposes. 

17. For suppose but a moment that the truth he holds 
to be revealed is the unity of God. I say that the 
sight of this portion of religious truth entails the obli 
gation to pursue it. Nay further : that the errors 
which he holds along with it are errors which he sees 
as truths ; that as such he is bound upon his own prin 
ciples to seek their propagation ; and that, if he does 
so, the fault lies in the original conception, in the 
manner by which he came to conviction, and not in the 
acting upon that conviction, supposing it fully formed : 


whereas, if he does not so, then he betrays what he 
believes falsely to be truth, as much as we by the like 
conduct should betray what we believe truly and know 
to be truth, and our view being confined simply to 
the fact of convictions of equal strength in similar 
subject-matter entailing the same obligation upon the 
individuals entertaining them the fault in both cases 
would be the same. 

18. Nor is it necessary here to enter into any detail 
upon the formal origin of political power. It is equally 
the property of God ; men are equally bound to sanctify 
it, whether it be derived to the governors immediately 
or through the people. Where the government is demo 
cratic, and the majority are of a given religion, the prin 
ciple above stated will apply. Where government is 
founded on paternal principles, and the fiction of popular 
sovereignty is discountenanced, there the function of 
choice in the legislature is still more apparent. The 
latter case is that of our own country. But if there be 
those who would class it with the former, still the na 
tional estate of religion (for we are not yet concerned 
with it as the church) represents in its present form 
the religion of the majority of the people, and it is their 
duty to sustain it in its position. 

19. Thus far on the personality and consequent religi 
ous responsibilities of the men who compose a governing 
body : but there is also a real and not merely supposi 
titious personality of nations, which entails likewise its 
own religious responsibilities. The plainest exposition 
of national personality is this that the nation fulfils the 


great conditions of a person : namely, that it has unity 
of acting, and unity of suffering ; with the difference that 
what is physically single in the one, is joint, or morally 
single, in the other. National influences form much of 
our individual characters. National rewards and punish 
ments, whether by direct or circuitous visitation, in 
fluence and modify the individuals who form the mass. 
National will and agency are indisputably one, binding 
either a dissentient minority, or the subject body, in a 
manner that nothing but the recognition of the doctrine 
of national personality can j ustify . National honour and 
good faith are words in every one's mouth. How do they 
less imply a personality in nations than the duty towards 
God for which we now contend ? They are strictly and 
essentially distinct from the honour and good faith of 
the individuals composing the nation. France is a 
person to us, and we to her. A wilful injury done to 
her is a moral act, and a moral act quite distinct from 
the act of all the individuals composing the nation. 

20. Upon broad facts like these we may rest, without 
resorting to the more technical proof which the laws 
afford in their manner of dealing with corporations. 
If then a nation have unity of will, have pervading 
sympathies, have the capability of reward and suffering 
contingent upon its acts, shall we deny its responsibility ; 
its need of a religion in order to meet that responsi 
bility? Of that religion of grace, by which alone 
human responsibilities can be met ? If these or any of 
them be denied, let it be shown us what broader or 
surer basis can be laid for them in the case of an indi- 


vidual, or how the responsibility of an individual, and 
with it his consequent need of the grace of Christ, 
can be proved either from his constitution or from 
experience, without at the same time showing, even 
though implicitly and unawares, that the case of a 
nation or combination of individuals is analogous, and 
that they have, with the same liability, the same neces 
sity. A nation then having a personality lies under 
the obligation, like the individuals composing its go 
verning body, of sanctifying the acts of that personality 
by the offices of religion, and thus we have a new and 
imperative ground for the existence of a state religion. 
21. But, it may be asked, is not this demand satisfied 
by the piety of private persons ? NOAV all private per 
sons are not pious, and never have been so ; and it would 
be enough to say in reply, our poverty cannot dispense 
with any of either the private or the collective acts of 
religion which appertain to a state and to its mem 
bers. But more. There are qualities in a combina 
tion which arise out of the union of its parts, and are 
not to be found in the parts taken singly when resolved 
into their separate state. Such a combination we find 
in the government and laws of a country : not a 
mere aggregation of individual acts, but a composite 
agency of many, each of whose separate efforts in part 
modifies, in part is blended with, the rest, and issues 
in a result which is the act of the nation in its col 
lective personality. It is this composite agency 
which, as it has a being, should also, in virtue of 
that very circumstance, have a worship of its own. 


[CHAP. ii. 

The acts of the national personality are those of the 
governing body, which is the organ of that personality ; 
and the religion which is to sanctify it must be a reli 
gion of the governing body, which we have already 
once deduced from the responsibilities of the men 
composing it, as individuals, and which we now once 
more infer as the natural attendant upon all agency 
which is truly national. 

22. But, it may be said, it is one thing for a govern 
ment to solemnise its own public acts by the ordinances of 
religion, and it is another to press them upon the people. 
Is not its own duty discharged by doing all things in 
the spirit and with the celebration of prayer ? and why 
should it apply the national means to the active pro 
pagation of its religion among the people ? Why, 
more especially when religious opinions are divided, 
should the government, by allying itself with one of 
their forms, alienate from itself the rest, at least to the 
extent of adding to its general and secular character 
something to which they cannot feel attached ? Ad 
mitting the value of religion to the nation, is this the 
proper method for its advancement ? 

23. In answer to this question, we propose to show 
that, while the efforts of individuals are and have been 
insufficient to produce and perpetuate the requisite ex 
tension of religion of any kind through the nation, 
the government has, by the constitution of a well- 
ordered state, the means ; by its own composition, the 
qualifications ; by its ends and purposes, the induce 
ments, to propagate religion according to its conscience, 


first, for those who cannot afford to supply it for them 
selves ; next, for those who are disinclined to do so ; 
and lastly, as holding up a model for all. 

24. Now, of all the parts of this subject, probably 
none have been so thoroughly wrought out as the insuffi 
ciency of what is termed the voluntary principle. It 
has been shown that, while demand under the circum 
stances of modern society commonly creates supply, and 
while therefore it is needless to use adventitious means 
in order to provide any commodity or good for which 
there is a natural desire, in the case of religion the 
desire is least when the want is greatest, and those who 
are most indifferent upon the subject require to be most 
solicited by the public institutions of religion, not less 
for the welfare of the state than for the salvation of 
their own souls. It has also been unanswerably shown, 
that there are very large portions of the community 
whose temporal means are insufficient to enable them 
to bear the expense of religious establishments : and 
perhaps no one, who looks at the competition for em 
ployment in an old and thickly-peopled country, will 
be of any other opinion than that such inability is 
likely to continue. And those who are at first merely 
unable to pay will, if neglected, in no long course of 
time, acid to inability unwillingness. 

25. The next step in the argument is, to point to the 
actual amount of voluntary exertion, and to require 
from the adversary, as we fairly may, the acknowledg 
ment of its total insufficiency. On this subject no 
details need be adduced. It is admitted on all hands 


that the religious provision of our town population is 
lamentably scanty. The conclusion is yet more ine 
vitable if we observe the internal workings of all that 
sectarian machinery which depends upon the voluntary 
principle, for we find that its general law is to provide 
for those who can pay for the provision, but that its 
whole structure is such as to leave no room for the 
argument that the agency of government paralyses its 
exertions ; inasmuch as it evidently does not contem 
plate or tend towards supplying on a large scale the 
wants of the poor, leaving for them a decent margin as 
a subsidiary appendage, but applying its main efforts 
merely towards organising a system, of which value 
received shall be the law, and in which the wine and 
the milk are to be bought with money and with price *. 
In quality too, as well as in quantity, the radical defects 
of the voluntary system might be shown. 

26. Perhaps, however, there has been something of san 
guine overstatement by the advocates of establishments, 
when they have magnified the efhcacy of government 
aid in opposition to the feebleness of isolated individual 
exertions. The truth seems to be, that we require both. 
The tithe system of Europe arose, it can hardly be 
doubted, not according to either of the extreme opi 
nions which have been held respecting it, but from the 
combined action of public law and private will. We 
want in this day a similar concurrence. The assist 
ance of the state should be so given as to stimulate the 
benevolence of individuals, not to supersede it ; as the 

* Isaiah Iv. 1 . 


national personality and responsibilities do not super 
sede the personality and responsibilities of individuals. 

27. There is another short argument for the interposi 
tion of government, which we cannot forbear to mention, 
though without placing more than a qualified reliance 
on its validity. It has been amply shown, particularly 
in the Scotch controversy, that the best method of giving 
an universal application to religious influences is by a 
territorial division of the country into manageable dis 
tricts, within each of which a minister of religion shall 
be responsible for at least offering to the whole people 
the ordinances of the church, and where he is vigilantly 
to avail himself of all the opportunities of influence 
which his position and the contingencies of life afford. 
Now, such territorial division, as investing a minister of 
religion with an authorised character, and empowering 
him to solicit with effect the general population of a 
district, can hardly be carried into full effect except by 
the aid and the power of a government. 

28. As respects the competency of government to 
assist in filling up the void which has been assumed to 
exist, let us consider it first in reference to the posses 
sion of external means. Upon this head there can be 
little doubt. Let us look to pecuniary support as the 
first of these. There may be particular constitutions 
which limit the rights of government, by excepting 
from its province certain particular purposes, of which 
one may be, the advancement of religion by devoting 
thereto the money of the state, the increase with which 
God has blessed the people. In such cases government 


is undoubtedly crippled and restrained under positive 
compact. But its general duty, as independent of the 
fixed compact, is this : to advance the well-being of the 
people by all means, which, tending to that object, are 
likewise such as government may not be intrinsically 
incompetent to employ. If, therefore, we shall here 
after show that there are great purposes of government 
which religion effectually serves, there will be no doubt 
that government has constitutionally the right to pro 
mote it by pecuniary means. 

29. There is, indeed, an opinion sometimes held, that 
the consecration of funds by states to the support of reli 
gion, does not promote religion. Such an opinion is the 
very acme of paradox, and is contradicted by the nearly 
universal practice of mankind. For endowments of 
every kind, and of infinite variety in amount as well as 
in form, have prevailed from the days of Abraham (at 
least) until our own, among Pagans and Christians, in 
sects and in the church. Singularly enough, it is main 
tained by Romanists and Dissenters in the United 
Kingdom, where state assistance is not accessible to 
them : but it is utterly contravened by their practice in 
our colonies wherever they have an option ; nor is 
there, I believe, a single case in which they have de 
clined a proffer of aid. 

30. We are to observe, that the objections to a state 
religion, grounded on the abuse connected with the 
control of endowments, are not levelled, by those who 
use them, at endowments in general, but at state endow 
ments in particular. But, upon looking coolly at the 


question, we find that the abuses themselves attach to 
the practice of endowment in general, not to that of 
state endowment in particular. Undoubtedly, wher 
ever there is considerable property devoted to a parti 
cular purpose, it holds out temptation to worldly men 
to step in, with a view of enjoying the property and 
neglecting the purpose. But this temptation exists in 
full force, whether that property have been so dedi 
cated by an individual or by the state. Rather, indeed, 
the argument herefrom is in favour of national esta 
blishments : because the state has much better means, 
by its own perpetuity, of securing the permanent admi 
nistration of its gifts from abuse, and of enforcing respon 
sibility, than the individual who dies and is forgotten, 
or at least more imperfectly and feebly represented in 
his descendants. Nor is this merely speculation. Can 
the world supply a case of funds more purely and 
effectively applied in support of an ecclesiastical system, 
than that of the Scotch church ? a case where more 
results are produced from equal means, absolutely or 
proportionably ? a case where less of evil motive or 
conduct mingles in the system of management? 
And yet not only is this a state church, but one in 
which the government directly exercises an immense 

31. Indeed, upon a general survey, I do not see the 
slightest ground for maintaining that, of two churches 
equally endowed, one acknowledged and aided by the 
state, and the other deriving equivalent revenues from 
private sources, the latter will, cceterisparibus, be purer 


as a religious society than the former. If we compare 
the Roman Catholic religion as professed in Ireland 
with the same religion on the Continent, we are testing 
the argument at a disadvantage ; because in Ireland it 
is an unendowed as well as an unestablished church ; 
and yet I do not think any inference can be drawn un 
favourable to the above positions. Doubtless, it remains 
to the adversary to contest the expediency of endow 
ment, and to maintain that the church ought to live 
only from day to day ; although he would do so in the 
face of all precept and practice, with such exceptions as 
scarcely break the uniformity of the rule. It is manifest 
that he would thus get over the temptations afforded by 
endowment to indolent persons ; but it is far from being 
equally clear that he would exclude a yet more danger 
ous class, of those, namely, who speak to the passions, and 
the fancies, and the prepossessions of men, and who not 
merely neglect, but positively pervert, the truth of God. 
It is needless, however, to discuss at length a proposi 
tion which perhaps no party seriously maintains. 

32. But there are other respects, besides the command 
of extensive funds, in which the state, as such, appears 
naturally to possess powerful means of increasing the 
influence of religion. 

The question that naturally suggests itself upon the 
manifestation of an intention, in the providence of God, 
for universalising the application of religion, is, what 
would be the machinery best calculated to carry it out ? 
Obviously, if it could be so carried out, sin and sorrow 
are at an end, and the will of God is again enthroned 


and acknowledged in all the workings of an obedient 
creation. Obviously, too, its full and permanent effectu 
ation is a difficult, and has hitherto been found an im 
practicable, task. For how, as long as the mass of men 
are in juxtaposition with evil as a body, should they fail 
to be tainted by it, and how should its elasticity and self- 
propagation prove, among such materials, less powerful 
over a kindred nature, than the operation of the an 
tagonist principle over an adverse one ? The Divine 
Spirit alone could maintain the truth of Christianity in 
the world from hour to hour. Without Him it would 
have passed away, like primitive revelation from the 
greater part of the descendants of Noah. Still He 
works with human means. Human means seem in 
sufficient for the whole of His work, even when they 
have received from him a capability for advancing it; 
but never does He fail to use that capability where it 

33. Now, when men wish to give to a language every 
chance of perpetuation, what course do they pursue? 
They associate it with public law, with judicial plead 
ing, with the authentic acts of the body politic. As, 
on the other hand, if the object be its extinction, they 
studiously exclude it from all these. Not the adoption 
of either the one or the other set of measures guarantees 
the attainment of the end. But they are respectively in 
the nature of means towards it ; and likely to reach it, if 
it be attainable at all. And so, if the purpose be to per 
petuate or abolish a custom ; or to imprint permanently, 
or erase thoroughly, any mark from the face of human 


character taken in the mass, the same course is pur 
sued. The power of public law, and the moral influ 
ence of public authority over men, in respect of their 
social sympathies, and their sense of honour and shame, 
as well as grosser motives, are brought to bear as the 
probable and prudential means of arriving at the pro 
posed object. 

34. And with j ustice because the minds of individuals 
are variable and uncertain; that is, of by much the 
greater number of individuals. A part of their inclin 
ations set one way, and at a given time prevail : ano 
ther part set in the opposite direction, and they too 
have their season of superiority. But when in some 
general practice or law, which stands for an expression 
of sovereign will, corroborated by the testimony of pub 
lic concurrence, there is embodied some influence which 
favours the one and obstructs the other of these drifting 
tides; this, while it secures for the sympathetic principle 
free scope and action under its own shelter, likewise 
stands as a fixed barrier against the antagonist principle 
in its alternate predominance ; so that, for the most 
part, it is fully able, between two conflicting tendencies, 
to cast the balance, ultimately and permanently, in 
favour of that which harmonises with itself. 

35. We are all, in a greater or a less degree, the crea 
tures of sympathy, and the general authority of a public 
law and sanction is a fact that cannot be doubted. It 
lies deep in our nature, as does the principle of which 
it is an individual manifestation; namely, that man, 
gregarious as an animal, is, in a more comprehensive 


sense, as a being, social. Quod autem socmlem volunt 
esse vitam sapientis, says St. Augustine, muUo magis 
approbamus. Man is open to the influence of opinion 
from those around him, and the more so as the pressure 
of that opinion is either proximate, or rendered powerful 
by the number or weight of those who concur in it, 
or by the form of its expression. Now public law, ge 
nerally speaking, has all these advantages ; espe 
cially if it has, as in the case before us, great antiquity 
on its side. And we speak studiously of those powers 
only which it exercises through the medium of opinion, 
avoiding, as wholly irrelevant to the matter, the phy 
sical force which may be exercised in its proper place, 
but there alone. 

36. Not only, however, has public law an advantage in 
its fixity, for confirming and perpetuating the hold once 
taken by a principle upon the mind of a people ; but by 
other means too does it operate in the same direction. 
It operates upon the cold calculating and worldly- 
minded man, who will support a good law to avert the 
confusion from which he thinks his interest will suffer, 
as he would support a bad one which appeared likely 
to have the same effect. It operates upon the timid 
who are friendly, enabling them to do what, in fact, 
they wish, without the shame or the sense of affectation, 
by casting the balance of opinion in their favour. It 
operates upon men in general through the sentiments of 
loyalty and patriotism, because whatever is compre 
hended in the great outlines of the institutions of the 
country becomes a part of the proper object of those 
sentiments. It operates even upon the most hostile, not 



only by arraying substantial strength in favour of what 
they oppugn, but by showing, under ordinary circum 
stances, such a presumable amount of that strength, 
as either to render active proceedings useless, or at 
least greatly to fetter and retard them. 

37. In truth, national organization is evidently of divine 
appointment, as growing out of the primary necessities 
and impulses of our nature, and tending to its highest 
developments : yivofjisvri fjtJsy rot) tfiv evsxsv, outra %e rou 
sv ffiv *. Nations are the families into which the hu 
man race has what may be termed its primary distri 
bution. The rulers of nations are as the heads of 
families ; whether the power be less or more restricted, 
its essence is akin to that of the corresponding station 
in the smaller society. The power of the rulers and 
ruling institutions in a nation (and in the division 
between these two let as large a space as is possible be 
given to the latter) is as real, over practice and opinion, 
through the medium of opinion, as is that of parents ; 
setting aside for the moment, in both cases, all resort 
to coercive authority. 

38. Thus have we striven to show that there is in law 
and government a capacity to give universality and sta 
bility to the effect of great principles in general, which 
individual agencies, and those of smaller organized 
bodies, possess in an inferior degree ; and that conse 
quently, under ordinary circumstances, when the latter 
fail, the former may succeed. But where the former 
fail, the case remains hopeless. It must always be 
borne in mind, that we speak of principles which do 

* Arist. Pol., I. c. 2. 


not come self-recommended and acceptable, at first 
sight, to our natural propensities ; those undoubtedly 
will maintain themselves in individuals without the aid 
of law; and will even work themselves up through 
individual minds to such a degree of power as to alter 
or violently overthrow the law. But if nature be on 
the whole adverse ; if time be required for the operation 
of the influences which are to counteract that hostility ; 
then, if we cannot universalise and establish a prin 
ciple by the aid of the law, a fortiori we cannot do so 
without it. 

39. The application to religion is obvious ; it is alien 
to our natural inclinations, and teaches us to deny them ; 
it comes to our carnal view discredited by (apparently 
though not really) teaching us to part with enjoyments 
that we have, in the hope of obtaining others that we 
do not see, and have not yet acquired the capacity to 
appreciate ; it urgently needs all the assistance of au 
thoritative opinion and example, to keep men within 
the range and reach of that voice of the church which 
conveys the promise of divine grace, and which may mol 
lify and awaken them. But in order to raise a set of 
prepossessions favourable to religion, in order rather to 
create influences which may neutralise and repress the 
prepossessions of nature unfavourable to religion, we 
require to bring to bear upon men every secondary in 
strument which is legitimate in its mode of operation ; 
and the uppermost of all these, that which combines, em 
bodies, and (so to speak) perpetuates the rest, is the 
influence of fixed law. 


40. It will however be asked, by way of objection, how 
then did Christianity find its way up to thrones, and 
establish and incorporate itself in systems of law ? The 
answer is this it arrived at the summits of society by 
the miraculous impulses of its original propagation, 
whose vibrations had been measured, no doubt, with 
reference to the space they were to traverse, and did not 
exhaust themselves till they had reached the farthest 
point to which they were destined. The unity and the 
orthodoxy of the faith subsisted in its fulness during that 
period. But if the vigour of Christianity in its best 
days aimed at the places of human authority as afford 
ing a vantage ground for the church, and attained them ; 
and if after attaining them her heavenly powers shall 
be found in the allotted time too weak to leaven the 
whole mass, or to secure their own predominance there ; 
then, in their fall from that elevation, the decriers of 
national religion may indeed obtain a triumph for 
themselves, but it will be one full of melancholy de 
monstrations, and yet more melancholy forebodings re 
garding the religious condition of the world. 

41. So much for the power of law and government, 
extrinsically considered, to be instrumental in the pro 
mulgation of religion. The questions of their intrinsic 
competency, and of the sufficiency of the inducements 
which religion offers to the state, must be considered and 
proved, in order to demonstrate the obligation which we 
have affirmed to lie upon the framers and administrators 
of public institutions. Let us next take the question of 
intei-nal competency. 


42. The argument which proves 'that government 
ought to profess a religion, does not of necessity prove 
that the propagation also of that religion is obligatory 
upon it. Because a man possesses the external means of 
promoting an object, as for example wealth and influ 
ence, it does not follow that he ought to set about it, or 
even to select those who shall set about it, or to lay down 
rules for their selection, if he have not the internal qua 
lifications of mind which will enable him rightly to dis 
charge that office ; but if he have these internal along with 
those external qualifications, then the case is complete, 
and we read his duty in the simple possession of them, 
just as the anatomist infers from the structure of the 
teeth or the digestive organs in man, and in the inferior 
animals, by what kind of food they were providentially 
ordained to be supported. Now the right of pre-emi 
nence, as Burke has observed, essentially resides in 
talent and virtue, not in a limited but in the largest ac 
ceptation of the words ; in talent, having reference to 
men as well as things, to practice as well as study ; in 
virtue of a personal kind, or according to a social 
standard ; but most of all, and with a transcendent 
sense, in that which flows out of religious principles of 
God's appointment. These qualities are found to per 
vade the masses of men in very varying degrees. 
Wherever there is a tendency towards equalization of 
talent and virtue, the relation of governor to governed 
should become one regulated more by opinion, and less 
by coercion. But there always has been inequality 
enough to make it obvious that some men are better 


fitted to command than others, and therefore that their 
being in places of authority is a benefit not merely to 
themselves, which is a secondary question, but to the 
community at large. 

43. We have seen, then, that there are in governments 
generally certain external means of a nature calculated 
for the propagation of religion. We have seen that the 
mere possession of those external means is not enough 
to prove the obligation, unless there be in governments 
intrinsically a competency of character such as shall 
enable them to use those means aright and effectually 
for their purpose. Further, we find that there are dis 
persed through the mass of the nation men so far en 
dowed with abilities superior to the average, that they 
are by nature marked out as qualified to lead in civil 
society, and to discharge political functions. Now if 
there be a tendency in the institutions of a country to 
draw such men to such duties, then surely we find in 
the governors a competency to choose in matter of reli 
gion better than the average of the people will do it for 
themselves, and, commensurate exactly with that supe 
riority, an obligation to exercise that choice, and, as it 
were, advise the people to accept and follow that reli 
gion which the governing body has adopted as the best. 

44. I do not say that individual convictions in an op 
posite direction are to give way to such an influence, or 
to follow the patronage of the government, but simply 
this, that if the judgment of the legislature be upon the 
average better qualified to find and attest the truth in 
such a matter than that of the people, then, to that very 


same extent, it is entitled and therefore bound to be the 
instructor of the people. And I think this may be 
proved almost from the mouth of the opponent ; for he 
will surely admit that in a case where the people are 
wholly uninstructed, and the government emanates from 
the bosom of a Christian and an enlightened nation, this 
duty of instruction exists. Now suppose the people 
advanced nearer to the government in point of intelli 
gence by one or by several degrees, surely the previous 
obligation has not therefore terminated. It may have 
undergone modification in proportion to the growing 
competency, and, as it were, manhood of the commu 
nity, in respect of religion ; but it must still exist, and 
can only cease and determine at the time when the mass 
of the people is equally well qualified to choose with the 
government, or at least when the difference between 
them in point of competency, if any, has become indis 
cernible ; for by the amount of that difference the na 
tion is a gainer in being reminded as it were of the 
purer faith, and thereby, God Avilling, called to it. And 
who shall say that in subject-matter so precious any 
difference, whose reality we have ascertained, can be 
unimportant ? 

45. Now is not every government worthy of its name, 
and valuable to the people over whom it rules, just in 
proportion to the degree in which it gives over and en 
trusts the destinies of the nation to the best and wisest 
of the mind of the nation? The dictates of that mind, 
of the highest abilities, and of the most upright and 
trustworthy characters which the land can boast, are to 


be elicited, and by sound and good institutions are eli 
cited, from the recesses of private life, and the best men 
are adorned with pre-eminence and power * ; or if not 
fitted for administrative duties, still they are watched 
accurately and heard respectfully, and their views, if not 
their voices, are made effective in the construction of 
laws and the direction of policy. Is it meant that this 
high end is universally, or generally, or anywhere per 
fectly attained ? No ; but simply this, that every govern 
ment is good simply in proportion as it attains thereto; 
that if we believe our government to be essentially good, 
it is because it possesses and exhibits this power, and 
that in proportion as our institutions attract into the 
governing body the best wisdom of the nation, they en 
dow it with the capacity, and impose upon it the obli 
gation, so far to choose for the people in matter of reli 
gion, as to propose to them what it has chosen. 

46. If, then, the government be good, let it have its 
natural duties and powers at its command ; but if not 
good, let it be made so. In considering abstract prin 
ciples, we agree, and of necessity, concerning all men 
and things, upon the supposition that they have, taken 
for all in all, a tolerable aptitude for the purposes which 
they are appointed to obtain. Because man has by 
nature such an aptitude for secular objects ; and by 
Christian grace there exists a similar aptitude with re 
ference to religion. We follow therefore the legitimate 

* This accordingly is commonly assumed to be the case. See, for ex 
ample, the Speech of Mr. Roebuck on the Criminal Law Mitigation Bills, 
Mayl9, 1837. " We, Sir, are or ought to he the elite of the peopleofEng- 
land for mind : we are at the head of the mind of the people of England." 


course, in looking first for the true $g'a, or abstract con 
ception of a government, of course with allowance for 
the evil and the frailty that are in man, and then in ex 
amining whether there be comprised in that iSea a ca 
pacity and a consequent duty on the part of a government 
to lay down any laws or devote any means for the pur 
poses of religion, in short to exercise a choice upon 

47. But even if we suppose that the government had 
no such superiority, we are still at liberty to argue that it 
is bound to establish a religion. We now return to the 
common ground taken by the advocates of establish 
ments, who have contended that because there are classes 
who cannot, through poverty, and classes who will not, 
through indifference, adopt a religion for themselves, 
therefore the government ought to supply them with 
one ; not forcibly, but by placing it within their reach. 
On this well-travelled argument I do not again enter ; 
but I will add to it this further one, that since the state 
is not to furnish them with any kind of religion indis 
criminately, but with one, and that according to its con 
science, so it should also be considered as holding forth 
to the whole nation this one permament form of truth, 
placing it as it were at the door of every man, and de 
siring to draw other religionists by gentle influences 
away from whatever of error appears to be in their 
schemes, as well as to attract towards religion those 
who are entirely without it 

48. Granting, then, that the state, if it be well ordered, 
is both internally competent, and externally supplied 


with means, to advance religion, it remains to ask, has 
it sufficient inducements ? Are the results of religion 
so material in themselves, and have they such bearings 
upon the proper object of government, as naturally to 
associate the two ? For it has been forcibly argued, as 
for example by Bishop Warburton, that opinions, as 
such, are not within . the proper scope of government, 
the science whereof is wholly conversant with practice, 
and with opinion only as leading towards it ; a quality 
of opinion, however, so common, as greatly to qualify 
the terms in which such an argument can with safety 
and truth be urged. 

49. Now these results are very various in aspect, though 
depending on few principles, and they have been argued 
out by different writers in very different terms. If we set 
aside the personal conscience of the governor, and sup 
pose him a being blank with regard both to feelings and 
to responsibilities, a pure political mind, we shall and will 
viind abundant reasons, of the highest state expediency, 
to show that all forms of religion are not of equal value ; 
and here, in writing of inducements, we find it impos 
sible any longer to handle the subject in general terms, 
because the amount of these inducements varies directly 
with the purity of the religion ; and in the endeavour 
to unfold them, we must gradually arrive at the sum 
mit of our contemplations, which is crowned by the 
Christian Church. It has been contended by Bishop 
Warburton, that civil society is defective by reason of 
its inability to apply the sanction of punishment uni 
formly and certainly, or the sanction of reward at all ; 


and that religion supplies the sanction of reward : there 
fore, he continues, following out his peculiar argument, 
it is necessary for the state to ally itself with the church, 
in order to its own security, and thus to apply in its 
own behalf the hopes and terrors of a future life. 

59. But the argument is surely capable of being stated 
in a much larger form than with reference to the dimi 
nution of crime, and the promotion of good conduct, by 
a distant hope of reward. Religion is the great instru 
ment of making man of forming, moulding, edu 
cating him. In spite of his natural aversion to things 
divine, the religion of a country is ever found by expe 
rience to have a greater influence on its character and 
destinies than any other cause. It is able to operate 
upon men through very many channels, both visible 
and unseen, and it finds its way very far inwards, whe 
ther for good or for evil ; whether positively, by the 
effort required for its acceptance, or negatively, by that 
needed for its utter rejection. Not only therefore by 
the amount of its influences for good, where it is em 
ployed aright, do we measure the state's inducement to 
adopt it ; but by the fearful evils, the terribly disor 
ganising consequences, which follow when it is per 
verted, and the evidence of which is as appropriate a 
motive for the governing body as the acquisition of sub 
stantive advantages. 

51 . Still more specifically may it be shown how Chris 
tian religion contributes to make good subjects ; it is by 
destroying that law of selfwill and selfworship, the 
ancient idol, the great lie of this world, which galls and 


scourges us even until now. The antagonist truth is, 
that our mere will does not constitute a rightful law of 
action, but is always to be led by regard to extrinsic 
grounds of duty, to grounds assuming a thousand ap 
pearances, which are themselves but signs of the su 
preme will, our true and only law. It is by teaching 
man not only his actual poverty, but his moral and 
essential dependence ; by teaching him, that the mere 
fact of his wishing to do this or that does not constitute 
a reason for doing it, unless he can trace that wish up 
to some higher cause or object ; that religion takes away 
the grand principle, as of individual, so likewise of social 
misery and disorder. 

52. Undoubtedly she does not propose to private per 
sons the will of governors, as constituting in all cases a 
law to which they are implicitly to submit ; this were to 
substitute one human idol for another. But she does 
this : she inculcates absolute obedience to all law not sin 
ful, while it continues to be law, as the essential condi 
tion of order in societies. And with respect to the altera 
tion of laws, or the introduction of new ones, she puts 
every individual in a condition to exercise with content 
the functions which the constitution assigns to him, be it 
that of merely expressing his desires, or that of giving 
any suffrage or decision upon the subject matter pro 
posed, because she commands one and all concerned to 
abjure the law of private inclination, and to direct their 
observation to the common reason and justice of the 
case, which all should be, and when they have obeyed 
those injunctions all are, able in a considerable degree 


to appreciate. If it be replied, men do not obey these 
injunctions, it is only equivalent to saying, men are not 
thoroughly penetrated by the influence of religion, and 
this, instead of weakening, only enhances the inducement 
to avail ourselves of every probable and reasonable means 
of bringing them under her more effectual control. 

53. We have, then, these distinct heads, under which 
the efforts of Christianity, in the due development of its 
functions, directly and most powerfully aid the pur 
poses of the state : by proposing more powerful motives 
to do good and avoid evil ; by the general development 
and invigoration of the human faculties ; by removing 
the great obstructions to unity and peace in societies, 
caprice, selfsufficiency, arbitrary will, and predisposing 
the minds of men to submit to reason ; and, we may 
add, by the importance which is given to peace, as a 
distinct substantive object, for which, independently of 
its results, and when considered merely as implying 
the absence of the opposite evils, much ought to be 
sacrificed and endured. 

54. Such as we have described to be the practical de 
velopment of Christianity, is undoubtedly its practical 
development more and more in proportion as it is pro 
fessed and taught according to the will of its Founder. 
That is to say, in the catholic and apostolic church, 
purely administered, we are to anticipate the realiza 
tion of all those results upon character which have been 
described as so beneficial to the state. Let us hear 
Mr. Coleridge on this part of the subject* : " Whatever 

* Church and State, p. 134. 


is beneficent and humanising in the aims, tendencies, 
and proper objects of the state, it " (the church) " col 
lects in itself as in a focus, to radiate them back as in a 
higher quality ; or, to change the metaphor, it completes 
and strengthens the edifice of the state, without inter 
ference or commixture, in the mere act of laying and 
securing its own foundations." 

55. But there is another kind of inducement, besides 
its production of the best moral results at a given time 
which we shall find belonging to the church, and esta 
blishing her claim, independently of any grounds of con 
science, to our preference. Undoubtedly the political 
and general principles, which lead us to the conclusion 
that a religion ought to be established, will likewise 
lead us somewhat farther, and show us that it ought to 
be established along with the best guarantees for its 
permanence that can be obtained. That which the 
ruling powers, which the wisdom and virtue of the 
nation have expressed as the truth of religion, and 
chosen amidst rival and surrounding, but in their judg 
ment inferior, forms, it ought to hedge about with 
fixed institutions and practices, and to embody in per 
manent records, in order that it may not thereafter re 
lapse into one of those inferior forms, and leave the 
people for whose benefit it was designed a loser to the 
extent of that inferiority. 

56. It is the wisdom of man, and especially of the public 
man, placed upon the watch-tower for the advantage of 
his fellows, to look beyond the present, whether of time 
or place, until his eye fails him in the distance, because 


that which is future has as real and as important rela 
tions to us, who are immortal creatures, as any one of 
the moments ticked away within our hearing ; and we 
may observe that even human laws deal with rights not 
yet in operation as having real existence, and as entitled 
to consideration on principles of justice. This truth 
holds not only with reference to our state after death, 
but likewise as respects our span of earthly life : much 
more does it hold of nations, whose future bears a larger 
proportion to their present than that of individuals ; .and 
of men as acting for nations. In all laws and institu 
tions therefore he will esteem their durability a capital 
element, and he will beware of being entrapped into 
the fallacious assumption, that whatever system can upon 
the moment show the greatest amount of activity and 
effect, is, therefore, the one which in the long run will 
give a similar result. In short, the fable of the tortoise 
and the hare is applicable in its moral to institutions as 
well as to individuals. 

57. The fixity which is obtained by laws is inoperative 
and dead, unless there be a corresponding sentiment 
animating the human beings by whose instrumentality 
they are to be carried into execution. But upon the 
other hand that motive principle, which man alone can 
supply, is capable of being incited, assisted, governed, 
and perpetuated by the existence of a fixed extrinsic 
record having all the veracity and authority which can 
attach to any of our acts. The statesman, therefore, if 
for a moment we suppose him in the situation of one 
choosing the modifications under which a national faith 


is to be established, would see that preference is to be 
given to Quakerism over any such forms of Christianity 
as decline to receive the entire word of God and claim 
the right of denying its divinity where it clashes with 
their preconceived opinions ; because there exists in the 
one case, and not in the other, a permanent unchange 
able attestation of the principles professed at one period 
of time, which attestation is in the nature of a security 
for their being preserved at another. 

58. Butfurther. To a form of Christianity like Quaker 
ism he would still, on principles purely political, prefer a 
form like that of Independency, or that adopted by the 
sect of the Baptists ; because, in addition to the volume 
of the revealed word, they adhere to the use of certain 
significant institutions termed sacraments, which, setting 
aside for the time all consideration of their higher uses, 
are witnesses in attestation of the sacred Scriptures, by 
which they also are themselves attested. Again, he would 
prefer to these communions which reject all documents of 
belief formed from the Scriptures, a system like that of 
the established church of Scotland, which, by adopting a 
confession of faith, limits the interpretation of the Scrip 
tures, and tends to fix a belief more definite than that 
which follows all the fluctuations of mere individual or 
traditionary judgment. And lastly, he would again pre 
fer to this the polity of the English church, which super- 
adds to the evidence and guarantees of the Word, of sacra 
ments, of creeds, and of primitive practices, a perpetual 
succession of clergy by whom these have been received, 
as they were delivered, in regular order from hand to 


hand ; and which thus supplies us with a living voice of 
perpetual Avitnesses, in addition to those which are not 
active without a human agency to set them in motion. 

59. Another prudential reason which would induce 
the statesman to prefer a permanent form of religion to 
one of uncertain stability is this that the religious 
system of a country cannot be administered directly by 
the state itself. The universal practice of history, 
unless with the peculiar exception of the papacy, has 
been to separate the functions of civil government from 
those of the priesthood, when society had attained any 
considerable magnitude. The state, therefore, cannot be 
immediately and permanently cognisant of the doctrines 
taught, in the sense of exercising over them that super 
vision from day to day which belongs to ecclesiastical 
superiors. Consequently its relations are formed with 
institutions ; and as teaching is always, though in dif 
ferent degrees, liable to vary and degenerate, it is the 
interest of the state to contract with that which shall 
offer the fairest probability of retaining all the features 
which it had when the contract was made, so as to 
save the necessity of revision and the risk of rupture. 

60. Thus much of permanency. But now of truth, 
which is its foundation. As a statesman believing in 
God (for we have not yet invested our ideal person for 
the purpose of the present argument with the responsi 
bilities of a member of the catholic church) will prefer 
revealed to unrevealed religion, the one coining to him 
as matter of knowledge, the other of conjecture ; or, at 
the least, the one as determinate, the other as undefined ; 



still, on the same principle of theism, he will be bound 
to prefer the entire revelation of God's will, to any 
partial exhibition of it. The two conditions, therefore, 
for which he would naturally look, are all that is 
attainable of truth in the religion itself, and of fixity 
in the institutions for its maintenance and propagation. 
And these conditions meet in the church, attested as 
she is by eighteen hundred years of chequered indeed 
but never interrupted existence. 

61. But the state has this further and very great ad 
vantage in alliance with the visible and perpetual society 
which is appropriately termed the Church of Christ. 
It is most difficult and invidious for governors to select 
any one form of mere opinion as such and endow it, or 
any institution simply preferred because the doctrines 
taught in it are agreeable to the views entertained by 
themselves. The church professes to be an institution 
not deduced by human reason from any general de 
claration of God's will, but actually and (so to speak) 
bodily given by God, founded through his direct inspir 
ation, and regularly transmitted in a divinely appointed 
though human line. The state, therefore, does not here 
propose an opinion of its own for the approbation of 
the people, but a system to which it has itself yielded 
faith and homage, as of divine authority. The differ 
ence is twofold : it is that between inheritance and 
acquisition ; it is that between an attested and a 
conjectural authority from God. 

62. The inducements, of which the enumeration has 
now closed, are all matters intrinsic to the church ; and 


up to this point we have endeavoured to show, that ra 
tional men, entertaining the average belief of men as 
such in a Creator, and serious in it, and being called to 
exercise the functions of government, ought to apply to 
the acts of government the offices of religion, for the 
discharge of their own personal responsibilities before 
God, paramount to all social relations ; and that in 
inquiring, not already under Christian prepossessions, 
what is the best religion for the profession of the state, 
they will, even without taking into view the scope of 
particular doctrines, arrive naturally at the adoption of 
the Christian church. 

63. If, however, the claim of the church be preferable 
for state purposes, it does not seem at once to follow 
that it should be exclusive, as against sects of Chris 
tianity professing to concur in its fundamental doctrines. 
Perhaps, in order to determine this question, we must 
alter our point of view ; and having heretofore looked at 
the question in the position of one who, owning an 
obligation to religion, simply finds his answer to the 
question, " what religion ?" by considering how the broad 
conditions necessary to its efficacy for state purposes 
may best be fulfilled, let us now suppose with Hooker 
that the persons composing the nation are all members 
of the church, that the governors are accordingly mem 
bers of the church : in such case they will not be per 
plexed by being left to determine this great question 
upon calculations of expediency, or by the results of an 
analytical inquiry into the composition of different reli 
gions, claimants for state patronage, in order to decide 



whether there be in them more of truth than of false 
hood, more of virtuous than of vicious tendency. They 
are called to no surrender of truth, to no bewildering 
of the conscience. God has given them a vineyard 
wherein to labour ; and they need not go beyond its 
bounds, for it will afford employment more than enough 
to all the energies they can set in array. 

64. The church, therefore, is the society with which, 
and with which alone, they can consistently form such 
an alliance as has been here described, an alliance, 
more or less, of incorporation. And as they know that 
she will best support the state, so their affectionate 
regard to her as having the stewardship of grace, and 
to Him who is her Head and their Redeemer, will 
supply them with an accumulated strength of persua 
sion and of motive to be diligent in promoting a co 
operation so natural, so needful, and so valuable. If, 
in short, we take up the subject as members of the 
church, we find her not merely a form, a vessel, an 
appendage, but a part of Christianity, revealed as 
one, the doctrine of unity in one society revealed as 
a portion of the living covenant ; and this of course 
precludes us, not indeed from discharging obligations 
incumbent on us as of good faith under any existing 
laws, but from entering into schemes even for the pro 
motion of God's word in any manner coming short 
of that which he has sanctioned arid ordained, so long 
as the means of fulfilling his entire command are 
graciously vouchsafed to us. While the doctrine of 
" one body" is authoritatively declared by Scripture, 


to recognise the Christian religion in separate bodies 
might be to countenance the sin, which lies somewhere, 
though it may be hidden, or may be divided among 
many offending parties, in every such putting asunder 
of what God has united. 

65. Indeed, more general considerations would lead 
us towards the same result, though they might scarcely 
reach it. Some kind of unity is desirable, nay needful. 
Now unity of opinion can never be absolutely ensured, 
and is a question of degree : it would be impossible for 
a government permanently to contract with any set of 
opinions as such, because it could not be competent to 
detect deviations in their subtle and nascent forms, and 
it might only become aware of their existence when 
they were too strong to be corrected and repressed. 
And the name of Christianity affords no security what 
ever for the substantial unity or convergency of the 
doctrines taught. There is, for example, a far wider 
space between Catholic Christianity and Uriitarianism 
(regarded in the abstract), than between Unitarianism 
and the religion of the works of Plato. We might, 
then, argue for the church on principles of reason, as 
offering, in her one communion, the best guarantee of 
that unity which is so important to the state. 

66. Further, if there be between any set of distinct 
religious communions not merely a nominal but a sub 
stantial difference, then the idea of union with more 
than one is fatally at variance with the idea of per 
sonality and responsibility in the government as the 
organ of the national life. It is sad when two persons 


take discordant views of religious truth. But it is still 
more sad, when one person contentedly acquiesces in 
each of these discordant views ; because, though he might 
not know which is truth, he must know that truth is 
one. Arguing, therefore, from the principle of the 
personality of the state, we arrive at a conclusion that, 
in order fully to satisfy it, the alliance must be with 
one religion and no more. 

67. To practical men, not the weakest argument upon 
this subject will be, that the union of the church and 
the state appears to have grown up in the order of 
social nature, and by no means as the result of any 
conspiracy of ecclesiastical ambition with civil despotism. 
When Dante wrote the " Ahi Costantin," * it was of 
the supposed donation of temporal sovereignty to the 
bishop of Rome that he meant to record his disappro 
bation. But the union of the church and the state 
must have been found a powerful instrument of extend 
ing the influences of religion, if we may trust the com 
bined evidence of friends and foes. Of friends, for did 
not the principle receive too long continued, universal, 
and pure a sanction from the church and her holiest 
and wisest members, to allow those who walk with her 
reasonably to doubt of its general propriety ? Of foes, 
for Julian the Apostate, in his organised efforts to 
supplant the gospel, adopted the very machinery of the 
church, and brought the whole powers of the state to 
bear, by a regular heathen establishment, upon the 
attainment of his object. 

* Inferno, xix. 115. 


68. As has been observed by Dr. Simmer, the pre 
sent bishop of Chester, the natural course of religion, 
as it drew more and more individuals within its pale, 
was to produce more and more endowments. And the 
principle of voluntary endowments, independent of 
tithe, had gone so far at the time of the Reformation, 
that we understand in England one-third, in Scotland 
no less than a moiety of the land, was owned by the 
church. Now is it compatible with the safety of a 
state that such a society should exist, forming practi 
cally an imperium in imperio, and wielding such tem 
poral resources, without being in fixed relations of civil 
subordination to itself? If the state claims the right 
to perpetuate the law of mortmain, and prevent the 
dedication of property to divine uses, it must be on the 
principle that those uses are already fully supplied: 
for if they were not, then the general interests of pro 
perty would afford no justification for a law so essen 
tially restricting its free disposal. And if the state, 
then, has authority to check even private benevolence 
when the supply to the church is redundant, surely it 
has a corresponding obligation to increase that supply 
when it is deficient. 

69. The two societies, both (though differently) or 
dained of God, and having harmonious purposes, have 
spontaneously allied themselves in all the old Christian 
countries. But the danger to the state, it may be argued, 
from the separate and independent juxtaposition of the 
church, is riot to be apprehended when the church is 
itself divided, and many denominations of religionists 


are combined in one civil community. It may be true 
that the legitimate form of Christian polity will not, in 
earthly rivalry with other religious societies, always 
obtain the preponderance. But how wretched an 
alternative is here offered to us as an equivalent lor 
immunity from the ambition of the church ! We must, 
in this case, where there is no predominant religion, 
have government divested of its religious conscience ; 
set to administer equity and justice without the aid of 
those ordinances Avhich are the only permanent guaran 
tee of morals among men ; appointed to concentrate the 
mind and civilisation of the whole nation in a most 
powerful agency, but doomed to leave that agency un- 
sanctified ! 

70. It may seem a light thing to us, who live in 
habitual coldness and worldliness, to speak of leaving 
such an agency unsanctified. Too much of our life is 
in the like condition. But let us not erect our human 
frailties and backslidings from our law into a new and 
false law. If the light that is in us be darkness, how 
great is that darkness ! If we deliberately avow the 
principle of acting without God, how much more shall 
we act without Him than when we had not yet adopted 
it, and how shall we render advancement towards a 
practice more consistent with our present professions 
hopeless and impossible ! Thus, then, does the sin of 
religious divisions bring its own punishment : not only 
its own punishment, but a civil retribution also, inca 
pacitating government for its highest functions, and 
gnawing as a worm at the root of that fair tree. 


