Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Critical and Historical Essays Volume 2 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 6 out of 16

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the bench in a black gown and white wig, and grant new trials,
would be an abomination not to be thought of among baptized
people. The distinction is certainly most philosophical.

What power in civilised society is so great as that of the
creditor over the debtor? If we take this away from the Jew, we
take away from him the security of his property. If we leave it
to him, we leave to him a power more despotic by far than that of
the King and all his Cabinet.

It would be impious to let a Jew sit in Parliament. But a Jew may
make money; and money may make members of Parliament. Gatton and
Old Sarum may be the property of a Hebrew. An elector of Penryn
will take ten pounds from Shylock rather than nine pounds
nineteen shillings and eleven-pence three farthings from Antonio.
To this no objection is made. That a Jew should possess the
substance of legislative power, that he should command eight
votes on every division as if he were the great Duke of Newcastle
himself, is exactly as it should be. But that he should pass the
bar and sit down on those mysterious, cushions of green leather,
that he should cry "hear" and "order," and talk about being on
his legs, and being, for one, free to say this and to say that,
would be a profanation sufficient to bring ruin on the country.

That a Jew should be privy-councillor to a Christian king would
be an eternal disgrace to the nation. But the Jew may govern the
money-market, and the money-market may govern the world. The
Minister may be in doubt as to his scheme of finance till he has
been closeted with the Jew. A congress of sovereigns may be
forced to summon the Jew to their assistance. The scrawl of the
Jew on the back of a piece of paper may be worth more than the
royal word of three kings, or the national faith of three new
American republics. But that he should put Right Honourable
before his name would be the most frightful of national

It was in this way that some of our politicians reasoned about
the Irish Catholics. The Catholics ought to have no political
power. The sun of England is set for ever if the Catholics
exercise political power. Give the Catholics everything else; but
keep political power from them. These wise men did not see that,
when everything else had been given, political power had been
given. They continued to repeat their cuckoo song, when it was no
longer a question whether Catholics should have political power
or not, when a Catholic association bearded the Parliament, when
a Catholic agitator exercised infinitely more authority than the
Lord Lieutenant.

If it is our duty as Christians to exclude the Jews from
political power, it must be our duty to treat them as our
ancestors treated them, to murder them, and banish them, and rob
them. For in that way, and in that way alone, can we really
deprive them of political power. If we do not adopt this course,
we may take away the shadow, but we must leave them the
substance. We may do enough to pain and irritate them; but we
shall not do enough to secure ourselves from danger, if danger
really exists. Where wealth is, there power must inevitably be.

The English Jews, we are told, are not Englishmen. They are a
separate people, living locally in this island, but living
morally and politically in communion with their brethren who are
scattered over all the world. An English Jew looks on a Dutch or
a Portuguese Jew as his countryman, and on an English Christian
as a stranger. This want of patriotic feeling, it is said,
renders a Jew unfit to exercise political functions.

The argument has in it something plausible; but a close
examination shows it to be quite unsound. Even if the alleged
facts are admitted, still the Jews are not the only people who
have preferred their sect to their country. The feeling of
patriotism, when society is in a healthful state springs up, by a
natural and inevitable association, in the minds of citizens who
know that they owe all their comforts and pleasures to the bond
which unites them in one community. But, under a partial and
oppressive Government, these associations cannot acquire that
strength which they have in a better state of things. Men are
compelled to seek from their party that protection which they
ought to receive from their country, and they, by a natural
consequence, transfer to their party that affection which they
would otherwise have felt for their country. The Huguenots of
France called in the help of England against their Catholic
kings. The Catholics of France called in the help of Spain
against a Huguenot king. Would it be fair to infer, that at
present the French Protestants would wish to see their religion
made dominant by the help of a Prussian or an English army?
Surely not, and why is it that they are not willing, as they
formerly were willing, to sacrifice the interests of their
country to the interests of their religious persuasion? The
reason is obvious: they were persecuted then, and are not
persecuted now. The English Puritans, under Charles the First,
prevailed on the Scotch to invade England. Do the Protestant
Dissenters of our time wish to see the Church put down by an
invasion of foreign Calvinists? If not, to what cause are we to
attribute the change? Surely to this, that the Protestant
Dissenters are far better treated now than in the seventeenth
century. Some of the most illustrious public men that England
ever produced were inclined to take refuge from the tyranny of
Laud in North America. Was this because Presbyterians and
Independents are incapable of loving their country? But it is
idle to multiply instances. Nothing is so offensive to a man who
knows anything of history or of human nature as to hear those who
exercise the powers of government accuse any sect of foreign
attachments. If there be any proposition universally true in
politics it is this, that foreign attachments are the fruit of
domestic misrule. It has always been the trick of bigots to make
their subjects miserable at home, and then to complain that they
look for relief abroad; to divide society, and to wonder that it
is not united; to govern as if a section of the State were the
whole, and to censure the other sections of the State for their
want of patriotic spirit. If the Jews have not felt towards
England like children, it is because she has treated them like a
step-mother. There is no feeling which more certainly develops
itself in the minds of men living under tolerably good government
than the feeling of patriotism. Since the beginning of the world,
there never was any nation, or any large portion of any nation,
not cruelly oppressed, which was wholly destitute of that
feeling. To make it therefore ground of accusation against a
class of men, that they are not patriotic, is the most vulgar
legerdemain of sophistry. It is the logic which the wolf employs
against the lamb. It is to accuse the mouth of the stream of
poisoning the source.

If the English Jews really felt a deadly hatred to England, if
the weekly prayer of their synagogues were that all the curses
denounced by Ezekiel on Tyre and Egypt might fall on London, if,
in their solemn feasts, they called down blessings on those who
should dash their children to pieces on the stones, still, we
say, their hatred to their countrymen would not be more intense
than that which sects of Christians have often borne to each
other. But in fact the feeling of the Jews is not such. It is
precisely what, in the situation in which they are placed, we
should expect it to be. They are treated far better than the
French Protestants were treated in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, or than our Puritans were treated in the time of Laud.
They, therefore, have no rancour against the Government or
against their countrymen. It will not be denied that they are far
better affected to the State than the followers of Coligni or
Vane. But they are not so well treated as the dissecting sects of
Christians are now treated in England; and on this account, and,
we firmly believe, on this account alone, they have a more
exclusive spirit. Till we have carried the experiment further, we
are not entitled to conclude that they cannot be made Englishmen
altogether. The statesman who treats them as aliens, and then
abuses them for not entertaining all the feelings of natives, is
as unreasonable as the tyrant who punished their fathers for not
making bricks without straw.

Rulers must not be suffered thus to absolve themselves of their
solemn responsibility. It does not lie in their mouths to say
that a sect is not patriotic. It is their business to make it
patriotic. History and reason clearly indicate the means. The
English Jews are, as far as we can see, precisely what our
Government has made them. They are precisely what any sect, what
any class of men, treated as they have been treated, would have
been. If all the red-haired people in Europe had, during
centuries, been outraged and oppressed, banished from this place,
imprisoned in that, deprived of their money, deprived of their
teeth, convicted of the most improbable crimes on the feeblest
evidence, dragged at horses' tails, hanged, tortured, burned
alive, if, when manners became milder, they had still been
subject to debasing restrictions and exposed to vulgar insults,
locked up in particular streets in some countries, pelted and
ducked by the rabble in others, excluded everywhere from
magistracies and honours, what would be the patriotism of
gentlemen with red hair? And if, under such circumstances, a
proposition were made for admitting red-haired men to office, how
striking a speech might an eloquent admirer of our old
institutions deliver against so revolutionary a measure! "These
men," he might say, "scarcely consider themselves as Englishmen.
They think a red-haired Frenchman or a red-haired German more
closely connected with them than a man with brown hair born in
their own parish. If a foreign sovereign patronises red hair,
they love him better than their own native king. They are not
Englishmen: they cannot be Englishmen: nature has forbidden it:
experience proves it to be impossible. Right to political power
they have none; for no man has a right to political power. Let
them enjoy personal security; let their property be under the
protection of the law. But if they ask for leave to exercise
power over a community of which they are only half members, a
community the constitution of which is essentially dark-haired,
let us answer them in the words of our wise ancestors, Nolumus
leges Angliae mutari."

But, it is said, the Scriptures declare that the Jews are to be
restored to their own country; and the whole nation looks forward
to that restoration. They are, therefore, not so deeply
interested as others in the prosperity of England. It is not
their home, but merely the place of their sojourn, the house of
their bondage. This argument, which first appeared in the Times
newspaper, and which has attracted a degree of attention
proportioned not so much to its own intrinsic force as to the
general talent with which that journal is conducted, belongs to a
class of sophisms by which the most hateful persecutions may
easily be justified. To charge men with practical consequences
which they themselves deny is disingenuous in controversy; it is
atrocious in government. The doctrine of predestination, in the
opinion of many people, tends to make those who hold it utterly
immoral. And certainly it would seem that a man who believes his
eternal destiny to be already irrevocably fixed is likely to
indulge his passions without restraint and to neglect his
religious duties. If he is an heir of wrath, his exertions must
be unavailing. If he is preordained to life, they must be
superfluous. But would it be wise to punish every man who holds
the higher doctrines of Calvinism, as if he had actually
committed all those crimes which we know some Antinomians to have
committed? Assuredly not. The fact notoriously is that there are
many Calvinists as moral in their conduct as any Arminian, and
many Arminians as loose as any Calvinist.

