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visible Charch of Christ in its corporate existence, its social worth, and divine calling; to encourage, and also regulate, the offerings of its members; to help its efforts for the instruction of all Christian people, and to honour its doctrines and laws in the whole constitution of the State.
* 6. When the Church has been rent with schisms, and corrupted by false doctrines and immoral practices, cther duties will devolve on Christian rulers. Their office requires them to discern between saving truth and dangerous error, to resist sectarian bigotry and unbelieving indifference, to honour every part of the Churcb in proportion to its religious soundness and power of confirming social benefit, to repress grosser evils, and encourage all things pure, lovely, and of good report.
“7. These duties of the Christian ruler are confirmed by the testimony of Scripture, and are in full harmony with the true rights of conscience and the precepts and lessons of the Gospel. But while it is the duty of every Christian to aim at this high standard in every act of political life, its full attainment is reserved for the promised time of the restitution of all things, when the earth shall be full of the glory of the Lord.”
If these propositions be true, and contain the correct idea of the duties of a ruler, how lamentably does the fact fall short of the standard ! This must be our first thought on reading the passage which we have just extracted, and the impression, so far from being dispelled, is rather strengthened as we proceed in our perasal of the volume, and observe the manner in which Mr. Birks works out the propositions he has laid down, and the interpretation which he puts upon them. Not only is the view of government here inculcated widely different from—we had almost said diametrically opposed to—the prevalent modern notions upon the subject; but even were it otherwise, we cannot help feeling that, in our present state of failure and imperfection, every attempt to realize the sketch presented to us would fall so far short of that full attainment to it, which Mr. Birks himself admits to be reserved for a future period, that we are almost disposed to question the practical wisdom of erecting so high a standard, and to think that, in laying down a theory of government, it would be better to construct one more evidently feasible, and therefore more likely to be accepted as a model. But the impossibility of perfect attainment to the standard propounded is no valid ground of objection to the standard itself. What should we think of a similar cavil launched, as it might well be, against the scheme of Christian morality? We entirely dissent from the proposition laid down in a recent work by one of the great thinkers of the day, that “ laws and institutions require to be adapted, not to good men, but to bad.” No doubt the enactment of certain prohibitory and penal laws, which shall affect bad men alone, is rendered
necessary by their presence in our midst; but a little reflection will convince us that, when applied to the general laws which regulate communities, and to their social and political institutions, (one of the most important of which-that of marriage was the immediate object of the remark,) the doctrine is as untenable in theory as it would be intolerable in practice. No; institutions must be founded on the principle embodied in the maxim of our common law—“Omnia præsumuntur rite esse acta : All things are presumed to be done aright." And a standard, whether in politics or ethics or anything else, must, to be worth anything, either be perfection itself, or be so near to it as to be practically unattainable ; for if it be short of perfection, and be attainable by human endeavour, we have no reason to suppose that, if it had been placed higher, that higher point might not have been reached also, in which case the existence of the lower standard was absolutely a hindrance to improvement. If, then, these propositions of Mr. Birks are intrinsically true, the loftiness of the standard which they erect, so far from being an objection to them, is precisely the contrary.
Let us proceed, then, to a candid examination of them; and first let us see how much of them will be granted by those opponents who, as we have before observed, can alone meet Mr. Birks on common ground in the line of discussion which he has adopted. To the first proposition they must yield their unreserved assent. It merely states, with reference to individuals who happen to be rulers, those duties which they, no less than Mr. Birks, recognize as common to all members of the human race. The second proposition they would, we conceive, also admit, but with less readiness, and not without some explanations and qualifications. But on proceeding to the third, they would probably declare that they were here diametrically and irreconcileably opposed to Mr. Birks. So far from conceding that it is the duty of rulers to care for the spiritual more than the temporal wants of their subjects, they will altogether deny that rulers have any function in respect of the former: it is the province of civil government, some of them will say, to provide for the security of the persons and property of the governed; while others, while they will go a step further, and will extend the care of rulers to all the temporal interests of their subjects, mental and moral, as well as material, will expressly limit that care to things of time, to the exclusion of all matters of higher import. We confess that we have ever been unable, ourselves, to see the grounds for these limitations. They have always appeared to us to be alike theoretically false, and practically impossible. Theoretically false; for we hold the object of government to be the happiness of the governed ; and religion is an essential element in human happiness. And practically impossible; for the spiritual, in. tellectual, and material interests of mankind are bound up together in a manner that defy separation. And hence we find that the maintainers of the doctrine, that the civil administration is concerned solely with the protection of men's persons and property, will advocate the interference of Government in matters affecting the intellectual welfare of its subjects, and will justify this apparent departure from their principle, by pointing out that the material and intellectual prosperity of the community are indivisible, and that, in order to advance the former, they must promote the latter. And is not the spiritual progress of mankind equally connected with their material interests? Has not godliness the “promise of the life that now is”? Whatever sceptics may say, the opponents with whom we are now contending cannot, as sincere Christians, maintain the contrary. While man retains his threefold nature of body, soul, and spirit, whatever affects one of these cannot be without its influence on the others. Neglect of one, and especially of one of the higher of his component parts, will react banefully upon his whole being. From these considerations it is, we con. ceive, clear that rulers, even on the lowest and most secular definition of their functions, must have an interest in the spiritual condition of the people entrusted to them. And this is all that we ask our opponents to concede. Whether they will go so far as to admit that rulers are bound to care more for the spiritual wants of the people, is a matter of comparative in. difference; though we think that, as Christians, they will feel driven to the conclusion, that if rulers are to take any interest in the spiritual welfare of the governed, that interest must be paramount to all others.
