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THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED

SHOWN TO BE CHRISTIAN BY ITS ACTS.

purposes, and the old Confederation was year passed during the war of the Revoludeficient in central power. It was only tion without the observance of such days. to remedy these two defects, not of prin- At the commencement of that war, the ciple, but of distributive adjustment, that Congress, in one of these proclamations, the public mind addressed itself: innova- expressed its desire “to have the people tion, to any other end, was never thought of all ranks and degrees duly impressed of; least of all in reference to religion, a with a solemn sense of God's superintendthing utterly apart from the whole de ing providence, and of their duty to rely in sign. So that, admitting that the Consti- all their lawful enterprises on his aid and tution framed on that occasion does not in direction." The objects of a general fast terms proclaim itself a Christian document, are set forth : "that they may with united what then?_Does it proclaim itself un- hearts consess and bewail their manifold christian? For if it is merely silent in the sins and transgressions, and by a sincere matter, law and reason both tell us that its repentance and amendment of life appease religious character is to be looked for by his righteous displeasure, and through the interpretation among the people that fash- merits and mediation of Jesus Christ obioned it; a people, Christian by profession tain his pardon and forgiveness.” A few and by genealogy; what is more, by deeds months later we find the following lan-of fundamental legislation that cannot de- guage : “ The Congress do also, in the

most earnest manner, recommend to all the members of the United States, and particularly the officers, civil and military,

under them, the exercise of repentance CHAPTER VII.

and reformation; and farther require of STATES them the strict observance of the articles

which forbid profane swearing and all im

moralities.” And in 1777, Congress called Any doubts that the Constitution of the United States may suggest as to the Chris- upon the nation “ that with one heart and

voice the good people may express the tiant character of the National Government will be dissipated by a statement of grateful feelings of their hearts, and con

secrate themselves to the service of their facts.

divine Benefactor; and that, together with In the first place, in transacting the af- their sincere acknowledgments and offerfairs of the government, the Sabbath is ings, they may join the penitent confession recognised, and respect for it enjoined ; of their manifold sins, whereby they have not only so,

but it is observed to a degree forfeited every favour, and their earnest suprarely witnessed in other countries. All public business is suspended, unless in the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to

plication that it may please God, through cases of extreme necessity. Congress adjourns over the Sabbath ;the courts do not that it may please him graciously to afford.

forgive and blot them out of remembrance; the custom-houses, and all other pub- his blessing on the governments of these lic offices, are shut, not only for a few hours, or a part of it, but during the whole council of the whole; to inspire our com

States respectively, and prosper the public day. In the second place, the Christian char- under them, with that wisdom and forti

manders both by land and by sea, and all acter of the government is seen in the tude which may render them fit instruproclamations that have been made from time to time, calling on the people to ob- God, to secure to these United States the

ments, under the government of Almighty serve days of fasting and prayer in times of national distress, and of thanksgiving

greatest of all blessings-independence and

that it may please Him to prosper

peace; for national or general mercies.

Not a

the trade and manufactures of the people, * “An Inquiry into the Moral and Religious Char- and the labour of the husbandman,

that our acter of the American Government,” p. 84, 85.

land may yield its increase ; to take schools | When I speak of the Christian character of the and seminaries of education, so necessary government of the United States, I mean that it is for cultivating the principles of true liberso far regulated by the Christian religion as to party, virtue, and piety, 'under His nurturing take of its spirit, and that is not infidel or opposed hand; and to prosper the means of religion to Christianity-Christian as those of England and other parts of Christendom are Christian-not that for the promotion and enlargement of that every act of the government is truly conformable to kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, the requirements of Christianity. Alas! where shall we find a government whose acts are fully conform peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." In ed to these?

