Chapter III. The Theory of the Connection between the Church and the State. Part II. The Inducements of the State in Respect to Religion.
1. THUS far upon those reasons for national religion, which, according mainly to the principles of theism, are derivable from a view of the intrinsic nature of political association, as it is impersonated in the State. I now proceed to touch separately upon the argument from consequences, which is the basis of the treatises of Bishop Warburton and Dr. Chalmers, and is also the ground that has been selected for the most part by the opponents of religious establishments.
2. It is one thing, to say that the inherence of any given quality is necessary to any given creature in order to the accomplishment of its purposes whether higher or lower, and another, to say that such a quality attaches to it as one of the proper conditions of its being. It is true that the results of these two forms of argument are precisely coincident one with the other. That which is a condition of the due being of a thing is essential to the attainment of its ends; and that which is necessary to the attainment of its ends is likewise a condition of its legitimate constitution.
But there are practical differences of great weight between these several modes of conducting our investigations. When we treat of such and such a quality, for example, of religion in a State, as advantageous or even essential for the accomplishment of its purposes, we at once depress it into the character of an instrument, and exhibit it as subordinate to the end contemplated; we treat of a duty as though it derived its binding power (under the Divine law) from something posterior to its performance and extrinsic to itself; we separate it, as it were, mentally, from the constitution of the subject; and we introduce more or less the element of contingency, and a dependence on calculations which are in their nature very far removed from certainty, into the question of its adoption. And that adoption stands in the mind as at most the issue of a probable judgment upon difficult subject-matter, instead of ranking among those cardinal principles which the sense and practice of mankind have usually recognised as certainly discernible by the eye of a purer reason, the faculty of intuition, and as alone properly entitled to the name of science. What in the one theory we discover to be fundamental and anterior to human sanctions, in the other we hold as an opinion revocable by the authority that gave it, as in its nature indifferent, and as shining at best by a reflected light.
In this branch of the inquiry, therefore, the State is assumed as calculating and deliberative, but not as properly moral.
3. Having thus expressed a preliminary caution, I now contend, that religion is necessary to the attainment whether of the higher or the lower ends of government. But, first, it may be questioned if this distinction of ends be legitimate. There is, indeed, a doctrine that political society exists only for "material, outward, and mere earthly objects;" that it is a contrivance prompted by necessity for the defence of life and property through the establishment of peace and order; that it is a formula for producing a maximum of individual freedom by an apparent sacrifice, a small payment beforehand, of the same commodity, from each member of the community to the State. Here is the fulfilment of the declaration of Burke, that the age of economists, sophisters, and calculators has arrived. Here is the twin sister of that degraded system of ethics or individual morality, the injurious legacy of Locke, which received its full popular development from Paley, and was reduced to forms of greater accuracy by Bentham; which in logical self-consistency sought to extirpate the very notion of duty from the human heart and even to erase its name from language, and which made pleasure and pain the moral poles of the universe. [Thoughts on the French Revolution, p. 148. Essay on the Human Understanding, h. ii. ch. xxi., on Power.] So long as this theory of moral obligation continues to receive among us any portion of that sanction which was once unhappily bestowed on it in places of authority, it must (as the ultimate standard of all our philosophy is to be found in the state of the individual conscience,) depress to its own level every other branch of moral science. But now, when the utilitarian morals have been attacked in the very places of their strength, we may hope that the days of their reign are numbered, and upon the basis of a right conception of man single, we shall naturally found a right conception of man combined and organised. [See Professor Whewell's Four Sermons upon the Principles of Ethics, preached before the University of Cambridge.]
4. To ascertain the ends of government we must not resort to this or that notion, prevalent in a particular country or generation. It is, indeed, not less sad than instructive, when we extend our view to a larger range of time and of space, to behold the vagaries of human opinion, each revelling within its own domain, be it a little narrower or be it a little wider; each entertained with the most undoubting confidence by partisans, each destined to speedy supersession by the favourites of the coming hour, and either to undergo a final extinction, or to be fixed upon the wheel of some metempsychosis, to appear and reappear, and to merge and merge again. All these in the mean time are condemned out of the mouths of one another by their own irreconcileable contradictions; among which are, notwithstanding, thinly scattered the fragments of true knowledge, slighted, perhaps, yet enduring, bound by their consistency to one another, and by their common hold upon God, the rock of their foundation. These are they which find occasional manifestation in what is termed the universal sense of mankind, approved by the general conscience, and corroborated even by apparent exceptions. So that there is at all times an inner region where Truth,--
Weak Truth, aleaning on her crutch,
[Tennyson's Poems, vol. i.]
exerts nevertheless her centripetal attraction, and rewards them that seek her, and retains in often unconscious connection with her those whom their individual or partial impulses are drawing off in this direction or in that, far from her, perhaps farther still from one another.
5. Now this universal sense of mankind exclaims against the crude and novel dogma, that the State is appointed to be conversant with material ends alone. It speaks to us in the voice of the best philosophies, and in the common rule of governments, amply recognised, though, like all other moral rules, always unfulfilled. It speaks to us in the praise of those monarchs who have fostered the inward and spiritual life of man; of Constantine, of Theodosius, of Charlemagne, of St. Louis, of our own Alfred and Elizabeth, and in the unwept departure of those who have had no care either for civilising arts or for the propagation of the Divine life; not least of all in the fact, that care for the material advantage of the subject has been generally commensurate on the part of rulers with their wise and effective concern for his higher welfare as an immaterial and an immortal being. I do not say that the most pious have uniformly been the most successful princes, more than that the best private persons have uniformly prospered; but that wise or devout sovereigns have been remarkable also for regarding the temporal, and able and sagacious princes for regarding the spiritual and intellectual welfare of the people. And the nature of a State itself reclaims, as we have seen, against the limitation of its functions to the negative ends of securing person and property; by its hold upon the heart and affections of man, by its innumerable and powerful influences upon his character and his destiny, by its dealing with moral subject-matter; attributes, all far too large to be included within such a definition.
