« PrécédentContinuer »
whom he conveys authority exercise in theory the authority flowing from God, the source of all authority.
Since the Reformation a new theory of governmental authority has been broached, upon which our modern sovereignties are based. This theory is the delegation of authority by the people to the monarch. The theory has not been properly worked out, it was caught up as a makeshift to serve as a base for political authority, the old principle of divine right communicated by the Pope through consecration having been dismissed.
The theory is right, but it has not been dissected with sufficient clearness, and those rights which are alienable have not been sufficiently distinguished from those which are inalienable, and moral and effective authorities have been confused.
According to the new, and I believe the correct theory, authority is right delegated to another. The liberty of the citizen is the faculty of doing what he ought. Right realizes duty, it is the exercise of the moral law in opposition to every contrarient will; it is duty continued. And because duty is identical in its principle,—for the same moral responsibility weighs on all men, the equality of right ensues.
The constitution of the public power is subordinated to the right of the individual. Consequently, no privilege is permissible, no institution is licit which cannot justify itself before the bar of reason.
After right come rights, and after duty come duties. From the duty to live incumbent on me, arises the duty of watching for the conservation of the organs which serve my intelligence, and thence the right of acquiring and making mine such property as is necessary for my preservation. Right and duty are the same idea under two aspects. Every duty in me creates a right over another
But duties are of two sorts. There are the duties every man owes to God, and there are the duties he owes to his fellows. Those due to his fellows are, it is true, due to God, and he is responsible to God for discharging them : but there is this difference between these duties,—those he owes directly to God, worship and prayer, he cannot alienate; he alone can execute them, because he alone is responsible for their execution. But the duties he owes his fellows, non-interference with rights of property, rights of labour, freedom of person, he can delegate, and these he must delegate, because social organization is a necessity, and requires the concurrence of all.
And government, to whom he hands over the protection of these rights, exercises authority by virtue of this delegation. But his religious duties he cannot delegate, therefore government can exercise no authority in matters of religion.
Again, observe, inasmuch as man is morally bound to respect the rights of his fellows, the authority of government in all matters social and political is moral. The right of a government over the individual is proportionate to the rights he has conferred on it, and as he cannot
ansfer his moral obligations, i.e. his religious responsibilities, to other shoulders, it follows that a government can have no right whatever over religion and matters of conscience.
It is over all matters pertaining to the regulation of society that government can exercise a justifiable authority; for these rights are the only ones man can confer, and he can confer them only to enable himself to have liberty, and government to have mission.
Whenever, therefore, government touches religion, and endeavours to enforce any point of conscience, it contravenes right.
Man cannot delegate what he does not possess. In all his religious acts, he is responsible directly to God. In all his social acts, he is responsible to men; he is responsible to God, but to men also—and when the action is between man and man, he can delegate the adjustment of these relations to a king or a president or a government of what sort pleases him. But the adjustment of his relations to God he cannot delegate; for to delegate them is to transfer the direct relation to the person substituted for God, but no man has a right to substitute another man for God. He has no authority to do this. God may do it, and God alone can do it.
The king, in one of our modern constitutional monarchies, in which the Church is subordinated to the State, assumes to order the relations between man and the Absolute. But to exercise this office he must have received special authority from God. But no one will pretend that this is the case. Henry VIII. assumed to be pope and king in one, that is to exercise authority as supreme head in things temporal and things spiritual, but such assumption was blasphemy against God, and an invasion of the rights of men. Men confer on the king his authority in things temporal, but men cannot confer on him authority in things spiritual; for by so doing they would delegate to him to represent God to them, and that is a right men do not possess, but God alone.
From this it follows that when the Crown rules anything touching religion, such regulation is not morally binding on consciences.
For instance: the Crown forbids a certain doctrine to be held or taught, say the doctrine of the Real Presence. Is a member of the Church bound to give up his convictions, and abstain from preaching that doctrine ?
To make the answer clear, let him ask himself, Who gave the Crown authority to decide doctrine ? Did God? No, the tradition of authority by consecration from the Pope has been abandoned. Did the people ? Certainly not: the people cannot delegate to the Crown the power to represent God.
Therefore the Crown in deciding a doctrine is invading a territory over which it has no moral right.
Let us suppose another case. Believing in the Real Presence, a priest expresses his belief by outward gestures and by adorning the altar with lights and flowers. Now supposing the Crown had decided that genuflexions, lights, and flowers, were illegal, is the priest morally bound to abandon them?
Certainly not: it is his duty to God to give full expression to the belief of his heart, and no power on earth has moral authority to interfere with this right. If the law punishes him, it is doing precisely what the Inquisition did in condemning Galileo, infringing a right of conscience over which it has no authority.
From what has been laid down it follows that the only condition consistent with Christian principles, in which the Church and the State can stand to one another, is that of entire and absolute separation of authorities.
That the only authority compatible with Christian principles which the Church can exercise, is moral authority, through persuasion.
That the only area in which the State can exercise authority that shall be justifiable is that of social and political relations.
We will now consider the sort of moral authority lodged in the hands of the Church.
As has been said in the last chapter, the Church is an organized body. As an organized body it has officers. As the ideal society, its officers are, or ought to be, the representatives of all members of the society. These officers,the clergy, represent, therefore, the human side of the social Christ. In the society they are what in His person was His organic apparatus. This is the Presbyterian theory. But this does not satisfy the doctrine of the Incarnation. This theory is perfectly satisfactory when applied to a purely human organization; but it breaks the analogy when applied to a spiritual organization. For the social Christ is like the personal Christ, double, of two natures, one outward and visible, the other inward and spiritual, one human, the other divine.
The priesthood, therefore, is the representative of the human element of the Church, but it is also the representative of the divine element. It partakes of the fallible and of the infallible.
Inasmuch as it represents the human element, it will be chosen constitutionally by the Church ; inasmuch as it represents the divine element, it will attach itself to Christ, and partake of His divinity and authority.
A revelation necessitates a priesthood. If the Incarnation be true, it was a revelation. If a revelation, it necessitated a body of authoritative teachers. Every truth we do not learn
ot learn by our own experience is to us authoritative. If the king of Oude believes in water