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§ 12. Religious Intolerance and Liberty in England and America.
The history of the Reformation in England and Scotland is even more disfigured by acts of intolerance and persecution than that of the Continent, but resulted at last in greater gain for religious freedom. The modern ideas of well regulated, constitutional liberty, both civil and religious, have grown chiefly on English soil.
At first it was a battle between persecution and mere toleration, but toleration once legally secured prepared the way for full religious liberty.
All parties when persecuted, advocated liberty of conscience, and all parties when in power, exercised intolerance, but in different degrees. The Episcopalians before 1689 were less intolerant than the Romanists under Queen Mary; the Presbyterians before 1660 were less intolerant than the Episcopalians; the Independents less intolerant (in England) than the Presbyterians (but more intolerant in New England); the Baptists, Quakers, Socinians and Unitarians consistently taught freedom of conscience, and were never tempted to exercise intolerance. Finally all became tolerant in consequence of a legal settlement in 1689, but even that was restricted by disabling clauses. The Romanists used fire and sword; the Episcopalians fines, prisons, pillories, nose-slittings, ear-croppings, and cheek-burnings; the Presbyterians tried depositions and disabilities; the Independents in New England exiled Roger Williams, the Baptist (1636), and hanged four Quakers (two men and two women, 1659, 1660 and 1661) in Boston, and nineteen witches in Salem (1692). But all these measures of repression proved as many failures and made persecution more hateful and at last impossible.
1. The first act of the English Reformation, under Henry VIII., was simply the substitution of a domestic for a foreign popery and tyranny; and it was a change for the worse. No one was safe who dared to dissent from the creed of the despotic monarch who proclaimed himself "the supreme head of the Church of England." At his death (1547), the six bloody articles were still in force; but they contained some of the chief dogmas of Romanism which he held in spite of his revolt against the pope.
2. Under the brief reign of Edward VI. (1547–1553), the Reformation made decided progress, but Anabaptists were not tolerated; two of them, who held some curious views on the incarnation, were burnt as obstinate heretics, Joan Bocher, commonly called Joan of Kent, May 2, 1550, and George Van Pare, a Dutchman April 6, 1551. The. young king refused at first to sign the death-warrant of the woman, correctly thinking that the sentence was "a piece of cruelty too like that which they had condemned in papists;" at last he yielded to Cranmer’s authority, who argued with him from the law of Moses against blasphemy, but he put his hand to the warrant with tears in his eyes and charged the archbishop with the responsibility for the act if it should be wrong.
3. The reign of the bloody Queen Mary (1553–1558) was a fearful retaliation, but sealed the doom of popery by the blood of Protestant martyrs, including the Reformers, Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, who were burnt in the market place at Oxford.
4. Queen Elizabeth (1558–1603), by virtue of her office, as "Defender of the Faith, and supreme governor of the Church" in her dominions, permanently established the Reformed religion, but to the exclusion of all dissent. Her penal code may have been a political necessity, as a protection against domestic treason and foreign invasion, but it aimed systematically at the annihilation of both Popery and Puritanism. It acted most severely upon Roman Catholic priests, who could only save their lives by concealment or exile. Conformity to the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer was rigidly enforced; attendance upon the Episcopal service was commanded, while the mass and every other kind of public worship were forbidden under severe penalties. The rack in the tower was freely employed against noblemen suspected of disloyalty to the queen-pope. The statute de haereticis comburendis from the reign of Henry IV. (1401) remained in force, and two Anabaptists were burnt alive under Elizabeth, and two Arians under her successor. The statute was not formally abolished till 1677. Ireland was treated ecclesiastically as well as politically as a conquered province, and England is still suffering from that cruel polity, which nursed a hereditary hatred of the Catholic people against their Protestant rulers, and made the removal of the Irish grievances the most difficult problem of English statesmanship.
Popery disappeared for a while from British soil, and the Spanish Armada was utterly defeated. But Puritanism, which fought in the front rank against the big pope at Rome, could not be defeated by the little popes at home. It broke out at last in open revolt against the tyranny of the Stuarts, and the cruelties of the Star Chamber and High-Commission Court, which were not far behind the Spanish Inquisition, and punished freedom of speech and of the press as a crime against society.