6. Finally, to determine how this question is resolved for us as Christians, what says the Divine word? That the ruler "beareth the sword for the punishment of evil doers and for the praise of them that do well." [Romans xiii. 4; and 1 Pet. iii. 14.] I do not cite this passage, as in former times it has been employed, in order to demonstrate that rulers have duties directly religious; but I contend that it describes them as appointed to maintain a moral law according to all their means and opportunities; and therefore, by the very force of the terms, a law not having exclusive reference to results which are not moral at all, but merely negative. "The punishment of evil doers" is a principle meaning something more than that the ruler must intercept those descriptions of evil deeds which are capable of being classified (for this is the point really at issue) according to their directly injurious effects upon social order; although it of course does not imply his undertaking correction of all kinds independently of the degree of his competency to administer it, yet it surely must imply, that he is to look at the moral element in acts, and to use it as a criterion of their social consequences.
7. And so it has been interpreted: otherwise, why does law attach the very same penalty (for example) to the murder of a widowed pauper, a burden to the State, and having no friends or relations who might be excited to violate public order by avenging her death, and to the murder of the wealthiest and most beloved nobleman of the land? Or why is the provocation received allowed to be an element in the case of a person arraigned for taking away life, but because motives (when proved or fairly presumable) as well as acts are legitimately regarded by public law? If I am asked, on the other hand, why the life of a sovereign should be protected by severer penalties than that of a subject, I reply, not only because that life is more valuable and its violent extinction more injurious to society, but likewise because the sacredness of the person and the function of majesty positively enhance the guilt of the murderer in foro conscientia. So much for penal administration.
8. If we look to the other branch of the Scriptural definition, we shall find that the materialised theory of government leaves scarcely any space for the ruler's contemplating "the praise of them that do well." And practically it has been found, that in proportion to its prevalence has grown up an extreme popular jealousy on the subject of pecuniary rewards, and a tendency to narrow in the same degree the discretion of the governing body; except, indeed, as to honorary distinctions, of which, as being upon the same hypothesis mere shadows void of all reality, it exacts little or no account.
9. After all that has been said, I propose that my last witness in favour of the comprehensive theory of the functions of government shall be the popular opinion of the day itself, by which that theory has been commonly resisted. Nay, there are dogmas even peculiarly inculcated by those who resist the principle of State religion, that can only be supported upon this theory. They who say that the State has only to do with the security of person and property and the like, must also, in consistency with the conclusions which they draw against the doctrine of religious establishments, be understood to mean that in the employment of means for that end, it is restricted to such as have a direct and palpable bearing upon it, and are in kindred subject-matter; otherwise they are not at liberty to urge their theory against national religion, inasmuch as its friends are ever ready to argue that nothing can more effectually, nay, that nothing can so effectively, give security to persons and property and stability to public order. But of the instances I am about to cite some have certainly no other than a very remote connection with external and material ends: inasmuch indeed as, in a comprehensive view, the higher instruments of human cultivation are also ultimate guarantees of public order, it may be difficult to demonstrate in the negative, that they are not used simply in the view of their conduciveness to material ends; yet all reasonable presumptions are with us, as nothing can be more contrary to analogy than the supposition of a great mental and moral machinery provided exclusively to subserve purposes of a temporal, external, and material nature.
10. I allude, then, first, to the practice so familiar to the governments of civilised countries, and so commonly that we may well term it universally approved, by which the State lends its aid to the cultivation of the principles of art among the people, and to the diffusion and encouragement of learning. Among ourselves, for example, such institutions as great libraries have long been aided by the public funds, or contributions of the copies of all literary works, exacted by public authority. One of these, as well as a great museum of natural science, and galleries of statuary and pictures, dignifies the British metropolis. And all of these are, I apprehend, supported without exciting any discontent in any portion of the community. Take, for instance, the English National Gallery, an institution decidedly popular, yet one in which the State provides the building and the pictures, at the general cost, at the cost equally of those who enter the doors and of those who pass them by.
11. Although some of us may be of the belief, that Art was intended to cherish some of the faculties of the human mind highly conducive to its perfection, and to subserve the yet loftier purposes of religion; yet others may and do hold the opinion, that Art in its refined sense, is essentially trifling, or even if not so, yet has been so mischievous in its effects on religion, that it ought no longer to be encouraged. Still the State offers to its individual member those humanising influences which are derived from the contemplation of Beauty embodied in the works of the great masters of painting, at the cost of both these classes alike, without asking any suffrage of dissentients, and yet without raising any remonstrance. Now although in this country, where so little has been done by national means for the fine arts, it may appear that this is in bulk at least a trifling item of public expenditure, and therefore of small concern, I answer that it is quite sufficient, even as it is here exemplified, to support the principle; and that in other countries, at least, the amounts which are devoted to this kind of outlay are in themselves very considerable, and have sometimes exhausted no mean proportion of the national funds. Expeditions undertaken for the advancement of science, and establishments aided or maintained for its promotion, are indications of the same principle.
12. The connection of the Crown with our Universities yields perhaps, however, the most emphatic testimony borne by our existing institutions to the concern of Government in the general culture of the people. In them, according to their idea, all rudimental and inferior learning is to receive its consummation: and they can only, according to our constitutional practice, exist by the direct act and warrant of the Crown. And if we recur to our earlier history we shall find abundant evidence, sometimes, as under James the Second, from the abuse of the power in question; at other times, and most commonly, from its careful and paternal employment; that this connection was by no means intended to be nominal or dormant.
13. But the opinion of the day affords me a further testimony so strong and so palpably relevant, that with the present generation it ought to be conclusive. It is the testimony of that sentiment which may fairly be termed in this country universal, that the Government has a legitimate concern in the education of the people. There are indeed differences among us, both as to the matter and the organs of that education. But all the parties which divide the country seem to be agreed in thinking that the education ought to be provided; that the Government ought to assist in its provision; and that it should be of such a character as is not limited to external and material ends. Here therefore we have a concurrent assent, from quarters the most opposite, to the maxim, that government is bound to regard the culture of the mind and understanding of the people as a portion of its legitimate province. Although some may say that the people are to be educated for the security of life and property, yet none will contend that this is the sole matter of instruction which the State may propose to regard in the assistance it affords to popular teaching. And the argument which I should derive from this position is short and simple. The general cultivation, thus recognised as a duty of the State, can only be made either permanent or beneficial by the application of religion; and it follows that if government is bound to the pursuit of the end, it is also bound to the employment of the means, so that those who hold the first have in logical consequence virtually established the second.
