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The great argument for these civil establishments of christianity is that religion promotes good morals, and that good morals are necessary to the well being of civil society. Now I am far from denying the usefulness of religion, and especially of christianity, in this respect; and on this account I have written so much (more, I believe, than any other person in this country) to prove its divine authority, and to explain its principles. But the friends of church establichments have made a great deal too much of this argument, Civil society has subsifted very well under all forms of religion, even the heathen ones. For the Roman empire was well regulated before the knowledge of christianity, yea better than several christian countries fince. And christianity will operate in favour of good morals without being established, and even more so than when it is. The man who truly fears God, and believes a future state, will be a good moral man, and an useful member of society, though the prince and the state should not concern themselvs about it. Nay he will be virtuous, when they are wicked.

Besides, though religion, or the belief of a God, a providence, and a future ftate, have its use with respect to fociety, it is not absolutely necessary for that purpose. Good laws, and a proper administration of civil government, will be sufficient to keep men from injuring one another. It is a common interest to restrain those vices which are injurious to the community, and the force of the community may easily be applied for this purpose. Only let there be a good legislature, good judges, and good civil officers (which the temporal interest of all states will provide) and you need not fear but that the internal peace of any country, which is the only proper object of civil government, will be sufficiently secured.

Great numbers of persons in this country, and many more abroad, are actually without religion. They believe in no God, or future state; they frequent no place of public worship, and they know no more of the Bible than they do of the Koran; and yet, with respect of the peace of society,


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they behave like other people, and are no more disposed to disturb others, than others are to disturb them.

Besides, there is no danger of mankind in general being without religion. Nay, I am well persuaded there would be much more of it without any establishment than with one; and that religion which men will voluntarily adopt and support, will have more influence on their morals, and be more favourable to the good of society, than any which any state will adopt and enforce.

Be persuaded, my countrymen, to think a little for yourselves, on this subject, as well as on every other in which you are interested, as the reformers from popery did before you, and consider not so much what you find establised, as what is right in itself, and beneficial to fociety; and whether innovations, which your clergy dread so much, may not be improvements. Time was when christianity itself was an innovation. The reformation by Luther was a great innovation. At one time presbyterianism was established by law in this country, and then the introduction of episcopacy was an innovation. The Act of Toleration, which the clergy now think to be an honour to their church, though they were very much averse to the measure, was an innovation. The Corporation and Test Alts, which they now consider as the great bulwarks of their church, were originally nothing more than innovations; and if the repeal of them be an innovation also, there is nothing to be apprehended from the measure as fuch. Whenever things are got into a bad state, there can be no amendment without innovation; and surely you will not say that any thing human is perfect, and requires no amendment, that is, no innovation. Do not then partake of the fears of your clergy, who feel for themselves more than for you; and if you find abuses, either in the church or the state, have the good sense, and the spirit, to rectify them, without any dread of innovation.

The constitution, they tell you, consists of two parts, the church and the state. In fact, it consists of many parts, and tlie laws relating to the prerogatives of the king, the

privileges privileges of the lords, those of the people, even those relating to the poor, to debtors, and to criminals, are as much parts of the constitution, as those relating to religion, and the clergy. There are as many parts of the constitution as there are different obježis which government embraces; and why should any one of these be considered as more sacred, and exempt from innovation, than another?

But admitting for the present, that the conftitution has but two parts, the church and the state; all that can be pretended is that they are equally sacred, and not one more than the other. But the clergy would persuade you that the church is infinitely inore sacred than the other part of the constitution. It is a thing that must never more be touched by the hand of man, though it was as much the creature of man, as the state; and this requires continual alterations. For never a year passes without many acts of parliament calculated to reform abuses in the state; and abuses, we find, will creep in, let men do all they can to keep them out.

Formerly we had many acts of parliament to reform abuses in the church also. This part of the constitution, the liturgy, and the articles of the church of England, were not settled at once, but at different periods, and all by Acts of parliament. Your present hierarchy was not the immediate appointment of God, or of an angel, but the production of fallible men; and can you see nothing clearer than your ancestors, juit emerging from the darkness of popery? In their most disadvantageous circumstances, had they the wisdom to settle every thing in such a manner, as that there should never more be any occasion for change or improvement ?

Your church of England was not a thing that existed from the beginning of christianity. Our ancestors were all Roman Catholics, and at the time of the reformation had been so for many centuries; so that Churchmen are only Disenters from the church of Rome. Now in this ancient and long established church of Rome (to which, according


to Mr. Madan, you ought to have remained in quiet subjection to this very day) were many corruptions of pure christianity, which had been accumulating for ages ; and some reformed churches corrected some of them, and others more. In like manner, we are Diflenters from your church; but we did not arrive to what we now are all at once. My ancestors did not teach me what I teach others; and I am far from supposing that all improvement will end with me. In all cases in which men determine, room should be left for the revision, and subsequent determinations, of other men, who may see farther than they do.

Suppofing that at the same time in which your present ecclesiastical establishment was fixed, which was about two centuries ago, laws had been made to determine in what manner all houses should be built, grounds cultivated, and all manufactures carried on. Suppose that when public provision was made for an order of clergy, to take care of your souls, as it is called, an order of physicians had also been established to take care of your bodies (in which the state is certainly as much concerned) and that these state physicians had been cbliged to administer certain prescribed medicines in all diseases; and the king and parliament who fixed your church establishment were certainly as well qualified to judge of matters of this kind as of those of religion. If this system had actually taken place, it is most probable that the great bulk of the nation, having been accustomed to these institutions, and seeing no others, might have applauded the wisdom of their ancestors, and might have exclaimed as loudly against all innovation in things temporal, as your clergy now do with respect to things spiritual.

The flate physicians would certainly have been as much alarmed at any alteration in that part of the system which respected them, as the clergy have always been about things in which they are interested. They would have exclained that the constitution was in danger of being violated, if so much as a new medicine had been introduced; saying that if innovations once began to be made, no man could tell


where they would stop; and that if so material a part of the constitution as that in which medicine, and the bodily health of all the subjects of the state should be changed, the whole fystem being settled at the same time, and being firmly compacted together, it would fall at once, and universal ruin be the issue.

This is the very thing the clergy are saying now. But, my friends, there is no more reason in their case at present, than there would have been in that of the physicians I have been supposing. As to the court, and the minister of the day; having had the appointment of these physicians, and having of course been served by them (as, for the same reason, they now are by the generality of the clergy, who must look up to the court for any great preferment) they would have found as good reasons for supporting the system which supported them, as Mr. Pitt can now find for the support of the church, and the continuance of the Corporation and Test Acts.

But when changes have begun to be made in things of greater or less consequence, and mankind are at liberty to make use of their reason, and consult their own convenience, they will soon find that, having had the experience of others before them, they will be able to do better for themselves than their wise ancestors did.

After the establishment of such a system as I have before supposed, if, in consequence of any great convulsion of state (for great and beneficial changes are seldom made without them) you had been at liberty to pull down your old wooden houses, and to build more convenient and elegant ones, of brick or stone, or whatever materials you pleased;

had been allowed to make a few trials of new methods of cultivating your grounds, to diversify your manufactures, and to employ what physicians you pleased, giving them liberty to try new medicines, and new modes of treating diseases ; you would wonder at your stupidity in bearing with the aukward and inconvenient system of your fathers so long as you did.


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