It is altogether impossible to reason from the opinions which a
man professes to his feelings and his actions; and in fact no
person is ever such a fool as to reason thus, except when he
wants a pretext for persecuting his neighbours. A Christian is
commanded, under the strongest sanctions, to be just in all his
dealings. Yet to how many of the twenty-four millions of
professing Christians in these islands would any man in his
senses lend a thousand pounds without security? A man who should
act, for one day, on the supposition that all the people about
him were influenced by the religion which they professed, would
find himself ruined before night; and no man ever does act on
that supposition in any of the ordinary concerns of life, in
borrowing, in lending, in buying, or in selling. But when any of
our fellow-creatures are to be oppressed, the case is different.
Then we represent those motives which we know to be so feeble for
good as omnipotent for evil. Then we lay to the charge of our
victims all the vices and follies to which their doctrines,
however remotely, seem to tend. We forget that the same weakness,
the same laxity, the same disposition to prefer the present to
the future, which make men worse than a good religion, make them
better than a bad one.

It was in this way that our ancestors reasoned, and that some
people in our time still reason, about the Catholics. A Papist
believes himself bound to obey the Pope. The Pope has issued a
bull deposing Queen Elizabeth. Therefore every Papist will treat
her grace as an usurper. Therefore every Papist is a traitor.
Therefore every Papist ought to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
To this logic we owe some of the most hateful laws that ever
disgraced our history. Surely the answer lies on the surface. The
Church of Rome may have commanded these men to treat the queen as
an usurper. But she has commanded them to do many other things
which they have never done. She enjoins her priests to observe
strict purity. You are always taunting them with their
licentiousness. She commands all her followers to fast often, to
be charitable to the poor, to take no interest for money, to
fight no duels, to see no plays. Do they obey these injunctions?
If it be the fact that very few of them strictly observe her
precepts, when her precepts are opposed to their passions and
interests, may not loyalty, may not humanity, may not the love of
ease, may not the fear of death, be sufficient to prevent them
from executing those wicked orders which the Church of Rome has
issued against the sovereign of England? When we know that many
of these people do not care enough for their religion to go
without beef on a Friday for it, why should we think that they
will run the risk of being racked and hanged for it?

People are now reasoning about the Jews as our fathers reasoned
about the Papists. The law which is inscribed on the walls of the
synagogues prohibits covetousness. But if we were to say that a
Jew mortgagee would not foreclose because God had commanded him
not to covet his neighbour's house, everybody would think us out
of our wits. Yet it passes for an argument to say that a Jew will
take no interest in the prosperity of the country in which he
lives, that he will not care how bad its laws and police may be,
how heavily it may be taxed, how often it may be conquered and
given up to spoil, because God has promised that, by some unknown
means, and at some undetermined time, perhaps ten thousand years
hence, the Jews shall migrate to Palestine. Is not this the most
profound ignorance of human nature? Do we not know that what is
remote and indefinite affects men far less than what is near and
certain? The argument too applies to Christians as strongly as to
Jews. The Christian believes as well as the Jew, that at some
future period the present order of things will come to an end.
Nay, many Christians believe that the Messiah will shortly
establish a kingdom on the earth, and reign visibly over all its
inhabitants. Whether this doctrine be orthodox or not we shall
not here inquire. The number of people who hold it is very much
greater than the number of Jews residing in England. Many of
those who hold it are distinguished by rank, wealth, and ability.
It is preached from pulpits, both of the Scottish and of the
English Church. Noblemen and members of Parliament have written
in defence of it. Now wherein does this doctrine differ, as far
as its political tendency is concerned, from the doctrine of the
Jews? If a Jew is unfit to legislate for us because he believes
that he or his remote descendants will be removed to Palestine,
can we safely open the House of Commons to a fifth-monarchy man,
who expects that before this generation shall pass away, all the
kingdoms of the earth will be swallowed up in one divine empire?

Does a Jew engage less eagerly than a Christian in any
competition which the law leaves open to him? Is he less active
and regular in his business than his neighbours? Does he furnish
his house meanly, because he is a pilgrim and sojourner in the
land? Does the expectation of being restored to the country of
his fathers make him insensible to the fluctuations of the stock-
exchange? Does he, in arranging his private affairs, ever take
into the account the chance of his migrating to Palestine? If
not, why are we to suppose that feelings which never influence
his dealings as a merchant, or his dispositions as a testator,
will acquire a boundless influence over him as soon as he becomes
a magistrate or a legislator? There is another argument which we
would not willingly treat with levity, and which yet we scarcely
know how to treat seriously. Scripture, it is said, is full of
terrible denunciations against the Jews. It is foretold that they
are to be wanderers. Is it then right to give them a home? It is
foretold they are to be oppressed. Can we with propriety suffer
them to be rulers? To admit them to the rights of citizens is
manifestly to insult the Divine oracles.

We allow that to falsify a prophecy inspired by Divine Wisdom
would be a most atrocious crime. It is, therefore, a happy
circumstance for our frail species, that it is a crime which no
man can possibly commit. If we admit the Jews to seats in
Parliament, we shall, by so doing, prove that the prophecies in
question, whatever they may mean, do not mean that the Jews shall
be excluded from Parliament.

In fact it is already clear that the prophecies do not bear the
meaning put upon them by the respectable persons whom we are now
answering. In France and in the United States the Jews are
already admitted to all the rights of citizens. A prophecy,
therefore, which should mean that the Jews would never, during
the course of their wanderings, be admitted to all the rights of
citizens in the places of their sojourn, would be a false
prophecy. This, therefore, is not the meaning of the prophecies
of Scripture.

But we protest altogether against the practice of confounding
prophecy with precept, of setting up predictions which are often
obscure against a morality which is always clear. If actions are
to be considered as just and good merely because they have been
predicted, what action was ever more laudable than that crime
which our bigots are now, at the end of eighteen centuries,
urging us to avenge on the Jews, that crime which made the earth
shake and blotted out the sun from heaven? The same reasoning
which is now employed to vindicate the disabilities imposed on
our Hebrew countrymen will equally vindicate the kiss of Judas
and the judgment of Pilate. "The Son of man goeth, as it is
written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is
betrayed." And woe to those who, in any age, or in any country,
disobey His benevolent commands under pretence of accomplishing
His predictions. If this argument justifies the laws now existing
against the Jews, it justifies equally all the cruelties which
have ever been committed against them, the sweeping edicts of
banishment and confiscation, the dungeon, the rack, and the slow
fire. How can we excuse ourselves for leaving property to people
who are to "serve their enemies in hunger, and in thirst, and in
nakedness, and in want of all things"; for giving protection to
the persons of those who are to "fear day and night, and to have
none assurance of their life"; for not seizing on the children of
a race whose "sons and daughters are to be given unto another

We have not so learned the doctrines of Him who commanded us to
love our neighbour as ourselves, and who, when He was called upon
to explain what He meant by a neighbour, selected as an example a
heretic and an alien. Last year, we remember, it was represented
by a pious writer in the John Bull newspaper, and by some other
equally fervid Christians, as a monstrous indecency, that the
measure for the relief of the Jews should be brought forward in
Passion week. One of these humorists ironically recommended that
it should be read a second time on Good Friday. We should have
had no objection; nor do we believe that the day could be
commemorated in a more worthy manner. We know of no day fitter
for terminating long hostilities, and repairing cruel wrongs,
than the day on which the religion of mercy was founded. We know
of no day fitter for blotting out from the statute-book the last
traces of intolerance than the day on which the spirit of
intolerance produced the foulest of all judicial murders, the day
on which the list of the victims of intolerance, that noble list
wherein Socrates and More are enrolled, was glorified by a yet
greater and holier name.

(April 1839)

The state in its Relations with the church. By W. E. GLADSTONE,
Esq. Student of Christ Church, and M.P. for Newark. 8vo. Second
Edition. London: 1839.

THE author of this volume is a young man of unblemished
character, and of distinguished parliamentary talents, the rising
hope of those stern and unbending Tories who follow, reluctantly
and mutinously, a leader whose experience and eloquence are
indispensable to them, but whose cautious temper and moderate
opinions they abhor. It would not be at all strange if Mr.
Gladstone were one of the most unpopular men in England. But we
believe that we do him no more than justice when we say that his
abilities and his demeanour have obtained for him the respect and
goodwill of all parties. His first appearance in the character of
an author is therefore an interesting event; and it is natural
that the gentle wishes of the public should go with him to his