14. I would further ask, why does the State clothe all its proceedings in the outward forms of dignity or beauty? Why do we indulge in what has been termed the expensive luxury of monarchy? Why are buildings for the use of the Legislature to be erected on a scale of the greatest architectural magnificence? Why are imposing insignia employed in the discharge of the most solemn functions of government? It is not difficult to reply, that such an exterior most truly corresponds with, and best represents, the inward dignity of those functions, as they are connected with the realisation among men of grand but also true and practical ideas. But how will the question be met by those who contend, that the State exists only for the ends of security to persons and property, or the growth of wealth? They abstract from the latter: I believe that they contribute to the former: that as mere external shows they impose upon the uninstructed, and generate a sentiment of reverence which, in the absence of thoroughly intellectual habits, is conducive to general respect for the laws and to the maintenance of public tranquillity. But observe the dilemma. If this be not only a consequence, but the reason and ground of their existence, then in proportion as we are emancipated from prejudice, and as we become more and more creatures of pure intelligence, the great acts of government will lay aside all those solemnities which are confessedly not of the essence of its duty, and which on this supposition it would be unnatural not to disuse, when the purposes they served for a time are better answered by the direct and unaided action of the understanding; nothing more than what is absolutely necessary will be allowed for the discharge of public functions, and the expenses of all splendour and even of decorum will, if we reason with perfect consistency, be viewed as so much plunder from the national treasury. Undoubtedly a perfect wisdom would be best able entirely to dispense with all exterior dignity and beauty: yet it would also, I conceive, be most solicitous, in due proportion always to the things symbolised, to retain them. But according to this false theory it is literally true, that every advance in the love of knowledge and of truth will be attended by a commensurate decline in the love of beauty in its largest sense, their divinely constituted apparel.
15. Let us, then, embrace the contrary position that the end of government is the discipline and cultivation of the human nature, and the promotion of its general well-being, by all such instruments as are conformable to its own laws and conditions of being. As these laws include moral and spiritual elements, so of those instruments some may, as we are entitled prima facie to presume, be moral and spiritual. The effect of such a definition on the argument will be this:--that with reference to the use of any given instrument of culture which has not a direct bearing upon material ends, it must not be refused, in limine, as inappropriate to the nature of government; but the question of its harmony or discrepancy must be examined, and it will be allowable or even obligatory, to employ or reject the instrument, according as the one or the other is established.
16. Now religion, or obligation to a Power higher than himself, is the main condition and instrument of the general cultivation of man. That it has ever been so regarded we have abundant proof, independently of the authentic instruction of Christianity. For a moment Lucretius might boast, that it had fallen beneath the blows of his master Epicurus:--
Primum Graius homo mortales tollere contra
Est oculos ausus, prhnusque obsistere contra;. . . .
Quare Relligio pedibus subjecta vicissim
Obteritur; nos exsequat victoria caelo. [i. 67, 79.]
And such a tradition has revived, at intervals scattered along the course of the history of the world. But both the wisest and by far the largest portions of mankind have reclaimed against its tenour; and to our human faculties there is no more satisfactory criterion of truth among controverted opinions, than that it is found where numbers, understanding, and virtue coincide. As respects the wisest; how does religion form the staple of the subject-matter of all the higher philosophy of the ancients! It attracts as a centre the mysterious questionings of the heart, and the speculations of the intellect revolve around it. Sometimes acknowledging the need of guidance; touto ge dh panteV, osoi kai kata bracu swfrosunhV metecousin, epi pantoV ormh kai smikrou kai megalou pragmatoV qeon aei pou kalousin. [Plat. Timaeus, 8.] Sometimes deploring the absence of divine revelation; pote oun parestai o cronoV outoV, w SwkrateV, kai tiV o paideuswn [Plat. Alcib. Secund. § 23.] Sometimes admitting the universally pervasive power of the supreme Deity:
A Jove principium, musse, Jovis omnia plena.
[Virgil, Ecl. iii. 60, from Aratus, Phaenom. v. 1, Cf. Cic. de Repub. i. 36.]
Deum namque ire per omnes,
Terrasque tractusque maris coelumque profundum.
[Georg. iv. 221.]
Sometimes seeming to grasp clearly the combined character of the Creator and Father of men. Huc enim pertinet, animal hoc providum, sagax, multiplex, acutum, memor, plenum rationis et consilii, quern vocamus hominem, praeclara quadam conditione generatum esse a summo Deo. [Cic. de Legg. i. 7.] Inter bonos viros ac Deum amicitia est, conciliante virtute. Amicitiam dico? Imo etiam necessitudo et similitudo. Quoniam quidem bonus ipse tempore tantum a Deo differt, discipulus ejus aemulatorque et vera progenies; quem parens ille magnificus, virtutum non lenis exactor, sicut severi patres, durius educat..... Bonum virum in deliciis non habet: experitur, indurat, sibi illum praeparat. [Seneca, De Providentia, c. i.] It has been thought that Aristotle affords an exception to this general rule, and that in his Ethics he attempts to construct a system of human practice without reference to deity. But in truth it is far otherwise. His ethical system is avowedly an introductory one, and it terminates in the exact adaptation of the human to the Divine life. [Eth. Nic. b. x. c. vii. viii.]
