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written in the Law and the Prophets; and have hope towards God, which they themselves allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.' Even in his brief defence before Festus, he pleads that he was clear from any ecclesiastical offence against the Temple. Before Agrippa, he dwells mainly on the facts of his conversion, and his commission from heaven to teach the Gospel both to Jews and Gentiles. Now, if questions of religious truth and falsehood lay entirely beyond the province of the civil ruler, these defences were the treacherous surrender of a great principle of the Gospel, which he ought at whatever risk to have maintained. A clear exposition of the voluntary principle should have replaced the unseasonable narrative of his own conversion ; and the conduct of Gallio have been held up for the instruction of Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, instead of declaring his belief in Moses and the Prophets, and the certainty of the future resurrection of the dead.
“The essence of the negative theory is that rulers should decide every question of national duty on external and social grounds, without reference to religious truth and error, on which they are officially incompetent to decide. St. Paul's whole conduct is based on the opposite maxim, that knowledge of the truth, both in morals and religion, is the only real security for a just and equitable decision.”
The principal objection to the establishment of religion derived from reason is its alleged irreconcilability with the claims of private conscience. This objection is very fully discussed by Mr. Birks, who examines in detail the terms in which it is stated by Professor Vinet, in his Essay on the Duty of professing Religious Convictions. He points out that the profession of false opinions, though it may in some cases be the less of two evils, since hypocrisy aggravates every other sin, yet is not on that account a duty, “much less a duty so sacred that the bonds of society must be loosened and destroyed in order to secure its performance.”
“ Truth is always truth, and it is the duty both of rulers and their subjects to receive it first, and then to help in its diffusion. Falsehood is always falsehood, and either in rulers or their subjects its active propagation can never be a duty, but is always a sin.”
Mr. Birks then proceeds to lay bare the fallacy contained in the doctrine of the inviolability of conscience. We do not admit an inquiry into the conscientiousness with which a man has committed a murder or a theft. The boldest advocates of the doctrine recognize a limitation in particulars in which the interests of society are manifestly concerned; and this limitation is, as Mr. Birks shows, fatal to the whole argument. A large amount of respect is, no doubt, due to individual conscience; but the protection of one religion does not necessarily involve the perseqntion of the rest, and the true rights of conscience
and the individual character of Christianity are not interfered with by a State Establishment.
With the argument from experience Mr. Birks does not long detain his readers. The fact is, that if on the two former grounds, those of revelation and reason, the opponents of Establishments have failed to make good their position, we need pot delay long upon an enquiry into the uncertain teaching of experience. “Appeals to history have,” as Mr. Birks remarks, “been often made by the zealous adversaries of Church Establishments.” But
“Religion is not the only subject on which kings or statesmen have too often pursued a rash or wicked policy. Trade and commerce, peace and war, by the very same rule of judgment, must also be exempted from their jurisdiction, and their deposition from their high dignity will then be complete.
“ Appeals to experience, made in the dark, lead only to increased prejudice and delusion. The results of human actions are so complicated and various, that it needs omniscience to separate them, and assign to each event or effect its real cause. .... If we assume false principles, and interpret history by these assumptions, experience will be only like a meteor, to lead us further astray than if we had merely groped in the darkness of our own reasonings. In this way levellers have proved, to their own satisfaction, the evils of private property, and profligates the mischief and folly of Christian marriage.”
The question of the recognition of a national religion having been decided in the affirmative, there arises the far more diffi. cult and complex question, How shall this idea be embodied in fact, and reduced to practice? The appointed instrument for the promotion of religion is the Church ; and if the State desires to foster religion, it will naturally for that purpose connect itself with the Church. But what ought to be the nature of the relations established between the Church and the State ? Considerable latitude must be admitted in attempting å reply to this question. The constitution of a State is capable of many varieties of form, and that of a Church of scarcely fewer; and the relations between the two must necessarily differ according to the peculiar prevailing features of each. According to high authorities, the term “ Establishment” involves merely the enforcement of ecclesiastical decrees by the secular power. Where there is an Established Church,
“The State,” says Sir Travers Twiss,* “is bound to aid the law of the Church whenever the process of the civil courts should be
* “The Letters Apostolic of Pope Pius IX. considered with reference to the Law of England and the Law of Europe," chap. V., p. 133.
required. Such is the only necessary principle involved in Statea Establishment. The temporalities are accidents which vary in their character in different States ; but wherever the Church is established, there indeed its laws are maintained by the secular arm.”
If we are to accept the words of Lord Mansfield, the worship of Nonconformists has been long established in this country.
“ The Toleration Act,” he said on one occasion,* "renders that which was illegal before now legal. The Dissenters' way of worship is permitted and allowed by this Act; it is not only exempted from punishment, but rendered innocent and lawful ; it is established; it is put under the protection and is not merely under the connivance of the law.”
The establishment of a form of worship is, however, obviously a different thing from the establishment of a Church or religious body.