1779, among other objects for which they † When the day for the adjournment of Congress call on the people to pray, we find the falls on Saturday, it sometimes happens that, on ac- following : " That God would grant to his count of the accumulation of business, the session is Church the plentiful effusions of divine protracted through the night into the early morning grace, and pour out his Holy Spirit on all severely censured, as they deserve, by the religious, ministers of the Gospel; that he would and even by some of the secular journals.

bless and prosper the means of education,

sit;

and spread the light of Christian knowl- ernment military school at West Point, for edge through the remotest corners of the the training of young officers. Moreover, earth."

the Congress testifies to its interest in the Similar language is found in the procla- Christian religion, and to its sense of its mations of 1780, 1781, and 1782. Such importance, by employing two chaplains, was the spirit which actuated the councils one for the Senate and the other for the of the nation in the Revolution. And after House of Representatives, to open the sitthe Constitution had gone into effect, we tings of these bodies every day with prayer, find, in the earlier period of its reign, that and who alternately preach every Sabbath days of fasting and prayer for similar bless to the two houses, convened in the Hall of ings were observed upon the invitation of the Representatives, at twelve o'clock. Congress. In 1812, when the last war In the fourth place, the policy of the with England broke out, we find Congress General Government may be considered as using the following language: “It being Christian, inasmuch as it is directed, in a a duty peculiarly incumbent in a time of large measure, by a Christian spirit. As public calamity and war, humbly and de- a people, we have preferred peace to war; voutly to acknowledge our dependance on we have endeavoured to act with simple Almighty God, and to implore his aid and integrity and good faith to foreign nations. protection, therefore resolved, that a joint With few exceptions, the General Governcommittee of both houses wait on the ment has acted fairly to the Indians on our President, and request him to recommend borders; and in the instances in which it a day of public humiliation and prayer, to has been blamed, it is not easy to see how be observed by the people of the United it could have acted otherwise. To avoid a States with religious solemnity, and the of- civil war, it has once or twice, perhaps, fering of fervent supplications to Almighty failed to act with sufficient promptitude in God for the safety of these States, and protecting them from their ruthless white the speedy restoration of peace.” And invaders. But, generally speaking, its conwhen the peace arrived, the same branch duct towards the Indians has been mild and of the government called, in like manner, benevolent. From the times of Washingfor a day of thanksgiving, which President ton it has ever willingly lent its aid in proMadison did not hesitate to recommend. moting the introduction among them of the And though President Jackson, I regret to arts of civilized life; it has expended much say, had, as Mr. Jefferson had, scruples as to money in doing so; and at this moment it how far he was empowered by the Consti- is co-operating with our missionary societution to appoint, or, rather, to recommend ties, by giving them indirect but effectual such days of fasting and prayer, and refu- aid in that quarter. But I shall have occased, accordingly, to do so at a time when it sion to speak elsewhere of the conduct of was loudly called for by the circumstances the General Government with respect to of the nation, the present president, Mr. this subject. Tyler, hesitated not for a moment to call of the chaplains in the United States navy, with the upon the people to observe such a day upon exception of a few comparatively recent appointthe death of the lamented President Harri- ments, have been little qualified for labouring for the son. And seldom has such a day been so re- salvation of from 400 to 1200 men on board a ship of markably observed in any country, the peo- make the best selection for such a post. It would be

A secretary of the navy is seldom fitted to ple flocking to their respective churches, better done if committed to some of the missionary and listening with profound attention to dis- societies, or to them in conjunction with the secrecourses suited to the affecting occasion. It tary: For more than twenty years after the last war was marked, in short, with the solemnity but within four or five years the government, at the of a Sabbath. The nation felt that God, instance of many of the officers, has appointed twenwho had stricken down the man whom ty chaplains for as many of the chief posts. The they had elevated so lately, and with such chaplains are chosen by the senior officers of each enthusiasm, to the presidency, was loudly post-as good an arrangement, probably, as could be

devised. When there were no chaplains employed calling upon them not to trust in “man, by the government, the ministers in the vicinity of our whose breath is in his nostrils.” The ap- forts and garrisons, and the missionary societies, at. pointment of that fast was manifestly ac- tended to the spiritual interests of the officers and ceptable to the nation at large.

men. The officers and men of a reg nent, in some In the third place, the General Govern- the employment of a missionary, for the greater part,

raised a sufficient sum among themselves for ment has at various times authorized the or the whole of his time, to preach the Gospel to employment of chaplains in the army and them. Almost all our forts and garrisons are often navy, and at this moment there are such visited by ministers who volunteer to preach at cerin all larger vessels of war, and at twenty Thus is the Word of Life made known to men who of the chief fortresses and military sta- have devoted themselves to their country's service. tions.* There is also a chaplain at the gov- It must be borne in mind that the national army, in

times of peace, has seldom numbered more than + I cannot avoid remarking, however, that the ap- 6000 or 8000 men. It is an interesting fact, that a pointment of some twenty-five chaplains in the very considerable proportion of the officers are pious navy very strikingly illustrates the incompetency of men, and do much good by holding religious meet... the civil power to manage spiritual matters. Mostings in their respective regiments and companies.

