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imply pher patroni God. Ante was is not ent
Thank God, the statesmen of that day had too much wisdom and patriotism to choose the latter, and the ministers of religion too much confidence in the spiritual power of Chris· tianity, and in the favor of God, to desire it.
wish you go 7- This peculiarity of our system, therefore, is not entirely the fruit of man's wit or wisdom. It was brought about chiefly by the providence of God. And although religion, in our country, is neither patronized nor persecuted by Government, but simply protected as one of the rights of man, yet in no country is religion or its ministers more respected, even by the public functionaries, than in ours. Few, if any, of the legislative assemblies of Europe, where religion is established by law, have their daily sessions opened with prayer. it
The United States are the only nation on earth whose civil polity was founded on Christian principles. It is scarcely possible to estimate the advantages which have already accrued to us, and which are yet to accrue to hundreds of millions of the human race, from this circumstance alone. Every other Christian nation has been converted from heathenism. The consequence is, that while the people and the governments are nominally Christian, their civil institutions and religious polity still remain heathen. Caste, that odious fruit of heathenism, still holds its pestiferous sway in Church and State throughout Europe. Even British intelligence and love of liberty have not yet been powerful enough to exorcise Church or State of this demon of heathenish procreation. It is still the doctrine of the British Constitution, that one part of mankind were created to be lords, and the rest to be serfs; and its roots have struck through every part of their Ecclesiastical Establishment. -> Nations have been converted to Christianity, but the conversion of the institutions of a country to Christian principles is a phenomenon which yet remains to be seen. They have all carried over the practice of making religion a part of their State policy from the heathen to the Christian State, retaining the practice of caste, so that the ranks and orders of archbishop, bishop, prebendary, dean, priest, and deacon, remain in the Church, co-ordinate with earl, marquis, lord, and baron, in the civil State ; equally objects of ambitious desire as similar civil and religious orders in the heathen polity for which it was exchanged. Happily, the foundations of our institutions were laid by the clear light of Christianity shining on the history and workings of this half-heathen, half-Christian system. The settlers of New-England, whose opinions and customs are rapidly leavening this nation, were jealous of all artificial distinctions. They were even more jealous of caste in the Church than in the State. For, while it was no part of their original design to found in America “a State without a king,” they were indomitable in their determination to have "a Church without a prelate.” They would much sooner have remained loyal to the king than have stooped, as did the Episcopalians of this country after its independence was established, to receive bishops by a special dispensation of the British Parliament, so as to be, in some poor sort, recognized as a Church in apostolic succession by bigoted royalists and prelatists in England. They were inflexible in their determination to have their church polity, according to their ideas, thoroughly Christian. Its unforeseen fruits have been, political republicanism, and the separation of religious from civil affairs in the United States.
The contrast between the position of the ministry in this country and in Europe is very great in another particular.
The expense of supporting Catholic worship in France is about twelve millions annually. Before the Revolution of 1789, it was twice that sum. In Spain, a large proportion of the landed property is in the hands of the clergy. Its four archbishoprics are said to be the richest in the world. Italy is governed by ecclesiastics, who receive about three and a half millions of dollars from the revenue. But England pays to her clergy the enormous sum of nearly seventeen millions of dollars annually. In the United States, a 'larger number of ministers, of all the various denominations, ministering to a much larger number of people, probably receive a little more than four millions, or one fourth of that sum. The average amount which the ministry or clergy of all countries, Catholic and Protestant, England excepted, receive from each hearer, is about twenty-two cents ; the average in the United States may be estimated at about thirty-nine cents; while in the English Establishment it is more than three dollars. *
* According to Mr. Noel's statistics, the total net income of the English Church Establishment, in 1836, was £3,439,767; but according to the table in the Encyclo pædia Americana, the annual revenue of the clergy of Great Britain is £8,896,000, or £44,000 more than the aggregate of all the other ministers, Catholic and Protestant, throughout the world, and the average from each hearer more than six dollars! Mr. Noel does not tell us whether he includes the interest on the palaces and estates of the prelates. The annual income of six out of twenty-eight prelates was $411,380; that of the Archbishop of Canterbury amounting to $99,840. Within a few years, the sum of $692,187 has been expended in improving the residences of eight of the bishops. At the same time there were in these eight dioceses 502 working clergymen, whose united salaries amounted to only $242,968, or but a little more than one third of the sum lavished on the “ episcopal palaces;" each house costing, on an average, a sum equal to the annual salaries of 178 minis
The temporal estate of the ministers of religion, in any country, must be attended with corresponding effects on the character of the ministry, and on the political and religious welfare of the people. For in spite of all theories of apostolically descended grace, transmitted through sacred channels, the ministry or the priesthood of every nation has always come from the people. Their character must always depend on that of the people, unless government interpose to make it worse. One way in which God punished the degenerate Jews for their wickedness was, by sending them priests from themselves, as wicked as themselves, so that there was like, people, like priest. So on the other hand, the religious, intellectual, and political progress of a nation depends on the character of its religious teachers, more than on all other causes. · The Christian ministry, as a distinct and perpetual institution, founded by Christ, to continue to the end of the world, has now existed through almost two millenniums, and yet the question, What is the true and proper position of that ministry in the civil State ? is unsettled. It is still a mooted question both in the Church and in the State.
