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to attempt; and in no way can they so effectually accomplish this, as by securing the diffusion of religious instruction.

But it is not merely from this enlarged view of the objects of government, that its right to support religion results; religion is also absolutely necessary to the attainment of those ends, which are universally acknowledged to fall within its legitimate province; the preservation of social order, and its own permanency.

It is not upon the sanctions of civil law, that the rights of person and property, that faith in promises, that the mutual reliance and sense of security, which enter into all the transactions and intercourse of social life, and bind the members of a community together, principally depend. Take away the silent and private influences of religion and conscience, which come in upon a man in his retirement, and break off his schemes of fraud, of injustice, and treachery; and the arm of law could place but a feeble check upon human selfishness. Or rather, crimes are guarded against, not so much by those fears, which hold back the villain from perpetrating what he has conceived, as by the production of those moral habits and feelings, which prevent the very formation of guilty designs. Nor can it be too deeply realized, of what vital

importance is the operation of religious principle to the very existence of political freedom; because, where the people are generally corrupt, nothing but a system of minute inspection, of universal regulation and restraint, utterly irreconcileable with the spirit of freedom, can save the state from the most thorough licentiousness and anarchy.*

*For a clear and forcible developement of this topic, the social character of religion, I beg leave to refer to the sermon of the Rev. Dr. Channing on this subject, recently published; where the reader will find some views of government not commonly to be met with ;—a sermon, of which it is praise enough to say, that it is such as would be expected from its author. No apology is necessary for subjoining the following extract:

'Few men suspect, perhaps no man comprehends, the extent of the support given by religion to every virtue. No man perhaps is aware, how much our moral and social sentiments are fed from this fountain; how powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God; how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence to quicken and sustain it; how suddenly the whole social fabric would quake, and with what a fearful crash it would sink into hopeless ruin, were the ideas of a Supreme Being, of accountableness, and of a future life, to be utterly erased from every mind. Once let men thoroughly believe that they are the work and sport of chance; that no superior intelligence concerns itself with human affairs; that all their improvements perish forever at death; that the weak have no guardian, and the injured no avenger; that there is no recompense for sacrifices to uprightness and the public good; that an oath is unheard in heaven; that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator; that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend; that this brief life is every thing to us, and death is total, everlasting extinction; once let men thoroughly abandon religion, and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which

Has not government a right to provide for its own permanency, and the integrity of its agents? And without religion where would be the security of oaths, where the incorruptibleness and fidelity of officers, which are the foundation of all civil institutions and rights? It is not merely the religious principles of rulers themselves, by which they are guided and restrained. A magistrate without religion is kept in awe; those sentiments of honor and reputation, which are sometimes a sort of substitute for conscience, are preserved in vigor and activity by the atmosphere of moral purity, created by a religious community. This is true of all governments, and it is especially true of a government like ours, which has its basis in the popular will. If there be any force in what

would follow? We hope perhaps that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe, that were the sun quenched in the heavens, our torches could illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize the creation. What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man is the unprotected insect of a day? and what is he more, if atheism be true? Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite knowing no restraint, and poverty and suffering having no solace or hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling, and man would become in fact, what the theory of atheism declares him to be, a companion for brutes.'

has been said, those who deny to government the right to support religion by law, cannot do it on the general and abstract ground. It must then be, because it is supposed to imply in it the right of enforcing error, or involve the violation of the private rights of conscience.

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The second objection, then, to the existence of this right in government is, that it implies the right of enforcing error. To every Christian it might be a sufficient answer to this objection to say, that our constitution does not require instruction in any particular form of Christianity, but only in Christianity itself. I am aware, however, it may be said, that although it does not do this directly, yet it authorizes particular societies to do it, by giving them the power to raise taxes for that purpose. But the principle of this objection, if admitted any farther than as a circumstance of expediency, requiring consideration, would put an end to all instruction whatever. Shall no professor of a college or master of a school demand the attention of his pupils to one word of moral or religious doctrine, because he may be found teaching error instead of truth? May no parent gather his offspring around him, and instill into their tender minds some notions of God, of duty, and of responsibility; must he leave them to grow up without any bias in favor

of religion, or one thought of a judgment to come, because it is possible, nay in many cases certain, that pernicious errors may be imbibed in the lessons they receive? The adoption of this principle would shut up every book, that did not claim to be infallible, would close the mouth of every teacher, who did not know that he was right.

Does then, in the third place, the supposition of this right in government involve the violation of the private rights of conscience?

The rights of conscience may be supposed to have relation either to opinions, to the expression of opinions, or to actions.


1. Of opinions. We readily admit that government has no right to command or forbid the exercise of certain opinions, nor is this peculiar to religious opinions, but is common to all and for this plain reason, that the enactments of law cannot reach opinions; and while they hold out inducements to prevarication and insincerity, belief can neither be enforced nor changed by the sanctions of civil authority. Yet there are cases of expediency, in which particular religious opinions may very justly be considered as a disqualification for office. Thus, it would have been no violation of the rights of conscience, for the first princes of the house of Hanover, during the contests with the Pretender,

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