1. THE maxim, phrase, or cry of "Church and State," so familiar to our ears and mouths, has been adopted in the present day, as one of its leading symbols, by a great political combination, which is unjustly treated when it is denominated a party, because it is entrenched in a broader and more comprehensive position than any party, properly so called, can occupy; because it is composed of men belonging to many once separate parties, who have now come into cordial union, not (of necessity) through any change in their original and peculiar opinions, but in consequence of having fallen back with the movement of events upon those larger and deeper principles which formerly, as now, they held in common.
2. The notions, however, which are attached by each man, or class of men, to this celebrated and effective watchword, are various and fluctuating. In the minds of some it may represent what is no better than one among the thousand forms of egoism and intolerance---an impression that some opinion must according to the law of this world's course, preponderate over all others in influence and distinction, and a selfish eagerness that, among competing claims essentially equal in authority, our neighbour's rather than our own should be in relative depression. Others again will befriend the connection of Church and State for the same reason which would, in different circumstances, have induced them to discourage it; simply, that is to say, as an existing connection, the sheer acquiescence in which, for no other reason than that it does exist, flatters and indulges the indolence of our nature. With a larger and a higher class than either of those which have been named, the phrase is the index of some hereditary or personal attachment, laudable in itself, valuable in its results, yet falling very far short of its real signification.
3. But underneath and beside all these faulty, or at best deficient conceptions, there is much of that instinctive attraction towards truth which has often saved men from themselves: an unconscious bias, the merciful though unappreciated gift of God, not to be despised nor lightly esteemed by any one who studies in practical philosophy, inasmuch as every such person must be well aware that it is futile, that it is insane, to refuse the aid of right conclusions merely because they have not been formed on right premises, or because they have been reached and entertained without any distinct intellectual analysis of their grounds. Thankfully, however, accepting all assent, and employing all concurrence, the man who is in earnest will desire on this as on all subjects to aim at bringing the understandings of his fellow-men into harmonious cooperation with their instincts and affections; and now, with an earnestness proportioned to the stress of the period, to the intricacy of the subject, and to the magnitude of the interests involved in it, should we endeavour to apprehend the great idea of fixed and active relation between the Church and the State--of association between the supreme organisation of earthly power, and the supreme organisation of spiritual authority. It is not a matter of narrow compass, obvious to the eye upon a superficial view, but a deep fundamental truth of human society, and therefore of the nature in whose capacities and necessities that society is grounded; prolific of results, alike affecting public institutions and individual character, together with the destinies that are ordained to depend upon them.
4. Let us proceed to consider of the various modes, in which this extended and difficult question may be treated.
It appears, then, to me, that there are four principal modes in which our subject may be investigated--to omit in this place any notice of minor and incidental arguments.
The first, directly; by inquiring for positive precept, or direct example equivalent to precept, from Scripture.
The second, ethically; by the analytical examination of the nature of a state, and the deduction therefrom of its purposes and conditions of action so far as they respect religion.
The third, consequentially; by showing the necessity of religion for the fulfilment both of the higher and of the lower, which last are also the primary and universally acknowledged ends of a state.
The fourth, inductively; by tracing through history the actual forms or images of civil and of spiritual power, and thus indicating both a primeval authority, and the universal consent of mankind in favour of their combination together for the fulfilment of their joint and several designs.
5. The first of these represents specifically the voice of immediate command, represented by the symbol shall.
The second the voice of design, or of God speaking through h is works: even as by the sun and the rain, and " by the things that are made,"* He is pleased to teach us His " invisible things;" " His eternal power and Godhead," and the duties that flow from them; so by the very nature of a man, or of a society of men, which is likewise His creature, does He instruct us to discover their several laws of being, assigned to them by the creative Mind. By this kind of investigation are we shown what ought to be--that is to say, duty is laid before us, not as simple will or command, but with some insight into its orderly growth out of the nature of things.
The third mode of inquiry represents the voice of penal admonition, whereby when our higher sensibilities are blunted, the seat of feeling is reached through the medium of the lower; and from consequences, palpable to the grossest discernment at least when they have arisen, men learn that that which ought to be, likewise must be, or torment is the result; that the command will take effect, that the right will sooner or later clothe itself with power.
Vuolsi cosi colà, dove si puote
Ciò che si vuole.
[Dante, Inferno, canto iii. 95.]
The fourth, or experimental mode, apprises us of what has been; and in proportion as historical evidence enables us either to trace up the substance of any institution to a strictly primeval ordinance, or to show universality of prevalence, or to prove that the amount of its reception has varied in different times and countries, directly as the nobler influences of human nature; in such proportion does it approximate to the establishment of a general law obligatory upon us all. This is the kind of induction proper to moral sciences.
6. Upon the whole these methods very much correspond with the main directors of moral action, whose titles respectively are--it is written; it is natural; it is expedient; it is customary. All may aid together in leading us up to the fountain of all duty, the will of God. The first, as giving us His own utterance. The second, as reading in actual nature the will of its Author. The third, as a formula verifying these; since all things which are obligatory are also conducive to well-being. The fourth, as indicating to us in Nature active (so to speak) that which the second elicited from Nature at rest.
7. It is not a repetition of the arguments of Bishop Warburton, and others akin to them, that is here intended, or a mere exhibition, in any form, of the uses of this connection. These topics have been more conformable to the modes of thought prevalent in some former generations, and less palpably inadequate to their need. Protection received on the one hand, and obedience inculcated on the other, are facts in themselves which I certainly am not about to deny, and they undoubtedly manifest an interchange of benefits, such as should tend to support the credit of the alliance itself. But in our period its uses are questioned and denied, and it is necessary that we fall back upon the examination of its rights. No theory upon a subject essentially ethical, which has reference to results alone, will be found sufficient in the day of trouble. Such a mode of reasoning is made for seasons of calm weather, and will not abide those tempests of our social existence in which men are driven, as by an instinct anticipating necessity, to anchor themselves upon principles of breadth and of solidity, and can find no adequate support in the pithless argumentation which we too often allow to monopolise the character of what is prudent and practical. [Coleridge, Statesman's Manual: "It seems a paradox only to the unthinking," &c.--Note to Lay Sermon on Ps. lxxviii. 5--7.] It may be that the same proposition is applicable to theories founded upon causes alone. It seems, then, that the all-wise God has given us evidence enough to support our convictions, but not too much; a strength according to our need, but not beyond it. Had questions of the deepest interest been so palpably and undeniably plain as to need no extrinsic support, faith could not have been tried; while, had those extrinsic props been wanting, it could not have survived the trial. We cannot then afford to dispense with any class of confirmatory arguments and evidence tending to uphold our practical principles; but we must travel both backwards into the region of causes, and forwards into the region of results, in order to do them and our own consciences full justice in the time of need.
8. I will however state more distinctly the reasons which have induced me principally to follow the second of the modes of investigation which have been indicated above, or, the ethical argument.
And first, as comparing it with the argument from Scripture. The exposition of the latter belongs most properly to the profession of theology. Further, as the form of Scripture was adapted all along to the circumstances of its delivery, and as the Scriptures of the New Testament were written at a time when there was no case of a nation of persons professedly Christian, such as is essentially required by the present argument, it follows, that we are thrown back on the indirect modes of scriptural teaching; on inferences from the history of the Hebrew commonwealth, confessedly distinguished as it is in many points of importance from any in modern times; and on the interpretation of type and prophecy. The latter seem to require a light for access to them, before we can display in the face of men that which they themselves emit.* And as respects the former, namely, the Jewish precedent, it is only by considering what nationality is and imports, that we can be in a position to judge accurately how far that case is peculiar; or how far a real analogy prevails, and, consequently, to what extent the authority of Scripture will apply. But after such consideration, we may find ourselves the more able both to set aside what was temporary and specific in the theocratic dispensation, and to retain and press the claim from the Israelitish history for the principle of national religion; as well as to establish that sense of the prophecies which it is so easy for an opponent, as long as no literal precept can be cited, nor any collateral light introduced, to dispute.
[I cite the following development of the practical bearing of certain texts in the prophecies of the Old Testament on the modern question of connection between the Church and the State, from an article in the 'British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review,' for the month of September, 1839, pp. 373-375: -"Some perhaps will think it strange to be referred thus to the Old Testament, and to a single text there, for an evangelical law of such great practical import. But they may consider that, since it was not intended that the Church should, at her first beginning, enter into relations with any State--since that whole order of things was to be but a later development of something in her original constitution--any rules expressly concerning it could only be prophetic, and the natural place to look for them would be in those portions of the prophetic Scriptures which the Church, from the beginning, knew to have reference to her own later times. Nor would it be hard to find other usages and rules on which the game remark might be made, viz., that they are developments of something in the original system, for which at first there was no occasion, and accordingly that for the scriptural sanctions of them we have to look in the prophetical and typical Scriptures rather than in the New Testament itself. Such, for example, is the penitential discipline of the Church: her earlier and purer times had comparatively little occasion for it; and when it became settled, it was in great measure the development of precedents and hints from the Jewish history, and the lessons of mortification and penitence in the Psalms and Prophets. Such again is the splendour of churches and church ornaments: the days of our first poverty of course knew it not, but when it came it found its warrant in the records of Moses, David, and Solomon. No prejudice, therefore, need He against a similar mode of deducing the obligation of the State to establish the Church.
["If any one ask, of what particular article or fundamental rule of God's kingdom this theory of Church and State is a development, we should answer, of the Holy Catholic Church: i. e., of the continued presence and manifestation of Jesus Christ in the world, through the medium of that society which is called His mystical body. The Church is the spouse of Christ, and the mother of His family; and these passages of Isaiah declare what is the especial office of kings and queens in that family; how they in particular stand related to the Church. They are to be her nursing fathers and mothers: «'. e., as Leslie has explained at large (and to him we must refer for a thorough and most satisfactory elucidation of the passages), they are among her servants and attendants, trusted by Almighty God with the nourishment of her children, with the training of them, and bearing them safe in their arms. The phrase has acquired a trite and almost a proverbial use, in a very different sense, as though the Church were a helpless infant in the arms of some Defender of the Faith; but the context puts the true force of the image out of question. 'Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."--Isaiah, xlix. 22, 23. Again, in ch. Ix. 4, 'Thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.' If in another verse we find, 'Thou shall tuck the milk of the Gentiles, and thou shalt suck the breast of kings;' this cannot be so pressed as to denote childish dependence and obedience, since in the very same prophecy, as well as in the former one, apparently parallel to it, the expressions of humiliation, nay subjection to the Church, on the part of the potentates of the earth, are so very full and unequivocal. 'The eons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee.' 'Thy gates shall be open continually, they shall not be shut day nor night, that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish: yea those nations shall be utterly wasted.' These words throw light on one of the distinctive titles given to Jesus Christ in the Apocalypse: 'Prince of the Kings of the Earth.' They point out in what sense the kingdoms of this world were to become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and how 'the kings of this world' were to 'bring their honour and glory into the Holy Jerusalem.' And that all this was not so much a prediction as a promulgation of God's will on the subject, is proved unquestionably by the fearful sanction annexed: perishing and utter wasting to the nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion. "Thus are kings and governors representatives of Jesus Christ, in His protecting particular Providence, whereby He educates those who shall be heirs of salvation: that Providence of which Moses, who 'was king in Jeshurun,' was a type, when he had to bear God's people 'as a nursing father beareth a sucking child,' which he describes in its application to the whole people, where he says, 'The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.' And in its application to Benjamin individually (i. e., to the energetic self-renouncing champions of the Church, such as St. Paul, of whom Benjamin Was the appointed image), in the last clause of that highly descriptive verse, 'The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by (literally, upon) Him, and the Lord shall cover, wrap him up in His garment, and he shall dwell between His shoulders.' There cannot be an exacter--if it were uninspired we should add a sweeter and more engaging--description of a foster-father bearing a young child; and this, we have reason to believe, is the appropriate scriptural image--the sacramental sign, as antiquity would have esteemed it--of the care due from kings and governors to the children of the Church. (Deut.xxxiii. 5; Num. xi. 12; Deut. xxxiii. 27, 12.)"]
And that argument which I have termed ethical must of course, to be valid, be itself agreeable to the principles of Scripture, though it includes their application to a distinct subject-matter. There is however a further object in resorting, firstly, to an argument distinct from that of Divine Revelation: it is to show that by the light of nature God had already, when revelation was unknown, imparted sufficiently the grounds and proofs of the principle of public religion, together with those of other elementary truths and duties; which if we reject under this double confirmation, we do it with enhanced guilt.
9. Secondly. As respects the argument from consequences, it has received I think its full proportion of attention: it is no less liable to indefinite prolongations through the spirit of controversy than any other course of reasoning; and the discussion upon it, if exclusively pursued, has a tendency to lower that moral tone with which the mind should engage itself in the pursuit of truth.
10. On the other hand, the conclusion from history is allowed to be in our favour; but an appeal is entered to a different tribunal. It is imagined that for the present age has been reserved the discovery of a grand and determining moral principle, the duty of separating the Church from the State; and that, having exploded the axioms of former times, we must no longer argue from their practice. I desire then to test this great discovery, and to afford some aid towards conjecturing its final results, by looking for those manifestations of the will of God, which are afforded by the structure of His creatures; and by showing that, until we can radically change and invert the very nature of political society, we cannot, except with fearful guilt and hazard, consent to its divorce from the consecrating principle of national religion.
11. If government be in its substance a divine ordinance; if the testimony of primeval records, repeated in the individual history of every one among us, bear witness to the fact that our social relations do not derive their origin from the private, or even from the general will; then I submit that the most authentic, the most conclusive, the most philosophical, and, in the absence of literal and undisputed precept from Scripture, also the most direct method of handling this important investigation, is that which examines the moral character and capacities of nations and of rulers, and thus founds the whole idea of their duty upon that will which gave them their existence.
And indeed this province is one almost untrodden. We have not given free scope to the resources of the ethical argument. Undoubtedly it lies in a region of abstraction to which the temper of the age, and the prevailing pursuits of this country, are averse. Yet, though the sphere be narrow, contemplative investigations are not wholly disused among us, nor are they likely so far to fail as that there shall not be left space and ample reward for every man that brings his gift, though mean, to the altar of truth; the seed he sows in weakness may find entrance into minds whence it may again and again become prolific.
12. In attempting then to investigate, by such a course of argument, the truths indicated by the popular symbol already cited, I shall commence by considering what place association in general occupies with reference to our moral being, what is its proper work in the Divine organisation of the universe, what additional necessities it superinduces, and what moral guarantees it requires: in what degrees these securities are demanded by, and applicable to, the several descriptions of human combination: whether, among these, what we term the nation, and what we term the State, eminently demand the guarantee of religion, in respect both of capacity and of necessity: by what law or criterion the nation or State must supply itself with this requisite to its well-being: by what form of religion this guarantee is most legitimately and most effectually provided. By these steps we shall find ourselves led up to the conclusion, never more succinctly, popularly, or forcibly embodied, than in the peculiarly English watchword " Church and State; " the union of a Christian government with the Catholic organ of Christianity.
13. The universe everywhere bears testimony to oneness of life and action, to absolute and invariable dependence on a centre, as the characteristic and the law of its nature, and therefore also the condition of its well-being. The Grecian tongue spoke with an unbiassed simplicity in giving it the name of kosmos, or essential order: arrangement everywhere referred to a single and pervading law. Plato has delivered, in the noblest manner, the conception of that fellowship which sustains the universe and controls the tendencies to disorder. Fasi d oi sofoi, w kallikleiV kai ouranon, kai ghn, kai QeouV, kai anqrwpouV, thn konwnian xuneicein, kai filian, kai kosmothta, kai swfrosunhn, kai dikaiothta, kai to olon touto dia tauta kosmon kalousin. [Plat. Gorg. i. 137 (p. 507, Steph.).] The Latins retained in their language, and have conveyed into ours, the fundamental notion of to pan, of a fixed point and a revolving system, the universum. [Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 43. He usually employs the term universitas.] The idea is that expressed in the fine lines of Virgil:--
Coelum ac terras, camposque liquentes
Lucentemque globum Lunae, Titaniaque astra,
Spiritus intus alit, totamque infuga per artus
Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet.