We are much pleased, without any reference to the soundness or
unsoundness of Mr. Gladstone's theories, to see a grave and
elaborate treatise on an important part of the Philosophy of
Government proceed from the pen of a young man who is rising to
eminence in the House of Commons. There is little danger that
people engaged in the conflicts of active life will be too much
addicted to general speculation. The opposite vice is that which
most easily besets them. The times and tides of business and
debate tarry for no man. A politician must often talk and act
before he has thought and read. He may be very ill informed
respecting a question; all his notions about it may be vague and
inaccurate; but speak he must; and if he is a man of ability, of
tact, and of intrepidity, he soon finds that, even under such
circumstances, it is possible to speak successfully. He finds
that there is a great difference between the effect of written
words, which are perused and reperused in the stillness of the
closet, and the effect of spoken words which, set off by the
graces of utterance and gesture, vibrate for a single moment on
the ear. He finds that he may blunder without much chance of
being detected, that he may reason sophistically, and escape
unrefuted. He finds that, even on knotty questions of trade and
legislation, he can, without reading ten pages, or thinking ten
minutes, draw forth loud plaudits, and sit down with the credit
of having made an excellent speech. Lysias, says Plutarch, wrote
a defence for a man who was to be tried before one of the
Athenian tribunals. Long before the defendant had learned the
speech by heart, he became so much dissatisfied with it that he
went in great distress to the author. "I was delighted with your
speech the first time I read it; but 1 liked it less the second
time, and still less the third time; and now it seems to me to be
no defence at all." "My good friend," says Lysias, "you quite
forget that the judges are to hear it only once." The case is the
same in the English Parliament. It would be as idle in an orator
to waste deep meditation and long research on his speeches, as it
would be in the manager of a theatre to adorn all the crowd of
courtiers and ladies who cross over the stage in a procession
with real pearls and diamonds. It is not by accuracy or
profundity that men become the masters of great assemblies. And
why be at the charge of providing logic of the best quality, when
a very inferior article will be equally acceptable? Why go as
deep into a question as Burke, only in order to be, like Burke,
coughed down, or left speaking to green benches and red boxes?
This has long appeared to us to be the most serious of the evils
which are to be set off against the many blessings of popular
government. It is a fine and true saying of Bacon, that reading
makes a full man, talking a ready man, and writing an exact man.
The tendency of institutions like those of England is to
encourage readiness in public men, at the expense both of fulness
and of exactness. The keenest and most vigorous minds of every
generation, minds often admirably fitted for the investigation of
truth, are habitually employed in producing arguments such as no
man of sense would ever put into a treatise intended for
publication, arguments which are just good enough to be used
once, when aided by fluent delivery and pointed language. The
habit of discussing questions in this way necessarily reacts on
the intellects of our ablest men, particularly of those who are
introduced into Parliament at a very early age, before their
minds have expanded to full maturity. The talent for debate is
developed in such men to a degree which, to the multitude, seems
as marvellous as the performance of an Italian Improvisatore. But
they are fortunate indeed if they retain unimpaired the faculties
which are required for close reasoning or for enlarged
speculation. Indeed we should sooner expect a great original work
on political science, such a work, for example, as the Wealth of
Nations, from an apothecary in a country town, or from a minister
in the Hebrides, than from a statesman who, ever since he was
one-and-twenty, had been a distinguished debater in the House of

We therefore hail with pleasure, though assuredly not with
unmixed pleasure, the appearance of this work. That a young
politician should, in the intervals afforded by his parliamentary
avocations, have constructed and propounded, with much study and
mental toil, an original theory on a great problem in politics,
is a circumstance which, abstracted from all consideration of the
soundness or unsoundness of his opinions, must be considered as
highly creditable to him. We certainly cannot wish that Mr.
Gladstone's doctrines may become fashionable among public men.
But we heartily wish that his laudable desire to penetrate
beneath the surface of questions, and to arrive, by long and
intent meditation, at the knowledge of great general laws, were
much more fashionable than we at all expect it to become.

Mr. Gladstone seems to us to be, in many respects, exceedingly
well qualified for philosophical investigation. His mind is of
large grasp; nor is he deficient in dialectical skill. But he
does not give his intellect fair play. There is no want of light,
but a great want of what Bacon would have called dry light.
Whatever Mr. Gladstone sees is refracted and distorted by a false
medium of passions and prejudices. His style bears a remarkable
analogy to his mode of thinking, and indeed exercises great
influence on his mode of thinking. His rhetoric, though often
good of its kind, darkens and perplexes the logic which it should
illustrate. Half his acuteness and diligence, with a barren
imagination and a scanty vocabulary, would have saved him from
almost all his mistakes. He has one gift most dangerous to a
speculator, a vast command of a kind of language, grave and
majestic, but of vague and uncertain import; of a kind of
language which affects us much in the same way in which the lofty
diction of the Chorus of Clouds affected the simple-hearted

O ge ton phthegmatos os ieron, kai semnon, kai teratodes.

When propositions have been established, and nothing remains but
to amplify and decorate them, this dim magnificence may be in
place. But if it is admitted into a demonstration, it is very
much worse than absolute nonsense; just as that transparent haze,
through which the sailor sees capes and mountains of false sizes
and in false bearings, is more dangerous than utter darkness.
Now, Mr. Gladstone is fond of employing the phraseology of which
we speak in those parts of his works which require the utmost
perspicuity and precision of which human language is capable; and
in this way he deludes first himself, and then his readers. The
foundations of his theory, which ought to be buttresses of
adamant, are made out of the flimsy materials which are fit only
for perorations. This fault is one which no subsequent care or
industry can correct. The more strictly Mr. Gladstone reasons on
his premises, the more absurd are the conclusions which he brings
out; and, when at last his good sense and good nature recoil from
the horrible practical inferences to which this theory leads, he
is reduced sometimes to take refuge in arguments inconsistent
with his fundamental doctrines, and sometimes to escape from the
legitimate consequences of his false principles, under cover of
equally false history.

It would be unjust not to say that this book, though not a good
book, shows more talent than many good books. It abounds with
eloquent and ingenious passages. It bears the signs of much
patient thought. It is written throughout with excellent taste
and excellent temper; nor does it, so far as we have observed,
contain one expression unworthy of a gentleman, a scholar, or a
Christian. But the doctrines which are put forth in it appear to
us, after full and calm consideration, to be false, to be in the
highest degree pernicious, and to be such as, if followed out in
practice to their legitimate consequences, would inevitably
produce the dissolution of society; and for this opinion we shall
proceed to give our reasons with that freedom which the
importance of the subject requires, and which Mr. Gladstone, both
by precept and by example, invites us to use, but, we hope,
without rudeness, and, we are sure, without malevolence.

Before we enter on an examination of this theory, we wish to
guard ourselves against one misconception. It is possible that
some persons who have read Mr. Gladstone's book carelessly, and
others who have merely heard in conversation, or seen in a
newspaper, that the member for Newark has written in defence of
the Church of England against the supporters of the voluntary
system, may imagine that we are writing in defence of the
voluntary system, and that we desire the abolition of the
Established Church. This is not the case. It would be as unjust
to accuse us of attacking the Church, because we attack Mr.
Gladstone's doctrines, as it would be to accuse Locke of wishing
for anarchy, because he refuted Filmer's patriarchal theory of
government, or to accuse Blackstone of recommending the
confiscation of ecclesiastical property, because he denied that
the right of the rector to tithe was derived from the Levitical
law. It is to be observed, that Mr. Gladstone rests his case on
entirely new grounds, and does not differ more widely from us
than from some of those who have hitherto been considered as the
most illustrious champions of the Church. He is not content with
the Ecclesiastical Polity, and rejoices that the latter part of
that celebrated work "does not carry with it the weight of
Hooker's plenary authority." He is not content with Bishop
Warburton's Alliance of Church and State. "The propositions of
that work generally," he says, "are to be received with
qualification"; and he agrees with Bolingbroke in thinking that
Warburton's whole theory rests on a fiction. He is still less
satisfied with Paley's defence of the Church, which he pronounces
to be "tainted by the original vice of false ethical principles,
and full of the seeds of evil." He conceives that Dr. Chalmers
has taken a partial view of the subject, and "put forth much
questionable matter." In truth, on almost every point on which we
are opposed to Mr. Gladstone, we have on our side the authority
of some divine, eminent as a defender of existing establishments.

Mr. Gladstone's whole theory rests on this great fundamental
proposition, that the propagation of religious truth is one of
the principal ends of government, as government. If Mr. Gladstone
has not proved this proposition, his system vanishes at once.

We are desirous, before we enter on the discussion of this
important question, to point out clearly a distinction which,
though very obvious, seems to be overlooked by many excellent
people. In their opinion, to say that the ends of government are
temporal and not spiritual is tantamount to saying that the
temporal welfare of man is of more importance than his spiritual
welfare. But this is an entire mistake. The question is not
whether spiritual interests be or be not superior in importance
to temporal interests; but whether the machinery which happens at
any moment to be employed for the purpose of protecting certain
temporal interests of a society be necessarily such a machinery
as is fitted to promote the spiritual interests of that society.
Without a division of labour the world could not go on. It is of
very much more importance that men should have food than that
they should have pianofortes. Yet it by no means follows that
every pianoforte maker ought to add the business of a baker to
his own; for, if he did so, we should have both much worse music
and much worse bread. It is of much more importance that the
knowledge of religious truth should be wisely diffused than that
the art of sculpture should flourish among us. Yet it by no means
follows that the Royal Academy ought to unite with its present
functions those of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
to distribute theological tracts, to send forth missionaries, to
turn out Nollekens for being a Catholic, Bacon for being a
Methodist, and Flaxman for being a Swedenborgian. For the effect
of such folly would be that we should have the worst possible
Academy of Arts, and the worst possible Society for the Promotion
of Christian Knowledge. The community, it is plain, would be
thrown into universal confusion, if it were supposed to be the
duty of every association which is formed for one good object to
promote every other good object.

As to some of the ends of civil government, all people are
agreed. That it is designed to protect our persons and our
property; that it is designed to compel us to satisfy our wants,
not by rapine, but by industry; that it is designed to compel us
to decide our differences, not by the strong hand, but by
arbitration; that it is designed to direct our whole force, as
that of one man, against any other society which may offer us
injury; these are propositions which will hardly be disputed.

Now these are matters in which man, without any reference to any
higher being, or to any future state, is very deeply interested.
Every human being, be he idolater, Mahometan, Jew, Papist,
Socinian, Deist, or Atheist, naturally loves life, shrinks from
pain, desires comforts which can be enjoyed only in communities
where property is secure. To be murdered, to be tortured, to be
robbed, to be sold into slavery, these are evidently evils from
which men of every religion, and men of no religion, wish to be
protected; and therefore it will hardly be disputed that men of
every religion, and of no religion, have thus far a common
interest in being well governed.