5. Puritanism ruled England for about twenty years (1640 to 1660), which form the most intensely earnest and excited period in her history. It saved the rights of the people against the oppression of their rulers, but it punished intolerance with intolerance, and fell into the opposite error of enforcing Puritan, in the place of Episcopal, uniformity, though with far less severity. The Long Parliament abolished the Episcopal hierarchy and liturgy (Sept. 10, 1642), expelled about two thousand royalist clergymen from their benefices, and executed on the block Archbishop Laud (1644) and King Charles I. (1649), as traitors; thus crowning them with the glory of martyrdom and preparing the way for the Restoration. Episcopalians now became champions of toleration, and Jeremy Taylor, the Shakespeare of the English pulpit, raised his eloquent voice for the Liberty of Prophesying (1647), which, however, he afterward recalled in part when he was made a bishop by Charles II. (1661).8888 Coleridge regards this revocation as the only blot on Taylor’s character. His second wife was a natural daughter of Charles I.
The Westminster Assembly of Divines (1643–1652), which numbered one hundred and twenty-one divines and several lay-deputies and is one of the most important ecclesiastical meetings ever held, was intrusted by Parliament with the impossible task of framing a uniform creed, discipline and ritual for three kingdoms. The extraordinary religious commotion of the times gave rise to all sorts of religious opinions from the most rigid orthodoxy to deism and atheism, and called forth a lively pamphlet war on the subject of toleration, which became an apple of discord in the Assembly. Thomas Edwards, in his Gangraena (1645), enumerated, with uncritical exaggeration, no less than sixteen sects and one hundred and seventy-six miscellaneous "errors, heresies and blasphemies," exclusive of popery and deism.8989 For the extensive literature on the subject see the list of Dr. Dexter, The Congregationalism of the last three hundred years as seen in its Literature (N. York, 1880), Appendix, pp. 49-82. The Hansard Knollys (Baptist) Society has published, in 1846 at London, a series of Tracts on Liberty of Conscience and Persecution, written from 1614-1661. I mention only those which I have myself examined in the rich McAlpin Collection of the Union Theol. Seminary, N. York.
There were three theories on toleration, which may be best stated in the words of George Gillespie, one of the Scottish commissioners of the Assembly.9090 Wholesome Severity reconciled with Christian Liberty, or the true Resolution of a present Controversie concerning Liberty of Conscience. Here you have the question stated, the middle way between Popish tyrannie and Schismatizing Liberty approved, and also confirmed from Scripture, and the testimonies of Divines, yea, of whole churches ... And in conclusion a Paraenetick to the five Apologists for choosing Accommodation rather than Toleration. London, 1645 (40 pages). Dexter (p. 56) assigns the pamphlet, which is anonymous, to Gillespie, and its sentiments agree with those he expressed in a sermon he preached before the House of Lords, August 27, 1645.
(a) The theory of the "Papists who hold it to be not only no sin, but good service to God to extirpate by fire and sword all that are adversaries to, or opposers of, the Church and Catholic religion." Under this theory John Hus and Jerome of Prague were burnt at the Council of Constance. Gillespie calls it., in the Preface, "the black devil of idolatry and tyranny."
