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and in successive ages, has sustained to civil government, is one of the most interesting branches of the history of mankind. According to the structure of the Hebrew polity, the religious and political systems were most intimately, if not indissolubly, combined ; and in the Mosaic Law we find religious observances, political ordinances, rules of medicine, prescriptions of agriculture, and even precepts of domestic economy, brought into the most intimate association. The Hebrew hierarchy was a literary and political, as well as a religious, order of men. In the Grecian States and in the Roman Empire, the same individual united in his own person the emblems of priest of their divinities and the ensigns of civil and political authority. Christianity—until it had overthrown the ancient polity of the Jews on the one hand, and the polytheism of the Roman Empire on the other—was extended by the zeal and enterprize of its early preachers, sustained by the presence of its Divine Author, and accompanied by the evidence of the miracles which they were commissioned to perform. It is not strange, therefore, that when, under the Emperor Constantine, Christianity came into the place of the ancient superstition, it should have been taken under the protection, and made a part of the constitution, of the Imperial government. It was the prediction of ancient prophecy, that in the last days kings should become nursing fathers and queens nursing mothers to the church : and what was more natural, than to understand this prophecy as meaning a strict and intimate union of the church with the civil government of the empire ? Ancient usage, with all the influence which a reverence for antiquity is accustomed to inspire, was on the side of such an union. We may well believe, then, that Christianity was first associated with civil government without any intention on the part of civil governors to make it the odious engine of state which it afterwards became. And if the Roman Emperors had been satisfied to receive the new religion without distinction of sects, as the broad ground of all the great institutions of the empire, it is impossible to shew, or to believe, that such a measure would not have been both wise and salutary. The misfortune was, that there soon came to be a legal preference of one form of Christianity over all others. Mankind are not easily inclined to change any institution which has taken deep root in the structure of society; and the principle of the union of one form of Christianity with the imperial authority under the Roman Emperors, had acquired too many titles to veneration to be relinquished when the new kingdoms were founded which rose upon the ruins of the Roman Empire. This principle has always pervaded, and still pervades, the structure of European society; and the necessity of retaining it is still deeply seated in the convictions of the inhabitants of the Eastern continent.
“ The same principle was transferred to these shores when they were settled by European colonists. In Massachusetts, and some other northern colonies, no man could be a citizen of the commonwealth unless he were a member of the church as there established by authority of law. In Virginia, and some of the more southern colonies, the Church of England was established by law. In South Carolina legal provision was made for the establishment of religious worship according to the Church of England, for the erecting of churches, and the maintenance of clergymen; and it was declared, that in a well-grounded commonwealth matters concerning religion and the honour of God ought in the first place [i. e. in preference to all others] to be taken into consideration.'
“ It is the testimony of history, however, that ever since the time of Constantine such an union of the ecclesiastical with the civil authority has given rise to fragrant abuses and gross corruptions. By a series of gradual but well-contrived usurpations, a bishop of the church, claiming to be the
successor of the chief of the Apostles, and the Vicar of Christ, had been seen for centuries to rule the nations of Christendom with the sceptre of despotism. The argument against the use of an institution arising from its abuse is not valid, unless when, after sufficient experience, there is the best reason to conclude that we cannot enjoy the use without the accompanying evils flowing from the abuse of it. Such, perhaps, is the case in regard to the union between any particular form of Christianity and civil government. It is an historical truth, established by the experience of many centuries, that whenever Christianity has in this way been incorporated with the civil power, the lustre of her brightness has been dimmed by the alliance.
“ The settlers of this country were familiar with these facts, and they gradually came to a sound practical conclusion on the subject. No nation on earth, perhaps, ever had opportunities so favourable to introduce changes in their institutions as the American people ; and by the time of the Revolution a conviction of the impolicy of a further union of church and state, according to the ancient mode, had so far prevailed, that all the States, in framing their new constitutions of government, either silently or by direct enactment discontinued the ancient connexion.”
Now, without commenting on the statements in the above quotation, a question of great interest here arises for discussion: In thus discontinuing the connexion between the church and the commonwealth, did these States intend to renounce all connexion with the Christian Religion? Or did they intend only to disclaim all preference of one sect of Christians over another, as far as civil government was concerned, while they still retained the Christian Religion as the foundation-stone of all their social, civil, and political institutions ? Did Massachusetts and Connecticut, when they declared that the legal preference which had heretofore been given to Puritanism should continue no longer, intend to abolish Christianity itself within their jurisdictions ? Did Virginia and South Carolina, when they discontinued all legal preference to the Church of England as by law established, intend to discontinue their observance of Christianity, and their regard for its Divine authority? Did the people of the United States, when in adopting the Federal Constitution they declared that “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof," expect to be understood as abolishing the national religion which had been professed, respected, and cherished from the first settlement of the country, and which it was the great object of their fathers, in settling this then wilderness, to enjoy according to the dictates of their own consciences ?
