Imatges de pÓgina
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upon any other principle. If this principle be withdrawn from one law, it is withdrawn from all; and then the firmest bulwark of the wiseft legisators will crumble into an impalpable substance, and be irrevocably scattered by the weakest breath that reaches it. Hence may be seen the difference between principles and rules; the former are universally and unexceptionably true and applicable to all pofsible cases; the latter admit of exceptions, which are even said to strengthen and establith the rule.

A principiis nunquam recedendum: True principle will carry us through every difficulty, that can possibly be started by the enemies of our constitution; for I must ever call those enemies to the state, who disavow and oppose the fundamental principles of our constitution and government.

The most feeling ground, upon which Dr. Priestley seems to combat against the civil establishment of a religion in a state, is that of the maintenance provided and secured by the state, for the ministers, teachers, and guardians of their religion.

- Let it not be said Dr. Priest'ey that the church of England would have the tythes. impudence, if it had the power, to collect its

dillatisfied with

• Priestley's Letters to Mr. Burke, Let. vi. r: 59.

tythes

to pay tithes

tythes from every country in Christendom, though every parish should be a finecure, and all their bishops be denominated in partibus. Let there be an appearance, at least, which now there is not, of some regard to religion in the case, and not to mere revenue. Often as I have urged this subject, and many as have been those, who have animadverted upon my writings, hardly any have touched upon this; they feel it to be tender ground; they can, however, keep an obstinate silence; they can shut their ears and turn their eyes to other objects, when it is not to their purpose

to attend to this.” The obligation Were I merely answering the objections of equal upon all. Dr. Priestley, I should content myself with

insisting, that the majority of the community had chosen to incorporate an ecclesiastical establishment as an essential part in their civil conftitution ; that this ecclesiastical eftablishment should be guided and preserved by bishops, and their inferior clergy; that they should be maintained by certain portions or allotments of the national produce or property; and that therefore the diffenting minority were effectually bound, as inembers of the community, to contribute their quota in tythes, or otherwise, towards the maintenance of that clergy, to whom the act of the

majority majority had given not only a legal subsistence, but a legal right to possess, enjoy, and defend the maintenance and civil advantages allotted to them by the community; for these they do not enjoy by virtue of their spiritual ordination, but as the free and voluntary gift or offering of the community. This also is a direct emanation from the sovereignty of the people.

Since Dr. Priestley, though avowedly of the dissenting minority, fo warmly insists upon the folly and mischief of supporting a religious establishment, I shall take the liberty of submitting to the public fome of the reasons and motives, that appear to have operated in favour of it upon the majority of this community ; for he certainly will not refuse to the majority of the community, the right of grounding their acts upon reasons and motives; nor can he prevent those reasons and motives from operating their effect upon such individuals as may feel their force.

* « So tenacious are we of the old eccle- Reasons why fiaftical modes and fashions of institution, that prefer their very little alteration has been made in them present reli

gious fyftem. since the fourteenth or fifteenth century, adhering in this particular, as in all things else,

• Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 148, 149, 150.

to

to our old settled maxim, never entirely nor at once to depart from antiquity. We found these old institutions, on the whole, favourable to morality and discipline; and we thought they were susceptible of amendment, without altering the ground. We thought that they were capable of receiving and meliorating, and above all, of preserving the accessions of science and literature, as the order of providence should successively produce them. And, after all, with this gothic and monkish education (for such it is in the ground-work) we may put in our claim to as ample and as early a share in all the improvements in science, in arts, and in literature, which have illuminated and adorned the modern world, as any other nation in Europe; we think one main cause of this improvement was our not despising the patrimony of knowledge, which was left us by our forefathers.

« It is from our attachment to a church establiment, that the English nation did not think it wife to entrust that great fundamental interest of the whole, to what they trust no part of their civil or military public service; that is, to the unsteady and precarious contribution of individuals. They go further ; they certainly never have suffered, and never will suffer, the fixed estate of the church to be

converted

converted into a pension, to depend on the treasury, and to be delayed, with-held, or perhaps to be extinguished by fiscal difficulties; which difficulties may sometimes be pretended for political purposes, and are, in fact, often brought on by the extravagance, negligence, and rapacity of politicians. The people of England think, that they have constitutional motives, as well as religious, against any project of turning their independent clergy into ecclesiastical pensioners of state. They tremble for their liberty, from the influence of a clergy dependent on the crown; they tremble for the public tranquillity, from the disorders of a factious clergy, if it were made to depend upon any other than the crown. They therefore made their church, like their king and their nobility, independent.

“ From the united considerations of religion and constitutional policy, from their. opinion of a duty to make a sure provision for the consolation of the feeble, and the instruction of the ignorant, they have incorporated and identified the estate of the church with the mafs of private property, of which the state is not the proprietor, either for use or dominion, but the guardian only, and the regulator. They have ordained, that the pro

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