[Aen. vi. 724.]
The physical confirmation of our solar system attests the veracity of this designation. And the moral structure, as dimly traced in tradition, or conjectured by philosophy, or as fully revealed by the Holy Scriptures, agrees with these independent witnesses. It was because this idea of oneness of life and of a paramount sovereignty in the world had a ground in our human consciousness, that some have evaded the truth by that perversion, which absorbs the whole system into the centre, and deifies every particle of matter. It was, perhaps, on the same account, that the schemes of polytheism, however inconsistent and defaced, have ever retained the notion of some kind of supremacy or superiority in some one of their idols. From this cardinal idea of unity, as the fundamental law of beauty and of well-being to creation, let us commence.
14. It needs not to travel back into the region of deeper mystery; the history of our own race affords matter sufficient for our instruction. The origin of evil in this world of ours was the infraction of the established rule of reference to a supreme and single will. Our first parents were not content to derive from a source that lay out of themselves the ultimate ground and reason, and the definitive criterion of their acts: they would seek for themselves another image of good: they would entertain it in the mind under a different conception: they would be the judges of its nature, and would not have God to be the judge for them. One act disorganised the earth and all its moral destinies. It constituted as many new centres, as many rebellious and divided systems of action, as there should be human beings; atomic centres of limited and petty influence, but without subordination to Him from whom they had derived even the power to rise in revolt against Him. Nay, even more. So long as man was obedient to God, the whole being of man was obedient to his controlling faculties; but when he ceased to be the servant of his Lord, he ceased also to be the master of himself. [S. Aug. de Civ. Dei, xiii. 13.] Nor has he ever regained) nor can he recover, that self-mastery, that inward consent and harmony of all his faculties in purpose and in action, which is essential to his peace, until he has once again received and enthroned over his whole heart, to reign there without reserve, the Divine will so madly repudiated.
15. The actual law of human conduct, then, before the fall, was out of man himself, and was in God. The actual law of human conduct after the fall was in man himself, and was out of God. He had a sense of right and wrong; but he did not ground it on the Divine command. He had a faculty of love; but he would not take account of the continual beneficence of the Almighty, and he spent that faculty upon such inferior objects as he chose. He was susceptible of the sentiments of gratitude and admiration; but he would neither admire the most worthy, nor return thanks to the most bountiful. And all this because he regulated these principles by a reference to himself as supreme arbiter, instead of a reference to a rule out of himself. He had been ordained to walk as an infant by the hand of a nurse; and refusing that aid he could only fall. That which we are specially to observe is, it was not that he thought "I will repudiate the good and worship the evil;" it was not even that he thought, "I will abandon the good to follow the pleasurable;" it was the form and criterion, not the matter of conduct, that he appeared to himself to change; the language of his action was, "I will do that which seemeth good to myself, instead of that which seemeth good to God;" or, "I will require of God that that which He enjoins upon my practice should submit and approve itself to my understanding."
16. Thus, therefore, in the midst of God's fair creation, was there planted, wherever there stood a man, a perpetually prolific principle of derangement; of separate, self-centred action, spent ineffectually upon objects that did not enter into the design of the universe, nor contribute, unless by opposition and revulsion, to the fulfilment of its appointed work. The consequences of this rebellion, had they been uncontrouled, must have been, as it would seem, the continual growth of that self-worship which was established at the fall, until at length every vestige of truth and love had been destroyed, and earth had fully reached to the riper wickedness of hell.
17. While, however, it pleased the mercy of God to design a provision for the redemption of mankind by His Son, to be accomplished when the fulness of time should have come; so He likewise ordained certain conditions of the human existence, which, as intermediate expedients, and instruments of a secondary discipline, should both check the progress of selfishness, so far, at least, as to prevent the disease from arriving at its crisis, by establishing a counteracting principle, and should likewise prepare men to recognise the higher truths taught in Divine revelation, and supply them with real though partial approximations to the true law of their being.
18. These were various in shape, but their pervading character was the same; it was that of a koinwnia, a common life: a common life in the family, in the tribe, in the nation, and in each of the relations which each of these contain, was, apart from direct manifestations of the Divine will, the grand counteractor of the disorganising agency of the law of self-worship, and prevented it (as it seems) from realising all those extremes to which it naturally tended. Even to the brute creation was extended a softening influence by means of this principle of intercommunity. But to mankind it was invaluable. The records of ancient history too plainly testify, that the ordinary and habitual relation of man to man, when independent of any form of positive affinity or fellowship, was one of hostility. The charities of life ranged within the limits which were thus described; the rights of hospitality might, indeed, create reciprocal obligations between individuals who were personally strange to one another; but they always had reference to community of race or of nation, or to some specific acts, as their basis; to one or other of those forms of common life, which I have designated.
19. What can be more instructive to this effect than the sense of neighbourship as it was understood by the Jews? Within a territorial and hereditary limit the law of brotherhood had been determinately prescribed; but beyond those confines by which the letter of the command was bounded, the principle of human fraternity seems to have met with no recognition, unless indeed at the periods when the Hebrews imitated the nations upon their borders in the gratification of a common lust for idolatry. When this vicious disposition had been effectually repressed by the terrible chastisement of the Captivity, there remained, as Scripture shows us, a proud and deep misanthropy, which too clearly proves that, in this region of the earth, at least, man, as such, knew nothing of duty or of love to man.
20. Again: among the most civilised of ancient nations, the Greeks, it was shameful indeed to break treaties, but wherever there was peace between neighbouring states, it was founded on treaty, or rather truce, upon specific and voluntary compact, unless with partial and qualified exceptions in cases of colonial derivation or of a known common origin. When the specified term of friendship or of suspended enmity had expired, the parties resumed at once their natural attitude of belligerents. And not the mere habit of war and of marauding prove the extinction of the general law of love; not the mere existence of piracy, but much more the fact, that it does not seem to have been deemed infamous; the uniform recognition of slavery as a permanent institution not less legitimate than any other, and the formal view of the slave as an animate machine, organon emyucon; [Arist. Pol.] the prevalence of the law of force, indicated, among other signs, by the relative depression of the female sex; human sacrifices, the devouring of human flesh, the indifference of public law to all private misery and misfortune: these and the like features of ancient society supply us too abundantly with the materials of proof that the sense of a general brotherhood was at an end for all practical purposes, even though it might charm (and there how rarely) the sensibilities of the theatre; that the bond of amity between man and man, as such simply, as creatures having common faculties and a common form, was absolutely broken. If, as compared with the inferior animals, he had more power of discerning the rights of his brother, so also he was better able to perceive or imagine rivalry of interest, to sustain more longsighted and deliberate enmity, to add fuel to the flames of his anger or desire. There was indeed a law that in various degrees bound father to son, Spartan to Spartan, Dorian to Dorian, even Greek to Greek; but there was no law that bound man to man, or nation to nation. And we find only the partial reconstructions of primitive obligation, in the several divinely ordained forms of a common life, constituted by the union of men into bodies. Such then was the general law and office of human association. 21. And this law of mutual association was itself so deeply impressed upon the human heart, that, though too weak for practice, yet, as respected at least its domestic form, none doubted that it was to be referred to our nature, and not to any device of the conscious understanding; while, even as regarded the larger form of political society, the noblest of the heathen minds perceived that it was either referable to the same source, as Juvenal;
Principio indulsit communis conditor illis
Tantum animas; nobis animum quoque; mutuus ut nos
Affectus petere auxilium et prsestare juberet;
Disperses trahere in populum, migrare vetusto
De nemore, et proavis habitatas linquere sylvas;
[Juv. Sat. xv. 148.]
or at least essential to the general well-being, as Aristotle. [Arist. Pol, iii. v.]
22. I say, then, that the action of the usurping principle of self-direction was repressed and restrained in mankind chiefly by the knitting and blending together the lives of men in domestic and social organisations. It is no figure but a reality which is indicated by the phrase, a common life. It truly means no less than this, that a portion of our individual life becomes subjected to the laws and conditions of a more general life, and therefore in so far ceases to minister to the selfish appetite, and is redeemed from the dominion of the usurping principle. It is placed under a law whose seat is external to the mind and will of the individual, and which is not referred mainly or singly to his independent pleasure or advantage. Indeed, wherever common life, in any form, is established, then, in the same proportion as it prevails, there must be an actual surrender of the individual will. That which is thus sacrificed is thrown into a common fund, and unity of being, instead of diversity, is to the same extent established, as to everything that gives to being its interest, dignity, or value. And thus natural association in its several forms does in some small measure redress the original evil, and prepares for its fundamental and complete redress; by taking something away from self, it prepares for restoring it to God.
23. Nor does the establishment of this common life attain the negative good alone of abstracting some of the food of the rebellious and self-regarding appetite. It does not throw these energies and sympathies, of which it prohibits a particular exercise, to waste, but, as will presently be stated more at large, augments their power. He who has to care for his family or his country, and who has learned to identify himself with their interests in thought and in deed, feels that the weight upon him is greater than that of any merely individual concern, and exerts himself with more of general vigour, than if he stood an isolated savage in the forest. Self does not now supply either the exclusive subject-matter of his action, or its universal end. By means of association, the relations of kindness and of justice, and the ideas of right and reciprocal duty, take definite form in his mind. He is still individual, but he is not isolated; the lives of his fellow-creatures have become by fellowship portions of his own; he lives, he hopes and fears, he suffers and rejoices, he loves and hates, in them and through them, as well as in his single capacity. The poet does but clothe in bolder language those truths of which all have a partial consciousness when he declares his friend animae dimidium mea. [Hor. Od. i. 3. 8.] The sympathy with such an one is as true as that of the body with its members; and the loss of such an one as real a withdrawal of something belonging to the proper and plenary measure of its existence.
24. It is this corrective to the spirit of self-regard which mainly separates between the human race, as it exists apart from revealed religion, and devils. We have no reason to suppose that the fallen spirits differ from the self-worshipping man in respect of his adopting as his law of action that which is inwardly attractive to himself, for the reason that it is thus attractive. But he who has truly learned to love, in so far differs from the lost angels, that he has found a ground and a motive of conduct extrinsic to himself.
25. Nor is it only in the relations of the family, the race, or the nation, that a common life is established among men. There are many narrower and specific forms in which it exists, as those of the client with his Roman patron, the burgher to his borough, the artisan to his guild, the landlord with his tenant, the employer with the employed. Wherever the principle has been vigorous, man has run a glorious career; wherever it has been torpid, he has left nothing to imitate, nothing to lament. It was the real and enduring praise of feudalism that it marked, though unequally, all the gradations of society by correspondent classes of reciprocating duties, definite enough to be undeniable, and yet not so precise as to be capable of a mechanical and prefunctory discharge. [Hallam's Middle Ages, vol. i. pp. 321, 322.] Not only between the private person and the nation, but between each man and those immediately above and next beneath, a subaltern law of association was in force. Protection on the one hand, and obedience on the other, each to be rendered at all hazards and to all extremities, formed the noble, though imperfectly realised, idea of medieval society, and exhibited in the liveliest manner the theory and practice of a common life. And while this conception is travelling, through many stages of progressive deterioration, to the state in which its elements are to be material production on the one hand and consumption on the other, those lineaments indeed become more and more faint, but yet not indiscernible.
26. If there lurk in our minds the suspicion that this is after all a vain attempt to embody the mere phantasms of the mind, that a joint or common life is either a form of language to which no reality of nature corresponds, or at best an arbitrary and conventional device, in such a suspicion I read partly indeed the result of national habits and pursuits unfriendly to speculation, whether sound or fanciful, but in great part also the confirmation of one of the most sinister symptoms of our own time, namely, its tendency to detach social relations from the control of the affections, and to trust for their regulation to law or to economical influences alone; to the former, indeed, mainly for redressing the more glaring abuses that result from the uncontrouled dominion of the latter. If we had more fully realised our human brotherhood in practice, if we had more faithfully acted upon the sacredness of these our secondary relations of duty, it would be a simpler lesson to learn the great truth, that all those considerations which separate our individual life from the dullest forms of vegetative existence, and render it a matter of serious and rational concern, do also as strictly attach to those modes of common life of which we are partakers by virtue of our social constitution in its various aspects.
27. Association, then, by setting before us duties to be done to others, enlarges the province of our ordinary practice: by establishing within certain bounds one law for all, it provides that such law shall be independent of, or exterior to, each; and by intertwining our affections one with another, as well as by attaching them to the forms themselves of our fellowship, it gives us the conditions of disinterestedness, and supplies us with extrinsic ends upon which action may terminate, instead of reverting within the isolated sphere of the single being of the agent.
28. It is by looking to the state of the world before the Advent, and beyond the circle of the earlier revelation from God, that we may best estimate the function and the moral power of that fundamental law under which God willed us to be socially constituted; because we may then arrive at it by measuring the actual state of the world with what it must have been had no bond of family, of race, of patriotism, existed among men, and had the selfish appetites in consequence been left to grow by indulgence from day to day into impenetrable obduracy and unmitigated rapacity. Yet, even under the benignant influences of the kingdom of the Redeemer, these secondary influences have been of no less, nay of greater, value, only their beneficial effects have been less conspicuous, because generally blended with those higher results, which the principle of a spiritual life has produced. Yet even this principle, adapting itself to the frame of our nature, is tabernacled in the fellowship of the Catholic Church, the communion of saints.
29. I have endeavoured to show the great moral designs of the fundamental forms of social organisation, which are certainly in the nature of reasons for attaching to them Divine sanctions. I shall now further attempt to prove that the general doctrine of collective forms of religion, apart from purely individual devotions, has a ground not less in the actual and peculiar wants, than in the capacities and purposes, of human association.
30. Let us then consider whether it be not true that, together with those beneficial effects of association which have been specified, there are not others of an opposite character, which require that it should possess additional guarantees against abuse; and whether, as this participation in the several forms of joint life is a fundamental law of our condition, we be not morally obliged to make the requisite provision against the dangers which it involves.
31. I have said that incorporation establishes relations of justice, and even of mutual kindness, between the body and its members generally; and also between one member and another. But it does not provide for the recognition of such relations between one who is within its precinct and others who are not; nor between the society itself and persons out of the society; nor between the society and other societies; nor even effectually between the society and particular members of itself. Incorporation establishes an aidwV, a sense of honour and shame, a responsibility, one to another, among the partners in that common life which it has created. But the whole of their extrinsic action still remains unregulated, and the whole, also, of that of the society itself. Nor is there any tendency whatever, inherent in the nature of incorporation, to quicken the perceptions of moral obligation in the members or in the body, with reference to those who are beyond its pale. Thus, then, while it begins well, and, in order to its own organic completion, lays a powerful repressing hand on the action of selfish appetite, and provides for the continuance of that pressure within itself, yet, as extrinsically regarded, it will have brought into existence a new power which may itself be greedy, unjust, and aggressive, and may perpetrate for the community more and grosser evils than would have been committed by the feebler means of its members as individuals.
