Page images
PDF
EPUB

not the abuse of Christianity sully its own purity. Hear then, ye Deists! what are the qualifications demanded by Saint Paul in a Christian Priest of the highest, and lowest order, and blush for your prophane attack upon so disinterested a profession. “A Bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine; no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous 8c. Likewise must the Deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre &c.” We meet with nothing here to justify the mercenary charge of Mr. Paine.

That some men may have degraded themselves and the Church, in the flagitious manner here imputed to them, is very probable. Every profession has its Theophylact, and its Peregrinus.

[ocr errors]

“Soon after I had published the pamphlet, COMMON SENSE, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of Government, would be followed by a revolution in the system of Religion. The adulterous connexion of Church and State, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, bad so effectually probibited by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established Creeds, and upon first principles of Religion, that until the system of Government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly, and openly before the world: but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of Religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected, and man would return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more."

The sum and substance of this Paragraph, may be reduced to the two following positions. First, that the connexion of Church and State is, what Mr. Paine is pleased to call “ adulterous." Secondly, that such connexion has restrained the freedom of discussion; and, that, whenever such freedom shall be recovered, mankind will “return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more.” It will be convenient to consider each of these particulars by itself. If, when Mr.

Paine ventured to pronounce in such strong terms the impropriety of a union between Church and Statė, he had given us his own reasons for such a judgment, or referred us to any authority to support it, we should have had an opportunity of facing a visible adversary; and the Reader would have been able to have determined to which side the victory had inclined. But it did not suit the warfare of Mr. Paine to produce his forces. His strength lied in stratagem, and concealment; in never coming to a conflict; so that if he might not triumph himself, he could not be entirely driven from the field. This is the artifice of Cowardice and Injustice. It is, in morals and religion, what the African Corsair, and the Arabian Banditti, are in practical politics.

If Mr. Paine has skulked behind general, unauthorized assertion, it does not become truth to follow his example; she trusts to the invincibility of her own arm, and dreads not the face of any adversary.

In the first place, then, the union of Church and State, has the highest sanction that any institution can possess. It was under the direction of the Almighty himself, that Moses united in his own person the political and religious head of the Jewish people. He framed their laws, prescribed their worship, and sent them to battle. They are called his servants." This is abundantly attested in the Bible. But, as the Deist may not often consult that book, Mr. Paine, their arch-prototype, having declared, that“ he kept no Bible,” it may be of some use to quote the testimony of Cunæus to these points. His words are, Condita Hebreorum respublica a divino maximoque viro Mose est.” Again "Lex, quæ a Mose scripta cunctarum gentium institutis legisbusque major, certeque dignior est, quia Deum autorem habet.And, when speaking of the distinct objects of this law, which clearly evince the union of ecclesiastical and civil government, he says,

pars prior ad res divinas pertinet, posterior continet ea, quæ Marcus Tullius appellat hominum munia et officia.

As the union of Church and State is here sanctioned by

[ocr errors]

a divine authority and example, so Prophecy seems to countenance such an union, even in times prospectively temote to the age in which it was delivered; for it declared, that Kings should be the nursing fathers, and Queens the nursing mothers of the Church. Therefore, “What God has joined let not man put asunder;” nor impiously declare, to be “adulterous.”

If we turn from sacred to prophane History, we shall discover, that such a union has ever formed a point in practical polity. Aristotle says, “The prerogatives of the Kings, consisted in being hereditary senators, commanders in chief of the armies, and High Priests of the nation." The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer also attest this union: and a justly distinguished historian, speaking of the ancient Kings, says, "they constantly exercised supremacy in religious concerns; they were always chief Priests." He further observes, “that in all countries, and through all ages, Religion and Civil Government, have been so connected, that no history can be given of either without res ference to the other!!