71. There may be a state of things in the United 
States of America, perhaps in some British colonies, 
there does actually exist a state of things in which reli 
gious communions are so equally divided, or so variously 
subdivided, that the government is itself similarly che 
quered in its religious complexion, and thus internally 
incapacitated by disunion from acting in matters of 
religion ; or, again, there may be a state in which the 
members of government may be of one faith or persua 
sion, the mass of the subjects of another, and hence 
there may be an external incapacity to act in matters 
of religion. We do not here trace out all the conse 
quences, but it has been shown that this involves dere 
liction of the functions and responsibilities of govern 
ment ; and it is enough, therefore, for the present, to 
have marked each of these combinations of circum 
stances as a social defect and calamity. 

72. As has here been intimated, we repudiate the sup 
position that the governor is to over-ride the constitution 
of a country for the sake of promoting religion ; or that 
he is to use force against a private person for the like 
purpose. As regards the first, the argument we have 
held is simply, that, because means naturally accrue to 
governments in general of promoting religion, they are 
bound to use those means for that end ; just as the 
individual man finds in the fact of his possessing capa 
cities, or property, or opportunities, for doing God 
service, the obligation to perform that service. But a 
government can only with justice be said, or thought 
to have, what the fixed laws or customs of each parti- 


cular country assign to it. In violating the constitution, 
therefore, to promote religion, for example, in an 
illegal exaction of funds for that object, it would give 
to God what belongs not to itself, but to another ; and 
it would no more be rendering to him a right or accept 
able service, than if the private man committed robbery 
and dedicated the proceeds to sacred uses. 

73. As respects the second objection, namely, that the 
use of force in religion naturally and logically follows 
from its adoption by a government as such, it may be 
observed, in answer, first, that the arguments which 
have been urged respecting the incompetency of a 
government to exercise constant and minute supervision 
over religious opinion, and consequently to enter into 
relations of co-operation with those professing particular 
religious opinions upon the ground of those opinions, 
seem also to point out that a government exceeds its 
province when it comes to adapt a scale of punishments 
to variations in religious opinion, according to their re 
spective degrees of deviation from the established creed. 
To decline affording countenance to sects is a single 
and simple rule. To punish their professors according 
to their several errors (even were there no other objec 
tion) is one for which the state must assume functions 
wholly ecclesiastical, and for which it is" not intrin 
sically qualified. 

74. Again, it may be said, that if the government be 
more competent to choose than the individual, and be 
consequently both entitled and bound to offer to the in 
dividual the result of that choice, the same argument 


must go to the extent of proving that the government 
is also bound to force its religion upon the subject, as 
carrying with it a greater likelihood of truth, and thus 
a probable advantage to the recipient. The answer is, 
that it requires much more than such a probability to 
warrant any human agency in breaking down the na 
tural freedom which God has given to man. To solicit 
and persuade one another are privileges which belong 
to us all ; and the wiser and better man is bound to 
advise the less wise and good : but he is not only not 
bound, he is not allowed, speaking generally, to coerce 
him. It is untrue, then, that the same considerations 
which bind a government to submit a religion to the 
free choice of the people would therefore justify their 
enforcing its adoption. 

75. There is an analogy apparently favouring the ob 
jection we are now combating, in the fact, that public 
laws, for the most part, are not of an optional nature, 
and that, instead of appealing to the reason of an indi 
vidual, they enforce his compliance. Now this is the 
case with some classes of laws which are coercive ; but 
others are purely permissive. Laws and institutions, 
having it for their object to bring before the people 
some mental or moral benefit, establishing, for exam 
ple, institutes, in order to the promotion of literature, 
art, or science, rarely attempt to force upon the subject 
the advantages they are designed to convey, partly be 
cause it may be supposed there will be found no want 
of readiness to accept and use the benefits thus offered ; 
but also in part because there is an obvious incongruity 


felt between the notion of force on the one hand, and of 
advantage to the higher faculties on the other. 

76. And here, in truth, we come to one of the 
strongest reasons against religious compulsion. In 
proportion as we ascend from the lower to the more 
elevated desires and capacities of man, we leave the 
region of coercion, and enter that of freedom and choice. 
Our animal life deals with us as with slaves. Our 
intellectual wants are chiefly felt when a higher stage of 
refinement has been reached ; and yet they are discern 
ible in an atmosphere where the subtle forms of spiritual 
beings, which are the objects of our spiritual faculties, 
w r ould be wholly lost. These are not forced upon our 
attention : witness the thousands who care not for them. 
And indeed there is a radical incompatibility in the 
nature of things, which ought to exempt the domain of 
religion from the intrusion of force. The service which 
God requires is the service of the will. The conversion 
of the will to God is the fundamental change which 
Christianity aims at producing. The will, by its very 
essence, by its very definition, cannot be coerced, for if 
rendered subject to the action of force, the human being 
no longer has a will. 

77. In one point of view, however, this argument may 
not be sufficient to preclude religious persecution. For 
it may still be held, and not wholly without truth, that 
although coercion cannot produce conviction by its owi 
immediate agency, it may set men about searching into 
the truth, and so bring them towards conviction, and 
put them in the way to arrive at it. Here, indeed, 


the question would incidentally arise, whether in ge 
neral, and, particularly, whether in the temper of the 
present day, any such degree and kind of coercion could 
be used, as should not be more than counterbalanced by 
the reaction it would excite ? But this does not touch 
the merits : and it is more fairly pleaded that coercion 
may be available in repressing error, than that it can 
actively assist the reception of the truth. It may, un 
doubtedly, one would on general grounds apprehend, 
check the dispersion of error, and thereby prevent 
minds from being tainted, which might, if it moved 
freely, come under its influence. The conclusive reason 
therefore against persecution is this : it is not prescribed 
to man as an instrument for his use, and it is one which, 
not being so prescribed, it would be sinful to employ ; 
as it would, for example, be sinful to take away animal 
life had we not the Divine permission to that effect. 
For mere error men are not allowed to punish ; and no 
theory of a church establishment leads by any fair con 
sequence to an opposite conclusion. 

78. It has now, perhaps, been sufficiently argued that 
both as a combination of moral individual persons, and 
as the active organ of the national personality ; both as 
having a conscience, and for the sake of national bene 
fits ; both for positive reasons to procure advantage, and 
for negative reasons, to avoid detriment, the governing 
body or state, in order fully to discharge its duties, must 
seek, must profess, must support, must propagate a re 
ligion ; must profess it personally and collectively ; must 
propagate it freely and persuasively, indirectly and by the 


use of instruments ; of the instruments made ready to its 
hand by that divine ordinance, which has separated for 
ever a class of men to minister in the Christian sanctuary. 
79. Now these views require to be strictly sifted. 
They cannot rest in mere speculation, but if affirmed as 
true, will be found full of points of contact with daily life, 
so far at least as regards that large and increasing portion 
of the community, who are called under the British con 
stitution to exercise some degree of direct influence upon 
public affairs. Therefore, before finally resting in the 
principle, let us ask ourselves whether we have counted 
the cost ? It is very clear that these later times have 
been parents to an opinion, that government ought to 
exercise no choice in matters of faith, but leave every 
man without advice, or aid, or influence, from that 
source, to choose for himself. And many hold this 
opinion under an idea that the overthrow of national 
establishments, as such, will be beneficial to pure and 
undefiled religion. They hold and contend thus, quite 
undisturbed in their convictions by the ominous and yet 
undeniable fact, that they share them with all the ene 
mies of law both human and divine. They know not 
the acuteness of Satanic instinct. May they become 
alive to it while there is yet time ! But we have to 
calculate upon encountering not merely the political 
difficulties which these strangely mingling classes of 
men will create, but likewise the more bitter and more 
painful reproach that we are injuring the cause of Him, 
whom, in maintaining the union between church and 
state, we profess to serve. 


80. Nor need our opponents go far for a case in ex 
emplification of their propositions. Upon us of this clay 
has fallen (and we shrink not from it, but welcome it 
as a high and glorious though an arduous duty) the de 
fence of the Reformed Catholic Church in Ireland, as the 
religious establishment of the country. The Protestant 
legislature of the empire maintain in the possession of 
the church property of Ireland the ministers of a creed 
professed by one-ninth of its population, regarded with 
partial favour by scarcely another ninth, and disowned 
by the remaining seven. And not only does this ano 
maly meet us full in view, but we have also to consider 
and digest the fact, that the maintenance of this church 
for near three centuries in Ireland has been contempo 
raneous with a system of partial and abusive govern 
ment, varying in degree of culpability, but rarely until 
of later years, when we have been forced to look at the 
subject and to feel it, to be exempted, in common fair 
ness, from the reproach of gross inattention (to say the 
least) to the interests of a noble but neglected people. 

81 . But however formidable, at first sight, these admis 
sions, which I have no desire to narrow or qualify, may 
appear, they in no way shake the foregoing arguments. 
They do not change the nature of truth, and her capa 
bility and destiny to benefit mankind. They do not re 
lieve government of its responsibility, if they show that 
that responsibility was once unfelt and unsatisfied. 
They place the legislature of this country in the condi 
tion, as it were, of one called to do penance for past 
offences ; but duty remains unaltered and imperative, 


and abates nothing of her demands on our services. It 
is undoubtedly competent, in a constitutional view, to 
the government of this country to continue the present 
disposition of church-property in Ireland. It appears 
not too much to assume that our imperial legislature 
has been qualified to take, and has taken in point of 
fact, a sounder view of religious truth than the ma 
jority of the people of Ireland, in their destitute, and 
uninstructed state. We believe, accordingly, that that 
which we place before them is, whether they know it 
or not, calculated to be beneficial to them ; and that if 
they know it not now, they will know it when it is 
presented to them fairly. Shall we, then, purchase 
their applause at the expense of their substantial, nay, 
their spiritual interests ? 

82. It does indeed so happen, that there are also 
powerful motives on the other side concurring with that 
which has been here represented as paramount. In the 
first instance, we are not called upon to establish a creed, 
but only to maintain an existing legal settlement, where 
our constitutional right is undoubted. In the second, 
political considerations tend strongly to recommend that 
maintenance. A common form of faith binds the Irish 
Protestants to ourselves, while they, upon the other 
hand, are fast linked to Ireland ; and thus they supply 
the most natural bond of connection between the coun 
tries. But if England, by overthrowing their church, 
should weaken their moral position, they would be no 
longer able, perhaps no longer willing, to counteract the 
desires of the majority, tending, under the direction of 


their leaders (however, by a wise policy, revocable from 
that fatal course), to what is termed national independ 
ence. Pride and fear on the one hand are, therefore, 
bearing up against more immediate apprehension and 
difficulty on the other. Arid with some men these may 
be the fundamental considerations ; but it may be 
doubted whether such men will not flinch in some stage 
of the contest, should its aspect at any moment become 

83. What if the truth be this ; that among many acts 
of oppression, many of folly, others again of benevolence 
and justice, partial or not followed out to their conse 
quences, we have done one, especially among these last, 
which was in itself thoroughly wise and good, had it 
been viewed as introductory, and not as final ? Who 
can doubt, that in the position occupied by Elizabeth 
and her government, it was right on their part to carry 
into Ireland the restoration of the Christian faith (just 
as they had carried it through England) with the addi 
tional advantage of the almost unanimous acquiescence 
or concurrence of the bishops, and for this purpose to 
employ the appointed means of religious ministration 
to the people ? But when the initiatory means had been 
thus adopted, the whole residue of the labour was 
relinquished. Those wise and salutary measures which 
brought the people of England from rebelling in favour 
of the Roman Catholic church and her superstitions, to 
their present mood of steady attachment to a purified 
belief, were not extended to Ireland. The names of 
Bedell and of Boulter are bright upon the desolate 



retrospect ; but the attempt has not been made until 
within a period comparatively recent, (thank God it 
has commenced,) to ascertain what results will follow 
from the general proclamation of scriptural religion 
throughout Ireland. 

84-. Upon us, therefore, has devolved the duty of sup 
plying, under more critical circumstances, the want of 
all those measures which might have been taken at an 
earlier period, and we have still the power of truth to 
befriend us, greater than any that can oppose. Is this 
faith of our national church deeply rooted alike in our 
convictions and in our affections ? If so, is it one merely 
separated by some slight shade from the Roman church, 
not simply such as she is in theory, but such as she is 
in the aggravations of her practice, and of her practice, 
above all, in Ireland ? If the difference be broad and 
clear, if it be represented everywhere in character and 
conduct among that people, do we shrink from asserting 
on their behalf the truth which they have a right to 
know, nay a desire to know, but which, by the inter 
position of an unnatural and an illegitimate authority, 
they are prevented from knowing? , 

85. Public men feel the duty of securing to the subject 
the advantages of intellectual cultivation. It has been 
proposed in this country to render such education com 
pulsory, as is actually done in some others. The ex 
pediency of such a measure has been doubted, but those 
who claim to represent the spirit of the age have hardly 
questioned the right. Is then the benefit of spiritual 
truth more ambiguous or less extensive than that of in. 


tellectual culture, and can those who are bold enough 
to propose enforcing the reception of the one, be timid 
enough to shrink from avowing and approving the offer 
of the other ? We have not yet arrived at the general 
assertion of such monstrous propositions. And it is a 
question of spiritual truth in Ireland, arrayed against a 
church which has hidden the light that is in her amidst 
the darkness of her false traditions, and which adds to 
the evils of false doctrine those of schism. Yet we 
speak of a general principle, not merely of the striking 
and obvious case which has been cited for the sake of 

86. Because, therefore, the government stands with us 
in a paternal relation to the people, and is bound in all 
things to consider not merely their existing tastes, but 
the capabilities and ways of their improvement ; because 
it has both an intrinsic competency and external means 
to amend and assist their choice ; because to be in ac 
cordance with God's word and will it must have a reli 
gion, and because in accordance with its conscience 
that religion must be the truth as held by it under the 
most solemn and accumulated responsibilities; because 
this is the only sanctifying and preserving principle of 
society, as well as to the individual that particular benefit, 
without which all others are worse than valueless ; we 
must disregard the din of political contention, and the 
pressure of worldly and momentary motives, and in 
behalf of our regard to man, as well as of our allegiance 
to God, maintain among ourselves, where happily it still 
exists, the union between the church and the state. 




1. Objection, that personal religion is deteriorated by the connection. 
2 4. Favoured by present circumstances. 5 10. It would imply an 
actual incompatibility of two duties. 11 14. Argument upon the alle 
gation of superior activity in Dissenting bodies. 15 21. Argument 
upon selection, the method of dissent ; and upon universal solicitation, 
the method of establishments. 22 29. Argument upon the partial 
religion of large numbers in establishments. 30 33. Establishment 
tends on the whole to enlist secondary motives in favour of religion 
34. Does not exclude the voluntary principle. 35. Nor imply exces 
sive wealth. 36 41. Certain beneficial effects of nationality oh the 
tone of religion. 42 44. And of endowment, which is akin to 
establishment. 45. Case of Rome. 46 48. General argument ap 
plied to England. 49. Recapitulation. 

1. THERE is an objection to the principle of the national 
establishment of religion not dependent upon any pecu 
liarity in the terms under which the church and the 
state may in a given case be united, but which con 
fronts the entire argument, and, if founded in fact, un 
doubtedly overthrows it. It is this, that union with the 
state is proved by our own case to be detrimental to the 
inward life and health of the church, and lowers the 
tone of religion in her individual members. If this be 
false, it is not difficult for the church to bear the scoffs 


which are aimed at her in respect of her legal establish 
ment, and patiently to work out a destiny akin to that 
of her Divine Founder and Living Head, glorification 
through suffering. But if it be true, then however 
apparently complete be the fortifications of external 
argument, however reasonable or even resistless the 
antecedent grounds of the connection may appear, the 
foe is within the walls, and at the rear of the defenders. 
Nothing can stand against the proof (if proof could 
be given) that a diminished amount or deteriorated 
quality of personal religion is the result of that alliance, 
which we have affirmed to be not less grounded in the 
nature and truth of things than affirmed by the general 
suffrage of mankind. 

2. There arise, however, from the circumstances of 
the day, some influences which tend to prepossess certain 
classes of minds in a manner favourable to the objection 
now before us. Every man will admit, that the loss of 
the temporal endowments of the church, and of the 
national homage which is still awarded to her, is, at 
least, within the bounds of obvious possibility. And 
such a prospect, even if regarded as remote, still has set 
many affectionate minds at work to store up topics of 
comfort as preparatives for acquiescing in such a dis 
pensation should it be God's will to send it. Looking 
back to history, as well as inward upon the heart and 
mental constitution of man, they are glad to recognise 
in the case of churches as well as individuals, the re 
corded and experienced benefits of affliction, and to find 
with what literal and palpable truth it is, that " all 


things work together for good, to them that love God." 
They conceive that the result of the present trials has 
already been, and that the consequence of protracted 
and extended trials will be in a still more eminent 
degree, to produce intelligence, fortitude, and devoted- 
ness in the children of the church. As the temporal 
advantages which have belonged to her are more and 
more questioned or curtailed, higher motives will in 
many minds gradually supersede those which are more 
sordid. Those who have only known her surface and 
exterior, will take refuge from the altered and incle 
ment atmosphere in the inner recesses of her bright 
and glorious tabernacle. And entering by degrees into 
the depth, the unity, and the spirituality of her character 
and scheme, her disciples will be more and more united 
in heart and soul to their forefathers in the church of 
God, and will rejoice in the identity of their hope, love, 
and life, with those which animated and nursed the 
primitive and apostolical saints. 

3. It is, however, a common, though we think an 
unwarranted corollary from these pious arid reasonable 
anticipations, that the overthrow of the church as an 
establishment will in natural course advance its inte 
rests as a church ; and therefore, that it exists as an 
establishment for the benefit of the nation, but pur 
chases that benefit at the expense of a certain portion, 
perhaps a large one, of its own purity and strength. 

4. There can scarcely be any who, upon reflection 
at least, will not feel shocked and startled at this sup 
position. The well-being of the church is surely an 




object too sacred for compromise or exchange. The 
value of spiritual truth utterly transcends every other 
so-called advantage, and none of them are in any way 
commensurable with it. No political gain can justify 
our incurring religious detriment. So it seems as if 
either we must be bound to surrender the national 
establishment in virtue and by direct consequence of 
our love of its inner principles and system, or that a 
fallacy somewhere lurks in the idea, that the interests 
of the nation as such have demanded and obtained a 
sacrifice, however partial, of the interests of the church 
as such. 

5. Of all trials which wound and lacerate the suscep 
tible heart, perhaps none is so afflictive as a case which 
appears to be one of contradictory duties. There is in 
reality, indeed, no such thing. There is not, there can 
not be, reciprocal opposition among the commands of God. 
All duty has one source in the Eternal Mind, and one di 
rection, for the purposes of love, conceived in that mind. 
One duty is never sacrificed to another : but that which 
in one combination of circumstances would be duty, in 
another combination of circumstances is not duty ; the 
minor obligation is intercepted as it were, in embryo, 
while yet unformed, and in this sense only is super 
seded by the major one. But the law which makes 
it a duty to obey a parent or ruler in all but sin, and 
the law which makes it a duty to disobey him in sin, 
are not conflicting laws, nay, they are not even parallel 
and concurrent laws, but are identical; and the conduct 


adopted under each is ultimately refcrrible to one and 
the same ground-work. 

6. This is one of the eternal truths which belong to 
a pure theism, but which readily escape the superficial 
glances of the human mind. It sinks into retirement 
and desuetude, and when it is, as it were, exhumed, it 
comes like a stranger among men, and is questioned 
as a novelty. But in truth, if we had several duties, 
we should have several gods : for every proper and 
original law of action would be the index of a several 

7. For every such case, then, as that before us, there 
must be a real solution ; yet the difficulty of finding it 
may be extreme. But such cases, at all events, will 
not be held to arise out of the immediate ordinances of 
God. Social order and government is so evidently and 
directly by divine appointment on the one hand ; and 
the good of the Christian church so manifestly the most 
palpable object on earth of God's dispensations, upon 
the other, that an opposition between these two, each 
so strongly claiming the highest and most irrefragable 
authority, upon the bare mention distracts and con 
founds the heart. 

8. It does indeed often happen that, when an autho 
rity given by the Almighty is perverted by its earthly 
steward, one subjected to it may be much perplexed 
in the endeavour to fix that point in the progress of 
abuse, at which the subsidiary right becomes absolutely 
annulled, and duty commands him to resort to the ori- 


ginal and comprehensive law of God, which cannot be 
contravened. Thus, supposing a parent enjoins that 
which is sinful ; since his authority is undoubtedly such 
as to render obligatory what is in itself indifferent, we 
may find it a serious matter to determine when that 
binding power loses its validity from being placed in 
opposition to the general and less determinate, though 
more authoritative will of the Creator. 

9. But in a case where human agency does not inter 
vene at all ; where we have recognised the principle 
of a church establishment, not indeed as matter of 
directly and definitely imposed command, but of in 
vestigation into fundamental laws, and of conviction 
therefrom resulting, that its principles were intimately 
interwoven and its interests uniformly parallel with 
those of the body politic ; in such a case we may 
surely hope, that any incompatibility or discrepance 
which it is attempted to show or to assume, must be 
a semblance only, and destitute of any foundation what 
ever, either in theory or in practice. The essential 
oneness of the divine will; the manifest convergency 
of the divine dispensations ; the stamp of concord on 
all practices or institutions whose origin is from hea 
ven, impress so strong and deep a general persuasion, 
as ought to fortify us beforehand in the particular case, 
against any supposition that the interests of the church 
are at variance with those of the establishment. 

10. It would not, however, be wise or warrantable 
to rest in such a persuasion alone. For two classes it 
may indeed suffice : those, namely, who cannot or need 


not inquire further, and those who have inquired tho 
roughly, and have summed up their thoughts upon the 
special instance in a full and deliberate ratification of 
the general principle. But there is much scepticism 
which cannot and ought not to be thus laid asleep ; 
many minds habituated to half perceptions of truth, 
and to practical error as their ordinary result ; many 
aroused to honest and unsatisfied inquiry, which may 
already have glanced at the obvious conclusion, " if 
the nation should hereafter show a disposition to cast 
off the church, let it do so at its peril, we will acquiesce, 
as the church will be the better for it." 

11. To supply the verbal defects, and to unfold the 
ambiguities of such reasoning as this, is exceedingly im 
portant, inasmuch as the defenders of the union between 
church and state cannot, until it has been refuted, gird 
up their loins for the conflict with a clear persuasion 
of the rightfulness of their object, or without a dim 
suspicion, that it is not only unjust as regards others, 
but suicidal as regards themselves, their attachments, 
and desires. 

12. The foundation of the sentiment which is wont to 
embody itself in the foregoing argument has probably 
been, an impression commonly entertained among the 
advocates of principles hostile to a legal recognition of 
religion or of the church, that a greater degree of reli 
gious activity is found to exist within the compass of 
the unestablished bodies of this country, relatively to 
their numbers, than partiality itself can allege to per 
vade the great masses of the established church. 


13. If the allegation have reference only to an ac 
tivity, and that activity one conversant with religion, we 
cannot doubt that it is true in point of fact, while we 
totally deprecate, and are prepared to repel, the infe 
rences which have been hastily or inimically drawn 
from such an admission. In the first place, let us 
observe, that the term activity applies much more to 
outward than to inward vitality; and that its applica 
tion is more readily allowed to that which produces 
palpable and sudden change than to causes of simple 
and regular progression; while yet the power that 
feeds a tree is more truly generative, and in the end 
fruitful of greater results, than that which tears it 

14. It may appear invidious, but it is necessary to 
mark the distinction between the system calculated to 
produce most activity at a given time, and that which 
will most effectually perpetuate its own existence un 
impaired in essential points. For there is a common 
notion or assumption, that these two characteristics 
are coincident. We need not go far to exemplify the 
reverse. It may be fairly allowed, that there was, 
under the later Stuarts, more religious energy in the 
congregations of the expelled ministers than in the 
generality of those of the established church of Eng 
land. Many of the former we know were endowed by 
the zeal of their members, as well as adorned by their 
piety. What is at this moment the comparative state 
of the two ? The establishment has arisen from her 
torpor, she is awake and has put on strength ; and 


in an age already venerable, she manifests the vigour 
of the earliest youth ; 

" In eta matura 

Parimente mature avea il consiglio 
E verdi ancor le forze." * 

But those seceding bodies have forgotten the faith 
for vvliich once they were forward to contend, and 
almost without an exception have lapsed into Socinian- 
ism. Doubtless we have here to consider the catholi 
city as well as the legal nationality of the church : but 
the illustration may properly serve to impress upon us 
the necessity of distinguishing permanent from transi 
tory energies. 

1 5. Dissenting bodies naturally act upon the principle 
of selecting individuals from the mass of the nation, by 
applying to them the stimulants of religious menaces 
and inducements, and associating them into congre 
gations. The care of the dissenting minister is for a 
congregation, not a locality ; he deals with persons, 
each of whom is supposed to have more or less a 
special reason influencing severally his mind and 
actions, by which alone, and not in consequence of any 
appointment independent of himself, he has become a 
member of the flock to which he belongs. 

16. How widely different is the case of an establish 
ment. Her ministers are not to act upon this principle of 
preference, but to offer, and so far as they are permitted, 
to administer the ordinances of religion to every living 
soul. Not that their attentions are to be divided into 

* Gerusalemme Liberata, vii. 61. 


shares of a strict equality, but none are to be excluded : 
while they cherish the best with peculiar fondness, their 
regards are ever to be directed towards the reclamation 
of the absolutely profligate, and the retention of the 
worldly-minded within some at least of the restraints of 
religion. It is one of the peculiar offices of the esta 
blishment, and often forms, to the minds of superficial 
observers, the gravamen of the charges against her, 
that she sustains in an outward, and partial, and accom 
modating religion, a large number of persons who are 
not animated by its living and life-giving principles. 
Now this is termed lending encouragement to hypocrisy 
and lulling into delusive slumbers the souls of a perishing 

17. Bring them to an inward religion if possible by 
love ; if not thus, then by the hope of happiness ; if not 
thus, then by the fear of perdition : if again there be no 
inward attraction of the soul to God, and they have no 
principles higher than those of nature, keep them even 
in the human religion rather than none at all : let them 
attend Christian ordinances from habit, from deference 
to society or to superiors, from fear of infamy, con 
stantly if they will, or if not, yet frequently, or if not, 
yet sometimes : the smallest degree of religious ob 
servance is better than none at all, however inefficacious 
for practical purposes be the life within it ; because 
Avhile there is life there is hope. This is the principle 
and language of a pure establishment, which deems all 
spiritual life so precious that it would gather and save 
its very atoms, like the dust of gold, so long as that 


little which is done is done by the right means and in 
the right direction. Arid such should its practice be. 

18. But upon comparing the condition of a country 
blessed with a church establishment, and not solely 
dependent for religious ordinances upon the results of 
voluntary exertions, with that of another bearing the 
Christian name, but without any such institution, we 
find the difference to be that, while in both cases there 
are large numbers professing and cherishing individual 
religion, in the first a larger proportion of the people 
observe Christian ordinances, and there are infinite 
shades of character filling up the wide space between 
the children of God and of Satan, without any broad 
line of discernible demarcation : in the second, to a 
given amount of religious profession there is a greater 
amount of religious activity, and there is a more fearful 
mass of persons wholly cut off from the public profession 
of the Gospel and the appointed way of immortality. 

19. Now when we change the subjects of our com 
parison, and take the case of our own country alone, we 
find, I apprehend, that a similar relation obtains between 
the establishment and the sectarian bodies. The former 
does not cast off the dross of the community, or rather 
that which appears dross but contains much pure ore. 
She attempts and professes to secure a feeble, partial, 
and an outward observance of religion, in default of, and 
she hopes in preparation for, that which is vigorous, 
complete, and operative with a transforming power 
upon the inward nature of man. She is content to be 
encumbered in her course with the inert and lifeless 


weight of large numbers of persons who are strangers 
to conscientious and individual religion, and although 
she is ever busied in searching among the mass for the 
capable recipients of a vital principle, and dealing to 
each man according to his strength, and seeking to 
extract from each man whatever of religious love and 
service he is qualified to render, yet such a heavy and 
unprofitable residue she must always bear upon her, 
inasmuch as while the good are draughted off one by 
one into the enjoyment of her loftier discipline, new 
crowds of the indolent and the worldly-minded are 
continually entering within her pale, there, she trusts, 
to be educated into Christian maturity. 

20. She must be contented, however irksome the office, 
to provide for those whom the dissenting minister can 
not attract to his congregation because they do not care 
enough for religion to contribute to its expenses, as 
well as those who are precluded by the real pressure of 
poverty, or by the rarity of population in a particular 
district, from joining any such voluntary assemblage, and 
again, for another large and important class who resort to 
religious observances primarily on the score of deference 
to public practice and opinion, which practice and 
opinion is generated and maintained chiefly by the in 
fluences of an establishment. 

21. But granting, as a consequence, that the average 
religious principle of the members of our venerated 
establishment is lower than that of dissenting bodies : 
it remains obvious in the first place, by general admis 
sion, that this circumstance belongs essentially to its 


condition and office as an establishment : in the second, 
as we think, and shall strive to show, it does not imply 
any compromise between spiritual and political inter 
ests, a thing if taken strictly we believe in its own 
nature impossible, and whose existence, at least in this 
particular instance, we shall now attempt to disprove. 

22. What, then, can be meant by those interests of a 
church, which it is said, or felt, or feared, we compound 
for the sake of state expediency? The interests of a 
church are not the mere attachments of its members to 
its peculiarities, so far as they are inessential to its ex 
istence as a church : if they were, we might yield our 
point, and admit that the effect of an establishment such 
as our own, is to induce a Catholic spirit and a liberal 
discrimination between matters necessary and matters 
indifferent. Discouraging in all things the capricious 
exercise of individual will, and setting little value upon 
the authority of mere opinion, its practices have been 
severely proved, and have acquired their claim to observ 
ance in the lapse of generations, so that the full force of 
our individual self-will and pride is much less brought 
to bear in exciting our attachment to an established 
church, than where innovation is easy and perpetual, 
and each man stands to defend what has been, in a 
greater degree, produced or subjected to modification by 
his own personal agency and judgment. 

23. The true interests of a church are best to be ascer 
tained by considering its nature. It is an organised 
body, governed by the laws and ministers of Christ, 
having the charge of the Word, and the exclusive admi- 


nistration of the Sacraments, and dispensing both for the 
promotion of a spiritual life. Her end then is " the 
greatest holiness of the greatest number." Her inani 
mate machinery has no capability of pleasure and pain ; 
has no interests in any intelligible sense. Her living 
members have all one and the same interest : the aggre 
gate of that interest constitutes the interest of the 
church, and it is the production, not of the greatest pos 
sible excitement connected with religion, nor of the 
greatest possible enjoyment connected with religion, 
nor of the greatest possible appearance of religion ; nay, 
not even the greatest possible quantity of actual religion 
at any time or place ; but the greatest possible permanent 
and substantial amount of religion within that sphere over 
which its means of operation extend. By religion, we 
would be understood to mean, conformity to the will of 

24. Now we, who hold the principle of national esta 
blishment, believe, that although a higher average of 
active religious motive may be found in limited and 
sectarian bodies, yet this is simply because the establish 
ment is set and appointed to embrace, along with her 
more spirited and intelligent children in Christ, those 
who are too timid to make a religious profession ; those 
who hesitate between this world and the next ; those 
who give a limited and insufficient scope to the action 
of Christian principle ; those who attend Christian ordi 
nances only in compliance with human opinion, or 
those who see nothing in Christianity but a system of 
outward forms, in an establishment nothing but a me- 



thod of preserving social order, and of repressing reli 
gious extravagance. 

25. And it may doubtless be said, that the very con 
stitution of an establishment, as thus represented, in 
dicates an unsound state of things ; that the observance 
of Christain ordinances ought not to be exacted by the 
force of human opinion, but rendered by the spontaneous 
and joyful action of the heart ; that these false and im 
perfect services of so many differing classes cannot be 
satisfactory to God. And unsound, indeed, is the con 
dition of human society ; but the question is, Would it 
not be more unsound were the restraining influences of 
an establishment withdrawn? 

26. Certainly her faithful members must be content 
to stand side by side with many who care little for reli 
gion ; but the promises of Christ may secure them from 
the danger of contagion ; and they may also acquire 
from their position a livelier remembrance of that lesson, 
that we may not say one to another, Stand by, for I am 
holier than thou. I say, the promises of Christ : for the 
establishment does but fulfil His prophetic declarations, 
in not attempting any universal separation of the tares 
from the wheat ; of the good fish from the bad : con 
tent with the laws of her mixed condition upon earth, 
emulous of the example of her Lord, who ate with pub 
licans and sinners, and generous as her heavenly Father, 
who sends rain and light upon the just and the unjust, 
rendering benefit, but not therefore receiving pollution. 

27. It is undoubtedly well for the state, that the hopes 
and fears of a future life should be used in aid of those 


which have reference to temporal prosperity and punish 
ments ; that religion should check the ignorant and the 
irreligious ; that men should worship they know not 
what, rather than not worship at all : but is it ill for the 
church? Her principle is, to gather up the very crumbs 
of devotional offerings ; to feed the babes with milk ; not 
to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking 
flax, until the Redeemer shall come in his glory, to send 
forth judgment unto victory. A small obedience is bet 
ter than none. To think of God seldom, is better than 
not to think of Him at all. To love Him faintly is 
better than to be in utter and unvarying indifference or 
aversion towards the Giver of all good. Better not as 
though our acts were strictly and truly good ; but be 
cause these states of life and feeling indicate a mental 
condition less hopelessly inaccessible to the influences of 
the Spirit of grace, than those of total alienation from 
the means of grace. Better for the pupil, if the face be 
set invariably forwards ; for the instructress, if she be 
always leading and beckoning him in the same direction. 
The church lives in the use of means ; and trusts in God 
for the production of results. 

28. Did we, indeed, believe, with the foes of the esta 
blishment of the church, that the natural effect of this 
operation was to keep these dark worshippers in their 
darkness, we must join their ranks, and emulate their 
zeal for the work of demolition. But while we see 
that the established church brings crowds of persons to 
the outer courts and the lower steps of the temple, we 
believe further, that she is well calculated to use every 

H 2 


effort for their advancement to those which are inner 
and higher; and that but for her beneficent agency, 
they would remain utterly remote from the sights and 
sounds of worship, from the impressions and associations 
to which now, by the laws of bare humanity, they are sub 
ject, and which, though not universal, not infallible, nor 
intrinsically efficacious, may yet be blessed, and often 
are blessed, and are the natural means and channels of 

29. Is the Churchy then, wounded or injured by this 
charitable operation of the Establishment? We do believe 
that her members may be less doatingly enamoured of 
her distinctive marks, as distinctive marks, than would 
be the case were she severed from the state ; and we 
admit that their liberality may receive a tinge so far 
latitudinarian, that they may confound her essential with 
her unessential peculiarities ; or again, they may regard 
her human trappings more than the unearthly linea 
ments which these are intended to adorn. But we do 
not believe that, except it be from adventitious causes, 
in no way inseparable from the connexion, she has a 
smaller number of members under the influence of 
active religion, than, on the other supposition, she would 
possess. We do not believe that their Christianity is 
of an inferior quality because they belong to an esta 
blishment ; but, on the contrary, that it is, on the whole, 
more calm, more catholic, less alloyed by the contagion 
of spiritual pride and selfishness ; more comprehensive 
in its views of the manifold functions and capacities of 
human nature. We do not believe that they suffer de- 


triment from juxtaposition with the less heavenly-minded 
members of the establishment ; because, though it is 
written of gratuitous and unordainetl communion with 
the kingdom of Satan, that a man cannot touch pitch 
without being defiled, yet recognising the manifest pro 
hibition of our Lord to aim at an entire local separa 
tion (as it were) of the hypocrites from the saints in 
this life, we do not anticipate for trie former any evil 
from that contact which may occur in the discharge of 
duty ; and there is in view the animating prospect of 
thus arousing many a dormant spirit unto holiness, and 
rescuing many a tender lamb of the Redeemer from 
the fangs of the roaring lion. 

30. It is true that there may be a certain class of per 
sons, who are alienated from'religion simply because it is 
established ; and who, startled at the apparent paradox 
of an authority jointly divine and political, may be 
repelled from the very examination of the Gospel by 
that primd facie incongruity. And though it be true 
that that paradox is capable of easy explanation, that 
the divine and the national characters of the church 
establishment are capable of real, and generally of easy 
discrimination, yet this risk, so far as it extends, must 
be admitted to be in the nature of a sound and fail- 

31. But the question before us is one of spiritual ex 
pediency ; and we must inquire, whether there be not 
more who will be attracted towards religion by the 
instrumentality of an establishment as such, than those 
who will be driven from it. Look to the thousands 


with whom worship is matter of sheer usage, and 
unconnected with any active exercise of the mind upon 
Divine truth. Thus the beneficial action is upon 
masses. But those whom the paraphernalia of a 
national church, or the bugbear of a law church, 
frighten from the sanctuaiy, are units here and there, 
thinly interspersed through the community. A peculiar 
tone of character, a singular mixture of intellect and 
caprice, of philosophical rashness and timidity, can 
alone account for the rejection of a religion by no 
means necessarily associated with the state, because it 
happens in a particular case to be so allied ; and, as 
this temperament is rare and idiosyncratic in the ex 
treme, so it is entitled to proportionably less weight in 
our calculations. Not, therefore, to no weight at all ; 
but this remote danger is not to preclude a course 
attended with such large and immediate benefit to the 
spiritual interests of masses of mankind. 

32. In the long run, and upon a large scale, as I have 
already had occasion to argue more at length, the preju 
dice of mankind is in favour of establishments, political 
as well as religious. The destructive spirit has charac 
teristic particular and critical periods ; but, upon a 
comprehensive average, a tendency to acquiescence in 
existing institutions is the rule, and a tendency to 
disturb them the exception. 

33. We are prepared, then, to assert it generally of a 
national church, that it brings human and secondary 
motives to bear upon mankind in favour of religion, 
with a power greater than that which would belong to 


it, cceteris paribus, when unestablished, because ordi 
narily it would not occupy the same station in public 
estimation. The fashion which might, in a wealthy 
and luxurious country, choose to reject attendance at 
church, is enlisted in its favour. A narrow and feeble 
provision, no doubt ; but we must not despise the day 
of small things. 


34. There is no intelligible argument for the position, 
that the number of actively pious persons would be 
increased were the national church destroyed. The 
question at issue is not fairly represented, where it is 
said that it is between the voluntary principle and that 
of an establishment. In truth, it is between the volun 
tary principle alone, on the one hand, and that princi 
ple in association with the co-ordinate principle of an 
establishment, on the other. There is ample scope for 
the voluntary principle when the state has done as 
much as it is ever likely to do. There is as yet a great 
void, filled neither by the state, nor by the voluntary 
principle. But the state, as a directing and superior 
power, has means of eliciting, and of systematising, 
exertion, which no individual or association can 

35. Since, however, we live in an age of religious par 
simony, when the voluntary principle affords to ministers 
of religion little more than a bare maintenance, men 
forming their judgment from the time may allege, that 
the wealth of establishments chokes them with worldly 
ministers. The answer to this is, that such wealth does 
not accrue to them as establishments. Let us take, for 


example, the history of our own island. If we admit 
that the tithe was given by legislative enactment, still 
the tithe did not constitute the bulk of the wealth of 
the church. Its enormous aggrandisement was by gifts 
of lands, which were notoriously and indisputably 
voluntary. It is, perhaps, not too much to inquire, if 
any case can be pointed out of a very wealthy church 
which has derived its opulence from the gift of the 
state ? Upon the other hand, that disposition of the 
national endowments of religion in Scotland, which is 
so commonly quoted as a model of economy, and which 
certainly is entitled to the praise of working great 
results from small means, is not owing to private 
economy, but to a law of king Charles the First. 

36. And if we are warranted in assuming that the na 
tionality of a church does not diminish the number of its 
actively devoted members, or its quantity of vital re- 
tigion ; so neither has it been often alleged tbat its 
endency is to deteriorate what we may term the quality 
of that piety. As its besetting sin is torpor, so its most 
natural virtues are calmness and stability ; and that 
fixedness of institutions, which the addition of nation 
ality tends to give to any religious system, is certainly 
calculated to impart both a finer and a firmer tone to 
spiritual character. The abhorrence of mere individual 
will, as such, which properly belongs to the catholic 
church, and which renders her odious or unattractive 
to turbulent spirits, has a beautiful effect upon the 
chastened mind, and presents man before God in the 
attitude which befits him, not as a creator, or an in- 


ventor, or even a reproducer, of a system, upon which 
he shall read Self everywhere or anywhere inscribed, 
but as a recipient of pure bounty and compassion. 
The idea of inheritance, with all its at once ennobling 
and subduing effects, is perfectly realised in that body 
alone, where we are the heirs, not merely of antiquity, 
but of inspiration, and the long line of Christian gene 
rations brightens, instead of fading, as it recedes. 

37. Now it is necessary to be very cautious in com 
paring any results of a political institution with those 
which flow immediately out of God's appointment. The 
mere adoption and establishment of a religious body by 
the state does not supply the want of any conditions 
which are required to constitute the church. Establish 
ment and dissent present to us one contrast ; catholicity 
and sectarianism another. But still, so far as there can 
be an adumbration of what is palpably divine in systems 
of church polity constructed, in some at least of their 
parts, according to human conjecture, we do find that 
religion, not authenticated by apostolical descent, does 
certainly appear under less disadvantage when honestly 
united with the state, than when presented in the form 
of mere private association. 

38. The Scottish establishment has deprived herself 
of the episcopal succession, and therein, we cannot but 
believe, of her strongest argument as an establishment 
against, the competing claims of any other religious body ; 
but, if we compare her in respect of evangelical doctrine, 
or of the general spirit of her members, or of the capacity 
she has evinced of transmitting a definite religious cha- 


racter from generation to generation, with other Pro 
testant bodies not having the succession, whether in Ger 
many, or Switzerland, or America, or France (the cases 
of Denmark and Holland would be less in point), she 
appears, by the side of each and all, in a light highly 
favourable. And what better reason can be assigned for 
this remarkable fact, than that, in her case, the idea of 
a national clerisy, or estate of religion, has certainly 
been wrought out, upon the whole, with greater fidelity 
than in any of the others which have been named, and the 
instruction, both of old and young, has been systematic 
ally provided for, and solemnly committed to her charge ? 
39. Habituated to the false or secondary conceptions 
which arise out of our inveterate political sectarianism, 
we are very apt to look upon the state in an irreverent 
or careless temper, and to forget that next to the church 
it exhibits the grandest of all combinations of human 
beings. It is a venerable idea, in which the supremacy 
of law as opposed to mere will is asserted, by which 
the sociality and interdependence of our nature are pro 
claimed, and the best acts and thoughts are arrested and 
perpetuated in institutions, and a collective wisdom is 
made available for individuals, and the individual is 
humbled and disciplined by being kept in qualified 
subordination to the mass. The adoption of a moral 
principle, or scheme, or institution, by the state, is 
among the most solemn and the most pregnant of 
human acts : and although it cannot place what it adopts 
upon a ground higher than its own, any more than 
water can rise above its level, yet that ground is one of 


an order having more of natural justice, more of expe 
rimentally demonstrated permanence, more of divine 
authentication, than any other, except the church, which 
it feebly though 'perceptibly imitates ; and certainly 
much more than that private will, which, sooner or 
later, learns to wanton in the whole spirit and practice 
of dissent, reversing every fundamental law of the uni 
verse, and asserting the isolation, and deifying the arbi 
trary caprice of man. 

40. The individual adopted into such a national estate 
of religion is then in a situation of advantage with regard 
to his inward discipline, as compared with that which 
he would occupy in a system theologically similar but 
unestablished. Law is the highest of human autho 
rities : thus he is taught to obey and to revere, the 
essential and first conditions of our well-being. The 
proportion of the single person to the mass is smaller 
as the aggregation is more extensive : therefore, and in 
the same ratio, the spirit of self is more repressed in the 
nation than it would be in some voluntary association 
carved out from the larger body. 

41. Again: not only is the numerical importance (so to 
speak) of the individual less in proportion as the society 
is large, but his temptations to self-sufficiency and pride 
are likewise liable to be curtailed in proportion as the 
society is permanent. The more permanent the society, 
the greater becomes the authority attached to it; the 
minds of men are predisposed to submission, and the no 
tions of domineering will are in a commensurate degree 
repressed. Now the state as such is less permanent in 


its nature than the church, but more so than any scheme 
of individual device : and thus again nationality, perpe 
tuating as well as conspicuously exhibiting the body of a 
public religion, gives the aid of all the venerable associa 
tions which it commands, and affords another emphatic 
contradiction to the exorbitant pretensions of self-will. 

42. While, then, the noblest form of religion, and the 
authenticated form of Christianity, is presented in the 
catholic church, whether it does or does not occupy the 
vantage-ground of legal establishment, it yet appears 
that the instrument next in point of efficacy for the pro 
pagation and perpetuation of religion, is that nationality 
which, among the uncertain conditions of our human 
state, embodies what has least of uncertainty. But 
there is another very specific cause which remains to be 
noticed as tending to preserve the purity of established 
religion. Establishment and endowment are distinct : 
but what is generally and extensively endowed will, for 
the most part, come sooner or later to be established ; 
and what is established is by the very force of the term 
likewise endowed. And, further, endowment does but 
ill harmonise with the very nature of dissent, because it 
introduces something of independence into the religious 
institution itself, and liberates it at least in part from 
the dominion of those successive wills which are too 
apt to revel in its absolute control. 

43. Now endowment, which is thus in its own nature 
akin to establishment, and alien to dissent, having a 
tendency to give to the minister of religion some degree 
of exemption from the arbitrary influence of his congre- 


gallon, has also a commensurate tendency to preserve 
the purity of doctrine. Plato deemed it scandalous and 
at variance with the laws of virtue, to teach for a fee. 
Saint Paul claimed that those who ministered in the 
Gospel should live by their ministry:* but the vital 
powers given to the Church enable her to admit many 
popular influences, which, if she dealt with mere ab 
stractions of philosophy, and not with a living covenant 
of grace, she would be obliged jealously to exclude. 
And yet who does not see that the Apostle himself, in 
writing to his converts, that he had laboured for his 
own support, because he would not be chargeable unto 
any of them,t affords an express recognition of that 
truth for which we here contend, namely, that when 
the Christian flock are placed habitually in the position 
of paymasters, notions of pride and self-sufficiency will 
infallibly associate themselves with that function, and 
men will claim the right to determine upon the doctrine, 
for whose inculcation they are continually reminded 
that they supply the pecuniary means ? 