32. Reverting to another aspect of the general nature of combination among men, let us observe that it is calculated to produce the following results: a maximum of effect from given means; a great complication of interests; an endless diversity of reciprocal influences; a subdivision, and with the subdivision a great waste and diminution, of that sense of individual responsibility which is felt by private persons in their capacity as such. The first, by economising the application of resources, by setting each man to do that for which he is fittest, and by enabling one man to do the same thing for many. The second, by taking out of each man's immediate province the execution of a large part of that which belongs to his own wants, and making him a co-operator in joint labours and a sharer in joint proceeds. The third, by providing for the intermixture and contact of man with man, in every mode of sympathy, interest, and obligation, to the greatest possible degree. The encroachment of society, by its circuitous influences or by its positive acts, on the individual, varies under different forms of civil polity. Under despotism, a particular person; under democracy, the mass, override and subjugate his will. But, besides these cases of vicious excess, in every form, from the very nature of society, he must have many extrinsic forces mingling with and modifying his own agency, and thus greatly complicating the rules of his moral life. Their shades, numerous enough and almost indiscernible when our action is wholly in the individual sphere, and when all our motives are self-derived, are multiplied as by a new set of factors when we come to act in societies. The fourth, because, whenever blame is shared by a plurality of persons, each becomes conscious, as it falls upon himself, that it affects his neighbour also; and that principle of self-love which with most persons is paramount, is forthwith tempted in every one to shift the burden, and to ascribe more to those around him, and less to himself, than the equal share. And as this is done by all, much of the blame due to acts confessedly evil is, as it were, unappropriated, and falls short of its mark. And where many unite to do wrong, the conscience is staggered as by an appearance of authority, and we are tempted to believe it right, or to insist less upon its wrongfulness. In these methods does combination, firstly, enlarge the power of the creature man; secondly, increase his liability to be affected by conduct which he cannot control; thirdly, impair and obstruct his sense of moral responsibility.
33. What has been said may, I trust, suffice to bring into clear, if not full view, the urgent necessity which exists for some provision to meet the increased demands of the collective life in general; to guarantee us, as far as may be, against the increased abuses which will attend the increase of the moving power of human life, by combining therewith an enhanced moral sense, deriving new strength from new and suitable principles, against the idola fori which society engenders, and the delusions which they weave around us; against the heavy visitations to which, in communities, we become liable through conduct of others over whom we have no control, and to secure to us the realisation of the beneficial effects of civil union; lastly, to preclude the fatal operation of that tendency to diminish responsibility and to impair the strength (so feeble at the best) of the principle of individual morality, which we have seen to belong to combination as such, and which, if it be not counteracted by the application of some auxiliary principle over and above the principle of individual morality, may, of itself, or rather must, as it seems, poison the very sources of action and of life. [Novum Organon, aph. xxxix.]
This remedy has been recognised by the common, the almost universal sense of mankind, as being found in collective religion.
34. This joint, or common life, is what is ordinarily intimated by the phrase, the personality of societies; by which it is represented and carried into action. That phrase becomes applicable, when the community of law, sentiment, and interest, belonging to the common life, assumes the determinate form of incorporation, and becomes subject internally to a deliberative regulating principle. It is not any mere metaphysical or theological abstraction, nor a phrase invented for the purpose of discussion, but a reality, having its own palpable exponents in the persons of those who are in their several departments the organs of the societies, and in every member of them according to the sphere of action which each may fill in virtue of his membership. Now I am to argue, that the powerful and separate moral agency which is thus established, requires the application to it of a consecrating principle of religion, as the moral agency of the individual requires to be consecrated by his individual worship. Wherever in the universe there is power, connected with that moral and reflective consciousness which is the condition of agency, it both is the property of God, the King of that universe, His rightful property, however for a time withholden or abused; and it can only be as it were realised, it can only fulfil the laws under which He gave it, when it is used for the purposes He has ordained, and in the temper of mercy, justice, truth, and faith, which He has inculcated. But these principles never can be truly, never can be permanently, entertained in the human breast, except by a continual resort to their fountain above, and the supply of the Divine grace, sought and obtained through a solemn worship. And this reasoning applies to moral agency as such, whether it be public or individual.
35. These general positions are alike tenable, as I apprehend, whatever theory we may adopt as to the origin of political power. If it be founded on the consent and will of the majority, that consent and will must themselves act subject to the obligation to sanctify its exercise. The function of choice in the legislature is yet more clear, where government is founded on paternal principles, and the fiction of popular sovereignty is discountenanced.
So, also, is it to be observed, that the conclusion we have reached seems properly to belong to pure Theism, and capable of being supported in argument even without reference to the more peculiar doctrines of Christianity; although it be undeniable that but for the revelation of the Gospel it never could have been clearly contemplated by the human understanding. But before it can reach to its minuter forms among the details of our conduct, it must be compared with many considerations. We are met at once by the fact, that while our duty as creatures to the Creator requires that all our acts should be done with regard to Him as their centre and to His law as their rule, the structure of our mind seems physically to preclude the possibility of maintaining without interruption a conscious reference to Him even while, nay, it may be even because, we are earnestly seeking to obey His will. Ought, then, all the combinations of men, by which new personalities are created, and a common life composed; ought all these, or, if not all, ought any of them, to be specifically consecrated by solemnity of religion appropriated distinctly to themselves?
36. In order to the successful pursuit of this inquiry, let us endeavour to examine strictly into the nature and degrees of personality in societies. Now, although it be true that there is generally in societies a real and substantial personality, care must be taken to keep the idea which the term conveys distinct from that of individuality. The latter signifies not only actual unity of life, but that unity attended with universal indivisibility; whereas, moral personality, while it implies unity for certain purposes, is compatible with divisibility in the subjects whose composition goes to form that unity. This personality is recognised by the laws of every civilised nation, and by the law of nations, under which bodies of men associated for the purposes of religion, of learning, of government general or municipal, of science, of art, even of economical and material improvement, are regarded as persons, are dealt with, that is to say, as being in every practical sense agents, with the liabilities of agents; as discharging the functions, and as bearing the character, of individuals quoad certain purposes.
37. But, it will be asked, how do we see that to this limited and qualified individuality, religious responsibilities can in any case belong? I answer, because it may fulfil these three conditions: the first, to be living; the second, to be active; the third, to be moral; therefore it is capable of, and subject to, religious responsibility.
38. Let us then inquire narrowly what it is that renders the individual, properly so called, a capable subject of religious responsibility. It is plain that it is not merely his individuality; for a man is not more nor more truly an individual than a brute, and yet a brute is not bound by a religious responsibility. May it not be something which he has in common with the great moral person of a society of men? And if it be something which characterises him in common with such a complex person, then it follows that the complex person is as capable of the religious relation as the simple one.
39. Imagine the spark of life, under any form in which it merely exists, and discharges no function beyond that (if it be one) of self-maintenance. By the very terms of the hypothesis, there is nothing here but the bare stationary unit, incapable of movement either forward or retrograde, of growth or of decay, of reflection or of habit. Here there is individuality, but no capability of religion.
40. Now, again, imagine that spark of life endowed with power, enabled not merely to be, but to act, to move, to grow, to advance, to decay, to recede; possessing that which we term a vegetative life; individuality remains, and something is added, but we have not yet filled up the conditions of moral responsibility.
41. Once more, add something further to the last predicament, and suppose a power not only of expansion and contraction in the life itself, but also of extrinsic action, of affecting for detriment or for advantage other lives elsewhere situated; and suppose that the being whose action was now endowed with this fertility, this capacity of production, should not only exercise the capacity upon other objects but upon himself, should mould and modify his own being, not by mere growth, but through the medium of action, by the formation of habits, that is to say, of modified states of his own nature, arising out of his acts; we have now an active, as well as a merely vegetative individuality, but we are as clearly as ever wanting in the elements of the character of moral agency.
42. One stage in addition, and we have done. Superadd to the foregoing conditions a capacity of reflection, that is to say, of intelligence and consciousness, whose reach shall embrace the whole sphere of action to which the given powers are applicable; a faculty of perceiving the law by which means are adjusted to ends, and the higher law by which ends are chosen and rejected; and a free function of choice, of adoption or refusal, upon the view either of ends or means; and we have now all the conditions which are requisite to fill up the conception of a moral person, a being morally responsible, the subject upon whom, if there be truth in our fundamental conceptions of right and wrong, may be justly administered a system of reward and punishment, of praise and blame.
43. Now there is no one of these conditions which is wanting, I do not here say whether or not in all combinations of men, but in that peculiar combination which we term State. No one doubts that a State lives in the first and lowest form which I have described: no one doubts that it is capable of progression and retrogression in physical or in intelligent power: no one doubts that it is capable of producing great results, great moral as well as great material results, great results of positive good and evil, whether upon itself at large, or upon its individual members or subordinate combinations, in its dealings with them as extrinsic persons, or upon other combinations of the national and independent form; that not its reputation alone, but its actual health and its future conduct, are affected by its past conduct. And clear as it is that the sphere of action of the State is one full of the most essentially moral matter, it is perhaps of the whole catalogue of conditions the one less than the rest susceptible of doubt, that a State as such is at least as deliberative as an individual: at least as capable, by its nature, of discerning right and wrong, since it may and by its nature ought to command the very best perceptions of right and wrong, which are found among men, to be enlisted in its service; at least as free in the use of its organs to do or not to do, since it owns no human superior.
44. Therefore I say that the necessary conditions of moral action attach to personality with the qualified or rather limited unity which it implies, and not to individuality as such, which, though it has absolute unity, need not include moral elements; and that all these conditions are fulfilled in the idea, in the reasonable theory, of the nature of a State.
Thus much respecting the need of religion in combinations of men, and the capacity of it in States, by way of establishing affirmatively the principle, that a national religion ought to exist, provided the subsequent considerations regarding the proper organ for choosing and defining it, and the right instrumentality for its profession and propagation, can be practically adjusted. I have endeavoured, in short, to show, that it belongs properly to a nation as such.
45. But does it belong to all combinations of men? Those characteristics of combination, which have been specified above, are general, and not limited to the political form. There are many other kinds of combination among men, from the nation and the family downwards, in a descending scale of dignity and importance. And it may be truly alleged that in these subordinate combinations there is collective power wielded by individual agency, which is one of the foregoing arguments: and that there is in them, or in many of them, common advantage and loss, common acting and suffering, as well as in that great combination under which organised aggregations of men are usually called nations: and hence it is inferred, that if it be right to argue, from these characteristics of collective power and common acting and suffering in political societies, for a national profession of religion, it is equally right to argue, from similar characteristics, that such inferior combinations cannot be legitimately constituted without an analogous profession: and the popular reasoning of the day proceeds in this form,--that, as it is manifestly true that a common profession of religion is not required in these combinations, despite of the existence of those characteristics, so neither need it be required as a condition of the right constitution of a State, which, as is taught in some systems of opinion, existing only for external and material ends, ought not to embarrass itself with a matter which has come to be of the utmost intricacy from the subsisting divisions of opinion, and which lies entirely beyond its natural province. Is then religion beyond or is it within the natural province of all combinations alike? or of some more and some less? and why of this more than of any others?
46. Of course it is readily to be conceded, that all combinations ought not to contemplate all purposes: that the intrinsic superiority of one end to another is no reason for employing means adapted only to the inferior end in the pursuit of the higher: that all combinations of men have in their degree the attributes of personality and power, common acting and common suffering: and yet that not all are alike bound as combinations to profess a specific religion. Which among them are so bound, and which are not, is the ulterior question, requiring to be determined by an examination of the nature and of the degree of that personality, that power, that common acting and common suffering. For instance, the personality may be (a) constant and sustained, or it may be intermittent; it may resume activity only at long intervals, and during the intermediate spaces may have no more than a potential existence: (b) it may be temporary and occasional, or it may be permanent. The power may be (c) indefinitely great or indefinitely small. The functions, about which the community of acting and of suffering subsists, may be (d) applicable to few, or many, or most, or all: may be (e) grounded in natural ordinance, or in human convention and allowance: may be (f) narrow, determinate and calculable in amount; or may be overreaching, comprehensive, unlimited, and entirely transcending the range of all foresight and distinct reasoning: may be (g) conversant with matters of mere computation, of material interests, of physical result, such as the understanding can with facility anticipate, and such as involve no agency of the kind properly termed moral: or may on the other hand be largely and pervasively connected with the moral faculties and habits of the mind, with the passions and the affections; with the deep foundations, and with the entire superstructure of human character.
47. Now there are two forms of human association, and two only, which answer to the whole of the following description, (a) They are general; so that every man not comprehended under them is considered as the exception to the rule. (b) They are permanent, either in one single form, or in an homogeneous succession, so that on leaving one we pass ordinarily to another, or, the obligations of the second gather around us before those of the first are fully discharged, (c) They are natural, because they do not imply, and never have implied, the antecedent consent of the individual, nor do they even arise out of any peculiar dispensation of God, but they accrue to him as man, in order to his fulfilling the elementary conditions of his well-being, (d) They are of unlimited purposes and liabilities, so that no one can be the judge of his own duties in them, or can obtain beforehand any schedule or formula of those duties, (e) They are moral, because they are essentially, and proximately, and generally connected with the state of the moral habits and affections, with the growth and formation of character.
48. One of these is, the family. It is (a) general, because all men, unless under circumstances contrary to the usual order of Providence, are born into it. It is (b) permanent, because, unless in cases similarly exceptional, our original obligations to it are only dissolved by death; and from the family of one generation as it disappears we create or enter one of the new formations by which the old are continually replaced. It is (c) natural, because domestic obligations accrue to men in general independently of their own consent, from a higher law, the will of the Author of nature, expressed not in any restricted or partial scheme, but in its fixed constitution. It is (d) unconfined in its right of demand upon us, as it rests upon the broad and comprehensive law of love, not curtailed, but enhanced, by having a specific and primary application to some particular persons: and as there is no limit (in quantity) to our duty of self-culture and self-amelioration, so neither is there any limit (in quantity) to the obligation which binds us to promote at large the welfare of the family around us. Lastly, (e) it is moral, because in its offices, and through its influences, a very large portion of our actual character receives its impress and its development.
49. Now it will hardly be denied, that religion ought to attach to families as such, and that unity of religion is the first condition of their well-being. The want of it does not indeed annul existing domestic obligations, as we know from the highest authority: [1 Cor. vi. 12-16] and those who reproach the advocates of State-religion with holding a doctrine that leads to persecution, might at least as consistently have inferred, from the general directions to married persons with which the Epistles abound, that the Christian wife and husband would have been commanded to abandon their unbelieving partners respectively; whereas the very contrary is enjoined. Yet these domestic obligations entail religious duties: of instruction in Divine truth from the parents to the children, of common worship in a common faith. Nor do the reasons of these duties cease to be applicable, until by local dissolution the existing single family parts into the seeds of many.
50. The practice even of the heathen world supports the principle of family religion: sustains it, that is to say, in the same manner as it sustains the principle of personal religion, by supplying us with indications, however rude and perverted, of its acknowledgment. The household had its deities, as well as the temple; and Aeneas, a type be it remembered of the Roman character and manners as they were estimated by Virgil, bore his aged father from Troy with his household, and with the emblems of his household worship:
Cum famulis natoque, penatibus et magnis Dis. [Aen. iii. 12.]
51. Notwithstanding all this, however, a man may be, and frequently is, a very kind father without religion. He may educate his children with care, treat them with unvarying kindness, and provide with the utmost sedulity and effect for their temporal welfare, without any regard to God, and merely under the influence of the unacknowledged benefit of those parental instincts which God has given him. Further, it will sometimes happen that a family is orderly and peaceful, without any common religion, where each walks in his own way, and there is either no joint belief and action, or, if any, yet such as is of the most vague and shadowy description. On the other hand, it may happen that a parent, who is in the main conscientious towards God, may nevertheless exhibit some harshness of temper, something of the spirit of wrath yet unsubdued, in the conduct of his parental relations; or may fail in the judicious culture of the understandings of his children, or in the regulation of their ordinary occupations, or in his plans for their temporal welfare. Or again, great pain and disunion may follow from his attempts to instruct his children in the faith which he has received, and which it is his duty to deliver to them. Yet all these causes, whatever might be their right explanation or their proper remedy, or even if they had none, would in no way destroy the general principle, that religion belongs to families in their collective capacity, and not merely to their members as individuals, that family relations entail religious duties, and that unity of religion is, when we speak of things in their ordinary courses, the first condition of their well-being. So much then for religion in the family, and the reasons of it.