But the hopes and fears of man are not limited to this short life
and to this visible world. He finds himself surrounded by the
signs of a power and wisdom higher than his own; and, in all ages
and nations, men of all orders of intellect, from Bacon and
Newton, down to the rudest tribes of cannibals, have believed in
the existence of some superior mind. Thus far the voice of
mankind is almost unanimous. But whether there be one God, or
many, what may be God's natural and what His moral attributes, in
what relation His creatures stand to Him, whether He have ever
disclosed Himself to us by any other revelation than that which
is written in all the parts of the glorious and well-ordered
world which He has made, whether His revelation be contained in
any permanent record, how that record should be interpreted, and
whether it have pleased Him to appoint any unerring interpreter
on earth, these are questions respecting which there exists the
widest diversity of opinion, and respecting some of which a large
part of our race has, ever since the dawn of regular history,
been deplorably in error.

Now here are two great objects: one is the protection of the
persons and estates of citizens from injury; the other is the
propagation of religious truth. No two objects more entirely
distinct can well be imagined.

The former belongs wholly to the visible and tangible world in
which we live; the latter belongs to that higher world which is
beyond the reach of our senses. The former belongs to this life;
the latter to that which is to come. Men who are perfectly agreed
as to the importance of the former object, and as to the way of
obtaining it, differ as widely as possible respecting the latter
object. We must, therefore, pause before we admit that the
persons, be they who they may, who are intrusted with power for
the promotion of the former object, ought always to use that
power for the promotion of the latter object.

Mr. Gladstone conceives that the duties of governments are
paternal; a doctrine which we shall not believe till he can show
us some government which loves its subjects as a father loves a
child, and which is as superior in intelligence to its subjects
as a father is to a child. He tells us in lofty though somewhat
indistinct language, that "Government occupies in moral the
place of to pan in physical science." If government be indeed to
pan in moral science, we do not understand why rulers should not
assume all the functions which Plato assigned to them. Why should
they not take away the child from the mother, select the nurse,
regulate the school, overlook the playground, fix the hours of
labour and of recreation, prescribe what ballads shall be sung,
what tunes shall be played, what books shall be read, what physic
shall be swallowed? Why should not they choose our wives, limit
our expenses, and stint us to a certain number of dishes of meat,
of glasses of wine, and of cups of tea? Plato, whose hardihood in
speculation was perhaps more wonderful than any other peculiarity
of his extraordinary mind, and who shrank from nothing to which
his principles led, went this whole length. Mr. Gladstone is not
so intrepid. He contents himself with laying down this
proposition, that whatever be the body which in any community is
employed to protect the persons and property of men, that body
ought also, in its corporate capacity, to profess a religion, to
employ its power for the propagation of that religion, and to
require conformity to that religion, as an indispensable
qualification for all civil office. He distinctly declares that
he does not in this proposition confine his view to orthodox
governments or even to Christian governments. The circumstance
that a religion is false does not, he tells us, diminish the
obligation of governors, as such, to uphold it. If they neglect
to do so, "we cannot," he says, "but regard the fact as
aggravating the case of the holders of such creed." "I do not
scruple to affirm," he adds, "that if a Mahometan conscientiously
believes his religion to come from God, and to teach divine
truth, he must believe that truth to be beneficial, and
beneficial beyond all other things to the soul of man; and he
must therefore, and ought to desire its extension, and to use for
its extension all proper and legitimate means; and that, if such
Mahometan be a prince, he ought to count among those means the
application of whatever influence or funds he may lawfully have
at his disposal for such purposes."

Surely this is a hard saying. Before we admit that the Emperor
Julian, in employing the influence and the funds at his disposal
for the extinction of Christianity, was doing no more than his
duty, before we admit that the Arian Theodoric would have
committed a crime if he had suffered a single believer in the
divinity of Christ to hold any civil employment in Italy, before
we admit that the Dutch Government is bound to exclude from
office all members of the Church of England, the King of Bavaria
to exclude from office all Protestants, the Great Turk to exclude
from office all Christians, the King of Ava to exclude from
office all who hold the unity of God, we think ourselves entitled
to demand very full and accurate demonstration. When the
consequences of a doctrine are so startling, we may well require
that its foundations shall be very solid.

The following paragraph is a specimen of the arguments by which
Mr. Gladstone has, as he conceives, established his great
fundamental proposition:

We may state the same proposition in a more general form, in
which it surely must command universal assent. Wherever there is
power in the universe, that power is the property of God, the
King of that universe--his property of right, however for a time
withholden or abused. Now this property is, as it were, realised,
is used according to the will of the owner, when it is used for
the purposes he has ordained, and in the temper of mercy,
justice, truth, and faith which he has taught us. But those
principles never can be truly, never can be permanently
entertained in the human breast, except by a continual reference
to their source, and the supply of the Divine grace. The powers,
therefore, that dwell in individuals acting as a government as
well as those that dwell in individuals acting for themselves,
can only he secured for right uses by applying to them a

Here are propositions of vast and indefinite extent, conveyed in
language which has a certain obscure dignity and sagacity,
attractive, we doubt not, to many minds. But the moment that we
examine these propositions closely, the moment that we bring them
to the test by running over but a very few of the particulars
which are included in them, we find them to be false and
extravagant. The doctrine which "must surely command universal
assent" is this, that every association of human beings which
exercises any power whatever, that is to say, every association
of human beings, is bound, as such association, to profess a
religion. Imagine the effect which would follow if this principle
were really in force during four-and-twenty hours. Take one
instance out of a million. A stage-coach company has power over
its horses. This power is the property of God. It is used
according to the will of God when it is used with mercy. But the
principle of mercy can never be truly or permanently entertained
in the human breast without continual reference to God. The
powers, therefore, that dwell in individuals, acting as a stage-
coach company, can only be secured for right uses by applying to
them a religion. Every stage coach company ought, therefore, in
its collective capacity, to profess some one faith, to have its
articles, and its public worship, and its tests. That this
conclusion, and an infinite number of other conclusions equally
strange, follow of necessity from Mr. Gladstone's principle, is
as certain as it is that two and two make four. And, if the
legitimate conclusions be so absurd, there must be something
unsound in the principle.

We will quote another passage of the same sort:

"Why, then, we now come to ask, should the governing body in a
state profess a religion? First, because it is composed of
individual men; and they, being appointed to act in a definite
moral capacity, must sanctify their acts done in that capacity by
the offices of religion; inasmuch as the acts cannot otherwise be
acceptable to God, or anything but sinful and punishable in
themselves. And whenever we turn our face away from God in our
conduct, we are living atheistically. . . . In fulfilment, then,
of his obligations as an individual, the statesman must be a
worshipping man. But his acts are public--the powers and
instruments with which he works are public--acting under and by
the authority of the law, he moves at his word ten thousand
subject arms; and because such energies are thus essentially
public, and wholly out of the range of mere individual agency,
they must be sanctified not only by the private personal prayers
and piety of those who fill public situations, but also by public
acts of the men composing the public body. They must offer prayer
and praise in their public and collective character--in that
character wherein they constitute the organ of the nation, and
wield its collective force. Wherever there is a reasoning agency
there is a moral duty and responsibility involved in it. The
governors are reasoning agents for the nation, in their conjoint
acts as such. And therefore there must be attached to this
agency, as that without which none of our responsibilities can be
met, a religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience
of the governor, or none."

Here again we find propositions of vast sweep, and of sound so
orthodox and solemn that many good people, we doubt not, have
been greatly edified by it. But let us examine the words closely;
and it will immediately become plain that, if these principles be
once admitted, there is an end of all society. No combination can
be formed for any purpose of mutual help, for trade, for public
works, for the relief of the sick or the poor, for the promotion
of art or science, unless the members of the combination agree in
their theological opinions. Take any such combination at random,
the London and Birmingham Railway Company for example, and
observe to what consequences Mr. Gladstone's arguments inevitably
lead. Why should the Directors of the Railway Company, in their
collective capacity, profess a religion? First, because the
direction is composed of individual men appointed to act in a
definite moral capacity, bound to look carefully to the property,
the limbs, and the lives of their fellow-creatures, bound to act
diligently for their constituents, bound to govern their servants
with humanity and justice, bound to fulfil with fidelity many
important contracts. They must, therefore, sanctify their acts by
the offices of religion, or these acts will be sinful and
punishable in themselves. In fulfilment, then, of his obligations
as an individual, the Director of the London and Birmingham
Railway Company must be a worshipping man, But his acts are
public. He acts for a body. He moves at his word ten thousand
subject arms. And because these energies are out of the range of
his mere individual agency, they must be sanctified by public
acts of devotion. The Railway Directors must offer prayer and
praise in their public and collective character, in that
character wherewith they constitute the organ of the Company, and
wield its collective power. Wherever there is reasoning agency,
there is moral responsibility. The Directors are reasoning agents
for the Company, and therefore there must be attached to this
as that without which none of our responsibilities can be met, a
religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience of the
Director himself, or none. There must be public worship and a
test. No Jew, no Socinian, no Presbyterian, no Catholic, no
Quaker, must, be permitted to be the organ of the Company, and to
wield its collected force." Would Mr. Gladstone really defend
this proposition? We are sure that he would not; but we are sure
that to this proposition, and to innumerable similar
propositions, his reasoning inevitably leads.


