Imatges de pÓgina
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IV.

OF THE CIVIL ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION.

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Have already observed, that one of the Choice of our

natural rights, which each individual re- defeasible na. tains, even independently of the fociety, of tural light which he is a member, is the uninterrupted communication and intercourse of the soul with its Creator; and Mr. Payne says, that amongst the natural rights, which he retains, are all the intelle£tual rights, or rights of the mind; consequently religion is one of those rights.

We need not recur to schoolmen to understand or admit this universal maxim of religion, that our dependance upon our creator binds us indispensībly to a grateful acknowledgment of our existence, and a sincere and unreserved tender of our minds and hearts, to think and act as he shall require ; for I conclude with all those, who are neither atheists nor deilts, that the light and grace, which Almighty God communicates to his creature, in consequence of this offering, are personally binding upon the individual, to whom they are communicated, and Consequently cannot be controuled by other G

human

tions of God.

the duty of inc human beings collectively or individually, low the inspira- who stand in the same predicament of exclu

five responsibility to their Creator. The right, therefore, which each individual poffeffes of this free and uninterrupted communication and intercourse with his Creator, is essentially paramount to all human, civil, or political power whatever.

* “ Religion, gentlemen, appears to me to be a gift, which God bestows on every individual, subject to his movements and inspirations, but in every other respect entirely free, and beyond the reach of any human jurisdiction; therefore, no one ought to associate against his will, or without some reasonable

cause or motive, with any religious fociety Liberty of whatever.” And the great Fenelon, archthought in religious matters bishop of Cambray, a prelate of the estabnot subject to civil controul. lished religion in a Roman Catholic country

under an absolute monarchy, speaks the same language. t « Liberty of thought is an impregnable fortress, which no human power can force; therefore, kings should not take upon themselves to direct in matters of religion.”

* Professor Noodt's Discourse upon Liberty of Conscience, as translated by A. Macawlay, p. 27.

+ Fenelon, as quoted by Dr. Rogers, Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion, p. 42.

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Every individual human being has not the righ:s and only a right, but is under an indispensible duties of tlie soobligation to adopt that religious cult or as of indivimode of worship, which, after due deliberation, in the fincerity of his heart, he thinks his Creator requires of him; it follows of course, that a society composed of such individuals muft, collectively taken, enjoy the Tame right, and be under the same duty and obligation. As, therefore, it is neither my intention nor purpose to examine, or even consider the reasons, grounds, or merits of the religious persuasion of any one individual, so shall I equally avoid the discussion or examination of the internal evidence of that religion, which the majority of this community has thought proper to countenance and support by civil sanctions. The civil establish- The civil eftabment of a religion affects in no manner the lision attees truth or falsehood of the religion itself. the religion it* « The magistrate (or supreme civil power) in Turkey has just the same uncontrouled civil right to establish the religion he ap. proves, as a Christian magistrate has to establish his choice: christianity made no alteration in this case; but left civil power as is found it; and if it was before the judge,

lishment of re

felf.

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what religion it should establish, it continues fo ftill.” And the same learned author, who is remarkable for perspicuity and strength of argument, further says; * "Nothing,

“ therefore, can be more unjust or impertinent, than those suggestions, that upon my principles, popery will be the true religion in Spain, presbytery in Scotland, and Mahometism in Turkey. These are, indeed, the established religions in those places; but not one jor the more true for being established. To the laws establishing religion, civil obedience is due, in the same measures and under the same reserves in Spain, as in England; but asfent of judgment against private convictions is no part of the obligations arising from the establishment in either.”

Thus did our British ancestors adopt for religion in this fome centuries the Druidical institutions;

after that, they embraced the Christian reli-
gion, under king Lucius, which was preached
to them by St. Damianus, sent hither from
Rome for that purpose by St. Eleutherius;
and when the Saxons conquered the island,
a part of the community retired into the
mountains of Wales, to preserve their liberties
and religion from the innovations and en-.

Changes in luce

Country:

• Rogers's Vindication, p. 208.

croachments

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croachments of their new masters. The
Saxons, however, continued for many years
to keep up the religious establishment in the
community, which they had brought with
them out of Germany. About four hundred
years after the preaching of St. Damianus,
the English Saxons, who then properly were
the community or political society of this
country, were converted to christianity by
St. Augustine and his fellow preachers, sent
also for this purpose from Rome by St.
Gregory the Great. From this time then,
until the reformation, the majority of this
community adopted the Roman Catholic re-
ligion, and made it the established religion of
the country

When I speak of the adoption of religion Chriftianity e-
either by one or more individuals, I wish Mailised and
ever to be understood to speak of it, as of the preaching, and
free act of a free agent. True it is, that our it free and vo-
blessed Redeemer came upon earth to estab-
lifh the Christian religion; and his injunction
to mankind to submit to and adopt it is
mandatory and unexceptionable ; but then it
is equally true, that the act of submission to,
and adoption of it, must necessarily be the free
and voluntary act of the individual. It was
by preaching, that our blessed Lord himself
and his apostles and their successors propa-

gated

propagated by

the adoption of

luntry.

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