|The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State|
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This rebuttal was written in response to the published first edition of the Adams Sermon. Some feel that some of the points made in this rebuttal led to a published second edition of the Adams sermon in an effort to address those points. That would have meant that whoever wrote this article wrote in 1833 shortly after the publication of the first edition.
ART, IV.-- A Sermon preached in St. Michael's Church, Charleston, February 13th, 1833, before the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of South Carolina, by the Rev. J. ADAMS, D.D., President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina, and (ex Officio) Horry Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy. Published at the request of the Bishop and Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church of South Carolina.
The author of this sermon is well known throughout South Carolina, as an accomplished scholar, a learned divine, and a gentleman of exemplary purity of life. We have occasionally heard him lecture on moral philosophy--and never without pleasure. His extensive literary attainments, his clear and simple style, his mild demeanour, and the respect which his character commands, qualify him peculiarly for the instruction of youth.
We have heard him also with pleasure in the pulpit. His discourses are generally argumentative, and abound with manly sentiments and moral reflections. But in the sermon now before us, Mr. Adams has aimed a blow at the Constitution of the United States. With a rash hand, he has endeavoured to overturn one of the main pillars of our liberty. He has invaded, and attempted to destroy freedom of conscience, and on its ruins to erect intolerance and odious discriminations for religion's sake.
We are aware that Mr. Adams would unhesitatingly deny that he had any such intention. But such is the inevitable tendency of the doctrines he advocates.
Before we proceed any further we would remark, that we are humble believers in the truth of the Christian Scriptures. The argument of Mr. Hume against the belief of miracles is not, in our opinion, entitled to much consideration. It is more probable, he contends, that human testimony is false, or that men are mistaken, than that the miracles should be true.
We readily admit that men are often mistaken, and that they sometimes lie "for the lie's sake," as Lord Bacon truly, though coarsely expresses it. We should therefore examine their testimony in favour of miracles with the most scrupulous care, and, if there be a reasonable room for doubt, reject it. But we must not shut out eyes against the light. We must not reject as wholly insufficient that evidence which would satisfy us in the most important transactions of life. In fact, human testimony is the only kind of evidence we can have in the case. Let that which appears miraculous occur every day, and it will soon cease to be considered a miracle; it will be regarded as the natural operation of fixed laws. No one will deny, we presume, that God can perform a miracle--that he can, if he think fit, suspend the ordinary operation of natural laws; for to deny this, is to limit his power. If a miracle occur then, and we ourselves do not witness it, we can only learn it from evidence.
Now, what evidence have we that the miracles mentioned in the New Testament were performed!
1. It is proved by the testimony of eye-witnesses; of persons who actually saw them performed, and who had no interest in deceiving us.
2. These witnesses suffered persecution, and even laid down their lives in support of what they said.
3. The miracles were not denied for centuries after by the opponents of Christianity, who, on the contrary, admitted that they were performed, but attributed them to the power of evil spirits.
We consider this evidence as strong as the nature of the case will admit. But if a shadow of doubt as to the truth of the Christian Scriptures were left by the external evidence, that is removed by the internal evidence of their Divine authority. The wonderful and exact fulfillment of the prophecies, cannot otherwise be accounted for. That in pretending to foretell events, an individual might occasionally hit upon a truth, we have no doubt. But that so many predictions, such precise prophecies, should be so exactly fulfilled, can only be accounted for on the supposition of a Divine inspiration. Mr. Channing delivered, some years ago in Boston, an admirable essay on the internal evidence of Christianity. It is written in a glowing style, and with much force of argument. In it he urges, that if there were no other proof of the truth of Christianity, this would be sufficient, viz. the fact that twelve ignorant, uneducated men, without any extraordinary advantages of mind, had prescribed a code of morals infinitely superior to any that the wisest and most learned men of antiquity framed: a code of morals not only adapted to tile then situation of the world, but to all the various changes and modifications that have since taken place--and which, the more man improves in civilization, seems better and better adapted to the high purposes for which it was framed. This argument is entitled to greater consideration, from the reflection that time, which is thus continually developing the excellence of Christianity, exhibits defects in all human institutions.
We will not fatigue our readers by dwelling longer on arguments in favour of Christianity, arguments with which they are sufficiently familiar, and to which we have nothing new to add. Our object was rather to express our belief, than to "give a reason for the faith that is in us."
While, however, we are believers and followers of Christ, we must declare ourselves decidedly opposed to any connexion between church and state. Such a connexion will necessarily create a marked distinction between those who believe, and those who do not believe the religion upheld and protected by law. Hence a discrimination in civil rights will gradually arise. One set, or rather one sect of men, will be protected and rewarded, while another will be proscribed and persecuted. Freedom of conscience will be invaded. With freedom of opinion freedom of speech must fall--and liberty will soon expire.
This is not a picture drawn by an over-excited imagination; it is the truth, as portrayed by the pencil of history. Yet Mr. Adams has the boldness to hazard the following assertion,--
"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 show 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." Page 5.
Now, Christianity may be considered but as one of the larger sects into which mankind is divided. Any argument that would prove the wisdom of making one particular form of religion the ground of all the great institutions of an empire, would prove the wisdom of making one form of Christianity the ground of those institutions. Let us take a case, and apply the argument.
The Roman Catholic religion is deemed by many a system of idolatry, of bigotry, and of superstition. We have heard several intelligent and well educated persons contend that it is opposed to civil liberty--that its fundamental doctrines interfere with the right of free judgment--impose an unnatural and tyrannical restraint on the mind, and inculcate a slavish submission to persons in authority. We have heard the same individuals contend that Unitarians are not, in the strict sense of the term, Christians--because, say they, the Unitarians deny the divine nature of Jesus, which is of the essence of Christianity; teach the most shocking and blasphemous doctrine on the nature of the Godhead; and are gradually introducing a culpable carelessness about religious concerns, infidelity, and even atheism,
A person entertaining these views, may be supposed to argue in the following manner:--
"The Unitarian sect, by introducing carelessness concerning the duties of religion, are gradually, though perhaps unconsciously, undermining the only sure foundation of public morals. Their influence on society must therefore be baleful. So too with the Roman Catholics. By dispensations and indulgences, by absolution and an absurd belief in purgatory, their religion gives a sanction to immorality and licentiousness, and destroys the sense of moral responsibility. Thus do extremes meet. The superstition of the Catholic is not less pernicious than the irreligion of the Unitarian. In vain do we look to monkish records for the mild spirit and beneficial effects of Christianity. For them we must look to THE REFORMATION. The REFORMATION has done much for individuals. It has inculcated charity, peace, and goodwill among men. It has destroyed superstition, introduced purity of morals, and taught us that the path of virtue is the road to God.---It has done much for nations. It has taught them to do good to one another. It has taught them that the prosperity and happiness of neighbouring nations, is a source of mutual comfort and enjoyment. It has diminished the horrors of war, by softening the lot of captives, abolishing the odious practices of the dark and gothic ages, and in a word, by teaching that the rights of humanity should never be disregarded. Why should not then Christianity, as established at the reformation, be incorporated in our laws) Why should not a religion so pure, so beneficial, be connected with, and protected by our laws and constitutions!"
How would Mr. Adams answer this, if it were urged by one expressing the opinions of a large majority of the people! He is precluded from arguing- that civil government can not rightly interfere with religion. We have heard him already assert that it would have been both "wise and salutary" to connect one form of religion with all the great institutions of government. If "one form of religion," why not "one form of Christianity?"--especially when that is the only true form.
There is, and there can be, no middle ground between perfect liberty and tyranny on this subject. Give government the right to interfere, to Pass laws for the protection of Christianity, and it will necessarily have to determine what is Christianity and what laws are necessary for the protection of Christianity. In other words, it will have an unlimited power on the subject.
In page nineteenth, the author, addressing himself to this point, says:--
"No power less efficacious than Christianity, can permanently maintain the public tranquillity of the country, and the authority of law. We must be a Christian nation, if we wish to continue a free nation." And, that he may not be misunderstood, he adds in a note:
"With a view of illustrating this subject, by uniting high authority with great clearness of argument, the author subjoins a part of the opinion of the late Chief Justice Parsons, of Massachusetts, in the case of Barnes vs. First Parish in Falmouth, contained 6 Mass. Reports, p. 404, &c. In this case, the Court had occasion to vindicate Art. 3. Part I. of the Constitution of that State (p. 29.) So far as the Massachusetts' Constitution and the argument vindicating it make a discrimination between Christian denominations, they do not meet the concurrence of the author, but he considers the main positions of the Chief Justice incontrovertible, and his course of reasoning highly instructive and convincing."
The reasoning of the late Chief Justice Parsons of Massachusetts, is to the following effect: There are moral duties flowing from the disposition of the heart, and not subject to the control of human legislation. Secret offences cannot be prevented unless civil government derive assistance from some superior power, whose laws extend to the temper and disposition of the human heart. Legislators have, therefore, in all ages, had recourse to religion. It is not against freedom of conscience to establish a particular form of religion by law, and to compel persons to pay a tax for its support, although they may think the established religion false. It is simply a call on the citizen for money for the public use, and is in no sense a matter of conscience. The public has a right to levy taxes, and make appropriations; and no individual is at liberty to withhold the tax, because he dislikes the appropriation. Otherwise, there will soon be an end of all government. The object of a public religious establishment is, to teach and enforce a system of correct morals--and to secure obedience to important laws by a Divine sanction.
Now, "the main positions of the Chief Justice," which Mr. Adams pronounces "incontrovertible," and "the course of reasoning" which he is pleased to declare "highly instructive and convincing," urge the necessity for government to call in religion to its aid, and the right of government to establish and protect by law, and uphold by taxes, any religion it may deem proper. Why not Unitarianism then?-or Catholicism?--or Protestantism?--if the majority think fit. It is true, that Mr. Adams censures discriminations between Christian denominations; but he urges no reason for this censure--and we venture to assert that he can urge none--which will not apply with equal force to all religious discriminations. Admit his principle--which, veil it as he may, is discrimination between religious denominations--and a discrimination in favour of a particular sect will follow, as a matter of course. Admit the giant's foot, and his body will soon appear.
The truth is, the main positions of Chief Justice Parsons are utterly indefensible, and his argument is worse than futile. We etract a tithe of a hair from the just reputation of this distinguished jurist. He was indeed a man of transcendental abilities--a shining light and an ornament to the bench and to his country, fit to be ranked with the Kents and Marshalls. We venerate his memory--but we cannot venerate his errors. Upon the principles advocated by him, in the opinion cited with high commendation by the author of the sermon now before us, it would be impossible to prove any tax improper.--We pass by this, however, and confine ourselves to the point immediately before us.
Civil government is intended for the regulation of social man--for the promotion and security of human happiness here on earth. It is intended for this world--not the next. It should protect us in the enjoyment of our personal rights and property. It should not interfere with our opinions and faith. Its business is with our temporal or present interests, not with our future or eternal welfare. As long as a citizen discharges well his duty to society, he is a good citizen. Civil government should regulate the duty of man towards man. It should not interfere with the relations between man and his Creator. Offences against society should be punished by society. Offences against God should be left to God. It argues great folly, as well as impiety, to suppose the Deity so weak as to require aid from society, or so negligent as to suffer offenders to escape with impunity. Deorum injuriae, diis curiae [wrongs done to the gods (are) concerns for the gods], was the wise and humble maxim of Pagans. We should not be less wise or humble--nor should we arrogantly usurp the province of the Almighty.
What is religion! The term is derived from re and ligo--to bind back--to tie again. It is the tie or bond that unites man to the Deity. It consists in the service of God. HE alone can judge who worships in sincerity and truth.
Opinion is involuntary. A man cannot believe as he wishes. I am writing with a candle before me. Can I believe that there is no such thing before me? I look at my hat; it is black. Can I, if I wish to do so, believe it white? I cannot. I am forced to believe the evidence of my senses. My very nature, my organization, my structure, compels me to do so.
I am a Christian. I have examined the evidence, internal and external, for and against Christianity. I am forced to believe it true. It is the conclusion of my mind after a candid examination. I cannot believe otherwise. Suppose I were in Turkey. Would the Turkish government have a right to punish me because I am not a Mahometan? Can an involuntary opinion be the subject of praise or blame! Can government rightly interfere with religious opinions? It cannot. Every man has, by the eternal law of nature, a right to worship God according to his own conscience. In the eloquent language of Mr. Brougham--now Lord Brougham--"The great truth has finally gone forth to all the ends of the earth, that mall shall no more render an account to man for his belief, over which he has himself no control. Henceforward, nothing shall prevail upon us to praise or to blame any one for that which he can no more change than he can the hue of his skin, or the height of his stature. Civil government, we repeat, cannot rightly interfere with religious belief or opinion. It should look simply to the actions, to the conduct of individuals. History paints in strong colours the danger of a connexion between religion and government. Church and state have never been united without making the former subservient to the latter without making religion, which should purify and ennoble the mind, a base instrument of tyranny and oppression."
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. Mr. Adams notices this, and subjoins the following remarks:
"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 flagrant 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""--p. 6.
Now, Christianity has never been incorporated in any other way with the civil power. It became a religion exclusively established by law, for the first time, under Constantine, in the year of our Lord 325. Ever since that time, then, according to Mr. Adams, "the union of the ecclesiastical with the civil authority has given rise to flagrant abuses and gross corruptions!" No matter under what particular form Christianity has been united with civil government, invariably "the lustre of her brightness has been dimmed!!" Is not this evidence sufficiently strong to prove the improperiety of a connexion between church and state! Is the experience of fifteen centuries not enough? Must we again make an experiment, founded on a principle that has ever proved a fruitful source of evils! Shall we thus tamper with human happiness? We trust not. Christianity stands in need of no unequal protection. Give her a fair field, and the legitimate weapons of reason, and she must and will prevail. The fortress of error will be compelled to surrender, and the gentle sway of the Gospel will be universally acknowledged.
Having thus briefly pointed out the impropriety of any connexion between church and state, we will proceed to a more Particular examination of Mr. Adams's sermon. He introduces his subject in the following manner.
"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, ill framing their new constitutions of government, either silently or by direct enactment, discontinued the ancient connexion.
"A question of great interest here comes up for discussion. In thus discontinuing the connexion between Church and Commonwealth--did these States intend to renounce all connexion with the Christian religion! Or did they intend to disclaim all preference of one sect of Christians?
"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 prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' expect to be understood as abolishing the national religion?"--pp. 7, 8.
It is an historical question, says Mr. Adams, and to arrive at a correct conclusion, recurrence must be had to the ordinary means for adjusting inquiries of this nature. Accordingly he refers,
1. To the charters of the colonies, and other similar documents as to the settlement of this continent.
2. To the rise and progress of our colonial growth; and
3. To the Constitutions of the several States, and to the Constitution of the United States; from which he deduces this principle:--
"THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE RETAINED THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION AS THE FOUNDATION OF THEIR CIVIL, LEGAL AND POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS; WHILE THEY HAVE REFUSED TO CONTINUE A LEGAL PREFERENCE TO ANY ONE OF ITS FORMS OVER ANY OTHER."--pp. 12, 13.
It is evident, on the first blush of the question, that the "colonial charters," and "the rise and progress of our colonial growth," can have nothing to do with the question, whether, under our present constitutions, there is any connexion between religion and civil government. That is a question to be decided by the constitutions themselves. But let us examine the three sources whence Mr. Adams draws his conclusion.
And 1. as to "the charters of the colonies, and the settlement of this continent." He contends, that the originators and early promoters of the discovery and settlement of this continent, had the propagation of Christianity before their eyes, as one of the principal objects of their undertaking-and refers, as an evidence of this, to the charters of Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island--(pp. 8, 9.) Now, granting this to be true, although we doubt that it is so, what reference has it to the question, whether we have an established "NATIONAL RELIGION?" We answer, none. The United States had no national existence previous to the 4th of July, 1776, when they first assumed a station among the nations of the earth. Indeed, even then, and under the Articles of Confederation, they can scarcely be considered as having done more than prepared for the establishment of civil national institutions. The Constitution of 1789 is the very basis, the foundation-stone of those institutions--and with that Constitution our inquiries should commence. But the inquiry is concluded by the Constitution itself--i.e. by the first article of the amendments to the Constitution, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In a legal and constitutional sense, then, we have no "established national religion." The language is inapplicable to the United States; it is unconstitutional language--language at war with the great principles of freedom on which our institutions are built. Mr. John Adams was right, when he wrote to the Dey of Algiers, that "the Constitution is, in no sense, founded on the Christian religion."
Our author, having cited the colonial charters, and paid a well merited compliment to our ancestors, remarks:--"We very much mistake, if we suppose ourselves so much advanced before them, that we cannot be benefited by becoming acquainted with their sentiments, their characters, and their labours." The mistake against which Mr. Adams here warns us, is a creature of his own imagination--a man of straw, set up by himself, that he may obtain a fancied victory. No one supposes it useless to learn the sentiments, characters, and labours of our ancestors. They serve, in some instances, as beacons, to warn--in others, as examples, to imitate. We acquire wisdom from the experience of our predecessors, and should live to little purpose, if we were to shut our eyes against the light of history.
We come now to the second source whence Mr. Adams draws his conclusion. "If we advert," says he, "for a moment, to the rise and progress of our colonial growth," we will find, that "wherever a settlement was commenced, a church was founded," and that "according to the views which had prevailed in Europe, since the days of Constantine, a legal preference of some one denomination over all others, prevailed in almost all the colonies," (pp. 10, 11.) Granted, we say: but this evidently has nothing at all to do with the question under the existing Constitution. It may be instructive to read the laws passed by our ancestors on the subject of religion. But every good man, and lover of his country, blushes at the superstition, bigotry, and intolerance, with which they were too often tainted. Need we refer to history! Let us look for a moment to the pilgrim fathers, to the colony at Plymouth. Speaking of them, a judicious writer observes:
"Much as we respect that noble spirit which enabled them to part with their native soil--by some held dearer than friends, relatives, or children, and by every generous bosom preferred even to life itself--we must condemn the proceedings which ensued. In the first moment when they began to taste of Christian liberty themselves, they forgot that others had a right to the same enjoyment. Some of the colonists, who had not emigated through motives of religion, retaining a high veneration for the ritual of the English church, refused to join the colonial state establishment, and assembled separately to worship. But their objections were not suffered to pass unnoticed, nor unpunished. Endicott called before him the two principal offenders, and though they were men of respectability, and amongst the number of original patentees, he expelled them from the colony, and sent them home in the first ships returning to England. Had this inquisitorial usurpation been no further exercised, some apology, or at least palliation, might be framed. More interesting and painful consequences, however, not long afterwards, resulted. The very men who had countenanced this violation of Christian duties, lived to see their own descendants excluded from church communion, to behold their grandchildren, the smiling infants at the breast, denied the sacred rite of baptism." * *
"The first general court was held at Charlestown, on board the ship Arabella. A law was passed, declaring that none should be admitted as freemen, or be entitled to any share in the government, or even to serve as jurymen, except those who had been received as members of the church; by which measure, every person whose mind was not of a particular structure, or accidentally impressed with peculiar ideas, was at once cast out of`society, and stripped of his civic rights."
"This fanatical spirit continued to increase. The restless disposition of Williams had caused his banishment from Salem; and Coddington, a wealthy merchant of Boston, having, with seventy-six others, been banished from Massachusetts, for holding eighty erroneous opinions, and favouring the religion of Ann Hutchinson, purchased an island--and named it Rhode island--which includes the previous settlement by Williams. They received a charter from the British Parliament. By this it was ordered, that none were ever to be molested for any difference of opinion in religious matters. Yet the very first Assembly convened under this authority, excluded Roman Catholics from voting at elections, and from every office in the government. In 1656, a number of Quakers having arrived from England and Barbadoes, and given offence to the clergy of the established church, by the novelty of their religion, at that time, certainly, a little extravagant, were imprisoned, and by the first opportunity sent away. A law was then made, which prohibited masters of vessels from bringing any Quakers into Massachusetts, and themselves from coming there, under a penalty, in case of a return from banishment, as high as death. In consequence of this several were hanged. Toleration was preached against, as a sin in rulers that would bring down the judgment of Heaven upon the land. Mr. Dudley died with a copy of verses in his pocket, of which the two following lines make a part:
Let men of God, in court and churches watch,
O'er such as do a toleration hatch.
The Anabaptists were the next object of persecution. Many were disfranchised, and some banished."
But why multiply examples! It affords us no pleasure to dwell on the follies of our ancestors. They cannot affect the question at issue between us and the author of the sermon now before us. To know the connexion of Christianity with the civil government of the United States, we must look to the Constitution of the United States, and that declares, as we have already seen, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Jews, Turks, Infidels, Christians, ALL stand on the same footing. Mr. Jefferson, in a letter acknowledging the receipt of a discourse on the consecration of a synagogue, says: "Your sect, by its sufferings, has furnished a remarkable proof of the universal spirit of religious intolerance, inherent in every sect; disclaimed by all while feeble, and practised by all when in power. Our laws have applied the only antidote to this vice--protecting our religious, as they do our civil rights, by placing all on an equal footing. But more remains to be done; for, though we are free by the law, we are not so in practice; public opinion erects itself into an inquisition, and exercises its office with as much fanaticism as fans the flame of an auto da fe. "
We are prepared now to examine the third source whence Mr. Adams draws his conclusion--we mean the Constitutions of the several States, and the Constitution of the United States.
"In perusing the twenty-four Constitutions of the United States," says he, p. 11, "we find all of them recognising Christianity as the well known AND WELL ESTABLISHED RELIGION of the communities, whose legal, civil, and political foundations, these Constitutions are." And again, in pp. 15 and 16, he remarks, by way of a seeming inference: "Thus, while all others enjoy full protection in the profession of their opinions and practice, Christianity is THE ESTABLISHED RELIGION of the nation, its institutions and usages are sustained by legal sanctions, and many of them are incorporated with the fundamental law of the country. "
So far is this from being true, that, we will venture to assert, in nearly all the twenty-four Constitutions it is assumed that there is NO established religion, and that there should be no preference of any one religious denomination over another--whether Jews, Christians, Pagans, or Turks.
Some of the State Constitutions were framed flagrante bello, during the storm of the Revolution--while the public mind was engrossed with political subjects. It needs be a matter of little surprise, that, under such circumstances, and when there was in most of the colonies a legal preference of one form of Christianity over all others, there should be found some provisions in favour of Christianity. Thus, in the Constitution of Maryland adopted 14th April, 1776, Article 35 prescribes, that every person, before entering on any office of honour, profit or trust, shall make a declaration of belief in the Christian scriptures--thereby excluding from office all Jews. In the Constitution of New Jersey, adopted July 2d, 1776, the nineteenth section declares "all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect, eligible to offices of profit or trust." And in the Constitution of North Carolina, adopted December ]8th, 1776, the thirty-second section provides, that no person who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testament, or who shall hold, &c., shall be capable of holding any office or place of profit or trust in the civil department within that state. So that these two states went a step farther than Maryland, and excluded Roman Catholics as well as Jews
The Constitutions of New Hampshire, (Part 1, Art. 6,) and of Massachusetts, (Part 1, Art. 3,) invest the respective legislatures of those states with "power to require, and direct them to require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make provision for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality." These provisions are utterly indefensible. Nothing can justify the power thus given to the legislatures to invade the rights of conscience, and to compel an individual to pay for the propagation of a doctrine which he believes to be false, and fraught with mischief!
The Constitution Of Virginia refers to Christianity, but gives it no preference over other religious denominations; on the contrary, the sixteenth article of the "Bill of Rights," made by Virginia June 12, 1776, and prefixed to her Constitution of 1830, expressly provides against such preference. So, in the third article of the "Declaration of Rights" of the inhabitants of Vermont, July 4, 1793, after declaring the right of all men to worship God according to their own consciences, it is laid down, that "no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship."
The Constitution of Maine, adopted October 29th, 1819, does not contain the word Christian. It is not even said to have been adopted "in the year of Lord," &c., but simply, "in Convention, October 29th, 1819." It declares the natural and unalienable right to worship God according to conscience, and rejects all religious tests and discriminations. (See Article 1, Section 3.)
So, too, in the Constitution of New York, the word Christian is not to be found. It is dated, "Done in Convention at, &c, in the year 1821." Art. 7, Sec. 3, provides, that "the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall for ever be allowed in this state to all mankind."
In like manner, Kentucky, in the 3d and 4th Sections, Art. 10, of her Constitution, recognises the rights of conscience, and declares; "that no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious societies or modes of worship: That the civil privileges or capacities of any citizen shall in no wise be diminished or enlarged on account of his religion." The style of its date is similar to that of Maine or New York. It is this: "Done in Convention at Frankfort, the 17th day of August, 1799."
The Constitution of Illinois, adopted 26th August, 1818, recognises the right of all men to worship God according: to the dictates of their consciences, and provides against any preference to religious establishments and against religious tests. (Art. 8, Sec. 3 and 4).
The Constitution of Alabama, adopted in 1819, is equally explicit. Article 1, Section 7, is in the following words: "There shall be no establishment of religion by law; no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect, society, or denomination, or mode of worship; and no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state."
The 4th and 5th Sections of the 13th Article of the Constitution of Missouri, adopted in 1820, runs thus: "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences no man can be compelled to erect and support, or to attend any place of worship, or to maintain any minister of the gospel or teacher of religion: no human authority can control or interfere with the rights of conscience: no person can ever be hurt, molested, or restrained in his religious professions or sentiments if he do not disturb others in their religious worship." "No person, on account of his religious opinions, can be rendered ineligible to any office of profit or trust under this state. No preference can ever be given by law to any sect or mode of worship: and no religious corporation can ever be erected in this state."
Indiana, in the 1st Article, 3d Section, of her Constitution, adopted in 1816, makes similar provisions in language equally strong.
Louisiana, in her Constitution, makes no reference to the subject of Christianity. No religious tests are prescribed; but offices and honours are open to all citizens.
The Constitution of Georgia, Article 4, Section 10, after declaring the rights of conscience, &c. provides: "No one religious society shall ever be established in this state in preference to any other; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles."
The Constitution of Ohio, Article 8, Section 3, has a similar provision. True, it declares that "religion, morality, and knowledge shall for ever be encouraged by legislative provision," but it adds, "not inconsistent with the rights of conscience." Besides, it provides that "no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship."
The Constitution of Pennsylvania, (Article 9th, Section 3d,) and the Constitution of Tennessee, (Article 1lth, Sections 3d and 4th,) assert the rights of conscience, and declare that "no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship." It is true, the latter, in 8th Article, Section 2d, and the former in 9th Article, Section 4, exclude from office "those who deny the existence of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments." But this is no provision in favour of Christianity. The followers of Mahomet, the Jews, and most Pagans, believe these.
Mr. Adams has misrepresented the Constitution of Delaware, by garbling the 1st Article, Section 1. The Constitution declares, that "through Divine goodness, all men have by nature the right of worshipping and serving God according to the dictates of their consciences." It then proceeds:
"ARTICLE 1, 1. ALTHOUGH it is the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of the author of the universe; and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depends, are thereby promoted; YET no man shall, or ought to he compelled In attend arty religions worship, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of worship, or to the maintenance of any ministry, against his own free will and consent; and no power shall or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any magistrate, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship. Nor shall a preference be given by law to any religious societies, denominations, or modes of worship.
§ 2. No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state."
Mr. Adams omits the word "although" in the first section, and ends with the word "promoted," leaving out all that we have italicised. (*) Even in the mangled form presented by him, the section simply expresses the duty of all men publicly to assemble and worship God--a duty which Jews and others fed as well as Christians. But in its proper form, it denies the right of any human power to interfere with religious opinions.
Mr. Adams cites Article 7, Section 1, Constitution of Connecticut, which makes some regulations concerning societies of Christians, and the manner in which individuals may separate thereform; but he does not notice the very first Article, which in the 3d Section declares, that "the exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination, shall for ever be free to all persons in the state."
We have now briefly examined the constitutions of all the states except South Carolina, and have fully sustained our assertion, that in nearly all the twenty-four constitutions freedom of conscience has been recognised as one of the unalienable rights of man, and that no preference is allowed to any religious denomination-whether it consist of Jews, Christians, Pagans, or Turks. The principle obtained from the foregoing examination is then this--viz. THE PEOPLE OF THE SEVERAL STATES-- ALTHOUGH A VAST MAJORITY OF THEM WERE CHRISTIANS -- RESOLVED, IN FRAMING THEIR CONSTITUTIONS, TO DESTROY ALL CONNEXIONS BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE. Of course, we except those who have, in spite of reason and the experience of more than fifteen centuries, established a preference for certain sects--a preference which Mr. Adams himself affects to deprecate.
In order to complete our examination of the constitutions, we must refer to the Constitution of South Carolina and the Constitution of the United States. Before we do so more particularly, we will notice hyo expressions which are to be found not only in those constitutions, but in several already examined. We do this, not because the expressions themselves call for any comment--but because an ingenious though sophistical argument has been built upon them.
The expressions are: 1. "If any bill shall not be returned by the president (or governor) within ten days, (the number differs in different states,) SUNDAYS EXCEPTED" &c. 2. "Done in Convention, &c., in the YEAR OF OUR LORD" &c.
Upon the first expression, Mr. Adams has borrowed the argument of Mr. Frelinghuysen in the United States' Senate. Upon the second, so far as we are informed, he is entitled to the credit of originality. Both expressions, he contends, are recognitions of Christianity.
We have already remarked, that many of the state constitutions were framed in the midst of war and confusion--when the public mind was engrossed with political subjects. Ninety-nine hundredths of the people were, and still are thoroughly convinced of the truth of the Christian scriptures. The exception of Sundays, above cited, notwithstanding the many political reasons which may be urged in its favour, is to be attributed to this general conviction. Public opinion will have its effect; and we are only surprised that more expressions of this occasional kind are not to be found in the constitutions. But to infer from this that the people of the several states have retained the Christian religion as the foundation of their civil, legal, and political institutions, is worse than absurd. It is building up weakness. It is like an attempt to construct an inverted pyramid--to rear an immense superstructure with a point for a base. But if we are shocked at so sweeping an inference from such premises, what must we think, when we reflect that the inference is directly contradicted by the various provisions already cited from the constitutions themselves!
These remarks will apply with equal, perhaps greater force, to the dates of some constitutions-"Done, &c., &c., in the year of our Lord." Besides, it has become a sort of fashion in dating papers to say, "in the year of our Lord." C'est une facon de parler--a mere mode of speech. This perhaps may be traced to the fact, that we are Christians. It does not show that Christianity is the foundation of our civil, legal, and political institutions. On the contrary, assuming with our author that the date of the Constitution of the United States--"in the year of our Lord"--refers back to the words, "We the people of the United States," it would only amount to this, that the people of the United States, although professing themselves Christians, were so thoroughly convinced of the impropriety of any and every connexion between church and state, that they laid it down as a fundamental law, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
We will now examine more particularly the Constitution and laws of South Carolina, so far as this subject is concerned. Mr. Adams refers to the Carolina charters of 1662-1663, and of 1665. But these have nothing to do--as we have already seen--with the relation of Christianity to civil government under the present Constitution. We therefore dismiss them. In like manner we would dismiss the Constitution of South Carolina, 1778; but Mr. Adams contends, that the Constitution of 1790, which is at present the fundamental law of the state, is no more than an alteration or amendment of the Constitution of 1778. Let him speak for himself:
"This Constitution itself decides, that it is no more than an alteration or amendment of the preceding Constitution of the State, (See Constitution of South Carolina of 1790, Art. 8. Sect. 2.) The Constitution of 1778, then, is still in force, except so far as it has 'been altered or amended' by the Constitution of 1790; and the 38th Section of the former is still in force, except so far as it has 'been altered or amended' by Article 8th of the latter. ["] Note E, p. 37.
What is the 38th section, alluded to by our author?
It declares the Christian Protestant religion the established religion of the state. It then provides that Protestant societies may be incorporated, provided fifteen members subscribe the following articles---and not otherwise:--
1. That there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments .
2. That God is publicly to be worshipped.
3. That the Christian religion is true.
4. That the Old and New Testaments are of Divine inspiration, and the rule of faith and practice.
5. That every witness, when called on, shall speak truth, &c.
We have studied with some attention the Constitutions of South Carolina, and cannot but express our surprise at Mr. Adams' assertion, that the Constitution of 1790 itself, decides that the Constitution of 1778 is still of force, except so far as it has been altered or amended. There is not a word in the present Constitution to support the assertion. The Constitution of 1790, wholly superseded that of 1778. But Mr. Adams refers for support to the 2d Section, 8th Article Constitution of South Carolina. This relates solely to the rights preserved to corporate bodies and societies. No constitutional lawyer of any reputation can be found bold enough--we had almost used a harsher term--to say, "that the Constitution of 1790 leaves Christianity, i.e. Christianity without distinction of sects--precisely as it found it established by the Constitution of 1778." The Constitution abolishes all distinction of religious denominations. The follower of Moses is seated in our legislative hall by the follower of Jesus. The object of each is alike his country's honour, and his country's good.
We cannot argue the seal off the bond: we cannot argue the words out of the Constitution. The language is too clear to be misunderstood. Let us read the 8th article, to the 2d section of which Mr. Adams refers:--
SECTION 1. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION OR PREFERENCE shall for ever hereafter, be allowed within this State to all mankind, &c.
SECTION 2. The rights, privileges, immunities, and estates of both civil and religious societies, and of corporate bodies, shall remain as if the Constitution of this State had not been altered or amended."
The meaning of this is palpable. The civil and religious societies, which have under the old Constitution acquired property and rights, shall NOT be deprived of their estates and privileges. But henceforth the free exercise of religious worship and profession, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed within this state to all mankind. Yet Mr. Adams contends that Christianity-without distinction of sects--is the established religion of the state! "It is too manifest," says he, "to require argument, that the Constitution of 1790 leaves Christianity--that is, Christianity without distinction of sects--precisely as it found it established by the Constitution of 1778." So that, according to him, "the free exercise of religious profession and worship," means only "the profession of Christianity!" And the establishment, the legal and constitutional establishment of Christianity, makes no discrimination or preference between the Jew and the Christian. The framers of the Constitution built no temple for intolerance. The cornerstone of their structure was liberty--liberty in its broadest and most general sense--liberty of speech, liberty of the press, liberty of conscience--the right to worship God in any way man thinks fit.
But Mr. Adams says:--
"It has hitherto been supposed, that our judges, our legislators, and our statesmen, ought to be influenced by the spirit, and bound by the sanctions of Christianity, both in their public and private conduct; but no censure can be rightfully attached to them for refusing to comply, if nothing of this kind is required by the commissions under which they act, and from which their authority is derived."--Page 16
How is this! Jews hold offices of honour and trust under the general government: many hold commissions in the militia of the several states; many in the army and navy of the United States: Jews have been sent abroad as consuls: Jews are to be found in the legislative halls of South Carolina, New York, &c. Are they bound by the sanctions of Christianity, in their public and private conduct? Do the commissions under which they act, require any thing of this kind! Will they not consider this constitutional doctrine of Mr. Adams somewhat strange! We have dwelt too long on this point. Proceed we to another. Mr. Adams says:--
"The statute of December 12th, 1712, in adopting the Common Law of England as the Law of South Carolina, (Grimke's Laws of South Carolina, p. 99,) made Christianity a part of our fundamental law, it being a well established principle that Christianity is a part of the Common Law of England."(1)
We would remark now, in the first place, that in adopting the common law of England, South Carolina did not adopt it unreservedly. She only adopted such portions of it as were consistent with her Constitution and laws. She did not, and she could not deprive herself of the power of altering that common law, when applied to herself. If Christianity, then, were a part of the common law, she certainly had a right to abolish it if she thought proper. This right she exercised in framing her Constitution in 1790.
This is a complete reply to the argument, that the statute of 1712 incorporated Christianity with the laws of South Carolina, even if we admit his dictum--that it is a well settled "principle, that Christianity is a part of the common law of England."
But we deny that Christianity ever was a part of the common law of England. We do not know how we can better express our opinion on this subject, than by copying the following extract of a letter from Mr. Jefferson to Major Cartwright, dated Monticello, June 5, 1824.
"I was glad to find in your book of formal contradiction, at length, of the judiciary usurpation of legislative powers; for such the judges have usurped in their repeated decisions, that Christianity is a part of the common law. The proof of the contrary; which you have adduced, is incontrovertible; to wit, that the common law existed while the Angle-Saxons were .yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed. But it may amuse you, to show when, and by what means, they stole this law in upon us.
"In a case of quare impedit. in the Year-book 34, H, 6, folio 38, (anno 1458,) a question was made, how far the ecclesiastical law was to be respected in a common law court? And Prisot, Chief justice. gives his opinion: in these words: "A tielx leis que ils de Saint Eglise ont en ancien scripture, covient a nous a doner credence; car ceo common ley surquels touts mans leis sont fondes. Et auxy, Sir, nous sumus obliges de conustre noste ley.
And PRISOT, C. 5., gives his opinion in these words: A tielx Leis que ils de Saint Eglise opt en ancien scripture, covient a nous a doper credence; car ceo common Ley, surquel touts mans leis sont fondes. Et auxy Sir, nous sumus obliges de conustre nostre ley. Et, Sir, si poit apperer a nous que 1'evesque ad fait comme un ordinary fera en tiel cas, a dong nous devons ces adjuger bon, ou autrement nemy' &c -- See S. C. Fitzh. Abr. Qu imp 89, Bro.Abr. Qu. imp 12 FINCH in his first book, c. 3, is the. first :afterwards who quotes this case and mistakes it thus: "To such laws of the church as have warrant in holy scripture, our law giveth credence." And cites PRISOT " mistranslating "ancien scripture," into "holy scriptures." Whereas PRISOT palpably says; "to such laws: as those of holy church have in ancient writing; it is proper for .us to credence," to wit, to their ancient written laws. This was in 1613, a century and a half after the dictum of PRISOT. WINGATE, in 1658, erects this false translation into a maxim of the common law, copying the words of FINCH, but citing PRISOT. (Wingateis Max. 3) And SHEPPARD, tit. religion in 1675, copies the same mistranslation, quoting the Y. B. FINCH, and WINGATE. HALE expresses it in these words , " Christianity is parcel of the laws of England." 1 Ventr. 293, 3 Keb. 607. But he quotes no authority. "By these echoings and and re-echoings from one to another it had become so established in 1728, that in the case of the King v. Woolston, 2, Stra. 834, the court would not suffer to be debated, whether to write against Christianity was punishable in the temporal court at common law? Wood, therefore, 409 ventures still to vary the phrase, and day, that all blasphemy and profaneness are offences by the common law; ad cites 2 str.
"Then BLACKSTONE, in 1763, IV. 59, repeats the words of Hale, that "Christianity is part of the laws of England," citing Ventris and Strange. And finally LORD MANSFIELD with little qualification, in Evans' case, in 1767, says that "the essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law." Thus ingulphing Bible, Testament and all into common law, without citing any authority.
"And thus we find this chain of authority hanging link by link, one upon another, and all ultimately on one and the same hook, and that a mistranslation of the words "ancien Scripture," used by PRISOT. FINCH quotes PRISOT; WINGATE does the same; SHEPPARD quotes PRISOT, FINCH and WINGATE. HALE cites nobody. The court in Woolston's case, cites HALE. WOOD cites Woolston's case. Blackstone quotes Woolston's caseand HALE. And LORD MANSFIELD, like HALE, ventures it on his own authority.
"Here I might defy the best-read lawyer to produce another scrip of authority for this judiciary forgery and I might go on further to show, how some of: the anglo-Saxon priests interpolated into the text of Alfred's laws, the 20th , 21st, 22nd , and 23rd chapters of Exodus, and the 15th of the Acts of the Apostles, from the 23rd to the 29th verses. But this would lead my pen and your patience too far. What a conspiracy this; between Church and State! "
We might safely rest here; but the question before us is too important to suffer us to Pass by other authorities.
Richard Carlisle published "Paine's Age of Reason." In 1818, he was prosecuted for blasphemy and convicted, and sentenced on the 19th November, 1819, to three years' imprisonment, and to fines of fl 500. He was, under various indictments and convictions, confined six years.
On the 30th June, 1825, Mr. Brougham presented a petition to the House of Commons in his behalf. In the petition it is urged,
"That Lord Hale was the first who asserted Christianity to be part or parcel of the law of the land: that but a few years before this unfair addition to the common law, Lord Chief Justice Coke, always considered as good an authority as Sir Matthew Hale, distinctly laid it down as law in mentioning the case of Caudrey; so in causes ecclesiastical and spiritual, as blasphemy, apostacy from Christianity, heresies, schisms, &c., the conusance whereof belongth not to the common law of England; the same are to be determined and decided by ecclesiastical judges, according to the king's ecclesiastical laws of this realm; and he gives as a reason, for as before it appeareth the deciding Of matters, so many and of so great importance is not within the conusance of the common law.(2)
"That before the abolition of the star chamber, and the decay of the ecclesiastical courts, no cases of blasphemy towards the Christian religion were known to the common law courts.
"That no statute can be found which has conferred authority on the common law courts, to take conusance of a charge of blasphemy toward the Christian religion, as assumed by Sir Matthew Hale.
"That it therefore clearly appears, that that and the subsequent conusance of such cases by the common law courts, have been an unjust usurpation of power, and an unlawful creation of law, contrary to the common and statute laws of this realm.
"That later in the middle of the 18th century, Lord Mansfield decided, that the common law did not take conusance of matters of opinion: whence it appears, by this and the authority of Lord Coke, the immediate predecessor of Sir Matthew Hale, that the judges are not unanimous on the subject; and that Sir Matthew Hale evidently warped the common law to punish an individual who had not committed an infringement of that or any other law; and that such has been the conduct of the judges in the case of your petitioner and others."
Mr. Brougham supported the petition in a very able and eloquent argument. None of the law officers of the crown attempted a reply. The fine was remitted by a warrant of the king, dated 12th November, 1825.
We will now refer to the argument of Carlisle, in 12 Repub. 652. It was to the following effect.
The common law has been loosely described as that to which the memory of man runneth not to the contrary But the time of legal memory has been more accurately defined, to be any time within the first year of Richard I.
Now the Christianity that existed before that time was that of the Roman Catholic church--and that Christianity the church of England pronounces "idolatrous and damnable."
Parliament, in 1713, pronounced it blasphemy to impugn the doctrine of the Trinity; and in 1813 declared it lawful to impugn that doctrine.
What then is the Christianity which is part and parcel of the common law of England!
We would ask Mr. Adams what was the Christianity which South Carolina adopted, in adopting the common law of England, when the Protestant religion was the established religion of the state? Was the Protestant religion ever a part of the common law? We have seen that it was not. But if ever, it was clearly repealed when South Carolina in her Constitution declared, that the free exercise of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, should for ever be allowed within her limits to all mankind. Mr. Adams refers to the speech of Whitlock, 2 State Trials, 275. The reference is unfortunate; in that very page we find the lord commissioner, Whitelock, mentioning a case where the bishop committed a man for heresy, "for denying that tithes were due to the parson." Does Mr. Adams acknowledge this to be law?
The reference to Emlyn's preface to the State Trials is equally unfortunate. The preface contains some judicious remarks--among them, the following concerning indictments for blasphemous libels: "It is customary to insert the words 'falsb et malitiose scripsit [one wrote falsely and maliciously], &c.' and indeed they are the very gist of the indictment, and absolutely necessary to constitute the offence; for as no words can be blasphemy, (viz. a reproachful reflection on God or religion,) which are true--(for truth can be no reflection on the God of truth)-so no opinion, however erroneous, can merit that denomination, unless uttered with a malicious design of reviling God or religion. Yet how often have persons been found guilty on these indictments, without any proof of the falsehood of the positions, or of the malice of him who wrote them. Nay, sometimes there is a great deal of reason to think they were published from no other principle but a sincere love and regard for truth."
We come now to the decision in the case of the People vs. Ruggles, cited by Mr. Adams from 8th Johnson's Reports, 292. In that case, the Supreme Court of New York relied on the authorities already examined, and shown to be illegal. Their positions are utterly untenable. The decision was made in 1811; we have not the then Constitution of New York by us, but it is clear as the sun at mid-day, that the case is overruled by the 7th Art. 3d Sec. Constitution New York, adopted in 1821. The words of the section are: "The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall for ever be allowed in this state to all mankind." We will not dwell longer on this point; but in taking our leave of it, we must advise Mr. Adams, who seems fond of quoting decisions, whenever he again assumes the part of a lawyer, to bear in mind what the books say, viz. "The law and the opinion of the judge are not always convertible terms, or one and the same thing, since it sometimes may happen that the judge may mistake the law.