17. And as of science, so also was religion the life of art. If I further cite in this place its pervading all the systems of civil government, as a proof of its being the first instrument of human culture, it is not in ignorance of the fact that State religions were frequently impositions deliberately palmed upon a credulous multitude. In truth the argument is, as we have seen, [Ch. ii. § 115, 116] hereby strengthened. For here, according to the supposition, were governors, themselves void of all belief in the mythological worship which they upheld, yet sedulously impressing it upon the people; why this but from the experience of its results? of its power in part by the images of beauty and grandeur to humanise the rude minds of men; in part by the solemnities of the oath, to maintain the cementing influence of a reverence for truth; to attract veneration to the person of the ruler by his participation in sacred offices; and thus to consolidate the social body, as well as through terror to restrain from crime. [Polyb. b. VI. C. lvi.] Even this last was a great though negative instrument of civilisation; it was the best and only one which, while Paganism reigned, was applicable to the masses of men. It tended to check deterioration at least that would otherwise have been accelerated, if it did not guarantee actual improvement. I rely much, therefore, even upon those accounts of the origin of religion which, as that of Polybius, for example, represent it as introduced into States for the purposes of kingcraft or of social order; because, however unhistorical in themselves, they afford at least the important witness of their authors to its power and necessity as an instrument of general cultivation. [Polyb. b. vi. C. lvi. See also Varro in St. Aug. de Civ. Dei, b. iv. c. xxxi. xxxii.] There is also a still lower theory of its first reception, that of Capaneus in Statius,
which has been expanded by Lucretius and the whole Epicurean school. [Lucr. v. 1165. And ibid. v. 1217.] For even these recognise the fixed belief of mankind, that it was both required and adapted to exercise that function of repression and control, which is an essential though elementary part of our discipline as men. The stratagem was not the thought of a moment, nor the peculiarity of a single spot, nor the mean shift of feeble minds, but it was at least the scheme of all ages and all places, and of the subtlest and most sagacious wisdom that mankind could boast.
18. And when we arrive at the case of the Christian religion,- which effects the restoration of the relation between man and his Creator, we find at once that the spiritual principle claims the sovereignty over his whole existence. Body, soul, and spirit, each and all with their whole strength, are to be offered up to God. Life is now no longer a collection of temporal occupations terminating, as to any calculable results, upon this world; nor yet a mixture of such with a separate system of spiritual occupations belonging to another state; but one homogeneous discipline, by instruments some of which are visible and some unseen; having some of its parts directly and exclusively spiritual, some in their first aspect temporal, but all truly spiritual, because, whatever may be the outward form and immediate subject-matter, all tend to the formation of habits in the man, and each of these habits in its degree disposes him, in a manner either favourable or adverse to the union and amalgamation of his will with the will of God. Therefore there is but one absolute end of all human functions, although there be many intermediate and secondary ends. All the offices and all the incidents that attach to our condition are providentially adapted to the elaboration of this great work. All the actings and all the sufferings which may mark our earthly destiny are of small moment when considered in themselves, as compared with those results which they leave behind them, stamped inwardly upon us. In religion, then, we see the one truly supreme and universal form of the human life, as it was redeemed by Christ, under which and from which, as from a mould, every other must receive its proper character and its modifications. That is to say, in every act of every system, the thing first and most to be remembered by every man as a man is, that he is a member of Christ. This consideration is to be applied by him to any proposed action, both as a limiting condition and as a moving force; that which he omits or does, he omits or does in virtue of it; all must be judged by a comparison with it; all must bear fruit for good, through their conformity to it, or for evil by reason of their discrepancy from it.
19. And even so, allowing for the interval which must still separate the conduct from the principles of men, it has actually been. For in practice, and even against his will, if not through it, religion is the great instrument of making man; of forming, moulding, educating him. In spite of his inborn aversion to things divine, the religion of a country is ever found by actual experience to exercise a more determining influence upon its character and destinies, than any other cause. It penetrates into men through innumerable channels, unseen as well as visible, and not only as proposing motives and reasons from without, but by actually conveying into the breast a hidden influence, which works at the very roots of the will.
20. And it has pleased God at times, even apart from miracle, to command the course of events to yield the most illustrious proofs of the might of His revelation. Let us look to the period of the crumbling away of the great image of the Roman Empire. [Dan. ii. 31-35, and 40-43.] Even as the Redeemer descended into the grave, and made it the source of a new spiritual life, so did Christianity go down into that sepulchre of national corruption, to which the world had already verged at the time when the Church began to gather sway, and impregnated it with the seeds at once of religious energy and of a brighter and better civilisation than mankind had yet beheld. The Church did place herself at the head of speculation, of art, of power, of social and of military (which were not wholly unsocial) institutions, and did in a word educate the entire man. The day came, when art, unsatisfied with its glorious career, sought emancipation from the power of religion, and obtained it; made the expression of divine and immaterial beauty the second object, and external design in its several requisites the first. [Rio, L'Art Chretien; and Romsbeschreibung, vol. i.]
Ex illo fluere ac retro sublapsa referri.
[AEn. ii. 169.]
The similar emancipation of philosophy gave us Lockes and Paleys, instead of Dantes and Lord Bacons. The man of our own day who has stood pre-eminent for the powers of speculative thought, far above all others of his generation in his country, Mr. Coleridge, has been the man that has also laboured with might and main to re-establish the maternal relation between theology and all other science. Let us hear his own words:
"There is one department of knowledge which, like an ample palace, contains within itself mansions for every other knowledge;......it is biblical theology, the philosophy of religion, the religion of philosophy" [Coleridge's Letters, vol. i. p. 13.]
And again of the middle ages:
"The theologians took the lead, because the science of theology was the root and the trunk of the knowledges that civilised man, because it gave unity and the circulating sap of life to all other sciences, by virtue of which alone they could be contemplated as forming collectively the living tree of knowledge." [Coleridge's Church and State, ch. iv. p. 51, ed. 1839.]
21. But there is no more striking proof of the power of religion as an instrument of general culture, than that refinement and true delicacy which it spreads throughout all classes of the community. In fact, if we compare the Christian peasantry (for instance) of Great Britain, among whom so much of courtesy without adulation, and of genuine elevation of feeling, energy of personal conscience, and love of truth, are to be found, with their heathen ancestors, we shall find that these qualities are not reasonably to be accounted for by reference to greater intellectual culture as their source, much less do they proceed from, though they harmonise with, a state of comfort superior in many points to that of their remote forefathers; but that they are usually owing to the presence of religion as a peacefully indwelling and governing principle, the blessed result of a parochial system. It might also be allowable to cite the experience of those who have engaged in schemes of benevolence for the civilization of savages; and who still find, as it was found of yore, that Christianity alone affords the basis of a lasting general culture. [Report of the Aborigines Committee of the House of Commons, 1837.] Considered, then, simply in the light of an instrument available for the general cultivation of men, religion is most appropriate to the service of the State.