44. It seems hardly too much to assume, that, upon 
the whole, religious truth, of whatever amount, is safer 
in the hands of teachers than in those of the taught ; in 
those of men who devote their minds specifically to the 
subject, and accept it in lieu of any worldly profession, 
than in those of the crowd, who have other objects upon 
which to bestow their chief energies, and who, for the 
most part, bestow upon this such a residue only of their 

* 1 Cor. ix. 14. t 1 Thess. ii. 9 ; 2 Thess. iii. 8. 


attention, as fails to be absorbed by the material wants 
and interests of life. Not that in the hands of either it 
is absolutely secure ; nor that it can anywhere be pure, 
except under the safeguards- which God has appointed. 
But such elements or fractional parts of truth as are em 
bodied in any system of religion, will, upon the whole, 
be better preserved by those most devoted to that 
system, than by the mass of its nominal adherents. 
Doubtless the watchmen require to be watched, and a 
compound action, of the teachers and the people recipro 
cally, affords a better guarantee than that of each taken 
singly would supply : still it remains true, that the 
voluntary method tends to give a preponderating influ 
ence, in determining the doctrine which shall be taught, 
to the less qualified class ; and the method of endow 
ment, and therefore of establishment, which is so much 
akin to it, verges in the opposite direction. 

45. The whole Roman history may be appealed to in 
proof of the augmented influence which nationality 
gives to the forms of religion, considered independently 
of their substantive truth or falsehood. The doctrine 
of unity of establishment will not apply, in a case where 
there was no exterior body constructed by Divine com 
mand for the conservation and exhibition of truth. But 
in the midst of the strangest anomalies, we find from 
indisputable and indeed universal testimony, these facts : 
firstly, that in Rome, more than in any other ancient 
polity, the will and the energies of the individual were 
subordinated throughout all ranks to the state. The 
oligarchical privileges held by the patricians sufficiently 


account for their patriotism ; but the conduct of the 
Roman people, their moderation, disinterestedness, and 
self-devotion, cannot be similarly explained. Never, 
probably, was human nature, on a large scale, without 
the aid of revelation, carried so much out of itself, as 
by that prevading principle of patriotic honour, which 
filled the ranks of the Roman armies for centuries to 
gether with men who had little of their own to defend, 
and little to sacrifice but life, which to them was much, 
and which they spent freely in the field of battle. Now 
combine with this the second equally unquestionable fact 
that in Rome, as we learn from the unsuspected autho 
rity of Polybius,* the stamp of public religion was im 
pressed not only upon all the institutions of the state, 
but upon all the actions of life ; and as we find the in 
fluence of things unseen (in however corrupted forms), 
simultaneously at a maximum in the individual and in 
the state, we cannot but infer a natural harmony, and a 
reciprocal causation, between these two parallel mani 
festations, and by how much the more it may be shown 
that the religion was impure, and that the influence ex 
ercised was not that of truth, by so much the argument 
for nationality is corroborated, because the results pro 
duced must in the same proportion be set down to its 

46. Thus much upon the broad and general question. 
When we regard more specifically the case of England, 
where the church claims catholicity, and realises ac 
cordingly the hereditary principle even more perfectly 

* VI. 54. 


than the state, it may seem incongruous to ascribe to 
her legal incorporation those beautiful characteristics in 
her offices of religion which belong more properly to 
her divinely- written charter. And the more so, because 
the particular conditions of our nationality have never 
yet been carefully and permanently adjusted. We 
speak not of the difficult questions which arise in mixed 
matter between the church and the state, but there 
can surely be no doubt in the mind of any man who 
has reflected with care and candour on the question, 
that the powers most naturally and absolutely inherent 
in the ecclesiastical body are heavily and unduly 
fettered by acts or through omissions of the state. The 
discipline of this church appears to require more than 
executive diligence and wisdom can supply : an efficient 
reorganisation, and a development of principles which 
in the long continuance of lax and vicious practice have 
almost escaped from our view. Legal recognition, 
however, neither, according to its idea, ought to be, nor 
in practice always has been, adverse to efficiency and 
vigour in the internal government of the church : who, 
then, will deny, that these great objects are yet attain 
able, and that we may live to see great accessions of 
strength derived from actual experience to the argu 
ment of these pages, that the nationality of religion is 
favourable alike to its quality and its general extension ? 
47. Those who dwell most fondly upon the spiritual 
prerogatives of the church considered, as she is, catholic, 
will, nevertheless, do well to remember, that the pro 
mise of perpetuation, which is absolute to the body at 


large, is, to the members in particular, conditional and 
contingent. It is, therefore, not too much to say, that 
the nationality may materially contribute to the per 
manency, and thus to the authority of this branch of 
the church. Supposing her unjustly robbed of her 
secular patrimony, it might be that danger would accrue 
to her from pecuniary dependence ; the necessity of 
eleemosynary support might preclude her from occupy 
ing a position of sufficient dignity and authority towards 
her own members. Except possibly in such a case as 
that of Romanism, which too often proves itself to be 
founded on the dogma of sheer spiritual slavery, we 
scarcely believe that it would, at least in these times, 
be possible to exclude undue influence sustained by the 
power of the purse ; the church might then, whether 
by a slower or more rapid, a direct or indirect process, 
be starved into heterodoxy. 

48. It has thus been attempted to take a view of the 
question of connection between church and state, which, 
though very incomplete, inasmuch as it looks to con 
sequences alone, and further, only to a part of the 
consequences belonging to that union, is nevertheless 
full of interest, because it touches vital considerations, 
which are decisive, if determined against us, of the 
whole matter at issue. For if religion be injured by 
the national establishment of the church, it must forth 
with and at whatever hazard be disestablished. But if 
not, we need be little moved by the taunts of those who 
reproach us with a " law church." It is a law church : 
we rejoice in the fact : but how ? Just as by the sove- 



reign's proclamation against vice, the morals of the 
nation are crown morals. The law in one case, the 
crown in the other, adopts and attests the truths of 
God, and does them homage. 

49. For we have found the supposition, that religion 
is secularised by contact with the state, to be fallacious. 
We have found, that the most devoted piety enjoys in the 
church a climate not less genial than elsewhere; we 
might, perhaps say, more so : that in respect of liberal 
views of smaller peculiarities, and of discouragement to 
individual egotism, a national church has, as such, especial 
advantages for elevating and purifying personal religion: 
that she as a great and appropriate work, particularly 
in exercising a partial dominion over the indifferent and 
even the ungodly, bringing to bear upon them, in favour 
of the gospel, and their own happiness, a great force of 
human and secondary motives ; and that, from the com 
parative independence of her position, she is also pecu 
liarly adapted for the permanent conservation of divine 
truth. If these things be so, we must get rid of that 
superficial impression, unfavourable to the nationality of 
the church, which arises upon the first view of the very 
mixed character of her component parts, and must re 
member that, in containing together the good and the 
bad, she is fulfilling, for the time of her dispensation, the 
clear intentions of that Lord whose coming she awaits 
with joy. 




1,2. Objection, that the church is enslaved by the supremacy; and 
notions respecting it. 3, 4. Necessary law of adjustment for the 
powers of distinct bodies having connection together. 5 9. The 
authority in its general character negative, and does not destroy the 
independence of the church. 10 12. The power, the right, the law. 
13. Appointment of bishops. 14. Attempt to classify. 15. Want of 
precision in our theories. 16. Case of the Scottish establishment. 

1. ALTHOUGH it would be deviating widely from the pur 
pose of these pages to discuss systematically, or in detail, 
the terms of compact between the church and the state, 
it may be allowable to say a few words, by way of meet 
ing another objection sometimes taken in timine, that the 
regal headship in the Anglican church is essentially 
such as to render her the slave of the state, and to de 
prive her of all pretensions to a distinct character as a 
spiritual institution ; and this is the more necessary, be 
cause Bishop Warburton * speaks, in large terms, of the 
church, as surrendering its supremacy, and becoming 
dependent on the civil power, as a natural consequence 
of the alliance. A question might be raised upon the 
very term of headship, but this we set aside; nor need 
we dwell on the facts, that the title of head was given 
* Alliance, book ii. chap. 3. 


before the foreign or papal jurisdiction was renounced, 
and that a different appellation was adopted under queen 
Elizabeth ; or inquire whether the powers of the sove 
reign in this country have been essentially altered by the 
Reformation ; or whether they are greater than those 
now exercised by many princes in communion with the 
Roman church.* It is only attempted here to show, 
that the general idea of the ecclesiastical supremacy of 
the sovereign does not involve what is unlawful or 

2. Some, it may be feared, conceive of this supremacy 
as absolute, and deem the head of the state to be the 
fountain of all authority to bear office in the church, as 
he is in the state ; not distinguishing those powers and 
attributes which appertain to the bishops and clergy in 
their distinct capacities as church ministers and state 
officers respectively. Others again, like Mr. Leslie, in 
his able argument on <c the regale and the pontificate," 
conceive that the supremacy of the monarch is purely 
civil, and such as he might hold with the same pro 
priety not being a Christian ; a theory nearer, perhaps, 
than the preceding one to the truth, which, nevertheless, 
appears to occupy an intermediate position between the 

3. When two independent bodies enter into reciprocal 
relations, which are neither such as to fuse into one their 

* See for example the curious work of Count dalPozzo on the Austrian 
Ecclesiastical Law, pp. 22, 23, 55,81, 101. (Murray, 1827.) And I must 
direct the particular attention of the reader, upon this important point, 
to Mr. Palmer's work on the Church, Part I., Ch. X., Objection XIII. 


distinct personalities, nor are, on the other hand, capable 
of being determined prospectively by written stipulations, 
with no other additional provision or reservation than the 
alternative of a total rupture, it becomes a matter of 
equal delicacy and importance to constitute a power, 
which may be found generally competent to regulate 
their joint action according to circumstances as they shall 
arise, without either being absolutely tied to the limited 
sphere which a written contract could define ; or, on the 
other hand, hazarding a resort to the extreme measure 
of dissolving the alliance. That power must be one, and 
must be paramount. But although paramount, and 
although mainly deriving its character from one of the 
two bodies, it does not destroy the independence of the 
other, because there always remains the remedy of put 
ting an end to the connexion, and the usefulness of the 
power is founded on the assumption that they will be 
generally in such a degree of harmony, that though there 
must be one fountain of authority for administrative 
purposes arising out of the connection, yet it will pretty 
much express and represent the tendencies of both. 

4. Now those powers which belong to the church as a 
religious society may, of course, be competently admi 
nistered by her spiritual governors, and the analogous 
proposition holds good with regard to the state ; but 
when the alliance has been formed, the church has become 
an estate of the realm, having certain relations with the 
other estates, closely united and interwoven with them, 
and entailing a necessity, for the well-being of the whole, 
of some uniformity of operation between them. Now it 
is for the government of these relations from time to ttme 


that an authority is required neither purely ecclesiastical 
nor purely civil, inasmuch as the relations themselves are 
of a compound character. To take an example: if a 
bishop reject a candidate for a living upon ecclesiastical 
grounds, he cannot lawfully be corrected by the state ; but 
if he do it upon arbitrary grounds, or grounds not eccle 
siastical, he may ; because the accession to the living is 
not to a spiritual function alone, but to certain civil 
emoluments along with it. Since then civil and eccle 
siastical consequences are thus mixed up, and both flow 
from acts properly ecclesiastical, there arises a necessity 
for this mixed authority, which, having as much sym 
pathy as possible with both bodies, arid representing 
both, shall be more akin to this kind of jurisdiction than 
either of them, taken singly, would afford ; accordingly 
the head of the state, under the condition that he shall 
be also a member of the church, is invested with it. 
He exercises an appellate jurisdiction ; he judges not 
the cause, but the judgment; assuming the grounds 
which are supplied by ecclesiastical law, and inquiring 
whether its principles have been fairly applied to the 
particular subject matter. 

5. But the authority of the sovereign in regard to 
church laws is chiefly negative. The general principle 
should be, that neither body may do what substantially 
affects its relations with the other except by consent of 
that other. It is indeed true that such a principle is not 
at this moment in free operation among ourselves. We 
have not, however, here to show what is the agency of 
the church, nor what is the agency of the state in re 
spect to her, but what is the legitimate recognised 


function of the sovereign as her head, and that it does 
not impair the essential conditions of her constitution. 

6. Now this function in respect to church laws is ne 
gative. The sovereign claims under our constitution a 
veto on church canons, and his permission is required 
for the meeting of convocation, but he does not claim 
the right of making by his sole authority the laws of 
the church. Indeed a question may, we believe, be 
raised whether it is or is not competent to the church 
of England to meet in synod even without the royal 
authority, especially when we consider that this right 
undoubtedly exists in Ireland. The whole of this sub 
ject is most important, and requires to be fully consi 
dered. It is enough here to observe that if anything 
has been done of late years in the way either of anomaly 
or of usurpation, it has been done by the collective 
legislature in its capacity of political omnipotence, 
making use of the occasion while the church organs are 
in abeyance, but it does not bind or commit the church, 
which is not a consenting party, and which is only 
bound to show that in the regal headship, as acknow 
ledged by her, which claims a negative upon all church 
acts and upon all sentences in mixed matter, there is 
nothing unscriptural or unecclesiastical. 

7. For, in point of fact, it is the indispensable condi 
tion of any such alliance, that the church should consent 
to enter into joint action with the state. To this action 
there is required the concurrence of two wills ; and the 
concurrence of the will of the state was thought to be 
most naturally expressed through the sovereign's eccle 
siastical supremacy. But the church is still independ- 


ent, because it retains its right to separate ; it is inde 
pendent without exercising the right of separate action ; 
independent as two watches are independent, while 
indicating the same hour, and going at the same rate ; 
or as two men are independent, who become compa 
nions on a journey, reserving their right to part when 
the roads which they have to follow shall diverge. 

8. It is impossible, in point of fact, that any other basis 
could be adopted than one which gives the state a veto on 
changes in the church. The church allies herself with 


the state in consideration of advantages accorded to her* 
which are accorded in respect of her peculiar constitu 
tion as a church, and which would cease to be due if she 
violated that constitution ; therefore the state must have 
the means of observing all her movements, judging what 
change is violation, and interposing the veto, which means 
simply, " If you do so, you must no longer enjoy civil 
advantages." But the converse argument does not hold 
as arising from the alliance, that the church should have 
a veto on projected alterations in the state, because that 
which she renders to the state, the teaching of obedience, 
and the promotion of piety and virtue, she owes to it 
simply as the appointed government of the country, 
whatever changes its constitution may undergo. 

9. The alliance, then, is one durante bene placito of 
loth the contracting parties. And if the conscience of 
the church of England should, by its constituted rulers, 
require any law, or any meeting to make laws, as 
essential to its well-being, and such law, or the license 
of such meeting, should be permanently refused, it 
would then be her duty to resign her civil privileges 


and act in her free spiritual capacity ; a contingency as 
improbable, we trust, as it would be deplorable, but one 
which, opening this extreme remedy, testifies to the 
real, though dormant and reserved, independence of the 
church. It must be added, that, although an extreme, 
it is not a visionary or an impracticable resort, which 
is here supposed, but one which has been actually re 
alised in our history. Twice partially, (in citing the 
fact it is quite unnecessary to determine the merits,) in 
the cases, namely, of Mary, (when, according to Bishop 
Burnet, three thousand clergy were expelled,) and of 
the nonjuring bishops : once generally, when eight 
thousand were ejected under the Long Parliament and 

10. It is very necessary, however, to the clear under 
standing of this subject, that we should continually bear 
in mind a distinction of the power, the right, and the 
law, as severally affecting it. As respects the power, 
the civil legislature is, by the first condition of all natu 
rally constituted polities, taken to be omnipotent ; but 
as, if it enacted that individuals should sacrifice to idols, 
they would probably disobey, so the church would be 
able to refuse compliance if an infraction of her divinely 
established constitution should be attempted. 

11. As respects the right, we may or may not think 
that the church is hardly used, and requires a more free 
and effective organisation ; but before determining that 
by not insisting specifically on its being conceded to her, 
she has forfeited her spiritual character, we should in 
quire, first, Avhether anything essential to her constitu 
tion has been or is to be violated ; and, secondly, whether 


she has surrendered the right to pass into her state of 
separate freedom. For example, it is a part of our 
ecclesiastical law, that if any archbishop or bishop shall 
refuse, after due notice given, to confirm and consecrate 
a bishop elect, within a limited time, they and their 
abettors shall incur a prsemunire.* But the proctor of 
the dean and chapter must certify the election, in order 
to the confirmation, and in this point among others, " that 
the person elected is sufficiently qualified by age, know 
ledge, learning, orders, sobriety, condition, fidelity to 
the king, and piety."f Of course the governors of the 
church would be bound to incur the civil penalty, rather 
than confirm or consecrate, should a person ecclesiasti 
cally incompetent be presented to them. And the ques 
tions which alone we are here required to consider are, 
not whether the law be consistent in theory with eccle 
siastical freedom, but whether in practice that freedom 
has been essentially invaded ; and if not, then also 
whether, in the event of its being so invaded, there be 
not a remedy provided for a contingency so deplorable. 
12. As respects the actual law of the case regarding 
the royal headship, we may gather its general principle 
sufficiently from the doctrine of Blackstone, \ who sums 
up the duties of the monarch to his people thus : 
" To govern according to law ; to execute judgment in 
mercy ; and to maintain the established religion." And 
from the coronation oath; in which the promise is, "to 
maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the 
gospel, and the Protestant reformed religion established 
by the law :" and to "preserve unto the bishops and 

* Burn, I, 210. t Burn, I, 206. $ Book I. cliap. 6. 


clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to 
their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do 
or shall appertain unto them, or any of them :" terms 
which imply a power somewhere to change the eccle 
siastical laws, but which describe the royal duty as 
generally a duty to maintain, to preserve, not to modify 
or innovate. 

13. As respects the appointment of bishops, it is unne 
cessary to enter into any detailed consideration of this 
prerogative. It is analogous to ordinary lay patronage 
in the lower order of the priesthood. It was long and 
indisputably in the hands of sovereigns, at a period 
many centuries before the reformation. But the crown 
does not make a bishop ; it can merely propose him to 
be made ; and the amount of concession made by the 
church is, consent to a law that no bishop shall be made 
during the alliance, except such as shall have been de 
signated for that function by the sovereign. Even where 
the canonical election of the bishop is not interposed, still 
it is the consecration, not the appointment, from which, 
and which alone, he derives his episcopal character. 

14. The duty, then, of the sovereign towards the church, 
in virtue of the ecclesiastical supremacy, seems to con 
sist mainly of the executive duty of defending it under 
the existing laws ; the judicial duty of determining all 
questions which arise, in mixed subject matter, out of 
the relations between the church and state; and the 
negative duty of permitting the church to enter, from 
time to time, upon the consideration of matters of her 
own internal government, to be subsequently proposed 
to the great council of the nation, that its members may 


have the opportunity of judging how they affect the coin- 
pact, and that the church may know, by their assent, 
that it continues unimpaired : and if, in reference to 
the anomalies of modern legislation, this shall appear to 
be theory, let a fair consideration of our whole history 
declare whether it does not express the ancient practice 
and the general spirit of the constitution better than pre 
cedents drawn from periods of indifference or oppression, 
or both.* 

15. At the same time we would observe, that the go 
vernment of England has ever been distinguished in civil 
matters less by accuracy of adhesion to any dogmatic 
and determinate theory, than by the skilful use of na 
tural influences, and a general healthiness of tone and 
harmony of operation, resulting from a happy and pro 
vidential fusion of elements, rather than from delibe 
rately entertained intention. If this has been the case 
in civil matters ; if our constitution, as viewed by the 
crude speculatist, consist of a mass of anomalies, threat 
ening perpetual contradiction and collision ; if it has 
wrought rather by provision for the avoidance of such 
issues, than for their subsequent remedy; so also it has 
been with the church, whose relations with the state 
had for very many years proceeded rather upon a mutu 
ally friendly understanding, than upon precise defini 
tions of rights ; and therefore we cannot expect to 
exhibit a theory which will bear throughout a critical 
analysis in this more than in any other department of 
our national government. 

* Mr. Palmer (on the Church, Part V. eh. 6) gives an enumeration 
of the powers belonging to the ecclesiastical supremacy. 


16. The Scottish establishment, we may remark by 
the way, claiming that divine authority which we deduce 
through the apostolical commission, has been extremely 
jealous of admitting the term or the idea of regal head 
ship. In the " Second Book of Discipline " it is stated 
that " it is a title falsely usurped by antichrist, to call 
himself the head of the church." Of the three divisions 
of duty belonging to the ecclesiastical supremacy, which 
we have above described, the first, that of maintaining 
the church, is allowed, though not perhaps with con 
sistency. The second is likely to be speedily brought 
to issue, under peculiar and interesting circumstances, in 
the probable sequel of what is termed the Auchterarder 
case ; but the General Assembly of the Kirk, in its vote 
of the 23rd May, 1838, recognised " the exclusive juris 
diction of the civil courts, in regard to the civil rights 
and emoluments secured by law to the church." The 
third is placed in a peculiar position. Both the state 
and the church claim in Scotland the right to summon 
the General Assembly, and to authorise its proceeding 
to business. The king's commissioner declares, before 
the dissolution of any General Assembly, when and 
where the next shall be holden. The Moderator re 
peats it, but as of the Assembly's authority. The law 
of 1567, however, authorises the Assembly to appoint, 
in case neither the king nor his commissioner be pre 




Sequere viam Catholics; discipline, quro ab ipso Christo per Apostolos 
ad nos usque manavit, et abhinc ad posteros manatura est. 

S. Aug. de Utilitate Credendi, c. viii. 

1. Sketch of the subjects of V. and VI. 2. We must go far back. 
3. The use and abuse of private judgment stated. 4 24. How 
treated before the reformation. 25 31. Views of Luther, to be 
distinguished from the consequences of the events connected with the 
foreign reformation. 32 37. Prevailing abuse. 38 40. Case of the 
English reformation. 41 57. Anglican doctrine of private judgment 
stated and defended. 5860. The free diffusion of the Scriptures does 
not contradict it. 6167. The foregoing view historically illustrated. 

1. THE influences which at the present time are either 
actually operating or, so far as appears, about to 
operate, in an unfavourable manner, upon the principle 
of union between the constituted religious and political 
societies of this country, are connected with the doctrine 
of private judgment, as the doctrine of private judg 
ment, again, is connected with the events of the re 
formation. In order, therefore, to the elucidation of 
our subject, we must state how private judgment, which 
is an ecclesiastical principle, stands related to the re- 


formation generally, as a reaction from previous abuse 
of an opposite kind ; and to the English church in par 
ticular ; respecting which we are desirous to show, that 
it was not chargeable, as has sometimes been urged 
against us, with any inconsistency, in reforming itself 
against the judgment of the existing Roman communion, 
and yet claiming to maintain an authority quite distinct 
from private opinion, and an union with the state. And 
besides this retrospective relation of private judgment to 
the reformation, we must examine * its bearings pro- 
spectively on the other hand, upon the connection of 
church and state: first, under the form of the political 
doctrine of toleration : secondly, as independent of that 
doctrine and beyond it. 

2. To comprehend fully the strength of the doctrine of 
private judgment, we must measure the whole space 
which lies between its state before the reformation, when 
its infant struggles here and there were hardly percepti 
ble upon the face of human society, and its position at this 
moment, when it threatens to disorganise kingdoms, to 
throw back the church into its condition before the time 
of Constantine, and to desecrate and degrade the whole 
function of political government. At first resisted and 
overborne by a gigantic power unscrupulously and 
tyrannously used, it gathered strength and elasticity in 
silence, and waited the season, not of release alone, but 
of revenge. In the time of Luther it threw off the yoke 
by a mighty effort. It spoke for a while in gentle 
phrase, and did not at once claim to be emancipated 
from truth as well as error, from God as well as man : 

* Vide Chap. VI. 


but it has now fearfully developed its individualising 
tendencies, and they operate with an intensity and con 
tinuity which we must explain by reference to the 
length of that course of centuries through which it was 
held in sullen thraldom. 

3. But the so-called " right of private judgment" has 
two very opposite senses, in one of which it is a right, 
in the other a monstrous abuse. It is a right, on the 
part, whether of nations or of individuals, as against 
human coercion, and it is also, of course, a duty, of 
learning and apprehending the truth. It is a monstrous 
abuse, when it is understood to imply that the conscience 
of the individual is acquitted, so soon as he has assented to 
some doctrinal system chosen at his pleasure, as coming 
from Scripture and constituting religion : when it is 
supposed to absolve him from the duty of being of one 
body and one spirit with the catholic church of Christ. 
In the first sense we believe it will appear that reli 
gious liberty was the legitimate principle of the English 
reformation as regarded the nation, and its result as 
regarded individuals. In the second and abusive sense, 
that it sprang from the abusive proceedings in some 
other countries, less of the reformers than their succes 
sors, and less of their successors than their opponents, 
which broke the chain of the ministry in the church, 
and thus destroyed the doctrine of its visibility and con 
tinuity, and its consequent competency to bear a witness 
for the sense of the sacred word, superior in moral cre 
dibility to the unsupported deductions of individuals. 

4. In the centuries preceding the reformation, it may 
be almost said, there was no formal theory on the subject 


of private judgment, nor for some time after it; yet 
there has always been a certain relation between the 
individuality of man and his position and functions as 
a member of the church, in which relation the subject 
of private judgment is essentially involved. To this 
then let us apply our attention. 

5. If we contemplate the operation of the Roman 
Catholic system upon its members, whether in the pre 
sent or in an earlier day, but, as might be expected, more 
especially in those times when her sway was almost un 
bounded and her fears not yet awakened, we shall perhaps 
find that the aim of her distinctive doctrines and practices 
cannot in few words be described with more fairness, than 
if we say that it was to limit the free agency of the 
mass of her individual members, and almost to bar all 
active exercise of their mental faculties upon religion. 
These terms, indeed, at least the idea of absorption, as 
applied to the liberty of the human mind in a large 
mass of men, must be understood in a qualified sense : 
because it is scarcely possible that such a process should 
take strict and full effect except under peculiar circum 
stances of rare occurrence, from its utter contrariety to 
the first laws of our being. But, so far as human 
nature would admit, in a matter involving not only the 
highest interests, but of right also the most powerful 
and durable emotions that belong to it, the tendency 
and the aim of Romish institutions was to nullify the 
principle of free agency in man as respected his direct 
relations towards God. 

6. If we regard separately each of her peculiar insti- 



tutions we shall find not one which is not capable of 
reference to this general and pervading idea. Let us 
then (for the sake of convenient division) endeavour to 
ascertain by what means and with what effect she strove 
to supersede individual action in the several depart 
ments of the rule of faith, the regulation of discipline, 
and the private practice of life. Now the rule of faith, 
however its subject-matter might, according to Roman 
doctrine, be variously developed, was avowedly and in 
variably immutable ; matter of discipline, on the con 
trary, was, by common confession, subject to change ; 
matter of practice, must often fall under the cognisance 
of the individual alone, and yet in all alike, though 
under conditions so different, the Romish religion came 
nearer than might antecedently have been supposed 
possible, to the accomplishment of the wonderful purpose 
of imposing entire silence and inaction upon the facul 
ties of the private person, otherwise than as simple 
recipients of the dicta of the church. 

7. In one sense, indeed, there is a power of judgment 
left to every living creature by the first necessities of 
its constitution. The animal employed in draught must 
interpret the voice of its driver, and must to this extent 
enjoy an actual though not a licensed freedom ; that is, 
there is a penalty accruing upon misapprehension, but 
there is no power brought to bear upon the faculties 
which will certainly enable them to avoid it. Under 
all circumstances, therefore, it was for the individual 
Romanist to supply the last link in the chain which 
attached his practical conscience to the sovereign autho- 


rity of the church. It was not in the nature of will to 
be forced, or of moral conviction to be stamped upon 
the mind by a power purely extrinsic, and without con 
sent from within, as on inert matter. But thus much 
the church did ; she enabled, she encouraged, nay she 
commanded, and doubtless had it been other than an 
impossibility, she would have compelled each person to 
set aside his own free agency, except as regarded that 
last and formal transmission of her injunctions in which 
the mental faculties were no more than passive ; and 
where the command was not obeyed, a temporal inflic 
tion followed. 

8. First as to the rule of faith. Not only was she in 
fallible, for this singly would not have been enough. It 
is evidently possible that there might be on earth a man 
or an incorporation possessed of certain truth, and yet 
not having the means of irresistibly communicating it ; 
that is, of conveying it home with demonstrative evi 
dence of its infallibility accompanying it. And thus 
we, who believe in the perpetuity of a church holding 
vitally to its head, may also believe that this institution, 
preserved by a Divine power in its spiritual life, has not 
necessarily a reflected consciousness co-extensive with 
that life, and has not therefore the means of defining 
exactly and infallibly the amount of fundamental and 
certain truth, quoad which we believe her to be free 
from error. But it was not thus with the theory of 
Romanism. Not only was the church infallible, but she 
possessed, commensurate with the infallibility itself, a 
power of declaring it to her members with conclusive 



evidence. She was unerring, not only in vital matter 
of doctrine, but in all matter of doctrine perceptibly 
and legibly infallible ; so that the private man, born or 
brought within her communion, had no work of inquiry 
reserved for his own mind ; he was not to try or prove 
any particular allegation : in short, there was no mental 
act upon matters of faith, but simply a reception ; 
unless, indeed, that definite and palpable one of general 
submission to whatever the church should enjoin. 

9. Thus the agency of the man as regarded the inves 
tigation and reception of his faith, the range for an 
operation of his will, the possibility of exercising a 
choice, were reduced avowedly to a single opportunity ; 
and, while upon that issue of obedience to the church 
he might undoubtedly in theory be said to discharge 
the function of assent as a free agent, we must not omit 
to observe the particular manner in which the alterna 
tives were made to present themselves to him. Upon 
the one hand he was promised absolute assurance from 
the mouth of the church, against which he would have 
nothing to set, upon looking to the resources of his own 
mind, except the abstract love of truth, or self-will (as 
the case might be) veiling itself under that sacred form, 
and these damped and cowed by the want of all facilities 
for inquiry as well as by the sense of mental deficiency. 
Upon the other alternative, that of dissent, was sus 
pended not merely the loss of the promised security, 
but a more affirmatively deterring spectacle in the shape 
of the severest penal inflictions. When the hopes and 
fears of these rewards and punishments respectively 


co-operated with natural indolence and the reluctance 
of the carnal heart to entertain the conscientious and 
laborious consideration of spiritual things, can we 
wonder that the ordinary result was a voluntary and 
tacit surrender of free mental action in matters of re 
ligion : of that free mental action which is indeed our 
highest privilege, but which also entails our heaviest 
responsibility ? There was in the common opinion of 
those times a culpable deadness to the privilege, with a 
serious and a pious sense of the responsibility, as there 
is with us on the other hand a conceit in the privilege 
which absorbs all sense of the burden. 

10. A question might be raised how far the idle acqui 
escence, with which most men would, under such cir 
cumstances, be content, was entitled to be called belief. 
We perceive, among ourselves, how little of private 
judgment is really brought into practical exercise ; at 
least, how little of the mental investigation upon which 
alone any result worthy of being termed a judgment 
can be founded. The labour of performance is declined, 
while the right to undergo that labour is jealously and 
extravagantly asserted asserted, under the notion of 
its being a valuable possession tending to self-respect, 
and in utter forgetfulness of the accompanying toil. 
But when that toil was actually, and on principle, dis 
couraged, when the command of the apostle to Chris 
tians in general, " prove all things," was reversed, 
would not religious truth be, as it were, swallowed, 
without being tasted, received in sound, without refer 
ence to the sense ; in quantity, without reference to 


quality ? For there was no recognition of any intrin 
sic difference in sense or in quality ; and, therefore, to 
the mass of men, who always seek the shortest way 
of bringing their religious concerns to what seems 
in their eyes a settlement, the operation would become 
purely mechanical ; and a service sadly degraded 
indeed, when considered as the offering of a spiritual 
creature, redeemed by Christ, to his Father in heaven. 
Not, indeed, that doubts and misgivings, or even ques 
tionings in any form, are the essential antecedents of a 
sound and worthy faith ; not that intellectual investigation 
is the only way to that great acquisition : but that, as 
the religion of the Redeemer is destined to occupy the 
whole man, so it ought to be actively grasped by the 
understanding, as well as implicitly received into the 
affections and the will. 

1 1 . To those minds which felt a vital interest in the 
matter, which fixedly contemplated what they received 
as being truth, for the truth's sake, there might indeed, 
providentially be a spiritual benefit arising out of the 
very act of their submission contrary to their individual 
bias. The sacrifice of their prepossessions, or of their 
impressions, even of their reasonable impressions, hos 
tile to the fictions of the church of Rome, might, in 
God's appointment, be made a fruitful part of their 
earthly discipline ; but this is good wrought by Divine 
Wisdom out of evil, tending in no way to the justifica 
tion of that evil ; and it is, besides, obviously applicable 
only to a small class of persons, forming, as compared 
with mankind in general, the exception, and not the 


rule. With the mass, as has been said before, when 
the exercise of the mental powers in the " proof" of 
the doctrines of religion was not only not inculcated as 
a duty, but denounced or treated as an offence, that 
which was termed belief could be little more than a 
mechanical reception. 

12. Next as regarded matter of discipline. In this 
department, as immutability was not professed, it might 
be hastily conjectured that more scope was given to the 
free judgment of individuals; but it was not so. It 
did not follow, because the church might change in 
matter of discipline, that she could err in it. The very 
perfection of her agency, the very proof of her infal 
libility, might lie in the successive adaptation of her 
discipline to the changing circumstances of successive 
periods. But in truth, as discipline is for the most 
part secondary in its nature, yet necessary wherever men 
are combined for collective purposes, since there must 
be unity of rule in order to render co-operation possible 
and effective, and as in general neither the negative nor 
the affirmative upon a matter of discipline involve (an 
tecedently to the sentence of competent authority) reli 
gious principle or duty, we may be of opinion that 
private judgment has naturally little place in this de 
partment, and that there is little to surrender, because 
there is little to exact. Yet here the church of Rome 
advanced the most extravagant pretensions, and enforced 
the most exorbitant demands. It was a law of disci 
pline that took the cup from the laity ; an act of rob 
bery, in which we see the wantonness of spiritual des- 


potism in its extremes! stage, exercising oppressive 
power, as it would appear, simply for its own sake. 

13. But how were the particular doctrines of the 
Romish church calculated to influence private tempers 
and conduct in a manner relevant to our present inquiry? 
For at first sight it would seem that, granting the duty 
of absolute acquiescence in discipline for the uniformity 
and harmony of the body of the church ; granting the 
propriety of mere recipiency in doctrine, in deference to 
her high spiritual privilege of dispensing from God His 
truth in certainty and perfection : yet still, in that largest 
portion of the religious life of the individual which is 
naturally and necessarily private, and in the general ap 
plication of the system of rules delivered into his hands 
to his daily practice, there must be left abundant room 
for the exercise of faith, diligence, discrimination, and 
all the active qualities of the mind ; and, therefore, an 
ample field provided for the free development of charac 
ter. For here, a glance inwards will surely remind us, 
that a great portion of moral facts, and those the most 
material, because they are the class connected with the 
formation and elucidation of motives, are known in the 
first instance to the individual alone. Perhaps we may 
go further and say, there is much in the varied workings 
of the mind of each, which must be known to him of 
all men exclusively. Many of its tints and colours, 
many of its initial and intercepted movements, many of 
its combinations of feeling and motive defying verbal 
exposition, yet not altogether inaccessible to reflective 
analysis : much, in short, of what most essentially con- 


stitutes our life in the sight of God, can never be 
otherwise than very imperfectly explained through the 
medium of outward signs, and must therefore remain 
for the most part between Him and ourselves. 

14. Yet it is here that the peculiar genius of Roman 
ism is most wonderful and conspicuous. Everywhere 
it seems to interpose itself between the man and his 
God, a dimly transparent medium, allowing only a 
measured and limited quantity of His light to pierce 
through the curtain which it spreads. And now let 
us review in series those distinctive tenets which it 
professed, and see whether they do not tend towards 
this object as their common point of union ; namely, 
the drawing out from the mind of the individual those 
processes which concern his salvation, and making him 
extrinsically dependent on something above himself, yet 
below God, by removing the control of them from his 
own command. We would, however, state, once for all, 
we must be content to look at Romanism in the form 
which it naturally takes among masses of men, and not 
merely in the logical definitions of its theology. 

15. First, then: to this would tend the crowd of 
mediators, wrongfully interposed between man and the 
one Mediator. The view of Christ as a mediator does 
not tend to suppress the activity of inward religion, be 
cause our final salvation depends upon union with Him, 
union with Him upon assimilation to Him, assimilation 
to Him upon the reality and effect of our daily discipline 
on earth. But mediators who are men or angels only, 
and with whom we have no special relations, do but 
come in as substitutes, falsely proclaimed to do for us 


what we are bound to do for ourselves, when their in 
tercession comes to be contemplated, which practically 
it too often does, as our proper channel of access to 
our Lord. This is widely different from contemplating 
them as examples, which does really and legitimately 
tend to quicken our spiritual discipline. And the 
mediation of which we speak means much more than 
intercession such as man may practise : only partially 
avowed, perhaps, in the theory of the Romish church, 
but even now too generally legible in her practice. 

16. Towards the same end would operate the doctrine 
of purgatory : adjourning till after death that work of 
purification through suffering, which, along with the 
work of probation through love, enjoyment, hope, fear, 
and other affections and emotions, God has appointed 
to be done before death. 

" Quse quis apud superos, furto Isetatus inani, 
Distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem." * 

A reflective man may indeed feel so deeply his own 
actual sinfulness, that he may long for a more ex 
tended period than earth affords, as seeming abso 
lutely necessary for its eradication. But such is not 
the common view ; and the idea of purgatory in fact 
removes from practical contemplation much of the real 
purpose of our earthly being, and leads in the same 
proportion to carelessness about the inward discipline 
of religion, so large a portion of whose office it has 
transplanted into a distant region. 

17. In the doctrine of relics, again, we trace a similar 

* Virgil, Mn. vi. 568. 


tendency. In them the Romish church lodges a virtue, 
the practical effect of which is, we do not say to ex 
tinguish, but to limit, free mental action in religion, 
because it substitutes that which is external for that 
which is inward ; not in theory for, doubtless, faith 
ought to be exercised upon the relic ; but in practice, 
because it is too manifest, that the multiplication of 
these instrumental media in religion gives a facility to 
the corrupt inclination of man, enabling him to ima 
gine that a mere outward act on his part, joined to the 
intrinsic virtue on theirs, is sufficient. Doubtless, there 
are Christian ordinances of .intrinsic virtue, and most 
necessary are they to repress the opposite danger from 
an unbalanced and unawed mental action on the part 
of man ; but the commanded acts of pure worship 
supply a constant exhortation to men to pray with all 
their hearts, and all the strength of their best faculties, 
and these exercises, it is the effect of Romanism, as 
it operates on the mass, to impair by the crowd of 
fictitious helps which it professes systematically to 

18. Now let us look to pilgrimages : to the preference 
of a saint or image at one place over the same saint under 
his or her image at another ; to the public advertise 
ment of accounts of purgatorial remission for specified 
external acts ; to the very prayers which we find in 
their churches, headed with the promise that such and 
such religious advantages shall be given to all who 
devoutly recite them ; to the (I think) ten spiritual, 
with some other number of temporal, benefits which 
may be found posted in some churches at Rome, as 


resulting from the use of holy water. Do not one and 
all of these suggest these observations : that they tend 
to the substitution of outward and formal, for inward 
and spiritual, acts ; and that this so immediate juxta 
position of acts and their rewards is going out of the 
line and the analogy of God's dispensations, and is ren 
dering our discipline less moral and more mechanical, 
shortening the arm and the reach of faith, and substi 
tuting for it those immediate expectations which belong 
to sense, and in which even the inferior animals largely 
participate ? 

19. But the grand exemplification of the influence of 


Romanism upon individual agency in religion is to be 
perceived in a combined view of the doctrines of super 
erogatory works indulgences auricular confession 
penance and absolution. The branches are to bear 
fruit unto the vine : but the first of these doctrines sup 
plies us with an excuse for fruitlessness, if the love of 
other men to Christ has already so far exceeded mea 
sure, that it is ready to supply our short-comings 
what a temptation to creatures, whose besetting danger is 
not excess of zeal ! Then of indulgences : they are, it is 
said, remissions of temporal penalties due to sin. Now, 
we know of no temporal penalty which is not also cor 
rective, and employed for discipline : indulgences are, 
then, a remission or abrogation of our discipline, of the 
lessons by which we are to be educated for heaven ; and 
thus they are just taking so much from the range of our 
spiritual life on earth. 

20. And how do the remaining doctrines, as they are 
blended in the church of Rome, bear upon that pri- 


mary and most essential exercise of all, that continual 
pardon which the soul requires, in order to render any 
acceptable service ? The tide of sin flows back upon 
us the moment it has been repelled : and to be deli 
vered from its flood to be washed from day to day 
to have our justification renewed and restored in the 
perpetual cleansing of the blood of our Lord this is 
the very pre-condition of all acceptable and Christian 
service. Here the Roman arts have infused a poison. 
St. Augustine calls the Lord's prayer quotidiana pur- 
gatto nostra, showing how he regarded this striving 
and supplication for pardon as a work incessantly re 
quired, and depending on the exercise of the soul in 
confession and prayer before God. But what routine 
are men permitted, in the Roman discipline, to substi 
tute ? I do not say that she teaches so, but that so the 
mass of human nature will be found to use it. They 
will make confession at distant intervals to a priest, dis 
charge the acts of penance which he enjoins, and receive 
his absolution ; and a sacramental character has been 
given to these acts ; acts, none of them blameworthy, 
but the reverse : acts, however, taken out of their place 
by the Roman doctrine. They are taken to be sacra 
mental : but our daily prayers are not sacramental, nor 
taken to be so. Does it not follow, that our attention 
and desire will be concentrated on the former ? that the 
mass of men, ever anxious to discharge religious duties 
at a minimum of trouble, will be detached in no small 
degree from the unseen and wholly inward and continual 
acts of prayer, not always bringing any palpable reward, 
and will substitute for them the confession, which recurs 


but at rare intervals, and the penance and absolution, 
which deepen spiritual torpor, by an assurance of pardon 
from without ? 

21. It is to be feared that the profoundest and most 
solemn exercises of the soul thus became matter of 
arithmetical calculation ; were merely weighed against 
the external penance which would commute them, and 
ceased to be regarded in the awful character of sin : 
that the spiritual relations of men towards God were 
viewed as a debtor and creditor account, on which men 
might run up a score, in the intention of paying it off 
by penance. Not that this was the deliberate view 
of the Roman church ; but we cannot look even to her 
formal doctrines on the subject, without seeing that she 
grievously tampered with singleness and sincerity of 
motive, and left room for reservations where they ought, 
of all things, to be avoided. It is of the effect of such 
doctrines on the mass of men that we speak ; and we 
cannot but see in it the substitution of sensual, formal, 
mechanical relations between God and man, for those 
inward works of confession and prayer, self-inspection 
and self-government, which are appointed to be our 
habitual exercise, and the means of ensuring an earnest 
ness and activity of the faculties of the mind in the 
matter of religion, and to which external confession 
appears in the main to be properly subsidiary. 

22. It has not here been attempted to enumerate the 
whole of the Romish peculiarities, but such only as have 
a specific bearing on the subject of these pages. For 
example, nothing has been said of the distinction of 
mortal and venial sin, as taught by Romanists ; nor of 


the doctrines of probability and reservation, which have 
however a real connection with the foregoing argument ; 
nor, for a different reason, of the sale of indulgences, 
which would add immensely to its force. This last was 
the extravagance, almost the caricature of iniquity. It 
did not limit, but destroyed, where it prevailed, the spi 
rituality, that is, the whole subjective reality, of religion. 
But we believe the general argument is sufficiently made 
out, without resort to this abuse, from the acknowledged 
system of Romanism itself, as tending to deaden that 
inward action which is the life and soul of religion. 

23. There were two classes who cannot be included in 
the scope of these observations. One, that of the intellec 
tual men, who found a sharpening discipline for all their 
mental powers, in harmonising the intricacies and the 
subtleties of the highly-artificial dogmatism, which pre 
vailed so extensively in the Roman church. The other, 
that of the holy men, to whom confession would, in 
deed, be the most intense and solemn exercise ; whose 
tender consciences would not be satisfied until they had 
exhausted every effort to rid themselves of the burden of 
their most secret sins. The holy men of Romanism 
have been great lights of Christianity. Penance with 
them would be a kind of thank-offering ; a beseeching 
God, as it were, to accept their humble and feeble efforts 
at self-discipline ; absolution, a comfort which they 
would receive with trembling; and pain and shame 
would co-operate with love to keep them stedfast in 
their allegiance. 

24. But it is for the very reason that confession is a 
work so arduous and severe, nay, so impossible to be fully 


discharged through words for there must always re 
main the prayer to God to look at the whole heart with 
an eye far more searching than our own, and to detect 
and cure all its iniquity it is for this very reason that 
it is also a work which ought not to be made to depend 
upon a mere verbal exposition before one who cannot 
see the heart, and which, when it is made so dependent, 
will degenerate with the mass into a cold, formal, per 
functory act, endured as it was before the Reformation, 
but now, we believe, to a great extent, discontinued in 
Roman Catholic countries by the upper classes and the 
male sex in general. When exhibited as the imperative 
and almost the exclusive means of access to pardon, it 
obviously harmonised with a system in which the most 
solemn concerns of the soul were taken away from itself, 
and placed in the hands of the priest, and the scope of 
individual agency in religion was proportionably reduced. 

25. Such was the state of the world, in reference to 
liberty and activity of individual judgment, at the period 
when Luther and Zwinglius blew the first blasts of 
the trumpet. We come now to consider the views of 
the Reformers with regard to this subject ; and together 
with their intentions, the natural, yet very different and 
unforeseen results of the transactions in which they bore 
a part, considered in the aggregate. But it will be ne 
cessary to examine the case, as it respects our OAVH coun 
try, more in detail ; and to trace there both the intent of 
the Reformation, in the actual subsisting doctrine of the 
Anglican church upon the subject, and the spirit and ten 
dency of the acts by which that reformation was achieved. 

