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you a few plain reasons, why I am an enemy to a national, or state religion.
1. Most legislators may be supposed to have a majority of unconverted members, and as such cannot discern the things of the spirit, because they are spiritual discerned; no good man can rationally suppose, that they are, or can be fit to make a creed for the church.
2. If the clergy are called in to their assistance, so that there shall be lords spiritual as well as lords temporal, the majority of that clergy will adopt their own creed, from partiality, whether right or wrong; and if the legislature follow that adoption, that majority will be made the privileged order, and all the rest must bow to them, whether they be Calvanists, Armenians, Pelagians, Trinitarians or Socinians; and, in the event of a state creed, all these may predominate in their turn, as has been the case.
3. Religious establishments are step stones to CIVIL, as well as ecclesiastical tyranny.' History is filled with proofs of this proposition. In such a case it is, “you help me, and I will help you”-hence priests and rulers unite to take away the civil and religious rights of the people. Rulers secure a good round salary for the priests, and the priests preach blind submission to the people. By these means they carry their oppressions to an incredible length. The Pope him. self cannot deny this fact.
4. State religion brings improper mea into the ministry, because it holds out the tempting bait of filthy lucre. Multitudes will profess conformity for the sake of money, and ride the church as Balaam did the ass, till they cry out under the burden. Constantine the great began this evil, and the church has never since been wholly clear of the curse of irreligious money-seeking ministers.
5. It has a tendency to make ministers idle and profligate. I need not show wherein,since there never was a church established by the state, in which there were not many proofs of this fact. Even the English, the best of national churches, it is well kpown, maintains for ministers, horse racers, card players, hunters, ale drinkers, tavern haunters, and of other characters, fit only to be classed among the lowest of mankind. If one will read Simpson's Plea for Religion, and Graham on Religious Establishments, he will there find facts which will make him shudder. If this be not enough, let him turn over the history of the Romish Church, and pass on to the his
tory of all other state churches ; and is, after all this, he cannot subscribe to the truth of the above proposition, he must be considered as past moral feeling. You will there find men, and some of them holding the highest offices in the church, upheld as members and ministers by its laws; and some of them afterward sainted, who were more fit for the society of devils, than to minister to the saints.
6. Persecution could not long exist, were it not for the power it derives from civil laws. What could heathen Rome have done against the church, had not the laws been on the side of the persecutor ? All the persecutions of Christian Rome, were supported and carried forward by the laws, which had enacted a state creed. Nor can there be one instance, of settled and lasting persecution, produced from all history, iy any age, state, or nation, where there was not at the time a state crced, and penal laws enacted for its support.* One would think this to be enough to convince every rational mind, that the fruit of such establishments is evil and not good.
7. Another formidable objection arises against such establishments, on the ground of the inconsistencies, which have always attended them more or less. In Rome the decrees of her popes and councils were always INFALLIBLE-yet these INFALLIBLE decrees were revoked, opposed, contradicted, by the same inFALLIBLE conclave, or another equally claiming, and equally entitled to INFALLIBILITY.
And yet every decree was truth, beyond the possibility of mistake, and priests and magistrates must be sworn to support it, and all were persecuted to death who dared oppose it. And when an opposite iNFALLIBLE decree came from the same INFALLIBLE men, the former oath must be renounced, an opposite one taken; and then, if any dared to abide by the former INFALLIBLE decree and oppose the latter, they were adjudged worthy of death and executed. So that thousands may have been put to the torture for believing that, for wbich they would have been tortured for not believing, six months before. Such are the contradictions and inconsisten
*Even the Jews, who were so notorious for persecuting the Apos tles, were upheld by heathen magistrates and laws. As they were then tributary to heathen Rome, and indeed a Roman province, they never would have dared to persecute with so much rage
and cruelty, had they not been countenanced by the laws and magistrates of their conquerors.
cies, which INVARIABLY attend state creeds , if that creed be uninfluenced by toleration. Even England, in less than half a century, changed its religious creed and religious oath three times. And it is absolutely certain, when a state or nation, goes into the practice of making a state creed, the dominant religion will always be the model. And if the minority for a while seem to submit, they may become the majority bye and bye ; and so sure as they do, they will change the creed, call for new oaths, and persecute in their turn. To be convinced of the truth of this, we have only to look at England, and see what took place between the episcopalians and presbyterians, before, and after, and during the time of Cromwell.
8. Civil coereion for the support of religion, is calculated to make hypocrites. Men will profess faith in the established creed, who wish to get lucrative offices, either in church or state. Others will be hypocrites out of mere timidity ; because they dread the rod of persecution. And those, who establish and carry on this state of things, are answerable for all this vile hypocrisy.