52. The other form of universal association, which I would couple with the family in respect of its extensive range of influences upon the characters and destinies of men, and of its high moral characteristics, is that of the nation or the state.
53. The nation, in its fullest sense, is an aggregation of men having substantial unity in physical origin, in language, in character and customs, in local habitation, and in political life. This unity admits of degree. Of origin and language there may be much diversity, as in the United Kingdom. The conformity of customs and character may be indefinitely various in amount. Even local juxtaposition is not essential to nationality, as we see in the case of the Jews, though it is nearly so. Unity of political or public life to some extent is absolutely essential. We perceive it in that singular people, under its own peculiar form, partly as blended with the theocratic element, and partly as compounded of retrospect and anticipation. Even this, however, is susceptible of gradations, as we may see its slighter forms in the Grecian, the Argive, the Ionic and the other confederations of Asia Minor, among the ancients; and in the Germanic empire, the Swiss confederation, the provinces of the Low Countries, the United States of America, and the union of several European countries with their colonial dependencies, in modern times. [Mitford on the Council of Amphictyons, i. iii. 3; and on the Argive or Calaurean Confederation, i. iv. 2. Herodotus on the Ionic Confederacy, i. 143, 147, 148; the Doric, 144; the Aeolic, 149,150.]
54. If we take in succession the terms a multitude, a people, a nation, a state, we rise by progression from a mere juxtaposition of units to a complete moral organisation. When we speak of a multitude, we indicate mere number; when we speak of a people, we separate the governed from the governors; when we speak of a nation, we contemplate them together, but we merge the governors in the governed; when we speak of the state, we contemplate the same personal subjects, but wholly and singly in respect of their partnership in the national life and order, not as individuals, but only as constituents of the active power of that life. We contemplate those who administer affairs, those who compose the legislative body, those who bear office, those who possess franchises, those who pay tax; in short, all who in any way contribute to make up the organic body; that is to say, all absolutely, but each simply in respect of his entering, according to his measure, into its mechanism; and the term regards them with degrees of more or less, according as their capacity therein is more or less comprehensive and efficient. And together with that fluent body of individuals, which is permanent only by succession, the term state includes those fixed laws and traditionary institutions to which they give effect, through which the national character is sustained and propagated, and which, comparatively secure from the storms of passion and the devouring rust and moth of selfishness, become for the most part the depository and the safeguard of the best, purest, and truest portions of the common life. As, then, the nation is the realised "unity of the people," so in the state is that unity made vital and active. [Coleridge, Table Talk, vol. i. p. 226.] The state is the self-governing energy of the nation made objective. Where monarchy prevails it is centralised and represented in the person of the sovereign, himself an integral portion of this realised unity. Through his will the mind of the state is made effective, and becomes action; and the executive power which he impels throughout is the functional life, or organ, of the state, as the state is of the nation. Even thus, in its correlative the church, is understood, along with an organised body of individuals, the laws and forms of institution according to which they are organised.
55. Into the composition of this organ there should enter different elements in different proportions, according to their intrinsic fitness either positively to determine its actions for good, or reciprocally to correct the faults of each other, the interests or forces (in the German phrase momente) of nobility, of talent, of property, of numbers; all these, on account of their presumption of merit, or at least of a negative competency, as weights balancing one another; and with and beyond all these, the virtue which is from above, whose title to govern is alone indefeasible, but which on earth, from the imperfection of the forms of its development, and yet more from the difficulty of applying a test to distinguish the genuine from the counterfeit, requires to be sought chiefly through the circuitous medium of other and secondary qualifications.
56. These powers are continually passing into the composition of the governing body, in which we find them no longer in the gross but more or less refined, the weaker elements eliminated or suppressed, and the residue prepared for action. While the term state, in its larger sense, signifies the whole emanation and procession of these powers from their sources towards their concentration and their work, in a narrower sense it considers them apart from their primary springs, and in the determinate forms of the actual public authorities. For the present we have to do with the former.
57. In order to arrive at a comprehension of the general attributes of the state thus defined, let us consider separately what it professes, what It effects, and what it signifies.
Some writers have indeed mischievously exaggerated the office of the state, and even under the Christian revelation have represented it either as the fountain of morality, or at least as supremely charged with the regulation of the large province of relative duty; that province so comprehensive and important that the Redeemer has honoured it more than once with a distinct enunciation of the law of moral obligation, although of course in the highest and ultimate sense it is comprehended within the yet larger commandment that enjoins upon us love to God as the universal principle of action. [Matt. xix. 17; Luke x. 27. Deut. vi. 4, 5; xxx. 6.] Thus they have superseded the paramount principle of our private responsibility. Even these exaggerations, however, may serve for a sign of that real grandeur and comprehensiveness in the functions of the state, upon which they have been built.
58. The state, indeed, does not possess that range of qualifications which caused it to be said of the ancient Egyptians, that they wrought upon the scale of a giant but with the nicety of a jeweller, and which in matters of moral government are the attributes of almightiness alone. The state cannot provide for the discharge even of determinate, or as it has been defectively termed, perfect, duty in all its branches; far less can it insure the fulfilment of our indeterminate yet not less real obligations--the maintenance of Christian charity in its higher forms. But though it most imperfectly realises the idea of moral government, yet by its nature it tends and strives towards that consummation, and in its course or nisus thitherward, it exhibits signs and embodies portions of moral government in a pre-eminent and peculiar manner.
59. It declares itself against all injuries, whether of word or deed, between man and man, provided only that they be represented in such a form as its cognisance can reach, and as is also exemplary and intelligible to the generality of mankind. It also professes to establish the same principle of universal justice between itself and its members, to exist impartially for the being and the well-being of all, and to act without respect of persons, though not without respect of characters. And if it do not always fulfil the conception of a just indifferency, the very cases, where it deviates from the rule, demonstrate its validity; they testify to the original truth that the state is just, by the strong indignant sense which they arouse in the mass of men, not only of impolicy, but of actual wrong sustained, and of resentment thereupon. So that the state, as such, is indeed invested with the attribute of a limited, but yet, as compared with individuals generally, a less imperfect, justice.
60. While it has so high a standard for even its negative and preventive functions, upon the positive side it pretends to a prerogative of applying to its members, in a manner determinable by its own discretion, the processes of cultivation and improvement. In conformity with which lofty aims, it asserts the most absolute, though still impartial, claims upon all within its pale; the right to dispose, upon its own responsibility and without appeal, of their time, their liberty, their property, and their life.
61. As to what the State effects, we are to remember, that all which it prohibits, it prevents, or punishes; its laws, in every tolerably ordered polity, are put into actual and strict execution; there is no discretion to relax them, except such as they themselves contemplate, and, by allowing, create. Thus, though from afar, it imitates Omnipotence in the penal and coercive aspect of its government. And how much is involved in this, even though it is far from the highest characteristic of the State, that while it contains all other forms of our earthly life, so likewise it is that upon which the continuance of their peaceful and effectual existence depends. If we break up the State, even the family must probably be wrecked in the convulsion.
62. But here, again, the State is most worthy of regard in its positive offices. By that principle of degree, which it distributes and confirms throughout the whole community, it establishes the discipline of command and obedience, qualified, intermingled, and alternated, in a thousand forms; the discipline most effectual for a progressive nature, in a probationary state. It opens a field for charity, by the reciprocal dependence of men one upon another; for who is there in a State that is not dependent on his fellows? It teaches humility and rebukes the private spirit, by the subordination of the individual to the mass. It forges the chain of order as a sacred thing, by attaching its extremity to the eternal throne; for this is its progression: as the single person is subordinate to the public authority, so the public authority is not a mere will, experimenting at haphazard upon human character and destiny, but in proportion as the State is excellent in its kind, that public authority is itself, notwithstanding its supremacy of will, practically subordinate to fixed and stable law, perhaps the least inadequate of all earthly representatives of that Divine power which is the true foundation of all legitimate government. And a people is permanently great or the reverse, in proportion as it realises to itself a treasure of this description: [Soph. Oed. Tyr. 853.]
63. Further, the voice of public laws is commonly clearer and nearer to truth, upon the subjects to which they relate, than the average sentiment (I mean not the abstract but the active sentiment, the sentiment which passes into action) of the community. As for example among ourselves: hardly any man dares upon right principles to refuse a duel, and to -avow and abide by his refusal; whereas the law utterly prohibits the practice, and there is a latent sense, it may be presumed, of the righteousness of the law, which prevents every one from so much as proposing its alteration and reduction to the standard of the common behaviour. And this superiority of law to opinion is not a mere and barren notion; for so long as the law remains above the ordinary practice it has a perpetual tendency to attract it upwards, or to prevent or retard its further depression.
64. Lastly, under this head, let us consider what the State elicits from individuals. Not only is it hither that sovereign intellect naturally betakes, and here that it unfolds itself; not only does it give scope and space to the highest energies of the human understanding: it is also directly the parent, and the object, of some of the noblest feelings which belong to our nature, and these too such as operate on the most comprehensive scale. It lifts us by our affections out of the narrow sphere of individuality, yet without resolving them, through unlimited and objectless diffusion, into vague and unreal transports. It probably does far more to stimulate generous action, and to cherish that spirit of self-sacrifice which is so urgently required as a counteraction to our prevailing bias, than any other earthly cause, except the yet more sacred and more directly ordained influence of the domestic affections. It is still, I grant, subservient and instrumental only to the higher work of perfecting individual man, and is in the nature of means ordained to this end; yet it is a main instrument and an absolute condition of his culture, as it is also that comprehensive and overreaching form of the natural human life which includes and harmonises all its other forms, under which they must fall, and to which they must adjust themselves.
65. Still more remarkable is the State in that which it symbolises. Independent of the will of man alike in the origin and in the exercise of its power, it both precedes and survives the individual; and it perpetually presents to him the images and associations of duty, of permanency, of power, of something greater and better than himself. It claims to represent to us, in that relative sense which alone the conditions of our earthly sojourning will admit, the principles of the Divine nature, inclusively of the power to assert them; to set before us, hand in hand with resistless power, unlimited duration, uniform right, unrespect of persons, the harmony of degree, the law of discipline and retribution. So far as respects the rewards and penalties of this world, it is the only general minister of Divine government, treading unequally in its steps, no more than a shadow of its glory, yet a shadow truly projected from the substance.
66. I have here, it is true, spoken of the State in its idea, rather than of a particular country or constitution. Yet these considerations have practical application to the historical forms of the State, which, in falling below its own standard, has merely resembled the individual; both are still bound to the pattern which they have never exemplified. However much particular actual States may fall short of the absolutely true, all that has ever been recorded of human society testifies to this at the least,--that in the State, considered both as an active and as a permissive power, we find the index both of the characters and of the conditions of the men within its pale; in its peculiar modifications we discover an effect, which is also the most fruitful of social causes, as estimated by its results upon individual being and well-being. Therefore it is that the civil history of man has ever been, under the sanction of that example which is afforded by the inspired writings of the Old Testament, the history of States, from the time when first the family had expanded into this its larger development.
67. It is very easily seen, upon a review of what has now been propounded respecting the abstract idea of the State, that it fulfils the same grand conditions which have been enumerated as descriptive of the family. Like the family, it is of universal, or, at the least, of general application. Its agency is permanent and annexed to the whole of our life. It is natural, as opposed to what is spontaneous and conventional. There is no limit of quantity to the obligations of the individual towards it. It is moral, and not merely economical, inasmuch as its laws and institutions, and the acts done under them, are intimately connected with the formation of our moral habits, our modes of thought, and the state of the affections, and inasmuch as its influences pervade the whole scheme and system of our being, mingling with the first instincts of boyhood; it may be, even attracting the last lingering look of age on the threshold of its departure; inasmuch as that which we are individually, we have come to be, in a very considerable degree, through and by means of that which we are nationally.
68. Of all the qualities that have here been predicated of the State, there is but one on which I propose to dwell a little in detail; it is this, that the State is properly and according to its nature, moral. In a lower sense this is likely to be admitted on all hands. Every man will perceive that there must be such things as public faith and justice, or that political society would become an universal and intolerable curse. But the morality of the State means much more than this. It means that the general action of the State is under a moral law, is conversant with moral subject-matter, is fruitful of moral influences. Now, as regards the second of these in particular, the lawgiver, proposing to himself as his idea the establishment of peace and order and the security of property, immediately finds that he impinges upon the subject-matter of moral science; that the same acts which are favourable to politic designs are the acts that general morality approves; that the same acts which are hostile to these designs are the acts that general morality condemns, and that upon a scale which, though there are partial exceptions, ordinarily very much conforms to his. Thus his law and his subject-matter are in relations of the closest proximity, although not identical, with those of moral science. He is to consider how far it may be in his power to encourage, and, on the other hand, by what means most effectually to repress, through prevention or punishment, classes of acts which he must estimate mainly by the standard of that science; although he may be compelled in certain particulars to qualify that criterion by regard to those lower purposes, without the regular attainment of which he cannot proceed to such as are higher. So that law travels over much of the same ground as ethics, and guides its course nearly according to their dictates.
69. If this be the case, then it is clear that (while we may reserve for another place the consideration of the preventive function of civil rule) the lawgiver has the same need to be ethically instructed as the individual man. The philosophy which holds that the latter will do best to choose his actions by a consideration of their general consequences, and which maintains that presumed advantage is to the human mind the best and most available criterion of right, may propound the same doctrine for the lawgiver. But most men revolt from this position, and maintain that the intrinsic nature of acts is in itself generally accessible to the understanding, as well as the calculation of their results; that it is usually the easier and safer rule; above all, that, according to the Divinely ordained canon, right is intended to be employed as the criterion of advantage, much more than advantage as the test of right. They, therefore, will also hold that the deviser of public law, because it deals (in great part) with subject-matter of right and wrong, and deals with it for the public well-being, must, like the private person, read the guarantees of that well-being in the nature of the acts, and take this nature as a guide to their results, as well as measure his enactments by the results which he is thus enabled to estimate. The law-giver then, that is, the legislative mind of the nation, must be ethically instructed; which implies that it must be enlightened by religion, upon the basis of which alone it is, that moral science can be effectually reared.
70. And, indeed, the circumstance that the State has primary regard to certain external conditions of well-being, peace and order, so far from overthrowing, corroborates the necessity for guarding its acts by the forms of religion. Nothing could be more dangerous to moral health than the habits which would be engendered by continually estimating action, of which the subject-matter is admitted to be moral, with exclusive reference to these external results, and with no regard whatever therefore to their intrinsic nature. The practice proceeds upon a false opinion, that we are at liberty to deal with truth upon considerations of simple convenience, and its sure effect would be the general induration of the human heart. But it is a practice to which the State is continually tempted, for the very reason that the law of its being compels it to have some, and that no inconsiderable, regard to these exterior results; and thus it lies under a peculiar need of the influences of religion, in order that a healthy tone of disinterestedness and of public virtue may pervade its action, and hold up an example for private imitation rather than avoidance.
A reflective agency, then, conversant with moral subject-matter, involves of necessity a conscience, which is, ex vi termini, the regulator of moral offices.
71. In an earlier part of this chapter the case of the family has been alleged to be in the main analogous to that of the State. The application of the principle of collective religion is, in the smaller sphere, it has been admitted, more palpable and less disputed. [Ed. Rev., April, 1839, p. 249.] But of the reality of the analogy between the two we may be persuaded, among other means, by this remarkable circumstance: that the school of reasoners, which alone in this country has employed the methods of logic in its attacks upon the principle of national religion, and which, therefore, holds out to us the best promise of a certain self-consistency, has likewise proceeded to assail the principle of family religion, and to contend that it is a capital offence against the laws of truth to communicate any bias to the minds of the young, or to inculcate belief antecedently to comprehension. In this very sense, Mr. James Mill has written his essay on 'The Principles of Toleration.' [Westminster Review, July, 1826. Reprinted in a separate form, London, 1837.]