In the fifth place, the same spirit appears Virginia, he could not obliterate all traces in what takes place in judicial affairs. As, of it from her laws. first, the rejection of the oath of an atheist; Connecticut and Rhode Island had adoptsecond, the requiring of a belief in a future ed no constitutions of their own when state of rewards and punishments, in order that of the United States was framed. The to the validity of a man's testimony ; and, latter of these two states has been govlastly, the administering of oaths on the erned almost to this day by the charter Bible.

granted by Charles II. Both states were In the sixth place, this appears from the of Puritan origin, and the charters of both readiness shown by Congress in making were based on Christian principles. large grants of valuable public lands for the The first Constitution of New-York dates support of seminaries of learning, asylums from 1777. It strongly guarded the rights for the deaf and dumb, and for hospitals, of conscience and religious worship. It although aware that the institutions thus excluded the clergy from public offices of endowed were under the direction of de- a secular nature, on the express ground cided Christians, who would give a promi- that “ by their profession they were dedicanent place in them to their religious views. ted to the service of God and to the cure This I could show by many facts, were it of souls,” and “ought not to be diverted necessary.

from the great duties of their functions." But I have said enough, I trust, to prove

The Constitution of New-Jersey, as origithat though the promotion of religion does nally framed in 1776, besides guarantying not directly belong to the General Govern- to every one the “inestimable privilege of ment, but to the States, the former is nei- worshipping Almighty God in a manner ther hostile nor indifferent to the religious agreeable to the dictates of his own coninterests of the country. This, indeed, is science,” declared that “all persons pronot likely to be the case, so long, at least, fessing a belief in the faith of any Protestas a large proportion of our public men en- ant sect, and who should demean themtertain the respect they now show for re- selves peaceably under the government, ligion. Such respect is the more interest- should be capable of being members of eiing, as it can only flow from the spontane-ther branch of the Legislature, and should ous feelings of the heart. They are not fully and freely enjoy every privilege and tempted by any religious establishment to immunity enjoyed by others, their fellowbecome the partisans of religion. Religion citizens." Whatever may be thought of stands on its own basis, and seeks, not in the style of this instrument, it cannot be effectually, to win the respect and affec- denied that it favoured the professors of tions of all men by its own simple merits. Protestant Christianity. Many of the national legislators are either The Constitution of New Hampshire, afmembers of the churches, or their warm ter laying it down that “

every individual supporters ; while few among them are not has a natural and inalienable right to worbelievers in Christianity, or do not attend ship God according to the dictates of his some sanctuary of the Most High on the conscience and his reason," says, "that Sabbath.

morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, would give the best and greatest security to government, and

would lay in the hearts of men the strongCHAPTER VIII.

est obligations to due subjection;" and again, " that the knowledge of these was most likely to be propagated by the insti

tution of the public worship of the Deity, AFTER considering the claims of the and public instruction in morality and reGeneral Government to be regarded as ligion;" therefore, to promote these imporChristian in character, let us inquire how tant purposes, “the towns" are empowered far the individual States, and particularly to adopt measures for the support and the original Thirteen, are entitled to the maintenance of “public Protestant teachsame distinction, confining ourselves in ers of piety, religion, and morality.” Althis chapter to the evidence supplied by though the towns are still authorized to their earliest constitutions or fundamental take measures for the support of public laws, which were mostly made during, or worship, that is no longer accomplished shortly after, the Revolution.

by a general assessment. Virginia was unquestionably a Christian The first Constitution of Massachusetts state, but her Constitution is silent on the was framed in 1780. In it we find the subject. It was drawn up under the eye of following language : " That as the hapone of the greatest enemies that Christian- piness of a people, and the good order and ity has ever had to contend with in Amer- preservation of civil government, essenica; but although he had influence enough tially depend upon piety, religion, and to prevent the religion which he hated from morality; and as these cannot be generbeing mentioned in the Constitution of ally diffused through a community but by

THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL STATES
ORGANIZED ON THE BASIS OF CHRISTIANITY.

the institution of the public worship of God, The Constitution of Delaware, made at and of public instruction in piety, religion, the same period, premises, " That all men and morality :: therefore, to promote their have a natural and inalienable right to happiness, and to secure the good order worship God according to the dictates of and preservation of their government, the their own consciences and understandpeople of this commonwealth have a right ings;" and declares, “ that all persons proto invest their Legislature with power to fessing the Christian religion oughtpforauthorize and require, and the Legislature ever to enjoy equal rights and privileges." shall from time to time authorize and re- In relation to the members of the Legislaquire the several towns, parishes, pre- ture, it enjoins, that every citizen who cincts, and other bodies politic, or religious shall be chosen a member of either house societies, to make suitable provision, at of the Legislature, or appointed to any their own expense, for the institution of other public office, shall be required to the public worship of God, and for the sup- subscribe the following declaration : “I port and maintenance of public Protestant do profess faith in God the Father, and in teachers of piety, religion, and morality, Jesus Christ his only Son, and the Holy in all cases where such provision shall not Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and be made voluntarily; and the people of I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of this commonwealth have also a right to, the Old and New Testament to be given and do, invest their Legislature with au- by Divine inspiration.” thority to enjoin upon all the subjects an The Constitution of North Carolina, attendance upon the instructions of the made about the same period, declares expublic teachers as aforesaid, at stated pressly, “ That no person who should deny times and seasons, if there be any one the being of God, or the truth of the Protwhose instructions they can conscientious- estant religion, or the Divine authority of ly attend.” It was also ordained, that either the Old or New Testament, or who * because a frequent recurrence to the fun- should hold religious principles incompatdamental principles of the Constitution, ible with the freedom and safety of the and a constant adherence to those of piety, State, should be capable of holding any justice, moderation, temperance, industry, office or place of trust in the civil governand frugality, are absolutely necessary to ment of the State.” preserve the advantages of liberty and to But the Constitution of South Carolina, maintain a free government, the people made in 1773, was the most remarkable of ought consequently to have a particular re- all. It directs the Legislature, at its regular gard to all those principles in the choice of meeting, to “choose by ballot from among their officers and representatives; and they themselves, or from the people at large, a have a right to require of their lawgivers governor and commander-in-chief, a lieuand magistrates an exact and constant ob- tenant-governor and privy council, all of servance of them in the formation and ex- the Protestant religion.” It prescribes ecution of all laws necessary for the good that no man shall be eligible to either the administration of the commonwealth.” Senate or House of Representatives, “unAnd, lastly, it was prescribed that every less he be of the Protestant religion." person “ chosen governor, lieutenant-gov- And in a word, it ordains" that the Chrisernor, senator, or representative, ac- tian religion be deemed, and is hereby cepting the trust,” shall subscribe a sol- constituted and declared to be, the estabemn profession“ that he believes the Chris- lished religion of the land.” tian religion, and has a firm persuasion of Provision was also made for the incorits truth.”

poration, maintenance, and government of The Constitution of Maryland, made in such “societies of Christian Protestants” 1776, empowers the Legislature “to lay a as choose to avail themselves of laws for general tax for the support of the Chris- the purpose, and required that every such tian religion," and declares " that all per- society should first agree to, and subscribe sons professing the Christian religion are in a book the five following articles : equally entitled to protection in their re First, That there is one eternal God, ligious liberty.” All tests are disallowed, and a future state of rewards and punishexcepting these: an oath of office; an oath ments. of allegiance ; "and a declaration of a be Second, That God is publicly to be lief in the Christian religion.'

worshipped. The first Constitution of Pennsylvania, “ Third, That the Christian religion is made in the same year, requires that every the true religion. member of the Legislature shall make this “Fourth, That the Holy Scriptures of solemn declaration : “I do believe in one the Old and New Testament are of Divine God, the Creator and Governor of the uni- inspiration, and are the rule of faith and verse, the rewarder of the good and the practice. punisher of the wicked ; and I do acknowl “Fifth, That it is lawful, and the duty of edge the Scriptures of the Old and New Tes- every man, being thereunto called by those tement to be given by Divine inspiration.” who govern, to bear witness to the truth.”

