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determined by their respective laws and usages, and not by the speculations of philosophers. But as to the case of virtue and religion, it is evident that every magistrate's duty, with respect to his people, is the same with that which every father naturally has with respect to his children and household. Abraham was therefore to be made a great and mighty nation, because he would command his children and household to keep the way
of the Lord : a manifest proof that the care and command which he exercised as father of the family was proper to be extended to whole nations; otherwise this care over his family could be no reason for extending his authority over a great and mighty nation. And indeed the magistrate’s care with respect to the religion of his people, and the father's with respect to the religion of his family, are so much the same, that they must necessarily stand or fall together; for both have the same reasons to support them, and both are equally liable to the same objections. If the father of a family has his authority from God, and rules over not only his own children, but the servants and creatures of the Almighty, and ought therefore to have a concern for God and religion, is the case of the magistrate different? Are not his subjects also the creatures and servants of God ? and is he not the minister and vicegerent of God, and therefore bound, in the first place, to have regard to his honor, who is the common master of him and of his servants? If the happiness of a family, and of every member of it, consists in a due conformity to the principles of virtue and reason, and it be therefore the father's duty, even out of natural affection to his children, to guard them against vice and immorality, is the happiness of a kingdom and the members of it less concerned in the virtue of the people ? or ought a prince less to regard the welfare and prosperity of his people ? Turn it which way you will, the arguments are still the same, and equally applicable to both cases.
If you object to the magistrate's authority in religion, that temporal rewards and punishments are improper to be employed in the cause of religion; are they not equally improper in the hands of a father as of a prince? If the subjects have reason to direct them, and ought therefore to be left to themselves in all matters of conscience; are not your sons and your daughters reasonable creatures too? and have they not the same plea to make to exempt them from the authority of a father ? If religion be something internal, and of which the magistrate cannot judge, because he knows not the heart of man; is a father better qualified to judge the heart of his son or daughter than the magistrate is to judge the hearts of his subjects? In every view the objections are equally frivolous, or equally strong in both cases.
From the text thus opened and explained, I shall take an occasion to inquire wherein the care of religion, as well public as private, doth consist; and to justify the means which are necessary to the support of it.
If we consider the nature and disposition of mankind, we shall easily perceive that two things are especially necessary to guard the practice of virtue and religion, instruction and correction : one, a proper remedy for the weakness of the understanding; the other, for the perverseness of the will. Where these two are joined together, where the same person has a right to instruct and correct, the instruction is properly authoritative; and this is the case both of parents and magistrates : and therefore Abraham's care for his family, which without doubt included instruction, is expressed by the word command; He will command his children and his household, that they shall keep the way of the Lord.' And the same precept, given by God to the children of Israel for the instruction of their posterity, and which is called • teaching' their children in Deut. xi. 19. is, in ch. xxxii. ver. 46. called “commanding' their children: ' And he said unto them, Set
hearts unto all the words, which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe, to do all the words of this law.
This duty princes cannot perform personally to all their people; and therefore there has been an order of men set apart to this work in every civilised nation in the world : and on the foot of natural religion, there is no question to be made but that the supreme power in every nation has a full right to appoint and constitute these public teachers and ministers of religion. The people of Rome had as good a title to choose priests as to choose consuls; and had their religion been right,
no fault could have been found in the constitution of their priesthood. But this right was under the law of Moses limited to one family; and the priesthood under the gospel is confined to such methods of conveyance as Christ and his Apostles have appointed or approved : and the Christian priesthood being in all Christian nations owned and established by the public, they have the commission and authority of the magistrate for the edification of the people.
The power of correction is proper to be preserved in the hand of the magistrate, and is never better applied than for the punishment of wickedness and vice, and for the maintenance of true religion and virtue.
As these methods are necessary for the promoting and preserving the virtue of nations, and establishing public happiness and tranquillity, which so much depend on it; so are they likewise for the good government and improvement of private families : and every father, by natural right, has power to instruct, and within proper restraints to use correction, for the good and benefit of those under his care.