But they will say, having granted you this much, we are still as far as ever from adopting your conclusions. For while, in your opinion, the interest of rulers in the religious condition of the community impels them to take active measures for its advancement, to our mind it furnishes a conclusive reason for & total abstinence on their part from all interference with it. For we hold that all meddling on the part of civil authorities with the affairs of the Church is prejudicial to the interests of the latter, and that religion can truly flourish only when it is wholly banished from the region of politics. Here, then, we have arrived at a distinct issue with our opponents; this, unless we are much mistaken, is the turning point of the con. troversy between us. It will be necessary to dwell upon it somewhat in detail.
And first, it must be evident to every unprejudiced mind, that, at the stage of the discussion which we have now reached,
the amo the desert a fine
the whole burden of proof is cast upon the assailants of the position held by Mr. Birks and ourselves. For it is the general, we may add, unless this is to be an exception, the universal, law in human affairs, that results are only to be attained by active exertion :
Nil sine magno Vita labore dedit mortalibus. - In all ordinary matters, therefore, the amount of a man's zeal in a given cause is justly estimated by the degree of energy he displays in it. Mr. Birks has indulged in a fine irony when he puts into the mouth of a ruler, whose method of promoting religion among his subjects consists in a studied neutrality towards it, the following prayer :
“Grant me, O thon King of nations, in answer to the prayers Thy ministers now offer before Thee, the blessing of Solomon, the grace of wisdom needful to govern this great people, and to rule in the fear of Thy name. In return, I vow solemnly that I will ņever meddle with Thy Church, either for good or evil; that I will do no public honour to its ministers; that I will never count it a fit object of royal favour. I will so legislate and rule as if every doctrine of Thy word were utterly uncertain, and will never attempt to use my royal influence and authority for the cause of Thy truth, or to help forward the salvation of the souls which the Son of God has redeemed with His precious blood. I will never, like Solomon, build a house to Thy name, nor recount to them the mercies of former days, nor charge them, like him, that their heart be perfect with the Lord their God, and that they should keep Thy commandments always."
Such a prayer must strike us as unnatural and even impious, and yet it is one which, if the abstinence of the civil authority from all endeavours to foster religion be pleasing to God, a ruler, as ruler, would not only be justified in using, but be bound to adopt. The persecutions of which Christian communities have in past times been guilty, while they were due to an excess and a perversion of the opposite principle, prove how deeply seated that principle is in the nature of man. The present course of events in Madagascar, where, upon a Christian queen coming to the throne, Christianity is openly favoured by the governinent, supplies further evidence to the same effect. We do not assert that the conclusion to which our instinctive feelings lead us is necessarily correct. We merely affirm that the fact of their pointing so decidedly in one direction renders it incumbent upon the upholders of the opposite view to bring forward positive proof in support of it. They must, in short, convince us that it is contrary to the will and ordinance of God that the interests of religion should be Vol. 68.-No. 381.
actively promoted by the civil authority. They may do this by an appeal either to the Word of God, or to the nature of things, or to the pages of history. In other words, they may adduce arguments from revelation, from reason, or from experience. And we cannot deny that from each of the thres sources many specious pleas have in fact been brought forward in favour of a total severance of religion from politics.
The most important of these pleas are, of course, those which are rested upon the authority of revelation. Our opponents, finding that the whole tenor of the teaching of the Old Testament is indisputably against them, discard that portion of the Scriptures as irrelevant; and relying upon one or two expressions in the New Testament, and upon the absence of any positive and unmistakeable directions upon the subject in the teaching of Our Lord and His apostles, challenge the advocates of Establishments to meet them upon that ground, and taunt them with being unwilling, because unable, to do so. Such & taunt certainly cannot be levelled with truth at Mr. Birks. He devotes three entire chapters to this branch of his subject: one of which is exclusively occupied in pointing out the meaning of Our Lord's words to Pilate, “ My kingdom is not of this world ; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews : but now is my kingdom not from hence." Another, the longest in the whole volume, deals with the New Testament doctrine of Civil Government. In this chapter Mr. Birks adduces eighteen different heads of evidence from the New Testament in favour of the connection of religion with the civil administration. One of these is “the conduct of St. Paul in the whole course of that persecution which sent him to Rome.” The argument under this head is so forcible that we would willingly transcribe the whole of it, but we must content ourselves with a paragraph which, as we think, furnishes an irresistible answer to those who deny the right of civil authorities to exercise any control in Ecclesiastical matters :
“.... Again, how does the Apostle plead his cause before the governors ? Does he tell them that it is a question of outward sedition alone, and that with the religious truth or falsehood of his teaching they have nothing to do ? Such would have been his language, if State neutrality and indifference were the will of his Lord. His conduct is just the reverse. Three times in succession he pleads before a civil and heathen tribunal; and in every instance the religious truth and propriety of his teaching and acts is one main ground of his apology. Before Felix he makes this the heart of his whole defence :
But this I confess, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are