72. This idea of conscience in the State is supported, as I contend, by the impartial and weighty testimony of human language, which continually applies the phraseology of duty to its acts, and predicates of them all the moral qualities and their opposites. And I think every man must feel that injustice embodied in law, that bad faith in the inobservance of national engagements, imply something quite beyond the guilt of the individuals who may have been the instruments of the offence, although undoubtedly including it. Further, is it not true that the inward experience of conscientious men, who have been engaged in the discharge of public functions, would yield us a similar witness? Such a man will surely feel, in entering even on the routine of his duties, that he has come under a new set of conditions of action, involving elements quite distinct from those merely personal; that he is impelled to do one act and to avoid another, upon reasons, justified indeed by reference to his own moral obligations as a private man, but felt to have infinitely greater force, and to assume a far higher form, than any such reference singly can supply. He will be sensible, that in yielding to any suggested temptation, in doing or procuring to be done any unjust action (as, for example, in using means to carry a partial and oppressive bill), he is dragging along with himself, not merely into dishonour but into guilt, not merely the reputation, but the positive, subjective, character of the State. He will feel that this great idea of State duty is as true and stringent as the kindred idea of individual duty, and is only capable of being explained away by sophistry of the same kind as that which, from the days of the Cyrenaics and Epicureans, with intervals, until now, has laboured to destroy the principle on which private rectitude depends, and to resolve it into a pure calculation of consequences: thus, as Coleridge remarks, making that which is the absolute, the one thing needful in every man alike, to depend upon the faculty which of all others is most unequally distributed among the human race. [In the Friend.]
73. I will propose another reason, which seems to me to prove with clearness that the responsibilities of the nation are not satisfied by the individual piety of its members. The national conscience, or, if this phrase be too alarming, that sense of duty which ought to regulate public acts, should be as far as possible formed upon a pure and comprehensive idea of right and wrong, and as little as possible coloured with idiosyncracy, or individual peculiarity. The statesman should feel that his office demands this larger rule of action, while his conscience must remind him of the difficulty of separating his own opinions, and even caprices, from those conditions of truth and justice which he is to apply to the national service. Even those who hold the loftiest doctrine of the rights of government will admit that it must commonly harmonise in its proceedings with the national character and will. The statesman, then, must resolve to lay aside in his public function a part of his individuality, and very commonly, in all matters that are not of conscience, must act more as impelled than as impelling, more upon the convictions of others than his own. Still the acts so done are acts which may be fraught with most serious, even with highly moral results. At least, they are acts which ought to be, like all others, commended to God. Yet these are acts done, so to speak, without an agent, unless the nation, the moral person of the State, be that agent. They are not the acts of the statesman in any sense, except that he is their instrument; he is, with respect to these, as the soldier in the ranks. He will shift the responsibility for them from himself in proportion as they are less the genuine offspring of his individual judgment; he will feel, and with a degree of justice, that morally, though not constitutionally, it rather lies elsewhere. But what is its true and proper seat? The persons, whose will he is anticipating, are busy each with his farm and his merchandise, with personal interests or duties. This responsibility, however, which has an aspect so indefinite while we look only at individual men, has, in fact, a legitimate subject, which can consistently and adequately refer all these acts to the Almighty Ruler. There are qualities in a combination which arise out of the union of its parts, and are not to be found in those parts when they have been separated and are singly examined, In the government and laws of a country we find not a mere aggregation of individual acts but a composite agency, the general result yielded by a multitude of efforts, each of which in part modifies, in part is absorbed amid the rest. This composite agency represents the personality of the nation; and, as a great distinct moral reality, demands a worship of its own, namely, the worship of the State, represented in its living and governing members, and therefore a public and joint worship.
74. To sum up then in few words the result of these considerations, religion is applicable to the State, because it is the office of the State in its personality to evolve the social life of man, which social life is essentially moral in the ends it contemplates, in the subject-matter on which it feeds, and in the restraints and motives it requires; and which can only be effectually moral when it is religious. Or, religion is directly necessary to the right employment of the energies of the State as a State.
75. It is however, I admit, an entirely equitable demand that the criterion should be stated as specifically as possible, by which the question is to be decided, what forms of combination admit and require collective religion, and what on the other hand may dispense with or even practically preclude it. And I would hope that the ground has been effectually laid for the performance of this operation. Those combinations admit of collective religion, which are general, and belong to man as such; which are natural, and so come upon him as parts of the dispensation into which he is providentially born; which are permanent, and so run parallel to his entire existence; which are manifold in their functions and unlimited in their claims upon him; above all, those which, in concurrence with all the foregoing conditions, are moral in such respects as these:--that they require in a high degree moral motives and restraints for the right discharge of the obligations subsisting under them; that they distinctly contemplate moral ends; that they exercise manifold, pervasive, subtle, potent, moral influences. Wherever these characteristics can with truth be jointly predicated of any human association, its idea demands, in order to its possessing a right constitution, the ingredient of a collective religion. In proportion as they, and more especially as the last of them, can be truly or probably predicated of any such association, there is an approximation to the necessity for such religion, and at least a capacity, with favourable circumstances, to receive it. In proportion as they are only in a slight degree discernible in any such association, the idea of collective religion becomes unnecessary, and at last even inapplicable.
76. Now, to quote a list which a mind of redundant opulence has furnished, all have heard of these among the minor forms of human combination:-- banks, insurance-offices, dock-companies, canal-companies, gas-companies, hospitals, dispensaries, associations for the relief of the poor, associations for apprehending malefactors, associations of medical pupils for procuring subjects, associations of country gentlemen for keeping fox-hounds; book-societies, benefit-societies, clubs of all ranks. There are also stage-coach-companies, railway-companies, armies. And it is properly said that there can be no efficient co-operation for any one object, if agreement with respect to every other object is required from those who are to unite for it. The question, however, with which we have seriously to do, is, whether agreement in the truths of religion is to be, not indeed exacted, but by certain means promoted, in any earthly associations, and, if in any, then in what.
77. I am not aware that there is any one of those just enumerated, of which it can be asserted that they fulfil the conditions, which are fulfilled, as has been shown, by the family and by the State. With respect to the State, I contend that it requires in a pre-eminent degree moral restraints and motives in its subjects and its agents in order to the attainment of its ends; in a degree, that is, proportioned to the immense amount of human well or ill being that depends upon its right or wrong organisation. With respect to these inferior combinations I observe, that either they do not require them, or they presuppose them. In either case alike they can at less obvious peril dispense with the machinery of a specific religion for producing them. Thus associations for the relief of the poor, for the support of hospitals and of dispensaries, for charitable objects in general, being in their nature wholly spontaneous, presuppose the existence of moral motives and restraints, antecedently to their formation, in those who voluntarily join them. Companies formed for mercantile profit contemplate pecuniary and not moral ends: they require in general no moral motives or restraints in their mere members; while from their managers they sometimes take pecuniary security; sometimes they proceed upon known character as a condition of office, that is to say again, upon pre-existing and ascertained moral restraints. A State can do neither: it cannot select its members from the mass, nor can it make character a condition of power, nor impose checks fit to ensure the conscientious exercise of civil privilege by pecuniary penalties. And therefore it is not secured in the same manner as some of the inferior societies for the fulfilment of its functions, and requires, consequently, additional guarantees, Associations for specific objects of pleasure, or of professional use, or of social defence--and these include the residue of the entire catalogue--fall within the same observations. In so far as they require moral motives and restraints, they can either secure them by lower sanctions, or make them a pre-condition of admission to their functions. Their functions are limited: their personality is little more than mechanical: and we should particularly note, that they are capable of being formed on a principle of selection, by virtue of their conventional character, while the State must deal with masses as it finds them, and bear in its bosom a load of alien and discordant elements, by the very law of its existence comprehending all the human beings, good and bad, who may be congregated within certain local limits. Further, these associations do not in any case distinctly contemplate moral results. And, above all, they do not in general fill any large space in the eye of the individual man as such, they do not exercise a ruling and comprehensive influence upon his character.
78. And yet it is well worthy of remark, that even from among these instances, which have suggested an inference hostile to my argument, the truth of its general principle may draw abundant confirmation. For example, what are termed "Benefit Societies," though purporting to be framed for economical purposes, yet, I believe, usually solemnise all their meetings with public and common worship. Our hospitals are, if I mistake not, always provided with chaplains. Workhouses, the principal provision made for the destitute poor by the State, have their chaplains and their schools, where religious as well as secular instruction is provided. And I quote this, although it is a system of public law, because individual sentiment, it is clear, in this nation entirely concurs with it. But the army in particular, whose ends might so easily have led some to a contrary supposition, is of all the others the most strict, in this and in all European countries, in the establishment of a collective religion. It is quite true that armies of different creeds may have combined for a common object, known in its nature and limited to a particular time; or that different portions of the same army may profess different religions, and still may co-operate upon distinct and definite grounds: but wherever there is close contact and habitual permanent association, the discipline of the army regards as essential the maintenance of a common religion. Nay, in general, the example of the place assigned to divine worship in military discipline goes beyond the scope of my argument, for it has ordinarily been the practice to enforce the observances of religion in a form of considerable exclusiveness. Generally then we may venture to affirm, that collective religion is applicable to combinations of men, in a descending scale of more and less, according as they are jointly comprehensive and moral in their nature and in their results.
79. But the objection which I have been considering may recur in an altered form. If the rule be morally binding for one kind of combination, is it not good for all? If it be treated as a moral rule, and drawn from the nature of human combination as such, must it not be required by every combination of moral beings, inasmuch as there can hardly be any which shall be entirely void of moral elements and results; and as man is bound to be governed by religion in every act of his life? On principle, it may be urged, the smallest deviation is as fatal to the argument from duty as the greatest, and either all combinations as such, or none as such, must involve the condition of a collective religion.
80. This difficulty will most easily be solved by a reference to the acts of the individual life. It is quite true that as Christians we are enjoined " to do all to the glory of God:" nor can we take any such account of greater and smaller in the particulars of our conduct as to say, actions of such a magnitude are to be truly done to the glory of God, and actions beneath that standard are not. But although it be true that the rule is universal, the infirmity of our nature does not permit its distinct, palpable, deliberate application to each of that infinite series of actions, whereof our life in its common texture is woven. Each separate act, therefore, is hardly capable of receiving its own specific consecration, by being separately offered up to God. And as each act, so it may be that each agency, does not require its distinct system of devotion--Shall then we say that one general form will cover all? The practical effect of such a doctrine would be to place us within one step of atheism. If we separate homage to God from the details of life, and content ourselves with a verbal submission to Him in the gross, our words will become a barren and worthless formula, which will speedily itself be cast away. The sound maxim will be, to carry the habit of conscious reference to God to the utmost bounds of practicability: to compare the particulars of our life with the Divine law, up to that point at which the comparison would threaten to absorb the energies that ought to be applied to their performance; and when we move in important capacities, distinctly to seek the blessing of God upon them all. In short, that the dedication of the whole life may be real and cordial, it is required that it be as specific as possible; and therefore that at least all the leading and more arduous functions of our condition be hallowed by religious worship.
81. If we consider some evidently great and cardinal act of life, which comprehensively affects and modifies its tone, surely all will admit, that such an act ought not to be performed without the special invocation of Divine aid. If on the other hand we look to some extremely trifling act, as rising up or sitting down, some act done, perhaps, without any conscious design, it is manifest, that the nature of our faculties, which requires for the most part a singleness of thread in our thoughts, and the limitation of all that we do to definite time, precludes the possibility of our consecrating all such acts with a positive and active desire for the assisting power of God, which nevertheless is not less truly requisite for the smallest than for the greatest of our movements.
82. Further, it would not be possible to define beforehand what acts ought to suggest to our minds the duty of special prayer concerning them, and what acts need not be so marked, but might pass and be acceptable to God under a generally pious intention. But although, in any attempt at such definition, we should be bewildered with hopeless difficulties, yet in the daily tenor of life it is not found very difficult to discern and apply a practical rule, according to which it is probable that most persons of just and faithful conscience accompany every act and undertaking which appears to them on reflection of any considerable moment, with a positive reference to God; while for the rest they will seek that their sense of His presence, and of their duty and dependence, may be progressively quickened and enhanced, so that the lively regard to His will may become more and more extensively applicable to their thoughts, words, and deeds, individually as well as generally, and with explicit as well as with implicit intention.
83. Now I submit that the case is very similar with respect to combinations of men. Many of them are, with respect to the whole sum of our life, trifling and infinitesimal. In many of them, whatever in their personality is moral is so merged in other, by supposition inferior, and yet predominant, elements, that it would not admit of receiving a specifically religious form any more than the religious element in the smaller acts of the individual life. Yet even of this class I am inclined to think the number, though great, is yet not so large as has often been supposed. The impressive admonition of our social circumstances begins to warn us that we are less secure in dealing with men as animals and machines, and abandoning the cultivation of their higher nature, than we had assumed. In many more the case is doubtful, and must be governed by a considerate reference to circumstances. In some, as the family and the State, the character of the combination so essentially requires the predominance of the moral element, that its copious interfusion needs to be secured by that specifically suitable provision which has been here discussed under the name of collective or joint religion. It is, of course, impossible to lay down any antecedent rule in such subject-matter, which shall govern cases as they arise with the precision of a mathematical formula. [The Rhymney Mining Company resolved, on the 21st November, 1838, to build a church for the use of their labourers, and to endow it with the sum of 4000 l.--(Bishop of Llandaff's Address at Abergavenny, October 10, 1839, to the local Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.) It appears also, that the Birmingham Railway Company have voted 1000 l. towards the erection of a church at Wolverton, with leave to dissentient proprietors to withhold their quota.]
84. I do not, however, hesitate to go one step further, and to say that it is the infirmity and not the strength of our nature which prevents our applying to minor acts of the individual life a distinct religious consciousness, which should exist anew for each, and should modify each throughout, just as our physical infirmity causes our need not less of the microscope than of the telescope. Indefinite magnitude and indefinite minuteness alike elude the scope of our perceptions, and alike evince our littleness. If we make this a matter of mutual congratulation, we are self-condemned, we are glorying in our shame; and even so in the case of corporations of men, having in their immediate view temporal objects, it is a matter to be viewed with some mixture of regret that they can so rarely be formed with direct reference to the principles of religion, under the present circumstances of society, or owing, in part, to the permanent constitution of our nature. Even the production of physical and scientific results is not a matter which ought abstractedly to be apart from religion; and everything which tends, by the law of association, to separate any portion of our life from the supervision of divine faith, is in itself so far unfortunate, and likewise tends in the same degree to weaken the hold of religion as a master principle on the residue.
85. It certainly ennobles the tenure of landed property, that the realisation of its profits is so intimately blended with a thousand opportunities of moral duty and of religious influence. It is, on the contrary, an unhappy condition of some descriptions of pecuniary speculation, that, while they are made effective through the labour of human agents, they usually form with those agents no reciprocal relations, except those which are pecuniary, and yet put them to employments exercising a ruling influence upon their moral condition. I will take, for example, the class of mining companies. They probably have many servants whose lives they expose to constant risk; many whom the discharge of their tasks may detach from domestic associations and from regularity of habits. The nature of these undertakings tends again to create a shifting population, and to destroy that local fixity which, with the lower class in particular, is one of the main guarantees of respectability. Perhaps the necessary course of the business may require that a portion of those employed should be denied their Sabbath rest. The workmen are remunerated for these moral sacrifices in gold, upon a scale which, as compared with the actual wants of persons similarly educated, supplies a rapid and disproportionate increase to their means, and thereby greatly increases their temptations, while there is no counteractive provision usually made to neutralise these undoubtedly noxious influences.
