« НазадПродовжити »
same causes which generated it diffused it; and it was the universal sense of Christendom that true religion involved necessarily the belief in a full system of subtle doctrines on all the questions which had been raised in the Church, that every other system of doctrines was not only wrong but noxious, and that the right system was to be imposed authoritatively on the belief of men, any dissent from it being suppressed as essentially evil.
While these principles prevailed, the duty of the civil power with reference to religion was plain. Christianity continued to be identified with civilization; for though many functions needful to the general welfare, which had in early times been performed by the priesthood, had in the progress of civilization become so developed as to need special organs and to be detached from the priestly office, yet still all civil and social duty was enforced by religious sanctions, and still that internal regulation of the spirit of man which gives solidity to civil order and elevates the national aspirations, was accomplished by religion ministered to the individual. It belonged, therefore, to the duties of the civil ruler to provide the ministrations of Christianity for all his people. But Chris. tianity was in his view a particular dogmatic system, which, irrespective of its civilizing influences, possessed the high attribute of exclusive truth and was blessed with the divine favour; which should therefore be maintained amongst the nation as the highest good that they could possess; and could be maintained in its rightful authority only by insisting on its acceptance. It pertained therefore to the office of the civil governor, according to the ideas of the time, that in accordance with the exclusive authority
of the true faith, and on account of its intrinsic excellence and beneficial effects, he should make permanent provision for its maintenance in the country, and enforce on the people with all his authority the ministrations of the Church.
7. Previous to the Reformation no question arose as to what dogmatic system should thus be imposed upon the nations. The authority of the priesthood which had always co-existed with that of the ruler as one of the influences which determined the national religion, but which had in some nations been subject to the control of the civil power, was then as ruler of religious belief superior to it everywhere. For Christianity came to the European nations from an ex. ternal source, and with attributes of authority which subdued them. It was a victorious creed which prevailed where men were most enlightened, and when it had been enthroned in Rome the mistress of the world, it inherited the authority of Roman dominion, and was enriched with the traditions of Roman culture. Its priests carried with them the authority not only of Rome but of all the nations who accepted what they taught; and no ruler could presume to question their teaching, even in those nations where the priesthood had originally been more under the ruler's control. These nations, however, as new influences gradually gave freedom to thought and at the same time impaired the purity and vigour of the ecclesiastical system, at length cast off the yoke of the Romish priesthood; and in them the rulers resumed their supreme control over the national religion. The Celtic nations still continued to pay the same obedience to their Christian priesthood which they had paid to their Druids, for religious submission
accorded with their nature; but the Germanic nations reformed their religion by rejecting the authority of Rome, and asserting the freedom of their national Churches. In England the royal supremacy was substituted for the Papal; and it became the right and duty of the monarch, with the representatives of the national priesthood in Convocation assembled, to determine what system of doctrines should be imposed upon the nation as what it was required to believe. It is important to remember that this was the idea of the Reformation in England; and that it was on this principle that the Church was reformed both in England and Ireland. Authoritative dogmatism had been the spirit of Christianity for centuries; and the circumstances of that time made it natural that religion should still have a dogmatic and authoritative form. It was a time of controversy, when a great effort was needed to define Christian belief and settle ecclesiastical order, and therefore the statement of doctrine and the establishment of discipline were the great objects of the religious thought of the day; a time, too, when intellectual culture was limited to a few, and the opinions of the many therefore were not consulted as to what it was right that they should believe. The old authority of the monarch over the religion of the nation revived in full force; and it was moreover urged by political considerations to exert itself to the utmost. For the Papal authority had entered into the whole tissue of civil and social life, and there was danger that by its repudiation the fabric of society might be rent asunder. The settlement of the national religion was therefore a civil as well as a religious concern, and fell within the province of the civil power as one of its most pressing cares. Eliza
beth especially found Romanism the natural enemy of her throne, and her security seemed to depend on the loyalty of her subjects to herself as the head of Protestantism. Her sense of her rightful religious authority over her people as chief governor of the national Church, as well as her sense of the rightful authority of the true faith, was therefore quickened into action by the obvious importance of uniting all her subjects in one religious belief and one ecclesiastical system; and both in England and Ireland she exerted all her authority to attain this object. It was partly a political object which concerned most deeply her royal prerogative and the stability of her throne, and partly an ecclesiastical and religious object which affected the unity of the National Church, and the prevalence of the faith; and it was in the exercise of her power as Queen, and not in the spirit of an evangelist or a missionary that with the consent of the English and of the Irish bishops the Church was put by her on a new footing in England and in Ireland. In both countries results were expected from the ministrations of the reformed Churches which were never realized. In England it was hoped that gradually all the nation would be won over to obey the monarch by conforming to the Church; but the Nonconformists who at the end of the seventeenth century were estimated at about one twenty-third part of the population of England, form now such a proportion of it, that of those who attended public worship at Morning Service in England and Wales on March 30, 1851, not far from one-half according to the census were Nonconformists. In Ireland it was expected that the people should forget the hostilities of four hundred years, and adopt
4 Buckle's Hist. of Civilization, i. 385.
the Anglican faith without knowing the language in which it was expressed, but the native race have for the most part retained the Romish faith. But though such vain hopes may have been entertained, both Churches were established not as missionary Churches, but as State Churches to which the civil power commanded the nation to conform. The nation still was treated with authoritative dogmatism ; and still the ruler maintained an established religion, on account of the divine excellence attributed to it and the civil and religious effects connected with it.
8. Since that time great changes have taken place to alter the relations of the civil power to the religion of the nation. Religion has ceased to be so interwoven with the civil system as seriously to affect its working, and to call for the control of the ruler as a necessary department of the civil government. A vast change, too, has come over the spirit of Europe. The controversies of the Reformation in a great degree burnt themselves out in the course of the seventeenth century, and religious doctrine ceased to have its former interest for the nations. The growth of industry and the elaboration of the arts of life secu. larized thought by occupying it with the invention of means and application of power, so as to make men less conscious of dependence on God, and less submissive to religious authority. The opening of new fields of knowledge and the ample spoils which the genius of man gathered out of them all, gave an impulse to free thought, which carried it into every subject on which man can speculate. For it is not possible for him who has tasted the joy of visiting in thought the realities of God's world for himself in the clear spirit of honest inquiry, and has