(b) "The second opinion doth fall short as far as the former doth exceed: that is, that the magistrate ought not to inflict any punishment, nor put forth any coërcive power upon heretics and sectaries, but on the contrary grant them liberty and toleration." This theory is called "the white devil of heresy and schism," and ascribed to the Donatists (?), Socinians, Arminians and Independents. But the chief advocate was Roger Williams, the Baptist, who became the founder of Rhode Island.9191 He wrote "The Bloody Tenent of Persecution," etc., 1644 (248 pp.), and "The Bloody Tenent yet more Bloody," etc., 1652 (373 pp.). Among the anonymous pamphlets on the same side, we mention The Compassionate Samaritane, Unbinding the Conscience, and pouring oyle into the wounds which have been made upon the Separation, etc., 1644 (84 pp.). He went to the root of the question, and demanded complete separation of politics from religion. Long before him, the Puritan Bishop Hooper, and Robert Browne, the renegade founder of Congregationalism had taught the primitive Christian principle that the magistrates had no authority over the church and the conscience, but only over civil matters. Luther expressed the same view in 1523.9292 Dr. Dexter asserts (p. 101) that "Robert Browne is entitled to the proud pre-eminence of having been the first writer clearly to state and defend in the English tongue the true and now accepted doctrine of the relation of the magistrate to the church," in his Treatise of Reformation, published in 1582. Comp. Dexter, p. 703 sq., and Append. p. 8. But this is an error. Bishop John Hooper of Gloucester, who suffered martyrdom under Queen Mary (1555), says in one of his earliest treatises: "As touching the superior powers of the earth, it is well known to all that have readen and marked the Scripture that it appertaineth nothing unto their office to make any law to govern the conscience of their subjects in religion."Early Writings of Bishop Hooper, p. 280, quoted by Dr. Mitchell, The Westminster Assembly, p. 16, where may be found a still stronger passage in, Latin to the same effect: "Profecto Christus non ignem non carceres, non vincula, non violentiam, non bonorum confiscationem, non regineae majestatis terrorem media organa constituit quibus veritas verbi sui mundo promulgaretur; sed miti ac diligenti praedicatione evangelii sui mundum ab errore et idolatria converti praecepit."Later Writings of Bp. Hooper, p. 386. The same principle found expression among Mennonites and Anabaptists of the Reformation period, and may be traced back to the Apostolic and the Ante-Nicene period, when Christianity had no connection whatever with politics and secular government.
(c) "The third opinion is that the magistrate may and ought to exercise his coërcive power in suppressing and punishing heretics and sectaries less or more, according as the nature and degree of the error, schism, obstinacy, and danger of seducing others may require." For this theory Gillespie quotes Moses, St. Augustin, Calvin, Beza, Bullinger, Voëtius, John Gerhard, and other Calvinistic and Lutheran divines. It was held by the Presbyterians in England and Scotland, including the Scottish commissioners in the Assembly, and vigorously advocated by Dr. Samuel Rutherford, Professor of Divinity in St. Andrews,9393 He wrote A Free Disputation against pretended Liberty of Conscience tending to resolve Doubts moved by Mr. John Goodwin, John Baptist, Dr. Jer. Taylor, the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other authors contending for lawless Liberty, or licentious Toleration of sects and Heresies. London, 1649. 410 pages. He calls the advocates of toleration "Libertines." and most zealously by Thomas Edwards, a Presbyterian minister in London.9494 The author of Reasons against Independent Government of Particular Congregations: as also against the Toleration of such churches to be erected in this kingdom. Presented to the House of Commons. London, 1641 (56 pp.). Antapologia; or, a Full Answer to the Apologetical Narration of Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Nye, Mr. Sympson, Mr. Burroughs, Mr. Bridge, Members of the Assembly of Divines. Wherein many of the controversies of these times are handled. London, 1646 (259 pp.). The First and Second Part of Gangraena; or, A Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errors, Heresies, Blasphemies and pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this time, vented and acted in England in these four last years, etc. London, 1646. The first part has 116, the second part 178 pages. They were followed by The Third Part of Gangraena; or, A New and Higher Discovery of Errors, etc. London, 1646 (295 pp.), and by The Casting down of the last and strongest hold of Satan; or, A Treatise against Toleration and pretended Liberty of Conscience. London, 1647 (218 pp.).—"The ministers of Christ within the province of London," December 14, 1647, sent out a Testimony of the Truth of Jesus Christ, and to our Solemn League, and Covenant; as also Against the Errors, Heresies and Blasphemies of these times, and the Toleration of them. London, 1648 (38 pp.). It had a strong basis in the national endorsement of the Solemn League and Covenant, and triumphed in the Westminster Assembly. It may therefore be called the Presbyterian theory of the seventeenth century. But it was never put into practice by Presbyterians, at least not to the extent of physical violence, against heretics and schismatics either in England or Scotland.9595 Dr. M’Crie, in his Annals of English Presbytery (pp. 190, 191), says: "It admits of being shown that even the hypothetical intolerance of our Presbyterian fathers differed essentially from Romish and Prelatic tyranny .... In point of fact it never led them to persecute, it never applied the rack to the flesh, or slaked its vengeance in blood or the maiming of the body."