Let us now enquire, whether what God himself, in one striking instance, prescribed, and the authority of profane antiquity universally confirms, be also justified by the later experience of mankind. It is one of the great purposes of Religion, as well as of law, to improve the condition of humanity. Morality and justice flow from botla. Indeed Religion is the polar star of Legislation. But, as in physic it frequently happens, that that which, in one proportion, is calculated to moderate the exacerbations of disease, in another, will throw the system into the most violent action; so Religion, which humanizes the heart, and subdues the passions; that:" makes man mild and sociable to man," is no sooner inflamed into bigotry, than implacable revenge, and ungovernable cruelty, hurry him into every excess. History groans with the record of this lamentable fact. Such zeal is kindled when sect is opposed to sect. With objects, interests, and professions the same, they cherish the bitterest sentiments of hostility, as if there were no common principle of union among them; and, when unrestrained by the secular arm, those sentiments impel them to destroy each other, not only without remorse, but with self gratulation. Even in the apostolic age, the mania began. “I am of Paul, and I of Cephas, and I of Apollos," declared the germ of schism to be already beginning to sprout; a schism without a distinction, but still a pretext for personal animosity. The deplorable picture of human discord, which they displayed in miniature, later times have exhibited in the boldest lines, and strongest colouring, of unrelenting enmity. From the Council of Nice, to the disgraceful conflicts between the Calvinists and Arminians, at Dort, there is no instance of moderation between opposing sectaries. Each party, impressed with a sense of rectitude, destroy their antagonists, and “think they do God service.” They are all clamourous for toleration, and are, themselves, most barbarously intolerant to one another; so much so, as, without the interposition of the secular arm, to hope, that their points of difference would be lost in the broad surfaces of contact, in which they agree, is to speculate, as the Naturalist did of spiders, when he formed them into a community, under the expectation of profiting by their united labours. Instead of which, the stronger preyed upon the weaker,until, out of a myriad of Colonists, there remained a few powerful tyrants alone, the destroyers of their species. But far be it from me, to give even my

humble vote, to justify any undue exercise of power over the consciences of men.

Far be it from me, to qualify any distinction among those who sincerely seek the kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, and who live in charity with their neighbours. No! it would be the greatest happiness I could experience in this life, to see a spirit of brotherly love, of Christian forbearance, and mutual acts of kindness, displayed by all those who “profess, and call themselves Christians." But it is a hope too sanguine to be indulged. Toleration has, perhaps, reached its ne plus ultra-if attempted to be carried much far

ance.

ther, we should, I fear, be only sounding the tocsin for ecclesiastical warfare!

If it be thought, that the union of Church and State, is calculated to repress the progress of true religion, the opinion is falsified by fact; for Christianity overcame Paganism, and Protestanism Papacy, in the very teeth of law: and the incessant appeals of truth, however reluctantly heard, and resolutely opposed, will always, though perhaps, slowly, undermine restraint, and subdue resist

It is in this manner, that we may expect Christianity to supplant Idolatry and Mahometanism, in every country of the world. Its great Founder predicted so much, and the prediction is now in rapid progress towards fulfilment.

The consequence which Mr. Paine has inferred, would follow an unrestricted freedom of discussion, is, that “man would return to the pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more." What! would man return to this belief? When did he set out from such a belief? Was “a pure, unmixed, and unadulterated belief of one God and no more," the belief prevailing before the propagation of Christianity? If it were, it behoves the disciples of Mr. Paine to tell us, in what country this pure Deism existed. It, assuredly, was not among the Romaus, the conquerors of the world; nor the Jews, although called the chosen people of God. It is a random remark, which applies to no people, and I might, perhaps, say, to no age. Thus it is that Mr. Paine trifles with our understanding. He asserts a plausible falshood, which many cannot contradict: they who can, are safe from its poison; but they who cannot, imbibe it, and perish. If Mr. Paine meant, that the doctrine of the Trinity was only coeval with Christianity, bis ignorance of the Jewish creed, is a complete shelter for the hardihood of his assertion. Nothing but ignorance could screen it.

“Every national Church or Religion, bas established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The

« PreviousContinue »