Even more than this : the Conscript Fa- | able as ever to the promotion of the Christhers who made the Constitution of South tian religion. I am not sure whether the Carolina went on to declare, “ That to Jew has equal privileges with the professgive the state sufficient security for the dis- or of Christianity in every state, but these charge of the pastoral office, no person shall he certainly has in most of them, and he officiate as a minister of any established has everywhere the right to worship God church who shall not have been chosen by publicly, according to the rites of his rea majority of the society to which he shall ligion.' In some states he holds offices of minister, nor until he shall have made and trust and influence, the law opening to subscribed the following declaration, over him as well as others access to such ofand above the aforesaid five articles ; viz., fices. Thus, in the city of New York, at * That he is determined, by God's grace, this moment, a descendant of Abraham, out of the Holy Scriptures to instruct the who was formerly sheriff of that city, is a people committed to his charge, and to judge of one of the courts, and discharges teach nothing as required of necessity to its duties faithfully and acceptably. Jews eternal salvation but that which he shall form but a small body in America, and as be persuaded may be concluded and proved they hold what may be called the basis of from the Scriptures; that he will use both the Christian religion, worship God accordpublic and private admonitions, as well to ing to the Old Testament, and believe in a the sick as to the whole, within his cure, future.state of rewards and punishments, as need shall require and occasion be giv- such a modification of the laws as should en; that he will be diligent in prayers and place them on the same footing with Chrisin reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in tians, as respects, political privileges, was. such studies as help to the knowledge of not deemed too latitudinarian or unsafe. the same; that he will be diligent to frame They surely have as good a claim to be and fashion his own self and his family ac- considered fit to become members of a cording to the doctrine of Christ, and to government founded on the religion of the make both himself and them, as much as Bible, as Unitarians can pretend to, and in him lies, wholesome examples and pat- hold safer principles than the Universalterns of the flock of Christ ; that he will ists. maintain and set forward, as much as he I conclude by repeating, in few words, can, quietness, peace, and love, among all that the state governments were founded people, and especially among those com- on Christianity, and almost without excepmitted to his charge.

tion, on Protestant Christianity. In the Who does not recognise in this Consti- progress of opinion on the subject of retution the spirit of the old Huguenot Con- ligious liberty, everything that looked like fession of Faith, and of the Synods of an interference with the rights of conFrance, which those who had been perse- science in any sect was laid aside, and all cuted in the Gallican kingdom had carried men whose religious principles were not with them to the New World?

thought subversive of the great moral The Constitution of Georgia, made in principles of Christianity were admitted 1777, says :. “Every officer of the state to a full participation in civil privileges and shall be liable to be called to account by immunities. This is the present position the House of Assembly," and that all the of the governments of the several states members of that house “shall be of the in the American Union. Their legislation, Protestant religion.”

while it avoids oppressing the conscience Such was the character of the State of any sect of religionists, is still decidedConstitutions in the opening scenes of our ly favourable, in general, to the interests national existence. Of all the thirteen ori- of Christianity; the unchristian element, ginal states, the organic laws of one alone if I may so term it, is too insignificant, did not expressly enjoin the Christian re- taking the country as a whole, to exert an ligion, and almost without exception, the influence of any importance on the nationProtestant form of Christianity. But even al legislation. Virginia was, in fact, as much Christian as any of them. From all this, the reader will see how

CHAPTER IX. the nation set out on its career. in every proper sense of the word, a Chris. THE LEGISLATION OF THE STATES SHOWN TO tian nation. And though the constitutions of the old states have since been deprived We have said that the organic laws of of what was exclusive in regard to re- the state governments have been so far ligion. and the political privileges of the modified as to extend political rights to Protestants are extended to the Roman citizens of all shades of religious opinions ; Catholics, without any exception that I am that in every state the rights of conscience aware of, yet the legislative action of those are guarantied to all men ; and in these states, as well as that of the new, is still respects, the whole twenty-six states and founded on Christianity, and is as favour-' three territories composing the American

It was,

BE IN FAVOUR OF CHRISTIANITY.

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