The Westminster Confession of Faith, in its original shape, declares, on the one hand, the great principle of religious liberty, that "God alone is Lord of the conscience," but also, on the other hand, that dangerous heretics "may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church, and by the power of the civil magistrate."9696 Chapter XX., 2, 4. The clause "and by the power of the civil magistrate," is omitted in the American recension of the Westminster Confession. And it assigns to the civil magistrate the power and duty to preserve "unity and peace in the church," to suppress "all blasphemies and heresies," to prevent or reform "all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline," and for this purpose "to call synods and be present at them."9797 Ch. XXIII., 3; Comp. Ch. XXXI., 1, 2. These sections were changed and adapted to the separation of Church and State by the united Synod of Philadelphia and New York which met at Philadelphia, May 28, 1787. See the comparative statement in Schaff, Creeds of Christendom vol. I., 807 sq. and III., 607, 653 sq., 668 sq. The Presbyterian churches in Scotland, England and Ireland adhere to the original Confession, but with an express disavowal of persecuting sentiments. Schaff, I., 799 sq.
6. The five Independent members of the Assembly under the lead of Dr. Goodwin protested against the power given to the civil magistrate and to synods.9898 Goodwin wrote several pamphlets in favor of toleration: An Apologeticall Narration, Humbly submitted to the Hon. Houses of Partiament (by, Goodwin, Nye, Bridge, Simpson, and Burroughes). London, 1643 (32pp.). Θεομαχία; or the grand imprudence of men running the hazard of fighting against God in suppressing any way, doctrine or practice concerning which they know not certainly whether it be from God or no, 1644 (52 pp.). Innocencie’s Triumph, 1644 (64 pp.). Cretensis; or, a brief Answer to Mr. T. Edwards, his Gangraena, 1646. Anapologesiates Antapologias; or, the Inexcusableness of that grand Accusation of the Brethren, called Antapologia ... proving the utter insufficiency of the Antapoloogist for his great undertaking in behalf of the Presbyterian cause: with answers to his arguments or reasons (so call’d) for the support thereof ... especially in the point of Non-toleration ... Publ. by Authoritie. London, 1646 (253 pp.); with a long Preface, dated "From my studie in Coleman street, July 17, 1646; " chiefly directed against Edwards. Hagiomastix; or, the Scourge of the Saints displayed in his colours of Ignorance and Blood, etc. London, 1646 (134 pp.). A Postscript or Appendix to a treatise intituled, Hagiomastix. London, 1646 (28 pp.). The Apologist condemned; or, a Vindication of the Thirty Queries (with their author)concerning the power of the Civil Magistrate in Matters of Religion. London, 1653 (32 pp.). Peace Protected and Discontent Disarmed, etc. London, 1654 (78 pp.). Συγκρήτισμος; or Dis-Satisfaction Satisfied. London, 1654 (24 pp.). The obnoxious clauses of the Confession were therefore omitted or changed in the Congregational recension called "the Savoy Declaration" (1658).9999 See Schaff, vol. I., 829 sq. and III., 718-723.