86. Such things are but too true, real, and practical. The evidence of facts may, and that soon, supersede the necessity of arguments to prove that such a disposal of human labour, however apparently productive, secretly undermines the foundations of society. It is enough for my purpose to have shown, that if the mind and conscience of our own time were sufficiently harmonised and enlightened to admit of adequate securities for uniformly annexing a provision for religious ordinances to the schemes of temporal enterprise and pecuniary aggrandisement, we should probably avoid many kinds of evil which are now engendered among us, on a fearful scale, by the separation of the two, as respects a large portion of our population; and therefore, in assenting to the proposition that there are some combinations of men to which, at the present time in particular, it is impossible to apply the principle of collective religion, it seems to me most becoming and rational to do so, not with any self-gratulatory admiration of this feature in our character or condition, but rather with shame and deprecation of the Divine displeasure.
87. I return then to the position, that, as the nation fulfils the great conditions of a person, a real unity of being, of deliberating, of acting, of suffering; and these in a definite manner, and upon an extended scale, and with immense moral functions to discharge, and influences to exercise, both upon its members and extrinsically: therefore it has that kind of clear, large, and conscious responsibility which can alone be met by its specifically professing a religion, and offering, through its organ the State, that worship which shall publicly sanctify its acts. That which, by its governing organ, it professes specially, it must encourage and maintain throughout its inferior members as a part of such profession itself.
88. But some minds are staggered by the objection, that a nation, like other forms of human incorporation, is not immortal; that no retribution and no reward await it in a future state; or, as it is sometimes said, that corporations have no souls. But corporations have souls quite as much as they have bodies, and it will hardly be held that they have neither. They have souls; they have deliberative minds; they have personality, and with it responsibility. Grant that public personalities are limited to the sphere of this world: this does not destroy their moral obligations. Suppose the doctrine of a future state, as it respects individuals, were disproved, the foundations of morality would remain; because they in no way depend upon the hypothesis of an unlimited continuance, but are laid in the actual relations between the Creator and the creature, and as long as those relations endure they subsist. It is true indeed that their subjective appreciation in our minds, defective as it now is, would be, if we may imagine such a case, still further and miserably enfeebled; but objectively they would only be affected in so far as anticipation is one of their constituent parts. Surely it is impossible to maintain a doctrine so extravagant as that no obligation can be real which is not eternal. Indeed, if it were held at all, it might as well be applied to things or beings which have had a beginning as to those which have an end. Of course the responsibility of a moral or public person terminates upon the individuals who enter into its composition, as the health or disease of a body takes effect upon the members.
89. But inasmuch as consequences may afford a powerful stimulus to the performance of duty, it has been observed, that prosperity more commonly crowns virtue, and adversity more closely dogs the course of sin, in the case of states, than in that of individuals. In particular instances the results of virtue, under the conditions of this world, are uncertain; but as a general rule they tend decisively to prosperity. Now, individuals are subject to the contingency because the whole tenor of their life may be determined by one or more particular acts; but in communities it is the effect of average practice which is most surely and permanently felt, and they therefore reap the advantage of the rule in favour of good deeds upon a large scale. So that in some points of view the doctrine of retribution has perhaps a more stringent application to states than to private persons, and thereby makes up for its limitation to the bounds of the present world. [More's Hints, i. ch. 18.]
90. I offer further some incidental remarks, which arise upon a comparison of the several personalities of the individual, the family, and the state. The personality of the family differs from the last in this respect, that it is less permanently sustained by a collective action, as from its sphere it is capable of management without formality of proceedings and written codes. Its relations are more securely founded on an immediate reciprocity of affections. The application to it of the principle of collective religion is far easier than in the case of the state, and for a reason quite irreconcilable with the utilitarian theories; that the maintenance of its specific compact much less requires it, and that that warm confiding attachment of its members to one another and to its heads, which can better dispense with the use of its sanctions, do also prepare the way for their ready acknowledgment and acceptance. In the State neither the principle of affection is so strong, nor that of dependence so determinate, as to obviate obstructions to the acknowledgment of the national religion; but the need of the blending and consolidating power of a spiritual principle is thereby increased, and the general obligation is therefore enhanced in proportion to this necessity.
91. But if, on the other hand, we compare the personality of states with that of individuals, we perceive that it differs in point of the tendency to entail moral obligations chiefly in this particular, that, while every individual of adult years has a full free agency and responsibility, the composition of states and their share of moral personality are susceptible of infinite degree. The personality of all states is imperfect in detail, though in essential conditions entire, and cumbrous and circuitous in operation, as well as difficult to be realised in the discursive understanding, when compared with that of the individual. Even when they are ordered in the manner most according to nature, there is much in the community that the governing energy cannot control; it is, as it were, imperfectly projected; there are many practices of its own members which from impotence it is constrained to tolerate, though injurious alike to itself and to morality; but there is nothing in the individual for which he is not at all times fully responsible, and no moral practice alien to duty which he is permitted to tolerate.
92. And if the principle of state personality and conscience be liable to modifications even in cases where the form of political association is single and integral, it follows as a matter of course that it is yet further restricted in various degrees in those instances where a part only of the properties of such association are found, and where the appertaining duties are consequently curtailed. To this class will belong federations of nations or tribes, partly independent and partly incorporated, as in Germany, Switzerland, and the American Union, where the duties of the state are variously divided between the general and the particular governments. To this class will also belong in part empires like that of Great Britain, to which are attached many colonies and dependencies, either held under treaty or originally constituted of social elements essentially distinct, and perhaps even discordant. But however difficult it be to frame any formula such as shall meet the infinite varieties which the past, the present, or the future may supply, I would adjoin these two observations--first, that the principle of national religion is rather subjected to limitation in its scope and sphere of action by these diversities of circumstance than to any essential change, that quantity rather than quality is affected; secondly, that, while the stringency of its obligations may vary according to the closeness of the political and economical relations in each case, it is desirable to avoid attempting to tighten the bonds of a merely secular connection wherever it has been found impracticable to cement and dignify the union by a true brotherhood in the Christian faith.
93. Although, however, the qualified personality of the state may give ground for the inference that its conscience may lie under conditions of responsibility different from those which affect the conscience of an individual man, yet there are considerations, not to be wholly disregarded, which tend in an opposite direction.
In certain stages of society and tempers of the public mind, the individual is more independent than the State. The individual can draw lines, which the State cannot; the individual, after he has given countenance to some forms of separation, can still withhold it from others; he can say, for instance, among ourselves, "I have aided the Wesleyans, but my conscience will not allow me to aid the Socinians;" and thus a part of the mischiefs of having no regard to the discriminating characters of truth and error may be restrained. But the State cannot be a discerner and a balancer of particular points in theology; it cannot exercise that continuous function; experience proves that it is impracticable for public law to stand upon distinctions of pure doctrine or opinion; and when it has once recognised communities other than the Church, it seems quite unable, at least in our day, to stop short of any that bear the Christian name: even this barrier it has in some cases overpassed, and, after a pause, may in others do the same.
94. Now, if the argument here offered, from the nature of political or national association, be sound, and if religion, therefore, belong to the right constitution of a State, what are the specific obligations involved in such a proposition? They are generally the same as would attach to an individual conscience owning the law of Divine obedience. First, by prayer and the other ordinances of religion, to seek for guidance by the grace of God in all his acts; secondly, in the deliberative regulation of conduct to be careful that throughout all its particulars it follows the line of the commandments of God; and thirdly, as a part of this general law, to be forward to communicate by all due means to others the benefit which he has received.
95. In conformity herewith, the legislature will hallow its proceedings by prayer, and will frame its laws and employ its legitimate influence for the advancement of religious truth. With the extrinsic propagation of that truth beyond the nation it has comparatively little concern, because all its functions outwards are little more than negative. States are not ordinarily invested with definite responsibilities for other states, although it be nevertheless true that they may sometimes arise. But with respect to the diffusion of religion throughout the body of the nation which it impersonates, this is, in the view of reason, a part of the primary law of its self-preservation and self-improvement. A state recognising the principle of national religion will naturally endeavour to consecrate the people by the extension of personal religion, in order to the maintenance of its own religious life. For they all contribute something, each in his own degree and by methods direct or indirect, to make up that moral person which we term the State. Impersonating and representing them, it receives much of its colour from them, and reciprocally imparts it. The State cannot be permanently religious if the body of the people be irreligious; and the governing body, in providing for the population the means and even the solicitations of religious worship, acts upon the same principle as the athlete when he anoints his own limbs for the contest. Obedience to the laws will depend partly upon each person and partly upon the tone of public opinion. The propagation of religion throughout classes and families, so as to bring it home to the heart of each man, is alike necessary in the second view and in the first; in the first directly, in the second, because that public opinion is itself formed, and modified from time to time, by what the mind of each individual contributes towards it: it represents the sum, or the balance, of the abstract moral principles of the persons forming the community.
96. This, then, is not a missionary work, but one reflected upon itself. It does not imply that the propagation of religious truth is specifically the end of governments more than of individuals; but that governments, like individuals, in order to render their lives pleasing to God, to fulfil their end which is in both alike His glory, to discharge the obligations under which they lie, must consecrate their actions by religion, and must take the best securities for that consecration. And it is not enough that the members of this combination should offer worship in their separate capacities, more than it would be enough in a family, or would rightly fulfil its idea, that the father, and the mother, and their children, should each seek, hold, and exercise a religion for themselves. Their acts in each case are essentially joint and co-operative, and, in order to their right discharge, they demand the kindred sanctions of a common worship.
97. The foregoing argument generally applies to the State independently of revelation. When we come to contemplate it as specifically Christian, and to apply to it the rules of that religion, we find that, together with the family, it is distinguished from all other human combinations as being more specifically a Divine ordinance; and therefore in the same proportion these more specifically require to be dedicated to God, their Author, by the consecrating power of worship. Without social organisation man cannot fulfil those relative functions, which are an essential portion of his duty. Without government he cannot have social organisation. Thus government stands, by necessary implication, in the determinate form of a Divine ordinance charged with sovereign authority over a sphere of our relative duties, always saving the co-ordinate rights of family and blood. On both sides of the controversy which so much agitated our own country during the seventeenth century, respecting the claims of government, it was contested whether they were restrained to a particular line of succession, or whether it was essential to sovereignty that it should be clothed in a particular form; but Sidney admitted, no less than Filmer or than Heylin, that it was a Divine ordinance, to which it was not optional but obligatory to submit. [Sidney on Government, ch. iii. 12. Vol. I. 1]
98. I grant that all instruments of good, whether great or small, may be called Divine ordinances, as they certainly are gifts of God, but it is in a sense less definite--a sense not fixed on them severally by the authority of revelation. And the sequence of the foregoing argument is as follows. Inasmuch as we must consecrate all good things to the honour of God; and inasmuch as by the composition of our nature we cannot consecrate each; it results that the specific consecration must be annexed to those which are more specifically His; and that the general consecration of implicit intention must suffice for those which are less specifically His. As being, then, according to revelation, a specifically Divine ordinance, the State, like the family, is a moral, and should also be a religious, being.
99. It is of course the parallel effect of revelation, to embody the obligations of religion, as well as those of civil order and union; and to direct the conscience of men to determinate objects in respect to faith and worship. To heathens religion was only obligatory under those general forms which constitute the law of nature, perceptible by the unaided light of conscience. To Christians it has been given in the shape of a definite and historical institution, charged with the custody and promulgation of its divine code--the Sacred Scriptures.
Indeed it would be allowable to institute the argument from this quarter. Christianity is a principle of life intended to govern and pervade the whole human life. Further, it is a principle of common life; must it not therefore govern and pervade our human common life, our association in the family, and in the State? [Rothe, Anfänge der Christlichen Kirche, b. i.]
100. In short, the Church and the State have ends reciprocally inclusive, though with a difference of degree. Thus writes Coleridge:--"Whatever is beneficent and humanising in the aims, tendencies, and proper objects of the State, it" (the Church) "collects in itself as in a focus to radiate them back in a higher quality; or, to change the metaphor, it completes and strengthens the edifice of the State, without interference or commixture, in the mere act of laying and securing its own foundations." [Church and State, p. 134.] The State and the Church have both of them moral agencies. But the State aims at character through conduct: the Church at conduct through character; in harmony with which, the State forbids more than enjoins, the Church enjoins more than forbids. The Church brings down from heaven a divine principle of life, and plants it in the centre of the human heart to work outwards and to leaven the whole mass: the State out of the fragments of primeval virtue, and the powers of the external world, constructs a partial and elementary system, corrective from without, and subsidiary to the great process of redemption and spiritual recovery which advances towards it from within.
101. For the proposition that the nature of the State adapts and therefore binds it to pursue the ends of the Church, I have already argued. That the Christian religion contemplates peace and order, and the temporal well-being of man, in the natural course of its operation, will hardly be denied. But the State has for primary ends, to be sought at once by direct means, those conditions of external order and security, which the Church is rather ordained to reach indirectly by a spiritual process mainly contemplating higher matters. These lower ends of the State are first in time and in necessity; and without their attainment in some tolerable measure, it cannot so much as itself exist to contemplate the higher, because civil society is virtually dissolved. On the other hand, if not amidst "the wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds," yet in whatever agony of external and social convulsion, the Church, by the law of her nature,
----"from city and wilderness,
In vesper low, or joyous orison.
Lifts still her solemn voice." [Alastor.]
Yet it is hardly more than a possibility that, in any given place, the Church could long survive social order; it would be her positive duty to use her best efforts for its re-establishment, and she must probably either succeed in the effort, or perish in her failure.
In like manner it may be possible that States may subsist without religion; but it is a law of their nature, they are morally bound to its observance; if they do not do so, they may anticipate the sure though perhaps tardy penalties of violated or unfulfilled obligation.
102. Thus, then, these powers are co-ordinate; and each is ordained to ends included within the purview of the other; but the specific function of the one is the less proximate though still morally essential function of the other. Thus a father and a mother are jointly ordained for the same end, as to the nurture of children: thus parent and tutor are jointly, and with distinction of rank, charged with their education. The State is a moral being, and must worship God according to its nature: it is thus intrinsically competent to promote the designs of religion, and extrinsically (as I shall hereafter endeavour to show) it has effective means of aiding them; in both respects it is morally bound to render that assistance. As on the other hand, the ministry of religion, whether under its general or its Christian idea, is able in many ways to promote the purposes of the State; whether those purposes be restricted to a negative and material character, or whether they also include general development: and it is bound to render that service in the course of simply accomplishing its own specific work. On either side, therefore, the principle of connecting religion with the State is grounded in the constitutions of nature. We are elsewhere to inquire, whether it be not also attested by the criterion of advantage.
103. The question seems next to arise, whether, in the case that has now been introduced, of a Christian State, the religious duty which attaches to it is properly limited to the form of the Church; or whether, according to an opinion which has some adherents in this country and has received much practical countenance in others, the civil power may profess and uphold a variety of creeds and communions, limited either by the Christian name, or by an adhesion to doctrines assumed as fundamental? There are two modes in which we may examine this question: the more conclusive, by regarding those direct principles and precepts of revelation which apply to us as members of the Church; the other, by deducing inferences from the more general ethical argument respecting the personality of the State. Let us take these in the order in which they have been stated.
104. Let us now suppose, with Hooker, that the persons composing the nation are all or generally members of the Church, that the decided preponderance of social forces is with the Church, that the governors are accordingly members of the Church: in such case, if they be thoroughly instructed in her apostolic rights and in the nature of her functions, they will not be perplexed by being left to determine this great question upon calculations of expediency, or by the results of an analytical inquiry into the composition of different religions, claimants for state patronage, in order to decide the impossible questions whether there be in them upon the whole more of truth than of untruth, more of virtuous than of vicious tendency; and whether they themselves are justified in becoming parties to the inculcation of an hundred falsehoods, for the sake of an hundred-and-one truths with which they may be associated. They are called to no surrender of right, to no bewildering of the conscience. God has given them a vineyard wherein to labour; and they need not go beyond its bounds, for it will afford employment more than enough to all the energies they can set in array.