It has been asserted, by men distinguished for talents, learning, and station, and the assertion is gradually gaining belief in the United States, that Christianity has no connexion with the law of the land, or with civil and political institutions. Attempts are making to impress this sentiment on the public mind: but it is an opinion which Dr. Adams considers to be in contradiction to the whole tenor of American history; to be false in fact, and in the highest degree pernicious in its tendency, to all the most valuable institutions of the land, whether social, legal, civil, or political.
A preliminary and most serious difficulty here occurs to our minds, as to what is meant by establishing Christianity without establishing it in any particular form. Some of Dr. Adams's brethren would not admit that there is Christianity, or that there is the slightest vestige of the Gospel covenant, where there is not an Episcopal church ; and though we are not of this class of pseudo high-churchmen, we are quite sure that there are many heresies among those who profess to call themselves Christians which are not Christianity. But as our own legislature admits the undefined deration, “ On the faith of a Christian,” while it justly refuses a Jew or a Mohammedan, we are not in a condition nationally to combat the point with our American descendants ; but, looking at the matter either scripturally or practically, it appears to us that to recognise as Christianity every form which any man may please to call Christianity, is not to recognise it at all. We should not think that the American Congress would confer the slightest homage upon the Gospel by appointing a chaplain, if it did so without any distinction of opinions-placing a Socinian, for example, or Southcottian, upon a level with a true believer—any more than if it had appointed a Rabbi, a Mufti, or a Bramin.
But to return to our narrative. The originators and early promoters of the discovery and settlement of the North-American continent had the propagation of Christianity before their eyes as one of the principal objects of their undertaking. This appears by the charters and other similar documents of that period, in which this chief aim of their novel and perilous enterprize is declared with a frequency and fulness most satisfactory and gratifying. In the Charter of Massachusetts-Bay, granted in 1644 by Charles I., the colonists are exhorted by “ their good life and orderly conversation to win and invite the natives of that country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in our royal intention, and the adventurers' free profession [the unconstrained acknowledgment of the colonists], is the principal end of this plantation.” In the Virginian Charter of 1606, the enterprize of planting the country is commended as a noble work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God ;” and the Pennsylvania Charter of 1681-2 declares it to have been the object of William Penn “to reduce the savage nations, by gentle and just manners, to the love of civil society and Christian religion.” In the Charter of Rhode Island, granted by Charles II. in 1682-3, it is declared to be the object of the colonists to pursue, “ with peace and loyal minds, their sober, serious, and religious intentions of godly edifying themselves and one another in the holy Christian faith and worship, together with the gaining over and conversion of the poor ignorant Indian natives to the sincere profession and obedience of the same faith and worship.” The aim of the Crown and of the Colonists in planting Connecticut is still more strongly expressed than in the case of Massachusetts. The General Assembly of the colony are instructed to govern the people “so as their good life and orderly conversation may win and invite the natives of the country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind and the Christian faith : which in our royal intentions and the adventurers' free profession is the only and principal end of this plantation.” The same declaration, under considerable variations, is contained in nearly all the colonial charters. In the Virginia Charter of 1609 it is said, that “ it shall be necessary for all such as shall inhabit within the precincts of Virginia, to determine to live together in the fear and true worship of Almighty God, Christian peace, and civil quietness :.... and that the principal effect which we can desire or expect of this action (i.e. the granting of this charter) is the conversion and reduction of the people in those parts unto the true worship of God and the Christian religion.”—These quotations furnish a specimen of the sentiments and declarations with which the colonial charters and other ancient documents abound. They are authentic memorials of an age long since gone by. They make known the intentions and breathe the feelings of a race of men who ought to be held by their posterity in grateful remembrance. The Christian religion was intended by them to be the corner-stone of the social and political structures which they were founding. Their aim was as pure and exalted, as their undertaking was great and noble.
Such was the origin of the American States. Let us now advert to their growth and progress. As the colonists desired both to enjoy the Christian religion themselves, and to make the natives acquainted with its divine blessings, they were accompanied by a learned and pious ministry; and wherever a settlement was commenced, a church was founded. As the settlements were extended, new churches were established. Viewing education as indispensable to freedom, as well as the handmaid of religion, every neighbourhood had its school. After a brief interval, colleges were instituted; and these institutions were originally designed for the education of Christian ministers *. Six days of the week they spent in the labours of the field; but on the seventh they rested, according to the commandment, and employed the day in the duties of public worship, and in the religious instruction of their children and servants. Thus colonization proceeded upon a system of civil and religious freedom, of universal industry, and of universal literary and religious education. The colonies were designed to be Christian communities. Christianity was wrought into the minutest ramifications of their social, civil, and political institutions; and not only so, but a regular church establishment-namely, a legal preference of some one denomination over all others-prevailed in almost all the colonies.