But the toleration of the Independents, especially after they obtained the ascendancy under Cromwell’s protectorate differed very little from that of the Presbyterians. They were spoiled by success.100100 Dexter (p. 660) says: "During the short protectorate of that wonderful man, these lowly Independents came into relations so close with the ruling religious power, that—in order to fill important places—some of them were led to do violence to their noblest fundamentals." Several leading Baptists were guilty of the same inconsistency. They excluded from their program Popery, Prelacy, and Socinianism. Dr. Owen, their most distinguished divine, who preached by command a sermon before Parliament on the day after the execution of Charles I., entitled "Righteous Zeal encouraged by Divine Protection" (Jer. 15:19, 20), and accepted the appointment as Dean of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of the University at Oxford, laid down no less than sixteen fundamentals as conditions of toleration.101101 See Alex. F. Mitchell, The Westminster Assembly, its History and Standards. London, 1883, pp. 203 and 493. "Owen, Goodwin, Simpson, and Nye were chiefly concerned in drawing up a list of fundamentals which the parliament of 1654 wished to impose on all who claimed toleration. Neal gives sixteen of them. The Journal of the House of Commons speaks of twenty." He and Dr. Goodwin served on the Commission of the forty-three Triers which, under Cromwell’s protectorate, took the place of the Westminster Assembly. Cromwell himself, though the most liberal among the English rulers and the boldest protector of Protestantism abroad, limited toleration to Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists and Quakers, all of whom recognized the sacred Scriptures and the fundamental articles of Christianity; but he had no toleration for Romanists and Episcopal Royalists, who endangered his reign and who were suspected of tolerating none but themselves. His great foreign secretary, John Milton, the most eloquent advocate of liberty in the English language, defended the execution of the king, and was intolerant to popery and prelacy.
Had Cromwell reigned longer, the Triers and the Savoy Conference which he reluctantly appointed, would probably have repeated the vain attempt of the Westminster Assembly to impose a uniform creed upon the nation, only with a little more liberal "accommodation" for orthodox dissenters except "papists" and "prelatists"). Their brethren in New England where they had full sway, established a Congregational theocracy which had no room even for Baptists and Quakers.
7. Cromwell’s reign was a brief experiment. His son was incompetent to continue it. Puritanism had not won the heart of England, but prepared its own tomb by its excesses and blunders. Royalty and Episcopacy, which struck their roots deep in the past, were restored with the powerful aid of the Presbyterians. And now followed a reaction in favor of political and ecclesiastical despotism, and public and private immorality, which for a time ruined all the good which Puritanism had done.
Charles II., who "never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one," broke his solemn pledges and took the lead in intolerance and licentiousness. The Act of Uniformity was re-enacted May 19, 1662, and went into operation on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1662, made hideous by the St. Bartholomew Massacre, nearly a hundred years before. "And now came in," says Baxter, one of the most moderate as well as most learned and pious of the Nonconformists, "the great inundation of calamities, which in many streams overwhelmed thousands of godly Christians, together with their pastors." All Puritan ministers were expelled from their livings and exposed to starvation, their assemblies forbidden, and absolute obedience to the king and conformity to episcopacy were enforced, even in Scotland. The faithful Presbyterians in that country (the Covenanters) were subjected by the royal dragonnades to all manner of indignities and atrocities. "They were hunted"—says an English historian102102 Lecky, History of Rationalism in Europe, II., 48 (N. Y. ed.). — like criminals over the mountains; their ears were torn from their roots; they were branded with hot irons; their fingers were wrenched asunder by the thumbkins; the bones of their legs were shattered in the boots; women were scourged publicly through the streets; multitudes were transported to the Barbadoes; an infuriated soldiery was let loose upon them, and encouraged to exercise all their ingenuity in torturing them."
The period of the Restoration is, perhaps, the most immoral and disgraceful in English history. But it led at last to the final overthrow of the treacherous and semi-popish dynasty of the Stuarts, and inaugurated a new era in the history of religious liberty. Puritanism was not dead, but produced some of its best and most lasting works—Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress—in this period of its deepest humiliation and suffering.
8. The act of Toleration under the reign of William and Mary, 1689, made an end to violent persecutions in England. And yet it is far from what we now understand by religious liberty. Toleration is negative, liberty positive; toleration is a favor, liberty a right; toleration may be withdrawn by the power which grants it, liberty is as inalienable as conscience itself; toleration is extended to what cannot be helped and what may be in itself objectionable, liberty is a priceless gift of the Creator.