26. At the period of the Reformation, the object con- 


templated by its authors was not, primarily, the esta 
blishment of any abstract principle, but the removal of 
positive and palpable abuse. The practice of private 
judgment preceded its theory ; and it is difficult indeed 
to say when, in its specific sense, it commenced ; when 
the general protest of the Reformation began to differ 
in principle from the demands of Saint Bernard, and 
others, for the removal of abuses in the church. It was 
as the work advanced, and the number of detected cor 
ruptions was increased, and the efforts for their main 
tenance came into collision with those for their removal, 
that the men directly engaged, and their successors in 
the contest, found themselves compelled to fall back upon 
a general principle applicable to all the changes they 
proposed, and coextensive with the objections they had 
to meet on the part of the papists; who, instead of 
being satisfied to join issue with them upon their argu 
ments, rather denied their right to argue, and drove them 
first to the practical exercise of that right, then to a 
scrutiny into its nature, and, last of all, to its avowed 
maintenance as a principle *. 

27. Thus we find, first, on the part of Luther, a free 
appeal to the pope from his ministers ; the act of an 
unsuspicious mind, following the truth according to its 
light, confiding in its power, and in the disposition of 
others to acknowledge that power, and ratify it in the 

* The high authority of Mr. Hallam appears to corroborate this view. 
"Literature of Europe," ch. iv., GO, 61. For a detail of facts evincing 
the intentions of the continental reformers, see " Palmer on the Church," 
part I., ch> xii. 



face of men by their assent. Next comes an appeal 
from the pope to a general council, a proceeding not 
heretical nor contumacious, but conformable with the 
views authoritatively declared at the council of Con 
stance. We perceive here a reference to what was held 
to be the fair exponent of the general mind of the 
church ; and we are still within limits compatible with 
devoted Romanism. Perhaps Luther did not doubt the 
infallibility of a general council at the time, in which 
case he went the whole length of the Cisalpine school. 
At least he recognised the propriety of submitting to it 
his own individual judgment ; and this is quite enough 
to show how far he was removed from the licentious 
opinions, which men in modern times have not only 
adopted for themselves, but have also ascribed to the 

28. And the course which Luther did pursue was that 
which we might naturally have expected would be taken. 
When the sale of indulgences suggested itself to his 
view as a monstrous abuse, and when he failed in 
his first and immediate resort to the executive eccle 
siastical authorities for its redress, the Divine Word 
would next occur as the readiest and most proper 
standard of appeal, the most certain and most fixed. 
To elicit the authentic expression of the mind of the 
church in its most solemn form, convey able, according 
to the views then prevalent in Germany, through an 
oecumenical council alone, was an aim too remote, and 
requiring by far too great an apparatus of means, in 
order to its attainment, for the satisfaction of a mind 


earnestly contemplating a practical purpose, and that 
purpose the removal of a mischief not only most exten 
sively spread, but of daily and hourly recurrence. In 
such a case even the pope was distant enough. Nor 
was the case like one where the voice of Scripture 
might have appeared to render an uncertain sound : no 
proposition could seem, at first sight, of easier deduc 
tion, than that no warrant was afforded by it for the 
sale of indulgences ; and therefore, under these circum 
stances, Luther appears hardly chargeable with incon 
sistency in appealing immediately to Scripture against 
the doctrine of venal justification, and at the same time 
referring his views to the ultimate arbitrament of the 
organs of the church. Why should he doubt the mean 
ing of Scripture, on a Roman Catholic principle, more 
than that of any decree of a council, until some positive 
reason for such doubt were supplied, by a condemna 
tion of his view from authority ? 

29. In short, if we inquire generally into the acts and 
intentions of the foreign reformers, we shall find that 
they neither meant to separate, nor actually did separate 
themselves, from the communion of the church. They 
were excommunicated by the pope, and the sentence 
was accepted and enforced by their bishops. But they 
were passive in the matter : they appealed to church 
authority for a period (at least in the case of the Lu 
therans) of forty or fifty years*: they continued gene 
rally to maintain the doctrine of one body : they conti 
nually referred to the mind of the fathers and of the 
primitive church : they had no idea of the system of 

* Palmer on the Church, part IV., ch. i. (Vol. II. p. 101.) 

L 2 


" denominations." Even in Scotland, where the Re 
formation was late and exasperated, and where alone 
there seems to have been anything like a wilful rejec 
tion of the apostolical succession, they broke indeed the 
link of connection with the previous church ; but they 
were not logically inconsistent, however wrong in matter 
of fact ; for they denied the Romish communion to be a 
church, and they maintained their own to be the one 
body, and would not allow of any other ; holding the 
doctrine of unity while they surrendered that of perpetual 
visibility. At first, indeed, they recognised the An 
glican church ; but then they were holding apparent 
though limited and questionable communion with it. 
Generally speaking, it appears sufficiently evident, that 
the first generation of reformers were not voluntary 
separatists ; we cannot say so much perhaps, without 
qualification, of the second and the third. The state of 
separation gave rise to new and fictitious theories intended 
to hide its own defects, but really calculated to aggravate 
and perpetuate them. Far be it, however, from us to 
sit in judgment on the men who, by the tyranny of 
Rome, were thrown into circumstances so cruel. 

30. But of the circumstances we are bound to judge. 
They, were destructive in some of their most important 
results : destructive in ultimately blighting even the 
doctrinal systems which it was the great aim of the re 
formers to rectify; but more specifically and rapidly 
destructive in their bearing on the unity of the faith, 
and on the authority of the church, appointed to be a 
bulwark of true doctrine. The overthrow of that 
authority left truths which were dear to Luther, Me- 


lancthon, and Calvin, open to utter devastation through 
private licence, as we learn from the theology now so 
prevalent in Germany and in Geneva. The great mis 
fortune was, that the continental reformation did not 
carry with it the bishops of the church, whence it 
failed to preserve the succession of the ministry. Thus 
the idea of authority was destroyed, and there remained 
in its stead mere opinion. True opinion in great mea 
sure it was, but it was stripped of a great part of the 
strength of truth, its divine attestation by a personal 
descent from the apostles and from Christ. When men 
set up new institutions with new governments, they did 
acts which were certain to be referred to the tribunal of 
common opinion, because it was only opinion that could 
be pleaded in their favour. Not then from asserting 
private judgment ; not from denying authority at the 
outset ; but from losing the succession of the ministry, 
they became unable to point any longer to an organ 
really authoritative, as having the witness of tradition 
and the known commission of Christ. The doctrine 
was deprived of its legitimate and hereditary defenders, 
the bishops and clergy ; it remained naked and exposed, 
and became, for the most part, a shadow and an unpro 
fitable name. The evil grew with the lapse of time. 
The consequences of the loss were felt in the decaying 
piety and increasing pride of Protestantism, the gradual 
corruption of the true doctrines of the church and 
church government, the growth of private licence, and, 
subsequently, in grievous deflections from the funda 
mental truths of the gospel. Who were the persons 
responsible for these results is not here the question ; 


my object simply is, to trace out in cause and effect the 
mysterious dispensations of God*. 

31. Although, therefore, upon a general view we 
must admit that an abuse of religious freedom was the 
spontaneous, not the immediate, growth of the circum 
stances attending the continental reformation, yet, on 
the other hand, we must allow that the first reformers 
themselves were contemplating objects strictly practical 
and legitimate. Of necessity they, by implication, 
assumed to themselves, in a greater or less degree, the 
liberty of private judgment, but they did not assume it 
as such, nor for its own sake, nor was it a private judg 
ment irreconcilable with the authority committed to 
the church. This assumption lay between them and 
their grand object, the re-assertion and re-establishment 
of the truth, which they saw groaning and oppressed 
beneath fictions and superstitions, whereof they wished 
to rid it, never doubting of the right, and trusting in 
a power better than their own. And, in fuct, they 
simply discharged a primary function of human nature, 
in restoring to it the free agency of which it had so 
long been deprived. It was not mere liberty that they 
sought or worshipped, but that which liberty was need 
ful to procure, namely, truth. But as the existing 
mischiefs and abuses were great, so the power and the 
effort needed to destroy them were great also. Accord 
ing to the common but the melancholy law of our 
fallen nature, the pride of that effort and of its success 
(speaking not of individuals but of bodies) contami- 

* See the Rev. C. Smith on National Religion, Letter VI. (Riving- 
ton, 1833.) 


nated those who made it ; power corrupted its posses 
sors, and there began to be a delight experienced in its 
exercise, and a love of it for the sake of that delight, 
and an increased admiration of self as holding the keys 
of that delight, and an indulgence in the exercise of 
that power irrespective of its uses, its objects, its re 
sponsibilities. Hence, whereas it was first employed 
simply as a means to an end, in process of time 
men, dallying with the instrument, forgot the pur 
pose for which it was designed. Reception of the 
truth, freely if it might be, but if not, then by compul 
sion, was the maxim of the Romish church. Freedom 
of assent, as a necessary condition of the right reception 
of the truth, was not the motto, but the latent and gra 
dually developed law, and the legitimate fruit, of the 
Reformation. Freedom of assent, without reference to 
the substantive and objective nature of truth, has been 
its besetting sin. 

32. And why has private judgment been the fruitful 
parent of nonconformity, and thereby of permanent 
aberration and laxity ? Because, as the Romanists on 
the one hand had identified it with error, so on the 
other, men living under generalised protestantism have 
been too apt to identify it with truth ; or, at least, to 
go the length of supposing that what is judged by the 
individual to be true is truth to him, and sufficient for 
the purposes of the gospel. Men were provoked by 
the long-continued oppression of their liberty not only 
to struggle the more vigorously for its re-establishment, 
but, in the length and tenacity of that struggle, to view 
with too partial an estimate the immediate object for 


which they were contending, and to regard it as an end 
rather than as a means. Their first movement was not 
for the assertion of liberty essentially or primarily, but 
for the recovery of truth ; it was met on the Roman 
Catholic side, rather by the denial of freedom than by 
the refutation of falsehood ; the natural consequence has 
been an undue share of attention to the assertion of 
freedom, and a comparative laxity with regard to the 
claims of truth. And now, instead of fixing the mind 
steadily on the concurrence of these two conditions, 
truth and freedom, on both as essential, but the latter 
as subservient, we seem to have absorbed the concep 
tion of the paramount in that of the secondary object, 
studious only to respect liberty, but resting with in 
fatuated indifference in that state of division, which tes 
tifies against us that the Christians of this day are not 
fulfilling all the mind of the Redeemer respecting his 

33. And thus we may sometimes read* in the popular 
productions of the day, that it is vain to look for uni 
formity in religious opinion, except when the human 
mind is in a state of stagnation, and that our divisions 
are our homage to the truth. O melancholy and 
miserable avowal ! Then error is the condition of 
our mental activity, and we can only hold truth by 
holding it not as truth, by holding it mechanically and 
not rationally, by compulsion and not by option ! Who 
shall choose between such wretched alternatives ? And 
yet to lose our right is better than to abuse it. And 
we do abuse it, because we rest content with a state 
* Miss Martineau on America ; Chapter on Religion. 


of facts where schism is manifestly chargeable upon 
some one, without making it the subject of supplication 
and of effort, that the church may again be one body, 
as it was when St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians. We 
do abuse it, because we acquiesce in differences of 
doctrine upon points ever taught by the church, and 
deal with them as matters of unconcern. But no truth 
clearly revealed is matter of unconcern. The main 
demonstration of our unhealthy condition is in this, that 
while we know that unity must be a condition of truth, 
we are so little moved by the manifest want of unity, and 
by] the conclusion which that want of unity establishes. 
34. For let it not be said, in the face of common sense, 
that the obscurity of the things themselves is the real 
cause of our differences. I indeed readily admit, that 
were every one called upon to exercise his private 
judgment to the extent of an intellectual analysis of every 
proposition in our creeds, there would be so extreme a 
disparity between such a task and the competency of 
men, such as on the average they have been, to perform 
it, that many differences must be the result. But this is 
not the case. It requires little of intellectual power to 
read and understand, that the church was ordained to 
be one body and one spirit. It is quite as clear that 
our present " denominations" witness of us unequivocally 
that we are not one body. Here was a precept plain 
as an axiom of Euclid ; and for men to differ on it was 
not less absurd, than it would be if varieties of opinion 
were maintained in reference to those axioms, and 
vindicated by a reference to the supposed peculiarities 
of individual minds. 


35. At what point have we now arrived, or, at least, to 
what goal do we approach ? Freedom of assent, sim 
ply, is the one thing needful, according to the spirit of 
modern theories : according to what is now their spirit, 
and what may soon be their letter. Yes ; for in free 
dom of assent the human pride is fed and gratified, 
whatever the matter to which assent is given ; nay, the 
inflated understanding has often more delight in assent 
ing to what is false than to what is true, because the 
voice of truth is imperative and calls only for submis 
sion, but the web of sophistry is our own work ; we are 
not mere recipients, but almost creators of its fictions ; 
and we more proudly adhere to the creature of our own 
mind than to a truth extrinsic to us, and independent 
of us, neither owning nor owing to us any obligation. 

36. And thus we forget that there is a substantive, 
changeless truth of God revealed, for which we ought 
ever to be striving, and of which unity is the essential 
condition, as well as freedom. Unity is the essential 
condition of that truth in itself. Free assent is the 
essential condition of its satisfactory reception, of its 
reasonable indwelling in us. The Roman Catholic 
church suppressed, in her tyranny, the latter of these 
great laws. The spirit of infidelity, assuming the name 
and the colours of Protestantism, has equally set aside the 
former. And now, instead of mourning over our divi 
sions, and labouring and praying them away, we treat 
them as matters of no moment ; we deal with truth as 
if it had no prototype, but were a mere image, deriving 
its origin from each individual mind, and having no 
higher existence beyond it : we rest in our own defective 


approximations, or capricious caricatures, as if they 
were indeed that which God had revealed. 

37. Now of these two dangers, it may be true that 
that embodied in the practice of the Roman Catholic 
church had made more progress towards its consumma 
tion than the other has as yet achieved. But is it not 
equally true, that the consummation of that other will 
be far more terrible ? For better is it to divest man 
of his attributes, and to prostrate him even as a machine 
before the throne of his God, however the service ren 
dered to that God be thereby lowered and curtailed, 
than to educate and expand these attributes for the 
purpose of turning them, in their maturity and their 
strength, against Him who gave them, and who can 
take them away, or can render them as fruitful of tor 
ment, in their abuse, as they would have been, while 
used in His service, of permanent delight. In the first 
supposition we perceive a diminished benefit ; but, in the 
second, there is a creation of positive evil, entirely sup 
planting and expelling the gracious gift of Christianity. 

38. In England, to which we must now direct our 
regard, the case was widely different from that of the 
Continent. Her reformation did not destroy, but suc 
cessfully maintained, the unity and succession of the 
church in her apostolical ministry. We have, there 
fore, still among us the ordained, hereditary witnesses 
of the truth, conveying it to us through an unbroken 
series, from our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. 
This is to us the ordinary voice of authority ; of authority 
equally reasonable and equally true, whether we will 
hear or whether we will forbear ; of authority which 


does not supersede either the exercise of private judg 
ment, or the sense of the church at large, or the supre 
macy of Scripture ; but assists the first, locally applies 
the second, and publicly witnesses to the last. 

39. The efforts of the church to reform herself must 
not be assumed to imply the abrogation of the supreme 
power in her, the channel of vitality, through which 
it is derived to all the members. Men may be tempted 
to argue, that as a political society, abrogating its 
government and instituting a new one, does not cease 
to be the same society, however wrongful the act may 
have been, so the church did not undergo any rupture 
of her visible continuity, because a new government 
was instituted, and the fountain-head of the old one 
stopped. Suppose we admit the truth of the fact 
adduced in illustration, the vital difference, and the 
failure of the analogy, is here that while any aggre 
gation of men may become a political society, they 
cannot become a Christian church of their own will. 
The being of the church depends upon gifts ; those 
gifts cannot be had without the sacraments and the 
teaching of the church, and they have been committed, 
by One whose acts we cannot annul, to the custody of 
the Christian ministry. 

40. As respects the first part of the inquiry into the 
Anglican doctrine of private judgment, we shall find it 
easy to show that our church never taught that men were 
free to frame any religion from Scripture which they 
pleased, or to form a diversity of communions. But were 
the acts of her reformation such as to destroy the effect 
of her doctrine of catholic consent ? The acts of her 


reformation established the claim of the nation to be 
free from external control of any living power in mat 
ter of religion, but not from catholic consent. It is a 
mere fiction to say that the English reformation was 
grounded on the doctrine of private judgment. It as 
serted merely this, that the nation was ecclesiastically 
independent, and this, not of catholic consent, but of 
foreign authority. Subsequently, indeed, her Reforma 
tion wrought out the result of freeing the individual also 
from the control of the nation by its physical power 
as a nation ; but it never ceased to recognise the princi 
ple of religious authority binding on the conscience, 
which remains enshrined in her Twentieth Article, and 
in the canon of 1571. The opinions of some of the in 
dividuals instrumental in our reformation were, per 
haps, nearly the same as those originally professed by 
continental Protestants ; but in England they took more 
of permanent effect, because the organisation of the 
church, through God's peculiar mercy, was still preserved 
to us. Let us now turn, first to the doctrinal, and sub 
sequently to the historical, elucidation of our subject. 

41. Even in the heat of the reformation, and its poli 
tical accompaniments, indeed at the very time when the 
pope had issued his deposing bull, and the Romanists 
of England had just seceded from the church, the church 
of England most authoritatively declared, by the canon 
of 1571, its adhesion to the principle of catholic consent, 
as establishing the right interpretation of Scripture in 
all cases where this consent is unequivocally declared. 
She there, in further development of her Article, enun 
ciates the principle that Scripture contains all things 


necessary for salvation ; but in determining the further 
question, what are the things which it contains ? she re 
quires that we should look to the sense of primitive an 
tiquity, as affording, wherever it has been declared, the 
most legitimate and probable method of ascertaining the 
doctrine of the Bible. These are its memorable words : 
" Imprimis videbunt concionatores, ne quid unquam 
doceant pro condone, quod a populo religiose teneri et 
credi velint, nisi quod consentaneum sit doctrines Vete- 
ris aid Novi Testamenti, QUODQUE exilldipsd doctrind 
Catholici patres et veteres Episcopi cottegerint*" 
Canon xix. A. D. 1571. Doubtless to very many readers 
this canon will appear as a startling novelty ; yet did it 
express the indubitable, the uniform doctrine, of our 
great Reformers ; and even those among them who 
were partially affected by the strong sympathetic ten 
dencies j~ of the period to recede from Roman doctrine 
without sufficient grounds (I may mention the venerable 
names of Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Jewel), re 
mained firm and undoubting whether in the closet, from 
the pulpit, or at the stake, in the doctrine of catholic 

42. There is an irreconcilable hostility between this 

* See for proof in detail, Palmer on the Church, Part II. ch. vi. See 
also Faber's postscript to the preface in " The Primitive Doctrine of 
Justification," pp. xxxiv. xli. This opinion will be unsuspected, and 
will deservedly carry great weight. Reference has been made elsewhere 
to the dispassionate arid philosophical testimony of Mr. Hallam, " Lite 
rature of Modern Europe," vol. I. ch. iv. pp. GO, 61. In No. 78 of the 
publication entitled " Tracts for the Times," will be found a collection of 
Anglican testimonies on the subject. 

t In the first and second editions, the word " influences" was introduced 
through an error on my part, and besides confounding the grammar of the 
sentence altered the sense which it was intended to convey. 


view of the rule of faith and the modern idea of private 
judgment, according to which it is a kind of impiety to 
suffer the intervention of any middle authority between 
the sacred Scripture and a man's own mind. A man is 
to ask himself the question, Does this appear so to me ? 
but where the matter has appeared differently to the 
universal church, is he not also to ask himself the fur 
ther question, Is it more probable that I or that they 
should be right ? And yet, what should we think of one 
who had never quitted his native place, and who should 
interpret the customs of a foreign or ancient nation 
according to his own antecedent notions of propriety 
and probability, rather than by the direct testimony 
of travellers and eye-witnesses, or of antiquarians 
and students ? It will be said that there is a divine 
illuminating grace given to the individual believer ; so 
there was and is to the church, and this great truth, 
if it alters the relative authority at all, alters it in 
favour of the church, and against the private person. 

43. Without holding an infallibility in the church, ex 
cept as to fundamental truths ; and aware of no test by 
which fundamental truths can be infallibly ascertained ; 
we find that the law of probable evidence is as binding 
on a rational agent as that which we term demonstrative ; 
not to mention that there must, in the case of human 
beings, always, even on the Roman theory, be one link in 
which the infallibility fails to be transmitted, namely, the 
last, by which the truth has its access to the mind of the 
individual, through his own perceptions. This law of 
probable evidence then we are called upon to examine, to 


appreciate, and to follow ; and we may think the dictate 
of reason will be, that we should prefer adopting the 
quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, to our own 
conclusions from the sacred text, where they are at 
issue with the catholic interpretation. 

44. Upon which, however, it is necessary to make 
these observations : We do not in such a principle 
disparage divine grace, and the efficacy of prayer. In 
truth, our prayers are best approved and answered by 
our being directed to adopt the likeliest means of ascer 
taining the Christian verity ; and, if the witness of the 
universal church be the most probable criterion of truth, 
then in adopting it we shall have the greatest reason to 
recognise a divine answer to our supplications. The 
early church prayed more and more fervently than we 
do. In addition it had the character and competency 
of a witness to matters of fact. The doctrines it heard 
from its founders were matters of fact, contradistin 
guished from matters of opinion, in that sense in which 
alone such a distinction ever can be fairly taken. Even 
granting that the private Christian prays with the whole 
heart, and maintaining that such prayer will generally 
bring an easy concurrence in catholic faith, yet, in the 
cases where the single and the general mind are at 
issue, we have on each side the fact of prayer, but with 
the church in its function of a witness, and its oppor 
tunities as such, and further, the accumulated strength 
of a concurrence among many witnesses. 

And again, this is a question wholly independent of 
that other, What is the voice of the church ? We do 


not say nor does the Romanist say that upon all 
points that voice has been clearly and unequivocally 
uttered ; but we say that, where there has been such 
utterance, there we are in reason and duty bound, in 
wardly bound, to hearken and follow. That there are 
such cases there is no doubt. The creeds are examples. 
There are other intermediate cases where it is presum 
able, but not clear, what was the testimony of the 
church. In all such instances, of course, the argu 
ment suffers in its cogency ; but it retains a force vary 
ing according to the probability that the consenting 
suffrage of Christian antiquity is given this way or that. 

46. -Do we then reduce private judgment to a mere 
name or shadow ? By no means. First, we have Scrip 
ture paramount over all. Next, we have the witness of 
the church, never superseding Scripture, but only assist 
ing in the interpretation of it. Thirdly, we have the 
judgment of private persons, which is by each according 
to his means to be actively exercised upon Christian 
truth. Now is this incompatible with unity ? Is it blow 
ing hot and cold in succession, to teach the unity of 
objective truth in Christianity, and the office of private 
judgment ? Then is the apostle open to this reproach, 
who said, " prove all things " exercise your private 
judgment but who also said, " hold fast that which is 
good" rest in the one authentic, real, and not merely 
apparent, conclusion. 

47. Let us look at the case of mathematical inquiry. 
I give a free assent to the propositions of Euclid ; and 
yet there is no room for doubt upon them, and it would 



be an offence against the laws of reason* to come to any 
conclusion but one. Yet that conclusion may be per 
fectly free. Freedom is opposed to force, not to cer 
tainty, nor to unity. Otherwise there were no freedom 
in the universe except where there is ignorance and 
doubt, and with the increase of our knowledge our 
liberty would be diminished. Now why is it that no 
man hesitates to accede to the propositions of Euclid, 
while many hesitate to adopt the doctrines of the gos 
pel ? Not because the latter are less certain ; but be 
cause we view the one with an incorrupt and the other 
with a corrupted faculty. While the freedom of the 
investigation depends upon the absence of external 
force, its right issue depends upon underanged ma 
chinery within ; and it is the most miserable of all our 
human delusions, that we actually require discrepancy 
of opinion require and demand error, falsehood, blind 
ness, and plume ourselves upon such discrepancy as 
attesting a freedom, which is only valuable when used 
for unity in the truth. If, however, on the other hand, 
the obscurity of religious truth be pleaded as an excuse 
for differences, it is clear that this plea does but aggra 
vate the fault of those who follow their own worse-in 
formed judgment as preferable to the better-informed 
and cumulative judgment of others. 

48. But even if we set aside these considerations, at 

* In the 13th century, when men's intellects were indulged in every 
kind of speculation, there were heresies in grammar and logic as well as 
in theology. Archbishop Peckham, for example, had to restrain the 
doctrine, at Oxford, that "Ego cum* "was as good Latin as "Ego 
curro." Wood. Annals, A. D. 1284. 


least no man will deny thus much, that the human under 
standing is actively exercised upon mathematical truths ; 
they are then referred to private judgment; private 
judgment is called upon to perceive and appreciate 
every step in the process, and to make the whole its 
own. And, further, we should say, that he who learns 
them by rote, he who accepts them in the mass, he 
who does not ascertain the continuity and connection of 
the parts, has done them and himself but imperfect 
justice. But the more accurately and carefully he 
scrutinises each, the more justice he does to them and 
himself, and the less is it probable that he should enter 
tain a doubt upon any of them. Thus the activity of 
private judgment, and the unity and strength of convic 
tion in mathematics, vary directly as each other. 

49. The purpose for which we have adduced the exact 
sciences as an illustration is, not to assume that the same 
degree of certainty is attainable by each of us upon each 
of the points of religion as in those sciences ; but that 
the association we have most of us formed, under the 
influence of vicious habit, of these two ideas, activity of 
inquiry, and variety of conclusion, is a fallacious one. 
It is owing to our infirmity and vice, wherever such an 
effect flows from such a cause. Saint Paul did not 
allow that it was meant to be so in theology, or he 
surely would not have desired Christians to prove all 
things,* if the obscurity of the subject-matter were such 
that many of them must in consequence fail of holding 
fast that which was good. Better to receive the truth 

11 1 Thess. v. 21 ; compare 1 John iv. 1. 

M 2 


without reasoning at all, than by false reasoning to lose 
it : but best of all, to receive, and, by reasoning, to ap 
prove and appropriate it. 

50. The Christian man, then, although he receives the 
truth on trust as to its details, and is most blessed in 
the continuance of a simple and a childlike spirit, and 
the voluntary abasement of his own self-will through 
life, yet is to exercise his private judgment in a degree 
proportioned to the general capacity and development 
of his understanding, not merely in order to determine 
whether there is sufficient evidence of a revelation from 
God, but also in order to be the more fully assured 
what are the matters contained in that revelation. He 
is assisted in his inquiries by the doctrine on which the 
church of England acts, like the early fathers, that of 
the sufficiency of Scripture for salvation ; so that he is 
not liable to have matter of faith imposed upon him 
from any other source. Tradition is not a co-ordinate 
authority. But it is a witness to the facts of the case, 
and he, acting in the character of a judge upon his own 
religious belief, is bound to hear that witness, and to 
judge, according to the balance of probabilities, whether 
it is not more likely to convey in a disputed point the 
mind of God, than his own single impressions, which 
(by hypothesis) are either altogether new, or, where 
formerly promulgated, have been authoritatively or 
practically disavowed. That upon every point, small 
and great, he must surrender, it is not necessary for 
the general purpose to contend ; but where he finds 
antiquity and universality combined with fundament- 


ality, the conclusion is inevitable, and, in proportion as 
he finds the evidence of each of those three conditions, 
is it plainly legitimate. 

51 . But perhaps those who love unity may ridicule the 
whole notion of encouraging a general spirit of inquiry 
into the ground of the doctrines of religion, and at the 
same time teaching the duty of unity, of arriving at one 
conclusion, and that one the ancient catholic creed, with 
any anticipation that that duty will be observed. And 
they may point to the state of this country and ask how 
much unity exists among us. It is a sore question. 
Our unity is very little. The abusive and irreverent 
exercise of private judgment, the forgetfulness of the 
supremacy and oneness of truth among us, is grievous. 
We have almost ceased not only to contemplate unity 
as an object, but to remember it as a duty. The mind 
of God then is unfulfilled in respect of this great duty. 
May our case soon be otherwise ! 

52. But is it not so with all His dispensations ? Is not 
their bloom wasted upon the thankless winds, and their 
seed upon the barren ground ? Was not Christ incar 
nate for us all ; and did He not declare that the many 
would still walk in the broad paths of destruction ? 
Why then should we murmur, or why be amazed, that, 
while His universal redemption takes not full effect in 
the purpose of saving souls, so that part of His will 
which enjoins unity should remain a law precious in 
deed but despised ? None of the other moral duties 
of man for the cognisance of truth is a moral duty 
are adequately fulfilled ; and yet no one would 


think of meeting this evil by substituting for a genuine 
code of ethics, which is necessarily indeterminate, a set 
of mechanical regulations. 

53. We are to remember that He has commanded 
unity, but not unity alone. He has commanded truth, 
and proof of the truth : the vigorous application of the 
intellect to the dogmas, the blessed dogmas, of theology, 
and their firm, tenacious embrace upon the ground of 
laborious experience and intimate personal conviction. 
Now we may fairly ask our brethren in the Roman 
church, whether they think the duty of " proving all 
things " is adequately taught or practised in their 
church ? Whether a mechanical and superficial unity 
has not been substituted for that unity which has the 
guarantee of conviction, deep and solid ? Whether in 
fear of the abuse they have not greatly limited the use 
of the human faculties ? Whether the free agency of 
man is suitably considered and provided for in [their 
method of administering the word of God to the people ? 
Whether, in the fear of its irreverent and controversial 
handling, they do not deprive the mass of believers of 
much of that sincere milk which they would receive in 
innocence and simplicity without wandering into the 
thorny ways of pride and of discussion ? 

54. We adopt, then, in connection these great princi 
ples : the unity of the church, and of the faith whereof 
the church is a part ; and the free subjection of that faith 
to private scrutiny. It is true that their junction looks 
like paradox. But it is the paradox of Saint Paul. 
And though we may not seek paradox for ourselves, we 


may not refuse revealed truth when to our imperfect 
view it seems to bear that aspect. 

55. It will, however, be objected : of what use is it 
thus to simplify the operations of private judgment by 
directing the minds of men to the duty of remaining at 
all events in one communion ; when there are now many 
claimants for the title of the church more or less ex 
clusive, so that, in order to decide in which of the bodies 
he finds the nearest representation of the true church, 
a man must go into the details of all the particular 
questions contested between them ? No doubt there is 
a great difficulty here ; but who ever heard of a state of 
neglected duty and of obstinacy in sin, which was to 
be escaped without difficulty ? Perhaps the very un 
easiness which the contemplation of that difficulty 
creates is the first step towards a remedy. 

56. But however that may be, it is irrelevant to the 
present purpose, which is to show that there is a pre 
cept, plain, broad, and unequivocal, such as none could 
mistake, which if men had preserved, thus applying 
obedience to what was manifest, and waiting in faith for 
the elucidation of what was obscure, they would have 
remained in the way of God's commandments, and in the 
train of His blessing and illumination. So that private 
judgment alone was not that upon which our differences 
are chargeable, but its neglectful and irreverent use ; 
nay, in many cases, its disuse, and the following of mere 
caprice and passion under the shelter of its name. 

57. Our first step then is to inquire whether the 
mind of God declared in his word manifestly be that the 


church should be one body. It is a subsequent exami 
nation, whether the present state of disruption be 
chargeable on one, or on all, or in what proportions on 
different communions ; and how we should set about 
any remedy. That first step we allege will establish a 
broad truth, which truth will be a natural basis for 
further operations. In the mean time let us recollect, 
that the difficulty did not commence with Protestantism. 
It began, at least, with the Greek separation. The 
divisions of the church, before the Reformation, though 
fewer, and leaving more points undisputed, were as un 
questionable as they now are, and had accordingly the 
same connection with the apostolic doctrine of " one 
body, one spirit." 

58. It may, however, be thought that a contradiction 
to these views of the spirit of the English Reformation 
is practically found in the circumstance that the Scrip 
tures were freely given to the people by our reformers ; 
for it may be urged, that easy access to them would na 
turally beget diversity of opinions, and that these again 
must raise schisms in the church. Now as to the free 
circulation of the Holy Bible, there is no doubt (God be 
thanked) of the fact, that it was the first religious move 
ment of our Reformation in England to place the Scrip 
tures in a position of accessibility to the mass of the com 
munity. And further, at a time when the pressure of Pu 
ritanism had begun to be felt, and stringent measures to 
be taken for repressing a tendency to excess in religious 
change, we still find no jealousy existing on this head. 
In the Articles of Metropolitical Visitation, dated 1567, 


one of the points to be inquired into is, whether any 
of the ministers (of the cathedral and collegiate 
churches) " do, either privily or openly, teach any un 
wholesome, erroneous, seditious doctrine ; or discourage 
any man from the reading of the Holy Scriptures 
soberly for his edifying." * But lest any should draw 
hence an unwarranted inference, I quote a subsequent 
passage, which denounces those Avho maintain, " that 
it is not lawful for any particular church or province to 
alter the rites and ceremonies publicly used to better 
edification ;" or " that any man may or ought, by his 
private authority, to do the same" 

59. Thus we perceive that there is nowhere any idea 
involved of alteration in the faith itself; and that, there 
fore, neither the church nor individuals are viewed as 
having any power to do more than receive and transmit 
the one immutable truth with their best fidelity ; while, 
in matters of discipline, a power of alteration is asserted 
for the church, to which the natural functions of an 
organised body must belong, but expressly denied to the 
individual members of that body. And yet, simultane 
ously herewith, there was a provision intended to secure 
for the people the use of the Scriptures. To some this 
may appear a gross inconsistency. In my view it is far 
otherwise ; and the conduct of our then ecclesiastical 
rulers in this very matter was the brightest page in the 
history of the Reformation. They were not responsible for 
the abuse of a gift which God had bestowed on man, and 

* Strype's Life of Parker, Appendix, No, LIU, 


which they thought themselves bound, according to their 
power, to secure to him. They contemplated the Scrip 
tures as food appointed for the universal people of God, 
and the critical examination of them as the accident, 
and not the essence, of their relation to us. They saw 
the truth in its simplicity, and legislated on the suppo 
sition that others would see it also, and prize it and hold 
it for Itself, and anxiously separate from it anything of 
private whim or notion, and endeavour to ascertain 
their own soundness in the faith by assuring themselves 
that their creed was conformable to that of the catholic 
church of Christ. 

60. At least it may be said, their supposed doctrine 
of catholic consent has failed to preserve unity, witness 
our actual state in religion. It is too true, that the 
principle has not exercised an universal sway, and may 
even be unknown to many, who deem themselves at 
tached and intelligent members of the Anglican church ; 
but it is by no means clear that this was chargeable 
upon our Reformation. It seems more fairly attribut 
able to these circumstances : the remembered excesses 
of Romanism through its long dominion, which" engen 
dered a jealousy of everything bearing its resemblance ; 
the banishments and contact with Geneva under queen 
Mary ; the papal bulls, which engendered recusancy 
under queen Elizabeth ; the association of Puritanism 
in the seventeenth century with the movement in favour 
of popular freedom ; the political influences of the 
Revolution of 1688 ; and, generally, the grand twofold 
division of Europe, which forbade the existence of a 


purely intermediate class, and the prevalent sympathy 
of the general idea and interests of Protestantism. 

61. As respects the history of our Reformation, it was 
the establishment, as we have said, of a national exemp 
tion from external restraint in matters of religion. The 
question between the nation, either through its church 
or its state, and the individual, was of subsequent 
growth : and providentially, no doubt, it was so ordered. 
Doubtless there was a deep design of God in that 
arbitrary and capricious temper of Henry VIII., which 
tended to tyranny in religious matters over the conscience 
of the subject. It was requisite in order to educate us. 
Men had been so long accustomed to look upwards to 
a visible authority, superseding, in great measure, the 
exercise of their own faculties, and destroying the idea 
of their responsibility for everything but obedience to 
its commands, that they had lost, as it were, the capacity 
of private judgment while the right was in abeyance : 
like children, placed for the first time on their feet, 
they could not walk at once, and required a guiding 
hand. Strange and monstrous as it may appear, in 
reference to individuals more advanced in their mental 
education than the mass, it was a natural, perhaps a 
necessary, accompaniment of the then state of the 
public mind, perhaps an essential condition of satis 
factory change, that, after the transmarine authority 
of the pope had been abjured, there should still have 
remained within view a power claiming little less than 
an equal degree of sanctity or of absolutism. And thus, 
in gradual relaxation, we see that a very high doctrine 
of regal headship prevailed in the reigns of Edward VI., 


Elizabeth, and James I. ; not, indeed, as estimated by 
the terms of the Articles of Religion, but as understood 
from the current sentiments and practice of the times. 

62. The first assertion, then, of religious liberty was 
for the nation, as against what lay beyond the nation, and 
not for the private individual as against all but himself. 
And the doctrine grew imperceptibly by unconscious 
and progressive deflections from the rule of arbitrary 
power. But, however it be true that the doctrine of 
private judgment was not matured in a single day or 
by a single effort, it remains strictly and demonstrably 
true, that it was born at the dawn of the Reformation, 
and grew with its growth. Its primary origin is to be 
traced to the assertion of a national liberty ; which esta 
blished the idea of a nation as a free agent in the accept 
ance of its religion, as an individual in the family of 
nations, responsible only to the great Head of that family. 

63. In order to illustrate these views, let us look to 
some facts in the first stages of the Reformation among 

The Act 24 Henry VIII. c. 12, which released the 
Church of England from papal supremacy, commences 
by setting forth the integrity of the realm of England, 
as proved from ancient documents, in its several and 
proper parts, " compact of all sorts and degrees of 
people, divided in terms, and by names of Spiritualty 
and Temporalty ;" and it proceeds : " the body Spiritual 
whereof having power, when any cause of the law 
divine happened to come in question, or of spiritual 
learning, then it was declared, interpreted, and showed, 
by that part of the said body politic, called the Spi- 


ritualty, now being usually called the English Church, 
which always hath been reputed and found of that sort, 
that both for knowledge, integrity, and sufficiency of 
number, it hath always been thought, and is also at 
this hour, sufficient and meet of itself, without the 
intermeddling of any exterior person or persons, to 
declare and determine all such doubts, and to administer 
all such offices and duties, as to their rooms spiritual 
doth appertain." 

64. We have here a clear view of the notion under 
which separation took place. The nation of England 
said : We are an organised and integral whole, both in 
secular and spiritual matters, capable of self-govern 
ment and self-direction. But in thus establishing the 
independence and integrality of the nation as a collec 
tive body, there is no trace of any regard whatever to 
the private judgment of the individuals composing that 
nation in a separate and personal capacity. Extrinsic 
control was repudiated in terms bearing evident refer 
ence to the pope, but the question was not even mooted, 
whether internal differences should be tolerated. It was 
assumed, that the unity of the nation would provide 
means for its own maintenance, with reference to spiritual 
matters, as it had always done with, reference to temporal 
matters, and sometimes, nor upon unimportant occasions, 
even in subjects relating to ecclesiastical arrangements. 

65. Nor let it be thought that the Romish party were 
behind those inclined to Protestantism in their recogni 
tion of a paramount spiritual authority within the 
bounds of the nation itself, when unable to enforce the 
papal claims. In the Act for the Six Articles, dated 


1543, it is enacted, that the simple declaration of the 
king shall be absolute upon matters of religion ; and the 
penalties due to heresy are denounced against all who 
shall impugn it. Now this most tyrannical Act, this 
most absolute assertion of a regal infallibility in matters 
of religion, was carried under the influence of Gardiner 
and the Romanists, and in the teeth of the most deter 
mined opposition on the part of archbishop Cranmer. 

66. It is due to truth that observation should be atten 
tively fixed upon the fact, that in England the question 
of private judgment was more remote from the imme 
diate subject-matter of the Reformation than abroad. 
With us the question lay simply between the nation 
and the pope of Rome, and its first form as a religious 
question had reference purely to his supremacy. Thus 
the individual was not at all brought into the fore 
ground, nor impelled to any distinct line in doctrinal 
matters. But in the cases of Luther and Zuinglius 
respectively, the first quarrel was upon matter of doc 
trine : as regards the former, and still more as regards 
the latter, this quarrel had continued for some space 
of time before the papal supremacy came to issue with 
the rebellious movement. And then it came to issue 
not primarily with a nation claiming freedom, but with 
the religious opinions of individuals. True, they were 
supported by the communities in which they respect 
ively lived ; but in England the question was first 
national, and then became doctrinal and personal: in 
Germany and Switzerland it was first doctrinal and 
private, and then became national, or rather, indeed, 
political. The idea of religious division must obviously 


have been much earlier suggested to individuals in the 
latter cases than in the former. 

67. All the further stages of the "growth of private 
judgment in England belong to the history of toleration. 
Authority here was not abolished, but it was fixed in 
the national organs, both civil and religious, the former 
acting on behalf of the latter. The state still attempted 
to maintain for the church the unlawful principle of 
external physical control, though with immediate and 
progressive advances towards the renunciation of that 
false doctrine. It has long been repudiated ; and there 
now remains for the maintenance and recovery of unity, 
in the interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, only that 
spiritual sanction of religious truth, which is termed 
catholic consent. It has been shown, we trust, that the 
English Reformation is responsible for the abolition of 
constraint from without in matter of religion, but is not 
responsible for the neglect of the inward obligation to 
hold, instead of ever-shifting opinion, that body of truth 
which we have inherited from our Lord and his apostles. 
I have deemed it strictly relevant thus to state and 
vindicate the Anglican doctrine in respect to private 
judgment, in order to distinguish it from that abusive 
and more recent theory with which the Reformers are 
unjustly charged, and which now unfolds from day to 
day its disorganising tendencies in immediate relation to 
our subject : and, having done so, I proceed to consider 
the specific manner in which the growth of private 
judgment in its two successive senses has affected, 
does affect, and may hereafter yet further affect, he 
connection between the church and the state. 




1 13. Of toleration, and how it is related to liberty of conscience and to 
private judgment. 14 18. Subject indicated, and forms of European 
state policy with respect to private opinion in religion classified. 1 9 26. 
Nationality a leading feature of the English Reformation. 27, 28. A 
vicious influence subsequently developed. 2948. An historical 
sketch of the policy of the state respecting religious differences down 
to the Revolution of 1688. 49 60. A similar outline from the Revolu 
tion of 1688 to the present day. 61 72. Steps by which a state may 
progressively advance from the toleration of different religions, or forms 
of religion, to a recognition of their perfect equality, by the indiscrimi 
nate admission of their professors to office, and by affording to them a 
common support. 73, 74. Nor is it likely to rest there. 75, 76. Our 
own position. 77. A retrospect of the argument. 78 83. A parallel 
and co-operating political influence. 

1. WE have fully considered* the reasons which appear 
to give religion a place among the ends and the condi 
tions of good government ; and it requires no lengthened 
argument to demonstrate, that if it is properly to be in 
cluded among them at all, then its inclusion in a right 
manner must be of transcendent importance. 

2. Previously to the Reformation > this theory was car 
ried out simply and easily into practice. There was a ge 
neral recognition of the law of external unity in religion, 

* Chap. II. 


and of civil penalties as amongst the appropriate sanc 
tions of that law. Upon this maxim (destitute as it ap 
pears to us of support from Scripture) the whole powers 
of the government became at once applicable to the pre 
vention of schism ; it was regarded like an infraction 
of the public peace ; and the secular magistrate afforded 
to the church his forcible but heterogeneous guarantees 
for a security too dearly purchased by a sacrifice of 
truth and duty, in the supersession of our functions as 
rational beings with reference to the trying and proving 
of religious doctrine. 

3. But so long as this principle was maintained in its 
vigour, the general preservation of the external unity 
remained a natural result ; and so long as the external 
unity was very generally preserved, no serious impedi 
ment could arise to prevent governors from recognising 
their obvious duty, and no less obvious interest in the 
maintenance and advancement of religion, embodied as 
it was, so as to render it yet more apt for their purpose, 
in the conspicuous and permanent institutions of the 
Christian church. 

4. But at the Reformation we enter upon an era alto 
gether new, in respect of the present subject. Here we 
find springing up by slow degrees two new principles : 
the first, that of liberty of conscience, or, as it has other 
wise been called, the right of private judgment; the 
second, that of toleration, which has also been desig 
nated by the phrase, " liberty of conscience," for it has 
rarely been attempted to treat of the matter now before 
us with much precision of thought or language. Each 



of them has, we believe, a distinct province, a legiti 
mate meaning, in which they indicate what is both 
right and expedient ; and a hazard of attendant or con 
sequent excess, which we now see in no small degree 
attaining its realization, and which ultimately involves 
results the most destructive both to our individual and 
our social welfare. 

5. Each of them has a distinct province. The question 
of private judgment respects our religious position ex 
clusively, while that of toleration has its subject matter 
in the region of civil politics. The question of private 
judgment depends, as has been shown, upon the right 
or duty of the individual (they are correlative) to try 
or prove, according to his capacity, the religious doc 
trines presented to him, and to pronounce upon them 
for himself. The question of toleration regards the 
right or duty of the state to assume the function of a 
judge in matter of religion, and to coerce or incommode 
individuals on account of the variations in opinion inci 
dent to the exercise of this right of private judgment. 
The former must evidently be decided by a reference 
to the principles upon which we are constituted in the 
church of Christ. The latter inquires whether the 
state has any, and what concern in the answer to be 
given to the former question. But the principle of 
toleration is evidently and naturally consequent upon 
that of private judgment. For where private judgment 
is established, the individual chooses for himself; but 
where toleration is denied, the state, pro tanto, extin 
guishes his free agency and supersedes his choice. 


6. Each of them has a legitimate sense. The doctrine 
of private judgment is a noble principle, while it is 
understood to assert our Obligation individually, and 
according to our individual opportunities and capacities, 
to exercise our minds upon the topics of divine reve 
lation, and strive to assure and realise to ourselves 
the inestimable blessing of the truth in each and all its 
parts. It then constitutes in fact, as we have seen, a 
simple exhibition of the apostolic precept; addressed to 
the believers of Thessalonica in the mass ;* " prove all 
things, hold fast that which is good." Those few but 
pregnant words both fully state and effectually guard 
the doctrine. 

