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schools; which, by making us a nation of intelligent virtuous politicians and statesmen, would give a moral stability to our institutions, against which the aristocracy of wealth and family influence would beat in vain ? And, at some future day, when the storms of party spirit and local jealousies rage over our political ocean, when wave rises high upon wave and all political cords are rent asunder, what would be a safer ballast for us, than that love for one another which is inculcated on christians, in their earliest years in sabbathschools ?
Sabbath-schools tend to preserve our country from any improper influence of the clergy. That influence which Christian ministers, according to the will of the Saviour, were designed to exert, is justly entitled to the high and noble appellation of co-operation with God himself. Its design is to lead men to holiness and happiness in time and eternity. This influence, from its very nature, is most desirable, and too much of it can never be diffused over a country. By the saviour's own appointment, it is connected with the progress of his kingdom. As the glorious gospel of the Son of God goes forth in its power, to elevate and bless. a ruined world; "the beautiful feet! of those who bear the glad tidings of peace, will be seen clambering over mountain after mountain, and traversing nation after nation, until Satan shall be driven from his last entrenchment on earth, and the whole footstool of God, in all its length and breadth, have been reclaimed to his Son for an inheritance and a possession. Powerful and conclusive is the argument of Paul: "how shall the heathen believe in him of whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher ? The clamour of those therefore in our land, who cry, "down with all ministers," is the voice of infidelity, and its real meaning is, down with all religion Yet history teaches us, that, as there was a Judas among the twelve, so some of the Iscariot band, have in all ages, thrust themselves into the ministry, and that, at some periods, the ministerial body in general, sunk with the surrounding population into a state of deplorable degeneracy. The men of this character, whom the Saviour styles wolves in sheep's clothing, would be actuated by the same principles in this office, which governed them out of it; that their influence could not serve as the channel for those blessings, which God designed, through them, to pour out upon the world, is obvious. Of this we have living examples before our eyes in the degraded state of Italy, Spain and other Catholic countries, once distinguished above others for literature and science, or for commercial enterprize and activity ; but whose poor, oppressed inhabitants are now shut out from the intellectual and moral light which has beamed upon the Protestant world which is teaching subjects to feel, that they have civil and religious rights which even their rulers may not invade: and forcing home
upon the minds of kings and emperors, the unwelcome truth, that a decent regard for these rights, is essential to the stability of the thrones on which they repose. And although we believe the present generation of ministers in our happy land, taken as a whole.. to be as pure and sincere, as the same number of ministers ever was. since the days of the apostles; yet as christians and as patriots, it is our duty to guard against the possibility of evil. This is the more proper on the present occasion, as sabbath-schools have been charged with a tendency to produce these very
evils! When we inquire, how did a ministry, which had become corrupt, fail to lose its influence over the community, we find, that, either ignorance and superstition among the people, or an unholy union of civil and ecclesiastical power was their chief support. That a corrupt ministry could, independently of these auxiliaries, exert but little influence over an enlightened, virtuous people, is almost a selfevident truth. But the experiment could never be made. Such is the reciprocal influence, which the clergy and laity exert upon one another that within certain limits, their characters run parallel to each other; and even when changing for better or worse, they will as a whole, never be found occupying contrary extremes. Piety among the members of the church, tends to preserve and elevate the piety of their minister. Their prayers strengthen him, their admonitions stimulate him, their high expectations prevent his standard of duty from sinking low. Amid a wordly people, the whole current of influence is reversed. In his intercourse with them, the servant of God finds nothing to warm his heart. The desire of pleasing them, tempts him to relax a little the requisitions of the gospel, and the fear of losing his subsistence, sometimes prevents him from preaching against fashionable vices. The students taken from such a lukewarm people to fill the future ranks of the ministry, will generally be very different from those, brought forth and matured amid the fire and heat of religious revivals. Yet, without the two causes above specified, a ministry by becoming corrupt would neeessarily lose its influence.