"National will and agency are indisputably one, binding either a
dissentient minority or the subject body, in a manner that
nothing but the recognition of the doctrine of national
personality can justify. National honour and good faith are words
in every one's mouth. How do they less imply a personality in
nations than the duty towards God, for which we now contend? They
are strictly and essentially distinct from the honour and good
faith of the individuals composing the nation. France is a person
to us, and we to her. A wilful injury done to her is a moral act,
and a moral act quite distinct from the acts of all the
individuals composing the nation. Upon broad facts like these we
may rest, without resorting to the more technical proof which the
laws afford in their manner of dealing with corporations. If,
then, a nation have unity of will, have pervading sympathies,
have capability of reward and suffering contingent upon its acts,
shall we deny its responsibility; its need of a religion to meet
that responsibility? . . A nation, then, having a personality,
lies under the obligation, like the individuals composing its
governing body, of sanctifying the acts of that personality by
the offices of religion, and thus we have a new and imperative
ground for the existence of a state religion."

A new ground we have here, certainly, but whether very imperative
may be doubted. Is it not perfectly clear, that this argument
applies with exactly as much force to every combination of human
beings for a common purpose, as to governments? Is there any such
combination in the world, whether technically a corporation or
not, which has not this collective personality, from which Mr.
Gladstone deduces such extraordinary consequences? Look at banks,
insurance offices, dock companies, canal companies, gas
companies, hospitals, dispensaries, associations for the relief
of the poor, associations for apprehending malefactors,
associations of medical pupils for procuring subjects,
associations of country gentlemen for keeping fox-hounds, book
societies, benefit societies, clubs of all ranks, from those
which have lined Pall-Mall and St. James's Street with their
palaces, down to the Free-and-easy which meets in the shabby
parlour of a village inn. Is there a single one of these
combinations to which Mr. Gladstone's argument will not apply as
well as to the State? In all these combinations, in the Bank of
England, for example, or in the Athenaeum club, the will and
agency of the society are one, and bind the dissentient minority.
The Bank and the Athenaeum have a good faith and a justice
different from the good faith and justice of the individual
members. The Bank is a person to those who deposit bullion with
it. The Athenaeum is a person to the butcher and the wine-
merchant. If the Athenaeum keeps money at the Bank, the two
societies are as much persons to each other as England and
France. Either society may pay its debts honestly; either may try
to defraud its creditors; either may increase in prosperity;
either may fall into difficulties. If, then, they have this unity
of will; if they are capable of doing and suffering good and
evil, can we to use Mr. Gladstone's words, "deny their
responsibility, or their need of a religion to meet that
responsibility?" Joint-stock banks, therefore, and clubs,
a personality, lie under the necessity of sanctifying that
personality by the offices of religion;" and thus we have "a new
and imperative ground" for requiring all the directors and clerks
of joint-stock banks, and all the members of clubs, to qualify by
taking the sacrament.

The truth is, that Mr. Gladstone has fallen into an error very
common among men of less talents than his own. It is not unusual
for a person who is eager to prove a particular proposition to
assume a major of huge extent, which includes that particular
proposition, without ever reflecting that it includes a great
deal more. The fatal facility with which Mr. Gladstone multiplies
expressions stately and sonorous, but of indeterminate meaning,
eminently qualifies him to practise this sleight on himself and
on his readers. He lays down broad general doctrines about power,
when the only power of which he is thinking is the power of
governments, and about conjoint action when the only conjoint
action of which he is thinking is the conjoint action of citizens
in a state. He first resolves on his conclusion. He then makes a
major of most comprehensive dimensions, and having satisfied
himself that it contains his conclusion, never troubles himself
about what else it may contain: and as soon as we examine it we
find that it contains an infinite number of conclusions, every
one of which is a monstrous absurdity.

It is perfectly true that it would be a very good thing if all
the members of all the associations in the world were men of
sound religious views. We have no doubt that a good Christian
will be under the guidance of Christian principles, in his
conduct as director of a canal company or steward of a charity
dinner. If he were, to recur to a case which we have before put,
a member of a stage-coach company, he would, in that capacity,
remember that "a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast."
But it does not follow that every association of men must,
therefore, as such association, profess a religion. It is evident
that many great and useful objects can be attained in this world
only by co-operation. It is equally evident that there cannot be
efficient co-operation, if men proceed on the principle that they
must not co-operate for one object unless they agree about other
objects. Nothing seems to us more beautiful or admirable in our
social system than the facility with which thousands of people,
who perhaps agree only on a single point, can combine their
energies for the purpose of carrying that single point. We see
daily instances of this. Two men, one of them obstinately
prejudiced against missions, the other president of a missionary
society, sit together at the board of a hospital, and heartily
concur in measures for the health and comfort of the patients.
Two men, one of whom is a zealous supporter and the other a
zealous opponent of the system pursued in Lancaster's schools,
meet at the Mendicity Society, and act together with the utmost
cordiality. The general rule we take to be undoubtedly this, that
it is lawful and expedient for men to unite in an association for
the promotion of a good object, though they may differ with
respect to other objects of still higher importance.

It will hardly be denied that the security of the persons and
property of men is a good object, and that the best way, indeed
the only way, of promoting that object, is to combine men
together in certain great corporations which are called States.
These corporations are very variously, and, for the most part
very imperfectly organised. Many of them abound with frightful
abuses. But it seems reasonable to believe that the worst that
ever existed was, on the whole, preferable to complete anarchy.

Now, reasoning from analogy, we should say that these great
corporations would, like all other associations, be likely to
attain their end most perfectly if that end were kept singly in
view: and that to refuse the services of those who are admirably
qualified to promote that end, because they are not also
qualified to promote some other end, however excellent, seems at
first sight as unreasonable as it would be to provide that nobody
who was not a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries should be a
governor of the Eye Infirmary; or that nobody who was not a
member of the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews
should be a trustee of the Literary Fund.

It is impossible to name any collection of human beings to which
Mr. Gladstone's reasonings would apply more strongly than to an
army. Where shall we find more complete unity of action than in
an army? Where else do so many human beings implicitly obey one
ruling mind? What other mass is there which moves so much like
one man? Where is such tremendous power intrusted to those who
command? Where is so awful a responsibility laid upon them? If
Mr. Gladstone has made out, as he conceives, an imperative
necessity for a State Religion, much more has he made it out to
be imperatively necessary that every army should, in its
collective capacity, profess a religion. Is he prepared to adopt
this consequence?

On the morning of the thirteenth of August, in the year 1704, two
great captains, equal in authority, united by close private and
public ties, but of different creeds, prepared for a battle, on
the event of which were staked the liberties of Europe.
Marlborough had passed a part of the night in prayer, and before
daybreak received the sacrament according to the rites of the
Church of England. He then hastened to join Eugene, who had
probably just confessed himself to a Popish priest. The generals
consulted together, formed their plan in concert, and repaired
each to his own post. Marlborough gave orders for public prayers.
The English chaplains read the service at the head of the English
regiments. The Calvinistic chaplains of the Dutch army, with
heads on which hand of Bishop had never been laid, poured forth
their supplications in front of their countrymen. In the
meantime, the Danes might listen to their Lutheran ministers and
Capuchins might encourage the Austrian squadrons, and pray to the
Virgin for a blessing on the arms of the Holy Roman Empire. The
battle commences. These men of various religions all act like
members of one body. The Catholic and the Protestant general
exert themselves to assist and to surpass each other. Before
sunset the Empire is saved: France has lost in a day the fruits
of eighty years of intrigue and of victory: and the allies, after
conquering together, return thanks to God separately, each after
his own form of worship. Now, is this practical atheism? Would
any man in his senses say that, because the allied army had unity
of action and a common interest, and because a heavy
responsibility lay on its Chiefs, it was therefore imperatively
necessary that the Army should, as an Army, have one established
religion, that Eugene should be deprived of his command for being
a Catholic, that all the Dutch and Austrian colonels should be
broken for not subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles? Certainly
not. The most ignorant grenadier on the field of battle would
have seen the absurdity of such a proposition. "I know," he would
have said, "that the Prince of Savoy goes to mass, and that our
Corporal John cannot abide it; but what has the mass to do with
the taking of the village of Blenheim? The Prince wants to beat
the French, and so does Corporal John. If we stand by each other
we shall most likely beat them. If we send all the Papists and
Dutch away, Tallard will have every man of us." Mr. Gladstone
himself, we imagine, would admit that our honest grenadier would
have the best of the argument; and if so, what follows? Even
this; that all Mr. Gladstone's general principles about power,
and responsibility, and personality, and conjoint action, must be
given up, and that, if his theory is to stand at all, it must
stand on some other foundation.

We have now, we conceive, shown that it may be proper to form men
into combinations for important purposes, which combinations
shall have unity and common interests, and shall be under the
direction of rulers intrusted with great power and lying under
solemn responsibility, and yet that it may be highly improper
that these combinations should, as such, profess any one system
of religious belief, or perform any joint act of religious
worship. How, then, is it proved that this may not be the case
with some of those great combinations which we call States? We
firmly believe that it is the case with some States. We firmly
believe that there are communities in which it would be as absurd
to mix up theology with government, as it would have been in the
right wing of the allied army at Blenheim to commence a
controversy with the left wing, in the middle of the battle,
about purgatory and the worship of images.

It is the duty, Mr. Gladstone tells us, of the persons, be they
who they may, who hold supreme power in the State, to employ that
power in order to promote whatever they may deem to be
theological truth. Now, surely, before he can call on us to admit
this proposition, he is bound to prove that those persons are
likely to do more good than harm by so employing their power. The
first question is, whether a government, proposing to itself the
propagation of religious truth as one of its principal ends, is
more likely to lead the people right than to lead them wrong? Mr.
Gladstone evades this question; and perhaps it was his wisest
course to do so.