As to instruction, considered separate from correction, he must be a great friend to libertinism who has any thing to object against it. Some have thought that, since God has given all men reason to direct them, all men should be left to their reason to discover the general truths of religion and morality, without having any principles or notions instilled into them by others; which they esteem as so many prejudices only. But not to insist how contrary this is to all the rules and precepts of Scripture relating to the duty of fathers and mothers, and to the practice of all nations, it is sufficient to observe that, had God intended that all men should be left to the discoveries of their own reason in matters of duties, it had been necessary for him to have supplied all men with leisure for speculation, as well as with reason : for experience shows that the generality of men, in the present state of things, are not able, for want of leisure and education, to be their own masters : so far from it, that in conjunction with all the helps that are at present afforded them, great numbers continue ignorant to a degree hardly to be imagined; and were these helps to be removed, we could expect
nothing in the room of them but the grossest ignorance and superstition.
If men have so much reason as to be able to discover their duty without assistance, as those who would deliver them from the bondage of instruction suppose them to have, it is certain they have reason enough to distinguish between truth and falsehood, when proposed to them by others, and are not therefore in
any more danger of being betrayed, in acting contrary to their reason by instruction, than by being left to themselves : and as for those who have not reason enough to enable them to direct themselves, or to make them capable of receiving instructions from others, they are fit only to be governed by other methods.
It is very certain that general errors have been perpetuated by traditionary instruction, as well as general truths: but if for this reason an end must be put to all instruction, what one thing of use can be preserved in life, if we will be so fair as to carry the argument to its full extent ? Many die daily by eating and drinking: what then? Must the world be starved, because you can tell us of some who have suffered by intemperance ? or is there a greater reason to leave the world in ignorance, because some, through false teachers, have been miserably deceived ?
But the strongest objections lie against the use of correction in matters of religion. All are so sensible of the necessity of punishments to preserve the peace and order of the world, and to protect the innocent against the violence of sinners, that the magistrate is allowed on all hands a right to punish all crimes which are prejudicial to the public, or to the interest of private men. A concession this not to be despised in behalf of religion; for our duty to God does so concur in all things with our duty to our neighbor, that he who punishes offences and injuries offered to men, will undoubtedly so far punish vice and immorality. And this concession being made, the plea for excluding the magistrate from matters of religion can only affect such cases where the honor of God alone is concerned; for all offences against men are allowed to be punished. There remain only then the offences against God to be exempted from the terrors of this world; such as profaneness, impiety, and the
like; on which they think there ought to be no restraint from the magistrate.
The great reason assigned for all this is, that punishments inflicted by the temporal power cannot make men religious ; they can only constrain men to a compliance with the law in their outward behavior, but cannot reach to the purifying their hearts and consciences, in the clearness and integrity of which the virtue of religion does consist.
But it ought in the first place to be considered that such impiety is truly prejudicial to the public, as it tends, by the contagion of ill example, to corrupt the members of the commonwealth. The reverence men have for God, is the very best foundation of obedience to temporal governors : this makes them willing to discharge their duty faithfully to the public and to private men. Take away this reverence and regard for God, and few will see any reason to obey the laws of man any farther than is necessary to their own security. But what an alteration would it make in a government, were the subjects, instead of being willing to obey, to lay hold on all opportunities of offending with impunity? No vigilance of the magistrate could be sufficient to restrain the iniquity of multitudes inclined to do evil. Whoever therefore makes way for this corruption of manners, so prejudicial to the welfare and happiness of mankind, is liable to punishment even as an enemy to the state ; and the concession made the magistrate to punish offences against the public, will intitle him to inflict vengeance on those who openly affront the majesty of God, either by denying his being, or his government of the world.
But, secondly, it is want of the knowlege of human nature which leads men to make this objection : for though it is very true that the sinner, who abstains from vice or immorality merely out of the fear of temporal punishment, cannot be said to act on a religious principle in so doing, or to render an acceptable service to God; yet we must consider not only the immediate influence which punishments have, but the consequence which they are naturally apt to produce. If you keep a sinner from vice through fear at first, it will by degrees grow habitual to him to do well ; his relish for vice will abate, and by the length of practice he will come to take pleasure in virtue, how uneasy