7. The principle of toleration is likewise in itself of 
pure and untainted origin. It rests, I apprehend, upon 
some such ground as this. We, as fallible creatures, 
have no right, from any bare speculations of our own, 
to administer pains and penalties to our fellow crea 
tures, whether on social or on religious grounds. We 
have the right to enforce the laws of the land by such 
pains and penalties, because it is expressly given by 
Him who has declared that the civil rulers are to bear 
the sword for the punishment of evil doers, and for the 
encouragement of them that do well. And so in things 
spiritual, had it pleased God to give to the church or 
the state this power, to be permanently exercised over 
their members, or mankind at large, we should have the 
right to use it ; but it does not appear to have been so 

* 1 Thess. v. 21. 

N 2 


received, and, consequently, it should not be exercised. 
The Church appears to have afforded a very general 
attestation to this truth as regards herself, by dele 
gating to the civil power, in most cases at least, the 
office of performing the most sanguinary decrees of 
punishment for offences ecclesiastical. Now the prin 
ciple of toleration simply affirms for the state what the 
church has in practice generally affirmed for herself 
an exemption from that painful office, by disclaiming 
the right to punish in loss of goods, liberty, or life, for 
error or heresy in religion. 

8. It is not, therefore, because we believe civil rights 
to be more important than religious doctrines, that we 
would use a power for the defence of the one which we 
decline to employ for the propagation of the other ; 
although too often some such vicious inference is drawn 
by persons reasoning ill or not at all, from such a con 
duct on the part of the state. But it is because God 
has seen fit to authorise that employment of force in 
the one case, and not in the other ; for it was with 
regard to chastisement inflicted by the sword, for an in 
sult offered to himself, that the Redeemer declared his 
kingdom not to be of this world, meaning apparently, 
in an especial manner, that it should be otherwise than 
after this world's fashion, in respect to the sanctions by 
which its laws should be maintained. 

9. Further, each of the phrases now before us had an 
abusive sense, and an attendant hazard. Private judg 
ment as has been shown, becomes a gross delusion, 
when in proving or pretending to prove all things, 


we forget the end of that preparatory duty, namely, 
to hold fast that which is good. Good ; but how ? 
good in itself, or good for us ? good in itself, and 
therefore good for us ; if not for us as we are, yet for us 
as we ought to be, and as, if we receive the truth into 
our bosoms, we shall be. We are miserably deluded 
when we forget that the office of private judgment is 
not, after all, an exclusively or even mainly intellectual 
office, and that it essentially depends for its right dis 
charge less upon the understanding than the conscience. 
10. And the theory of toleration too, however pure in 
itself, has been associated with a series of consequences 
not less abusive nor less pernicious. A^hen, from the 
duty of forbearance on the part of governments with 
regard to the repression of religious error through civil 
penalties, men have gone on to infer that the state 
should refrain from the use of due and appropriate, as 
well as of undue because unauthorised means for that 
purpose ; and when thus unlawfully arguing from a 
particular forbearance to general inaction, they further 
connect with inaction indifference, and with indifference 
incapacity on the part of government to aid the advance 
ment of religion by public means : then indeed the 
doctrine of toleration becomes not in itself a falsehood, 
but yet involved with a series of falsehoods so subtle as 
to be, without great care and pains, inextricably inter 
woven with them in the common apprehensions of men. 
This confusion, however, is likely, within no long 
period, to terminate ; for some among the modern advo 
cates of latitudinarian principles have, both in and out 


of Parliament, begun of late years to treat with con 
tempt the notion and the phrase of toleration as wholly 
inadequate to carry out their real schemes, while it is 
no longer needed to conceal them. 

1 1 . We most observe, however, yet more specifically, 
that two very different classes of subjects have been 
treated, the one erroneously, and the other correctly, as 
belonging to the question of toleration. The principle 
of toleration is this, in its proper form, that civil penalty 
or prohibition be not employed to punish or to preclude 
a man's acting on his OAVH religious opinions. In the 
largest extent which can properly be assigned to it, it 
requires that no privilege or benefit which he is capable 
of receiving rightly arid beneficially be withheld on ac 
count of religious opinions from the party professing 
them. All matters falling within these sets of condi 
tions belong to the first class of subjects, and to the pure 
question of toleration. 

12. But if penalties be inflicted upon the holders of 
certain religious opinions on account of the safety of 
the state, and because those religious opinions are be 
lieved hostile to it, here there may be an error in judg 
ment, or there may be in humanity, with a thousand 
other faults, but there is no intentional infringement of 
the principle of toleration. Much less is it contra 
vened when privilege or office is withheld, because 
it is believed that there are in the creed of the excluded 
person faults of omission and commission, which of 
themselves disqualify him from rightly exercising 
the privilege or filling the office. All cases of these 


latter descriptions (and our history furnishes them in 
abundance) are inaccurately treated as belonging to the 
question of toleration. 

13. They may, however, intermix with the former 
classes ; punishment may be inflicted, or exclusion en 
forced, from a complex regard to the proscribed creed, 
partly as a deviation from truth, and partly as a cause 
of incapacity in the person, and danger to the state. In 
whatever degree the former element may have prevailed, 
the question becomes one of toleration. Where the 
Litter considerations were predominant, we fall back 
upon the questions, how far civil government is in its 
best and proper state a religious function, requiring 
religious motives and observances, and proposing reli 
gious ends ; and how far the epithet religious, in order 
to be practical in its meaning, must be attached to some 
particular mode or modes of belief or of communion ? If 
Ave find that government is essentially religious, then we 
are not guilty of intolerance in shutting out from it those 
who deny to it that character, either expressly, or by as 
signing to the term a vague and impalpable signification ; 
while undoubtedly we are open to that charge, if the ques 
tion on the nature of government be otherwise decided. 
14. The subject of private judgment, as an ecclesi 
astical principle, has already been sufficiently examined ; 
it remains to regard its operations as they affect the 
Church, not directly by influencing the religious cha 
racter of its members, but indirectly by their bearing 
on the particular question of connection between the 
Church and the State : to observe how they lead us, 


through truth, by successive stages into latitudinarian- 
ism and infidelity, connecting all along even their worst 
results with the. name and pretence of protestantism. 
It has been already shown how the first effect of the 
Reformation was to establish the national spiritualty in 
independence, by calling home a duty, which had been 
delegated to a foreign see, and grossly perverted by it. 
We must now consider the co-ordinate influences of 
that period in their ulterior operations, and their gra 
dual modification of the union between the church and 
the state, first by progressively evolving the principles 
and practice of toleration, and then through the abusive 
inferences which men have unwarrantably drawn, and 
which tend to dissociate the principles of government 
and of religion. We shall see in succession a long series 
of changes, each very subtly and invisibly, yet most really, 
connected, but involving a transition from positive good 
towards equally positive evil ; and all bearing the marks 
of the most comprehensive forecast and design, of inti 
mate relation to the development of the most weighty 
results upon human character and destiny. Let us 
trust that the ominous phenomena have been projected 
before their time by a merciful Wisdom, in order to 
arouse us ere we reach that period when the govern 
ment shall have been made as well as deemed equally 
incapable in the matter of religion, with the most inca 
pable of its component parts ; when political science 
shall have become deliberately false to its first prin 
ciples ; when the state shall be first theologically, then 
morally ; first collectively, then in its component parts, 


without a conscience. Now is the time when men 
should halt in their forward inarch, and consider where 
they stand, and whither their road will lead them. 

15. And we shall derive much instruction from further 
finding how the later among the ahove-mentioned pro 
cesses are blended with a progressive relaxation in the 
theory of civil government ; and how each advance 
made in the one facilitates a corresponding step in the 
other ; thus affording the most solemn and judicial at 
testation to the reality and permanency of those religious 
principles of government for which we are contending, 
and showing us how vainly we strive, by devices of our 
own, against the fixed laws and tendencies of nature, 
and of the God of nature, vindicating himself in our dis 
appointment when we have overlooked His immutable 

16. We may embody, in the following forms, the 
principles of conduct which modern governments have, 
under different circumstances, adopted, or which have 
been proposed for their adoption, with regard to the 
support of religion and ta the treatment of varieties in 
its profession.* 

(1.) The first and most comprehensive position is, 
that uniformity in the Christian religion is absolutely 
essential to citizenship. 

(2.) The next, that uniformity on all points of the 
Christian religion is desirable for citizenship, and 
essential to offices of political trust and privilege ; and 
that, even for citizenship, unanimity in fundamentals 
cannot be dispensed with. 

* See a statement of this kind in Mr. Hallam's Constitutional His 
tory, vol. i. ch. iii. p. 180, 4to. 


(3.) Contemporaneous with this modification is the 
growth of a third opinion, which views heresy less as 
an antecedent disqualification, poisoning, as it were, 
the characters of men, than as a prohable cause of overt 
acts directly injurious to the state, through fear of which 
overt acts, means are used to exact disclaimers and ab 
jurations, and the heretical worship generally is discou 
raged and repressed. 

(4.) A fourth form is, that separatism should be 
stifled by prevention of its assemblies, rather than fol 
lowed by absolute penalties. 

(5.) A fifth stage of government policy is this : that 
every citizen should hold those principles of what is 
(perversely) termed natural religion, which have an 
immediate bearing on the safety of civil society ; and 
that he is a legitimate object of banishment or other 
penalty if he do not. This theory however has not 
been tested experimentally. 

(6.) That Christianity under some form is essential 
to office, but that all religious creeds which are primd 
facie serious and sincere, or even unbelief, if appearing 
under the same aspect, are to be tolerated, is a sixth 
and later form, under which we now live in England. 

(7.) That all forms of religion, or of professed Chris 
tianity, should receive active and pecuniary support 
from the State. 

(8). That all should alike be refused it. 

17. Together with most of these has coexisted, among 
us, the active assistance of the state to a national form of 
religion ; and, though with partial exceptions, its gene 
rally exclusive assistance. At this stage, the sole reli- 


gious limitation on the possession of power is the name 
of Christianity : and experience shows that this barrier 
is not one likely to be the most tenaciously defended, 
nor adequate to secure any sort of religious homo 
geneity in those whom it permits to enter ; while at the 
same time in theory it is one of the most plausible. 
All sects being now recognised as legally competent to 
serve the state, it begins to be a common inquiry why 
the state is to render its reciprocal service to one form 
of religion only ? They protest against national exac 
tions for the church of a portion of the nation ; they 
confound the inherited church with the invented sects ; 
they claim the indiscriminate aid of the government ; 
they destroy its conscience and personality ; they reduce 
it to a mechanical representative of popular inclinations, 
first, in reference to religion, but with the view, secondly 
and not remotely, of universalising the principle of 
sovereignty from below, and of cutting off entirely that 
homage to Religion, which, by repudiating her unity, 
has already been so enfeebled and disgraced. 

18. In a more summary view there are four great divi 
sions in the history of the subject. The first, in which 
heresy and schism were visited with civil penalty pro 
salute animcR, for the cure of the individual. This, 
we may almost say, terminated with the Reformation, 
and depended very much, though not wholly, on the 
idea of the infallibility of the church. The second, in 
which they were similarly visited, but chiefly in the view 
of preventing the infection of the society within whose 
limits they had appeared. This rather depended on the 


right of self-preservation belonging to society. It ter 
minated practically with the Revolution of 1688, or even 
earlier, as regarded Protestant Non-Conformists ; but 
remained as an opinion in the works of various writers. 
The third, in which disqualifications of a civil kind are 
imposed instead of penalties. The idea in these is dif 
ferent, and merely aims at keeping all power to injure 
the established institutions out of hands which are as 
sumed to be inimical to it. This period reaches, we 
may say, to 1829. The fourth is that in which all 
forms of religion claim from government a precisely 
equal regard, as respects either civil privileges or posi 
tive assistance. 

19. To speak of the influence of Protestantism as such 
upon the principle of union between the church and 
the state, to some may appear visionary or unintelligible 
under many circumstances it may have been latent ; 
but upon examination we shall find it to have been both 
direct and very substantial. Its character has indeed, 
at different stages, been very different : at first it would 
seem to have operated in England very favourably to 
this principle ; and we may find that more strict re 
gard has been paid to it, in some instances at least, by 
Protestant than by Romish governments. But at the 
point where Protestantism becomes vicious, where it 
receives the first tinge of latitudinarianism, and begins 
to join hands with infidelity, by superseding the belief 
of an immutable objective truth in religion necessary 
for salvation, at that very spot it likewise assumes an 
aspect of hostility to the union of church and state. 


20. The English reformation did not aim at or neces 
sitate any breach in the unity of the church ; in the 
unity, that is to say, of the visible church, or what is in 
modern days disparagingly, and without any advantage 
on the score of accuracy, called uniformity. But, since 
it did not find that a visible headship was comprised in 
the teaching of the Apostles, or attested by the ancient 
church as having come from them, it rejected that 
headship as being full of obstinately-defended abuse. 
We may be of opinion that in some conceivable forms 
it might not have been deemed objectionable ; as we 
find that Melancthon did not find in the mere exist 
ence of the papacy an insuperable obstacle to recon 
ciliation. And as the ecclesiastical law of some modern 
nations (Austria, for example) appears to afford suffi 
cient proof that, did no other obstacle exist, a bishop 
of Rome might occupy a harmless, or even possibly 
beneficial primacy in the universal church, without op 
pressing and nullifying the general jurisdiction of 
bishops, or absorbing their authority into itself.* 

21. The fault, however, and the weakness of the An 
glican reformation appears not to have lain in its rejec 
tion of the visible headship extrinsic to the nation. It 
was rather faulty in allowing the transfer of too consi 
derable a proportion of the prerogatives which Rome 
had enjoyed, to the sovereign. The doctrine has been 
ascribed to Cranmer, that the king bore both swords, 
and could create a bishop as well as a civil functionary ; 

* See the translation of the Austrian Ecclesiastical Laws into English 
by the Count dal Pozzo. Murray. 


but, although that eminent benefactor to his church 
and country appears at one time to have fallen into a 
confusion of this kind, yet it is certain, from works 
which at a later period he himself composed, that he 
clearly distinguished the spiritual from the civil cha 
racter. At the time of the accession of Edward the 
Sixth, " it was his judgment," says Strype, " that the 
exercise of all episcopal jurisdiction depended upon 
the prince.*" It does not however follow that even 
then he conceived, that ordination derived its virtue 
from the law ; but yet, from whomsoever it emanated, 
there was embodied in the practice of our ecclesiastical 
polity too much of dependence on the throne, while its 
theory was eminently reasonable. Elsewhere we have 
considered, whether this may not have been, so to speak, 
a condition necessary in order to effecting with safety 
the great transition which was to be made ; whether, if 
the idea of visible headship had been wholly discarded, 
or refined at once into its more subtle form, we might 
not have lost along with it, as was the case in other 
Protestant countries, the visible continuity of the church 
and the apostolical succession. 

22. That the question of the English reformation was 
eminently and specially national ; that it was raised 
as between this island of the free on the one hand, and 
an " Italian priest" on the other, is a remarkable truth 
which derives equally remarkable illustrations from our 
history. The main subject of contention between the 

* S try pe's Cranmer, p. 141. See Palmer on the Church (Part II. 
ch. 8), for a general vindication of Cranmer's conduct. 


state and the Romanists, or recusants, as they were 
called, was not their adhesion to this or that popish 
doctrine, but their acknowledgment of an unnational 
and anti-national head. To meet this case, the oath 
of supremacy was framed. Parado-xical as it may 
seem, the British rulers appear either to have thought, 
or to have acted as if they thought, that they were not 
requiring of Romanists anything which should do vio 
lence to their conscience in religion when they attempted 
to enforce this oath. 

23. Now let us observe both the fact, and the natu 
ral inferences. The British Government required of 
its subjects the renunciation, not of Romish doctrines, 
but of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Pope. We 
must suppose the abjuration of this particular tenet to 
have been thus exclusively required, because it was sup 
posed to indicate either a political or a religious alien 
ation on the part of those by whom it might be enter 
tained. If the former supposition be accurate, then it 
Avas not the existing church as a religious institution, 
but the secular ambition of the papal see, against which 
security was sought by renouncing its jurisdiction ; and 
we perceive the more clearly how far the idea of out 
re formers was from anything like alteration of essence, 
or the overthrow of an old church, and the erection of 
a new one. But if, on the other hand, the foreign 
headship was assailed as a religious error, connected 
with other religious evils and corruptions, then the 
rulers of the nation could only make its renunciation a 
test of competency for citizenship, because they strongly 


believed in the bearing of our religious creed upon our 
social conduct, and in the union of a religious with a 
political character in government. For why should a 
spiritual allegiance to the Pope be inconsistent with a 
patriotic allegiance to the Crown ? Only upon the 
supposition of a natural and indivisible connection be 
tween the two supremacies ; in which case it was con 
sistent and logically consequent to make the ecclesias 
tical unity an essential condition of that which is civil. 
Thus then we find the first movements of Protestantism 
in our own country to have been towards the fuller 
development and the stricter application of the prin 
ciple of a religious conscience in Government, not to 
wards its relaxation. 

24. But contemplating the English reformation on 
either side ; looking either to the entire rejection of a 
foreign headship, and the jealous care with which this 
rejection was enforced in the oath of supremacy ; or look 
ing, on the other hand, to that partial colouring of Eras- 
tianism, that disposition to wear the harness of the state, 
and to fall into a complete unity of action with it, which 
we must all discern in the history of our church at 
those times, we perceive that there is a point in which 
these different sentiments coincide, and that point is the 
strict and absolute nationality of the church a doctrine 
not inconsistent with its catholicity. The latter con 
sisted in its unity of doctrine and sacraments, and (as I 
conceive is included) of its ministry, with the universal 
church, not of the moment, but of all time ; the former 
had reference to its natural and divinely appointed 


boundaries, within which a common administrative 
power and a common agency should prevail. 

25. And thus we may interpret into languge the acts 
of the English reformation : " We find the nation like 
the family, an institution manifestly divine ; we find in 
it a personality of its own, a collective power, a collective 
responsibility. In its oneness of organisation and of 
sympathy pervading its whole framework, we recognise, 
as it were, the religious integral fitted for independent, 
though not discordant action ; independent, for we do 
not find that God has appointed any arbiter over nations, 
as in nations he has appointed an arbiter over indi 
viduals. We go therefore as far as He has gone ; we 
stop at the point where He has stopped ; we take the 
nation as, humanly speaking, free and irresponsible in re 
ligion, therefore we reject the doctrine which makes our 
church dependent on a foreign head for the exercise of 
her essential functions. But, on the other hand, within 
the limits of each nation we recognise a regular combi 
nation of rulers and ruled, as in a family, and to this col 
lective being, as such, we conceive that a religion must 
attach ; on its head naturally devolves the chief care of 
that religion, and thus the sacred trust of the sovereign 
power becomes much more definite, and much more 
illustrious from the retrenching all those prerogatives 
which the papal see exercised over us, and which had 
their seat abroad. At the same time, while we assert 
such an independence as is here described, the church 
as being Anglican does not renounce the communion 
of the Catholic body, but, sympathising with all other 



nations and their churches, freely acknowledges the laws 
which are binding in common upon all." 

26. Thus, then, both because the religion was recog 
nised as properly belonging to the nation, did it espe 
cially become the care of the head of that nation, who 
previously was, though with some, distinctions and ex 
ceptions, one of many members, all extrinsically ruled ; 
and also because the crown stood as heir-general to the 
pope in most of the prerogatives which he had so abu 
sively exercised, did the sovereign become, in an ample 
sense of the term, at the outset of our Reformation, the 
visible head of the church of England. At the com 
mencement of the reign of Elizabeth, there was a wise 
and well-timed abatement in the royal style, but a great 
substantial power remained ; and it is but just to say, 
that, during four reigns, those of Edward VI., of Eliza 
beth, of James I., and of Charles I., the duties of that 
office were discharged, if not with an unvarying purity 
or wisdom, yet, at least, as it appears to me, under a 
general conviction that the active care of the Church 
was among the most momentous duties of the sovereign, 
as well as in dignity the first ; and with a disposition to 
regard her welfare as second to no secular object. Head 
ship ascribed to the sovereign went to render the duty 
of interposition with the religion of the people, on the 
part of the government, more determinate, and to con 
centrate as well as to exhibit the obligation. 

27. And had not Protestantism, in other shapes, made 
further advances; had men been content with vindicating 
the truth, by the joint appeal to Scripture 'for authority, 


and to antiquity for attestation ; and had they been able 
to join with this vindication the sound doctrine of tole 
ration ; this lively and intimate relationship between 
the sovereign and the church of the nation might have 
remained effectual for all the purposes of good, and 
shorn of those tendencies to excess which were be 
queathed to it as remnants of the antecedent slavery of 
the national church under a Roman head. But that 
which began well, by restoring man to the condition of 
a free agent in spiritual things, and thus bringing him 
up to the level of his responsibilities as a spiritual crea 
ture, ran out into excess when it dwelt so much on pri 
vate liberty, that, without asserting propositions directly 
false, it nevertheless engendered a temperament most 
favourable to falsehood, by fixing men's attention on 
the possession rather than the end of freedom. 

28. Now we may doubt concerning such evils as were 
mixed with the greatly preponderating blessings of our 
Reformation, whether they are chargeable on those who 
promoted, or on those who opposed, after having pro 
voked it ; or in what proportions the responsibility 
ought to be divided between each ; but we cannot deny 


that, upon the removal of the tyranny then prevalent, 
there came to us, along with the good thus effected, an 
element of mischief, opening the way to multiplied divi 
sions of opinion in religion, not by the establishment of 
the Scriptures as the sole foundation, but because men 
abused their freedom, and overlooked the reasonable 
and religious helps which they ought to have employed 
in studying the sacred word. We are not now to in- 

o 2 


vestigate the manner of this influence, but to take the 
fact which is undoubted, to trace it through history, and 
to follow it out into its results upon the union between 
church and state. 

29. In this country, we are to observe, the period of 
reformation was not the period of schism. We had, 
indeed, denied the recognition of papal authority to be 
a condition of Christian unity, under Henry VIII. But 
are we, or the maintainers of the opposite affirmative, 
chargeable with the resulting division ? At least, it is 
historically clear, that England rejected not the com 
munion but the jurisdiction of Rome, and in doing 
so that she maintained the national unity unbroken. 
There were defections of individuals, but there was 
no organisation of a rival church in England until the 
twelfth year of Elizabeth, when the Pope, Pius V., 
had published his deposing bull : then began the state 
of schism in this country. The professing church was 
no longer one body, but divided itself into those who 
held with the nation, and those who held with the 
Pope. But the latter were not cast out ; they went 
at the call of the Roman see. As for the internal 
schism in the Protestant body, it was hardly percepti 
ble till the reign of Charles the First and the great 

30. From the twelfth year, therefore, of Queen Eliza 
beth, we must consider the fractional state of the Chris 
tian church in England, the parallel existence of different 
forms, not only of opinion, but of religious institution, as 
an unquestionable fact. Our rulers went to war with this 


fact; by the suppression of the rival worship, by the inflic 
tion of fine and imprisonment, and the imposition of the 
oath of supremacy. But they were using weapons un- 
suited to their character and position, and not upon the 
clear and broad, though false, principle of the Romish 
proceedings against heresy. They did not so go to war 
with schism, as did the papal power with the reforma 
tion of Italy or Spain. We do not find that they ever 
adopted the unlimited maxim of persecution for reli 
gious opinion. It is the mere cant of controversy, or 
dogmatism of ignorance, to say that Protestants and 
Romanists persecuted alike, as each got the upper hand. 
It would, on the other hand, be grossly illiberal to deny 
that Romanists could better palliate persecutions on their 
principles, than we on ours. 

31. In proof, however, of the fact, that the principle 
of persecution was soon shaken, and then progressively 
relaxed, I appeal to the very case which has often been 
quoted on the opposite side, the case of Joan Boucher, 
who was burnt as an anabaptist, by the authority of 
Edward the Sixth, and at the instance of Archbishop 
Cranmer. Even in the proceedings on the case of this 
unhappy woman, I assert that we may discover that a 
distinct approximation had already, though, perhaps, un 
wittingly, been made towards the right of private judg 
ment. For the ground on which she was put to death was, 
that, disbelieving the advent of the Redeemer in the flesh, 
or the doctrine of the Incarnation, she had thereby apos 
tatised from the fundamentals of the Christian faith. 

32. Of course it is not meant to adduce such a cir- 


cumstance as a vindication of the conduct of Archbishop 
Cranmer ; but it is very worthy of remark, that, thus 
early in the history of Protestantism, penal infliction 
for the sake of religious opinions, affecting life, should 
have been limited, at least by implication, to cases 
where a denial of fundamental truth is involved, and not 
maintained to be applicable upon the simple ground of 
disobedience to the declaration of the church as a posi 
tive law, whatever the magnitude or minuteness of the 
subject. Thus the range of persecution was at once 
very greatly narrowed, a stage preparatory to its ulti 
mate disavowal and discontinuance. And we find here 
that disposition to make unity more a matter of moral 
and less of positive obligation (to use the terms in the 
sense of Bishop Butler), to refer more to the substance 
of the truth itself, and relatively less to the voice of the 
church as its visible organ, removing all that is inter 
mediate between the objects of faith and man as its 
recipient ; which has all along been so characteristic of 
Protestantism, and which in its later stages has passed 
into gross excess. 

33. The same remarks will apply to two more persons 
who were committed to the flames under Queen Eliza 
beth, and also to the cases of two Unitarians, * one of 
whom likewise declared himself to be the Holy Spirit, 
and who were burned under James I. in 1612. A 
third was condemned to a similar fate ; but the king 
confined him for life instead of executing the original 
sentence. These instances must be set side by side with 

', * Lingard, VI., 156 (4to), chap. III. 


the practice under Romanism in order to institute a cor 
rect comparison. Now, a recent historian, Dr. Russell, 
records that a Scotchman, named Straiten, was burned 
in 1534, for denying the right of ecclesiastics to tithes.* 
The law, indeed, was mitigated more tardily than the 
practice under it and the general opinion. It was only 
by a statute of the twenty-ninth year of Charles the 
Second, that the writ de h&retico comburendo was 

34. Taking, then, the establishment of national liberty 
in religion as the first step towards the establishment of 
our personal freedom of conscience ; and the restriction 
of capital punishment to cases of dereliction from the 
faith in points universally held by the church to be es 
sential, as the second, we soon find indications of fur 
ther progress. When, under the persecution of Mary, a 
portion of our reformers had imbibed on the Continent 
those peculiar views of discipline which distinctively 
characterised the Swiss reformation ; and when this 
temper, exaggerated as it was by national tenacity (for 
the opinions of Martyr and Bucer, representing the 
continental reformers, had been in favour of conformity), 
manifested itself in a determined resistance to the habits 
appointed for the clergy under Elizabeth ; provision was 
made, as is well known, for the enforcement of the ob 
noxious regulations, and after much vacillation they 
were adhered to and established. Now it is quite true 
that civil penalties followed upon the disobedience of 
the ministers to ecclesiastical regulations. The secular 

* History of the Church in Scotland, Vol. I., p. 141. 


arm was still invoked, and its aid was afforded to church 
authority. But while the imposition itself remained 
.arbitrary, as it had been in the days of Romanism, and 
the right to coerce was asserted and even exercised, yet 
it underwent an essential change by shifting its ground. 
It was now no longer, by an authority immediately and 
necessarily divine, that matters of discipline or other 
wise were adjusted in the church, but by royal com 
mand, with ecclesiastical assent for the sake of order 
and expediency, with a view to present circumstances. 

35. In the " ordinances" or " advertisements " of the 
year 1564* (though even these were deemed too strin 
gent for enforcement in the then temper of the Queen's 
council), we find the following passage : 

" Not yet prescribinge the rules as lawes equivalent 
with the eternall worde of God, and as of necessitie to 
bynde the consciences of her subjects in the nature of 
the said lawes, considered in themselves ; or as that 
theye should e adde enye efficacie of more holynes to the 
mynystration of praier and sacraments, but as constitu 
tions meere ecclesiastical, without anye vaine supersti 
tion, as positive lawes in discipline, concernynge decency, 
distinction, and order for the tyme." 

Thus, while the right to enforce was still asserted, 
it was not only deprived of the aid of superstition, and 
divested of its sacred character, but it lost first its moral 
authority, then excited continually increasing resistance, 
and at last was surrendered as an impracticable notion. 

36. Our third step is, therefore, the descent from a 

* Strype's Parker Appendix. 


religious to a civil sanction in respect of ecclesiastical 
regulations ; not that there Avas here necessarily involved 
on the part of the church any dereliction of her appro 
priate authority. It was competent to her to enact laws 
of church discipline, as a church ; but, as a national 
establishment, she required the edict of the sovereign to 
give them force. The difference, however, was obvious 
in the face of the country, and it was a descent from 
higher to lower ground ; a descent less conspicuous at 
the time when it took place, from the severe and arbi 
trary tone of civil government during the reigns of the 
Tudors, than it afterwards became. But the authority 
of such rules having been once ascribed to a power 
mainly political, of course became subject to deteriora 
tion as the idea entertained of that power became lower 
and more familiar. 

37. But the reignof Elizabeth furnishes us with a fourth 
and a more remarkable kind of testimony to the intimate 
connection between Protestantism and toleration or the 
liberty of private judgment, which two latter, in reason 
and equity, imply one another. The great Lord Burleigh 
himself wrote atreatise, in 1583, expressly for the purpose 
of disclaiming the character of religious persecution, for 
the severities, nay cruelties, exercised against the Roman 
recusants.* He declared that the punishments inflicted 
on them for their religion were inflicted not for its doc 
trinal character, but for its social results ; the religion 
being taken simply as the index of the disposition, from 

* Mr. Hallara's Constitutional History, Chap. III. (Vol. I., p. 160, 4to), 
and Chap. IV. (Vol. I., p. 244, note, 4to.) 


which those social results were produced. Walsingham 
wrote a letter in 1580 to a similar effect. And even 
were it granted (which it is not), that the allegation 
was untrue, the circumstance would in no degree be 
weakened as a pregnant evidence of the temper of the 
age. The doctrine of religious toleration in high 
places, in the mouth of a dominant party, was a sight 
alike novel and remarkable, and whether sincere or 
assumed, it indicates that there existed somewhere an 
opinion in favour of freedom of conscience, which has 
no parallel in preceding times. If it was the view of 
Lord Burleigh and the court in the exercise of its 
power, how new the circumstance of an association be 
tween such a position and such a sentiment ! If it was 
the public feeling forced upon the government (a far 
less probable supposition), how different from that same 
feeling either in a previous generation, or in countries 
then beneath the sway of the rival church ! The fair 
question suggested by the case is this : would any minister 
have held the same doctrine in former times, or under a 
Roman Catholic government at that time ? And if 
not, how are we to account for the difference ? 

38. We find, in addition, an authentic evidence, in the 
very Act of the 5th Elizabeth, chap. 1, sect. 17, of the 
principle on which the oath of supremacy was taken. 
The passage runs thus : " Provided always, that foras 
much as the queen's majesty is otherwise sufficiently 
assured of the faith and loyalty of the temporal lords of 
her high court of parliament," therefore the oath of 
supremacy shall not be required of them, nor shall they 


be subject to penalties for refusing it. Thus their 
religion was left free, their allegiance being deemed 
secure. It is right to add, that the inferences from 
Mr. Butler's historical details of the persecution in his 
"Lives,"* when carefully weighed, support both the 
allegations of Lord Burleigh and of Walsingham, and 
the tenor of the above-cited passage. 

39. The history of Ireland, where the state of things 
before the rebellions is very much misunderstood, affords 
us a peculiarly instructive contemporary testimony, 
telling precisely to the same effect. 

Deputy Mount] oy writes to the council of Elizabeth, 
in the end of her reign, in conformity with the tenor of 
the directions he had received from them : 

" Not that I think too great preciseness can be used in 
the reforming of ourselves, the abuses of our own clergy, 
church livings, or discipline ; nor that the truth of the 
gospel can with too great vehemency or industry be set 
forward, in all places, and by all ordinary means most 
proper unto itself, that was first set forth and spread in 
meekness ; nor that I think any corporal prosecution or 
punishment can be too severe for such as shall be 
found seditious instruments of foreign or inward prac 
tices, nor that I think it fit that any principal magis 
trates should be chosen without taking the oath of 
obedience, nor tolerated in absenting themselves from 
public divine service ; but that we may be advised how 
we do punish in their bodies or goods any such only for 
religion, as do profess to be faithful subjects to her 

* Vol. I. See also Southey's Book of the Church, chap. XV. 


majesty ; and against whom the contrary cannot be 

Accordingly is was the complaint of the Irish re 
cusants in the rebellion of 1641, that the penal laws 
had lately begun to be put into execution against them 
from puritanical influence, having before been in a 
dormant state. 

40. It is curious, and should be observed in passing, 

that the peculiar theory of church and state, which, as 

given in the eighth book of Hooker's Ecclesiastical 

Polity, seems to have grown out of the circumstances of 

the English reformation, had a natural tendency, taken 

alone, to support the doctrine of persecution. The 

view of church and state as being merely one society, 

though under different aspects, seemed to preclude the 

idea of any essential distinction of the powers which 

might be legitimately employed for the maintenance of 

order and authority in each ; more especially as schism 

is an overt act, if not necessarily, yet ordinarily and 

naturally. Now it is singular to observe that Hooker's 

theory, Avhich admits the use of the civil sword, appears 

to have been actually put in practice under the Stuarts, 

and all ecclesiastical irregularities within the church 

made the subjects of temporal penalty by the court of 

high commission. Thus the general tendency of the 

Reformation, and the particular circumstances of that 

change in England, were in opposite directions. The 

former, as might be expected, finally prevailed. And 

it is remarkable, that the Presbyterian body retained the 

* Leland, ii. 383, note. 


doctrine of persecution longer and more distinctly than 
their Episcopalian neighbours, although the authors of 
the Scottish reformation had so prominently taught the 
distinctness of the Church and her powers. 

41. It is likewise material, in order to a right appre 
hension of the ecclesiastical policy under James I. and 
Charles I., to distinguish the punishments which were 
inflicted by the Star Chamber from those of the High 
Commission Court ; inasmuch as while the latter was 
ecclesiastical, the former was a civil tribunal, in which 
prelates appeared as privy councillors, or in virtue of 
other offices of state which they happened to fill. The 
High Commission Court, it is but just to state, while 
acting upon the tyrannical principles which lay involved 
in the theory of the eighth book of the Ecclesiastical 
Polity, was firm and impartial in the repression of vice, 
exacting public penance alike from high and low.* The 
point, however, here to be chiefly observed is, that the 
object of this court was to punish ecclesiastical offences. 
At present, when the legitimate correctional powers of 
the church have become dormant, it is difficult for us to 
appreciate, in a moral sense, the character of such a 
tribunal, and the real difficulty of drawing the line be 
tween that which is within the discipline of the Church 
over her members, and that which is beyond its pro^ 
vince. But, however severe the tone of the day, it is 
clear that persecution, properly so called, was not the 
principle/but the abuse of the High Commission Court. 

42. The capital punishments of Romish priests con 
tinued in the reign of James I. From 1607 to 1618, 

* Lingard, VI., page 324, (4to), ch. V. 


sixteen were put to death as traitors for the exercise of 
their functions. During the great rebellion they suffered 
under the parliament to the amount on an average of 
three anually :* the increased excitement and the pre 
dominance of puritanism operating more against them, 
than the lapse of time, and the general progress of an 
opinion unfavourable to capital persecution had acted in 
their favour. 

43. Thus far we have seen the principle of private 
judgment in individuals emerging into life, and differ 
ence or separation from the established institutions of 
religion scarcely under any terms or circumstances 
permitted. We have now to consider the gradual 
relaxation of those terms, the progress from a partial 
to a complete toleration. Under Charles I. a greater 
connivance was allowed to the English recusants, 
but they were not recognised. Those of Ireland, 
however, succeeded in obtaining a recognition from 
the Marquis of Ormond,f who, in his treaty of 1646 
with the Romish insurgents, allowed the oath of 
allegiance to be substituted for the oath of supremacy. 
The stipulation was, that they might take this oath, 
giving security, at the same time, for their political 
allegiance, without renouncing the foreign jurisdiction 
in spirituals. This was a great step. Religious uni 
formity was no longer to be a condition of citizenship 
for ordinary purposes. 

44. In the English house of peers, indeed, indulgence 
had from the first proceeded much further, and Roman 

* Lingard, VI., pages!54 and 500, (4to), chapters III. and VII. 
t Leland, Book V., chapters VII. 


Catholic lords enjoyed their seats until the act of the 
30th of Charles II. But this appears to have been 
rather an exception, permitted from its necessarily 
narrow range of practical application, than the distinct 
allowance of a principle. And so it. may be observed 
of the Marquis of Ormond's treaty, that the concession 
was made under the extreme necessities of war, and 
did not represent what in the opinions of any Protestant 
party of the time it would have been, per se, wise or 
desirable to grant. 

45. Again, the Independent General Ireton, in his 
reply to the plea of Browne, one of the Irish insurgents, 
laid down the following position : " That touching the 
point of religion there was a wide difference also be 
tween us ; we only contending to preserve our natural 
right therein, without imposing our opinions upon other 
men ; whereas they would not be contented, unless 
they might have power to compel all others to submit 
to their imposition on pain of death."* 

Practically indeed we find this profession illustrated 
in a singular manner by the ejection of 8000 of the clergy 
of England ; but the fact still remains, that the theory 
had arisen, and was gradually to work itself out. 

46. The reign of Charles II. was not distinguished by 
the relaxation of the principle of connection between 
the church and the state. The dread of Romanism at 
that period defended it on one side, and the recollection 
of the years 1648 1660, on the other. Accordingly, 
the corporation act was passed in 1661, to replace 

* Leland's Ireland, Vol. III., page 390, note. 


churchmen in the possession of municipal offices, by 
imposing the sacramental test ; and the Protestant sepa 
ration, which now assumed a definite form, did not 
obtain legal toleration, though the king coquetted with 
it, and at two periods issued declarations of indulgence, 
(1662 and 1672) which in deference to his parliament 
he withdrew. These were disliked, it would appear, 
by the commons, partly on account of the assumption 
of prerogative involved in them ; partly because their 
intention was suspected to be that of relieving not the 
Protestant but the Popish nonconformists. In 1673, 
the test act was passed. It imposed three restrictions ; 
the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, the test of 
having received the communion in the church, and the 
abjuration of transubstantiation. Thus it shut the door of 
all public office against both Romanists and Dissenters, 
while the former were its special objects, and the 
Roman Catholic peers were deprived of their hereditary 
privilege of legislation by the act of 1678. 

47. During the very short period of eleven years, 
from this time to the toleration act in 1689, the church 
of England had exclusive possession of the precincts 
of parliament. But the crown was Roman Catholic, 
really through the whole time up to 1688, and avow 
edly from the accession of James II. At no time, 
therefore, in strictness of speech, was the whole legis 
lature in bond fide communion with the church : yet as 
Charles was a professed churchman, we may, perhaps, 
set down the last years of his reign as affording a naked 
exemplification of the principle, too short-lived, how- 


ever, and complicated with too many extraneous cir 
cumstances, in particular with a denial of toleration, to 
allow any fair deductions to be drawn. 

48. We find, however, a curious fact in the Irish 
history of reign of Charles II. It was then that the 
Earl of Granard procured for the puritans of Ireland a 
pension of 500/ annually from government.* Was this 
the first grant to the professors of a faith not established, 
excepting such as had reference thereby to what are 
termed vested interests, like the allowances to the ejected 
ministers in England ? If so, it is very important as 
the commencement of an actual aid afforded by the 
government to a form of religion differing from its 
own ; and is to be distinguished, in this point of view, 
from the concession of Charles I., who agreed to an ex 
periment of Presbyterian government in the church for 
the period of three years. 

49. The suspension of the penal laws by James II., 
having been illegal, it established no principle and re 
quires here no comment. In 1689 the Toleration Act 
was passed. It exempted all who should subscribe the 
declaration of 1678 (that, namely, against transub- 
stantiation) from penalties for holding open religious 
assemblies ; and the indulgence likewise embraced their 
teachers, on condition of the signing their declaration, 
taking the oaths, and subscribing the articles of religion 
except part of the 20th, the* 34th, 35th, and 36th. But 
the reign of William III. was otherwise, and more un- 


* Leland, Vol. Ill, p. 490. 


favourably distinguished. Influenced apparently by 
political motives alone, he set the example of allying the 
crown of Great Britain, by the formal compact of that 
Act of Parliament which re-established Presbyterian 
government in Scotland, with two churches. It is true 
that in the early part of James I.'s reign it stood 
nearly in the same perdicament, but the anomaly was 
then felt and removed. In 1690 it was re-established. 

50. This reign also supplies us with another instance 
of assistance given by government to a religion differing 
from that established ; but we should remember that 
acts so minute as these were probably little more than 
eleemosynary in their original character. 

King William, in the summer of 1690, having landed 
in Ireland, allowed 1200/. per annum to the dissent 
ing ministers in the northern province, who, says 
Leland,* " had shared deeply in the distresses of war." 
This pension was afterwards inserted in the civil list, 
and made payable from the exchequer. 

51. The Act of Union with Scotland (May, 1707) 
further complicated the question with reference to the 
connection of church and state. By it the nation was 
involved in the religious anomaly which had formerly 
belonged to the sovereign alone, and the church of Scot 
land was incorporated with the constitution of the two 
united kingdoms upon the same footing, in the most 
essential respects, with the church of England. Doubt 
less it was under the belief, however questionable its 

* HI., p. 559. 


foundation, that the differences between the two churches 
were unimportant, and that unity was not substantially 
violated by the change. Subsequently to the rebellion 
of 1745, the episcopalians of Scotland were subjected 
to a legal suppression of their worship with fine and 
imprisonment, and their ministers to the penalty of 
transportation, for exercising beyond the border the 
very religion which the government protected by tests 
on this side of it. It was upon political grounds 
that this conduct was adopted ; conduct which may 
serve to show how delicate is the subject-matter of the 
question with which we are dealing, and how necessary 
is a clear comprehension of the principles which should 
govern the relations between the church and the 

52. It is not a part of the object of the present pages 
to furnish a distinct and detailed history of the laws 
affecting religious nonconformity. The general descrip 
tion of the system of the eighteenth century may be com 
prised under these few heads : 1. Joint establishment 
of the Episcopal and Presbyterian forms. 2. Pro 
scription of the Roman Catholic religion generally, on 
political grounds, and of the Episcopalian religion on 
the same grounds in Scotland alone. 3. Relaxation as 
respected the Roman Catholics, and entire relief as 
regarded the Episcopalians, during the latter part of 
the century, when danger from the house of Stuart had 
ceased to be apprehended. 4. Protection of the Esta 
blished Church of England in office, and the Legislature, 
by the sacramental test, with an indulgence to Dissenters, 


intended to admit them without recognising them as 

53. The history of the Roman Catholic question 
should, however, be marked by its chief eras. In 1778 
the Roman Catholics of Ireland were empowered by law 
to hold landed property. In 1791 many professional and 
other disabilities were removed. In 1793 the elective 
franchise was given them. And, to pass into the next 
century, in 1829 the bar to their entrance into the 
legislature was removed, by their exemption from taking 
the usual oaths and declaration, and the construction of 
one to meet their case, by which they engage as fol 
lows : " I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly 
abjure any intention to subvert the present church 
establishment as settled by law within this realm ; and 
I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privi 
lege to which I am or may become entitled, to disturb or 
weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant government 
in the United Kingdom." The terms of this oath appear 
to imply, that if Roman Catholics legislate in matters 
affecting the church for good or for evil, they must do it 
in the bond fide intention that it shall be for good ; and the 
great difficulty which it seems to raise is this, that the 
state exacts from them an obligation, binding them to 
follow a course as good legislators, which I apprehend, as 
good Roman Catholics, they are forbidden to take. At 
the period of this change, the great bulk of the Roman 
Catholic freeholders were disfranchised. Again they 
were much increased, and the facility of access to Par 
liament greatly enlarged, by the Reform Act in 1832. 


54. Of the resistance to the Roman Catholic claims it 
may be said that it intended rather than exhibited a 
noble and true principle, the pure union of church and 
state. But the principle was already become a dream 
of other days. The presence of dissent was already 
legalised in every form but that of Romanism ; and no 
ground is less tenable than that which defines compe 
tency for political office by that mere negation which 
the term Protestantism is frequently used to designate, 
and accepts it as a guarantee for something like effective 
Christianity ; a credulity the more strange when exhi 
bited, as is sometimes the case, in company with the 
cruel and false opinion that, as Protestantism and Chris 
tianity are inseparable, so Romanism and Christianity 
are incompatible. 

55. In the year 1828 all Protestant nonconformists 
obtained a legal recognition of their fitness for Parliament 
and civil office, by the removal of the sacramental test. 
The remaining restriction is, that in its place they are 
required to declare upon the faith of a Christian. The 
definition of Christianity it is left to each individual to 
determine for himself. Is has been already many times 
attempted to abolish this declaration ; and in the year 
1834 a bill reached the House of Lords, which would 
have left all public offices, with the sole exception, 
under the crown, of the chancellorship, alike open to men 
of all religions, or of none. 

