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ers in the discussion of moral and spiritual questions, whether in relation to God or man; but he has no right to be a trespasser upon the rights of conscience as vested in others. A conscience toward God that possesses the character of self-assuming and persecuting bigotry may be very zealous and sincere ; yet it is the conscience of a despot, who, if he had as much power as zeal, would be a monster. Human nature, alike in Catholic and Protestant bosoms, is very apt to transcend the limits within which conscience may lawfully move and beyond which it becomes the usurper of other men's rights, claiming for itself prerogatives that do not belong to it.
As to the other class—namely, legal officers, who wield the power of the sword and whose will in relation to others is clothed with the attributes of law -it is equally clear that they are bound to have a conscience toward God and to obey its dictates. They ought to rule in the conscientious and pious fear of God. The fact that they are rulers and, as such, possess authority over others, does not cancel their personal responsibility to the King of kings. God's government reaches them as really as it does the humblest citizen or subject.
When, however, the civil ruler undertakes to make his conscience toward God a law for the regulation of others, defining by law what shall be their conscience toward God, and thus arming his conscience with the coercive powers of his office, then the whole question is most materially changed. His
conscience is then official, and asserts and enforces. a jurisdiction over the thoughts and actions of others in respect to God. It is not simply a reasoning conscience; but a mandatory one, with the compulsions of civil government behind it. It is not an apostleship to preach; but a statute to bind. It does not deal merely with the duties which men owe to each other as members of the State; but legislates in respect to the duties which they owe to God. This sort of conscience in the civil ruler, whether Christian or Pagan, Catholic or Protestant, is an outrage to individual rights and a curse to human society. Such consciences, whether right or wrong in the creed they affirm, are always wrong in connecting with it their official power. They are the consciences of usurpers.
If, then, the term State, as employed in the title of this article, simply means the people who compose the State and to whom it is applied as a class term, and who as individuals are subject to the authority of civil government, then there can be no question whether the State-that is to say, the people--viewed as individuals and citizens, each by himself, should have a conscience toward God and faithfully perform the duties which it imposes. If the term means those who rule in the enactment and execution of law, then it is equally clear that they ought to have a conscience toward God and to be influenced thereby in the discharge of all their duties, whether official and public or private and personal.
If, however, the meaning of a State conscience toward God be that the general conscience of the people, as an aggregate of individuals, or that of the civil ruler, or of both put together, should be embodied in a legal statute, and thus become a law, recognizing a religious system and providing for its enforcement or for its propagation at the public expense, then, under the somewhat plausible phraseology of a State conscience and of seeming fidelity to God, we have a theory as old as religious despotism. Such a conscience is simply the long standing heresy of tyrants. It is a conscience that carries with it the power of compulsion. How far other consciences shall be tolerated or whether they shall be tolerated at all is a question in regard to which these legal State consciences toward God have never been safe judges. History gives them a very bad reputation. The vicious and evil character of their underlying principle is not to be sanctified by a pious title. Satan does not become an angel of light by wearing an angel's garb.
What kind of a conscience toward God shall the State, as a legislating, coercing, and taxing power, possess and put into practice? What shall it affirm as true and what shall it reject as heresy? Shall it be a Pagan or a Christian, a Catholic or a Protestant, a Trinitarian or a Unitarian State conscience toward God? These are very vital ques tions if, on the plea of duty to God, we are going to establish an alliance between religion and the
civil power. Manifestly, we want the right kind of religion- the true, and not the false; and, in order to be sure on this point, we need to find somewhere a body of men, or, at least, one man, whose conscience toward God may be taken as the infallible standard for all other consciences. The best way to run the machinery of such a conscience is to get a Pope, and then persuade some œcumenical council to vote that he is infallible, and then make him the head of the Church, and either the light or head of the State, or both at the same time. The Papacy just fits this theory of a State conscience toward God, and the theory just fits the Papacy. But for Protestants to adopt it, or to use an argument which, if it means anything, implies the theory, is to contradict one of the first principles of their professed faith. State consciences toward God, in the sense of connecting with them the civil power, ought to be the exclusive monopoly of Roman Catholicism.
In respect to whom shall the State have this conscience toward God, and how shall it express the same? The answer to this question given by a certain class of Protestants, in the discussion of the School question, is this: The State should have a conscience toward God in respect to the children in the public schools, and then express the same by providing for religious instruction in these schools—not according to the Catholic idea of such instruction, but according to the Protestant notion
-namely, by the reading of King James's version of the Sacred Scriptures, either with or without other religious exercises; and that it should then tax all the people-Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Infidels alike-to pay the expenses. Such is the State conscience toward God upon which these Protestants insist. The meaning of their proposition is that the civil authority of the people, as represented by and operating through the agency of government, should make their conscience towards God the rule of its action in the public school. For their kind of conscience they claim the preference, and demand that the State, as a body politic, should concede the claim. A Catholic State conscience toward God would not be any more satisfactory to them than is their conscience to a Catholic or a Jew. Let the public school, in the matter of religion, be what they think it ought to be, and then the State is all right, because it agrees with them. Let it be what the Catholic desires it to be, and then the State is all wrong, because it does not agree with them.
But why limit this State conscience toward God to the children and the public school? Why not extend its benefits to adults, as well as children? Why should not the State take charge of the whole business of religious instruction in the community -appoint ministers to preach to and teach the people, build church-edifices, prescribe and regu late the forms of worship, make religion according