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erence to it. The Supreme Court of the United States could not judicially expound or apply the propositions, since no case under them could arise over which it would have jurisdiction. Ecclesiastical courts could not determine their meaning, since they are not the authorized interpreters of the Constitution. Their meaning would be purely a matter of private interpretation, and no such interpretation would have any authority. The words would be in the preamble ; but, as a national confession of faith, they would be accompanied by no legislative or judicial commentary on their import.

Whether God is the source of all authority and power in civil government, merely in the general sense of creation and providence, or in the special sense of investing such government with a portion of his own authority; whether the Lord Jesus Christ is the ruler among the nations in any other sense than that in which he is the ruler over the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field ; where his revealed will is to be found, and for what purposes, and in what relations it is to be applied—these and the like questions would be open to all sorts of answers according to the varying notions of different persons, with no tribunal and no authority anywhere to give the true answer. The words themselves are sufficiently elastic to be capable of different interpretations; and hence, in the absence of an authentic expounder, there would be no means of deciding in what sense the people use them in the preamble.

Nor do we see any reason why, if the door is to be opened sufficiently wide to admit these three religious dogmas, it may not be opened wide enough to admit forty-indeed to permit the ingress of all the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. Why not also declare that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; that he rose again on the third day; that he ascended into heaven; and that he will come, again to raise the dead and judge the world ? These and the like are certainly Christian truths; and the theory which demands the utterance of three such truths may just as well be extended to the whole system. It imposes upon itself no limitation. Indeed, it would be a question of interpretation, without anybody authorized to answer it, whether the phrase “ His revealed will ” would not

“ by implication embrace the whole circle of Christian doctrine and precept as given in the Bible. Words, when used in constitutions, are generally interpreted to include every thing to which, being taken in their natural sense, they are applicable ; and under this rule the phrase referred to would have a very broad import.

What practical service would the insertion of these words in the preamble, with no power in the Government either to explain them or put them into legal execution, render to either God or man? A Church creed is operative for its appropriate purposes, because behind the creed we have a Church organization to work it ; but such a creed, either


in whole or in part, in the constitution of a government, without the power to work it, would be of no productive value. It might gratify the wishes of a certain class of the people, while it would be contrary to the convictions and wishes of a much larger class; but it would not make one Christian more or one sinner less. It would not increase the religious zeal of the people or add to the general influence of Christianity upon the popular mind. It would not make the careless thoughtful, or convert Atheists and Deists to the faith. It would not build a church or raise a dollar for religious purposes. It would not control the legislation of the Government or furnish any guaranty that the legislation would be just and right. It would not add to the sense of God in the councils of the nation or in individual hearts. It would not purify political parties or make office-holders more circumspect.

We are at an utter loss to see how the simple creed contained in the words proposed-unaccompanied by any enforcing power, as it would be if found merely in the preamble, and as it must be, or be the basis of a most dangerous religious despotism—would secure any desirable result that would not just as well and just as certainly be secured without it. There is not a solitary thing which the creed in this form of utterance would or could do to make the Government "a Christian government" in any sense not now real, or to make the people any more Christian than they now are. Some might

think it a religious ornament to the Constitution ; yet a much greater number would regard the ornament as not being in its proper place.

The one great objection to the amendment, though as we have shown, it would be legally meaningless and powerless, consists in the principle which underlies it and which those who framed the Constitution meant utterly to exclude. The American people, so far as they are religious at all, are Christian, by a very large preponderance, and in this sense they may be justly spoken of as being a Christian people ; and yet nothing is more conspicuous in their political and civil institutions than their general refusal to incorporate pro forma their Christianity into the language of their constitutions or laws. The great idea which they have sought to realize is that of the most perfect religious liberty and equality among all the citizens of one common gov. ernment; and, in order the more effectually to gain this end, they have denied to civil government any jurisdiction in matters of religious faith and practice beyond that of extending an impartial protection to all the people. Adopting this principle, they have,with scrupulous care, limited their constitutions and legal systems to the attainment of purely temporal ends, and, hence, omitted to place in them any affirmations or denials of religious dogmas.

There can be no doubt that the amendment proposed, though confined to the preamble of the Constitution and really granting no power to the General

Government, would nevertheless, be a departure from this principle. By it, the people of the United States, not as individuals, but in their political and corporate capacity, would place a confession of religious faith in their National Constitution. This would be a step in the wrong direction, provided the doctrine of absolute religious equality is to be maintained. The next step would be to clothe the Government with power in respect to this confession; and this would at once erect a religious despotism. The safe course for the people is not to take the first step ; and if they do not propose to take the second step there is no occasion for taking the first. When they are prepared to make Christianity a legalized system, then, and not till then, will it be seasonable to stamp its doctrines with a constitutional affirmation.

Looking, finally, at the process by which the proposed amendment must be adopted, if at all, we cannot resist the conviction that its advocates are engaged in the most hopeless of all undertakings. In order to succeed, they must persuade two-thirds of both Houses of Congress to propose the amendment, or two-thirds of the legislatures of the several States to ask Congress to call a convention to propose it. And when they have gained this end, they

, must persuade three-fourths of the legislatures of all the States or conventions in three-fourths of the States to ratify the proposition. This is the constitutional method of changing the fundamental law

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