56. It only remains to notice the gradual expiration 
of the doctrine of persecution, or civil punishment for 
religious opinions. The opinions which alone it is now 


ever attempted to bring under the notice of the law are 
not religious, or rather they are not opinions, but mere 
appeals in contempt of the understanding to the grossest 
parts of human nature. Perhaps the last case of actual 
punishment was the separation of Mr. Shelley's chil 
dren from their father by Lord Eldon as chancellor, 
and that was incidental, the object being, not the 
punishment of atheism, but the due education of the 
children. We find the opinion of the lawfulness of civil 
penalties on account of religion, under, perhaps, its last 
forms, in Mr. Locke, and in Bishop Warburton. Mr. 
Locke teaches, in his work on Toleration, that the man 
who does not believe in a future life cannot be regarded 
as a competent citizen, because the state has no security 
for his good conduct. Bishop Warburton* teaches, that 
the Quaker, the Anabaptist, the Papist, and the Atheist 
are all in different degrees the proper object of re 
straining or penal law ; but the Quaker's measure is 
merely this : that, as he believes war unlawful, he should 
not be allowed, on the continent, to reside in a frontier 

57. To prevent misunderstanding it may be well to 
notice a distinct class of civil penalties, to which members 
of the church are amenable for certain infractions of its 
laws.f The general principle of these enactments is, 
I apprehend, capable of being understood (whatever its 
historical origin), upon a principle quit dist inct from 

* Alliance of Church and State, B. HI. Works, Vol. VII., p. 255. 
t Enumerated by Mr. Palmer, " On the Church," Part V., Chap. VIII. 


that of persecution. The question belonging to this 
place is not one of degree, whether the particular 
punishments which, for example, a clergyman may suffer 
for rejecting the use of the Common Prayer be too 
great or too small, but whether they involve the prin 
ciple of persecution. It is submitted that they do not. 
The church, having temporal endowments, may require, 
in order to guard her internal discipline, the aid of tem 
poral power, that, where the temptations to intrusion 
and disorder are increased, the means of repressing 
them may be increased likewise. But whether she 
might or might not do well to rely more on her intrinsic 
powers, it is clear that the state may fairly urge the 
necessity of guarding these endowments as a reason for 
the enactment of temporal penalties, to follow upon the 
infringement of the conditions upon which they are 
held. Such infringement is a violation of the condi 
tions of the compact with the state, and therefore an 
offence against the state, quite apart from the considera 
tion, that it is also an offence against the apostolic pre 
cept of order as interpreted and applied in the existing 

58. As respects, however, the law of the greater excom 
munication, which is, ex m termini, applicable only to 
those who are already out of the church, it still enacts 
(under 53 Geo. III. cap. 127), that a person* excom 
municated for an offence of spiritual cognisance may be 

* Burn, II., 243 ; and Blackstone, III., 101. 


imprisoned for any term not exceeding six months. 
The temporal judges may see, whether the spiritual 
court had proper cognisance of the cause, and whether 
the excommunication be according to law, and, if it be 
not, may direct the absolution of the party. It should be 
observed, that the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts 
is mainly conversant with the mixed matters which are 
connected with wills, and with a particular class of 
crimes.* In the Act 29 Car. II., cap. 9, sect. 2, the 
penalty for excommunication, of course with its civil 
consequences, is, however, reserved in case of proved 
heresy. The proceeding is undoubtedly antiquated; 
and it is doubtful whether a law, which for so long a 
series of years has not been brought into operation, 
should or should not be considered as expressing the 
mind of the legislature. 

59. But how singular is the perverseness of human 
nature apparently the only rule to which it clings 
amidst every variety of fluctuation. There is no period 
of our history which exhibits a full and consistent de 
velopment of a satisfactory system of principles. When 
our legislature was bound to take all its members from 
the church, we were intolerant. When toleration was 
established, we relaxed the principle of the unity of the 
national religion. By the time each successive truth 
was established, new falsehoods had sprung up to re 
place those which were exploded. Thus it is that, in 

* Namely, the crimes appertaining to the title of " Matrimony, bas 
tardy, adultery, and the rest." Burn, II. 31. 


the mixed combinations of worldly affairs, even the most 
needful, and, on the whole, beneficial changes, bear 
within them the seeds of disorganisation. 

60. Taking our stand then at the point where the civil 
right of private judgment may be considered as having 
received full and absolute recognition by the legal esta 
blishment of entire toleration, we find that it there begins 
to operate in a manner which, if its acts be translated 
into words, would be somewhat as follows : " In vain 
it is pretended to give me, a private individual, the liberty 
of forming my own opinion, if secular advantages are to 
be attached to the profession of other and different 
opinions, in which mine is not to participate : since every 
such advantage will manifestly act as in the nature of a 
comparative discouragement on the one side, and in 
ducement on the other, creating, therefore, a bias in 
the minds of men, and impairing the freedom of their 
judgment." To which, in certain cases, may be added 
the yet more palpable charge that money is taken from 
the individual to support the doctrines which he denies. 
I is now not proposed to refute these fallacious allega 
tions, but, having shown their connection with private 
judgment, to trace their influence on the relations of 
the state with the church. 

61. The discharge of civil office is in its first aspect a 
duty, but it also partakes of the nature of a reward. 
Its emoluments in part, but more than these its powers 
and distinctions, render it to the majority of men, in 
their several stations, an object ardently desired. So 
long as theological opinion was in profession one and 


the same, no objection could be made against one indi 
vidual as a canditate for civil office, nor any preference 
awarded to another, on the ground of religious belief as 
such. But when different sentiments in religion were 
permitted to exist without legal animadversion, the case 
was materially changed. The individual who found 
that his creed was the obstacle to his enjoyment of 
office, and who was irritated by exclusion, argued with 
plausibility, that matters of belief ought not to exclude 
him from duties whose obvious bearing was upon sub 
jects of a distinct nature. And these considerations 
would gain force progressively, as the simple principles 
of early society became complicated in its advance, by 
the immense multiplication of human enjoyments, and 
of human wants, and the consequently augmented pro 
portion which temporal interests bore in the science 
and practice of government to the higher portions of 
its subject-matter. 

62. But public offices were the organs of the national 
life. In them the personality of the nation had its 
province and means of action. And the supreme go 
vernment had received, from the order of things esta 
blished at the Reformation, the especial charge of 
impregnating the whole of that national life with the 
spirit and energy of the national religion. Hence the 
struggle in this country, incited by contemporaneous 
causes from opposing quarters, between the established 
church for the retention of civil office, and the Dis 
senters and Romanists on the other hand for a share in 
its possession. 


It may, indeed, have been mere human selfishness 
Avhich prompted the attack on the one hand, and sus 
tained the resistance on the other. But, sometimes 
predominating over this degrading motive, and ever 
parallel with it, there was a movement and a counter- 
movement of a distinct nature. The movement was 
that towards a dissolution of the union between church 
and state : the counter-movement, or resistance, was 
that of instinctive aversion to the first stages of such a 
proceeding. Not that all those of the movement con 
templated, or were bound in reason to contemplate, its 
termination : not that there are not between its two ex 
tremities rational and tenable positions : not that we 
venture to pronounce an opinion upon the merits ; but 
that, clearly, admission to civil office without religious 
distinction shortened the road over which men had to 
travel towards that consummation which is now coming 
into view. 

63. Although the first plea of the Romanist and the 
Dissenter may be considered as no more than this, that 
their differences from us in religious belief did not 
absolutely disqualify them from the discharge of public 
functions ostensibly secular ; yet, when once they were 
opened, nothing remained to refute the idea of an abso 
lutely equal competency in them to fulfil the general 
purposes of government with that of persons belonging 
to the church. If the oath taken by Roman Catholic 
members be an exception to the state of facts assumed 
by this observation, yet let us remark how much sore 
ness has been evinced under the pressure of that oath ; 


how much regret at its original enactment ; how much 
desire for its repeal. And it is difficult and invidious 
for A to say to JB, or for a class A to say to a class B, 
our fitness is superior to yours, when the legal recog 
nition is the same. Thus we have, first, a state of 
circumstances facilitating religious differences ; then, 
because men will not willingly resign objects of desire, 
we have the effort to separate all consideration of such 
differences from that of the requisites to civil office. 
And next, here is first insinuated, and finally affirmed, 
the principle, that differences in religious opinion have 
no bearing upon the discharge of political and social 
duties, but that they may be fulfilled equally well by 
men of all creeds. 

64. There is, however, a very important auxiliary cause 
which accelerates the arrival of a state at the terrific 
principle which has been just enunciated. We shall 
reach it by considering what is contained under the 
term all creeds. Now, when toleration was first con 
ceded, and when the possession of civil office under the 
form of legislative station was laid open to Dissenters in 
this country, under annual acts of indemnity, it was as 
sumed that the subjects of this indulgence agreed with us 
in the fundamental parts of our religion, and only differed 
in things unimportant. We have examples of a some 
what similar kind in the case of the subscription to 
thirty-five articles, and part of a thirty-sixth, out of 
the thirty-nine, which was required in the Toleration 
Act : and in the establishment of Presbyterianism in 
Scotland, which we may well believe would not have 


been dreamt of, had there not been a concurrence be 
tween it and the national church of England in the 
most prominent doctrines of Christianity. And those, 
with whom our church had to deal as nonconformists 
in England, were persons professing to adhere to a 
creed the same as our own. 

65. But however wise and salutary, for certain pur 
poses, be the distinction between fundamental and non- 
fundamental truths in religion, the difficulty and the 
danger here incurred was this : that a government was 
an inconvenient judge of that distinction, not so much 
from want of the means to discern where it might be 
admitted, and where vital matters began to be called in 
question, as from incapacity to make its award intel 
ligible to men, of whom the majority are apt to regard 
theological differences as visionary, or quibbling, or 
trivial ; and yet without whose acquiescence it cannot 
permanently enforce its decisions. For instance, those 
who as Presbyterians might have taught with us what 
relates to the person and offices of the Redeemer, have 
sunk as a body, in England, into Socinianism, or what 
is worse. Thus the religious differences, of which our 
constitution has now agreed to take no account, are 
limited only by the assumption of the name of Chris 
tianity, not by adherence to any fixed institutions, or 
even creeds, I am not aware that this can be avoided. 
The ground on which public law is to stand and to act 
must be broad and palpable ; and, having once left the 
intelligible position of our own national church, the 
reformed Catholic church in England, I know not where 


we could have stopped, so as to have found a tenahle 
resting-place, but at the name of Christianity, which 
indicates a distinction less broad, indeed, in itself, than 
the former one, but yet intelligible, and pointing out 
what is as yet, upon the whole, and in a great majority 
of cases, a very substantial difference. 

66. And yetit remains unfortunately true, that religious 
systems the most entirely heterogeneous are comprised 
under that common denomination. This, however, is 
the misfortune, not the fault, of our constitution. Its 
intent is not to recognise Christianity as a name, but as 
a system which should be vitally operative upon human 
character. It wants, however, an adequate test, which 
would ascertain under what forms it is thus operative 
for gcod ; and through this want it is obliged to be 
content with the name, as the only one that can be had. 
But yet we must not conceal from ourselves that all the 
elements of the vitality embodied in the church are 
hopelessly excluded from some of those systems of reli 
gion which, notwithstanding, cling to the Christian 
name. Yet their professors are recognised as equally 
qualified for the discharge of political functions with 
those whose possession of the Christian covenant, if it 
does not in all cases lead them to a corresponding holi 
ness of life, is nevertheless the appointed, and the ex 
clusively appointed, though not invariably successful 
means of generating that character. It remains, there 
fore, that, among us, men vitally at variance on matters 
of religion are held equally competent to be good citi 
zens and officers of the state. 


67. Doubtless the recognised admission of all Christian 
denominations into the legislature was not intended, by 
those who made the concession, in any degree to qualify 
the obligations of the state to a conscientious support of 
the Christian church. It was a calculation made in 
charitable error, that where different classes of Chris 
tians met in the state, and the creed of one was in long- 
established possession of the privileges of nationality, 
partly its prescriptive title, partly their being held to 
have common interests as Christians, more important 
than their points of difference as denominations, would 
ensure their harmonious co-operation in support of the 
great principle of national religion. But we might, at 
least, have hoped that, while using all fair means to 
modify the composition of the national church in their 
own sense, and thus amicably contending for the supre 
macy of truth, they would not have violated unity, its 
fundamental law, by promoting or permitting, as they 
now do, the legal support of all forms of religion, and 
thus altogether contravening the idea of a national con 

68. It would seem, at first sight, that little space re 
mains between the present position and the dissolution of 
the union between the church and the state ; but it is 
not quite so. The personal composition of a govern 
ment does not immediately or invariably determine its 
public policy and principles, although it of course has 
a tendency to work these round into harmony with 
itself. We may have surrendered some of the defences 
and outworks of national religion, but we have main- 


tained the principle : because all those who exercise 
office among us are, either by their membership church 
men, or, in the view of the law, assumed to be at worst 
indifferent, or, in the case of being Roman Catholics, 
and therefore having presumably a rival interest, by the 
specific obligations which, they undertake, obliged to 
refrain from using any of their powers thus acquired to 
the detriment of the church establishment. But the 
citadel, not yet surrendered, is unequivocally belea 
guered ; and the tendency of that proud, ungodly spirit, 
which brands the forehead of the age, is not only to 
tolerate, in the occupant of civil office, a personal inca 
pacity to discharge its obligations aright, so far as they 
bear upon the welfare of our religion, but to sever from 
that occupancy altogether any obligation to promote its 
purposes, or to respect its existence. And this spirit of 
the age it is which claims to be true and genuine Pro 
testantism, just as Romanism assumes the honours of 
the Catholic church. 

69. And now let us trace the workings of this principle, 
supposing for a moment that it should be unsuccessfully 
resisted, and should attain its full development. As 
regards the personal composition of the government and 
the legislature, it avows the desire to remove the remain 
ing restriction, that of a profession of Christianity. If 
it gains this, it gains, probably, everything. For the 
anomaly of appointing persons who deny Christianity 
to legislate for its benefit, would be so palpable and 
glaring, it would so grate upon the average common 
sense of mankind, as speedily to bring the question to 


issue, whether the support of Christianity be one of the 
proper objects of legislation, and powerfully to assist 
towards a fatal decision. But there would be an ante 
rior question. We should first be called to do, in our 
law and policy, what has been already done in refer 
ence to personal qualifications for office ; to generalise 
and relax our obligation ; to contemplate, in what is 
deemed a liberal spirit, the advancement, not merely of 
the interests of the church, but of religion at large, under 
the different forms of it bearing the Christian name. 
Nay, already, in some departments of the empire, we 
have taken this step in advance ; and the tendency is to 
make it the universal rule. 

70. It would appear, furthermore, that such is a fair 
consequence of the great axiom, which the false philo 
sophy of liberalism professes, that men of different reli 
gious creeds, whatever be that difference, are equally well 
fitted for the discharge of civil office. If this be so, it 
may reasonably be asked, why should the state support 
the church called national, in particular, when her reli 
gious system does not render to the state any peculiar 
benefit, greater than that which may be yielded by other 
religious bodies ? How can the state, which is com 
posed, and composed with equal propriety, of all sects, 
recognise a religious superiority in the church ? The 
religious superiority of any system must be recognised 
by the adherents of that system : but the component 
parts of the state do not belong to that system more 
than to any other. There can be no support, therefore, 
on the. ground of a conscientious adherence, by a state, 



in which liberalism shall have worked out its will. 
And again, the churchman is no fitter for state 
purposes than the member of any sect : why, then, 
should the state, by endowing the church, attempt to 
make churchmen ? 

71. And this dangerous plausibility will further plead, 
that in the absence of any affirmative reason for a pre 
ference on the part of the state towards the church, 
there are very strong affirmative reasons in a contrary 
direction ; namely, in the jealousy and the offence, the 
general disaffection and hindrance to the course of go 
vernment which will ensue, if such a principle be per 
severed in. And thus flattering pictures will be drawn 
of the good will and peace that are to result when no 
religious preference is manifested by the government, 
but every sect shall share in its paternal bounty, by men 
forgetting all the while, or suppressing the fact, that 
the support of religion is not principally a boon to indi 
viduals, but a homage to truth, their only sure treasure 
and defence, and a public acknowledgment of our duty 
to seek it. To us, indeed, if our constitutional condi 
tion has been rightly estimated, such arguments ought 
to be of no avail ; but we ought to press right onwards, 
bating no jot of heart or hope, and not relaxing the law 
of religious unity, but rather striving to bring men to a 
sense of the duty of compliance with its requisitions. 

72. Here, then, is another in the chain of evils which 
have arisen out of human sinful ness, in the abuse of 
private judgment, first neglecting the truth, and then 
insulting it by placing upon the same level with it every 


form of error ; irritated, it may be, by a different form 
of that same sinfulness, which, working in another 
sphere and in another way, has omitted to carry out, 
in the appointed manner, the sanctifying influences 
of Christianity, and has employed secular rigour or 
political corruption in their stead. But what we have 
to observe is, how this class of mischiefs appears to 
be lineally descended from that bastard offspring of 
the Reformation, the irreverent abuse of private judg 
ment. The Reformation itself was in the main a 
reassertion of truth ; but this is a consecration of error. 
First, the multiplication of differences in belief; then, 
the denial of the relevancy of those differences to the 
competency of men for civil office; with the sliding out 
of an allowance of division in things indifferent, to one 
embracing fundamentals also. Then, when the state 
is indifferently composed of all creeds, it can have no 
conscientious obligation to one ; and it will probably 
obtain some momentary and most delusive calm when 
it has placed all on the same footing of pecuniary coun 
tenance and support. 

73. But will this last ? It might be difficult to de 
termine whether it be or be not desirable that it should. 
It involves either tbe destruction of anything like a 
true theory of government, or the eradication of con 
science on the part of government. If a government 
be purely a mechanical contrivance for representing, in 
the same proportions in which they are entertained, the 
wishes of the people, in this view it may be desirable 
that all sects should have religious aid, and the govern 
ed 2 


ment would incur no guilt. But why ? Because it is 
by the very supposition purely servile, and has no free 
agency of its own ; no right to do otherwise than as the 
numerical majority of the people command. If it has 
a free agency, or a competency to act upon its own con 
viction and conscience in matters of religion, how can 
we wish that, by supporting all creeds, no matter what 
their amount of difference, it should confound together 
truth and falsehood, and feed heresy out of what ought 
to be the patrimony of the faith ? 

74. But again, will this system of indiscriminate sup 
port endure ? It has only been once tried in juxtaposi 
tion, on an extensive scale, with real and independent 
democratic institutions. The case of Prussia is not in 
point. That government is not a natural, but an arti 
ficial formation. There is no free expansion of the 
tendencies of the several creeds which it rears up in 
local proximity. The iron hand of the law restrains 
free discussion. The penalty of imprisonment is de 
nounced against controversial sermons !* But in Ame 
rica, a popular government quickly got rid of this hybrid 
method, and left every form of faith to its own resources. 
Whether because there was a suspicion of unfairness 
in distribution ; or because it was thought that a ma 
chinery, avowed to be exclusively secular, ought not 

* This circumstance was disclosed by a paper presented to Parliament 
during the Session of 1836, the apparent intention of which was, by an 
exhibition of the system of perfect toleration erroneously supposed to 
prevail in Prussia, to favour the progress of the measures then proposed 
in relation to the church of Ireland. See ' Papers relating to the Ecclesias 
tical establishments of Prussia, presented by command,' 1836. 


to become liable to suspicion from taking cognisance of 
religion at all ; or because it seemed a circuitous and 
cumbrous method of applying men's money to their 
purposes, to take it from them to the government, and 
then pay it back ; or because some minds painfully felt 
the monstrous evil of ascribing to all religions one and 
the same character ; or because it was deemed that 
popular will, being the foundation of each religious 
system, ought also to be the measure of its support, and 
that some might wish, for the purity of their faith, an 
establishment more economical than according to the 
government quota it could have been ; or because those 
who were determined to retrench altogether the expen 
sive superfluity of a religious profession, resented, in 
the pride of private will, being laid under a tax, avow 
edly for benefit to themselves, of which benefit they 
denied the existence, and were willing to forego the 
use. Whether it be from any of these causes, or from 
all, or from others, the fact at least is unquestionable, 
that the system termed American has utterly vanished 
from the face of the land which gave it birth. May 
those who seem to be entering on a similar course look 
forward before it shall have become too late to look 
backward ! ' 

75. We are now within one stage of our conclusion. 
In those considerations which have just been suggested, 
backed as they are by such results as experience has 
under fair circumstances hitherto afforded, we may see 
abundant reasons to believe, that when the state shall 
have finally cast off its allegiance to and preference for 


the church, and shall have substituted in its stead the 
practice of undistinguishing support to whatever terms 
itself religion, or even to professing Christianity in all 
its forms, it will soon be found the more convenient 
and natural course to withhold all interference with the 
pecuniary affairs of religious societies. The best and 
most natural basis for a government to adopt is, that 
Catholic church in which is realised the whole mind 
of God. An intelligible basis is that upon which we 
sland, and upon which is joined with the English 
establishment that northern one, which, although it 
has lost the Apostolical government and succession, 
nevertheless does embody a fixed and a definite form, 
if not a complete one, of religious truth, and a form, too, 
which we have seen by a long experience to be not 
without the blessing of God, and operative for good on 
human character. I do not say that such a position 
should have been taken ; but that, having been taken, 
it may and should certainly be defended from further 

76. The profession, however, of a religion by the 
legislature is less assailed than its propagation. We 
are not yet ready to acquiesce in the proposal which has 
found an organ but not an echo in the House of Com 
mons, that acts of worship should be discontinued in 
the great council of the nation. So long as the wor 
ship is maintained, and as that worship is of the church, 
both the personality and the conscience of government 
are recognised. As to the duty of active pecuniary 
support to the, national church, that must depend upon 


our abilities. If we are absolutely precluded from its 
performance for the time, let it be considered as sus 
pended. In that negative state with regard to propa 
gation, so that we retain always the profession, we may 
acquiesce ; but let us not be led into the fatal error of 
establishing all creeds, or affirm a false principle 
merely because we want power to carry out the true 
one. When the propagation has been generalised, 
can the unity of profession be long maintained ? 

77. Thus it has been attempted, in part by speculation 
from the past, but more from its actual records, to con 
nect certain existing phenomena indicative of evil, with 
the workings of the principle of Protestantism when it 
is carried out into a vicious excess, uncontemplated by 
its authors ; and to trace those phenomena to their final 
effects, upon the principle of connection between church 
and state. We have seen it tend first to multiply dif 
ferences ; then to raise a question upon the relevancy 
of those differences to the competency for civil office ; 
to decide that question in the negative ; then to render 
the practice and principles of the state itself conform 
able to those of the individuals to whom has been given 
the civil right of bearing authority in it ; to throw off, 
accordingly, as invidious and intolerant, the principle 
of preference for the church ; and lastly, to discover 
what under such circumstances can hardly be denied, 
its own inaptitude for meddling with religion at all. 

78. And all this we have ascribed, I believe with 
strict truth, to that principle of religious liberalism into 
which Protestantism is apt to degenerate. But there is 


a parallel and concurrent action of political liberalism 
which aids in producing the same results. I do not 
stop to inquire how far political institutions are biassed 
towards democracy by the prevalence of a Protestant 
form of religion. But some might be inclined to rate 
that influence highly. That Romanists have been dis 
affected in Belgium or in Ireland, that they have been 
(according to the recent testimony of M. de Tocqueville) 
antifederalists in America, does not make against this 
opinion. Let us see a state of such magnitude as to be 
really integral and independent, in which the church 
of Rome is effective and supreme, and where institu 
tions are democratic, before we pronounce our definitive 
judgment. But for present purposes I assume a popular 
view of government to be not the child nor even the 
twin brother of Protestantism, but simply a contempo 
rary phenomenon : and it will probably appear, upon a 
very brief consideration, that when once we have sur 
rendered the paternal theory of government, and made 
it an arbitrary or conventional institution, whether its 
form be monarchical or not, we have put the principle 
of a national establishment in imminent jeopardy. 

79. While government, under whichever of its modes, 
is viewed in the light of a divine institution, not emanat 
ing from the mere will of the society over which it rules, 
there is nothing incongruous or offensive in ascribing 
to it rights independent of that will. Nay, they are 
not necessarily invalidated even by the fact of opposition 
to it, because will is not the ground of its tenure. But 
they must be in accordance with the real interests of 


the body governed ; since, whatever we may conceive 
of the historical or moral origin of government, there 
can be no doubt that it exceeds its rights when it acts 
in opposition to the true welfare of the people. In the 
purely popular form, however, it would seem that the 
will must be taken as the criterion of the interests. In 
the purely despotic form, there is a fatal vice in the 
want of any sufficient guarantee for a regard to the 
latter. But in the mixed form, with which we are 
blessed so much of will is introduced as is deemed 
enough to secure attention to the interests ; while at 
the same time government has not renounced its right 
to consult for the benefit of the community, even inde 
pendently of its inclinations. 

80. In such a state of things, no constitutional objec 
tion can be raised, if the state shall give its preference 
and support to that religion which it deems best for the 
country. It does not recognise a right of disposal in 
the people over all the funds dedicated to national 
purposes. It does not recognise their property in 
them, where they have become national : but their 
right to have them appropriated for the best advantage 
of the nation. We speak now not simply of money- 
votes from year to year, but of perpetual endowments. 
The state need not therefore determine by a process of 
mere enumeration what shall be its religion. 

81 . But when it is allowed that government is no more 
than the representative of the people, the exponent of 
its will, then all funds committed to the administration 
of the government are in fact submitted to the will of 


the people ; and all taxes legally allotted to and raised 
by the government still continue the property of the 
people ; and government has no duty to perform other 
than accurately to realise and effectuate in the legis 
lature and in the law the different forces of opinion which 
act upon it from the country : it has no right to express 
a preference of its own for any religion as being the 
wisest or the best ; nor to offer a religion to the man 
who is without one, or a better one to the man who has 
a worse. And the subject, too, becomes restive. He 
imagines that the public funds are still his. He natu 
rally objects to give his money to a form of faith which 
he does not approve. He calls this, and in certain 
cases may plausibly think it, a scruple of conscience. 
His objection would be valid if the money were his. 

82. But the theory which teaches him that govern 
ment is only the proportional index of the several wills of 
himself and his neighbour, teaches him that the money 
is his, and that his rights over it, and his responsibili 
ties connected with it, continue even when it has passed 
from him by legal demand. Thus his jealousy and his 
sympathies are touched in the tenderest point. He 
exclaims against a law which renders him, he thinks, 
an actual participant in wrong. He agitates against 
such a law, and this whether in a majority or a 
minority ; for he argues, and argues truly, that a 
majority has no right to make a minority do what is 
morally wrong. The obligations of personal duty are 
superior to those of the social compact. 

83. If indeed a termination could be put to differences 


of religious belief, then the popular theory of govern 
ment need not, it would seem, cause a difficulty in main 
taining the connection between church and state. No 
offence, real or supposed, would then be given to the 
conscience, because the payments would be in every 
case for the support of his own religion. In a Roman 
Catholic democracy, therefore, supposing it to exist 
under the conditions before mentioned, it does not 
appear why the church of Rome should not be recog 
nised by the state. But where differences of creed are 
allowed, as in all Protestant states, and where with 
these there co-exists the democratic theory of govern 
ment, who does not see that a train of motives and of 
actions is laid, threatening perpetual dissension, while 
the union of church and state is maintained ? One 
alternative indeed will remove that dissension. When 
nothing is given to any form of religion whatever by 
the government, then no ground of complaint will be 
left, and not till then. Thus it is that the Protestant 
principle of religion and the popular principle of poli 
tics, each carried to excess, together bear their hostile 
influences against the principle of a connection between 
the church and the state, although the former, in 
its legitimate form, was highly favourable to that 




1. The subject is not res integra. 2. Certain distinctions to be taken. 
3. Hypothetical standard of comparison. 4. Signs of the nationality 
of the church in England. 5. How far it is constitutionally distin 
guished from that of Scotland. 6 13. Case of the Scottish establish 
ment argued. 14, 15. Illustrative facts. 1621. Illustrative facts in 
England. Navy Army Prisons Workhouses Schools Vote for 
Protestant Dissenters. 22 28. Illustrative facts in Ireland. College 
of Maynooth Regium Donum National System of Education 
Chaplains in Gaols, in Workhouses. 29, 30. Case of the Colonies. 
31 40. Illustrative facts in the North American Colonies. 41 53. 
Illustrative facts in the West Indian Colonies. 54 56. Illustrative 
facts in the Mediterranean Colonies. 57 64. Illustrative facts in the 
Australian Colonies. 65 67. Illustrative facts in the East Indies. 
68 70. Concluding remarks. 

1. THE portion of my task next in order is to exhibit, 
as clearly as reference to existing documents will enable 
me, the present singularly chequered practice of the 
state of Great Britain -in its relations to religion under 
various forms. It is a great mistake to suppose, that 
the pure idea of church and state, as they ought to be, 
and would be, wedded, if the duty of Christian unity 
were properly recognised, remains unimpaired among 
us ; either as regards the terms of the state's alliance 
with the church, which represents its own religious 


conscience, or again as respects its adherence to the 
dictates of that conscience, in acting on the principle 
of which so much has recently been heard, and de 
clining to support a religion of which it does not 
approve. The former question is hardly within the 
view of these pages ; as far as it is relevant to their 
object, it has been considered elsewhere ; and it re 
mains a matter for consideration and adjustment in 
detail, so long as the connection retains enough of sub 
stantial life to be worth contending for. 

2. This then is the question. Does the relation be 
tween church and state still exist in the practice of our 
political institutions, in such a form as to be worth 
contending for ? And this we must answer by a care 
ful attention to all those numerous details which appear 
either to exemplify or to compromise the idea. In the 
consideration of them, we must distinguish between de 
finite and indefinite deviation ; between things done, and 
no longer within our free choice, and things referred to 
that free choice, by a proposal to do them ; and lastly, 
between our home and our colonial administration ; for 
it appears very difficult to maintain that such an identity 
of national life subsists between the United Kingdom 
and her dependencies abroad, as would enable us to 
carry out in them precisely the same principles of alli 
ance between the church and the state, as those for 
which w r e contend at home. 

3. We have seen that there has existed no period in 
our history which accurately exemplifies what we have 
put forward as the ideal perfection of the theory. Not 


before Protestantism, nor in its early stages, namely, 
up to the twelfth year of the reign of Elizabeth, the 
era of the separation of the English Romanists from 
the church, because these differences of opinion were 
forcibly suppressed from without. Not from that time 
till 1678, because the legislature was not wholly of the 
church, and separatism was still forbidden and re 
pressed by the civil power. Not from 1678 to 1689, be 
cause the latter of these reasons still continued in force. 
Not from 1689 onwards, because the crown had in 
volved itself in serious compromise, by uniting with 
two churches not in Christian communion with each 
other. We may take, however, roughly, as the stand 
ard with which to compare our present state, these 
three notions : a legislature composed exclusively of 
members of the church ; pecuniary and legal support 
to the church alone ; a free toleration. 

4. If we are asked wherein now consists, or by what 
signs is attested, the nationality of the church in 
England, we answer thus : 

Firstly. By the necessity that the sovereign should 
be a member of it, and that his membership should be 
ascertained in the true, authentic manner, namely, 
through the act of communion. 

Secondly. By the necessity that the Lord High 
Chancellor, the keeper of the sovereign's conscience, 
should likewise be of the church. 

Thirdly. By the coronation service, both in the 
sense of its terms, and in the performance of its distinc 
tive act by the Archbishop of Canterbury. 


Fourthly. By the presence of the bishops in the 
House of Lords, on behalf of the national estate for re 

Fifthly. By the presence of certain of them in the 
privy council, on the same behalf, officially. 

Sixthly. By the summoning of the convocation 
along with the parliament under the royal writ. 

Seventhly. By the terms in which the parliament 
itself is summoned, to deliberate de arduis rebus eccle- 
siam et statum concernentibm. 

Eighthly. By the solemn daily worship with which 
the proceedings of both houses of parliament are com 

Ninthly. By the restrictions which the state has 
imposed upon the enactment of church laws, and which 
it could have no title to impose, except upon the suppo 
sition of the nationality of the church. 

Tenthly. By her acknowledged subjection, in re 
spect to some power of regulating her temporalities. 

Eleventhly. By the oath of Roman Catholics, which 
disclaims all intention of using their political powers in 
parliament so as to be injurious to her. 

Twelfthly. By the declaration which all holders of 
office are obliged to take. 

Thirteenthly. By the act of union with Scotland. 

Fourteenthly. By the act of union with Ireland. 
(These are selected, because they are, if the expression 
may be allowed, fundamental statutes.) 

Fifteenthly. By the authority of the ecclesiastical 


Sixteenthly. By the possession of the tithes, whe 
ther we consider them as (to use the phrase of Mr. 
Coleridge) the reserved nationality for the purposes of 
religion, or as endowments attached to the persons of 
the clergy. 

Seventeenthly. By the right to church-rates for the 
maintenance of the fabric and conduct of the service. 

Eighteenthly. By the civil privileges conferred on 
the church universities. 

Nineteenthly. We may place together some minor 
signs of recognition ; as the opening of assizes by the 
judges with attendance at church : and the practice of 
the municipal bodies generally to resort thither, in 
smaller or greater numbers, but in their official capa 
city. Other particulars might be specified. 

5. Upon a review of these articles we are forcibly 
struck with one great and very important distinction 
between the constitutional position of the English and 
the Scottish establishments. Although the latter has 
acquired by compact the legal possession of a portion 
of the empire, and a claim to pecuniary support, pro- 
portionably to her needs : yet the whole personal pro 
fession of religion in the state remains with the church 
of England. The church membership of the sovereign, 
the worship of the state in her solemn assemblies, the 
terms of the writ, the parallel summons of the convoca 
tion, the participation of the bishops in legislative 
powers, all seem to show that the state, so far as it is a 
moral being, is still, in some special sense, of the com 
munion of the English church. 


6. But the case of the Scottish church is isolated and 
peculiar, and appears to require a separate considera 
tion. The general drift of our arguments has undoubt 
edly been to the effect that the state ought to have 
respect to separatism as well as to heterodoxy, ought 
not only to support religion, but the church, as its 
appointed depositary ; and if that church be one in 
body as well as in spirit, it may at first sight seem a 
proper consequence that the Scottish establishment 
should be disavowed or altered to a different constitu 
tion susceptible of union with our own ; but that, if 
not, it destroys that principle of a personal religion in 
the state for which we have been contending. 

7. The Scotch establishment has every feature that 
can mitigate the anomaly and evil of a case of separatism. 
It is, in the words of Mr. Smith,* the " national estate 
of religion" for that kingdom. It has fixity of creed. 
It is now rid of its ancient prejudices against the epis 
copal government, which is generally regarded with 
positive favour by its clergy. The character of that 
body is most exemplary. The administration of patron 
age is wonderfully pure. The temporalities of the 
church are husbanded so as to produce a great amount 
of beneficial agency from limited means. The opera 
tion of the system on the people tends to order, loyalty, 
and yet more to a general knowledge and fear of God, 
which those who have lived among the Scottish people 
will ever be glad and forward to acknowledge. Lastly, 

* Letter VI. on National Religion. 



some distinguished members of the body of the Scottish 
clergy are now arguing that they have the legitimate 
apostolical succession, through John Knox and his 
coadjutors as presbyters, and grounding their own title 
to the ministry on that foundation.* It should not be 
our desire to depreciate the praise which God has given . 
We should wish our own principles to be tried by the 
standard of truth, and it would be most iniquitous to 
suppress facts because they may appear to countenance 
deductions unfavourable to our purpose. 

8. Now our principle is, that there is one revealed 
catholic church, of which the apostolical succession in 
the ministry is a condition, as well as truth of doctrine ; 
one in body as well as in spirit, and having that suc 
cession as appertaining essentially to its body. This 
position is not shaken, however it may be shown that 
it has pleased God to work out His own wise purposes 
through different, though parallel channels, and to 
bring men back to His own blessed image in His Son 
by means other than those explicitly shown to us. It 
does not remain the less our duty to abide in that insti 
tution where we know that the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ is administered not merely from our human 

judgment of its results, but from the fact that our 
ministers have his historically attested command and 

9. If, then, unity be a principle of the church, and the 
church a part of religion, ought governments voluntarily 

* See the Rev. J. Cumming's Apology for the Church of Scotland. 
London, 1837. 


to surrender as unimportant any such part, however to 
fleshly perceptions it be separable from the essence ? 
It would appear, certainly not. The great fact still 
remains applicable to the Scottish church and its parti 
cipation in the connection with the state, that it involves 
a breach of the principle of unity in the body. How, 
then, it may be asked, are we justified in continuing 
to support it ? in recognising its extension, both, at 
home and throughout the colonies ? 

10. The difficulty is great, but the answer appears to 
me to be this : It has become matter of law, and of 
compact and good faith by the law as such. To this 
extent it may be saicl,^m non debuit, factum valet. As 
individuals, those who hold the unity of the body are 
bound to endeavour to restore the apostolical system in 
the national estate of religion for Scotland ; and, for 
that end, to use every fair means of procuring the altera 
tion of the law. But the Act of Union with Scotland 
recites an Act of the Scottish Parliament, establishing 
the church with its Presbyterian discipline, and re 
quiring of the sovereign an oath to maintain it ; and it 
makes the observance of this Act a fundamental and es 
sential condition of the Union. Thus it has become a 
part of the nation's organic life, and, as a part thereof, 
still under the same contract, it claims that we shall fulfil, 
on its belialf, all that belongs to a national establishment. 

1 1 . When the church government was altered, and the 
succession abolished, the establishment still retained all 
its claims, in the view of the Scottish legislature, as 
the national estate of religion. It was not intended or 

R 2 


expressed that these claims should be foregone. On 
the contrary, the constitutional obligation which, before 
the Union, affected only Scotland and the Crown, was, 
by the Union, imparted to England by a compact 
definitely expressed. The compact was virtually this : 
that the representatives of the Scottish nation, consent 
ing to incorporate themselves, as a small minority, with 
the vastly greater number of Englishmen, in the British 
House of Commons, meant to retain their full power 
of acting for their church ; and that, consequently, we 
are bound to take care that, within the limits of equi 
table proportion, their demands on behalf of their 
national estate of religion shall be allowed to take 
effect, and shall be accurately represented in the 
aggregate result of the deliberations and wills of the 
mixed body ; and that our own free agency is tied 
down to afford them the means of carrying out their 
claims under the compact so understood. 

12. One of those claims, in this sense, is for additional 
grants at home, in order to extend its ministrations to 
all those within the realm of Scotland, who, through 
defect, whether of ability or of will, are without a 
religion. Another is, that when her Presbyterian 
children pass forth into the colonial dependencies of the 
empire, they shall still be entitled to share in the 
public aid afforded to religion. It seems to me difficult 
to read fairly the Act of Union without acknowledging 
the justice of this demand, as one of equity ; and, there 
fore, in consenting to give effect to it by legislative acts, 
we do no more than discharge an obligation, incumbent 


upon us until the law is altered, just as we should be 
bound to discharge it if the Scotch church, instead of 
being Presbyterian, were Independent or Roman Ca 
tholic. It is obvious, that the members of the Anglican 
church might, by their votes in Parliament, overbear 
the representatives of Scotland and alter the Union ; 
but it is not less clear, I think, that such an act would 
virtually be a breach of covenant ; and, therefore, it is 
not option or discretion, but plighted faith, which 
entails upon us the support of the Scottish church : 
just as we have ever contended in England that Dis 
senters are bound to pay church-rates, irrespective of 
their approval or disapproval of that worship which 
such payments are intended to maintain. 

13. As respects, however, the mass of persons, and the 
average of principle, now conversant with our civil 
affairs, the difficulty does not arise. There is little idea 
of religious unity among us, except a concurrence in 
certain doctrines, and outward separation is deemed a 
circumstance of trivial importance. Many persons of 
sincere piety do not object to consider themselves as 
members Loth of the English and of the Scottish 
church ; according as they may happen to reside, at 
different seasons of the year, south or north of the 
Border. And no man can think that the personality 
of the stale is more stringent, or entails straiter obli 
gations, than that of the individual. We can hardly, 
therefore, expect any strong sense of the need of ex 
planation upon this subject to be generally entertained ; 
but there is every reason to believe that, as the minds 


of men are drawn to the question at large, they will 
become more and more alive to the existing anomaly 
and its consequences. 

14. Under the Act of Union the church of Scotland 
has been recognised as entitled to pecuniary assistance 
from the state, by actual grants during the present cen 
tury, for the erection of churches, and for church schools, 
in which the Assembly's Catechisms are taught, as well 
as in a very general recognition through our colonies, and 
in certain regiments of the army presumed to belong to 
her communion. Further, in reference to some efforts, 
recently made by her ministers and members, espe 
cially her gifted professor of divinity in Edinburgh, Dr. 
Chalmers, it has been understood that her Majesty's 
government are disposed to devote the bishops' teinds, 
which are now state property, to the object of extending 
the Scottish church in country parishes where the 
means of pastoral care are insufficient for the existing 

15. But she has a still more unequivocal support under 
the Acts 50 Geo. III. c. 84, and Geo. IV. c. 72, by 
which it is provided, that whenever the teinds fall short 
in any parish of the sum of 158 6s. Qd., (of which 
amount 8 6.9. 8d. is allotted on account of the elements 
for the communion,) that sum shall be made up from 
the Exchequer. There are 196 parishes of Scot 
land which fall within the terms of these statutes, and 
they appear to receive aid to the amount of between 
16,000 and 17,000 annually, which may be taken as 
representing a capital of nearly half a million . If we join 


to this the grants for other ecclesiastical purposes, it 
would appear that the church of Scotland has received 
from the state, during the present century, in proportion 
to the extent of her communion, a considerably greater 
share of pecuniary assistance than the church of Eng 

16. In the Britisn navy, we believe, there is no recog 
nition of any other worship than that of the established 
church, and no permission, even to Roman Catholic 
sailors, to absent themselves from its habitual celebra 
tion on board ship. Isolation at sea has prevented any 
allowance to the men of leave to attend their own mi 
nister or sect, and any permission of absence would 
probably have been found incompatible with discipline. 
To determine accurately the merits of the present prac 
tice would require considerable discussion and detail ; 
our present object is to note facts. 

17. In the British army the practice is, it appears, 
somewhat more varied. Under the general orders of 
the service, Roman Catholic soldiers are everywhere 
exempted from attending the service of the church. In 
Ireland their officers resort to chapel with them, in 
order to prevent their being tampered with by political 
harangues ; but the precaution hardly meets the sup 
posed necessity, as the sermons are often in Irish. 
There is no similar exemption for dissenters ; probably 
because no rule of their religious communities in general 
forbids their attendance at the worship of the establish 
ment. At each military home station divine service is 
performed by local clergymen of the established churches 


in England and Scotland respectively. Episcopalians 
and Roman Catholics are entitled, in Scotland, to repair 
to their respective churches. The troops stationed in 
the forts in Scotland are allowed the services of a Pres 
byterian clergyman at the public expense. Thus it 
would appear that the principle of the army is, a full 
toleration of the Roman Catholics, a recognition of the 
established church of Scotland in Scotland, of the 
church of England elsewhere. 

18. To continue our review of public institutions: 
we are not aware that in any prisons or workhouses of 
this country persons have been, up to the present year 
(1838), entertained as officers belonging to the esta 
blishments in any spiritual capacity, except clergymen 
of the church of England. The ministers of other per 
suasions are admitted to attend those who desire their 
aid, with more or less freedom, according to the nature 
of the institution and its management. At Milbank 
Penitentiary, for instance, which is a prison, and a cor 
rectional one, Roman Catholic priests are allowed to 
attend Roman Catholic prisoners in the cases when a 
desire to that effect is expressed, but the same liberty is 
not given to Protestant dissenters. The Roman Catholic 
prisoners, however, in a large majority of cases, will 
ingly and even gladly receive the instructions of the 
chaplain, attending the worship of the church, and 
even partake of the holy communion according to the 
liturgy. During the late session of Parliament, a 
clause was introduced, in the House of Commons, into 
a bill for the management of prisons, authorising the 


appointment to gaols, under certain circumstances, of 
ministers not belonging to the church ; but as the bill 
was lost at an early stage in the Upper House, there was 
no opportunity of ascertaining the full amount of specific 
objection entertained to this particular enactment. 

19. The aid of the state is given in England to schools 
of two kinds, those in connection with the Incorporated 
National Society, and those under the British and 
Foreign School Society. The former follow Bell, the 
latter Lancaster. The former give a definitive church 
education, teaching the catechism, using prayer, and 
require attendance at the public worship of the church ; 
the latter adopt the Bible as their basis of religious in 
struction, ostensibly renouncing exposition of a contro 
versial, or what we should rather call a doctrinal kind ; 
this line, however, is far from being accurately observed 
in practice. An Unitarian witness made complaints to 
that effect before a Parliamentary Committee in 1834.* 
Upon the subject of the church, however, it is under 
stood that they teach nothing affecting the differences 
that exist in this country, which may be termed nothing 
absolutely. They do not recognise distinctions of reli 
gious communion ; nor, we believe, a form of prayer. 
There are schools in connexion with them, taught on 
Unitarian principles. The principle of this grant for 
schools is greatly short of a full church principle, and 
yet does not positively contravene it ; first, because it 
absolutely disclaims all sectarian teaching ; secondly, 

* See evidence of the Rev. Samuel Wood, in the Report of the Select 
Committee of the House of Commons, on Education, in 1834. Questions 


because schools are not so entirely appropriated to reli 
gion as to require the whole system of the church in 
the same degree with those institutions which have 
no other end, and are the paramount means for the 
attainment of that end. It is supposed that half the 
children in the British and Foreign Society's schools 
may be members of the church of England ; they 
are instructed in a part only of what they should 
believe and know. It remains, however, indisputably 
true, that the only full scheme of teaching in religion 
recognised under the Parliamentary grant, is that of the 
National Society, which is likewise that of the church. 
20. The next item which we have to notice is one 
which appears to be more decidedly a deviation from the 
church principle a small vote taken in the estimates for 
the benefit of Protestant dissenting ministers, and of 
poor French refugee clergy. The latter part of this 
grant (which amounts for 1838 to 3,195) is so evi 
dently charitable that it hardly raises a question. As 
regards the former, it is put in charge of trustees belong 
ing to the several bodies entitled the Three Denomi 
nations, one of which is now really, though not profess 
edly, Unitarian. It still retains the Presbyterian name. 
Recently there was a movement out of Parliament 
among some of the dissenters in favour of the discon 
tinuance of this vote ; the trustees immediately pro 
tested, and gave their reasons. From these it appeared 
that the vote operated rather by way of charity to the 
individuals than effective support to congregations. 
This plea, however, might be considered as terminating 


with the lives of the present holders ; but, in point of 
fact, it appears that the money given was originally a 
part of the private bounty of the crown, which Parlia 
ment inherits in virtue of the civil-list compact, and 
which therefore may stand rather in the light of a debt 
than of a spontaneous gift, with reference to those from 
whom at the present time it immediately proceeds. A 
small portion of the House of Commons divided against 
the grant this year, as an infringement of the voluntary 
principle ; a very large majority passed it. 

21. We have now mentioned the public acts and prac 
tices immediately bearing upon the question of church 
and state within the borders of England. Negatively, 
indeed, much more might be said. While such masses 
of our population lie in darkness, and without access to 
the ordinances of the church, it might well be argued 
that the government is sadly neglectful of its duty in 
not making the effort to supply that deficiency. Yet 
this neglect, however unfortunate or blameworthy, is 
distinct in its nature from positive acts done in contra 
vention of church principles ; and is also more easily 

22. We now turn to the realm of Ireland, which is less 
easily disposed of, as presenting more serious anomalies. 
The points for consideration under this head are the 
College of Maynooth ; the Regiurn Donum ; the Na 
tional System of Education, together with a brief re 
ference to the Kildare Place Society ; the employment 
of chaplains in gaols ; and the proposed arrangement 
in the new Poor Law scheme. 