22. Montesquieu has summed up as follows the causes which form, as he says, l'esprit général, that national character which must be taken as the basis of legislation; qu'on nous laisse comme nous sommes. The constituents of this national life are--
4. Rules of State.
5. Ancestral traditions.
7. Fashions. [Esprit des Loix, xix. 4-6.]
But this idea is more powerfully represented elsewhere. I need not apologise for introducing in this place a passage of no less truth than grandeur, which, by unfolding the system of instruments whose combined action nourishes and forms a true national life, likewise indicates how many are the objects which, in such measure as time and opportunities permit, a State may embrace within its view:
23. "We will venture to say how, in the mercy of God to man, this heart comes to a nation, and how its exercise or affection appears. ... It comes by priests, by lawgivers, by philosophers, by schools, by education, by the nurse's care, the mother's anxiety, the father's severe brow. It comes by letters, by science, by every art, by sculpture, painting, and poetry, by the song on war, on peace, on domestic virtue, on a beloved and magnanimous king, by the Iliad, by the Odyssey, by tragedy, by comedy. It comes by sympathy, by love, by the marriage union, by friendship, generosity, meekness, temperance; by every virtue and example of virtue. It comes by sentiments of chivalry, by romance, by music, by decorations, and magnificence of buildings; by the culture of the body, by comfortable clothing, by fashions in dress, by luxury and commerce. It comes by the severity, the melancholy, and benignity of the countenance; by rules of politeness, ceremonies, formalities, solemnities. It comes by the rites attendant on law and religion; by the oath of office, by the venerable assembly, by the judge's procession and trumpet, by the disgrace and punishment of crimes; by public prayer, public fasts; by meditation, by the Bible, by the consecration of churches, by the sacred festival, by the cathedral's gloom and choir; by catechising, by confirmation, by the burial of the dead, by the observance of the sabbath, by the Sacraments, by the preaching of the Gospel, by faith in the atonement of the cross; by the patience and martyrdom of the Saints, by the sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost.....Whence the heart of a nation comes, we have, perhaps, sufficiently explained; and it must appear, to what most awful obligations are held those, from whom this heart takes its texture and shape; our king, our princes, our nobles, all who wear the badge of office or honour; all priests, judges, senators, pleaders, interpreters of law; all instructors of youth, all seminaries of education, all parents, all learned men, all professors of science and art, all teachers of manners. Upon them depend the fashions of a nation's heart; by them it is to be chastised, refined, and purified; by them is the State to lose the character and title of the beast of prey; by them are the iron scales to fall off, and a skin of youth, beauty, freshness, and polish, to come upon it; by them it is to be made so tame and gentle, as that a child may lead it."
[I copy from a fragment (which is cited in a letter of Mr. Basil Montague's to the editor of the Life of Sir James Mackintosh, vol. i. p. 159) of a sermon delivered by Dr. Ramsden, in 1800, before the University of Cambridge. If there be no full record of this magnificent production, it does not speak well for the generation to which it was given.]
24. There is, however, a lower theory of civil government, according to which its end is either simply negative, and lies in the avoidance of certain kinds of evil, namely of injury to property and persons; or, so far as it is positive, is conversant only with the modes, direct or indirect, of accumulating the means of material enjoyment. "Political power, then," says Locke, "I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the commonwealth from foreign injury; and all this for the public good. [Locke on Civil Government, ii. i. §3; ix. § 123, 124; and First Letter on Toleration. Warburton's Alliance, b. i. ch. iv.--"Whatever, therefore, refers to the body is in his (the magistrate's) jurisdiction; whatever to the soul, is not." Hoadly's Answer to the Representation of the Committee of the Lower House of Convocation, ch. ii. sect. xi. Memoire en Faveur de la Liberté des Cultes, par A. Vinet: Paris, 1826. A theory somewhat similar is to be found in the Edinburgh Review, April, 1839, pp. 235, 236, 273, 276. Paley has avoided this rock, holding "that the jurisdiction of the magistrate is limited by no consideration but that of general utility."--Moral Phil., b. vi. ch. x. The prima mali labes is, I suppose, to be found in the passage which I have cited from Locke] Even according to this restricted view, I contend that national religion is not only useful, but absolutely requisite, in order to the full realisation of the purposes of government.
25. Indeed their attainment must, in strictness, at the very best, be partial: it follows that, as the means for ensuring them are at all events defective, we cannot properly dispense with any of them; and that a condition of society in which there are impediments which prevent any of them from being brought to bear, is an essentially vicious condition.
Now it is agreed on all hands to be the duty of the lawgiver to aim not merely at the punishment of criminals, but at the prevention of crime; and indeed that, in the regulation of penalties, he must take into his calculations the manner in which they will probably operate as examples. He may punish crime when it occurs; he may weaken the temptations to its commission by known and efficient provisions for its detection, and by the intelligibility and certainty of the law. But he thus acts only on the fears of man, and, indeed, upon his apprehensions in their grossest form, in which they most approximate to the brute creation, namely, as having reference to immediate consequences. Nor has he any power to act otherwise; indeed, he may be materially checked in the use even of these instruments by circumstances defying his control. There are morbid states of the public mind, in which sympathy with the criminal is not duly subordinated to abhorrence of the crime, and in which, accordingly, the lawgiver must either lower the scale of penalties beneath the amount necessary to deter men from offending; or he must endanger the whole administration of criminal justice by placing or leaving it fundamentally out of harmony with the public sentiment.
