Abbildungen der Seite

latter if the former divert the attention from the latter--it becomes à reprehensible superstition.

What then shall we say of those, whose whole piety lies in the observation of days, and times, and years? We know what an inspired apostle said to such people; I am afraid I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Father of universal nature! in vain hast thou given us capacity, learning, reason, and religion-in vain does the knowledge of all antiquity shine around us--in vain has the law of nature been explained to us by the writers of revelation-in vain hast thou bestowed thy best and richest gift the gospel on us, and a government that allows us to judge of it-wė live in the open violation of all thy laws--we curse, and swear, and blaspheme--we prophane thy holy sabbaths—we are guilty of drunkenness, debauchery, perjury, simony, bribery, impiety, and irreligion of all kinds

our children are uneducated in religious principles.. our property is wasted in gaming and amusements our priests and our prophets exemplify luxury—and we expect to avert all our deserved miseries, and to atone for all our impieties, by saying, have we not fasted on Good-Friday, and feasted on Easter-Sunday? The Jewish priests, at the worst of times, prophesied for hire; but some christian priests take the hire and prophesy not. They vote indeed! but say, ye plundered Nabobs! ye French Canadian papists! ye widows and orphans! ye depopulated cities, and ruined cominerce of rebellious colonists! say, for what do British ministers of the prince of peace vote?....

They vote that yon wheelwright's children must fast on Good-Friday! This leads us to the last article,

The POLITY of GOOD-FRIDAY. Before christianity was understood in the world, the first apologists for it thought themselves happy, as St. Paul expresses it, when they were called to defend it before equitable civil magistrates in courts of legal judicature. They had great reason to rejoice in these opportunities, for they taught a religion, which recommended itself to all just goveryments by its perfect agreement with civil polity. Primitive christianity wanted only to, be known, it was sure to gain ground by being understood. These divine men were able to say—Is the origin of civil government sacred? We teach, that civil government is ordained by God. Is the well-being of the whole, the supreme law in civil polity? So it is in christianity.--Do states flourish, when the people yield a ready obedience to civil government, and venerate the dignity of magistra, cy? Christianity inculcates this.--Do temperance, industry, piety, and virtue render states happy Christianity forcibly inculcates these. Are states happy when discords do not prevail, when kind offices abound among citizens, when benevolence and philanthropy pervade the whole? Christianity abolishes party factions and odious distincțions, and curbs the passions that produce them; and as to universal love it is the religion of Jesus

itself.-Do states enjoy tranquillity when learning and liberty, conscience and virtue are nourished, and when impartial equity rewards merit, and restrains and punishes vice? Christianity does all these.— re states safe, when they retain a constitutional power of redressing grievances, of insuring life, liberty, and property from foreign and domestic invasion, and of reducing all cases to one invariable standard of impartial and universal justice? Christianity inculcates principles produc-. tive of all this. No instance therefore can be produced of our attempting to subvert civil government; on the contrary, we are entrusted with a conciliating plan of universal peace between secular and sacred things by Jesus Christ.

The corruptors of christianity deprived it of this noble plea; they bartered purity for power, exchanged argument for authority, and made a scandalous truck of all the truths and virtues of religion for the seals of a prince, and the keys of a jail. They invented words of inexplicable mys, tery, and inflicted penalties on those, who could not interpret their dreams—they cast innumerable canons, and with them destroyed the lives, and liberties, and properties of their peaceable brethren - they armed priests with secular power, and covered their barbarous use of it with infinite pomp

—they excited princes to hate, persecute, banish, and burn their subjects for matters of conscience they thought lay subjects beneath notice, kings above law, and themselves above kings. To their

conduct it is owing, that most great men consider religion as nothing more than an engine of state,

We hope christianity in time will recover from these deadly wounds: but healing and health must never be expected from such prescriptions as are made up of the false principles that produced the hurt. The great, the only object of such books as Hooker's church polity, and Gibson's Codex, is the support of the hierarchy. God knows, no positions can be less true, no principles more dangerous than those laid down in these compilations, Civilians, sufficiently feed, could build the whole fabric of popery on them; for the evident drift of them is not only to render the church independent of the state ; but to place the state in a condition of dependence on the church, Their system is false in itself-inconsistent with scripture—incom, patible with the British constitution--and destruc tíve of Christ's spiritual design. These writers have lodged their sentiments in the dark caverns of metaphorical style, and there they lurk in seeming asylum. There is an imaginary being called the church governing, distinct from the church go, verned this animal has sex, in violation of the english language, and the laws of precise argumentation=she is either married or a prostitute, for she is a mother, it seems, and has children. All this may be rhetorick; but nothing of this is rea; son, less still can it be called religion, and least of all is it that religion which Jesus taught, and which never diminishes the glory of civil polity.


The religion of Jesus is the most simple thing in the world. His church was not formed on the plan-of the Jewish government, either of the state, temple, sanhedrim, or synagogue-nor on that of any other state, either that of Rome, or that of Athens.-The decree of the christian church at Jerusalem, called by mistake the first council, was advice; but not law.-Canons in the primitive church were opinions devoid of coercion; the emperor Justinjan adopted them, and metamorphosed them into civil law—there were in the primitive church no coercive powers—particular churches were united only by faith and love-in all civil affairs they were governed by civil magistrates, and in sacred matters they were ruled by the advice, reasons, and exhortations of their freely elected officers--their censures were only honest reproofs, and their excommunications were nothing more than declarations that the offenders were incorrigible, and were no longer accounted members of their societies--the term hierarchy was unknown, and hierodulia would have been the proper description then. It was a spiritual kingdom not of this world; it did not injure, it could not possibly injure sound civil polity. The primitive christians were taxed with lolding seditious principles; and this calumny they merited for not getting drunk on Cæsar's birth day--for holding their religious assemblies in the night, when secular business was over--for refusing to swear by the genius of Cæsar ---for scrupling to give him the titles that belonged to God for talking of a kingdom of saints upon

« ZurückWeiter »