23. The support of the College of M aynooth was ori 
ginally undertaken by the Protestant parliament of Ire 
land, in the anticipation, which has since proved 
miserably fallacious, that a more loyal class of priests 
would be produced by a home education than by u 
foreign one, and that a gradual mitigation in the fea 
tures of Irish Romanism would be produced when her 
ministers were no longer familiarised with its condition 
in continental countries where it remains the religion 
of the state. Instead of which it has been found that 
the facility of education at home has opened the priest 
hood to a lower and less cultivated class, and one more 
liable to the influence of secondary motives. It can 
hardly be denied that this is a well- merited disappoint 
ment. If the state gives anything of pecuniary support, 
it should, in consistency, give everything. Unless it is 
bound in conscience to maintain the national church as 
God's appointed vehicle of religious truth, it should adopt 
as its rule the numbers and the needs of the several classes 
of religionists; and in either aspect the claim of the 
Roman Catholics is infinitely the strongest. In amount 
this grant is niggardly and unworthy. In principle it 
is wholly vicious ; and it will be a thorn in the side of 
the State of these countries so long as it is continued. 
When foreigners express their astonishment at finding 
that we support in Ireland the church of a small 
minority, we may tell them that we support it, on the 
high ground of conscientious necessity, for its truth; 
but how should we blush at the same time to sup 
port an institution, whose avowed and legitimate pur- 


pose it is constantly to denounce that truth as false 
hood ! If indeed our faith be pledged to the college, 
by all means let us acquit ourselves of the obligation ; 
but it is monstrous that we should be the voluntary 
feeders of an establishment which exhibits at once our 
jealous parsimony, our lax principles, and our erroneous 

24. The Regium Donum is a gift annually voted in 
parliament for the partial support of Presbyterian minis 
ters in Ireland ; and a portion of the participators are re 
presented as holding Arian and Socinian doctrines. This 
being the case it will in all probability be extensively con 
fessed, that the grant, were it at our free discretion, is 
unjustifiable ; while, in another point of view, having 
been originally given to those who believed in the Holy 
Trinity, it serves to illustrate the difficulty in which 
governments entangle themselves, when they covenant 
with arbitrary systems of opinion, and not with the 
church alone. The opinion passes away, but the gift 
remains. The fault was in affixing a condition whose 
fulfilment it did not sufficiently lie within the state's 
jurisdiction to enforce. But its name imports that this 
grant is one wliich was established by the sovereign, 
and is inherited by us under compact like that to the 
Protestant dissenting ministers of England. 

25. We come next to the grants for the Kildare Place 
Society, and for the National System of Education 
in Ireland. The former was exactly analogous in 
principle to the grants now made to the British and 
Foreign School Society, the difference in detail being, 


that the Kildare Place Society did not make the Bible 
the exclusive vehicle of religious instruction. They 
concurred, however, in the main point of precluding 
instruction in peculiar doctrines. As respects the 
latter, we are here concerned not with its practice, but 
its principles. Its original object was to encourage 
rather than to afford a joint education to children of all 
denominations in Ireland in moral and literary instruc 
tion. The former was to comprise as much of Scrip 
ture reading in the form of extracts as could be agreed 
on by a board composed from the several religious 
denominations. The funds voted were intended to build 
school-houses, supply requisites, and afford gratuities to 
deserving masters. The several classes were permitted 
to have the use of the school-houses for separate reli 
gious instruction. A certain portion of the week was to 
be set apart for that object. The Bible, or any catechisms, 
subject to the approbation of the members of the board 
professing each form respectively, might then be intro 
duced. The idea does not appear to have been that 
the state should supply the people with a Roman 
Catholic education, so far as it can be collected from 
Lord Stanley's letter to the Duke of Leinster in 1831. 
There have been, however, practical departures from 
that letter, which was as it were the charter of the 
system, of a very important kind, over and above cases 
of glaring and punishable abuse. The plan now pur 
sued is, to pay salaries instead of gratuities to the 
teachers ; and the amount of fees and local subscriptions 
is, I apprehend, very small. The state, therefore, 


is likely to become the paymaster for the whole in 
struction, and consequently responsible for the whole. 
The board have likewise authorised the introduction of 
the separate instruction during school hours another 
very important deviation, intended probably to conciliate 
opponents, but not apparently at all removing the 
liability to serious objections in point of principle. 

26. When the Irish Poor Law Bill of 1837 was under 
discussion, a division took place in the House of Com 
mons against the clause which authorised the appoint 
ment of chaplains to the workhouses, either of the Esta 
blished or of the Roman Catholic church, or belonging 
to some body of Dissenters. In the Act of the present 
year there is a clause, authorising the Commissioners 
to appoint in any workhouse one chaplain of the church, 
one of the Roman Catholic church, and one being a 
Protestant Dissenter. 

27. By the Act 50 Geo. III., cap. 103, sect. 47, and 
again by the Act 7 Geo. IV., cap. 74, sect. 68, each and 
every grand jury may appoint, and are required to ap 
point, a chaplain of the established church of England 
and Ireland to the several gaols ; and, if they are re 
quired by the court, to appoint also a Protestant dis 
senting chaplain ; and likewise, if similarly required by 
the court, to appoint a Roman Catholic chaplain. This 
provision has been productive of serious difficulties in 
practice, which in one case have been brought under 
the notice of the public. 

28. It is fair, however, to observe, that, whatever ob 
jection may fairly lie against either of the two last-cited 


Acts in respect of the provisions to which allusion has 
been made, yet the cases of paupers confined in work 
houses, and still more of prisoners immured in gaols, 
are not to be confounded with those of persons free to 
act for themselves. They have no pecuniary resources to 
assist in supporting a clergyman. They have no power 
of locomotion to resort to one. It is indeed possible to 
reply, that the latter objection may be met by giving 
access to a minister : the former would establish a similar 
claim on behalf of all the destitute throughout the king 
dom. Still there remains behind a notion, that persons 
confined are not free agents that they are not therefore 
competent to exercise an impartial judgment in mat 
ters of religion and that it might be unfair, and in the 
nature of seduction rather than conversion, to take ad 
vantage of their dependent position for the purpose of 
bringing them over to the church. There is more of 
show than substance in such a charge. If no temporal 
favours follow the reception of the ordinances of the 
church, I see nothing to render it impure; but the fore 
going remarks may show that if, in a spirit of indul 
gence, these enactments be made for workhouses and 
prisons, they do not establish a precedent from which 
general endowment can fairly be deduced. 

29. We have now concluded our review of the practice 
of government throughout the United Kingdom, in re 
gard to the duty of yielding its exclusive support to the 
church. And, chequered as is the picture it presents, 
we must next contemplate one of a colouring yet more 
unsatisfactory to the eye which dwells with desire on 


the picture of religious unity, and on the authority and 
fixedness of public institutions, as among the human 
instruments of promoting it. We are to consider how, 
throughout the various colonial dependencies of the 
British Crown, their respective governments, and the 
corresponding departments at home, are now regu 
lating their conduct with respect to the support and 
propagation of religion. We shall have to review the 
cases of the Canadas, of the diocese of Nova Scotia, 
and Prince Edward's Island in particular ; of the 
West Indies, in respect both to church and to school 
establishments, and comprising within themselves many 
varieties ; of the Australian colonies, where vicious prin 
ciples have recently assumed the form of a system, and 
obtained the sanction of law : and, lastly, of the East 
Indies under the Act of 1833. 

30. We may, however, remark, that although the colo 
nies are more spotted than the United Kingdom with the 
recognition of religious disunion in the ecclesiastical 
policy of the state ; yet, on the other hand, we have not 
the same degree of responsibility to them which we have 
towards the people at home, because they are not placed 
in the same closeness of natural union and depend 
ence. The relations in which we stand to the colonies 
are very various. The power of the state to retain them 
in political connection with this country is much less, 
nay, the right is much more indeterminate, than those 
which it possesses over all persons residing within the 
natural limits of these realms. Those who repair to them 
often do it under such circumstances, and such a souse 



of civil equality, and with such inadequate instruction 
respecting the church, that they do not brook the idea 
of what they wrongly deem a preference given to par 
ticular opinions for political purposes. In all which is 
now to be set down, there is no blame intended, generally 
speaking, to what has been merely permitted ; but only 
where there has been a sacrifice of our own national 
conscience, by a participation in the doing of what it 

31. Taking, first, the North American division of the 
British colonies, we find that in the colony of Upper 
Canada there are endowed rectories of the church of 
England, which were constituted by instruments under 
the great seal, to the number of fifty-six, during the 
administration of Sir John Colborne.* Glebes, aver 
aging about four hundred acres of wild lands, were 
annexed to each. There are twenty-five clergymen of 
the Presbyterian body in connection with the church of 
Scotland, receiving allowances generally of 571. each 
from government, under authority of Lord Aberdeen's 
despatch, 22nd February, 1835. There are twelve 
ministers of the united synod of Upper Canada, re 
ceiving government allowances of about 63/. each, under 
authority of Lord Ripon's despatch of 22nd Nov., 1832. 
There are thirty Roman Catholic ministers receiving 
50/. each annually ; and 100/. is paid to their bishop as 
a pension. The Wesleyan Methodists receive TOO/, 

* Vide Parliamentary Paper, No. 391, of 1836 ; and the History of 
the Church in Upper Canada, by the Rev. W. Bettridge, Rector of Wood 
stock in that Colony. London, 1838. 


32. The proceeds of the clergy reserves, for Upper 
Canada, appear to have been, in 1836, as follows : 

Rents of leased clergy reserves . . 2141 
Interest on sales of ditto . . . .2163 
Dividends on proceeds of sales, vested in England 655 

Total 4959 

The church expenditure, on account of these funds, 
was 5830/. ; besides which we find a charge on the 
casual and territorial revenues of 2765/. This charge 
is to be diminished by deaths, and by any increase in 
the funds of the reserves. 

We find, at the same time, the charges for other 
bodies standing thus : 

For the Presbyterian clergy of the Scotch 

church 1541 

For the united synod , 699 

For the Roman Catholic Church, including 100/. 

paid as a pension to the bishop . . 1600 
For the Wesleyans ..... 700 

33. In Upper Canada there is a feeling, among the 
democratic party, in favour of devoting the clergy re 
serves to purposes of education. A Bill, professedly 
for that purpose, was rejected, in 1835, by the coun 
cil. In 1836, however, it was proposed in the As 
sembly to divide them among the churches of Eng 
land, Scotland, Rome, the Wesleyans, and the Baptists. 
A strong opposition to this project was made on behalf 
of the church, and likewise from a sentiment, which 
appeared to obtain considerable prevalence, that the 



reserves should be made applicable to all Protestant 
religious communities, but that the church of Rome 


should not be allowed to participate in them. The 
scheme failed. In 1837 a suggestion of Lord Ripon's, 
that the reserves should be re- vested in the crown, was 
taken up, but was lost in the Assembly by a single vote. 
It had been proposed in 1832 and 1833, but without 
taking effect. The legislative council has declared a 

o O 

conviction that the question cannot arrive at a settlement 
in the province. 

34. In the colony of Lower Canada, the Bishop of 
Montreal and certain rectors, in number about six or 
seven, are paid by annual vote of Parliament. From the 
same source a Roman Catholic bishop receives 1000/. 
annually. It is understood that the whole of these votes 
are to terminate with the lives of the existing holders. 
At the cession of the province the rights of the Roman 
Catholic church generally were confirmed, and it re 
mains in possession of large and valuable landed pro 
perty, and also of the tithe, subject to an exception 
where the occupier is a Protestant, in which case he is 

35. By the Constitutional Act of 1791, in conformity 
with the tenor of ancient instructions to governors to 


make provision everywhere for the worship of the church, 
one seventh part of all wild lands were directed to be set 
apart, under the title of clergy reserves, as settlements 
should extend. As they were found to remain uncul 
tivated, and thus to impede the general progress of the 
districts in which they were placed, a power has been 


taken by Act 7 and 8 Geo. IV., chap. 62, of selling 
them, and holding the proceeds for the benefit, according 
to the terms of the Act of 1791, of a Protestant clergy. 
This provision extends to both the Canadas. There 
has been much controversy upon the question, whether 
this phrase includes the clergy of the church of Scot 
land. In conformity with an opinion given by the law 
officers of the crown at home in the year 1819, it has 
of late been held that they are so included : arid a sum 
of 500/., the interest of moneys arising out of the sale 
of clergy reserves in Lower Canada, has been applied 
to the support of Presbyterian ministers. 

36. In Lower Canada a very large sum is charged for 
1836, under the head of education, no less than 31,000/. 
There are no payments from colonial funds to any reli 
gious communion. The sales of reserves have produced 
31,085/. (stock 3 per cents.), a portion of the interest of 
which is applied to the church of Scotland. About 400/. 
a-year still remains unappropriated, having been realised 
only within the last few months. The crown is precluded 
from assenting to any act which alters the disposition 
of the reserves, until copies of it shall have lain on the 
tables of both Houses of Parliament for forty days ; 
and any address from either House during that interval 
is to render such assent unlawful. The whole subject 
has been referred by the colonial department to the 
local legislatures, with the understanding that they are 
to have the initiative in any measures for altering the 
present legal dispositions. 

37. In the colony of Newfoundland the clergymen of 


the church have no payments from the colony itself. 
The archdeacon is paid 300/. from the parliamentary 
estimate. The Roman Catholic bishop has 75L from the 
same source. A grant of eight acres of land has lately 
been made for the erection of a Roman Catholic cathe 
dral. It is stated, by parties connected with the co 
lony, that the contributions of the Roman Catholics of 
Newfoundland to the support of their bishop and clergy 
amount in value to not less than 6000/. or 7000/. 

38. There is no ecclesiastical charge upon the colony 
of Prince Edward's Island, as appears by the returns of 
the year 1837. The missionaries of the church are 
paid by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. 
There is a vote of 100/. per annum from the British 
Parliament for a Presbyterian minister. There were 
in this colony certain church-lands, in the proportion 
of 130 acres to each township of 20,000. Instructions 
were sent from the Colonial Department during the 
secretaryship of Mr. Spring Rice, to the effect that 
a plan should be proposed for selling the lands. The 
Assembly and Council passed a bill not only directing 
the sale of the lands, but appropriating the proceeds 
to the purposes of general education. This bill was 
assented to at home in the year 1836. On a remon 
strance from the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel, the Society was informed that the Royal assent 
had been given under an erroneous impression, that the 
Colonial Act was in conformity with the instructions 
of the Colonial Department. 


39. In the colony of New Brunswick the clergy of 
the church of England are paid by the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel ; and those of the Scottish 
church mainly by their congregations. The Assembly 
gave in 1836 nearly 10,000/. for education; but there 
is no vote of any kind for religious purposes, except a 
payment of 50/, per annum on the recently granted 
civil list, for a Presbyterian minister. 

There are lands in this colony set apart for purposes 
of religion, amounting to upwards of 50,000 acres; 
they are entirely unproductive, and no act, I believe, 
has been passed to permit them to be sold. 

The archdeacon receives 300/. a-year, a grant which 
is included in the parliamentary estimate. 

40. In the colony of Nova Scotia the public expendi 
ture, taken for the year 1836, exhibits a charge of 7600/. 
under the head of the Ecclesiastical Department. Of 
this sum 6830/. consisted of salaries to the bishop and 
clergy, of which 61 50/. was granted on the parlia 
mentary estimate. One vote of 75/. is for a Presby 
terian minister. The colony itself is at no public 
charge whatever. 

Before the year 1831, the Society for the Propa 
gation of the Gospel received, by annual vote of Par 
liament, 16,000/. for the support of the church in 
North America. In that year it was determined by 
the Colonial Department that the vote should be with 
drawn at the rate of 25 per cent, annually ; the effect 
of which would have been its total extinction in 1835. 
Lord Stanley, however, while Colonial Secretary, made 


an arrangement for continuing the vote at the rate of 
4000/. annually, subject only to gradual diminution as 
the missionaries in receipt of it might die or resign. For 
1838 it amounts to 3500/., which is applied, through 
the Society, entirely to the colony of Nova Scotia. 

41. As respects the West Indian colonies, two bishops, 
and a certain number of clergy, are provided for them 
by an Act of the Imperial Parliament passed in the 
year 1825 ; and they are divided into two dioceses, 
under the sees of Jamaica and Barbadoes. No funds 
are voted by the Imperial Parliament in support of any 
other religious denomination for the West Indies. A 
vote, however, was taken in the year 1835, for the 
promotion of " moral and religious education on liberal 
and comprehensive principles," in compliance Avith the 
terms of the fifth parliamentary resolution for the abo 
lition of slavery. The amount was at first 20,000/., 
and it was distributed indifferently to the societies con 
nected with the church of England, to those acting 
for different bodies of Protestant separatists, to the 
Presbyterians, and to the trustees of the Mico charity, 
who proceed upon the plan of the British and Foreign 
School Society in England. They have very large 
funds at their disposal, which have accumulated under 
a bequest more than a century old, given originally 
for the purpose of redeeming negro slaves. In the 
principle of this distribution the church has been placed 
on a level with all other religious bodies having organs 
with which the government could negociate. Its de 
tails have been such as considerably to limit her agency. 


The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel offered 
in 1835 to expend 10,000/. on schools, to meet as much 
from the government fund. The dissenting societies 
only tendered one-third of the total expense to be in 
curred ; yet the government took the worse terms, and 
thus produced by the 10,000/. a total outlay of 15,000/., 
instead of 20,000/., which it would have been, had the 
proposal of the Propagation Society been accepted. 

42. In the colony of Jamaica, the charge of the eccle 
siastical establishment, according to the returns of 1836, 
defrayed by the colony itself, is 14,220/., currency, or be 
tween 8000/. and 9000/. sterling ; 240/. currency was 
voted for a Scotch church, and 60 1/, for the Presby 
terian institution. In the year 1837 a disposition was 
declared to extend considerably the pecuniary aid given 
to that church, and a Colonial act has passed, appointing 
commissioners who are authorised to prepare subdi 
visions of parishes, and to propose them to the Assembly 
as subjects for ecclesiastical endowment in connection 
with the church of England. It is not yet clear what 
amount of substantive results is likely to be realised. 

43. In the island of Mauritius there is a joint endow 
ment of the English and the Roman churches. The for 
mer appears to be supported to the extent of 108 1/, (in 
1836), and the latter receives 2520/. The ministers 
of the one class are termed " Civil Chaplains ;" those 
of the other " Roman Catholic Clergy." 

44. In the colony of British Guiana, district of Deme- 
rara, there is a public colonial provision for religion, 
amounting in the year 1836 to 2208/. There is a 


division into parishes, some of which have ministers of 
the church of England, while some are connected with 
the Scotch church. There is also a payment to a 
Dutch minister in George Town. In the district of 
Berbice there is a parish-church, with several chapels. 
No notice appears to be taken of any religious com 
munity other than the church. 

45. In the colony of Trinidad, there was expended (in 
the year 1835) 860/. on account of the church of Eng 
land, and 2487/. on account of the church of Rome. 

46. In the colony of St. Lucia, there are one English 
and three Roman Catholic churches. The rector 
receives 300/. per annum. Two of the Roman Catholic 
clergymen receive together 11,000 francs. 

47. In the colony of Grenada, there is certain land 
belonging to the Roman Catholic church, and there was 
an endowment, remaining from the period when the 
French had possession of the colony, for a Roman Catho 
lic priest, which, in consequence of an internal schism, 
has recently, I believe, been withdrawn. 

48. In the colony of Antigua, there is a charge of 
2555/. for the year 1836. It does not appear that any 
part of this sum is given to any communion other than 
the church. 

49. In the colony of Barbadoes, there appears, for the 
year 1836, a charge for the established clergy (as they 
are denominated) of 36 66/., besides one of 533/. for 
the central school establishment, and payments to the 
chaplains of the council and house of assembly, and of 
the gaol, respectively. 


50. Iii the colony of the Bermudas, the ecclesiastical 
expenditure for 1837 amounted to 1783/. Three hun 
dred pounds is drawn from home for the archdeacon, of 
which 200/. is from the funds of the state. The colony 
expended in the year above cited 1533/. on five clergy 
men of the church, including the archdeacon. There 
is an allowance under the head of " miscellaneous civil 
services," to one Presbyterian minister. 

51. In the colony of St. Christopher's, there are nine 
parishes, of which the rectors are variously paid ; but I 
find no trace of any payment except to the church. 

52. In the Bahamas, the charge for 1836 is 191 5/. 
There is no account of any payment but to the church. 
The same appears to be the case with Honduras, 
St. Vincent, Montserrat, and Tobago. 

53. In Dominica, there are some payments to the Ro 
man Catholic clergy, but it does not appear whether 
they are from a colonial fund. . There is a rector of the 
English church, who receives 260/. from that source. 

o . 

The returns at present in this country are, as respects 
the West Indian colonies, for the most part extremely 
defective ; but the facts, so far as they are cited above, 
are derived from the most authentic sources to which 
access can be had. 

54. Our establishments in the Mediterranean require 
but a very brief notice. At Gibraltar, the chaplain 
receives 300/. from government, the vicar apostolic of 
the Roman church has 100/. The total charge is 
church of England 465/., church of Rome 196/. These 
amounts are for 1837. 


55. In the island of Malta, the ancient Roman Catholic 
establishment remains. An allowance of 54/. is made 
by the government to a Roman Catholic garrison chap 
lain. In Valletta there is a clergyman of the church, 
with 380/. per annum. The name of Malta likewise 
suggests the question connected with the tributes of 
respect paid by the government to Roman Catholic 
festivals in the shape of military salutes ; they appear 
to involve a principle the same in substance as that of 
direct pecuniary aid. 

56. The Ionian islands are inhabited by a population 
of 200,000 natives and 12,000 strangers. The Greek 
church is considered the establishment of the islands. 
It has 2242 churches and chapels, and 898 priests 
(1837). Their salaries amount to 9926/. There 
are thirteen Latin churches, with salaries of 1010/. 
There are three English churches. The public charge 
of the islands for the ecclesiastical establishments 
amounts to 24T9/. ; of this the Roman and English 
churches partake. It may be right to mention that 
there have been at different times certain marks of 
communion between the Oriental churches and that of 
our own country.* 

57. The still infant settlement of Western Australia 
is fed by a parliamentary vote, in which is comprised 
a provision for a colonial chaplain. In South Aus 
tralia, which is governed under a Commission, con 
stituted by Act in 1835, the voluntary system is alone 

* Palmer on tta Cbyrch, P, I, ch. ix, sect. 1. 


contemplated. No part of the public resources is, or is 
to be, applied to religious purposes. This Act, it is 
right to observe, passed under the review, and received 
either the approval or the allowance, of several successive 
colonial secretaries. In the late project for colonising 
New Zealand, embodied during the session of 1838 in 
a bill, but now stifled or suspended in consequence of 
its rejection on the second reading, the principle of in 
discriminate establishment was adopted, but with a 
special provision for the appointment of a bishop of the 
church of England. It is instructive to observe, amidst 
thickening gloom, the last flashes of a light once as 
abundant and generally recognised, as it is now stinted 
and despised. 

58. Great numbers of Roman Catholic convicts were 
sent from the United Kingdom to the penal colonies 
of Australia. They had been furnished in Ireland 
with gaol chaplains at the expense of their counties ; 
and it seemed a natural consequence, that a similar 
provision should be made for them after their trans 
portation. It was made accordingly. But then this 
population was so mixed up with the free portion of 
the colonial communities, and so many individuals were 
daily passing from the one to the other, that the line 
of principle, which, as some may be inclined to think, 
separates the two kinds of support, was overlooked, 
and, several years ago, a claim began to be urged upon 
the Colonial Department for the endowment of Roman 
Catholic chaplains in proportion to the Roman Catholic 
population. It was recognised in principle as an en- 


dowment. Arrangements were made while Mr. Spring 
Rice was Secretary of State for sending out four 
additional chaplains, and three catechists, of the Roman 
church. Lord Aberdeen found these arrangements 
matured, but not executed ; they had his approbation, 
and took effect. 

59. Measures of a more systematic description quickly 
followed.* The governor of New South Wales pro 
posed to his council a scheme, which is embodied in 
an Act passed 29th July, 1836, " to promote the build 
ing of churches and chapels, and to provide for the 
ministers of religion, in New South Wales." It pro 
vides that, where a sum of at least 300/. has been 
raised by private contribution, and applied towards the 
building of a church or chapel, and where necessary a 
dwelling, a sum may be issued from the colonial funds 
not exceeding the amount of such private contribution, 
nor exceeding the sum of 1000/. A larger sum may, 
however, be applied by the governor, with the advice 
and consent of the legislative council. 

60. Likewise where 100 adults subscribe a declaration 
of their desire to attend any proposed church or chapel, 
the governor may allow the minister 100/. a-year. If 
200 shall subscribe, then 150/. a-year. If 500 shall 
subscribe the declaration, then 200^. a-year may be 
allowed. And there is a power of issuing 1007. a-year 
when less than 100 subscribe, given to the governor, 
subject to the consent of the executive council. Where 

* A full account of them is contained in the Parliamentary Papers, 
No. 112 of Session 1837, and No. 75 of Session 1838. 


there is no church or chapel the governor may issue 
any sum not exceeding 100/. a-year, to meet an equal 
amount of private contributions. The governor and 
executive council may withdraw the stipend, if they 
think that the minister's duties have been culpably or 
wilfully neglected. This Act draws no distinction 
whatever between any religious societies, except by the 
use of the terms, " Churches or Chapels," which pro 
bably would be understood to imply, that the body 
seeking the aid of the state must submit to the name, 
at least, of Christianity. Regulations were published 
in New South Wales, dated 4th October, 1836, setting 
forth the English, Scottish, and Romish churches, as 
the special objects of these provisions, but adding that 
applications from any other denomination of Christians 
will be taken into consideration, according to the special 
circumstances of each case. 

61. The enactments of this measure appear to have 
been popular in New South Wales, so far as any evi 
dence contained in the parliamentary papers will enable 
us to form a conclusion. A considerable number of 
clergymen have been settled, under its provisions, in 
connection with the church, the Presbyterian, and the 
Roman Catholic bodies. The ministers and elders of 
the Presbytery of New South Wales* " approach " 
Lord Glenelg, the Colonial Secretary (writing on the 
27th July, 1837), " with unmingled feelings of grati 
tude and joy" to request that he will transmit their 

Paper, No. 75, 1838, p. 14. 


thanks to the throne ; and they trust that supremacy 
arising from a monopoly of state indulgences and ap 
pointments, expended on one church to the prejudice 
and depression of other churches, will no longer exist 
under these judicious and impartial regulations." And 
Dr. Lang, a Presbyterian minister, in his work on 
New South Wales, has warmly eulogised the above- 
mentioned measure.* Thus is the state establishment 
of the Roman Catholic church actively supported by 
a body which, in its origin, contended that it had lost 
the essence of a church, and, in consequence, broke 
off the channel through which the apostolical commis 
sion had been conveyed : and thus are the principles of 
the Reformation contravened by its professed admirers. 
62. There has been considerable dissension in New 
South Wales respecting a school system ; but as the 
question was, whether the government should establish, 
according to Sir Richard Bourke's wishes, that of the 
Dublin Board, or should afford indiscriminate aid to 
all communions, and since the latter was the ground 
taken by the Protestants of the colony, it is needless 
to pursue the details. There is no semblance, in any 
part of these arrangements, of a true and sound con 
ception of the conscientious functions of government 
in matters of religion. For similar reasons, we need 
not detail the proceedings in Van Diemen's Laud ; they 
have been closely analogous in their general tendency 
to those of New South Wales, and the same principle 

* Dr. Lang on Transportation and Colonization, p 241, note. 


of indiscriminate recognition and assistance has been 
established ; the governor not being, however, in this 
instance the prime mover, but a willing instrument. 
And the accounts from Van Diemen's Land present 
a remarkable testimony, which is extracted in the fol 
lowing passage from a dispatch of Colonel Arthur's,* 
dated 26th January, 1836 : 

"The Roman Catholics have hitherto been a very 
inconsiderable body in this community, possessing one 
very rude chapel in Hobart Town, and a school in 
connection with it. The arrival of Dr. Folding, how 
ever, has excited a degree of energy which has given 
them a more influential appearance, and has had the 
effect of recalling some persons who had been in the 
habit of attending the established church." Dr. Folding, 
it should be observed, was the Roman Catholic bishop 
sent out to New South Wales by the government. 

63. Upon the other hand, there is some evidence which 
appears to show that it is want of information and 
reflection, rather than indifference, which we have to 
lament in the case before us. An address presented to 
the bishop of Australia in June, 1836, from many of 
the most influential persons of New South Wales, 
speaks as follows : f 

" We look upon the erection of these colonies into 
an episcopal see, and the appointment of yourself to be 
the first bishop, as (an) additional proof of His Majesty's 
paternal watchfulness over the welfare of the remotest 
portions of his dominions, and of his determination to 

* Paper 112, Session 1837, p. 70. t Ibid, p. 58. 



uphold here those sacred principles to which England 
owes, under Providence, the pure and elevated tone of 
her morality, her civil freedom, the domestic peace she 
has so long enjoyed, and her pre-eminence among the 
nations of the earth." 

Again, it is satisfactory to find the ministers and 
members of the Wesleyan Methodist body in New 
South Wales addressing the bishop of Australia, on his 
return to the colony in 1836, and declaring that,* 
" firmly and conscientiously attached, as a body, to the 
united church of England and Ireland, as by law esta 
blished, we cannot but rejoice in every measure which 
promises to extend the usefulness and to increase the 
prosperity of that venerable hierarchy." 

64. The whole tone of these addresses does the highest 
honour to those who have framed and subscribed them. 
It is likewise due to that distinguished person, Sir 
George Arthur, that in tracing the melancholy progress 
of false principles, following naturally upon the neglect 
and abuse of sound ones, we should observe, lie does 
not appear to have believed that he was placing other 
religious communions on a footing with the church of 
England. f We have no fears for the church of Eng 
land in her competition with the denominational bodies 
around her. It is for the State, for the political society 
of these colonies, that reasonable apprehensions may be 
entertained, when they are seen to assume radically 
false principles as their foundation. 

65. Under the Act for the renewal of the East India 

*Paper 112, 1837, p. 59. t Ibid. p. 69. 




Company's Charter in 1833, there is specific legislation 
with regard to the church, and a provision is introduced 
allowing of the endowment or support of any body of 
Christians from the funds of the government. In a 
Parliamentary paper of August, 1836,* we have an 
account of the practice in the East Indies under this 
clause. It hence appears, that in the three presidencies 
a system of threefold endowment has been established : 
its objects are, the church, the church of Scotland, and 
the church of Rome. The expense incurred is as 
follows : 

Bengal (sicca rupees) 
Madras .... 
Bombay .... 
Smcapore,Prince of Wales' 
Island, and Malacca 



Roman Catholics. 











At 2s. the sicca rupee . . 84,161 10s. .6,504 6s. l,669 14s. 

66. This is certainly a melancholy picture. We find 
an ample allowance of the false principle on the part of 
the Indian executive ; but an amount of funds dispensed 
to the established churches, as compared with those given 
to the church of Rome, are greatly out of proportion, it 
is conjectured, to the relative numbers attached to the 
several communions. And such an arrangement really 
gives plausibility to the charge often and unjustly made, 
that money and not principle is the object of solicitude 

* Sess. 1836, No. 536. 



with the friends of the connection between the church 
and the state. 

67. There is another branch of the religious conduct 
of the British government in India, which involves 
matter of the highest importance namely, its alleged 
participation in the idolatrous rites of the Hindoo wor 
ship, by the coerced attendance of its servants at their 
celebration, as well as a pecuniary concern in the ma 
nagement. The facts of this case are not yet fully in the 
possession of the public, but it seems to bear a melan 
choly and awful aspect.* It does not, however, enter 
into the scope of these remarks to deal fully with the 
merits, because if the allegations should be wholly 
substantiated, although a most heavy charge would lie 
against us, it would involve us rather in the sin of 
haying acted against the light of our own principles 
than in that of having adopted others ; for the only 
principles by which, as such, the maintenance of 
idolatry can be vindicated, are more monstrous than as 
yet, it may be hoped, we could bear to contemplate. It 
is highly gratifying to add, that, if a judgment may be 
formed from the recent declarations of the President of 
the Board of Control t and of the Prime Minister, in 
Parliament, a speedy and effectual termination is to be 
put to these ill-omened practices. 

68. In summing up it may be observed, that there are 

* See " The Connection of the East India Company's Government with 
the Superstitions, &c. of India." Hatchards. 1838. 

t Speech of Sir John Hobho-use, July 26, 1838, and of Lord Melbourne 
July 24, 1838. 


some material distinctions to be taken with respect to 
the different relations of our colonies to the mother 
country. Some of them are the adopted children of the 
empire, which have been received into it when already 
adult, with their own fixed institutions, or at least with 
a prevalent religion different from that established at 
home. Such are, for example, Lower Canada, Trinidad, 
Mauritius, Malta, the Ionian Isles. To refrain from 
rooting up what we found enjoying an actual existence 
in law, is very different from encouraging or assisting 
that which is newly proposed. The secular rights of 
the Roman Catholic church in Lower Canada were a 
part of the original contract, in this case a real one. 
And this admission does not involve any answer to the 
inquiry, whether such a contract ought to have been 
framed. The distinction in principle will not apply, 
where we have given state assistance to the Roman 
Catholic church upon a res Integra. 

69. Upon the whole, the universal characteristic of 
these extremely varied cases, is insufficiency in the 
assistance afforded to religion by the state. No one of 
our colonies, properly so called, appears to have an 
adequate provision. The next feature is gross anomaly 
of principle in the distribution of that assistance ; from 
which reproach only a portion of the West Indian 
colonies, especially the old English islands, appear to be 
exempted. In the West India colonies generally, the 
church is most favoured. Next to her, the Presbyterians. 
The only other participants are the Roman Catholics. 
If we except the case of South Australia alone, the 
diocese of Nova Scotia presents the least amount of 


assistance from a colonial legislature. The Australian 
colonies have most broadly avowed the principle of indis 
criminate establishment : but we should remember, that 
they have not yet obtained a popular government. 

70. Again, however, let it be specified, we have stated 
no opinion as to the manner in which, under the difficult 
and peculiar circumstances of our colonies, the functions 
of government in respect to a state religion ought to be 
discharged, or the principles laid down in the foregoing 
inquiry saved. But thus much it is right to say : there 
ought not to be that positive contravention of such prin 
ciples, that active participation in evil, which in some at 
least of these cases there unfortunately has been. It is one 
thing to mark wisely the limits of our real power, to 
disavow all compulsion, to aid that which we hold to be 
true, and for the rest, where we can do no more, under 
protest to permit ; but it is another thing to confound 
the boundary lines of truth and falsehood, to* concur in, 
to promote, to originate measures which may fall in 
with the inclinations of the day, but Avhich being in 
trinsically vicious, though they may yield a harvest of 
present popularity, are also the seed of certain evil for the 
future. If the democratic characteristics and tendencies 
of these colonies, taken together with the religious 
differences of the inhabitants, prevent their enjoying the 
benefit of the nationality of the church, these circum 
stances may be resistless, but let us at least see and 
describe them as they are, and instead of hugging 
ourselves with a false theory, contrived to flatter our 
self-love, let us honestly recognise in the causes an evil, 
in the result a misfortune. 




1 3. General sketch. 4, 5. Result on the science and art of govern 
ment, as a declension from its nature. 6, 7. Form of the development. 
8 16. It naturally terminates in social atheism. 17 23. Univer 
sality of primeval religion, its subsequent restriction, and reintroduc- 
tion of universality with Christianity. 21 26. Abandonment of this 
universality appears consequent on the abandonment of nationality of 
religion. 27 33. Which also seems to prepare for the consummation 
of the human apostacy, and the destruction of social morality. 34. 
And disappoints the prophecies: 35, 36. Civil results on character. 
37 49. Signs of the times bearing on our own particular case. 
50 52. Existence of the church, independent of the connection. It 
is the state which demands our solicitude. 53, 54. Conclusion. 

1. WE have now only to institute an examination into 
some of the consequences likely to arise out of the 
general abandonment of the principle of union between 
the church and the state. The question is too 
large to admit of any thing more than a very partial 
inquiry. And what in the laxity of common language 
we are apt to term the consequences of such a change, 
might be more accurately described as the next follow 
ing results of that temper and those tendencies by 
which it was itself produced. Their features are ob 
vious and broadly marked ; their bearing upon the 


formation of human character in its fundamental prin 
ciples, and in its entire figure and development, is indis 
putable ; so that it ought to be possible to grasp as 
much as is necessary for an intelligible delineation, 
however large a portion of the subject may remain un- 
traversed. Nor do we depend upon speculation alone. 
These tendencies have already had in part the oppor 
tunity of becoming practical ; and from the child we 
may find some means of calculating the future disposi 
tions of the full-grown man. 

2. I know not whether it be presumptuous to say at 
the outset what we might more fully unfold in approach 
ing towards the conclusion of the present chapter ; that 
the changes which have appeared, and which are daily 
unfolding themselves, in connection with the movement 
towards the overthrow of national church establish 
ments, seem as if they were gradually supplying what 
yet remained void in those fore-ordered dispensations of 
the Deity towards man, which are traced throughout 
the history of this wayward world. It is one thing to 
speculate through antecedent presumptions, or inter 
pretations of those parts of the divine truth which are 
purposely wrapped in enigma, upon the times and 
features of the future destiny of our race.* And no 
thing can be farther from the province or intention of 
these pages. But it is quite another thing to study 
the signs of the times, by the endeavour to analyse and 
exhibit those great moral causes, most influential upon 

* Compare Mark xiii. 32 ; and Matt. xvi. 2, 3. 


human character and happiness, which everywhere 
force themselves upon our view, which pervade the 
masses of society, and which appear to he conducting 
toAvards its issue, by however circuitous a path, the 
ancient conflict between good and evil in the world. 

3. We shall inquire, then, whether the relinquishment 
by governments of the care and propagation of religion 
prepares the way for that final gathering-in of the har 
vest of the Redeemer, which immediately attends upon 
the separation of the good from the wicked. Whether 
it implies, as it were, a retrogression of the Divine mer 
cies, and consists in surrendering large masses of man- ' 
kind to that which they term their freedom, but which 
is indeed their misery. Whether or riot it practically 
involves the abandonment of the glorious enterprise to 
which the Christian church was commissioned to ad 
dress herself, namely, the universal proclamation of the 
gospel. Whether by leaving a partial religion to be 
replaced by total irreligion, you do not remove from in 
dividual selfishness the great bar to its absolute and 
final development. Whether by taking out of public 
institutions their sanctifying principle, you do not give 
them over to become the depositories and manifestations 
in a collective and, as it were, authoritative and ultimate 
form of that selfishness and self-worship, wherein con 
sists our apostacy from God, and in the completion 
of which is accordingly contained the consummation 
of that apostacy. 

4. It is a less awful but still a very momentous con 
sideration, whether, simultaneously with these terrible 


results, you do not degrade the character of govern 
ment to that of a machine, leaving as the function of 
those who are engaged in it, simply to ascertain and to 
obey a popular will, like the index of a clock worked 
by a pendulum. From the master-science it would in 
such case, we may fear, be degraded to the lowest of 
all arts ; the lowest, not in an earthly but in a Chris 
tian sense. It might still, during its permitted time, 
wield masses of human power, which in our eyes 
appear great, and be the instrument of large results ; 
but this abandonment of its highest duty is so essen 
tially evil, that it must impart a taint of corruption to 
all its acts, and to the minds of those who are its in 
struments, and by desecrating their life, inflict a real 
degradation, far different from any which can ever 
attach to the humblest of duties, if performed, relatively 
to its best capabilities, for the glory of God. 

5. It is a strange and appalling state of things, w r hen 
the creatures of God fall away from the law and pur 
pose of their several natures, even although that into 
which they degenerate do not to the fleshly eye appear 
to present any revolting features. Each of them, how 
ever apparently insignificant, has its own blessing in 
its own ordained constitution, and in the sphere deter 
mined for its action : whatsoever fulfils its functions 
is honourable before God and man. But so, on the 
other hand, does each, however lofty and imposing, lose 
that blessing and honour, when it forgets its instru 
mentality, and passes out of the place which has been 
given to it in the Divine economy into another which 


is self-chosen. We should be shocked if we saw a 
man, even a man of indifferent appearance, and less 
than ordinary abilities, changed into the most beautiful, 
the most intelligent, the most faithful of animals ; 
because he would have fallen from the rank in which 
his Maker placed him, from the work he gave him to 
do, from the capabilities of his constitution, from a 
higher to a lower essence. Now it is a case which 
ought similarly to shock us, when human beings, made 
and elected to be in the body of the Redeemer, par 
takers of the Divine nature, and to do all whatsoever 
they do in Him and for Him ; when such beings, re 
nouncing Him who is their permanent spiritual life, 
avail themselves of lower gifts which they hold, but 
which are not less His, to construct a new system of 
reciprocal relations among themselves, for their own 
presumed convenience and benefit, in which he has no 
part nor lot. As there is beauty even in God's lowest 
natural gifts, so there may be much in such a system 
that is fascinating and attractive : but viewed in relation 
to the true, the spiritual law of our nature, nothing can 
be more monstrous and loathsome than a change which 
should thus embody, in fixed institutions, and perpetuate 
so far as in us lies, our innate impiety, poisoning the 
very wells of water from which successive generations 
are to draw. 

6. There is, however, a line of argument sometimes 
pursued in relation to this question, which I am about 
to notice, in order more distinctly to mark that I do 
not adopt it. Men have pointed to the horrible excesses 


of the French Revolution, and have anticipated that 
atrocities similar in kind, though, perhaps, less in de 
gree, must follow the overthrow, should it ever take 
place, of our national religion. There are many reasons 
which may disincline us, however, from anticipating 
such a result. Firstly, the extraordinary concurrence 
of political causes, and, above all, the immense abuses 
of the former system, which combined to embitter the 
popular mind of France before that revolution, is such 
as we are not led, however formidable some of our 
symptoms, to expect. Next, the Romish church in 
that country had much less, we believe, of the heart 
and life of religion to temper arid to check the exaspe 
rations of the time, than England would now supply. 
But further ; the spirits of anarchy have had a warning 
rather than an encouragement in the French Revolu 
tion. Its singularly chequered course has, we may con 
jecture, taught them that in order to work effectually 
they must be contented to work more slowly. They 
triumphed awhile, it is true, in bloodshed the most 
profuse, but the revelation of Satan was too naked and 
too hideous for the heart of man, as that heart then 
was, to behold, without shuddering, and a violent re 
action, and an earnest determination to use every effort 
for quelling the monster, and banishing him again 
from the face of earth to the darkness of his home, 

7. We may, therefore, more probably anticipate that 
the next attempt to constitute society without a God, 
and to erase his name from the world which His might 
and His beneficence have made, will be more crafty and 


considerate, requiring time for its development, and a 
preparation consisting, not merely, like that in France, 
of suffering applied to exacerbate the heart, but em 
bracing a thorough education of the understanding and 
expansion of its powers, and a circuitous, perhaps, but 
real application of them to the suppression of the best 
human sympathies, and the exhaustion of all the noble 
fountains of thought, emotion, and, above all, affection 
within us. Whenever upon this or any other basis a 
complete structure of hardened selfishness shall have 
been erected, to be the universal type of human charac 
ter, it may be, that the day will have arrived for a tem 
pest of woe and awful desolating crime, more fierce 
and more lasting than that under which but one gene 
ration groaned ; yet all this devilish machinery may 
wear a very smooth appearance, drawing upon the " de- 
ceivableness of unrighteousness" for all its resources 
of illusion, and soothing us with the belief that we are 
but ridding the earth of bigotry and persecution, esta 
blishing human freedom, and therein rendering to God 
the most acceptable service, while we are in fact immo 
lating the faith and the truth, and with them all our 
own hopes and destinies of good. 

8. But some may honestly think, that there is nothing 
irreligious in dissolving the union between church and 
state, and taking from the government all power to ex 
press a preference in a matter of a religion. They may 
rather attach to such a change a contrary idea, and 
hail it as ridding the church of much impure and tyran 
nical handling, which it has in former times received 


from the secular power. Certainly governments will 
no longer be able to abuse their religion when they 
have none ; to come short of their obligations to it, 
when they are precluded from owning any. It is 
boldly argued by some that the amount of individual 
religion will be greater, should the connection be dis 
solved. This we deny. But even were it so, still it 
would not be enough. It is clear, that God has rela 
tions and reckonings with men in their national capa 
city. How are those relations to be conducted by a 
government which has not a religion ? The law is not 
the act nor the voice of an individual, nor of a number 
of individuals as such ; but it is a public instrument, 
proceeding from a public power, and that power the 
greatest upon earth ; and yet, under the proposed 
system, that power will be without religion. 

9. But really, when we contemplate in seriousness 
this argument from the abuse of religion by governments 
for its abandonment, it appears itself to be the greatest 
abuse of reason that men can imagine. For what is 
the whole history of religion in the mind of an indi 
vidual ? Does the individual man welcome religion 


from the first, provide for it in his breast a pure and 
holy home, use his powers to draw out all its benign 
influences over his whole character and conduct ! No, 
it is a series of gross abuses ; a series of conflicts between 
the natural and spiritual man ; a series of violences 
done by us to our convictions, and to the Holy Spirit of 
God, as often as we sin ; and thus so far of profanations 
offered to that divine in-dwelling presence, whereby 


alone spiritual life is maintained in an alien atmosphere. 
But is the man therefore to desist from his work, or is 
he not rather to persevere until the purifying have 
overcome the deleterious influences, and his nature is 
impregnated throughout with the spirit of truth and 
love ? Why, then, so it is with states, and they, like indi 
viduals, are to repent of their sins, and to strive earnestly 
for amendment, and for the increase of the knowledge 
and fear of God, until it pervade the whole body of the 
nation, and bless it for ever. 

10. Will it however be said that the republic of Ame 
rica has not relinquished religious ordinances together 
with the principle of an establishment, and that prayers 
are regularly offered in her Congress by ministers be 
longing to her various denominations ? It may be so. 
The day may however come when a vast portion of the 
American population will own no Christian name or 
ordinance whatever ; they will return their representa 
tives; they maybe a majority, or a large and untract- 
able minority. Talk not of the power of truth ; it does 
not subdue those who wilfully and habitually reject it. 
It did not do so in the days of that primitive revelation 
which fell gradually into the most hideous corruptions. 
I know not why it should do so again in days of keener 
and more calculated and systematised self-love. These 
antichristians may claim not to be insulted by religious 
ordinances in which they cannot participate. But 
judge matters as they are, is that an acceptable service 
to God which proceeds upon the most opposite views of 
his nature ? Is that government guiltless which one 


day approaches him through Jesus, the Mediator of the 
new covenant, and another day in its own righteousness, 
and without the blood of sprinkling, which one day 
worships the Saviour as God, and the next in prayer by 
overlooking, if no more, denies his deity ? 