"If," says he, "the government be good, let it have its natural
duties and powers at its command; but, if not good, let it be
made so. . . . We follow, therefore, the true course in looking
first for the true idea, or abstract conception of a government,
of course with allowance for the evil and frailty that are in
man, and then in examining whether there be comprised in that
idea a capacity and consequent duty on the part of a government
to lay down any laws or devote any means for the purposes of
religion,--in short, to exercise a choice upon religion."

Of course, Mr. Gladstone has a perfect right to argue any
abstract question, provided that he will constantly bear in mind
that it is only an abstract question that he is arguing. Whether
a perfect government would or would not be a good machinery for
the propagation of religious truth is certainly a harmless, and
may, for aught we know, be an edifying subject of inquiry. But it
is very important that we should remember that there is not, and
never has been, any such government in the world. There is no
harm at all in inquiring what course a stone thrown into the air
would take, if the law of gravitation did not operate. But the
consequences would be unpleasant, if the inquirer, as soon as he
had finished his calculation, were to begin to throw stones about
in all directions, without considering that his conclusion rests
on a false hypothesis, and that his projectiles, instead of
flying away through infinite space, will speedily return in
parabolas, and break the windows and heads of his neighbours.

It is very easy to say that governments are good, or if not good,
ought to be made so. But what is meant by good government? And
how are all the bad governments in the world to be made good? And
of what value is a theory which is true only on a supposition in
the highest degree extravagant?

We do not, however, admit that, if a government were, for all its
temporal ends, as perfect as human frailty allows, such a
government would, therefore, be necessarily qualified to
propagate true religion. For we see that the fitness of
governments to propagate true religion is by no means
proportioned to their fitness for the temporal end of their
institution. Looking at individuals, we see that the princes
under whose rule nations have been most ably protected from
foreign and domestic disturbance, and have made the most rapid
advances in civilisation, have been by no means good teachers of
divinity. Take for example, the best French sovereign, Henry the
Fourth, a king who restored order, terminated a terrible civil
war, brought the finances into an excellent condition, made his
country respected throughout Europe, and endeared himself to the
great body of the people whom he ruled. Yet this man was twice a
Huguenot and twice a Papist. He was, as Davila hints, strongly
suspected of having no religion at all in theory, and was
certainly not much under religious restraints in his practice.
Take the Czar Peter, the Empress Catharine, Frederick the Great.
It will surely not be disputed that these sovereigns, with all
their faults, were, if we consider them with reference merely to
the temporal ends of government, above the average of merit.
Considered as theological guides, Mr. Gladstone would probably
put them below the most abject drivellers of the Spanish branch
of the House of Bourbon. Again, when we pass from individuals to
systems, we by no means find that the aptitude of governments for
propagating religious truth is proportioned to their aptitude for
secular functions. Without being blind admirers either of the
French or of the American institutions, we think it clear that
the persons and property of citizens are better protected in
France and in New England than in almost any society that now
exists, or that has ever existed; very much better, certainly,
than in the Roman Empire under the orthodox rule of Constantine
and Theodosius. But neither the Government of France, nor that of
New England, is so organised as to be fit for the propagation of
theological doctrines. Nor do we think it improbable that the
most serious religious errors might prevail in a state which,
considered merely with reference to temporal objects, might
approach far nearer than any that has ever been known to the idea
of what a state should be.

But we shall leave this abstract question, and look at the world
as we find it. Does, then, the way in which governments generally
obtain their power make it at all probable that they will be more
favourable to orthodoxy than to heterodoxy? A nation of
barbarians pours down on a rich and unwarlike empire, enslaves
the people, portions out the land, and blends the institutions
which it finds in the cities with those which it has brought from
the woods. A handful of daring adventurers from a civilised
nation wander to some savage country, and reduce the aboriginal
race to bondage. A successful general turns his arms against the
State which he serves. A society made brutal by oppression, rises
madly on its masters, sweeps away all old laws and usages, and
when its first paroxysm of rage is over, sinks down passively
under any form of polity which may spring out of the chaos. A
chief of a party, as at Florence, becomes imperceptibly a
sovereign, and the founder of a dynasty. A captain of
mercenaries, as at Milan, seizes on a city, and by the sword
makes himself its ruler. An elective senate, as at Venice, usurps
permanent and hereditary power. It is in events such as these
that governments have generally originated; and we can see
nothing in such events to warrant us in believing that the
governments thus called into existence will be peculiarly well
fitted to distinguish between religious truth and heresy.

When, again, we look at the constitutions of governments which
have become settled, we find no great security for the orthodoxy
of rulers. One magistrate holds power because his name was drawn
out of a purse; another, because his father held it before him.
There are representative systems of all sorts, large constituent
bodies, small constituent bodies, universal suffrage, high
pecuniary qualifications. We see that, for the temporal ends of
government, some of these constitutions are very skilfully
constructed, and that the very worst of them is preferable to
anarchy. We see some sort of connection between the very worst of
them and the temporal well-being of society. But it passes our
understanding to comprehend what connection any one of them has
with theological truth.

And how stands the fact? Have not almost all the governments in
the world always been in the wrong on religious subjects? Mr.
Gladstone, we imagine, would say that, except in the time of
Constantine, of Jovian, and of a very few of their successors,
and occasionally in England since the Reformation, no government
has ever been sincerely friendly to the pure and apostolical
Church of Christ. If, therefore, it be true that every ruler is
bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of his
own religion, it will follow that, for one ruler who has been
bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of
truth, a thousand have been bound in conscience to use their
power for the propagation of falsehood. Surely this is a
conclusion from which common sense recoils. Surely, if experience
shows that a certain machine, when used to produce a certain
effect, does not produce that effect once in a thousand times,
but produces, in the vast majority of cases, an effect directly
contrary, we cannot be wrong in saying that it is not a machine
of which the principal end is to be so used.

If, indeed, the magistrate would content himself with laying his
opinions and reasons before the people, and would leave the
people, uncorrupted by hope or fear, to judge for themselves, we
should see little reason to apprehend that his interference in
favour of error would be seriously prejudicial to the interests
of truth. Nor do we, as will hereafter be seen, object to his
taking this course, when it is compatible with the efficient
discharge of his more especial duties. But this will not satisfy
Mr. Gladstone. He would have the magistrate resort to means which
have a great tendency to make malcontents, to make hypocrites, to
make careless nominal conformists, but no tendency whatever to
produce honest and rational conviction. It seems to us quite
clear that an inquirer who has no wish except to know the truth
is more likely to arrive at the truth than an inquirer who knows
that, if he decides one way, he shall be rewarded, and that, if
he decides the other way, he shall be punished. Now, Mr.
Gladstone would have governments propagate their opinions by
excluding all Dissenters from all civil offices. That is to say,
he would have governments propagate their opinions by a process
which has no reference whatever to the truth or falsehood of
those opinions, by arbitrarily uniting certain worldly advantages
with one set of doctrines, and certain worldly inconveniences
with another set. It is of the very nature of argument to serve
the interests of truth; but if rewards and punishments serve the
interests of truth, it is by mere accident. It is very much
easier to find arguments for the divine authority of the Gospel
than for the divine authority of the Koran. But it is just as
easy to bribe or rack a Jew into Mahometanism as into

From racks, indeed, and from all penalties directed against the
persons, the property, and the liberty of heretics, the humane
spirit of Mr. Gladstone shrinks with horror. He only maintains
that conformity to the religion of the State ought to be an
indispensable qualification for office; and he would, unless we
have greatly misunderstood him, think it his duty, if he had the
power, to revive the Test Act, to enforce it rigorously, and to
extend it to important classes who were formerly exempt from its

This is indeed a legitimate consequence of his principles. But
why stop here? Why not roast Dissenters at slow fires? All the
general reasonings on which this theory rests evidently lead to
sanguinary persecution. If the propagation of religious truth be
a principal end of government, as government; if it be the duty
of a government to employ for that end its constitutional Power;
if the constitutional power of governments extends, as
it most unquestionably does, to the making of laws for the
burning of heretics; if burning be, as it most assuredly is, in
many cases, a most effectual mode of suppressing opinions; why
should we not burn? If the relation in which government ought to
stand to the people be, as Mr. Gladstone tells us, a paternal
relation, we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that
persecution is justifiable. For the right of propagating opinions
by punishment is one which belongs to parents as clearly as the
right to give instruction. A boy is compelled to attend family
worship: he is forbidden to read irreligious books: if he will
not learn his catechism, he is sent to bed without his supper: if
he plays truant at church-time a task is set him. If he should
display the precocity of his talents by expressing impious
opinions before his brothers and sisters, we should not much
blame his father for cutting short the controversy with a horse-
whip. All the reasons which lead us to think that parents are
peculiarly fitted to conduct the education of their children, and
that education is the principal end of a parental relation, lead
us also to think that parents ought to be allowed to use
punishment, if necessary, for the purpose of forcing children,
who are incapable of judging for themselves, to receive religious
instruction and to attend religious worship. Why, then, is this
prerogative of punishment, so eminently paternal, to be withheld
from a paternal government? It seems to us, also, to be the
height of absurdity to employ civil disabilities for the
propagation of an opinion, and then to shrink from employing
other punishments for the same purpose. For nothing can be
clearer than that, if you punish at all, you ought to punish
enough. The pain caused by punishment is pure unmixed evil, and
never ought to be inflicted, except for the sake of some good. It
is mere foolish cruelty to provide penalties which torment the
criminal without preventing the crime. Now it is possible, by
sanguinary persecution unrelentingly inflicted, to suppress
opinions. In this way the Albigenses were put down. In this way
the Lollards were put down. In this way the fair promise of the
Reformation was blighted in Italy and Spain. But we may safely
defy Mr. Gladstone to point out a single instance in which the
system which he recommends has succeeded.