105. And again, insuperable difficulties of conscience appear still to arise, when we have agreed to substituted for Catholic principles the test of some more vague agreement upon undefined fundamentals, in the practical adjustment of the questions which the present divided state of Christendom could not fail to raise. Suppose we adopt this for our rule; that the State may unite with itself any religious body professing the essential doctrines of Christianity. The fatal objection arises, that there is, manifestly and beyond dispute, no criterion of essential doctrines, apart from the body of the Church, upon which a State could practically act. The same temper which excites a jealousy even of the exclusive recognition of the Church, would create an infinitely stronger and more reasonable dissatisfaction if the State were absolutely to refuse countenance and aid to a body of religionists on the naked ground of some one doctrine or opinion in theology; and at some one it is, whichever that may be, that the dividing line must be drawn. Hardly any man is hardy, I should almost say presumptuous, enough to frame a scheme of fundamentals for himself, or to place any other restraint, than the want of evidence to establish the fact of God's revelation of the particular tenet, upon his own obligation to believe. But no private or partial opinion, however confident, would supply a locus standi for a government, upon which to found a principle of its policy at once so vital and so critical. Because then, by the supposition, deviations from the rule of adhesion to the Church must be limited: and because it is impossible to ascertain any intelligible and practicable method of limitation, we are driven back to the position, that the rule capable of the best prospective determination, and most truly satisfying the obligations of duty, is that of alliance with the Church alone.
106. The Church, therefore, is the society with which, and with which alone, they can consistently form such an alliance as has been here described. And as they know that she will best support the State, so their affectionate regard to her as having the stewardship of grace, and to Him who is her Head and their Redeemer, will supply them with an accumulated strength of persuasion and of motive to be diligent in promoting a co-operation so natural, so needful, and so valuable. [1 Cor. iv. 1; 1 Pet. iv. 10.] If, in short, we take up the subject as members of the Church, we find her not merely a form, a vessel, an appendage, but a part of Christianity, revealed as one; the doctrine of unity in one society delivered to us as a portion of the living covenant; and this of course precludes us, not indeed from discharging obligations incumbent on us as of good faith under any existing laws, but from entering into schemes even for the promotion of God's word in any manner contravening that which He has sanctioned and ordained; and from dropping any portion of His command while the means of fulfilling the whole are graciously vouchsafed to us. While the doctrine of "one body" is authoritatively declared by Scripture, to recognise the Christian religion in separate bodies might be to countenance the sin, which lies somewhere, though it may be hidden, or may be divided among many offending parties, in every such putting asunder of what God has united.
107. But there is also an injurious mental habit, and a hazard of ulterior evils, connected with that sort of eclecticism, which a system of indiscriminate aid to different religious communions presupposes. It seems to imply, and at least it prepares us to believe, that the power of revealed Truth is in the abstract forms of its propositions, just as, when we have accurately stated a formula of mathematics, we know that we virtually possess all its results; and as, when we reduce it to a narrower expression, we are still aware what classes of results we exclude, and how much we retain. It is most perilous to handle Christianity upon such a principle, most presumptuous thus to dispense with a part of God's benefaction to mankind. The Church, indeed, commissioned of Him for the function of teaching, has embodied in her earliest creeds, probably from the authority of inspiration itself, conveyed by the mouths of the Apostles of Christ, the great elementary truths of the faith: not as presuming to discard any portion of what is revealed, but to put more prominently forward in the series of progressive instruction those truths upon which the residue of Christian knowledge is built. But this summary, which she has so received, is meant to introduce and not to confine her teaching. Of this she is, with respect to order and method, the judge: it is hers to endure or to condemn any of the forms of private opinion, limited by the maxim of adhesion to the Scriptures which she holds, and to their Catholic interpretation. But she has never said, and cannot say, With the written Creed, I will be satisfied and ask no more. Much less then can any authority other than hers thus shut up the way of instruction which the Creed lays open; and less still can any such power be entitled to define a new class or form of tenets as fundamental, to supplant the basis of eighteen hundred years.
108. Suppose therefore that a State composed of Christians and Catholics should say, "We will aid all communities in which the doctrine of the Atonement is taught, and no others." First, it would undertake a function not given to it, and would frame a standard of things essential, for which office it was not appointed. Secondly, the standard so framed would be a new one, and would place in the category of non-essentials all other matters; for instance, the Deity of Christ, and the Sacraments. Thirdly, it would thus classify doctrines simply according to our human apprehension of their consequences, and thereby adopt a criterion which in all moral subject-matter tends to lower and debilitate the tone of those who employ it. Fourthly, it would overlook the fact that all Christian teaching is wholly dependent on the inward energies of the Holy Ghost, the promise of which is given to the revelation as a whole, and not to any particular parts of it. Partial teaching in religion can only be justified as preparatory teaching, or because our physical and social necessities prevent men from realising at once the treasure of the Christian Revelation. But if we countenance a sectarian-creed, which is absolutely founded, which builds its distinctive existence and vindicates its separation, upon the negation of what such a State would hold to be a part of the revealed Truth of God, the teaching which it administers is not elementary but mutilated: it is not a part of the body, but severed from it.
109. I am free to admit that, on any other than specifically Christian principles, the human understanding would probably incline to the theory of a plurality of establishments: not as abstractedly preferable to unity, but so also neither as being essentially objectionable. There might be many reasons inclining a State to grant a demand of the kind if it were made; and accordingly we find, that among the cultivated nations of antiquity, where public religion was observed chiefly with a view to its political effects, and the grand requisite was to flatter and soothe and at the same time subjugate the popular mind, the ordinary practice was to enlarge with great facility the catalogue of national deities, subject to the sole reservation, that they should be such as should not tend to displace the old ones. Socrates, indeed, was arraigned for introducing new divinities; but it was because the actual tone of his philosophy tended to discredit the national forms of worship. Rome, the mistress of state-craft, and beyond all other nations in the politic employment of religion, added without stint or scruple to her list of gods and goddesses, and consolidated her military empire by a skilful medley of all the religions of the world.
110. Thus it continued while the worship of the Deity was but a conjecture or a contrivance; but when the rising of the Sun of Righteousness had given reality to the subjective forms of faith, had made actual and solid truth the common inheritance of all men, then the religion of Christ became, unlike other new creeds-, an object of jealousy and of cruel persecution, because it would not consent to become a partner in this heterogeneous device, and planted itself upon truth, and not in the quicksand of opinion; and in the same natural order, when Christianity became the religion of the State, it excluded every other system from public patronage. Even so the Mahometan creed is distinguished among the religions of the East for its hostility to indifferentism, because it is a definite though false belief in revelation; and should the Christian faith ever become but one among many co-equal pensioners of a government, it will be a proof that subjective religion has again lost its God-given hold upon objective reality; or when, under the thin shelter of its name, a multitude of discordant schemes shall have been placed upon a footing of essential parity, and shall together receive the bounty of the legislature, this will prove that we are once more in a transition-state--that we are travelling back again from the region to which the Gospel brought us, towards that in which it found us. [Esprit des Loix, xxv. 15.]
111. We have to consider, secondly, the argument from the personality of the State, which, implying cognisance of truth, seems to show that a unity in its profession and its maintenance is, if not necessary in the strictest sense, yet both to be desired, and certainly requisite to the ideal perfection of a State. If there be between any set of distinct religious communions not merely a nominal but a substantial difference of doctrine, then, independently of specifically Catholic obligations, the idea of union with more than one is fatally at variance with the idea of personality and responsibility in the government as the organ of the national life. It is sad when two persons take discordant views of religious truth; but it is still more sad when one person contentedly acquiesces in each of these discordant views, because, though he might not know which is truth, he must know that truth is one. But the State is as a single human being in the view of the present discussion; for if it have moral action, it must be capable of moral choice; and if it be capable of moral choice, that choice must rest upon truth as one--must rest, at least, upon the nearest approximation to it, and cannot at all consist with jointly embracing systems that are fundamentally or substantially at variance. Whenever, therefore, the State is not in a condition to give itself to the clear intelligible profession of unity in faith and in communion, we may predicate that the national life must, in the same proportion, be curtailed of its moral fulness; for a discordant action is established in the leading faculty of its being.
112. It is moreover clear, that when a State deviates from its actual constitution to commence the practice of indiscriminate support to competing forms of religion, it raises for the consideration of its deliberative ministers and agents a difficult and delicate question. That question is, "How shall I lend my personal agency to carry into effect a principle of which it must thus be said that it both springs from and tends to evil? Can I, in such a matter, go beyond the command of the law, which as such discharges my responsibility? In serving the State, I ought to be engaged with my freest energies to give the utmost possible effects to its acts: can I contribute their use to facilitate a scheme which is faulty, and faulty too in moral subject-matter? Or again, how far may I exercise voluntary functions in a State, a part of whose action is thus disfigured?" These are issues for the court of conscience, which I am unable to answer by any general terms having the rigour of a formula, that would not rather cause confusion than convey knowledge. There are many similar problems in private life; and our ambition must not be dissatisfied with the want of an absolute and universal solution, far less must a man be forward to condemn his brother where he can hardly feel his own way. But thus much I will say: happy is that man who gives, in his own heart, free but not exclusive scope to the fear of sin; who holds that, for a public man, the first condition of capacity to serve his country is an unsullied conscience; and who, when he sees national advantage seemingly contingent upon his own moral contamination, trusts that God will raise up instruments to secure for his country all necessary goods of earth, and refuses to sell wisdom though it be for rubies.
If it be so, then the practice of manifold or indiscriminate establishment tends to throw public office more and more into the hands of the unscrupulous, and thus aggravates the disorder from which it took its rise.
For the sake of the continuity of the argument respecting exclusive duty to the Church, I have here entered by anticipation on a part of the general inquiry, to which we may now regularly proceed.--
113. There is another aspect of the argument for national religion, secondary when compared with the more abstract consideration of the nature of a State, yet not in itself unimportant. The governing body is composed of individuals, each of whom are morally bound to refer all their acts to God, to select, and with all their strength to perform, such acts as most tend to His glory, and to employ whatever influence accrues to them with the same view. The man who is aware of his duty in these respects cannot, with safe conscience, bind himself to forego such reference; to omit acts which are for the glory of God, and are within his power; and to forbear applying, in aid of religion, influences which government possesses and confers, and which are naturally conducive to its advancement. Such a man will further feel, that when he becomes a member of the governing body, a portion of the national energies are impersonated in him, and take effect in his decisions. The responsibility belonging to them is not satisfied by his private acknowledgment of God, and it wholly transcends his private capacity. His acts become arduous and difficult in the extreme, and pregnant with the most remote and most extensive consequences; and even in this view he feels the need of new religious associations to sustain him in his function, and to teach him how to appreciate it. But further: his acts too are public; the powers and instruments with which he works are public; operating by and under the authority of the law, he sets in motion at his word ten thousand subject arms; and because there is here an agency quite beyond the range of his mere individual function, it must be sanctified not only by the private personal prayers and piety of the men filling public situations, but also by their public observances as composing a public body, and actuating and impelling the sovereign power. In the collective character, in which they constitute the organ of the nation and wield its force, they are bound to offer collective prayer and praise. [Burke, Thoughts, p. 185.]
114. Or in another view. Can a man who undertakes to frame laws on moral subject-matter, venture to approach his task without a distinct appeal by supplication to God for His guidance in the task? If then he makes himself, as respects this purpose, a part and parcel of a common deliberative mind, ought not that mind, into which thus entering he resigns, as it were, quoad hoc, his individuality, to seek similarly for the same necessary endowments? And, unless it recognise such a duty, are not the consciences of the persons composing it placed in an inextricable dilemma? If they are so, then, as the ordinance of government is divine, we may be certain that, when its arrangements are not conformable to those requisitions of individual duty, which emanate from the same source, its spirit has been misunderstood and its design perverted.
115. I apprehend further, that a pure theism entirely sustains that precept of revelation, which instructs us, that we are to discharge all our relative or social duties, "as to the Lord and not to men;" that from the midst of their daily crowd we are to look continually upwards, and to consider evermore the ulterior bearing of our acts upon our higher relation to God.
And even a philosophy regardless of revelation should methinks instruct us at least in this, that they are made for us rather than we for them; that the results of moral action on the agent are, perhaps, on the whole, more important than its more directly contemplated consequences; that this world is a gymnasium supplied with a complex apparatus, which, when it has fulfilled its purposes upon us, is to be laid aside; in short, that, whatever be the outward circumstances or ordinary tasks of each particular person, he has a high immaterial nature within him, appointed to live under a law extrinsic and superior to these; .a nature that emerges from among them, struggles to rise above their level, reserves its inner precinct from their intrusion, protests against being absorbed and lost in the external energies that those circumstances and tasks require, claims to rule over him, and to determine with preferable right the main conditions of his life. By the supersession of this inner nature he surrenders his human birthright and patrimony, the central, the otherwise unconquerable freedom of his being, and he becomes a captive, though chained it may be to a gorgeous and triumphal car.
116. A voice from republican America reminds us in indignant tones of this oftentimes forgotten truth. [Oration delivered before the FBK Society. Boston, 1838.] "There is one man," says Mr. Emerson, "present to all particular men, only partially or through one faculty." "The individual, to possess himself, must sometimes return from his own labour to embrace all the other labourers." "The planter, who is man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of man on the farm." And so it is especially true that he who holds offices of public trust runs a thousand hazards of sinking into a party-man, instead of man employing party instrumentally for its ulterior purposes; into a politician, instead of man in politics; into an administrator, instead of man in administration.
117. This, I say, is especially true of a period and a country, when the progressive advance and continual pressure of popular principles breaks down the energies and contracts the growth of statesmen, by multiplying the details of their function, and by restricting the spaces of their discretionary action in higher subject-matter. By the element, however, of religion, entering into the work of government, the inversion, as it were, of its figure is prevented, its connection is maintained with its origin from above, and public men may see that the orb is still at the foot of the cross; and their own superior life should hereby still keep its position above that which is inferior, their judicial and reflective powers over those which of right are subject to them. [Order of her Majesty's Coronation, p. 36.] Upon such a redemption from the slavery of ambition or of business, depends alike the freedom and dignity of their being, and that highest result of its highest dignity and freedom, its implicit submission to God.
118. The argument derivable from the personal obligation of governors for national religion varies in its force, according to the diversities in the relations between ruler and subject. Where the former only exercises power as it were by delegation from the latter, it is impossible to regard his intellect as in any sense the origin of public measures. Yet even in such case, from the violence done to the true principles of personal duty in the holder of office, where no religion is professed by the State, the argument may be legitimately raised. There still are, however, many cases, and there have been more, in which the personal conscience of the ruler or rulers is a more palpable object of appeal than the conscience of the nation. At least, there are those, in which the interval which separates the sovereign from his subjects, as measured by effective power or wisdom, or both, is still very great; and where they are accustomed to receive from him, as from a parent, what he deems conducive to their welfare.
