Imatges de pÓgina
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vifion of this establishment might be as stable as the earth on which it ftands, and fhould not fluctuate with the Euripus of funds and actions."

I have now, I hope, adduced fufficient reafons and arguments to convince my readers, that every community is fully competent to make a civil establishment of that religion, which the majority of the community fhall find it their duty to adopt and follow; and confequently, that our prefent church establishment forms an effential part of the Englifh conftitution: and from hence arifes the first constitutional divifion of the community, or people, into clergy and laity, whose several and respective rights and duties in the state, I shall hereafter explicitly set forth.

Had I inferred the truth of our religion from its civil eftablishment, the deifts might have treated the argument with that levity which Mr. Chandler advises; but a deift of common fenfe might perceive, that I appealed to the laws of our establishment, not for the conviction of his understanding, but the correction of his infolence. Where the truth of the Christian religion was the quef

• Rogers's Vindication of the Civil Eablishment of Religion, fect. i. p. 191.

tion before me, I used other arguments; but when a private fubject took upon him publicly to oppose the right of the legislator to enact any fuch law, to reprefent this power as unjust and tyrannical, and under thefe characters to diffuade all fubmiffion to it, these I think actions inconfiftent with the obligations of a subject, and that the execution of our laws may juftly be called for in restraint of them. The truth of a religion depends on its proper grounds. If it was falfe before it was established, the eftablishment will not make it true; and he, who from the evidence of the thing is convinced it is false, cannot upon any authority believe it

true."

From what has been faid in this and the foregoing chapter, I hope it will fufficiently appear, that the fanction, which the laws give to the establishment of the church of England throughout England, and to prefbytery throughout Scotland, is in its tendency and effects merely of a civil nature; confequently, that the obligation of fubmitting to it, is the very fame as the obligation of fubmitting to any other civil law whatever. Now, every external and public difavowal of, or oppofition to the civil exactions of the legif

5

lature,

Civil eftablish

ment of reli

gion of the fame

force as any

other civil law.

lature, must be criminal in an individual fubject to the power of that legislature: But I fhall hereafter have occafion to speak more fully upon the nature of crimes against the state.

CHAP.

CHAP. VI.

OF THE EFFECTS OF DENYING TRUE PRIN

CIPLES.

IT

T has been usual for moft writers both ancient and modern, in difcuffing the fubject of our conftitution, to endeavour to trace its origin from the earlieft antiquity, and to identify its form and substance through all the various modifications, changes, reformations, and revolutions, which it has undergone fince the first establishment of fociety, or of a community in this country. I beg the liberty of following a very different courfe. I eftablifh a principle, which, if it ever exifted, muft now exift, and if it now exift, must have always exifted; for what gives exiftence to a principle, is its univerfal and invariable truth, which, if it exift in one moment, muft effentially have exifted from all eternity; I need not, therefore, feek for its importation into this island by the Trojan prince Brutus; nor enquire whether it were borrowed by our British ancestors from their Gallic neighbours; nor whether it were the peculiar growth of our native foil; whether it grew out of the hedge-rowed towns or encampments of our warlike ancef

K

tors,

Principle the

true fource and

origin of our

conftitution.

Principles true from all eternity.

tors, or iffued out of the fanctuaries of their
mysterious Druids; whether it were imposed
upon them by heathen Rome, or infufed
into them by Christian Rome; whether it
were tranfplanted from Germany with our
Saxon conquerors and progenitors, nor whe-
ther it attended the defpotifm of the Norman
conqueror; nor, in a word, whether it flou-
rished with vigour and luxuriancy, or withered
in apparent decay, under the feveral houses
of Tudor, Stuart, Naffau, and Brunswick.

At this moment, this principle, the fovereignty of power ever did, and now does, unalienably refide in the people, exifts, because it is univerfally and invariably true; and it must for ever have exifted with the fame force and efficacy, that it now does; for univerfal truth excludes all degrees. From this invariable and ever operative principle have arisen all the various changes, innovations, and improvements, which have at different times been effected in our conftitution and government, by the means of reformation and revolution. The coercive introduction or impofition of new laws by the force of arms, can never make a part of the conftitution and government of a free people, till they have been voluntarily fubmitted to, recognized, accepted, or confirmed by the act of the commu

nity.

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