And why should he be so tender-hearted? What reason can he give
for hanging a murderer, and suffering a heresiarch to escape
without even a pecuniary mulct? Is the heresiarch a less
pernicious member of society than the murderer? Is not the loss
of one soul a greater evil than the extinction of many lives? And
the number of murders committed by the most profligate bravo that
ever let out his poniard to hire in Italy, or by the most savage
buccaneer that ever prowled on the Windward Station, is small
indeed, when compared with the number of souls which have been
caught in the snares of one dexterous heresiarch. If, then, the
heresiarch causes infinitely greater evils than the murderer, why
is he not as proper an object of penal legislation as the
murderer? We can give a reason, a reason, short, simple,
decisive, and consistent. We do not extenuate the evil which the
heresiarch produces; but we say that it is not evil of that sort
the sort against which it is the end of government to guard. But
how Mr. Gladstone, who considers the evil which the heresiarch
produces as evil of the sort against which it is the end of
government to guard, can escape from the obvious consequence of
his doctrine, we do not understand. The world is full of parallel
cases. An orange-woman stops up the pavement with her
wheelbarrow; and a policeman takes her into custody. A miser who
has amassed a million suffers an old friend and benefactor to die
in a workhouse, and cannot be questioned before any tribunal for
his baseness and ingratitude. Is this because legislators think
the orange-woman's conduct worse than the miser's? Not at all. It
is because the stopping up of the pathway is one of the evils
against which it is the business of the public authorities to
protect society, and heartlessness is not one of those evils. It
would be the height of folly to say that the miser ought, indeed,
to be punished, but that he ought to be punished less severely
than the orange-woman.

The heretical Constantius persecutes Athanasius; and why not?
Shall Caesar punish the robber who has taken one purse, and spare
the wretch who has taught millions to rob the Creator of His
honour, and to bestow it on the creature? The orthodox Theodosius
persecutes the Arians, and with equal reason. Shall an insult
offered to the Caesarean majesty be expiated by death; and shall
there be no penalty for him who degrades to the rank of a
creature the almighty, the infinite Creator? We have a short
answer for both: "To Caesar the things which are Caesar's. Caesar
is appointed for the punishment of robbers and rebels. He is not
appointed for the purpose of either propagating or exterminating
the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son."
"Not so," says Mr. Gladstone, "Caesar is bound in conscience to
propagate whatever he thinks to be the truth as to this question.
Constantius is bound to establish the Arian worship throughout
the empire, and to displace the bravest captains of his legions,
and the ablest ministers of his treasury, if they hold the Nicene
faith. Theodosius is equally bound to turn out every public
servant whom his Arian predecessors have put in. But if
Constantius lays on Athanasius a fine of a single aureus, if
Theodosius imprisons an Arian presbyter for a week, this is most
unjustifiable oppression." Our readers will be curious to know
how this distinction is made out.

The reasons which Mr. Gladstone gives against persecution
affecting life, limb, and property, may be divided into two
classes; first, reasons which can be called reasons only by
extreme courtesy, and which nothing but the most deplorable
necessity would ever have induced a man of his abilities to use;
and, secondly, reasons which are really reasons, and which have
so much force that they not only completely prove his exception,
but completely upset his general rule. His artillery on this
occasion is composed of two sorts of pieces, pieces which will
not go off at all, and pieces which go off with a vengeance, and
recoil with most crushing effect upon himself.

"We, as fallible creatures," says Mr. Gladstone, "have no right,
from any bare speculations of our own to administer pains and
penalties to our fellow-creatures, whether on social or religious
grounds. We have the right to enforce the laws of the land by
such pains and penalties, because it is expressly given by Him
who has declared that the civil rulers are to bear the sword for
the punishment of evil-doers, and for the encouragement of them
that do well. And so, in things spiritual, had it pleased God to
give to the Church or the State this power, to be permanently
exercised over their members, or mankind at large, we should have
the right to use it; but it does not appear to have been so
received, and consequently, it should not be exercised."

We should be sorry to think that the security of our lives and
property from persecution rested on no better ground than this.
Is not a teacher of heresy an evil-doer? Has not heresy been
condemned in many countries, and in our own among them, by the
laws of the land, which, as Mr. Gladstone says, it is justifiable
to enforce by penal sanctions? If a heretic is not specially
mentioned in the text to which Mr. Gladstone refers, neither is
an assassin, a kidnapper, or a highwayman: and if the silence of
the New Testament as to all interference of governments to stop
the progress of heresy be a reason for not fining or imprisoning
heretics, it is surely just as good a reason for not excluding
them from office.

"God," says Mr. Gladstone, "has seen fit to authorize the
employment of force in the one case and not in the other; for it
was with regard to chastisement inflicted by the sword for an
insult offered to himself that the Redeemer declared his kingdom
not to be of this world:-- meaning, apparently in an especial
manner, that it should be otherwise than after this world's
fashion, in respect to the sanctions by which its laws should be

Now here Mr. Gladstone, quoting from memory, has fallen into an
error. The very remarkable words which he cites do not appear to
have had any reference to the wound inflicted by Peter on
Malchus. They were addressed to Pilate, in answer to the
question, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" We can not help saying
that we are surprised that Mr. Gladstone should not have more
accurately verified a quotation on which, according to him,
principally depends the right of a hundred millions of his
fellow-subjects, idolaters, Mussulmans, Catholics, and
dissenters, to their property, their liberty, and their lives.

Mr. Gladstone's humane interpretations of Scripture are
lamentably destitute of one recommendation, which he considers as
of the highest value: they are by no means in accordance with the
general precepts or practice of the Church, from the time when
the Christians became strong enough to persecute down to a very
recent period. A dogma favourable to toleration is certainly not
a dogma quod semper, quod ubique, quod omnibus. Bossuet was able
to say, we fear with too much truth, that on one point all
Christians had long been unanimous, the right of the civil
magistrate to propagate truth by the sword; that even heretics
had been orthodox as to this right, and that the Anabaptists and
Socinians were the first who called it in question. We will not
pretend to say what is the best explanation of the text under
consideration; but we are sure that Mr. Gladstone's is the worst.
According to him, Government ought to exclude Dissenters from
office, but not to fine them, because Christ's kingdom is not of
this world. We do not see why the line may not be drawn at a
hundred other places as well as that which he has chosen. We do
not see why Lord Clarendon, in recommending the act of 1664
against conventicles, might not have said, "It hath been thought
by some that this classis of men might with advantage be not only
imprisoned but pilloried. But methinks, my Lords, we are
inhibited from the punishment of the pillory by that Scripture,
'My kingdom is not of this world."' Archbishop Laud, when he sate
on Burton in the Star-Chamber, might have said, "I pronounce for
the pillory; and, indeed, I could wish that all such wretches
were delivered to the fire, but that our Lord hath said that His
kingdom is not of this world." And Gardiner might have written to
the Sheriff of Oxfordshire "See that execution be done without
fall on Master Ridley and Master Latimer, as you will answer the
same to the Queen's grace at your peril. But if they shall desire
to have some gunpowder for the shortening of their torment, I see
not but you may grant it, as it is written, Regnum meum non est
de hoc mundo; that is to say, My kingdom is not of this world."

But Mr. Gladstone has other arguments against persecution,
arguments which are of so much weight, that they are decisive not
only against persecution but against his whole theory. "The
Government," he says, "is incompetent to exercise minute and
constant supervision over religious opinion." And hence he
infers, that "a Government exceeds its province when it comes
to adapt a scale of punishments to variations in religious
opinion, according to their respective degrees of variation from
the established creed. To decline affording countenance to sects
is a single and simple rule. To punish their professors,
according to their several errors, even were there no other
objection, is one for which the State must assume functions
wholly ecclesiastical, and for which it is not intrinsically

