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even laugh at his whims, but it were a waste of good passion, or worse, it were inhumanity to be angry, So long as Mr Marshall shall indulge in this vein, he is guiltless of rousing the "fiercer passions," and safe from their effects. His representations can excite no other emotion than wonder, or force from us any other sentiment than the exclamation of Falstaff, "Do you behold these meteors, my lord! do you behold these exhalations!"
If our establishment be in reality so rotten in its principle, as necessarily to involve the support of Antichrist, and the exercise of a tyrannous sway over the consciences of men, what reason has Mr Marshall to fear, that, by such an exposure, he will rouse the fiercer passions of its members? Is the "craft," as he expresses it, of our ministers dearer to them than their religion, or their "corporation," than the purity of their Christianity. This is the very essence of a narrow sectarianism, to claim all liberality for itself, and to make a monopoly in its own favour of Christian principle. Is there no virtue extant within the church? It is surely too much for Mr Marshall to arrogate to himself the sole possession of Christian principle, nay, to apprehend, that by the very exposure of the truth, he endangers his own peace. What is this but an avowal, that in his opinion, we are so wedded to our interest, that rather than forego the temporal adyantages of our establishment, we will sacrifice the truth of God. A charge so serious, and which would unchristianize the better half of our nation, ought to have been maturely weighed before it was either indirectly or explicitly avowed. We would have Mr Marshall step beyond the pale of his own sect, and
look abroad upon the Christian world. By throwing open the windows of his apartment, his Christian charity, which seems well nigh expiring from the close thick air which it breathes, may yet revive when visited by the fresh gales and the warmth of heaven. The intercourse of the Chinese with foreigners, has done much to bring down, in their own estimation, the high pretensions of their Celestial Empire to exclusive learning and civilization, and taught them that the Europeans are not without arts and sciences, and that we Britains are not naked savages. A similar infusion of foreign light into the mind of Mr Marshall, would go far, we are persuaded, to reduce his exclusive assumption of Christian principle, and convince him that the friends of our establishment are not all inquisitors, and disposed to forge chains for the understandings and consciences of men,
So much for the temper and spirit in which this letter is written. We now proceed to the consideration of its arguments. Preparatory to this, it is necessary to clear away the prejudices which the writer has excited against the principle of establishments, by an artful presentation of their abuses. He indeed professes to deal solely with the principle, and takes of fence at our animadversion upon the specialty and narrowness of his reasoning, assuring us, that "of the abuses of churches it never entered into his thoughts to write;" yet, notwithstanding this declaration, it is the abuses of establishments which give, to use a mechanical figure, both its purchase and momentum to his argument. He has loaded the principle with these non-essential abuses, and with abuses which, in reference to this country, have had no existence.
Following in his argument the steps of Conder, who pleads against the English establishment, and chiefly on the grounds of its intolerance, and its close alliance with the state, he turns the current of his reasoning against our Scottish establishment, without distinguishing between the different circumstances of these institutions, and reflecting, that whatever justice the arguments possessed as originally applied, they lose their force when transferred to another institution, which imposes no yoke upon the consciences of men, and rejects all civil interference in ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline. Though, in the opinion of Conder, (with which we by no means agree,) it be necessary, in order to get rid of these evils, to overthrow the English establishment, it cannot surely be necessary to subject us to the same treatment; since the diseases of which that writer complains have not appeared even in their first symptoms to the north of the Tweed. It were an odd kind of justice to enforce upon Scotland a regimen recommended as a cure for the distempered state of the English establishment, admitting even in the particular case the wisdom of the prescription. It were as if his Majesty's Ministers should insist upon the Provost of Edinburgh swallowing a dose of physic, because his worshipful brother the Mayor of London found it necessary to purge off his political humours, or his corporation dinners by a cathartic. His Lordship would be apt to move the previous question,-whether he were in need of the purgative? And if he found it unnecessary to his constitution, he would probably have no great relish in taking physic from courtesy. When told that to get rid of intolerance and
of Erastian supremacy in the church, we must get rid of our establishment, we are in like manner disposed to move the previous question,-do such intolerance and Erastian supremacy exist? And are they interwoven with the Scottish establishment? If they are not, why hold up these abuses to his readers as if they were essential parts of all establishments. To what purpose has he reiterated these, or equivalent phrases, "liberty of conscience, right of judgment, freedom of opinion;" and why tell us so frequently that the conscience is not under the care of the magistrate, and that when he "interferes with it, or with the free use of our understandings, he steps beyond his limits, and is guilty of a violent and tyrannical usurpation." Who questions these truths? Or, why are they adduced, if not to throw the odium. of maintaining them upon the advocates of establishments, and to burden the principle with the abuses which, in some countries, have been accidentally linked with it. By a similar art have infidels fortified themselves in their infidelity, and struck at the roots of Christianity itself. They have liberally credited our faith with the vices of its followers, and, not unskilled in the tactics of argument, they have known how to turn these vices to an infidel account.
We are sorry Mr Marshall should have adopted a mode of reasoning against our establishment which he would instantly discard when applied to Christianity, or to any other institution. It is unfair in argument to throw on his opponents the odium of maintaining the dogmas of an obsolete and worn out tyranny; it is subversive of the end which he proposes to himself, of producing a rational conviction in the
mind of his readers, to call in passion as the judge. An example or two will show that we have not overcharged this statement. Let it be remembered that the simple questions involved in the principle of establishments are whether governments ought to contribute to the spread and maintenance of religion, and whether the church can, consistently with the principles of Christianity, avail itself of such support ? And with these in his view, let the reader judge how wide from the subject are such passages as the following: To the alliance of Christianity with the civil power," says he, adopting the language of Hall, "it is owing that ecclesiastical history presents a chaos of crimes, and that the progress of religious opinions, which, left to itself, had been calm and silent, may be traced in blood." And again, speaking in his own language, "what wars, what revolutions, what massacres, what scenes of open and indescribable outrage, not to speak of the commitments, the prosecutions, the dungeons, the chains, the scaffolds, the gibbets, which, but for the absurd connection of church and state, had never been heard of." And how still wider of the truth is the assertion, that though "it may be possible in idea to separate the assumption of religious power by the state from the exercise of violence, they never yet have been separated in fact." Is not this assertion refuted by the history of Scotland for the last century, and by the unmolested quiet, notwithstanding the existence of our establishment, which every man has enjoyed in the exercise of his religion? Our present object, however, is not to answer such statements, and to expose the fallacy on which they proceed, but to show