It was when ignorance prevailed among the people, and was extolled as the mother of devotion, when the bible was concealed beneath the impenetrable veil of an unknown tongue, and men could not imitate the Berean example of searching the Scriptures to see whether these things were so, that a corrupt priesthood made them believe the greatest absurdities. Did an intelligent nation, enlightencd by the rays of bible truth, ever believe that the priest could forgive sins ? or tolerate the abominable traffic in papal indulgences ? or believe, that a tooth, or a bone of a martyr, or a chip of his coffin, could heal diseases ? It was the general ignorance and superstition of the people, which enabled Peter, the hermit, together with the popes and cardinals, to engage a large part of Europe in the memorable crusades. It was owing to the ignorance and superstition of the people, that the papal hierarchy grew to its enormous dimensions; that the pope became the Juggernaut of Christendom, before whose bloody car the monarchs of Europe reverently bowed and did homage! On the other hand, the most powerful engine ever arrayed against papacy, and that by which the glorious Reformation was chiefly effected, and its doctrines perpetuated, wus the general diffusion of bible truth, by the translation of the sacred volume into the vernacular tongues of Europe, and the general inculcation of its doctrines on the old and the young. Of all this, his holiness is well aware. Else why evince such sensibility at the stroke of the spear? Why hurl, in the nineteeth century, the thunders of the Vatican at the Bible societies of Europe? Why keep in constant operation the infernal inquisition, by which all free inquiry is suppressed, and the human mind kept bound in chains of ignorance and superstition? Why, in our own country, do his Jesuitic emissaires, search up the copies of the book of God, distributed among Catholics by Bible societies, as though they were charged with latent poison ?
Do not these symptoms of the disease clearly point out the remedy? In our own happy land, we have, at present, nothing to fear, from the civil authorities. Should the ministry become corrupt, and yet retain any influence over the minds of the people, it must be through popular ignorance & superstition. Against these, therefore, the efforts of the christian and the patriot ought to be directed. But how can we better dispeł ignorance among the future citizens of our land, than by the general introduction of sabbath-schools, into which all of every rank and condition are admitted, and especially the poor, whose want of means would otherwise condemn them to ignorance for life? How can we better guard them against the gloomy reign of superstition, than by sabbath-schools, in which they are early made acquainted with the bible, the unadulterated fountain of truth. Thus they become qualified in afterlife to judge, whetherthe doctrines taught by their ministers are correct. Thus they learn to see that their salvation depends, not on the absolution of the priest or the favour of a minister, but on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, They learn that the power assigned by the Saviour to the ministers of his gospel, is altogether a moral influence; and are able to detect the very first attempts to transcend those bounds, should any be made. They learn from the sacred volume, what are the specific duties prescribed to ministers, and can decide how long their pastor deserves their confidence and support, and when he should be abandoned as unfaithful. We rightly judge, that the best method of dedefending our liberties against the encroachment and rapacity of civil rulers, is to bave our Constitution and the laws defining their powers generally circulated, and our citizens taught to read them. Thus they learn what these officers may, and what they may not require of them. But is it not equally evident, that our best defence against any future corruption of the ministerial body, must be sought in the same remedy? in the effort to teach all the future citizens of our land to read that holy volume, in which the duties of ministers are clearly diffued, in which they are declared to be as fallible as other men, and are warned against unfaithfulness by all the joys of heaven and all the terrors of hell?
Yet still, if sabbath-schools were generally introduced, and the whole rising generation taught the doctrines of the bible, would there not, as has been alleged by the enemy, be some danger of thus producing the very event, before specified as the second cause of an im proper influence of the clergy, namely a union of church and state ?