26. In this dilemma, Religion offers him her aid. She points out that it is hers to act more powerfully even upon the apprehensions of men by denouncing against sin the terrors of eternal punishment. She adds, that there are other and nobler means of moving or controlling the human heart. Reward, which the temporal ruler can so rarely make available, she exhibits to the view of men in its most durable and majestic form. But she does much more than this, and operates more effectually within the pale of the Christian dispensation, through more legitimate principles of duty. It is her prerogative to penetrate into the deepest recesses of the heart, and, sitting at the very fountain of action, to alter and regulate its springs. She provides the human being with a new canon of right and wrong; and, by a subtle and potent influence, she assimilates his inward composition to the code she has delivered, with the Divine commission in her hand, and the promises of revelation as the unfailing support of her labours. Thus the man, whom she begins to govern, clings to the acts of duty for their own sake; they coincide with the bias of his renewed nature; and he will now undergo menaced pains for their sake under the same law of an inner impulse as would previously have led him to dare the penalties of statutes rather than forbear to gratify his appetites. And as his dispositions are thus brought into radical harmony with the commands of the lawgiver, so also he will have learned through the same agency to recognise in his rulers an appointed ministry of God.
27. So much for that function of the State which regards the repression of crime; and if we look to the other branch of the definition, and inquire how Religion will affect the private person with respect to the positive end of acquiring outward goods, we find that she forms in him the habits of care, industry, and forethought, and that she teaches him to regard as portions of his sacred duty the maintenance of his family, and the avoidance of all enervating luxury; the very results which a secular and even materialising policy should most desire to secure.
28. If we regard the will of the State in its relations with that of the private person, it is easy to show yet more specifically how Christianity tends, by making men good subjects and citizens, to reconcile these often conflicting principles. It is by destroying that law of self-will and self-worship, the ancient idol, the great lie of this world, which galls and scourges us even until now. The antagonist truth is, that our mere will does not constitute a rightful law of action, but is always to be led by regard to extrinsic grounds of duty, to grounds assuming a thousand appearances, which are themselves but signs of the supreme will, our true and only law. It is by teaching man not only his actual poverty, but his moral and essential dependence; by teaching him, that the mere fact of his wishing to do this or that does not constitute a reason for doing it, unless he can trace that wish up to some higher cause or object; that Religion takes away the grand principle, as of individual, so likewise of social misery and disorder.
29. Undoubtedly she does not propose to private persons the will of governors, as constituting in all cases a law to which they are implicitly to submit; this were to substitute one human idol for another. But she does this: she inculcates absolute obedience to all law not sinful, while it continues to be law, as the essential condition of order in societies. And with respect to the alteration of laws, or the introduction of new ones, she puts every individual in a condition to exercise with contentment the function which the constitution assigns to him, be it that of merely expressing his desires, or that of giving any suffrage or decision upon the subject-matter proposed; because she commands one and all concerned to abjure the law of private inclination, and to direct their observation to the common reason and justice of the case, which all should be, and when they have obeyed those injunctions all are, able in a considerable degree to appreciate. If it be replied, men do not obey these injunctions, it is only equivalent to saying, men are not thoroughly penetrated by the influence of religion, and this, instead of weakening, only enhances the inducement to avail ourselves of every probable and reasonable means of bringing them under her more effectual control. "Dire que la Religion n'est pas un motif reprimant, parce qu'elle ne reprime pas toujours, c'est dire que les loix civiles ne sont pas un motif reprimant non plus." [Montesquieu, Esprit des Loix, xxiv. 2.]
30. We have, then, these distinct heads, under which the efforts of Christianity, in the due development of its functions, directly and most powerfully aid the purposes of the State, by proposing more powerful motives to do good and avoid evil; by the general development and invigoration of the human faculties; by the formation, in particular, of the active habits most conducive to the order of the State; by removing the great obstructions to unity and peace in societies, caprice, self-sufficiency, arbitrary will; and thus predisposing the minds of men to submit to reason. I might well add, by the importance which must be given, on religious principles, to peace, as a distinct substantive object, for which, independently of its positive results, and when considered merely as implying the absence of the opposite evils, much ought to be sacrificed and endured.
31. There also seem to be more specifically political uses of religion. It is religion that softens and humanises warfare; it is religion that enables States with security to economise human suffering, and to mitigate the sharpness of their penal codes; because, reminding men (to say no more) of future rewards and punishments, it provides a consideration which stands, whether more or less, in the place of legal sanctions. [Ibid. xxiv. 14:--"Moins la religion sera reprimante, plus les loix civiles doivent reprimer."]
It is religion that has often neutralised in part the evil and the sin of private quarrels, when it has invested them with the form, as in the case of the ordeal by battle, of simple appeal to God as the final and supreme Arbiter. The very remission of physical labour which has belonged to religious festivals in general, to those of Christianity in particular, and most of all to the Christian Sabbath, is to be regarded as a direct and great gift of religion to society at large. 32. But further, religion has not always been a development of truth differing only in its amount, or of truth clearly preponderating over error, as the preceding argument seems to assume. Besides the genuine substance of revelation, which acts thus beneficially upon men, there are also semblances and counterfeits, which, though fictitious, yet, partly by outward resemblance, and partly by their secret unconscious hold on human pride, interest, or passion, are commonly taken for Religion, and, operating under her name, appeal to those genuine and best sympathies which she commands, so as to usurp for sinister purposes much of her power. In general, indeed, where Divine Truth is known, these hostile forms are artful mixtures of her real substance with falsehood. Hence it has been under the name of religion that many of the most anti-social doctrines have been promulgated, and with the most fearfully disorganising consequences; as, for example, by the first Anabaptists of Germany, and by the Fifth-Monarchy-men of England. Hence, beyond the Christian pale, we have seen in Egypt [Herod, ii. 49] and in Babylon [Ibid. i. 199] religion become the direct ally of lust: in the Suttee, as formerly in the worship of Moloch, the actual destroyer of human life: in the wide-spread institution of caste, the instrument of establishing among men, instead of a law of love, almost a law of mutual aversion and contempt. How, then, are these to be repressed, but by the promulgation of a genuine system which shall appeal with clearer credentials to the same potent motives, and shall enlist them on the side of order? Thus, therefore, it is directly in the interest of government generally to enter into alliance with true religion, for the sake of avoiding those great positive hazards which, as history shows, are continually apt to arise from fanaticism in its various forms.