We may, perhaps, define simply and generally the practical embodiment of the principle of national religion, by saying that it will result in the nationalization of the Church with which the State enters into connection. That Church, with its functionaries, laws, institutions, and property, becomes, for those religious purposes to which it and they are dedicated, public and national. The State adopts them as its own. It will respect, protect, and maintain them; and the Church, in return, will regard herself and all that she possesses as at the service of the whole nation for the promotion of religion. Such of the particulars of the connection between Church and State as are not merely accidental will follow naturally upon the carrying out of the definition we have given; and in proportion as they tend towards a complete fulfilment of it, will be the stability and success of the union. Mr. Birks has given as, in a concise form, his ideas of what these particulars should be, in the fourth and two following of his propositions, which we have quoted above; and he has entered into a full discussion of this branch of the subject in the second part of his book. He there divides the duties devolved on the civil ruler by the union of Church and State into eight heads, and considers them as comprising,-(1) with respect to religious assemblies, sympathy, honour, and reverence towards such as are conducted in a spirit of true worship, toleration of those which are not positively mischievous, and suppression of all that veil actual evil under the cloak of religion ; (2) protection of and control over the property of the Church ; (3) the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; (4) the promotion of the missionary labours of the Church ; (5) the observance of the Lord's-day; (6) a reverence of places set apart for God's service; (7) the grant of due immunities to the ordained ministers of the Gospel ; (8) the recognition of the social relations and distinctions created by the Church, especially marriage.
* Speech in the House of Lords, 4th Feb., 1767, in the case of “The Chamberlain of London v. Evans."
We have thus far, in the course of our review of Mr. Birks' recent work, endeavoured to indicate the outline of the argument in favour of the union of Church and State to be derived from abstract principles. To the details of that argument it would be wholly impossible to do justice in an article like the present; we prefer, therefore, instead of dwelling further upon them, to offer a brief sketch of the line of reasoning by which the principle of Establishments may be supported from a utilitarian point of view. This method of treating the subject has the advantage of proceeding from premises which even those who question the absolute truth, not only of any particular form of Christianity, but of Christianity itself, may be expected to admit. It is true we may deal with it in such a manner as to exclude them, by starting from the consideration that religion of itself supplies the only true happiness to mankind; but we may secure their assent at the outset by a reference to experience for the beneficial effect which Christianity tends to produce upon the morality and good conduct, and, by consequence, upon the material and temporal happiness of the persons who come under its influence. If this be so, surely it is for the interest of the State to foster religion. The State does not leave the bodily wants of its needy citizens to be relieved by chance or by voluntary efforts alone. It supplements private endeavours to meet the intellectual requirements of the poorer classes. And sball it furnish no supply for their spiritual necessities, those which are, in the eyes of all Christians, the most important of all, and the existence of which even infidels must admit to be conducive to moral degradation and temporal misery? What system of voluntary organisation could ever be expected to take the place of a National Church whose ramifications are coextensive with the country itself, among whose clergy the whole of the population is allotted as a charge, so that no individual, however lone or however poor, can feel that he has no claim upon their ministrations, or is beyond the reach of the offices of religion ; while they, on the other hand, can be restrained by no feeling of reserve or dread of appear. ing intrusive from engaging in active efforts for the spiritual good of persons who have been authoritatively committed to their charge?
How is it that, in the present age, when there is a growing tendency to look to the national administration to carry out
demaisho desire tale
make thin the
works which appear to be beyond the power of private enterprise, when a compulsory State education is looming in our future, when the Government has undertaken the management of our telegraphs, and many desire that it should also undertake that of our railways,-how is it, we ask, that there should be an increasing demand for the withdrawal of the State provision for the spiritual wants of the people? Doubtless many make this demand from sincere conviction ; but we fear that a large number of those who joined in the cry for the disestablishinent of the Church in Ireland did so from a desire summarily to get rid of a problem which they shrank from the difficulty of solving, and that the case will be the same if ever a serious attack is made upon the Establishment in England. Mr. Birks has accurately pourtrayed the feelings that actuate such persons :
“Most errors on these subjects have their source in the love of a false simplicity. Men, in a busy, worldly age, like to be saved the trouble of laborious thought, and to find some theory that solves their doubts in a moment. They cut the knot which they have not the patience to untie. It is troublesome to limit and define the true rights of conscience, and therefore they proclaim it one and indivisible like the first French Republic, or even omnipotent. .... When such a lazy spirit prevails, national religion will be looked upon with dislike and suspicion. Its claims force upon us a more laborious course of thought and enquiry. Questions of public and private duty then arise, which cannot be solved without Scriptural research, silent meditation, and insight into the nature of man and the true wants of society......
“The difficulties of national religion, are those which attend every effort to approach a pure and lofty ideal in a world of sin. Such difficulties are the price of excellence, the condition of all moral progress. It is easy to exalt the rights of conscience and reduce the province of rulers to a mere point. There is nothing sublime in the policy which leaves every one to do what is right in his own eyes. It is just as easy to resolve all religion into the in. fallibility of the Pope, or blind obedience to royal orders, whatever they may be. But such ease is dearly purchased, and is fatal to all true moral advancement. It is a downward path, in which kings and subjects, in turn, renounce their duties because they are hard to fulfil, and leads to moral degradation and ruin."
In the relations between Church and State, as they now exist in this country, there are, no doubt, great theoretical anomalies, and some practical difficulties; but it is surely not the part of a philosopher to allow the former to blind his eyes to the main features of the system which they disfigure, but do not destroy, or of a statesman to succumb before the latter, and be diverted by them from following the true line of policy. If