The Toleration of 1689 was an accommodation to a limited number of Dissenters—Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists and Quakers, who were allowed liberty of separate organization and public worship on condition of subscribing thirty-six out of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. Roman Catholics and Unitarians were excluded, and did not acquire toleration in England till the nineteenth century, the former by the Act of Emancipation passed April 13, 1829. Even now the Dissenters in England labor under minor disabilities and social disadvantages, which will continue as long as the government patronizes an established church. They have to support the establishment, in addition to their own denomination. Practically, however, there is more religious liberty in England than anywhere on the Continent, and as much as in the United States.
9. The last and most important step in the progress of religious liberty was taken by the United States of America in the provision of the Federal Constitution of 1787, which excludes all religious tests from the qualifications to any office or public trust. The first amendment to the Constitution (1789) enacts that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."103103 Ph. Schaff, Church and State in the United States, New York, 1888.
Thus the United States government is by its own free act prevented from ever establishing a state-church, and on the other hand it is bound to protect freedom of religion, not only as a matter of opinion, but also in its public exercise, as one of the inalienable rights of an American citizen, like the freedom of speech and of the press. History had taught the framers of the Constitution that persecution is useless as well as hateful, and that it has its root in the unholy alliance of religion with politics. Providence had made America a hospitable home for all fugitives from persecution,—Puritans, Presbyterians, Huguenots, Baptists, Quakers, Reformed, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, etc.—and foreordained it for the largest development of civil and religious freedom consistent with order and the well-being of society. When the colonies, after a successful struggle for independence, coalesced into one nation they could not grant liberty to one church or sect without granting it to all. They were thus naturally driven to this result. It was the inevitable destiny of America. And it involved no injustice or injury to any church or sect.
The modern German empire forms in some measure a parallel. When it was formed in 1870 by the free action of the twenty or more German sovereignties, it had to take them in with their religion, and abstain from all religious and ecclesiastical legislation which might interfere with the religion of any separate state.
The constitutional provision of the United States in regard to religion is the last outcome of the Reformation in its effect upon toleration and freedom, not foreseen or dreamed of by the Reformers, but inevitably resulting from their revolt against papal tyranny. It has grown on Protestant soil with the hearty support of all sects and parties. It cuts the chief root of papal and any other persecution, and makes it legally impossible. It separates church and state, and thus prevents the civil punishment of heresy as a crime against the state. It renders to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and renders to God the things that are God’s. It marks a new epoch in the history of legislation and civilization. It is the American contribution to church history. No part of the federal constitution is so generally accepted and so heartily approved as that which guarantees religious liberty, the most sacred and most important of all liberties. It is regarded almost as an axiom which needs no argument.
Religious liberty has thus far been fully justified by its effects. It has stimulated the fullest development of the voluntary principle. The various Christian churches can live in peace and harmony together, and are fully able to support and to govern themselves without the aid of the secular power. This has been proven by the experience of a century, and this experience is the strongest argument in favor of the separation of church and state. Christianity flourishes best without a state-church.
The separation, however, is peaceful, not hostile, as it was in the Ante-Nicene age, when the pagan state persecuted the church. Nor is it a separation of the nation from Christianity. The government is bound to protect all forms of Christianity with its day of rest, its churches, its educational and charitable institutions.104104 The government even indirectly supports it in part by exempting church buildings, hospitals, colleges and theological seminaries from public taxation, and by appointing chaplains for the army and navy and for Congress, in deference to the Christian sentiment of the people. Even irreligion and infidelity are tolerated within the limits of the law of self-preservation. Religious liberty may, of course, be abused like any other liberty. It has its necessary boundary in the liberty of others and the essential interests of society. The United States government would not tolerate, much less protect, a religion which requires human sacrifices, or sanctions licentious rites, or polygamy, or any other institution inconsistent with the laws and customs of the land, and subversive of the foundation of the state and the order of Christian civilization. Hence the recent prohibition of polygamy in the Territories, and the unwillingness of Congress to admit Utah into the family of States unless polygamy is abolished by the Mormons. The majority of the population decides the religion of a country, and, judged by this test, the American people are as Christian as any other on earth, only in a broader sense which recognizes all forms of Christianity. While Jews and infidels are not excluded from the enjoyment of any civil or political right on account of their religion or irreligion, they cannot alter the essentially Christian character of the sentiments, habits and institutions of the nation.