As well might we ask : would not our liberties be endangered; if, in pursuance of Judge Livingston's suggestion, the principles of our Constitution and laws were digested into the form of a school-books and all the rising generation made to read it?' In both cases the repły would evidently be: “certainly not, unless the books themselves contain something, that savours such an event.” That the sacred volume would not, that it could not sanction a measure, which has produced the greater part, of all the real calamities of the church of Christ, and has been the greatest impediment to her spiritual prosperity which she has ever had to encounter, might naturally, be expected. Accordingly, no passage can be found in which the Saviour, or his apostles, exhort either the Roman governors or the Jewish Sanhedrim, to establish his religion by law; or to take upon themselves as civil officers, the management of any of the affairs of his church. But he does tell us expressly, that his kingdom is not of this world; that it has no connexion with the dominion of Cæsar, that his deciples could give unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, whilst, at the same time, they yielded to God the things that are God's. For every duty prescribed to the church,
there is also some person in the church specified to perform it. The Saviour appointed the apostles and their successors, in connexion with the members of the church to perform every act of government and decipline, requisite for her progressive extension, until the end of the world. How absurd the idea, that kings and other rulers, who succeed to office without any reference to ecclesiastical qualifications, should be the source of any, much less, of all ecclesiastical authority! Ministers of the gospel in such circumstances, are not the immediate servants of Christ, but of the civil magistrate! Nor can they say, one is our Master, for they have “lords many.” It is therefore evident from Scripture, that when civil rulers undertake to decide, as in Europe they often do, who shall and who shall not be admitted into the sacred office, what qualifications must be required of candidates for or. dination, what doctrines shall be believed throughout land and what discipline be practised, or rather, that no discipline at all shah be observed; they usurp, an authority, which the Saviour never confided to them, and for which they must answer at his bar. Certainly, then, we need entertain no apprehension, that the instruction of children in the doctrines of this Bible, will cherish predilections hostile to our liberties.
But how has it happened, that this union has continued to subsist for so many ages, and in Europe prevails at the present day? It ought to be remembered that this unholy alliance was first brought. into existence, not by the suffrages of a free people, nor by a decree of Synods or Councils, but by the unlimited power of an individual emperor. And the fact, that Constantine, even after he had issued edicts in favour of Christians, made liberal donations to be expended on Pagan temples, celebrated the apotheosis of his father, and appeared in public decorated with the insignia of Jupiter, Mars, Hercules and Apollo; clearly proves that he was not, at least in the earlier part of his life, actuated by sincere attachment to our
holy religion. But he saw that Christians were better subjects than Pagans, that former emperors had failed to exterminate them, even by the most inhuman persecutions; and, as Manso, his recent German biographer shows, he found that Christians, although not yet a majority in the empire, had nevertheless become too numerous to be disregarded, and therefore his sagacity as a statesman prompted him first to tolerate them, and afterwards to incorporate their religion with the civil fabric of his empire. The same motives' seem more or less to have actuated Theodosius, the first, and the second, Theodoric and Justinian, who confirmed this union by additional enactments. They received it as an established maxim, that no government can long subsist, unless the body of the people have some sense of moral obligation; they judged too, that the Christian religion is better calculated to make faithful subjects than Paganism; but they erred in imagining, that Christianity could not support herself, nor exert her salutary influence on the civil institutions of a nation, unless incorporated with the state. This policy, sustained by the clergy, who entertained the same erroneous opinion, and were doubtless sometimes prompted by a corrupt self-interest, has maintained this union to the present day. This opinion seems also to have prevailed among the populace of Europe. Hence when the question was agitated, as has repeatedly been the case, which of several sects should be established by law; for obvious reasons, each denomination struggled hard for its own elevation. But until the rise of our own happy, republic, which was reared by God to teach the world such important lessons of civil and ecclesiastical jurispru-dence; the mass of a nation had never been called on to decide, whether they would tax themselves by law for the support of some particular form of Christianity, or tolerate all religions, leaving each to depend on the voluntary support of its friends. The fact, that in the first three centuries our holy religion not only survived amid the fires of persecution, lighted up by successive Roman emperors, but extended itself over a large part of the then known world, ght to have taught them the fallacy of that opinion. But its unprecedented prosperity in our own land under the influence of mere toleration, has placed the point beyond all doubt: and we trust there is not a single christian among us, who would be willing to see the kingdom of the Redeemer in this country, cursed by such a union ; nor a single citizen, who would willingly step forward and place his neck under the yoke. As such a union would tend to exalt one sect to the detriment of the others; all others would be prompted to oppose it; and would, withoui the aid of the millions belonging to no denominations, far outnumber the aspiring sect. And as all laws. emanate from the people themselves, acting through their representatives, it appears altogether incredible, that the majority of our citizens should ever be willing to tax themselves by law, for the support of any denomination of ministers whatever. We see, therefore, that this dreaded evil sprung from state policy, and not from the instruction either of the old or young in the precepts of the bible, which teaches a coạtrary doctrine ; and the idea that sabbath schools