119. If we try the controversy of national religion by such a case as this, the mind revolts at once from the palpable and gross delinquency of a ruler, who, under these circumstances, should decline to use the means with which his station endowed him, for the advancement of religion among his people. It may with truth be said that he would be a monster, condemned not more by Constantine than by Julian, and not more by the sentence of philosophical or religious inquiry than by the universal sense of mankind. And if the function of rulers, in a given set of circumstances which are quite conformable to natural order, thus essentially embraces religious duties, it will be difficult to show that at any given point it can be wholly divorced from them, until, indeed, we arrive at the state of things in which government shall have been wholly divested of its deliberative and moral discretion, and, indicating little more than the setting of popular currents this way or that, and the determinations of numerical preponderance, shall be a name serving only to record and to bely its original and true conception.--
120. Upon the argument from Scripture for the religious duties of the State, I shall not venture to offer more than a few general remarks. First, before we arrive at the case of the Jewish commonwealth, we find that in primitive times, the paternal, the regal, and the sacerdotal functions were united in the same person. [Dr. Inglis, in his work on National Church Establishments, discusses the argument from the examples of the Old Testament.] Corroborative evidence of this truth appears both in the systems of Egyptian and Oriental religion; and in the records of Greece and Rome. We find its traces in Virgil--
Rex Anius, rex idem hominum, Phoebique sacerdos.
[Aen. iii. 80.]
In the arcwn basileuV of Athens; in the rex sacrificulus of Rome. I refer to these, as probable witnesses that this constitution belonged to the period when the intercourse of men with God was free and familiar; and that it had its ground, like the ordinance of sacrifice, to say the very least, either in our primitive social constitution, or in an express Divine command.
121. The idea of government, as it is exhibited to us in the earliest records of Scripture, includes two great instruments, that of persuasion, and that of control or coercion. As an animal and a rebellious being, man requires the last; as a being of free will, intellect, and affections, he demands the first, as an element of his discipline. The former is represented in religious teaching and ordinance, which work through the will, which lead but do not compel; the latter in civil law, which works without the will, and chiefly leads by compelling. In the Patriarchs these were joined personally. In the Hebrew commonwealth they were separated personally, having divaricated in Moses and Aaron; but they were united nationally, and derived through the lines of kings and priests respectively. "From this it follows, that the union of the Church with the State is not an alliance of two several things, each perfect without the other, but the coalescing of two functions inherent in the first idea of sovereignty. So that both were imperfect until Constantine." [MS. by the Ven. H. E. M.] They represent the two leading processes of Divine government, the one of which works upon what is inward by means of what is outward, the other upon what is outward by means of what is inward; and they integrate one another,
122. The argument of the opponents of national establishments respecting the case of the Jews is, that the theocratic form of their institutions renders their case so wholly exceptional, that its precedents can afford us no analogy. [Stahl, Kirchenverfassung, 282.] Yet the theocracy was, after all, but a narrow and specific form of the general truth of Divine government. It reduced the patriarchal relation of men to the Most High into a shape more palpable to sense, and whose perception was therefore less dependent upon the principle of faith; but the annexation of sacred functions to public institutions was not a novelty then introduced; it was merely a provision for the continuance of an association already familiar.
123. Besides which, we have no warrant for asserting, that the usual administration of the national concerns was conducted by Divine interposition. The sanctions of the moral law were brought nearer to the eyes of men by national triumphs and reverses; the command of God was from time to time announced upon special cases as they arose; but the daily conduct of affairs appears to have been left in the hands of uninspired human agents, who were to judge by the instrumentality of their natural faculties, and to act under the dictates of their consciences, much in the same manner as governors must proceed at this day. Now the Jewish kings appear to have done acts of a character quite as directly religious as at this time we require of Christian States, without any express or special command, and to have been blessed in doing them. Thus Jehoshaphat sent persons throughout Judah for the purpose of inculcating the truths of religion. [2Chron. xvii.7-9] I will not cite the cases of destroying the symbols or the high places of idolatrous use, because there was a definiteness, both in the duty and the crime, which may impair the analogy. But the act of Jehoshaphat appears to me conclusively in point; and I do not know how his competency or his title to perform it can be shown, without showing by implication that the same duty attaches to the nature of modern and Christian sovereignty. It follows that, inasmuch as the will of God approved his measure, the obligation still subsists.
124. The entire Jewish history exhibits in the liveliest form the ideas of national responsibility, national character, national life, and national personality; and I should venture to make a conjecture, though I dare not call it more, that it was the thorough and peculiar impregnation of the whole civil scheme with the functions of religion, which gave to its organisation the tenacity and permanence, that as secondary causes have enabled it to survive such overthrow and discerption as would in any other case have destroyed a hundred times over both the substance and the name of nationality. If such be the case, it follows that we are supported in the general proposition, that the acknowledgment of national religion is a sign and condition of permanence in a political system, and that the period when it shall have been repudiated is one when the social energies are enfeebled and relaxed, and tend towards their dissolution.
125. The inductive argument has already been touched, so far as it signifies or involves the historical affiliation of the principle to a period, when human institutions were modelled upon expressly Divine command. And, so far as it respects the practice of heathen antiquity, I would refer to the second and third books of Bishop Warburton's 'Divine Legation of Moses,' and to the sixth book of Saint Augustine's 'City of God,' not with any view to the peculiar purposes of either of those great works, but only as exhibiting a body of facts, which carry the argument afforded by the general practice of mankind, apart from revelation, to as high a degree of authority as in its nature it can reach. [Works, vol. i. iii. [S. Aug. De Civitate Dei, b. vi.; also b. iv. c. 31, 32. See also Bacon, De Sapientia Veterum, Works, x. 163.]
J 26. The scornful infidelity of Gibbon has indeed alleged, that the politicians of antiquity embodied religion in civil forms, only on account of its convenience for the purposes of government; and his assertion derives a countenance more entitled to respect, from the paradoxical breadth which Warburton, in the volume already cited, has given to his hypothesis respecting the insincerity with which the State religions of old were propagated and maintained. We may, however, freely allow that which St. Augustine has said, that the popular mythologies were disbelieved by the educated minds of antiquity. [De Civ. Dei, b. iv.] It does not follow that they disbelieved the general truth of theism, of which Cicero says, ipsisque in hominibus nulla gens est, neque tam mansueta, neque tam fera, qua non, etiamsi ignoret quotient habere Deum deceat, tamen habendum sciat. [De Legg. i. 8.] It may be vain to look for reality of individual sentiment in the speculative writings of this author; but his extensive knowledge and experience combine with the philosophical timidity of his character to make him an excellent witness to the maxims current among the more enlightened portion of mankind.
127. Is it not more probable, that in many cases statesmen may have used the popular mythologies as the only means of conveying theistical ideas to the vulgar mind, on the principle of Plato, that it was impossible to make the nature of the Deity generally understood? [Plat. Tim. § 9.] and according to the practice of Socrates, when, at the point of death, he vowed a cock to Aesculapius, or in conformity with the views of Plato, who may have adopted this means of showing his approval of such an action? [Plat. Phaedo, 66.] Upon this supposition, which however I advance as representing rather the exception than the rule, more instructed persons may have regarded the prevailing creeds as symbolical exhibitions, yet as the real though imperfect vehicles of a truth which they had no better means of developing, and may have employed them allegorically, as Menenius Agrippa is related to have told the fable of the Belly and the Members; they may have deemed it immaterial, if truth in the spirit were ever so imperfectly conveyed, that untruth in the letter, and even much moral impurity, in condescension to human passions, should be attached to it.
128. The force however of the inductive argument in no degree depends upon the question, whether the statesmen and speculatists of old time credited or rejected those popular mythologies which formed the public religions. Perhaps it might be argued, that the more entire and contemptuous their own unbelief, the more cogent the testimony of their judgment becomes in support of the principle of a national worship, as grounded alike in the necessities of civil order, and in all those higher purposes of human association, by which it so powerfully conduces to the discipline and development of character. In this case, they stand as unwilling and reluctant witnesses to an uniform conviction, that a civil religion is essential to the permanency and well-being of States, and their evidence is weighty in proportion to that unwillingness.
129. It may be less remarkable to find those whose individual temperament might have so disposed them, lamenting the prevalence of unbelief, as in the indignant measures of Juvenal--
Esse aliquid manes et subterranea regna,
Et contum, et Stygio ranas in gurgite nigras,
Atque unst transire vadum tot millia cymba,
Nec pueri credunt, nisi qui nondum cere lavantur.
[Sat. ii. 149.]
Or to see Plato building his ideal republic upon the basis of religion,--Qeon de proV thn thV polewV kataskeuhn epikalwmeqa. [Rep. iv.] Or Cicero in his "Laws,"--Nunc ibidem ab eodem (sc. Jove et a cceterisDls immortalibus sunt nobis agendi capienda primordia. [De Legg. ii. 4.] These were men of theistical schools. But who can avoid being struck by the circumstance, that others of a more hard and dry, of a sceptical, or a rationalising or utilitarian temperament, are found in the same category. Thus Polybius finds the distinctive character of the Roman polity and the cause of the greatness of the city in the peculiar prominence and power of its religious institutions. [Polyb. vi. 56.] Thus Sallust connects the ancient purity and freedom with the solemn worship and strict regard to the gods, the recent corruption with its decay through the ingress of luxury. [Bell. Cat Praef.] Thus, even Horace, contrasting the excess of selfish expenditure in his own time with the noble character of ancient Rome, sets down among the features of the latter a care for the worship of the national deities strangely opposed to the existing neglect. [Compare Od. ii. 15, with iii. 6.] Thus Aristotle places religious institutions among the first essentials of a State; wn aneu poliV ouk an eih. [Pol. vii. 7.]
130. With respect to the practice of Christendom, it has been notorious and all but universal. Dante indeed wrote
Ahi Costantin I di quanto mal fu matre
Non la tua conversion, ma quella dote
Che da te prese il prime ricco patre!
[Inferno, xix. 115]
But it was with respect to the fabulous donation of that emperor to Pope Sylvester, not to his actual support of religion. The authority of practice, from that period to this, is altogether in favour of the general principle that religion should be professed and supported by the State. Even in the United States of America, the only country whose constitution repudiates the practice of lending direct aid, we find an attestation of the position, that the acts of government require to be sanctified and offered up to God by a collective worship. The meetings of her federal legislative body are opened with prayer. It is, I believe, true, that such prayer is offered in rotation by ministers of all persuasions indiscriminately, entered upon a roll or list; Roman, Anglican, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Baptist, Unitarian; I know not how much wider may be the range; I do not ask how far this heterogeneous worship satisfies the commands of that word which proclaims the doctrine of "one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;" but I highly value the acknowledgment, rendered but the more conspicuous in the midst of such anomalies, that, where civil society and government exist, there should be attached to them a religion.
131. And this authority we draw from the conduct, not only of those who have known and loved Christianity, but of those who knew it not, or who knew and hated it. The Church, by the mouths of all her doctors, has taught the religious duties of the State, and the advantages resulting from the connection. It is difficult for those who walk with her not to feel, in a case of such magnitude and vital import to the purposes of her mission, the weight of her sanction. But it receives corroboration from an opposite quarter. The vigorous common sense of Napoleon perceived the necessity of public religion in France, in order, not to the maintenance of the physical life of the nation, but to its elevation towards a moral tone. And Julian the Apostate was sufficiently informed by the experience even of a single generation, to outdo Constantine in the opposite direction. History informs us that he adopted the systematic organisation which the Church was then acquiring, and brought the powers of the State to bear, by a religious establishment, upon the restoration of Paganism. [Milman's Hist, of Christianity, vol. iii. p. 70, et seq.] But all men, it seems, at all places, and in all times, of all characters and creeds, have been mistaken in that in which almost alone they have agreed; and the State ought not to be, and cannot be, religious. Never, surely, was there so old an error exploded by so new a truth.
I would seriously urge that the historical evidence upon the present subject approaches nearly to that universal testimony, of which Aristotle, a mind that flinched from no investigation through servility, has so wisely said--o gar pasi dokei touto einai famen o d anairwn tauthn thn pistin, ou panu pistotera erei [Ar. Eth. x. ii. 4.]
132. One more illustration. As it is admitted that the support of religion by the secular power was universal in the early stages of society, and as it is hardly questioned that such support was then conformable to nature, I think we have a right to demand of the opponent, that he should point out to us at what point in the progress of society that has become wrong in governors, which had formerly been so sacred and essential a duty. In one point of view I allow, that the weight of that charge is diminished. The mind of the subject is now more enlightened, relatively to that of the governing body, than it was many ages back. He is more competent to act on his own judgment, and is less to be bound or led by that of the State. But in another view, the progress of modern civilisation tends, as it seems (at least among ourselves), to press down and to keep down the most numerous class to so low a level in respect of pecuniary means, that a religious provision from the State becomes additionally necessary as society advances, and as the amount of population presses on the means of subsistence, somewhat in the same manner as it has become necessary to make a legal provision for the temporal wants of the poor. It would seem, for example, not unreasonable to argue thus: that if national religion did really befit governments in their commencement, then they cannot be justified in abjuring it, until at the least all the private members of the State are extrinsically supplied with it, that is, are supplied with the means of access to it. For nothing can justify the withholding that supply, in those who have the power to give it, except some inherent incompetency; and that there is no such inherent incompetency in the essential character of governors, their early practice bears sufficient witness.
133. If, on the other hand, we look forward to the idea of a State perfectly organised, and assume its realisation, certainly we cannot but attach to it the idea of a distinct profession of religion, of the acts of religion attending and consecrating all its proceedings and purifying the motives of its instruments, of unity in belief, of consistency in practice, of the ordinances of Christianity brought home to the door, and thus placed within the easy reach of every man. Even should we frame our conception of government upon the lowest negative theory; should we imagine its perfection with reference only to that theory, namely, the defence of life, property, and freedom; yet, if it be perfect, even in this lowest sense, the supposition surely involves, as one of its conditions, a universal access for the people to religion, and the public, national performance of its solemn acts. If we imagine it free from vice and sin in all its members, still more must we include in its conception a devout and systematic worship. It is, therefore, an obvious argument, that if State religion be implied in the idea of the perfect State, then all true approximation to that idea involves the retention and progressive realisation of the principle of State religion; and if, on the contrary, we are, in point of fact, relaxing our hold upon it, and receding from its practice, then we have no right to delude ourselves with the belief that we are upon the whole drawing nearer to a genuine political well-being.
134. Mr. Burke, "one of the greatest teachers of civil prudence," as he has been denominated by the sagacious and candid avowal of his former opponent, Sir James Mackintosh, has taught us, in his 'Thoughts on the French Revolution, that in upholding the principle of a national religion, "we continue to act on the early received and uniformly continued sense of mankind. That sense, not only like a wise architect, hath built up the august fabric of States, but like a provident proprietor, to preserve the structure from profanation and ruin, as a sacred temple, purged from all the impurities of fraud, and violence, and injustice, and tyranny, hath solemnly and for ever consecrated the commonwealth and all that officiate in it." Upon the hypothesis of the opponents of national establishments, nothing can be more unpractical, nothing more visionary; but I trust that a more substantial and sober consideration of the needs of human nature and of the legitimate conditions of human association, has now brought us to the conclusion that truth, and therefore that permanent utility, are at the heart of this glowing diction; just as the accurate drawing of the human form is everywhere preserved beneath the unconfined and majestic draperies of Raphael.
135. Now these views require to be strictly sifted. They cannot rest in mere speculation, but if affirmed as true, will be found full of points of contact with daily life, so far at least as regards that large and increasing portion of the community, who are called under the British constitution to exercise some degree of direct influence upon public affairs. Therefore, before finally resting in the principle, let us ask ourselves whether we have counted the cost? It is very clear that these later times have been parents to an opinion, that government ought to exercise no choice in matters of faith, but leave every man without advice, or aid, or influence, from that source, to choose for himself. And many hold this opinion under an idea that the overthrow of national establishments, as such, will be beneficial to pure and undefiled religion. They hold and contend thus, quite undisturbed in their convictions by the ominous and yet undeniable fact, that they share them with all the enemies of law both human and divine. They know not the acuteness of Satanic instinct. May they become alive to it while there is yet time! But we have to calculate, as will presently be seen, upon encountering not merely the political difficulties which these strangely mingling classes of men will create, but likewise the more bitter and more painful reproach that we are injuring the cause of Him, whom, in maintaining the union between Church and State, we profess to serve.