33. Now, further, it is a general maxim of State policy, that in order to civil unity the sovereign power ought to be in direct alliance with all the greater social forces which act upon the community. That, too, which is intended to be first in a nation, ought to be separated by a considerable interval from what is second, lest the distinction be too fine to be perceived by the common eye. If we consider the tendency of religion in proportion to its vital prevalence to draw forth generous gifts, and consequently to accumulate endowments, we shall find that, in respect of mere property, the Church, in the natural course of its extension, tends towards a condition in which the regulation of its property might wholly derange the social machine unless it be placed under some special supervision and control of the civil authority, to which all property is of right subject. Yet mere property affords no adequate measure of the social power and magnitude of religion. [See Bishop (J. B.) Sumner, Charge I.]
34. It was the misfortune of France under the Capetian dynasty, that her monarch was but one degree more powerful than several of his great feudatories; it was the simultaneous felicity of England, that, from the time of the Conqueror generally, a very broad line was drawn in respect of possessions as well as of prerogatives between him who sat on the throne and those who surrounded it. Now religion, as long as it has any sort of unity, and dwelling as it does in earthen vessels, may, if apart from the State, become too strong for the State, and its professors may use their power against the legitimate designs of civil government. It is true that we find a remedy for this dilemma in the sorer evil of such an extensive prevalence of schism, as shall prevent the growth of a common religious feeling, by placing what ought to be its constituent parts in a state of reciprocal antagonism, and leaving them as rival interests to neutralise one another. [Wealth of Nations, iii. 210-212.] But such an alternative we may dismiss from our consideration, as far more pernicious even than the great mischief it averts.
35. It is true, on the other hand, that religion, even when allied with States, may become too powerful for them: as when in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the exorbitant ambition of the papacy had reached such a pitch of boldness as to claim the patronage of all the benefices of Christendom, an authority to unbind the social compacts of Christian nations, and the entire sovereignty of the heathen world. But the tremendous collisions which these claims must have produced were softened or averted by the subsisting alliance. The great war of investitures was the crisis of the general connection between Church and State. It was through that war that the terms of their relation were mainly defined. But the length and obstinacy of the struggle shows us that, where the religious element was vigorous and one, there was no alternative between the dissolution of society and the blending together of its two great laws of sympathy--the composition of its grand moving forces, the principles of political and of Christian organisation. And lastly, when the spirit of English nationality was still too tightly curbed by the papal dominion, the remedy which, following out the instincts of nature, it sought, was not breaking the ties which bound the Church to the State, but drawing them closer by assigning to both these bodies a single and domestic centre of ordinary motion. So that the menacing consequences of perverted religion, and the hazards of ruinous disorganisation from detached religion, combine with other and positive reasons to offer to the State the strongest inducements to cement an union with the spiritual power.
36. I have thus far considered the general inducements by which religion, regarded at large as a system of relations to a superior power and to a future state, to a Being and a life beyond the limits of visibility, attracts the State, independently of moral obligation, to form friendly connections with itself; only here and there letting into view the peculiar principles of Christianity, and not at all touching upon the pregnant controversy that is at issue between the claims of its several forms.
I proceed to contend that the argument of inducements, independently of Christian principles binding upon the conscience, determines among these competing claims in favour of that advanced by the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, which providentially still holds, and promises to hold, among us, the double sanction of ordinance human and divine.
37. Undoubtedly the political and general principles, which lead us to the conclusion that a religion ought to be established, will likewise lead us somewhat farther, and show us that it ought to be established along with the best guarantees for its permanence that can be obtained. That which the ruling powers, which the wisdom and virtue of the nation have expressed as the truth of religion, and chosen amidst rival and surrounding, but in their judgment inferior, forms, they ought also to gird about with fixed institutions and practices, and to embody in permanent records, in order that it may not thereafter relapse into one of those inferior species, and leave the nation for whose benefit, it was designed a loser to the extent of that inferiority.
38. It is the wisdom of man, and especially of the public man, placed upon the watch-tower for the advantage of his fellows, to look beyond the present, whether of time or place, until his eye fails him in the distance, because that which is future has as real and as important relations to us, who are immortal creatures, as any one of the moments ticked away within our hearing; and we may observe, in corrobo-ration of this general maxim, that even human laws deal with some rights not yet in operation as having real existence, and as entitled to consideration on principles of justice. This truth holds not only with reference to our state after death, but likewise as respects our span of earthly life; much more does it hold of nations, whose future in this world bears a larger proportion to their present than that of individuals; and of rulers and lawgivers, as acting for nations. In all laws and institutions therefore they will esteem their durability a capital element, and they will beware of being entrapped into the fallacious assumption, that whatever system can upon the moment show the greatest amount of activity and effect, is, therefore, the one which in the longer tracts of time will give a similar result. In short, the fable of the tortoise and the hare is applicable, in its moral, to institutions, as well as to individuals.
39. The fixity which is obtained by laws is inoperative and dead, unless there be a corresponding sentiment animating the human beings by whose instrumentality they are to be carried into execution. But upon the other hand, that motive principle, which man alone can supply, is capable of being incited, assisted, governed, and perpetuated by the existence of a fixed extrinsic record having all the veracity and authority which can attach to any of our acts. The statesman, therefore, if for a moment we suppose him in the situation of one choosing the modifications under which a national faith is to be established, would see that preference is to be given to a scheme, such as that commonly termed Quakerism, over any such forms of Christianity as decline to receive the entire word of God, and claim the right of denying its divinity where it clashes with the preconceived opinions of its readers; because there exists in the one case, and not in the other, a permanent unchangeable attestation of the principles professed at one period of time, which attestation is in the nature of a moral, though of course not infallible, security for their being preserved at another.
40. But further. To a form of Christianity like Quakerism he would, and still on principles purely political, prefer a form like that of Independency, or that adopted by the sect of the Baptists; because, in addition to the volume of the revealed Word, they adhere to the use of certain significant institutions termed sacraments, which, setting aside for the time all consideration of their higher uses, are witnesses in attestation of the sacred Scriptures, by which they also are themselves attested.
