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what they knew of the sanctions of the other*. How much more, then, must the public recognition of Christianity, which is a revelation from God himself, be a blessing to a nation? If we view its effects upon the principles and morals of all classes of society ; if we consider how forcibly it tends to restrain crime, to soften ferocity, and to humanize war; how powerfully, while it inculcates contentment and obedience among the people, it enforces equity and moderation in their governors; how it elevates character, confirms every moral sanction, and increases the sanctity of oaths and compacts; with all its thousand benign and balmy influences; surely it cannot
* “We find,” says Bishop Warburton, “ that all states and people in the ancient world had an established religion.” (Divine Legation, Vol. i. p. 231.) And again : “ There is scarcely a legislator recorded in ancient history but what pretended to revelation and Divine assistance.” (p. 103.) France indeed has, since Warburton wrote, tried the experiment of founding a civil government upon principles little short of Atheism. But how did it succeed? Warburton did not live to tell us, but Burke did, and to him the incredulous may refer. The author would seriously ask those who see impropriety of all ecclesiastical establishments whatever," what is the exact line of conduct which they think a Christian government ought to pursue; or how far short it ought to stop of the example set by the French philosophists? Is not a state without any public ecclesiastical establishment, virtually a deistical, or rather an atheistical one?
but be expedient to recognize it as the religion of the state, and to appoint a national apparatus for its promulgation. Opinions may differ as to its details, and these are not at present the question ; but its leading moral features are obvious to all; and scarcely any system of professed Christianity can be so corrupt as not to be practically better than a total deprivation of its influence. We see this even in countries where the established church labours under all the manifold errors and delusions of the Papacy itself*.
But it is with its religious expediency, if we may so speak, that we are at present concern
* It would be both unnecessary and impracticable in the present work, to enter into a detailed view of the civil benefits. conferred by Christianity on mankind; though every thing that can be urged on this subject bears strongly upon the expediency of a national church establishment. The reader may consult, among other works on this interesting subject, Bishop Porteus's valuable pamphlet, entitled, “ The Beneficial Effects of Christianity on the Temporal Concerns of Mankind, proved from History and Facts.” Happily, on this point at least, Dissenters and Churchmen are agreed ; for, as the eloquent Robert Hall remarks, “ True religion, founded on the sacred oracles, is the pillar of society, the safeguard of nations, the parent of social order-which. alone has power to curb the fury of the passions and secure to every one his rights: to the labourer, the rewards of industry; to the rich, the enjoyment of their wealth; to nobles, the preservation of their honours; and to princes, the stability of their thrones.”.
ed. We are advocating the cause of an establishment simply and exclusively as a spiritual institution; as an instrument in the hands of God for the preservation and communication of religious knowledge, and for the salvation of the souls of men. And if, as we trust, this point can be satisfactorily proved, it will be amply sufficient to shew the expediency of a national church establishment; or, rather, expediency will be merged in the higher argument of necessity.
A CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT SCRIPTURAL.
LET us pass on, then, for the present, to the third point for consideration ; namely, That a national ecclesiastical establishment is not without the sanction of Scripture.
If we look even so far back as the patriarchal age of society, we find express approbation bestowed in the sacred writings upon those who kept up a regular form of devotion among their dependents. It was the high encomium of the Father of the Faithful, that “ he would command his children and his household after
him, that they should keep the way of the
But a still more convincing scriptural sanction may be inferred from the case of the Jews, already alluded to; and surely it is a consideration not a little forcible, that in the only nation for which Jehovah condescended immediately to legislate
he saw fit closely and inseparably to unite the ecclesiastical with the civil polity. We find the temporal governors, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Josiah, frequently · legislating in ecclesiastical affairs, and patronizing in a variety of ways the public cultivation of religion, and this with the express and frequent approbation of Jehovah himself. Our state, therefore, as Hooker justly remarks, is in this respect
according to the pattern of God's own ancient elect people; which people was not part of them the commonwealth, and part of them the church of God; but the self-same people, whole and entire, were both under one chief governor, on whose supreme authority they did all depend."
In passing on to a later period, and arriving at the era in which the Gospel was first promulgated, we may fairly claim the continuance of this sanction, unless it can be shewn to have been superseded by express injunction. This, however, will probably not be attempted; for even such "passages as “ My kingdom is not of this world” would not be urged in this connexion by any candid and judicious opponent, since they only imply, what is not disputed, that temporal ends were not the objects of the New Testament dispensation; but they have no bearing on the question of an established church, so far as that church is con