« PrécédentContinuer »
highly estimated in our universities, and whose opinions are listened to by the clergy with great attention and respect. • It may be as much a duty, at one time, to resist government, as it is, at another, to obey it; to wit, whenever more advantage will, in our opinion, accrue to the community, from resistance, than mischief.' If, says the same sagacious writer in another place, I should be accosted by a person, with complaints of public grievances, of exorbitant taxes, of acts of cruelty and oppression, of ty rannical encroachments upon the ancient or stipulated rights of the people, and should be consulted, whether it were lawful to revolt, or justifiable to join in an attempt to shake off the yoke by open resistance ;-I should reply, that if public expediency be the foundation, it is also the measure, of civil obedience; that the obligation of subjects and sovereigns is reciprocal; that the duty of allegiance, whether it be founded in utility or compact, is neither unlimited nor unconditional; that peace may be purchased too dear; that patience becomes culpable pusillanimity, when it serves only to encourage our rulers to increase the weight of our burthen, or to bind it the faster; that the submission which surrenders the liberty of a nation, and entails slavery upon future generations, is enjoined by no rational morality : finally, I should instruct him to compare the peril and expense of his enterprise with the effects it was expected to produce, and to make choice of the alternative, by which not his own present relief or profit, but the whole and permanent interest of the state, was likely to be best promoteds Now the time is probably not very remote, when, in different countries of the European continent, a decided
58 Archdeacon Paley's Principles of Mor. and Pol. Phil. 7 ed. vol. II. p. 144, 155. Were this a place proper for the discussion, or were the lawfulness of resisting the tyranny of princes a question which admitted of a shadow of doubt, it would be easy to accumulate the names of celebrated persons who have asserted it. Such are Milton, Grotius and Buchanan, Sydney and Locke, lords Russel and Somers, judge Blackstone and lord Camden.
majority of the inhabitants will be of opinion, that the permanent interest of the state,' and that the whole of the people, will be best promoted by the overthrow of the existing governors, though the attendant convulsion should expose multitudes to the hazard of suffering, for a time, considerable inconveniences and calamities.
Of those, in whose bosoms joy beats the highest, on account of the great and glorious events which produced the French revolution, a large part, we know in point of fact, were persons attached to religion and zealous for its interests. I think it also probable, that there will be many sincere believers in Christianity among those distinguished political writers, who will undoubtedly, after a time, arise in France, and who will it is apprehended, through the medium of literature, and by the weapons of argument, undermine the subsisting tyrannies, which the armies and valor of their countrymen had before so openly attacked and so materially endangered.
There is also another point of view, in which Christianity is serviceable to Civil Liberty. The temple,' says one the most elegant writers in our language, is the only place where human beings, of every rank and sex and age, meet together for one common purpose, and join together in one common act. Other meetings are either political, or formed for the purposes of splendor and amusement; from both which, in this country, the bulk of inhabitants are of necessity excluded. This is the only place, to enter which nothing more is necessary than to be of the same species: the only place, where man meets man not only as an equal but a brother; and where, by contemplating his duties, he may become sensible of his rights. So high and haughty
59 To the probability of this position many of my readers will probably refuse to assent. Should the author of the present work publish a pamphlet, which is in a great degree written, and which treats on the effects which the French Revolution is likely ultimately to produce with respect to Christianity, he will there state the grounds of the opinion which he has hazarded in the text.
is the spirit of aristocracy, and such the increasing pride of the privileged classes, that it is to be feared, if men did not attend at the same place here, it would hardly be believed they were meant to go to the same place hereafter. It is of service to the cause of freedom therefore, no less than to that of virtue, that there is one place, where the invidious distinctions of wealth and titles are not admitted; where all are equal, not by making the low, proud, but by making the great, humble. How many a man exists who possesses not the smallest property in this earth of which you call him lord; who, from the narrowing spirit of property, is circumscribed and hemmed in by the possessions of his more opulent neighbors, till there is scarcely an unoccupied spot of verdure on which he can set his foot to admire the beauties of nature, or barren mountain on which he can draw the fresh air without a trespass. The enjoy ments of life are for others, the labors of it for him. hears those of his class spoken of collectively, as of machines, which are to be kept in repair indeed, but of which the sole use is to raise the happiness of the higher orders. Where, but in the temple of religion, shall he learn that he is of the same species? He hears there (and were it for the first time it would be with infinite astonishment), that all are considered as alike ignorant and to be instructed; all alike sinful and needing forgiveness; all alike bound by the same obligations, and animated by the same hopes. In the intercourses of the world the poor man is seen, but not noticed; he may be in the presence of his superiors, but he cannot be in their company. In every other place it would be presumption in him to let his voice be heard along with theirs; here alone they are heard together, and blended in the full chorus of praise. In every other place it would be an offence to be near them, without shewing in his attitudes and deportment the conscious marks of inferiority; here only he sees the prostration of the rich as low as his, and hears them both addressed together in the majestic symplicity of a language that knows no adulation. Here the
poor man learns, that, in spite of the distinctions of rank, and the apparent inferiority of his condition, all the true goods of life, all that men dare petition for when in the presence of their maker, a sound mind, a healthful body, and daily bread, lie within the scope of his own hopes and endeavors; and that, in the large inheritance to come, his expectations are no less ample than theirs. He rises from his knees, and feels himself a man. He learns philosophy without its pride, and a spirit of liberty without its turbulence. Every time social worship is celebrated, it includes a virtual declaration of the rights of man.'
And what was the character of the great personage, whose actions are recorded in the gospel-narratives, to be admired and to be imitated? Surely it was not such, as should deter men from cherishing an ardent fondness for their country, or from undertaking the honorable office of a reformer. Christ, says the accomplished writer, whom I have just quoted, was the Great Reformer, the innovator of his day; and the strain of his energetic eloquence was strongly pointed against abuses of all kinds".
60 Mrs. Barbauld's Rem. on Mr. Gilbert Wakefield's Enq. into the Expediency and Propriety of Social Worship, p. 43.
61 Mrs. Barbauld's Rem. ut supra, p. 31
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XXX.
ON THE EFFECTS CHRISTIANITY HAS PRODUCED, IN FAVOR OF FREEDOM, LEARNING, AND VIRTUE.
AS an inquiry into the effects favorable to freedom, which the spirit and the principles of Christianity have produced, and are likely to produce, is an investigation of importance, and adapted to lessen the prejudices against Christianity; as I know no writer by whom it has been discussed at any considerable length; as it will furnish a number of additional facts and arguments in confirmation of those, which have been recently urged in reply to the objection, with what propriety can the symbolic stone in Daniel be said to overthrow the ten toes of the monarchical statue; as it will communicate to the mind of the reader some faint idea of the glorious changes, which Christianity will accomplish in that happy period (the nature of which it has been the design of the preceding chapter briefly to unfold), when that divine religion shall be authenticated by the fulfilment of innumerable prophecies, shall be undisgraced by its connexion with the civil power, shall rise superior to the attacks of infidelity, and be understood with a degree of correctness unknown in former times; I shall scarcely think an apology necessary for introducing into the present appendix a numerous assemblage of extracts.
That the great principles of Christianity are the principles of philanthropy, justice and equality, and that it is altogether incompatible with those systems of oppression and injustice, which at present darken the face of the European world, is the argument on which I would lay principal stress in replying to the objection which has been just recited.
The argument which asserts that Christianity has promoted the interests of freedom, by promoting the interests of