We are now prepared to examine the nature and extent of the changes, in regard to religion, which have been introduced by the people of the United States in forming their State Constitutions, and also in the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
The twenty-four constitutions of the United States all recognise Christianity as the well known and well established religion of each community. The terms of this recognition are more or less distinct in the constitutions of the different States ; but they exist in all. The reason why any degree of indistinctness exists in any of them unquestionably is, that at their formation it never came into the minds of the framers to suppose that the existence of Christianity as the religion of their communities could ever admit of a question. Nearly all these constitutions enjoin the observance of Sunday; and a suitable observance of this day includes a performance of all the peculiar duties of the Christian faith. The constitution of Vermont declares, that “ every sect or denomination of Christians ought to observe the Sabbath, or Lord's-day, and keep up some sort of
Scarcely bad the Massachusetts' colonists arrived at their new scene of labour, when their thoughts were turned to the establishment of a college: and in 1636, Harvard University was founded. Dr. I. Mather says : “ The ends for which our fathers chiefly erected a college were, that so scholars might there be educated for the service of Christ and his churches in the work of the ministry, and that they might be seasoned in their tender years with such principles as brought their blessed progenitors into this wilderness. There is no one thing of greater concernment to these churches in present and after-times, than the prosperity of that society. They cannot subsist without a college.” (Magnalia, B. v.)—The heraldic inscription, “ Christo et Ecclesiæ,” on the seal of the University, is at once emphatic evidence and a perpetual memorial of the great purpose for which it was established. The College of William and Mary, in Virginia, was founded in 1662, and was the second collegiate institution established in the United States. The preamble of the Act establishing it recites, “ that the want of able and faithful ministers in this country, deprives us of those great blessings and mercies that always attend upon the service of God.” And the Act itself declares, “that for the advancement of learning, education of youth, supply of the ministry, and promotion of piety, there be land taken up and purchased for a college and free school ; and that with all convenient speed, there be buildings erected upon it for the entertainment of students and scholars. Quotations of similar import might be made respecting Yale, Nassau Hall, and, in fact, all the colleges first established in America.
religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.” The constitutions of Massachusetts and Maryland are among those which do not prescribe the observance of Sunday; yet the former declares it to be “ the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe;" and the latter requires every person appointed to any office of profit or trust to “ subscribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion.” Two of them concur in the sentiment, that “ morality and piety, rightly grounded on Evangelical principles, will be the best and greatest security to government; and that the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through a society, by the institution of the public worship of the Deity, and of public instruction in morality and religion *.” At the same time, they all grant the
. Only a small part of what the Constitutions of the States contain in regard to the Christian religion is above cited; but we throw into a note a few additional passages.
Constitution of Massachusetts, Part i. Art. 3.--" As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through the community but by the institution of a public worship of God, and of public institutions (instructions) in piety, religion, and morality: therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their Legislature with power to authorize and require, and the Legislature shall from time to time authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily. And the people of the commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their Legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subjects an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers, as aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any one whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend. All moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any, on whose instructions he attends; otherwise, it may be paid towards the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised. And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, sball be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another, shall ever be established by law.”
Part ii. Ch. v. Sec. i. Art. 1.2" Whereas our wise and pious ancestors, so early as the year 1€36, laid the foundation of Harvard College, in which university many persons of great eminence have, by the blessing of God, been initiated into those arts and sciences which qualified them for public employments both in church and state; and whereas the encouragement of arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honour of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America; it is declared that the President and Fellows of Harvard College,” &c.
New Hampshire. The Constitution of this State contains provisions, in regard to the Christian religion, substantially the same with those just quoted from the Constitution of Massachusetts.
Connecticut, Art. 1. Sec. I.-“It being the duty of all men to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe, and their right to render that worship in the mode most consistent with the dictates of their consciences ; no person shall, by law, be compelled to join or support, nor be classed with or associated to, any congregation, church, or religious association. But every person, now belonging to such congregation, church, or religious association, shall remain a member thereof, until he shall have separated himself therefrom, in the manner hereinafter provided. And each and every society or denomination of Christians in this State shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights, and privileges; and shall have power and authority to support and maintain the ministers or teachers of their respective denominations, and to build and repair houses for public worship, by a tax on the members of any such society only, to be laid by a major vote of the