Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

prelates, will not acknowledge the divine, or, in modern phrase, the legitimate right of kings. It was for this reason that the reformation accomplished so much for civil liberty, and that the puritans of England were the great reformers in church and

state. *

How long would the principles of the reformation have continued if the principle of Roger Williams had not been engrafted upon them? The pope was quite as good a head of the church as Henry the eighth ; quite as tolerant as Elizabeth, or James the first. The yoke of the Lords Bishops, of England, was not more intolerable than the dominion of the Lords brethren of Massachusetts.

Take the most liberal sect among us, and give it dominion over all others, make it the religion of the State, give it patronage, and tythes from the property of all, and how long would it be before fit instruments would be found to conspire against our civil liberties, or a people servile enough to wear the chains of imperial and ecclesiastical bondage ? Many fear that they behold already, among us, the signs of political degeneracy, in the influence of that patronage which extends to every village of the Union; but if you should add to this a permanent power to feed the bodies, and sway the souls of men, how long, think you, we should celebrate, with the spirit of freemen, the anniversary of our independence, or take any pleasure in perpetuating the evidences of our degeneracy ?

* “So absolute, indeed, was the authority of the crown, that the precious spark of liberty had been kindled, and was preserved by the puritans alone; and it was to this sect, whose principles appear so frivolous, and habits so ridiculous, that the English owe the whole freedom of their Constitution.--Hume's England, chap. 40, Elizabeth's reign.

I say, then, and without fear of contradiction from those who give it due reflection, that the principle of liberty of conscience, which was first promulgated in Massachusetts by Roger Williams, which he boldly maintained before all their magistrates and ministers, and which, driven from thence, he brought to these shores, and made the inheritance of our children—that this principle is of more consequence to human liberty than Magna Charta, and constitutes, of itself, a bill of rights which practically secures the enjoyment of all.

What honors, then, should cluster around his name, who, in an age when the most enlightened failed to perceive the simple and majestic proportions of this great truth, perceived it with a clearness, and illustrated it with a force, to which no succeeding age has added, and which now constitutes so much of the freedom and happiness of our common country. If we cannot compare with our sister States in the empire of matter, we may venture to compare with them in the empire of mind, and challenge them to produce a principle, in their settlement or progress, more vital than this to the perpetuation of our liberties.

TO A SMILING INFANT.

BY SAMUEL W. PECKHAM.

“ Pibi semper sine nubibus aether
Integer, et large diffuso lumine ridat.”—Lucretius.

A PENNY for your thoughts," sair child !

A penny! aye, I'd part
With countless treasures, could I read

The secrets of that heart ;
Could I but feel the careless joy

That fills thy laughing eyes,
And know the gay imaginings

That o'er thy fancy rise.

I've pondered o'er the classic tomes

Of Roman and of Greek,
Intent through an illusion dark,

Some hidden truth to seek ;

And as its light with thrilling power

Flashed from the beaming line, A rapture which the scholar's life

Alone imparts, was mine.

But oh, 't were bliss beyond compare,

To read on infant thought
The pure impress of God's own truth,

Ere sin its blight has wrought ;
To see its power to fill the soul

With unalloyed delight,
And throw o'er fancy's magic screen

Forms of the pure and bright.

Smile on, smile on, though vain the wish,

May'st thou for aye, as now,
Unsullied keep the stamp of truth

Upon thine open brow,
Still may the joyous laugh speak out

Unclouded from thine eyes,
Till Heaven reclaims its errant guest,

THE CHURCHES OF NEW.ENGLAND.

BY THE REV. EZRA STILES, D. D.* Let the great errand into America never be forgotten. Let our children be made welt acquainted, among other parts of sacred history, with the history of the Hebrew nation ; in which they will see examples of public reward and public chastisement of providence in a very striking light. From the ancient example let our churches be warned, very carefully to avoid the two capital errors which proved the ruin of the Hebrew republic, and which will never fail eventually to subvert the best constituted empire-I mean corruption in religion and the publie virtue ; and disunions.

I have observed that our churches, in a distinguished sense from almost all the protestant world are founded on the Bible. Our worthy and venerable ancestors, (be their memories dear to posterity) did not, like other protestant patrons, form a system of what they thought and judged to be the true sense of revelation, and establish this for the truth ; no—it was enough for them that the Bible was the inspired rule, and this they made the only rule.

*Note 2.-See Appendix.

« AnteriorContinua »