If we bring this question to the bar of constitutional law for judgment, the decision is, that the minister is a citizen like any other man. He is neither more nor less than a man, and a citizen. He needs, and is entitled to, the same protection of person, property, and representation, as any other citizen; and is equally bound to obey the laws. He neither gains nor loses any political right or immunity, by assuming spiritual functions. The old statute law of England, though intended for the good of the clergy, was a violation of natural right. It exempted clergymen from arrests in civil suits during their attendance on divine service, as well as from punishment, though guilty of any number of manslaughters, bigamies, or simple larcenies; while a layman, even if a peer, must suffer on a second conviction. This singular exemption of clergymen from punishment for felony, called the privilegium clericale, or benefit of clergy, which afterwards obtained so prominent a place in English law, was first granted to the earliest missionaries by royal favor, but was claimed by the Popish priests before the Ěnglish Reformation, as their inherent, indefeasible right, jure divino, because they were God's ministers. In support of this claim, they said it was written, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm;" a method of reasoning which assumes that felony is so entirely consistent with the prophetical character, that any punishment for it is a violation of the prophet's right; a doctrine very necessary to the safety of the Popish priesthood, even to the present day.*
ters in those dioceses ! Well might Sydney Smith ask, “Why is the Church of England to be nothing but a collection of heggars and bishops * The right reverend Dives in the palace, and Lazarus in orders at the gate, doctored by dogs and comforted by crumbs p"
On the other hand, clergymen were deprived of some of their natural rights. They were forbidden to hold a seat in the House of Commons, nor could they be elected to any temporal office. They were forbidden to take lands or tenements to farm, to keep a tan-house or a brew-house, or to sell merchandise by way of trade. The old Constitution of the State of New-York excluded all priests and ministers of religion of every denomination from holding any civil or military office, but this provision was very properly left out of the new Constitution, adopted two or three years ago. The reason assigned for thus taking away a part of the natural rights of ministers was the same as for the English law referred to, that they might be entirely devoted to the cure of souls. This may be a good reason why a minister should not accept of a civil office, but is a very singular reason to be given, by grave legislators, for depriving him of his rights as a citizen. It assumes that they understood the minister's duties better than the minister himself, or were more conscientious than he. They might as well have extended this disability to the lawyer, that he might devote all his time to his clients; to the physician, that he might devote himself wholly to the cure of his patients; or to the cobbler, on the plea that he might devote all his time to the cure of the soles of his customers' boots. It was easy to see that this apparently very pious reason was a sham, and a stigma on the ministry. For if the minister is not entitled to any special political privilege, he surely deserves no political privation. If his spiritual function make him no more than a citizen, it surely makes him no less.
But it is argued that the nature and design of the minister's office and work, require that he should enjoy some special
* No ecelesiastical privilege had occasioned such dispute, or proved so mischierous, as the immunity of all tonsured persons from civil punishment for crimes. It was a material improvement in the law under Henry VI., that, instead of being instantly claimed by the bishop on their arrest for any criminal charge, they were compelled to plead their privilege at their arraignment, or after conviction Henry VII. carried this much further, by enacting that clerks, convicted of felony, should be burned in the hand. And in 1513, the benefit of clergy was entirely taken away from murderers and highway robbers. An exemption was still preserved for priests, deacons, and subdeacons.—Hallam's Constitutional History of England.
ligious teatise new whippur God and the christian
rank and privilege in the State. He is God's messenger, and has a claim to special honor and rank on that account. His mission has most important bearings on the temporal as well as eternal welfare of his countrymen. It is argued, and with truth too, that a gospel minister is as really a minister of law, order, and justice, as a civil magistrate. Then why should not the State support him? As Dr. South argues, “ The money given for preaching must be given away, if not for churches, then for more jails ; if not for houses of prevention, then for houses of correction; and it is as good economy to support religious teachers, as to support more watchmen and busier hangmen, to raise new whipping-posts and pillories.” - The question whether the glory of God and the good of the people will be promoted by securing to the Christian ministry special rank, privileges, and immunities in the Staté, cannot be determined by the principles of natural and constitutional law. It must be referred to the Scriptures, and perhaps some light may be drawn from history.
The polity of the ancient Hebrew commonwealth affords no support to the Church and State theory, because there is no evidence that it was intended to be copied by other nations, but clear proof to the contrary. Its priesthood had little resemblance to the Christian ministry, and as an experiment of government, the Scriptures uniformly represent it as a failure. į It is true, that by an express provision of their law, a tenth of their land's produce was to be given for the support of the priests and Levites. But this was a divine appointment for that people, and not a state law. Neither king, nor nobles, nor parliament, nor even the whole people had a right to make the slightest change in the law which regulated religious matters. There was no power in the nation which could enact any ecclesiastical statute. The priesthood was appointed by God himself, who nominated the first high priest, and fixed the principle of succession in his family, by lineal descent. No compulsion of payments for the support of religion was al lowed. The obligation rested solely on the command of God. It was a fundamental principle, that whatever was given for the support of religion, or its ministers, must be a free-will offering. If tithes were not paid, a prophet, not a policeman or sheriff, was sent to stir up the delinquentsi He was armed, not with a warrant of distraint, or in more strictly legal terms distress, as Puritan constables were in later days when Baptists refused to pay the parish tax,--but with a message from God, thus : “ Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed