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The lives of Christians have, in numberless instances, displayed the efficacy of these divine principles. Can such instances of active exertion, of persevering labour, of patient suffering, be adduced, as those which have been displayed by the disciples of Jesus Christ? That they make not the noise of those who sack cities, and desolate countries, and spread far and wide the work of destruction, is certainly not to their dispraise. Their method of reforming the world, and meliorating the condition of man, is not by brute force, but by implanting in the soul the sentiments of knowledge and of goodness: the fruit will be certain felicity. Christianity does all her work, and effects all her purposes, by means of principles; she employs and she permits no other

Candid objector, do you not retract your accusation, and say, “ I was mistaken ?

way besides.


Objection." Christianity is the friend of despotism and the enemy

of liberty.”

Tue grand design of the New Testament is to teach religion. What relates to civil institutions it notices only so far as moral obligation is concerned. Forms of government it leaves to the wisdom of men to regulate, and to nations to frame. But what the spirit of governments should be, it plainly dictates; and it authoritatively lays down the principles by which both governors and governed should regulate their conduct.*

The foundation of civil government, the religion of Jesus lays in justice. It represents the human race as one great family, and all men as brethren. Suppose ten millions of these men, members of one community and subjects of one government: they have all and each an equal right to justice; and this right cannot be taken away, so long as God, their common Father, reigns in heaven, and so long as all men are brethren. The New Testament gives all a right, that the institutions of society should be equitable; and enjoins that no one should suffer a grain of oppression, in order to confer advantages on another beyond his due. Should maxims of injustice have been acted on for a thousand years, Christianity commands the government to abandon them, and justice to resume her seat, and to execute righteous judgment without delay.

* There are two questions respecting civil government, which, though perfectly distinct, are frequently confounded. The one is, What does the New Testament say should be the character and couduct of rulers and subjects ?" or in other words, What duties do rulers owe to subjects and subjects to rulers?” The other question is, “ How far, according to the New Testament, and how long, are subjects bound to obedience, supposing the rulers do not perform their duty, but act in direct oppositioz to it?” The first question only is here considered, and is all that was ne. cessary to remove the objection. The second lies entirely without the range of this essay, and it never entered the author's thoughts to discuss

It involves a piece of casuistry of difficult discussion, according to the common sentiments of men, but not on the system of the author, who thinks that Christ taught his disciples not to reform their country by vio. lence and force, not to break the peace of society, and to make use of no other weapons than truth and love.


But let us hear the New Testament speak for itself; and it speaks with plainness and fidelity, and yet with a delicacy suited to the age in which it was written, and to the jealousy of the governments which then existed. See Romans xiii. 1. Civil government, it says, is an ordinance of divine institution; or in other words, it is the will of God that men should not live as the beasts of the field without control; but that they should be formed into societies regulated by laws; and that these laws should be executed by magistrates appointed for the purpose. What kind of government and what kind of rules are designed, the writer particularly specifies: They are not a terror to good works but to evil. Do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” “ They are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing;" that is, their talents and their time are all employed in this great and good work. These are the principles of government which the New Testament lays down, and these the duties which it prescribes to the rulers of the nations.

But Christianity does not confine its injunctions to one part of the community and leave the rest to act as they please. By no means. It addresses itself likewise with equal energy to the people, and it binds on their consciences the obligations of subjection and obedience. And is not this, too, highly reasonable, and exactly corresponding with the nature and state of things? If the members of a community refuse to honour and obey the divine ordinance, to be subject to government, to give high respect to rulers, to pay them tribute, and all this not from fear of punishment, but for conscience sake, it will be allowed by every rational man that they resist an ordinance of God, an ordinance which is both reasonable and beneficial, and deservedly receive to themselves condemnation. Read likewise 1 Peter ii.

Such is the doctrine of the New Testament respecting civil government; such are its grand moral principles, and such its specific declarations on the subject. In every domestic relation it lays down fairly and equitably the duties on both sides; namely, of husbands and wives, of parents and children, of masters and servants; and it presses on all their obligations with equal force. Did it tell one party, “ You may neglect what you owe to the others, but claim what is due from them to you," objectors would have had too much reason to say, “ This book cannot come from God.” But it leaves no room for such a charge; for both on superiors and inferiors it enforces, without partiality, the mutual obligations of duty. Religion walks without fear into the palace of the king; she approaches him with dignity as he sits upon his throne; and she proclaims with the tone of authority,

He that ruleth over man must be just, ruling in the fear of God!”_2 Sam. xxiii. 3. She goes from thence into the hall of judgment, and with the mein of a superior, addresses herself to the judges as they sit on the tribunal: “ Ye shall not respect persons in judgment.”—Deut. i. 17. “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy; deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”—Psalm lxxxii. 3, 4. From the courts of justice she goes out to the multitude of the people, and she proclaims through the streets of the city: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.”— Rom. xiii. 1. “ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”—1 Pet. ii. 13, 14, 15. When you

have accompanied her in her progress, and heard her address herself to every class of men, instead of finding a just cause of objection, is there not rather reason, from the impartiality and rectitude of the principles displayed, to conclude that here is an additional argument to prove the Christian religion to be from God.

SECTION IV. Onjection. “ Christianity establishes a system of priestcrast, and exalts

the clergy to exorbitant wealth, and a spiritual despotism over the

consciences of mankind." The mass of mankind is busily engaged in worldly pursuits, and has but little leisure for mental improvement. That there should be teachers of religion to instruct them in its principles, to enforce its numerous precepts, and to administer its consolations, has nothing in it contrary to fitness and the public good. If the knowledge of arts and sciences be beneficial to a country, and the teachers of them be regarded as in the number of the most useful members of the community, those whose office and employment it is to instil into the minds of the people the principles of pure religion and morality (principles which are the best cement of civil society), certainly stand on equal or superior ground in respect to general utility. When it is further considered, what are the qualifications which the New Testament requires its teachers to possess, the argument will acquire additional weight. The teacher of religion in a society of Christians, must be “ blameless, sober, of good behaviour, not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, just, holy, temperate; he must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.”—1 Tim. ii. Tit. i. 2 Tim. ii. Against this office what can be said with reason ?

“ But have not the most extravagant claims both to wealth and power been set up by men calling themselves ministers of the gospel of Christ?" I do not deny the fact; but I say, let not Christianity bear the blame, because none is due. The question is, on what footing does the New Testament establish the support of the ministers of religion? Examine, and you will find that it establishes it in such a way as every reasonable man must approve. It is thought equitable that men who apply their younger years to the acquisition of languages and of philosophy, and who spend their days and strength in teaching them to others, should receive from those whom they teach such a recompence

for their labour as to enable them to support themselves and their families in a decent and respectable manner. Who will complain of this as improper and unjust? The gospel sets the maintenance of its ministers on the same footing

“ The workman is worthy of his hire. They that serve at the altar should live by the altar. When they dispense to others of their spiritual things, they should in return receive of their worldly things.” This is all that Christianity demands; and she is answerable for no other claim. Is it not reasonable that men of talents, education, and benevolence, who devote their lives to the spiritual instruction of their fellow-creatures, with a view to make them good and happy, both in this life and that which is to come, should receive such a remuneration as to enable them to live, not in affluence and splendour, far less in luxury and extravagance, but in the respectability of a decent competence? The application of the same education and abilities to another employment would have secured wealth. Do they make exorbitant claims, when they ask from those whom they are labouring to instruct, a moderate support?

Nor does the New Testament countenance in the ministers of religion a claim of power, more than of wealth. Humility is pointed out by Jesus as the road to exaltation; and the way to be the greatest of all in his kingdom, is to be the servant of all. Arguments, entreaties, prayers, all derived from the Scriptures, are the only arms which the New Testament warrants them to use. If the wicked will not turn from the evil of their ways, there remains nothing but to leave them to the judgment of a righteous God. With respect to such as have joined a society of believers, and afterwards conduct themselves amiss, Christ himself prescribes the following mode of proceeding:“ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.”—Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17. No civil privilege is taken away, no injury sustained as to worldly affairs; all that Christ enjoins is a separation from the communion of his disciples. In a society of artists or philosophers, if a person will not conform to their rules, they exclude him; and where is the hardship or injustice? for these rules are the bonds of the society. This is all that Christianity does; and who will say that it is wrong for a society of pious and moral men, who are united by the principles of piety and morality, to exclude such as are impious or immoral? 'The wisdom as well as the equity of the gospel in this respect must be justified, not only by its children, but by strangers.

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