There are three important institutions in which church and state touch each other even in the United States, and where a collision of interests may take place: education in the public schools, marriage, and Sunday as a day of civil and sacred rest. The Roman Catholics are opposed to public schools unless they can teach in them their religion which allows no compromise with any other; the Mormons are opposed to monogamy, which is the law of the land and the basis of the Christian family; the Jews may demand the protection of their Sabbath on Saturday, while infidels want no Sabbath at all except perhaps for amusement and dissipation. But all these questions admit of a peaceful settlement and equitable adjustment, without a relapse into the barbarous measures of persecution.
The law of the United States is supreme in the Territories and the District of Columbia, but does not forbid any of the States to establish a particular church, or to continue a previous establishment. The Colonies began with the European system of state-churchism, only in a milder form, and varying according to the preferences of the first settlers. In the New England Colonies—except Rhode Island founded by the Baptist Roger Williams—orthodox Congregationalism was the established church which all citizens were required to support; in Virginia and the Southern States, as also in New York, the Episcopal Church was legally established and supported by the government.105105 A Presbyterian minister, Francis Makemie, was arrested on a warrant of the Episcopal Governor Cornby of New York, Jan. 20, 1707, for preaching in a private house, without permission, and although he was ably defended in a public trial and acquitted on the ground that he had been licensed to preach under the Act of Toleration, he had to pay the costs of the prosecution as well as the defence to the large amount of £83 7s. 6d. See Briggs, American Presbyterianism, New York, 1885, pp. 152-154. Even those Colonies which were professedly founded on the basis of religious toleration, as Maryland and Pennsylvania, enacted afterwards disabling clauses against Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Jews and infidels. In Pennsylvania, the Quaker Colony of William Penn, no one could hold office, from 1693 to 1775, without subscribing a solemn declaration of belief in the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity and condemning the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and the mass as idolatrous.106106 Comp. Dr. Charles J. Stillé, Religious Tests in Provincial Pennsylvania. A paper read before the, Hist. Soc. of Penna., Nov. 9, 1885. Philada., 1886. 58 pp. "It is hard to believe," he says, p. 57, "that a man like Franklin, for instance, would at any time have approved of religious tests for office; yet Franklin’s name is attached over and over again in the Qualification Books to the Declaration of Faith, which he was forced to make when he entered upon the duties of the various offices which be held. He must have been literally forced to take such a test; for we find him on the first opportunity, when the people of this commonwealth determined to declare their independence alike of the Penn family and of the Crown of Great Britain, raising his voice against the imposition of such tests as had been taken during the Provincial period. Franklin was the president and the ruling spirit of the convention which framed the State Constitution of 1776, and to his influence has generally been ascribed the very mild form of test which by that instrument was substituted for the old one."
The great revolution of legislation began in the Colony of Virginia in 1776, when Episcopacy was disestablished, and all other churches freed from their disabilities.107107 The act of 1776 was completed by an act of October, 1785. See Hening, Collection of the Laws of Virginia, vol. XII. 84. The change was brought about by the combined efforts of Thomas Jefferson (the leading statesman of Virginia, and a firm believer in absolute religious freedom on the ground of philosophic neutrality), and of all dissenting denominations, especially the Presbyterians, Baptists and Quakers. The other Colonies or States gradually followed the example, and now there is no State in which religious freedom is not fully recognized and protected.
The example of the United States exerts a silent, but steady and mighty influence upon Europe in raising the idea of mere toleration to the higher plane of freedom, in emancipating religion from the control of civil government, and in proving the advantages of the primitive practice of ecclesiastical self-support and self-government.
The best legal remedy against persecution and the best guarantee of religious freedom is a peaceful separation of church and state; the best moral remedy and guarantee is a liberal culture, a comprehensive view of the many-sidedness of truth, a profound regard for the sacredness of conscientious conviction, and a broad and deep Christian love as described by the Apostle Paul.
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