41. Again, he would prefer to these communions, which reject all summaries of doctrine formed from the Scriptures, a system like that of the Church-establishment of Scotland, which, by adopting a stated Confession of faith, limits the interpretation of the sacred volume, and tends to fix a belief more definite than that which follows all the fluctuations of mere individual or traditionary judgment.
42. And lastly, and upon the same human considerations as before, he would again prefer to this the polity of the English church, which, as it is extrinsic-ally viewed, and independently of its highest or "transcendental" character, superadds to the evidence and guarantees of the Word, of sacraments, of creeds, and of primitive practices, a perpetual succession of clergy by whom these have been received, as they were delivered, in regular order from hand to hand; and which thus supplies us with a living voice of perpetual witnesses, in addition to those which are not active without a human agency to set them in motion. [Chalmers' Lectures, lect. vi. p. 178.] Indeed, schemes of ecclesiastical polity, in proportion as they found themselves wholly or partially upon private or local opinion, have no choice except between these two alternatives: either to be subject to perpetual and unlimited fluctuations, if their definitions in theology be few and their scheme liberal; or, on the other hand, to push dogmatic instruction into extreme rigour and detail, and, by the severe method of preliminary subscription to an immense multitude of propositions, to restrain, as by bit and curb, the free action of inquiry. Our Church-history will supply abundant examples of this proposition: it might not be difficult to illustrate it by the decrees of the Council of Trent, as well as by the Westminster Confession of Faith, and by many incidents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. [Vide inf. ch. viii. § 52. Cardwell's History of Conferences, pp. 132, 178, 185, confirmed by Neal's History of the Puritans] We may judge, on the other hand, how dangerous liberality of temperament itself becomes under a scheme not founded on Catholic principles, when we find so excellent a person as Dr. Doddridge protesting against requiring an unity of belief from teachers of religion with respect to the Trinity. [Doddridge's Correspondence, iii. 293.] Therefore the State, in allying itself with the Church, adopts the course not only of utility, but of a greater indulgence to tender and uninstructed consciences.
43. Another prudential reason which would induce the statesman to prefer a form of religion provided with fixed guarantees of permanence in itself to one without them, is this--that the religious system, of a country cannot be administered directly by the State itself. The practice of mankind, unless with the peculiar exception of the papacy, has been to separate, almost universally, the functions of civil government from the persons of the priesthood, or those of priesthood from the persons of civil governors, when society has attained any considerable magnitude. The State, therefore, cannot be immediately and permanently cognisant of the doctrines taught, in the sense of exercising over them that supervision from day to day, which belongs to ecclesiastical superiors. Consequently its relations are formed with institutions; and as teaching is always, though in different degrees, liable to vary and degenerate, it is the interest of the State to contract with that which shall offer the fairest probability of retaining all the features which it had when the contract was made, so as to save the necessity of revision and the risk of rupture.
44. Thus much of permanency. But now of truth, which is its foundation. As a statesman believing in God (for we have not yet invested our ideal person for the purpose of the present argument with the responsibilities of a member of the Catholic Church) will prefer revealed to unrevealed religion, the one coming to him as matter of knowledge, the other of conjecture; or, at the least, the one as determinate, the other as undefined; even so, still on the same principle of theism, he will be bound to prefer the entire revelation of God's will to any partial exhibition of it. The two conditions, therefore, for which he will naturally look, are these: all that is attainable of truth in the religion itself, and of fixity in the institutions appointed for its maintenance and propagation. And these conditions meet in the Church, attested as she is by eighteen hundred years of chequered, indeed, but never interrupted existence.
45. But the State has this further and very great advantage in alliance with the visible and perpetual society which is appropriately termed the Church of Christ. It is most difficult and invidious for governors to select any one form of mere opinion as such, and to endow it, or to prefer any institution simply for the reason that the doctrines taught in it are agreeable to the views entertained personally by themselves. Now the Church professes to be an institution not deduced by human reason from any general declaration of God's will, but actually and (so to speak) bodily given by God, founded through his direct inspiration, and regularly transmitted in a divinely appointed though human line. The State, therefore, does not here propose a conception of its own for the approbation of the people, but something more palpable and objective, an institution, to which it has itself yielded faith and homage, as of Divine authority; and the homage which it has thus paid is done not upon grounds of opinion alone, but with these to the authority which that institution possesses from its historical connection with Christ and his Apostles, corroborated as well as conveyed by the cumulative witness of all the succeeding generations. The difference is twofold: it is that between inheritance and acquisition; it is that between an attested and a conjectural authority from God.
46. The inducements, of which the enumeration has now closed, are all matters intrinsic to the Church; and up to this point I have endeavoured to show, that rational men, entertaining the average belief of men in a Creator, and serious in it, and being called to exercise the functions of government, ought to apply to the acts of government the offices of religion, for the discharge of their own and of the national responsibilities before God; and that in inquiring, not already under Christian prepossessions, what is the best religion for the profession of the State, they will, even without taking into view the scope of particular doctrines, arrive naturally at the adoption of the Christian Church.
47. If, however, the claim of the Church be preferable for State purposes, it does not seem at once to follow that it should be exclusive, as against sects of Christianity professing to concur in its fundamental doctrines. Yet some considerations of utility will lead us towards this result, though they may scarcely reach it. Some kind of unity is not only desirable but needful for public decency and order. Now an unity of opinion can never be absolutely insured, and it is properly a question of degree; and it would be impossible for a government permanently to contract with any set of opinions as such, because it could not be competent to detect deviations in their subtle and nascent forms, so that it might only become aware of their existence when they were too strong to be corrected and repressed.
And the name of Christianity affords no security whatever for the substantial unity or convergency of the doctrines taught. There must be, for example, a far wider space between Catholic Christianity and Unitarianism (regarded in the abstract), than there need be between Unitarianism and the religion of the works of Plato. We might, then, argue for the Church on principles of reason, as offering, in her oneness and permanency of communion, the only adequate guarantee of that unity which is so important to the State.