9. There is no connexion between the means employed and the end to be obtained. The end to be obtained is a saving belief of the truth ; but the means employed are beating, whipping, stoning, imprisoning, and torturing, in all the ways human malice can invent. Let their famous casuists tell me, what connexion there is between such inhumanity and believing the truth. Do they expect to whip, stone, or torture men into an enlightened understanding, submissive will, and warm religious affections? If so, the Jews were in the right and certainly ought not to be blamed for stoning and imprisoning the apostles ; instead of proving by fair argument, that they preached a falsehood.
10. It has a tendency to lower and obscure the real spirit of religion. For it is agreed on all hands, that there never was so little of the spirit of real religion in the church, as when the Romish establishment was in its greatest power and prosperity. And it is certain, there are many more pious ministers and members in the English nation now, than when that church was rigorous to enforce her penal laws against dissenters. And when persecutions are carried on by any body of people, that body must belong to the synagogue of Satan—at least, all the active members in persecuting ; their clergy are corrupt, hence they become not the
means of increasing the spirit of piety ; the timid dare not be sincere and devout, nothing can therefore be more evident, than, that state establishments lower and obscure real piety.
11. Such a religion strongly tends to destroy the humane feelings, and turn men into brutes or incarnate devils. For as it inspires its votaries with superstition, bigotry, hypocrisy, pride, and cruelty, it cannot fail to be fullowed with the most direful effects. If you are not convinced of this, read the history of the persecutions, the cruelties committed on men, women and children ; the tortures invented, and the delight expressed by persecutors, when these tortures were inilicted. Your very bones will quake when I tell you, that persons were tied up by the arm-pits and tormented a whole night, by pinching and tearing off the flesh with pincers. Soldiers applied red hot irons to the hands and feet of men and the breasts of women. Women and maids were hung up by their feet and others by their arm-pits. Mothers that gave suck, were bound to posts, and their sucking infants lay languishing in their sight, for several days and nights, crying and gasping for life. Some were bound before a great fire, and being half roasted, were let go ; a punishment' worse than death. Amidst a thousand hideous cries they hung up men and women by their hair, and some of them by their feet, op hooks in chimneys, and smoked them till they were suffocated. Some were made fast to ropes and plungedagain and again into wells ; others put to the torture, and by a funnel were filled with wine till the fumes of it took away their reason, and then they made them confess they were catholics. Men and women were stripped naked and after a thousand indignities, they were stuck with pins and needles from head to foot. Fathers and busbands were tied to their bed-posts, and their wives and daughters ravished before their eyes with impunity. Men and women were blown up with a bellows till they burst. If any attempted to flee from these barbarities, they were pursued and shot like wild beasts. With these scenes of desolation and horror, the popish clergy feasted their eyes, laughing and sporting with the amazing agonies they had so cruelly inflicted.
What else could have given rise to, and kept in active being, such a train of cruelties, at the commission of which devils would blush, but the uniting church and state in ONE CONSTITUTION ? Whatever depraved dispositions these
wretched persecutors had, they could not have been exert-
And how it is, that men, in their right senses, can desire a national religion, with all these proofs before their eyes, is astonishing beyond measure. These very persons, though they may be secured from persecution at first, in consequence of being on the side of the establishment; may neverthelesss, in a short time, fall on the other side, and become the objects of persecution ; if they have any conscience left, to prevent them from turning like weathercocks, with every political wind, that veers the politics of the state. When Hen. VIII. fell out with the pope, he set up a state religion of his own; and the adherents of the pope, who had been on the safe side, now became the objects of persecution. And how easily revolutions in the state are sometimes brought about, every one conversant with history knows ; and when such changes take place, then multitudes must become hypocrites the second time; and all the conscientious, who were safe before, now must feel the vengeance of that rod, they had unwisely laid up for themselves.
12. The supporters of a state creed, must act diametrically opposite to that most excellent precept of Jesus Christ— As ye would that others should do to you, do ye the same to thena. What individual among them, from the first state establishment and persecution, down to the present hour, would wish a creed imposed on him; and be obliged to say, he believed it, whether he did or not; or suffer the loss of all things dear and comfortable in life, yea, of life itself ? Not
If not, why should he desire to impose it on others ? Some gross mistake, or dreadful evil, must lurk at the bottom.
13. No man can be consistently expelled from a national church, unless he commit a crime to be punished by death. Hence, all must be members--swearing naval officers, drunkards, prostitutes, and every other species of vile character. Such belong to the British national church, and come to the sacramental table ; though that church is the purest and best, perhaps, that ever existed, in a national form, on the face of the whole earth.
14. Under a national, persecuting church, the bad are usually kept in her bosom, and the pious thrust from her arms.