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as an engine of civil utility; much less because it may happen to be connected with secular wealth or splendour; but they defend it as a probable instrument of great utility in accomplishing the great ends of the Divine dispensations in the evangelization of the human race. We believe as fully as the objector, that God can and will preserve his church, even though all the temporal authorities of this world were colleagued with all the powers of darkness for its destruction. It was our Lord's own consolatory promise, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” But we also believe that the Almighty in his dealings with man: kind almost invariably operates by the use of means and second-causes; not the least common of which is disposing the hearts of civil rulers and other persons of influence and authority to devise or patronize measures which have a tendency to accomplish his all-wise designs, while perhaps they are only promoting, as they conceive, their own. The Omnipotent Creator, it is true, might effect his plans without the use of these or any other instruments; but his power to do so is no proof that such is the usual, arrangement of his providence. He might by a miracle have preserved the sacred fire on the Jewish altar without human aid ; yet he saw fit to appoint a national sacerdotal establish-,
ment, one of the express duties of which was to give unremitting attention to the ceremonial, and at first sight trivial, duty of perpetuating the hallowed flame. St. Paul, upon an occasion of imminent danger, had an infallible promise of safety for the ship's company; yet he did not fail to recommend and to employ every possible means for effecting their deliverance. It is quite inconclusive, therefore, to argue that the power and providence of God for the support of his church render a national establishment unnecessary, unless it can also be satisfactorily proved that such an institution, however pure, cannot, in any case, probably or possibly further that important end; or, in other words, that God will never permit his blessing to rest upon any plan founded on the basis of such an arrangement. The pious churchman thinks that a national establishment, provided it be scriptural in its doctrines is an instrument not only perfectly lawful, but of eminent utility for the promotion of the Gospel and the salvation of the souls of men. He is, therefore, personally justified in his attachment to it; and those who think differently should at least not impute to their brethren a presumptuous interference with the arrangements of the Divine Providence, since God is usually pleased, in effecting his gracious designs, to employ subordinate means, ane of
which means may (for any thing the objector can know to the contrary) be the ministration of an established church. Indeed, most of the à priori arguments urged against national ecclesiastical establishments, followed out into all their bearings, would go far to banish all human efforts whatever for extending and perpetuating the blessings of the Gospel ; while, on the other hand, all the arguments employed by our dissenting brethren themselves to induce each minister or private individual to promote religion in his own sphere, might be applied, on a larger scale, to prove it the duty of every Christian legislature to institute a national establishment for the public instruction of the people in the doctrines and the duties of the Gospel. Pious Churchmen acknowledge as fully as any Dissenter, the peculiar and special providence of God in the protection of his church; and why should they be considered as virtually denying this great axiom in Christianity, merely because they speak of certain means or instruments as ordinarily made use of by Him for effecting his purposes?
In arguing thus abstractedly for the necessity of a national church from the nature of things, we are to take things as they actually are, not as they might exist under some order of circumstances with which we have no present concern. Objectors to church establishments
often refer to the primitive age of Christianity, as a conclusive proof that national church establishments are not necessary. But the parallel is inapplicable in almost all its parts. - The gift of miracles, in that early age, secured many of the most important objects which in the present day we look for from the ordinary operations of an established church, and therefore rendered such an institution the less necessary. But, even were this circumstance out of the question, the cases would still be destitute of the requisite analogy; for, while the number of disciples was small, and before kings and nations were converted to the faith, a national establishment was of course unattainable; so that the idea of choice on the part of the Apostles and primitive Christians is at once superseded by an obvious impossibility. We ought not therefore to be told by our opponents, that the Primitive Church did not think national establishments necessary, till it can be shewn that they were within their reach, but were rejected on account of their unscriptural character.
Having thus urged a few plain arguments for a National Church Establishment, resulting from the obvious nature of things, we proceed to the second consideration ; namely,
2. The Testimony of Experience ; which we shall endeavour to shew leads forcibly to the same conclusion.
We will not on this subject adduce, as some writers have done, the testimony of heathen authors, because it is a case in which they ought not to be allowed to interfere. All the. pleas which the writers of Greece and Rome had it in their power to adduce for their sacerdotal establishments had reference to a gross system of Polytheism, as injurious to the morals as it was degrading to the understandings of the worshippers. But the great argument for a national church establishment under the Christian dispensation, is of a very different and far higher kind. It rests on the fundamental ground, that the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ;” that it is necessary to every individual member of the state, not only on account of its civil benefits, though these are inestimably great, or even for its incomparable code of morality; but from its infinitely momentous connexion with the unseen world, and the eternal interests of the human soul. If it be true that “ there is none other name given under heaven among men by which we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ,” the necessity of a public establishment as an instrument for