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annals of a glorious reign. “King George,” Wesley wrote in October 1760, "was gathered to his fathers. When will England have a better prince?” He duly transferred his loyalty to George the Third, and continued to entertain regard and gratitude towards those who were now George the Third's soldiers. When the American war commenced in earnest, John Wesley's opinion about the wisdom and justice of the ministerial policy could not but be affected by his sympathy with those brave and honest fellows who, at home, had seen him safe through a score of riots; and whose exploits on the battle-fields of Flanders and Westphalia had so often stirred his pride.
THE COLONIAL CHURCHES. THE BISHOP QUESTION IN
AMERICA. THE CLERGY IN THE REVOLUTION. THE FINAL SETTLEMENT
The colonial difficulty, like our own Civil War, arose ostensibly and immediately from a question of taxation; but in 1775, as in 1642, the contending parties were inspired and stimulated by religious, at least as much as by fiscal, considerations. That truth was perceived by some contemporary spectators of the American contest; and it is almost universally recognised by those who, in our own day, have applied themselves to a comprehensive and unbiassed study of the past. Vital religion was, indeed, a less absorbing motive in the eighteenth, than in the seventeenth, century. Men were occupied with more varied, more mundane, and perhaps more selfish, interests in the later period than in the earlier. They talked less habitually in Scriptural language, and dwelt less exclusively upon the niceties of doctrine. The society in which George Washington lived was not pervaded and swayed by theology like the England of Charles the First and Oliver Cromwell; but the religious lessons to be drawn from the history of the American Revolution are of greater practical importance to ourselves, and those lessons were taught with startling vividness, and most uncompromising completeness. The thirteen provinces, while still British colonies, had exhibited a picture, or rather a panorama, displaying, - in deeply contrasted colours, and on a scale large enough for philosophical observation, — all conceivable forms and varieties of ecclesiastical institutions. The result of separation from the mother-country was to sweep
away every vestige of Church privilege, and to secure absolute and uniform religious equality the whole Union over.
The Church of England had, from the very first, been established as a State Church in Virginia and in both the Carolinas; and the Dutch Reformed Church occupied the same advantageous position in the Province of New York. Those stern sectarians of the Northern colonies, who had escaped across the seas from the tyranny of others, indulged themselves in a rigid and authoritative system of ecclesiastical government erected on the basis of Congregationalism. No mere creature or pensioner of the State, the Church was the State itself in nearly every community of New England; but not in all.
Roger Williams, a graduate of Pembroke College at Cambridge, was an English Puritan of the highest type. He emigrated to Boston in 1631, because he could not live both honestly and safely within the sweep of an archbishop's crozier; and from Boston he passed southward to Rhode Island in pursuit of the full religious liberty which was denied to him under the theocratical Constitution of Massachusetts. He induced the colonists among whom he fixed his home to adopt a Resolution of infinite moment, and notable originality. " It is much in our hearts," (so they declared,) "to hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil State may stand, and best be maintained, with a full liberty of religious concernments."1 That utterance, - the direct reverse of all previous, and then existing, European belief and practice, whether in Roman Catholic or in Protestant countries, was the first announcement
1 Petition from the people of Rhode Island to Charles the Second. That King, to the horror of some of his high Officers of State, insisted that the prayer of the petition should be granted.
At this point in this chapter I desire, once for all, to express my obligations to the History of the Rise of Religious Liberty in America by Mr. Sandford H. Cobb. That admirable book was of all the greater service to me because, before its publication, I had already taken a strong interest in the questions of which it treats ; with reference to which I had collected a large amount of material from many, and very diverse, quarters.
of a principle which the United States of America have long ere this accepted in its entirety, and have solemnly embodied in their Constitution. The example of Rhode Island was followed by the founders of other colonies, especially such as held those forms of belief which had been most hotly persecuted in England. No State Church was set up in Maryland, where the Proprietary family was of the Roman Catholic persuasion. Pennsylvania and Delaware, - at first together, and, after a while, apart, - carried on their civil administration divorced from an ecclesiastical establishment; and Georgia, youngest of the thirteen colonies, began life under the same conditions. Foreigners, who visited America, saw much that astonished and delighted them; but the feature which struck them as the most pleasant and novel was the aspect of social existence in the non-denominational provinces. In Philadelphia, (said Comte de Ségur,) it was not the architecture, and the monuments, that most excited curiosity and commanded respect. The whole city was a noble temple raised to Tolerance, in which Catholics and Presbyterians, Calvinists and Lutherans, Anabaptists, Methodists, and Quakers worshipped after their own fashion, and consorted one with another in peace and amity.
Those ecclesiastical arrangements under which the American colonies started upon their career were not long permitted to continue undisturbed. From a very early period statesmen in London were on the watch to impose an Anglican Establishment upon one or another of those colonies which were as yet without one, and to render existence everywhere as uncomfortable as possible to all except professed Episcopalians. The opportunity of the Government at home came whenever the administrator on the spot was a man of decided clerical leanings, or, (which was quite as much to the purpose,) of a combative and masterful nature; for it by no means
1 Mémoires par M. Le Comte de Ségur, de l'Académie Française, Pair de France; Paris, 1825, Vol. I., page 362. De Ségur's first sight of Philadelphia was in 1782.
was the case that a Royal Governor, or a Secretary of State either, who displayed the most abounding zeal for the aggrandisement of the Church was necessarily one who lived in the closest obedience to her rules of private conduct. Anglicanism was after a while established in Maryland; and Roman Catholics were excluded from office, and forbidden the exercise of their religion, on that very soil which had been expressly granted and colonised as a much-needed sanctuary for the members of their faith. Georgia was divided into eight parishes with stipends for Anglican clergy; - although Anglican laymen were so sparse and few that, ten years afterwards, only two Episcopal congregations could be gathered together anywhere in the province. Lord Cornbury vested himself with ecclesiastical authority over the whole of New Jersey, and ordained the due performance of the Anglican ritual "as by law established,” at a time when the colony did not possess a single church of the English Communion. The Episcopalian party was numerically very feeble in the province of New York, and the author. ities did not venture to apply for a Statute enacting, in so many words, the supremacy of the English Church; but they ousted the Dutch Church, and replaced it by an Establishment which undertook to provide each city and county with “a good and sufficient Protestant Minister.”i Interpreting this definition in a sense which it most assuredly would not convey to the ear of a modern High Churchman, the Cabinet in Downing Street, and the Royal Governor and his council in New York, thenceforward wrote, spoke, and acted as if the Church of England had been duly and legally enthroned in the colony.
1 Only six years before the Act was passed, a Governor of New York reported on the religious condition of that colony in vigorous, and not very official, language. “Here bee not many of the Church of England; few Roman Catholics ; abundance of Quaker preachers, - men, and women especially ; singing Quakers; ranting Quakers; Sabbatarians; Anti-Sabbatarians; some Anabaptists ; some Independents; some Jews. In short, of all opinions there are some, and the most part of none at all. The most prevailing opinion is that of the Dutch Calvinists."