11. Of two creeds thus differing we may lay down 
these propositions first, that one must be false : se 
condly, that the one which is false must be blasphemous ; 
and yet this unhappy scheme deals with both alike, re 
cognises both alike. The man, or the body of men 
adhering to either, may find consolation in the belief that 
the creed of its choice is the truth ; but in adopting 
both, in placing both on the same level, the individual 
or the government is self-condemned; condemned of 
the fatal crime of wilfully confounding truth and error 
in the highest subject-matter, while its own best hope 
and function is but to establish truth, and discounte 
nance error, in concerns of far less momentous import. 
The fact therefore remains that this service is not an in 
telligible, nor a reasonable, nor an acceptable service. 
It is contrary to the express denunciations of the Scrip 
ture against heresy ; it is an impious mixture of all 
religions upon that ground which alone they occupy in 
common, namely, the possession of a certain amount of 
human assent, and by recognising religion only in 
virtue of that suffrage, they affirm the baneful proposi 
tion, that religion has no groundwork, or at least may 
be dealt with (which is in substance the same thing) as 
if it had no groundwork extrinsic to the human mind, 
thus depriving it of all relation to a God, and rendering 


it a curse rather than a blessing, because leaving it to 
clothe the creations of human caprice and pride with a 
sacred and authoritative name. I hold, therefore, that 
when the connection of religion with the state has been 
destroyed, government becomes essentially godless. 

12. But it may be thought chimerical to anticipate that 
the time ever can arrive when so simple, so reasonable 
a service as the acknowledgment of God in the public 
worship of the state, can be offensive to any large num 
ber of men. Would that it were so ! But if these men 
have fallen out of Christianity and the recognition of it in 
their private capacity, will they retain it in their public 
one ? If they can find a foundation other than the ac 
knowledgment of His name for all the relations of their 
social and domestic position through life, why should 
they need it in the brief discharge of those political 
functions which we are told ought to be separated from 
all consideration of religious differences ? If it was 
found impossible to continue the faith of the church in 
the state, the adoption of the apparently broader basis 
of Christianity has supplied no means of more deter 
mined resistance. If, to proceed one step further, all 
ministers of religion may come and pray ; if theism be 
the only test, will this endure? Say, all you who 
believe in revelation, is then theism the one thing need 
ful, and revelation subsidiary, or can theism be perma 
nently recognised when the testimony and the sanction 
of revelation are separated therefrom ? Doubtless it 
would be unreasonable, most unreasonable, to contend 
against the acknowledgment of God, but let those who 



are willing to surrender every other test, show from the 
experience of history, or from the dictates of reason, that 
this one can on their principles endure. 

13. Mr. Locke* contended that the acknowledgment 
of a future state was so necessary for civil order, that it 
should be required as a condition of citizenship. Let 
us then suppose that this dogma, and this alone, is 
established as the formulary of state religion, does this 
present in argument an unassailable position ? It can 
not be shown from revelation that the sanctions of social 
order depend on the recognition of this truth. The 
Apostles in commanding obedience to authorities, do 
not make it contingent on the belief of rulers in a future 
state ; they do therefore recognise a possible form of 
human society, independently of any such belief. And 
who can doubt it ? The principle of the day is, that a 
reasoning regard to self interest affords the best gua 
rantee of good conduct; and this principle is at the 
bottom of Mr. Locke's rule ; it is human, and not 
divine motive on which he rests. 

14. Now if a regard to self interest, in the less 
enlightened and educated state of man, required the 
view of a future state to make the balance in favour 
of virtuous conduct clear, it does not follow that in 
a more advanced and cultivated state that doctrine will 
be equally required to produce the amount of order 
and restraint necessary for social purposes; for on 
the principles of Christianity, godliness hath " the 

* Letters on Toleration. 


promise of the life that now is,"* and on the principles 
of infidelity, virtue, upon the whole, promotes the 
worldly happiness of the individual. On neither 
theory, therefore, is the obligation to virtue (though 
that obligation be essentially different in the one from 
what it is in the other) dependent upon the doctrine of 
a future state. Thus the denier of that doctrine may 
argue ; and he may point out that the force of opinion 
is with virtue ; that enjoyment depends upon property, 
property upon order, order upon virtue, on that above 
specified amount of virtue which is required for the 
peace of society ; consequently that the recognition of a 
God, or of a future state, is not needed for morality, 
since man has (according to some great educationists of 
the present day) a natural foundation of morality in his 
own physical constitution. 

15. Now the question is not, whether these arguments 
are sound, but whether they are consequent. Not, 
whether they ought to prevail, but whether they would 
prevail. Not, whether they would prevail here and 
now ; but whether they would prevail in times when, 
and upon men with whose approbation, the principle of 
a church and the principle of Christianity had been 
surrendered, the notion of a national regard to God 
abandoned as visionary, and the entire independence of 
our competency to perform social duties upon our reli 
gious belief established, subject to the single reservation, 
that, for the purposes of social order, not on religious 

* i Tim. iv. 8. 

u 2 


grounds, a belief in a future state must still be required 
as a test for office. The question is, whether men who 
had separated every other dogma from the holding of 
civil office by inclination, would, or in consistency 
could, continue to attach to its tenure that remaining 
one : whether natural religion (as it is falsely called) 
would retain a stronger hold over its followers than re 
vealed religion had done, or if not, then whether the 
principles of civil society would dictate an adherence to 
what would by that time have come in its turn to be 
designated " the last remnant of intolerance ?" Surely 
they would not. The doctrine of a future state is an 
abstract philosophical doctrine, token it stands alone. 
In Christianity it is joined with others, on which its 
efficiency depends. By Paganism it was dressed in 
imaginary terrors. But as denuded of the substantial 
support of revealed truth on the one hand, and of the 
aid of superstitious credulity on the other, reduced to a 
pure abstraction, it might indeed hold a place in the 
confession of faith of some rationalising philosopher, 
but it would be totally incapable of exercising national 
influences or forming the groundwork of a constitution. 
16. Those who hold an opposite opinion should be re 
minded that revealed religion derives its strength from 
its entireness ; from the fact that it not merely presents 
to us a body of abstract truths, but carries with it the 
executory powers necessary to procure their acceptance, 
the vital influences without which we cannot receive, 
digest, and assimilate those truths. But when we reject 
the belief in those powers, when we bring down the 


Christian Church from " what is transcendental in her 
pretensions," when we analyse and dissect the body 
which God has given, and when, impiously dividing it 
into parts to be rejected or retained at pleasure, we 
further ridiculously suppose, that each of those parts is to 
retain the vitality which belonged only to the aggregate, 
we are the victims of a wretched delusion, and the portion 
of truth, which we have torn from the quivering trunk, 
will but as a severed limb putrefy within our grasp. 
And indeed men seem to forget that this experiment of 
the influence of mere truth, without covenanted powers, 
on fallen man, is not a new one, but has been already 
once at least wrought out to its results. In the effort 
to describe them, I must be led to assume something of 
the language and the tone of a writer on religion, but 
I ask to be excused for that apparent presumption, be 
cause it is a matter of necessity, not of option ; when 
influences belonging to religion issue into consequences 
belonging to politics, and these again produce percepti 
ble effects upon the interests of religion, a writer on 
either must inevitably, more or less, and for a time, draw 
his materials as well as his principles from both. 

17. When the law of our nature was inverted at the 
fall, and harmony with the will of the Creator became 
thenceforward the exception and not the rule among 
men, divine truth was planted as it were in a little spot 
upon the surface of the earth, to germinate for a while 
sheltered from the adverse contact of mankind in 
general, who systematically followed out the disobe 
dience of their first progenitor, and by natural conse- 


quence corrupted, defaced, and almost extirpated the 
whole of that religious truth, which, in proportion to 
the degree in which it was allowed to remain among 
them, could not fail to disturb their conscience by testi 
fying to a degeneracy which it was unable to correct. 
The melancholy history of those who, though originally 
possessors, like the subsequently favoured people, of 
the revealed knowledge of God, became afterwards the 
Pagan nations of the world, has this among its uses, 
that it shows us how inadequate is the simple power of 
truth to produce permanently beneficial results on our 
corrupted nature, without the covenanted influences of 
divine grace. 

18. The hideous anomaly, which sin had introduced, 
was now therefore in full exhibition, and the universal 
creation might behold a world intrinsically alike won 
derful and lovely, and set under a being who had received 
the highest of all honours in being made after the image 
of the Maker himself, in a state of war with the will of 
that Maker, and bearing in consequence as it were his 
provisional curse in a system of mixed dispensations 
intended to summon and prompt men to repentance. 
But while a spiritual intercourse between the Almighty 
and the mass of his human creatures had nearly* ceased, 
he had not withdrawn even that intercourse from the 
entire race. 

19. He made himself known by personal manifesta 
tions, by the voice of prophets, by a written law, by a 

* Not altogether. See Bishop Horsley's Treatise on the Extra- 
judaical Church. 


permanent priesthood, by fixed institutions of sacrifice 
and worship ; but it was to a people small and inconsi 
derable when compared with the mighty nations of the 
earth ; to a people planted in a country of seclusibn ; and 
fenced about with laws and customs of an unsocial and 
absolutely repulsive character when viewed with re 
ference to the rest of the world. Within this narrow 
spot alone were the oracles of God generally known as 
such, and kept in faithful custody : while even here, as 
they themselves assure us, they were at one time in 
imminent danger, according to all human appearances, 
of being lost. The wide world lay in darkness and in 
death, as though the Sun of heaven had risen only for 
the narrow valley of Jerusalem, and the hills that girt 
her round about intercepted his rays lest they should 
go forth for the healing of the nations. 

20. Thus for a very long period was divine truth 
rather kept from mankind than offered to them. It was 
shut like a tender plant in a hothouse to be reared to a 
certain maturity before it could endure exposure to the 
unkindly elements. Alas ! those unkindly elements 
were simply the dispositions of the being, for whose 
healing the leaves of that precious plant had sprouted, 
and its flowers had spread their blossoms. How many, 
and what purposes of good may have been accomplished 
by this (so to speak) imprisonment of revelation, we 
cannot know; but this we do too surely know, that 
with every jealous care and regulation to separate the 
Jews from the mass of men; and to quicken their 
spirit of obedience by establishing an immediate and 


palpable connection between obedience and reward, as 
well as between their respective contraries still the 
prevalent tendency among them was not that of truth 
by its expansive force to burst out from its narrow 
limits and illuminate the world ; but was that of inward 
and essential sinfulness to invite from without the con 
tagion of error, and to attract and imbibe it by vicious 
sympathy in despite of every bulwark that the care of 
the Almighty had devised for its exclusion, until the 
terrible inflictions of the Captivity had repressed the 
tendency to idol worship, and given scope at the same 
time for opposite errors. But as the case of the world 
before the Mosaic law, and independent of it, shows 
the inability of men to retain pure truth in an abstract 
form, so the general unfaithfulness of the Jews under 
that law testifies to the impossibility of bringing the 
human race to God through considerations of reward 
and punishment in this life, or what is now termed a 
well-calculating self-interest; because that particular 
engine was brought to bear under the law of Moses 
with a far greater force, than in all human probability 
it can ever again acquire. 

21. A brighter day, however, dawned, when the ful 
ness of time had arrived, and the whole world had been 
politically and socially re- cast, apparently in order to 
allow of a free, uninterrupted, and universal propagation 
of the liberated truth. God sent forth his Son, made 
of a woman ; and that which hitherto had but been 
chanted in the Temple, or echoed in the mountains of 
Judah, that which had been enveloped in types and 


figures, symbolised in the visible institutes of sacrifice 
and purification ; that which had been known in the 
letter to a small and single people, and which in the 
spirit had been the precious food of a yet smaller and 
obscurer flock, was to be told upon the housetops, to 
be proclaimed, as with a trumpet, through all lands, be 
ginning from Jerusalem, even unto the ends of the 
earth ; was to summon to its obedience every nation, 
every class, every character ; to purge, to chasten, to 
restore the whole of the fallen race of man. 

22. Such was the scheme of glory that appeared to 
be announced in the preaching of that gospel under 
which where sin had abounded, grace was much more to 
abound : and where, by the disobedience of one, (the) 
many had been made sinners, so and much more by the 
obedience of one, were (the) many to be made righ 
teous. The whole earth was to break out into songs of 
triumph and rejoicing, and was to be filled to overflow 
ing with the universal knowledge of the Almighty in a 
more than golden age of light, and love, and joy, 

Luce intellettual, pieno d' amove, 
Amor di vero ben, pien di letizia ; 
Letizia, che trascende ogni dolzore.* 

The universality of this dispensation was its glory. 
Its message of mercy was to every child of Adam. 
Rob it of that characteristic, and you rob it of its crown, 
and St. Paul of his triumphant assertion. It becomes, 
with reference to the extent of its application, but as 

* Dante, Paradise, c. xxx., v. 40. Conf. St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, 
viii. 6. 


another form of Judaism. What matters it, in respect 
of universality, whether you take the whole of one 
nation, or an individual here and there from every 
nation ? There is a limit, a limit of principle, in 
either case alike, and upon such a supposition, one fixed 
by the will of the Author of the dispensation, not 
merely by the stubborn intractability of its recipients. 

23. But in the case of the Christian scheme, the 
limit is imposed, as Scripture informs us, only by the 
obstinate aversion of the human will from God, which 
induces it rather to choose misery and destruction, by 
blinding it in such manner, that it is incapable of sober 
choice, and yet that it also remains persuaded of its 
power of sight. The difference, therefore, is this : now 
the mercies of the covenant are made ready for every 
one, are offered to and enjoined upon every one ; " Go 
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature." Then the vast majority of mankind were 
left under the darkened natural law, and a covenanted 
salvation was not placed within their reach. Let us 
then keep steadily in view this universality, or universal 
applicability of the Christian dispensation, as opposed 
to the limited applicability of the Jewish. 

24. I proceed to sum up a few of the principal propo 
sitions which most pointedly illustrate the position, that 
the nationality of religion is conducive to the realisation 
of this intended universality, and, consequently, that the 
renunciation of the first is unfavourable to the attainment 
of the second. We may remark, then, that by the nearly 
universal consent of civilised nations, the care of religion 


has ever been a principal or the principal function of the 
Supreme Power (as we find even in Sparta, where the 
regal prerogatives were most limited, they yet retained 
ra Trpb $ TOU Qeovg ) . That the connection of the state 
with the church under Constantine, appears to have 
been formed, not as the result of ecclesiastical or civil 
ambition, but after the order (so to speak) of nature 
and following the course of events. That the territorial 
division of a country is apparently the best method of 
providing for the universal extension, whether of civil 
or religious institutes. That the permanent adminis 
tration of the ordinances of the church requires perma 
nent pecuniary supplies. That large masses of the 
people have ever been in a condition of inability to pro 
vide such supplies for ministers of religion. That in 
the present condition of the old countries of the world, 
the population pressing on the means of subsistence, 
and the supply of labour exceeding the demand, such 
inability is likely both long and extensively to continue. 
That the ties of affection which bind different classes of 
the community, are not strengthened, but the reverse, by 
the great increase of trade and manufacture throughout 
civilised nations, and the gathering of men into masses, 
by means of large towns : that, consequently, we must 
not expect (to say the least) that the rich will be much 
more forward than they were long ago to supply the 
religious wants of the poor. That besides the unable, 
we have another large class of persons, unwilling to pro 
vide for themselves a power of admonition and control 
in the shape of religious institutions. That the mere 


private support of religion tends to promote differences 
in its form, and that it is a duty to check those dif 
ferences by reasonable means, and to promote unity. 
That, with a greater plenty of general subsistence and 
property than has been known elsewhere in modern 
times, the case of the United States of America shows 
that the voluntary zeal of individuals will make no 
adequate provision for the wants of an entire nation. 

25. Many of these propositions are undisputed, and 
the rest are such as no friend to the union of church and 
state, under the most naked form, will question. And 
we must observe, that the tendency of every one of 
them is towards the same mournful demonstration, 
that when nations in their collective capacity have 
abandoned the promotion of religion, the natural effect 
of that abandonment will be, that while it has been dif 
ficult heretofore. to place the sacred ordinances within 
the reach of every man throughout human societies, it 
will thereafter be found absolutely impossible. In the 
early poverty of the European kingdoms it was done. 
It is not done in the far wealthier youth of that vast re 
public, where what is termed the voluntary principle 
bears undisputed sway. What, then, do we see as the 
first mark of this threatened, but, thank God, not yet 
inevitable change, but a retrogradation from the great 
purpose of Divine love, to give a universal reality to the 
free tenders of the Gospel : a retrogradation which shall 
remove great masses of men by one broad stage further 
from the hope ot everlasting salvation ; which shall re- 
transform the garden and the vineyard into the forest 


and the desert, and shall again seem to raise a wall of 
partition, upon even the Christianised portion of the 
earth, more lasting than that which was broken down 
in the Redeemer, between the mixed visible church on 
the one hand, and the crowd of utter aliens from the 
commonwealth of Israel and the hope of everlasting life, 
on the other ? 

26. That the effect of this blow to the Catholic 
church from without would not be the suppression of her 
internal life, we absolutely know from the Divine word. 
That when thus again thrown into a state of independ 
ence upon the principalities of this world, she might 
in such manner have recourse to her own inward elas 
ticity as again to put forth her powers of conversion 
more effectively than ever, and to re-occupy her position 
in the councils of earthly sovereigns, both chastened 
and strengthened by trial : all this may or may not be ; 
but when our human vision seems to discern results 
from any given act which are destructive, it becomes 
an imperative duty to use every means for averting 
those results, quite independently of the inquiry, how 
it might please God to overrule the sin of man for his 
glory, as he has already overruled the transgression of 
our first father, Adam. 

27. But, besides the abandonment of that path in 
which it appeared competent to the Church to conduct 
systematically her aggressions against the entire masses 
of men in nations, we may perceive in this change an 
apparent preparation for the consummation of the human 
apostasy. What was the essence of that apostasy ? It 


was disobedience. It was the rejection of the old stand 
ard of action, and the substitution of a new one. The 
old and appointed one was the Divine will, in whose 
observance would have been maintained the unity and 
harmony of God's creation. The new and forbidden 
one was simply the will of man. Not merely the 
positively and palpably evil results into which that will 
unfolds itself, but the principle itself was forbidden, as 
an insufficient, an unnatural, a false law of action. 
Lord Bacon says,* " Man made a total defection from 
God, presuming to imagine, that the commandments 
and prohibitions of God were not the rules of good and 
evil, but that good and evil had their own principles 
and beginnings, and lusted after the knowledge of 
those imagined beginnings ; to the end, to depend no 
more upon God's will revealed, but upon himself, and 
his own light, as a god." 

28. And similarly St. Augustine f has shown, that 
disobedience was the great feature of Adam's sin, not 
an intrinsic essential evil in the act had it not been 
forbidden. The question was thus brought simply 
and nakedly to issue, whether God or man should be 
supreme in giving law to the free will of the latter. 
Now this disobedience was simply the divesting human 
agency of its proper and natural reference to the 
Creator. How fearfully does this definition coincide 
with the separation of religion from government ! An 
agency, a personal and responsible agency, an agency 

* In his " Confession of Faith." 

t De peccatorum meritis et remissione, B. II. c. 21. 


in power, influence, and stability, the highest of all 
on earth an agency capable of lending efficient aid to 
religion this it is which it is proposed, in the phrase 
ology of modern liberalism, to divest of all regard to 
religious differences, that is to say, to the differences 
between the Catholic faith and heresies ; between reve 
lation and deism ; between the affirmation and the 
denial of the sovereignty of God ; and whose sphere of 
action, in order to the attainment of this end, must 
necessarily exclude all functions which assert or imply 
the superiority of truth in religion to error, or the rele 
vancy of any man's religious creed to his performance 
of civil duties and his principles of moral conduct. To 
call this social atheism is no passionate exaggeration, 
but an inference from our premises, in logical order, 
not less inevitable than melancholy. 

29. Thus would mankind, if they should fall into the 
snare that is laid for them, set up a vast, unconsecrated, 
atheistic power at the head of all their social interests, 
as an example for all individuals to follow, a model to 
teach them, an authoritative declaration to assist the 
evil voice within in teaching them that they may with 
draw their own individual lives from allegiance to God, 
and base their methods of social conduct upon a code 
in which His name is not to be found. In combating 
the obstinate irreligion of the world, it is something 
that the authentic permanent convictions of men are 
declared, beyond dispute, to be with us, by the legalised 
existence and support of the fixed institutions of re 
ligion : but the conclusion, towards which we are now 


led and driven, threatened and cajoled, will reverse the 
whole of this beneficial influence, and will throw it 
into the opposite direction, to co-operate with the 
scoffer, the profligate, the unbelieving, the indifferent, 
when it shall be told, amidst the exultations of some 
and the tears of others, that there was a time when the 
power of thrones and the paternal functions of govern 
ment bore witness to the faith of Christ, and that the 
witness is now withdrawn, and thus the truth em 
phatically denied. 

30. But further. This divorce of religion from 
government will proceed upon the principle that men 
of all religions, or none, are alike to be considered 
competent for the duties of citizenship. If, however, 
a man is competent for public, is he not also competent 
for private duties ? If without religion we can learn 
and discharge our duties to our country and our laws 
and authorities, can we not also without religion learn 
our duties to our parents, brethren, families, friends, 
where we are aided, by natural instincts, and where the 
return, in the shape of enjoyment, is more certain, 
immediate, and abundant, as well as the corresponding 
penalty of failure to perform them ? In this view the 
argument, which is good to prove that religious differ 
ences have no bearing upon the discharge of political 
duties, is equally good to prove, that they have no 
bearing on private life, and, consequently, asserts the 
possibility and propriety of a social system founded on 
atheism, in its real and substantial sense of the denial 
of a providential government of the world. Is not this 


assertion, conveyed through the most authentic organs 
which are at human command, an issue awful to con 
template ? Let him who is tempted to acquiesce in 
the doctrine which thus disconnects belief and conduct, 
remember the precept of St. Paul, " Speak every man 
truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of 
another" He could scarcely think that relative duties 
were independent of religious creed, who thus expressly 
grounded them on the high Christian doctrine of union 
in the body of the Redeemer. 

31. Let us beware, in this part of the subject, of 
being seduced from the truth, by observing in the 
midst of society certain persons, it may be, who do not 
believe the catholic faith, or who disavow the name of 
Christianity, perhaps even any of the forms of Theism, 
and yet whose discharge of public and domestic duties 
is equal or superior to that of the average of persons 
who are members of the church. Nothing can be 
more false than a supposition that their present conduct 
is a measure of the natural effects of their creed. To 
estimate those effects aright, and to compare them with 
the moral working of the church, we must take the 
mass of the professors in each. But, further, we must 
consider whether these be educated persons, aware of 
the value of good opinion and of the enjoyments of 
society, and of the consequent necessity of keeping on 
good terms with society by conforming to many of its 
approved practices. And yet again, we must consider 
how all individuals are naturally affected by an exten 
sive system into the midst of which they are cast, which 



surrounds them like an atmosphere, and from which 
they cannot help inhaling and assimilating some, at 
least, of its properties. And we must not infer that, 
because society can bear a few of any class or character 
in its composition, it could therefore bear to be com 
posed of such throughout. The law can dispense Avith 
the oaths of Quakers and other small communities 
while they are small ; but would the general adminis 
tration of justice remain secure, if the whole nation 
were to pass into Quakerism ? But the character of 
the system, in each case respectively, is to be tried by 
considering what results it must produce if it were 
dominant and universal. From certain truths, stolen 
out of Christianity, has been compiled a structure, 
under the name of natural religion, which nature did 
not discover, but which, now that they have been 
established for her, she can sometimes receive and 
appreciate. So it was that the heathen writers of the 
Roman empire reached a higher tone of morals than 
their predecessors, from the insensible but real diffusion 
of the balmy influences of Christianity. And just so 
it is that there are now some individuals whose cha 
racters are beneficially modified by the Gospel, but 
who yield it not their acknowledgments, and cite its 
benefits against itself, denying the channel through 
which they came. 

32. But some may be inclined to say, public opinion 
will not endure these excesses and extremes. Doubt 
less in its present state it would not do so. Public 
opinion is generally above common practice, but seldom 


very greatly above it, and in the long run sure to be 
sympathetically affected by it, and deteriorated by its 
deterioration. The prevailing opinion of the nation 
now exercises a beneficial influence. The individual 
is affected by it. The sectarian body is affected by it, 
and is thus unconsciously but powerfully modified by 
the very institution from which it has departed, and 
which commands, in a great degree, the formation of 
public opinion. But let no man conceive that, amid 
the general fluxion of human affairs, public opinion 
is stable and unmoved. It is a cause ; but it is also 
an effect. America, I believe, is influenced by the 
public opinion of Europe ; but when the religious 
institutions of Europe are assimilated to those of 
America, the waters will have found their level, and 
the current must cease. Where religious ministrations 
are crippled and contracted, individual character will 
suffer in a proportionate degree, and the materials for 
forming a sound public opinion will no longer exist, 
but will be replaced by others, representing a different 
set of principles and sympathies. 

33. In the separation, then, of religion from govern 
ment, we see a change which seems to indicate the pro 
gressive ripening of those harvests which are in prepara 
tion, the one for the love, and the other for the vengeance, 
of the Lord. Firstly, because it asserts practical atheism, 
that is a human agency knowingly, deliberately, and 
permanently divested of regard to God. Secondly, be 
cause it asserts that atheism in the most authentic form, 
namely, by casting out its antagonist, religion, from 

x 2 


what are most permanent and most authoritative among 
men, their public politics. Thirdly, because the asser 
tion is made not by individuals alone but by masses, 
invested with political power, and, under the most 
wretched infatuation, claiming it as a riglit of freedom 
thus to banish themselves from the divine protection 
and regard. 

34. Surely it must touch the heart, when, after 
having looked upon these awful prospects, which appear 
palpably to lie at least before some nations of the world, 
we turn to the blessed Scriptures and observe the strong 
yearnings of affection wherewith the world's great King 
wrought for our deliverance, and the exultation with 
which His prophets and His saints foretold a friendship 
between earthly thrones and His spiritual body, and a 
consecration of earthly powers to His glory, which has 
appeared already, so far as to identify the description, 
but of which it seems as though the obstinacy of human 
madness would yet struggle to intercept the glorious 
fulfilment, " He shall have dominion also from 
sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the 
earth. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall 


bring presents : the kings of Sheba and Seba shall 
offer gifts. Yea all kings shall fall down before Him : 
all nations shall serve Him. His name shall endure for 
ever : His name shall be continued as long as the sun ; 
and men shall be blessed in Him ; all nations shall call 
Him blessed.*" " And kings shall be thy nursing 
fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers : they 

* Ps. Ixxii. 8, 10, 11, 17. 


shall Low down to thee with their face towards the 
earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet. * " " And the 
nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light 
of it : and the kings of the earth do bring their glory 
and honour into it.t" 

35. Let us also consider shortly what would be the 
civil consequences of the great change we have been dis 
cussing. One of the effects of attaching religious sanc 
tions to an office is, to render more glaring and offensive 
any irreligious conduct in it, but upon the whole also to 
render that conduct rarer. The removal of those sanc 
tions will give a lower tone to governors, in common 
with society at large. Even the high and delicate feel 
ing of honour which is now entertained by many men 
regardless of God, is, in its main and better parts, the 
growth of Christianity ; of Christianity, not as cherished 
here and there in the secrecy of individual breasts, but 
as recognised and established in public institutions. As 
her light recedes into sequestered places, the selfishness 
of men will become colder, and ruder, and harder, and 
the false refinement which, without religion, may for a 
while present a varnished surface, will soon crack and 

36. But if such be the result upon the general tone 
of manners, how will it be found to operate in regulat 
ing the most serious and trying circumstances of life ? 
Yet the part of the case which refers to individual 
character, is too palpable even to need a statement. 
What, then, will be the social consequences ? How 

* Is. xlix. 23. t Rev. xxi. 24. 


will occasions of discontent be borne ? How will visi 
tations of God be undergone ? The lower classes are 
the great object of solicitude with the patrons of the 
system in question. How will their case be considered ? 
Will the streams of charity flow more largely in com 
munities where the name of Christ shall not claim or 
receive honour from the mass, and where it shall be 
deemed a thing indifferent in common society whether a 
man profess himself a believer in revealed religion, or 
the contrary ? We must recollect this great fact, that 
we owe to Christianity alone the institutions which afford 
systematic relief to the sick, the wounded, the widow, 
the orphan, the lunatic, and which acknowledge 
and meet the claim of the poor to be supported 
from the land. This has been shown with great force 
during the present year by an eminently learned minister 
of our church.* He seems induced to consider it a soli 
tary exception to his general statement, that the infirm 
citizens of Athens were entitled to support. But the 
citizens of Athens were, in fact, an oligarchy ; and the 
healthy as well as the infirm were fed by the contribu 
tions of subject isles and cities. Communities of men 
then had no bowels of compassion for their fellow-men 
before Christianity pervaded them. And should so 
ciety be thrown back into unbelief, do we flatter our 
selves that the old and holy influences would very long 
survive ? No, rather the latter state would be worse 
than the first ; the case would be that of truth rejected, 
as well as of falsehood received. 

* Spital Sermon by the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth 1838. 


37. Thus far we have spoken concerning general 
results, without attempting to determine the amount of 
probability that they may actually arrive. By attempt 
ing to uncover the consequences by laying bare, to the 
best of our power, the whole of our danger we are 
using the means most likely, under God, to avert the 
catastrophe itself. In different parts of the world the 
case very greatly varies. While we have our own pe 
culiar dangers, there are other countries much farther 
advanced in the separation of religion from government. 
In America it may be less surprising, where the 
state rests on the dogma of equality, that no creed should 
be preferred. It is invidious to allude to results ; but 
neither the good neighbourhood of the United States to 
those whom they touch on the northern frontier ; nor 
the existence and extension of slavery ; nor the state of 
law and opinion respecting it ; nor the sentiment enter 
tained in the north towards the black and coloured race ; 
nor the general tone of opinion on religious subjects in 
society ; nor the state and extent of religious institu 
tions, under circumstances of great facility ; induce us 
to regret that England does not follow the ecclesiastical 
principles of the western continent. It is, on the other 
hand, more astonishing that, under the political despotism 
of Prussia, the state should have entered into the most 
unequivocal alliance with different and hostile com 
munions; but it is yet further remarkable that in 
France, where the almost incalculable majority are of one 
communion, and that communion Roman Catholic, the 
principle of national religion has been essentially sur- 


rendered, and the state joins hands with all creeds alike 
a marked and memorable result of her first Revo 

38. In England we have not proceeded so far. We 
seem still to have ground which is defensible, and which 
is worth defending ; we are cursed with religious di 
visions ; we have grievously sinned in ecclesiastical 
abuses ; the church is greatly crippled by the state in 
respect of her government ; she is denied the means of 
ministering to the people where they most need it; yet 
with all this, and with political institutions in reality 
very much more popular than those of France, to say 
nothing of Prussia, our country seems to promise at 
least a more organised, tenacious, and determined re 
sistance to the efforts against national religion, as well 
as to the general principles of democracy, than any 
other country which is prominent upon the great stage 
of the civilised world. We have, therefore, no cause to 
be ashamed of the Reformation of religion on account of 
any apparent connection in which it may seem to stand 
with spurious and counterfeit principles ; but, on the con 
trary, with our Bibles in our hands, we, of all ranks, 
may yet render thanks for it to God, and still declare 
it the blessed Reformation. 

39. The symptoms around us are at once ominous 
and cheering. On the one hand is increasingly per 
ceptible a disposition to defend the institutions of the 
country in church and state, a disposition pervading 
all ranks, and combined with an earnest desire to 
purify the operation of a principle in itself so pure ; 


and to investigate it in all its parts and bearings, 
that, knowing it more clearly, we may contemplate it 
more fixedly, defend it more promptly, love it more 
enthusiastically. Upon the other, a great develop 
ment of the extremes of the opposite opinion ; and 
with this, which was to be expected, a lukewarmness, 
or a timidity, on the part of some in high office deeply 
pledged to our institutions, or even an adoption of 
notions involving the seminal principle of their entire 
overthrow and abandonment, and preparing us to fear 
that should the church become, in a secular view, less 
popular and strong, and should men be called upon to 
suffer for her sake, we may expect to see these notions 
carried out by those who dally with them, or by their 
successors, to their results. 

40. We should hide nothing from ourselves, and we 
do no justice to the case if we fail to observe that there 
are a variety of civil influences at work, all operating 
upon religious unity, and operating in a manner un 
favourable to the principle of authority, and therefore 
also in a manner unfavourable to unity, until the average 
character of man has been both greatly raised and 
essentially altered. The diminution of the range of in 
tellectual inequality, by the elevation of the lower 
ranks of mind, and the reduction of the higher, na 
turally and legitimately lessen the general force of 
authority. Lord Bacon foresaw in the " Novum Or- 
ganum," that the tendency of his system was to 
equalise minds. He felt none of that result : he was 


not one of its examples. Now the world is full of 

41. The passing away of influence from definite sta 
tion and privilege to the mere possession of property, and 
the increased facility of its acquisition, or at least its 
increased diffusion, have rendered it of late infinitely 
more difficult than formerly to attain the end of security 
to an established church by the exclusion of dissidents 
from civil office; because political influence attends 
very considerably upon property, and will therefore be 
felt in the legislature even when the holder of property 
is excluded. Thus it was argued in the case of the 
Roman Catholics, to the effect, that they had increasing 
numbers, intelligence, and wealth : that these were the 
elements of power, and that political privilege was but 
one among its accidental attributes ; why, therefore, 
it was urged, irritate without attaining the desired 
object of enfeebling ? 

42. Again, the growth of the opinion that political pri 
vilege is in itself valuable, and among the natural rights 
of man, of course renders it infinitely more invidious to 
withhold that privilege, than when it was viewed as 
matter of positive burden, or as attainable only or 
mainly by inheritance, or in a conscientious view, as a 
possession of which the responsibility greatly outweighs 
the enjoyment. Men must have a possitive value for 
the church before they can be expected to forego on 
her account, without dissatisfaction, that for which they 
have a positive value ; and this we can hardly expect of 


the general mass of dissenters in their state of informa 
tion and of feeling. All these are among the purely 
civil causes, which, notwithstanding, have an ob 
vious bearing upon the religious question now before 

43. The moral movement, however, of the day, away 
from religion and towards infidelity, is not merely 
traceable in the increased growth of that fallacious 
opinion which excludes the subject of religion from the 
consideration and preference of governors in the exer 
cise of their office ; there are also a set of correlative 
and parallel symptoms, which greatly fortify the con 
clusions already drawn from that portion of political acts 
which directly bears upon the connection between the 
church and the state. Not contented Avith excluding 
religion from the province of government, the spirit of 
the age struggles with not less zeal to introduce, as its 
substitute, education ; that is to say, the cultivation of 
the intellect of the natural man instead of the heart and 
affections of the spiritual man the abiding in the life 
of Adam, instead of passing into the life of Christ. 

44. Not that in contending for religion as the proper 
moral engine of governors, it is meant to say that they 
are not to cultivate the intellect. On the contrary, 
under the shade of genuine and effective religion, the 
intellectual harvest will be largest and most secure. 
But what we would mark is, by what subtle gradations 
popular opinion is deviating further and further from 
the truth in the highest of all matters which belong to 


political societies. The old notion was that religion 
was their salt, and in a prudential view their only 
effective guarantee, as well as a duty of imperative 
obligation flowing out of the personality of nations, and 
out of the individual composition of governments. But 
the modern notion is, first, that the governor is not com 
petent to exercise a preference in religion for the nation 
or any part of it ; and, next, that a matter in which he is 
not competent to discriminate, manifestly cannot he in 
any way essential to the well-being of societies, or he 
who is concerned for them must according to his oppor 
tunities be concerned for it. 

45. After this, it is felt that these conclusions taken 
alone blot out the light of the world. Accordingly 
an intellectual illumination is proposed. In truth it 
is felt how intolerable would be the tyranny if 
there were a general predominance of the lower parts 
of man's nature : if we descended at once from the 
elevating doctrine which, in the words of Mr. Burke, 
consecrates the commonwealth and all that officiate in 
it, to the mere sensualism into which political eco 
nomy, were all its claims allowed, would issue. A 
substitute, therefore, in some form, for religious truth 
we must have ; and they who deprive us of the na 
tional acknowledgment and worship of God, offer us 
at least a molten calf. To prevent evil, we hear it 
said, cultivate and strengthen the higher faculties of 
man. Now Christianity is the one appointed means 
of doing this. To attempt doing it without Chris- 


tianity, is repeating the sin of Adam, who sought 
a knowledge of things in grounds other than the will 
of God ; but with this aggravation, that it is done after 
the melancholy experience of six thousand years have 
shown, by the favourite utilitarian test of consequences, 
how ruinous was its nature. 

46. They of old time thought that there was no in 
justice in taxing men for the truth, because it was 
beyond doubt the most precious of all objects, and was, 
through divine mercy, in degree at least attainable. 
But now this is deemed arbitrary and insufferable ; yet 
there is an object so clear and so beneficial that men 
must be ta^ed for it whether they choose to avail them 
selves of its benefits or not. That is the cultivation of 
the understanding. But why has not the subject a 
right to say, I deny the advantages which you say will 
result from that cultivation, if it be without religion, 
and I contend, on the contrary, that it will be productive 
of detriment ? If he be an intelligent Christian, he will 
say so. And if in saying so he be overborne, the fact 
will only prove, that human opinion is approximating to 
that state in which man seeks his chief good, and attempts 
to found his permanent welfare both public and private, 
not in revelation, but in the principles of deism. 

47. The advocates of this theory often deprecate, in 
words, a mere naked intellectualism. They talk much 
of moral culture, and assume that it can be sufficiently 
and generally had without religion. Or, perhaps, they 
are shocked at the idea of surrendering religion, and 
they profess that religion consists in certain habits of 


mind, entirely apart from dogma ; that while they ex 
clude dogma, which they stigmatise as the cause (at 
most and in any case it is hut the sign and the instru 
ment) of dissension, they would carefully include religion. 
But all these forms of profession come to the same 
thing. Once cast off allegiance to the revealed truth 
of God once assume the function of dispensing with 
such portions of it as carnal wit here or there does not 
appreciate ; once reject the means which God in his 
mercy has provided hy revelation and the attempt to 
attain the end will inevitahly fail. Do we flatter our 
selves that, if we deem His methods impracticable, we 
shall succeed in our own ? All these modes 'of teaching 
will resolve themselves into the mere culture of the 
understanding. We do injustice by terming it intellec- 
tualism. The higher faculties will wither beneath its 
influence wherever it is introduced. 

48. But the point upon which we have to fix our 
attention is this. There is a strong disposition to over 
throw the principle of an established church ; and 
therein ultimately to deny that religion is the great 
sanction of civil society. There is a contemporaneous 
disposition among us, entertained almost exclusively by 
the very same persons, to substitute an universal educa 
tion or general culture at the expense of the state for 
the universal spiritual culture by the church. The 
former is to be the substitute for the latter. It is in 
tended fundamentally to change the structure of society ; 
and the one thing needful for its well-being is to be 
this general culture. The mark of tyranny is upon it 


even while the theory is young : it is to be compulsory. 
This, I suppose, is thought the only way in which the 
energies of the church can be effectually quelled. But 
what insanity is this labouring at a moral Babel which 
will not only confound but crush and grind into the 
very dust its framers ! It is a more fatal repetition of 
an old experiment, to the failure of which there is not 
one of us who is not too able, if he be but willing, to 
bear witness. 

49. Perhaps, however, we are desired to find conso 
lation in the fact, that there is a greatly increased dif 
fusion of knowledge among mankind. Of sanctified 
knowledge, that is of knowledge subordinated to the great 
purpose of serving God ? If so, it is well. All know 
ledge will then harmonise with the general character, 
and, increasing its power, will increase its usefulness. 
But if there be no corresponding extension of the spi 
ritual life, this increase of power will not only not be 
advantageous but will be detrimental, in the very pro 
portion in which it would and ought to have been 
advantageous ; for it will destroy the equilibrium of the 
human being, and increase his wants, his desires, his 
self-opinion, without strengthening in a commensurate 
degree the sovereign principle which renews his nature. 
Without that sovereign principle, too, the presumption 
or supposition of knowledge will increase much more 
rapidly than knowledge itself, and the effect of such 
increase will be to leave men much less adapted to the 
discharge of their duties than they were before. Much 
might be said on the particular kind of this knowledge. 


It is that which tends too much to fix the eyes on the 
earth instead of raising them to heaven to look for 
angels' bread. 

50. Will it be said, " All this anxiety is very much 
disproportioned to the case, if you are sincere in your 
belief, that there is safety within the church as an ark 
which shall float on the waters when the fountains of the 
great deep of human Desire are broken up ?" It is true 
that we have nothing to fear for her, who bears a 
charmed life that no weapon reaches. She pursues her 
tranquil way of confession, adoration, thanksgiving, in 
tercession, and Divine communion, concentrated alike 
for the present and the future, upon one object of 
regard, her Lord in heaven. This of the church of 
Christ. And in the church of England we find all 
the essential features unimpaired, which declare her 
to be a fruit-bearing tree in the vineyard of God. 
The Scriptures faithfully guarded, liberally dispensed, 
universally possessed and read ; the ancient bulwarks 
of the faith, the creeds, and the sound doctrine of 
catholic consent, maintained ; the apostolical succession 
transmitting, with demonstration of the Spirit, those 
vital gifts which effectuate and assure the covenant ; 
the pure worship ; the known and acknowledged fer 
tility in that sacred learning which, when faithfully 
used, is to the truth what the Israelitish arms were to 
the ark ; and the everywhere reviving and extending 
zeal, courage, love : these are the signs which may well 
quiet apprehensions for the ultimate fate of the church 
of England in the breast of the most timid of her sons. 


51. But we need not be ashamed, with all this, to 
feel deeply and anxiously for our country. For that 
State, which, deriving its best energies from religion, 
has adorned the page of history, has extended its re 
nown and its dominion in every quarter of the globe, 
has harmonised with a noble national character sup 
porting and supported by it, has sheltered the thickset 
plants of genius and learning, and has in these last 
days rallied by gigantic efforts the energies of Chris 
tendom against the powers and principles of national 
infidelity, bating no jot of heart or hope under re 
peated failures, but every time renewing its deter 
mination and redoubling its exertions, until the object 
was triumphantly attained. For this State we may 
feel, and we may tremble at the very thought of the 
degradation she would undergo, should she in an evil 
hour repudiate her ancient strength, the principle of a 
national religion. 

52. I do not dream that the pupils of the op 
posite school will gain their end, and succeed in giving 
a permanent and secure organisation to human so 
ciety upon the shattered and ill-restored foundations 
which human selfishness can supply. Sooner might 
they pluck the sun off his throne in heaven, and 
the moon from her silver chariot. What man can do 
without God was fully tried in the histories of 
Greece and Italy, before the fulness of time was 
come. We have there seen a largeness and vigour of 
human nature such as does not appear likely to be 
surpassed. But it does not comfort us that those op- 



posed to us will fail. They are our fellow-creatures ; 
they are our brethren ; they bear with us the sacred 
name of the Redeemer, and we are washed for the most 
part in the same laver of regeneration. Can we un 
moved see them rushing to ruin, and dragging others 
with them less wilful but as blind? Can we see the 
gorgeous buildings of such an earthly Jerusalem, and 
the doom impending, without tears? Oh, that while 
there is yet time, casting away every frivolous and nar 
row prepossession, grasping firmly and ardently at the 
principles of the truth of God, and striving to realise 
them in ourselves and in one another, we may at length 
know the things which belong to our peace ! 

53. These arguments and convictions, intended to 
exhibit a sketch of a subject involving everywhere 
matter of the deepest concern, now brought daily more 
and more to bear upon our daily duties in life, are 
proposed by the writer to those who feel an interest in 
their theme, with a deep and painful sense of their 
unavoidable deficiencies, as his offering towards the 
elucidation and establishment of the Truth, whatever it 
may prove to be. He has followed what appeared to 
be her light to the point whither it appeared to lead 
him. For the last six years he has watched the subject 
in its practical as well as its speculative forms with 
the deepest earnestness, and has endeavoured to give 
his whole mind to the lessons with which they have 
abounded. He has seen some zealously, and some 
wisely, defending truth, some discrediting it with ad 
ventitious incumbrances, some resolute in opposing it, 


some seeking it with earnestness, some merely drifting 
with the tide of circumstance, some wavering between 
a multitude of opinions ; most, perhaps, acting blindfold, 
and speaking at random, in a matter beyond all others 
demanding the adoption of definite principles. 

54. His desire is that the whole matter should be 
freely and carefully discussed, in the certainty that 
whether he has erred or not in his own particular 
attempts to probe it, there can be no doubt that it 
is full of importance, that it is treated with lamentable 
neglect, and that the time is now arrived, when with 
a view, if to no higher end, yet to decency and dignity 
of conduct, an answer should if possible be had to 
the question, whether it be or be not the manifest 
ordinance of Almighty God that governments have 
active duties towards religion, Christian governments 
towards the Christian church ? As was said of old, 
If the Lord be God, serve Him, but if Baal, then 
serve him ; so it should now be said to the English 
people, If there be no conscience in states, and if 
unity in the body be no law of the church, let us 
abandon the ancient policy under which this land has 
consolidated her strength, and matured her happiness, 
and earned her fame ; but if the reverse of both these 
propositions be true, then in the sacred name of God 
" to the utmost and to the latest of our power " let us 
persist. If it be not too presumptuous for him to bid 
farewell, and to request indulgence in the words of 
Herder, the writer would say : " It is man that writes, 
and thou, too, reader, art man. He may have erred, 


probably he has erred : thou knowest, what he did not, 
and could not ; use of his what may serve thee, consider 
his intentions, be not content with censuring, rather 
improve and complete."* Or, with one of the world's 
greatest men : oiv ovv rig s%y xotf^iov exXs^a^svo^ inrsiv 
sis r *\ v TOVTCOV o<rrao"n/, exiivog oux s^Qpog wv a 

* Herder, Ideen, Einleitung. t Plato, Timseus, 23. 


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