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they lead to errors of reasoning; and explain we think the fact, that so many rise from the perusal of Dr. Smith's work with the conviction that it cannot be true, without being able to point out where the fallacy lies. In disquisitions of so subtile a character, definitions and formal propositions are sometimes indispensable. It is necessary that the principle should first be clearly stated, and afterwards the facts distinctly applied. The reader will thus be able to judge as he goes along, how far each particular case supports the position it was introduced to prove.
It may naturally enough be asked, if the theory of Dr. Smith does not furnish the true solution of the moral problem we have stated, how it happens that he has been able, in so many particulars, to point out a coincidence between his principles, and the facts to be explained? We answer, this is equally the case with those, who resolve all virtue into self-love, or benevolence, or regard to utility, or the sense of justice. These are all principles of human nature, and under certain restrictions, coincide in their operation with the laws of rectitude. This is one among innumerable instances of the provident wisdom and goodness of the great Author of all. Every principle which he has implanted in the heart of man, in its regulated tendency,
prompts him to the noblest and best aims. What then is the just conclusion? That rectitude is not founded exclusively in sympathy, or self-love, or benevolence; but is that principle which controls and directs them all. It is in the moral, what attraction is in the natural world; it regulates and guides the whole system of our affections and powers, preserves each in its proper sphere and due subordination to the rest, and conducts man to the proper end of his being; the highest perfection, dignity, and happiness, of his own nature, and the widest display of the glory of his Creator.
RIGHT AND DUTY OF GOVERNMENT
TO PROVIDE FOR THE
SUPPORT OF RELIGION BY LAW.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE FOR JANUARY
THE inquiry into the right of government to support religion by law, will probably be found to resolve itself entirely into a question of expediency. As, however, in the recent discussions of this subject, in application to the third article of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, two great questions have been made;-first, has civil government a right to provide by law for the support of religion? and secondly, is it expedient to exercise this right? -I shall follow the same distribution in the remarks I now offer.
First. As to the right of government. It is objected in the first place, that religion is a matter entirely between every man and his Creator, and, of
course, that civil authority can have no concern with it. This objection arises from a misapprehension of the distinction between those objects, which are the proper concern of government, and those which are not. Society is not a being, which can think and feel; but a relation of individuals, and is affected only as individuals are affected. Obvious as this truth is, a practical inattention to it has been the cause of many mistakes in political reasoning. It cannot, therefore, be the difference of public and private, that makes the distinction in this case, but it is created by considerations of practicability, expediency and justice. There are many subjects, which government cannot regulate, and there are others, where its interference would, on the whole, be prejudicial, or violate the essential principles of equity; but wherever the control of government is at once possible, useful and just, that control may be properly exerted. Surely the province of government is not merely to provide directly for the security of the persons and property of the citizens; its proper sphere is whatever can promote the peace and happiness of society, in the widest view of the subject. Why else does it encourage institutions for education, for the diffusion of knowledge, the suppression of vice, and the advancement of good morals? It is true, there are various means of
promoting important ends, with which it does not intermeddle; not on account of any thing in the abstract nature of these ends, which renders them improper objects of legislation; but because legislation cannot reach them; or its interference would produce more mischief than advantage. Such are those charities and duties, which belong to the intimate relations of life. These are not made the subjects of law, because they are either affections which laws cannot command, or offices so indeterminate that laws cannot define them beforehand; and, more especially, from the vexatious character of all attempts at such particular regulation. Could laws make good husbands and wives, good parents and children, good neighbours and friends, would it not be the duty of legislatures to enact them? Could they, in short, inspire the breast of every citizen with the very spirit of true religion, with those principles of obedience to the commands of God, of submission to his will and trust in his promises, which are the only sure foundations of present peace and immortal hopes, how pitiful, as well as unnecessary, would a great portion of that mass of provisions, which now crowds our statute-books, become? But what legislatures, for the reasons mentioned, cannot do directly, they can and ought indirectly