It appears then that the assertion, that Christianity is a well established principle of the common law, is erroneous. It is a judicial forgery, a usurpation of legislative powers by the court, a bench-made, judge-enacted law, unsupported by proper legal authority. They who wish to see this subject fully treated, will do well to peruse "Cooper's Law of Libel"--particularly that portion of it which treats of ecclesiastical libels. It is replete with learning and argument; its style is clear, vigorous, and striking, although occasionally rough and abrupt; it is sometimes witty, and sometimes eloquent; it exhibits great power of condensation, notwithstanding it is frequently disfigured by repetitions; it is always fearless in the expression of opinions, and its legal argument is unanswerable.
Mr. Adams, having noticed the common law, proceeds to quote an act passed by South Carolina in 1712, prohibiting persons from traveling on Sunday, or employing their slaves at work on that day. But this law is obsolete. Persons are continually traveling on Sunday. The mail is carried and opened on Sunday. Passengers crowd the stages on Sunday. In fact, this act of 1712 is repealed by the Constitution of 1790. With regard to not employing slaves at work on Sunday, we would observe, that public opinion--which is stronger than the law--causes this to be observed. Independently of our own individual religious profession, which induces us to observe the Sabbath, we are satisfied that in a political point of view, the observance of the day is attended with beneficial effects. These have been frequently pointed out. It is a day of rest for those who have laboured hard throughout the rest of the previous week. As such, it invigorates both body and mind. The certain prospect of a holiday is exceedingly exhilarating. It diffuses cheerfulness over the heart. It gives the poor an opportunity to prepare for its enjoyment. It insures them a period of rest, which would otherwise depend on the caprice of the task-master. Sunday is indeed a day of jubilee and rest, of enjoyment and ease. Ordinary occupations are suspended: and if a cheerful heart be pleasant in the sight of God, to that day HE must look with peculiar delight! It is unnecessary to dwell on the advantages of Sunday as a period of rest for cattle--for horses, mules, oxen, &c.
These and other considerations, make it politic to have a fixed day of rest: and no reason can be given for preferring any other day to Sunday.
Mr. Adams seems to have a high relish for old laws on the subject of religion; and, we have no doubt, will pay equal reverence to those which regulate the conduct, and those which regulate the belief of individuals. There is an act intended to provide for the security of the province of South Carolina, and more especially of church-going people. It is to be found in pages 185 and 186, Grimke's Public Laws, It was enacted in 1743, made perpetual by revival act of 1783, and has never since been repealed. We commend it to Mr. Adams' notice. It enacts that "all male persons, under sixty years of age, who shall go on Sunday or Christmas-day, to any church or place of worship, without a gun or a good pair of horse-pistols in good order and fit for service, with at least six chargers of gunpowder and ball; or who shall not carry the same into the church or other places of Divine worship, shall forfeit and pay the sum of 20s. current money." We trust that hereafter Mr. Adams will not neglect the duty prescribed by this act, and that every Sunday he will be seen with a gun on his shoulder, in conformity with the law.
We have thus, at the risk of being tedious, in most instances laid before our readers the very words of the several provisions in most of our constitutions, on the subject of religion. It is the only fair way of examining the question now before us--a question of vital importance--a question between liberty and tyranny, between the rights of conscience on the one hand, and intolerance, bigotry, and superstition on the other. The argument on the common law will apply to most of the states--so that while we have apparently been confining ourselves to the law of South Carolina, we have in truth been discussing the general law of the country.
We have seen that the connexion of Christianity with civil government has been, for fifteen centuries, invariably productive of the most flagrant abuses and the grossest corruptions. We have shown that there is, and there can be no middle ground between perfect liberty of conscience and despotism--since to give government power to protect Christianity for instance, is to give it power to declare what is Christianity, and what is necessary for its protection--in other words to give it unlimited power. We have shown also that opinion, faith, belief, are involuntary; that no human power can rightly interfere with them; that the object of civil government should be the regulation and promotion of human happiness here on earth; and that it should confine itself to the conduct of individuals, and regulate the duty of man towards man; but should not interfere with the relation between man and God. We have shown that most of the states, in framing their constitutions, have been influenced by these considerations; that in our country, Christianity has no connexion with the law of the land, or our political institutions; but that although a vast majority of the people of theUnited States are Christians, they have refused to give the general government power to make any laws on the subject, and have guaranteed to every man liberty of conscience, without discrimination or preference of any sect.
Christianity requires no aid from force or persecution. She asks not to be guarded by fines and forfeitures. She stands secure in the armour of truth and reason. She seeks not to establish her principles by political aid and legal enactments. She seeks mildly and peaceably to establish them in the hearts of the people.
(1) "Sec. 11, Sergeant & Rawle, pp. 400, 401, where the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania says, that 'from the time of Bracton, Christianity has been received as part of the Common Law of England.' To this effect, the opinions of Lord Chief Justice Hale, (the great and good Lord IIale) Lord Chief Justice Raymond, and Lord Mansfield, are quoted. The Court refer to the King vs. Taylor, 1 Vent. 203, 3 Keb. 607--The King vs. Woolston, 2 Stra. 834. Fitz. 64. Raym. 162. Fitz. hb.--Evans vr. Chamberlain of London. Furneaux's Letters to Sir W. Blackstone. Appx. to Black. Com. and 2 Burns' Eccles. Law, p. 95--also, 8 Johnson, 292, where the Su- yreme Court of New York quote the same authorities, and add Emlyn's Preface to the State Trials, i,. 8. Whitlock's Speech, 2 State Trials, 273. Tretmaine's Pleas of the Crown, 226. S.C. The King vs. Williams, tried before Lord Kenyon in 1797."
(2) 5 Coke's Rep. IV. a. 33d year of Elizabeth.
Source of Information:
Immunity of religion, "American Quarterly Review 17, No 34 (June 1835) 319-40. Library of American Civilization LAC 30257-72. Regent University, Microfilms room. Virginia Beach, VA
The author of the above article is unknown. However unsigned articles were not uncommon. but it is The author is believed to be one of the following, Thomas Cooper, Randell Hunt, Joseph Hopkins or Peter S. Du Ponceau.
"Immunity of Religion," American Quarterly Review 17, no. 34 (June 1835): 319-40. The title suggests a theme developed by James Madison in an 1822 letter written to Edward Livingston: "I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me." Letter from James Madison to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822, reprinted in Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison, 9 vols. (New York: G.P Putnam's Sons, 1900-1910), 9:100.pp. 123- 25
Source of Information:
Religion and Politics in the Early Republic, Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate. Edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach. The University Press Of Kentucky, (1996) pp. 123-25.
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