This is, in our opinion, quite true. But how does it agree with
Mr. Gladstone's theory? What! the Government incompetent to
exercise even such a degree of supervision over religious opinion
as is implied by the punishment of the most deadly heresy! The
Government incompetent to measure even the grossest deviations
from the standard of truth! The Government not intrinsically
qualified to judge of the comparative enormity of any theological
errors! The Government so ignorant on these subjects that it is
compelled to leave, not merely subtle heresies, discernible only
by the eye of a Cyril or a Bucer, but Socinianism, Deism,
Mahometanism, Idolatry, Atheism, unpunished! To whom does Mr.
Gladstone assign the office of selecting a religion for the
State, from among hundreds of religions, every one of which lays
claim to truth? Even to this same Government, which is now
pronounced to be so unfit for theological investigations that it
cannot venture to punish a man for worshipping a lump of stone
with a score of heads and hands. We do not remember ever to have
fallen in with a more extraordinary instance of inconsistency.
When Mr. Gladstone wishes to prove that the Government ought to
establish and endow a religion, and to fence it with a Test Act,
Government is _to pan_ in the moral world. Those who would
it to secular ends take a low view of its nature. A religion must
be attached to its agency; and this religion must be that of the
conscience of the governor, or none. It is for the Governor to
decide between Papists and Protestants, Jansenists and Molinists,
Arminians and Calvinists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians,
Sabellians and Tritheists, Homoousians and Homoiousians,
Nestorians and Eutychians, Monothelites and Monophysites,
Paedobaptists and Anabaptists. It is for him to rejudge the Acts
of Nice and Rimini, of Ephesus and Chalcedon, of Constantinople
and St. John Lateran, of Trent and Dort. It is for him to
arbitrate between the Greek and the Latin procession, and to
determine whether that mysterious filioque shall or shall not
have a place in the national creed. When he has made up his mind,
he is to tax the whole community in order to pay people to teach
his opinion, what ever it may be. He is to rely on his own
judgment, though it may be opposed to that of nine-tenths of the
society. He is to act on his own judgment, at the risk of
exciting the most formidable discontents. He is to inflict,
perhaps on a great majority of the population, what, whether we
choose to call it persecution or not, will always be felt as
persecution by those who suffer it. He is, on account of
differences often too slight for vulgar comprehension, to deprive
the State of the services of the ablest men. He is to debase and
enfeeble the community which he governs, from a nation into a
sect. In our own country, for example, millions of Catholics,
millions of Protestant Dissenters, are to be excluded from all
power and honours. A great hostile fleet is on the sea; but
Nelson is not to command in the Channel if in the mystery of the
Trinity he confounds the persons. An invading army has landed in
Kent; but the Duke of Wellington is not to be at the head of our
forces if he divides the substance. And after all this, Mr.
Gladstone tells us, that it would be wrong to imprison a Jew, a
Mussulman, or a Buddhist, for a day; because really a Government
cannot understand these matters, and ought not to meddle with
questions which belong to the Church. A singular theologian,
indeed, this Government! So learned, that it is competent to
exclude Grotius from office for being a Semi-Pelagian, so
unlearned that it is incompetent to fine a Hindoo peasant a rupee
for going on a pilgrimage to Juggernaut.

"To solicit and persuade one another," says Mr. Gladstone, "are
privileges which belong to us all; and the wiser and better man
is bound to advise the less wise and good; but he is not only not
bound, he is not allowed, speaking generally, to coerce him. It
is untrue, then, that the same considerations which bind a
Government to submit a religion to the free choice of the people
would therefore justify their enforcing its adoption."

Granted. But it is true that all the same considerations which
would justify a Government in propagating a religion by means of
civil disabilities would justify the propagating of that religion
by penal laws. To solicit! Is it solicitation to tell a Catholic
Duke, that he must abjure his religion or walk out of the House
of Lords? To persuade! Is it persuasion to tell a barrister of
distinguished eloquence and learning that he shall grow old in
his stuff gown, while his pupils are seated above him in ermine,
because he cannot digest the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian
Creed? Would Mr. Gladstone think that a religious system which he
considers as false, Socinianism for example, was submitted to his
free choice, if it were submitted in these terms?--"If you
obstinately adhere to the faith of the Nicene fathers, you shall
not be burned in Smithfield; you shall not be sent to Dorchester
gaol; you shall not even pay double land-tax. But you shall be
shut out from all situations in which you might exercise your
talents with honour to yourself and advantage to the country. The
House of Commons, the bench of magistracy, are not for such as
you. You shall see younger men, your inferiors in station and
talents, rise to the highest dignities and attract the gaze of
nations, while you are doomed to neglect and obscurity. If you
have a son of the highest promise, a son such as other fathers
would contemplate with delight, the development of his fine
talents and of his generous ambition shall be a torture to you.
You shall look on him as a being doomed to lead, as you have led,
the abject life of a Roman or a Neapolitan in the midst of a
great English people. All those high honours, so much more
precious than the most costly gifts of despots, with which a free
country decorates its illustrious citizens, shall be to him, as
they have been to you, objects not of hope and virtuous
emulation, but of hopeless, envious pining. Educate him, if you
wish him to feel his degradation. Educate him, if you wish to
stimulate his craving for what he never must enjoy. Educate him,
if you would imitate the barbarity of that Celtic tyrant who fed
his prisoners on salted food till they called eagerly for drink,
and then let down an empty cup into the dungeon and left them to
die of thirst." Is this to solicit, to persuade, to submit
religion to the free choice of man? Would a fine of a thousand
pounds, would imprisonment in Newgate for six months, under
circumstances not disgraceful, give Mr Gladstone the pain which
he would feel, if he were to be told that he was to be dealt with
in the way in which he would himself deal with more than one half
of his countrymen?

We are not at all surprised to find such inconsistency even in a
man of Mr. Gladstone's talents. The truth is, that every man is,
to a great extent, the creature of the age. It is to no purpose
that he resists the influence which the vast mass, in which he is
but an atom, must exercise on him. He may try to be a man of the
tenth century: but he cannot. Whether he will or not, he must be
a man of the nineteenth century. He shares in the motion of the
moral as well as in that of the physical world. He can no more be
as intolerant as he would have been in the days of the Tudors
than he can stand in the evening exactly where he stood in the
morning. The globe goes round from west to east; and he must go
round with it. When he says that he is where he was, he means
only that he has moved at the same rate with all around him. When
he says that he has gone a good way to the westward, he means
only that he has not gone to the eastward quite so rapidly as his
neighbours. Mr. Gladstone's book is, in this respect, a very
gratifying performance. It is the measure of what a man can do to
be left behind by the world. It is the strenuous effort of a very
vigorous mind to keep as far in the rear of the general progress
as possible. And yet, with the most intense exertion Mr.
Gladstone cannot help being, on some important points, greatly in
advance of Locke himself; and, with whatever admiration he may
regard Laud, it is well for him, we can tell him, that he did not
write in the days of that zealous primate, who would certainly
have refuted the expositions of Scripture which we have quoted,
by one of the keenest arguments that can be addressed to human

This is not the only instance in which Mr. Gladstone has shrunk
in a very remarkable manner from the consequences of his own
theory. If there be in the whole world a state to which this
theory is applicable, that state is the British Empire in India.
Even we, who detest paternal governments in general, shall admit
that the duties of the Government of India are, to a considerable
extent, paternal. There, the superiority of the governors to the
governed in moral science is unquestionable. The conversion of
the whole people to the worst form that Christianity ever wore in
the darkest ages would be a most happy event. It is not necessary
that a man should be a Christian to wish for the propagation of
Christianity in India. It is sufficient that he should be an
European not much below the ordinary European level of good sense
and humanity. Compared with the importance of the interests at
stake, all those Scotch and Irish questions which occupy so large
a portion of Mr. Gladstone's book, sink into insignificance. In
no part of the world since the days of Theodosius has so large a
heathen population been subject to a Christian government. In no
part of the world is heathenism more cruel, more licentious, more
fruitful of absurd rites and pernicious laws. Surely, if it be
the duty of Government to use its power and its revenue in order
to bring seven millions of Irish Catholics over to the Protestant
Church, it is a fortiori the duty of the Government to use its
power and its revenue in order to make seventy millions of
idolaters Christians. If it be a sin to suffer John Howard or
William Penn to hold any office in England because they are not
in communion with the Established Church, it must be a crying sin
indeed to admit to high situations men who bow down, in temples
covered with emblems of vice, to the hideous images of sensual or
malevolent gods.

But no. Orthodoxy, it seems, is more shocked by the priests of
Rome than by the priests of Kalee. The plain red brick building,
the Cave of Adullam, or Ebenezer Chapel, where uneducated men
hear a half-educated man talk of the Christian law of love and
the Christian hope of glory, is unworthy of the indulgence which
is reserved for the shrine where the Thug suspends a portion of
the spoils of murdered travellers, and for the car which grinds
its way through the bones of self-immolated pilgrims. "It would
be," says Mr. Gladstone, "an absurd exaggeration to maintain it
as the part of such a Government as that of the British in India
to bring home to the door of every subject at once the
ministrations of a new and totally unknown religion." The
Government ought indeed to desire to propagate Christianity. But
the extent to which they must do so must be "limited by the
degree in which the people are found willing to receive it." He
proposes no such limitation in the case of Ireland. He would give
the Irish a Protestant Church whether they like it or not. "We
believe," says he, "that that which we place before them is,
whether they know it or not, calculated to be beneficial to them;
and that, if they know it not now, they will know it when it is
presented to them fairly. Shall we, then, purchase their applause
at the expense of their substantial, nay, their spiritual

And why does Mr. Gladstone allow to the Hindoo a privilege which
he denies to the Irishman? Why does he reserve his greatest
liberality for the most monstrous errors? Why does he pay most
respect to the opinion of the least enlightened people? Why does
he withhold the right to exercise paternal authority from that
one Government which is fitter to exercise paternal authority
than any Government that ever existed in the world? We will give
the reason in his own words.

"In British India," he says, "a small number of persons advanced
to a higher grade of civilisation, exercise the powers of
government over an immensely greater number of less cultivated
persons, not by coercion, but under free stipulation with the
governed. Now, the rights of a Government, in circumstances thus
peculiar, obviously depend neither upon the unrestricted theory
of paternal principles, nor upon any primordial or fictitious
contract of indefinite powers, but upon an express and known
treaty, matter of positive agreement, not of natural ordinance."

Where Mr. Gladstone has seen this treaty we cannot guess for,
though he calls it a "known treaty," we will stake our credit
that it is quite unknown both at Calcutta and Madras, both in
Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row, that it is not to be found in
any of the enormous folios of papers relating to India which fill
the bookcases of members of Parliament, that it has utterly
escaped the researches of all the historians of our Eastern
empire, that, in the long and interesting debates of 1813 on the
admission of missionaries to India, debates of which the most
valuable part has been excellently preserved by the care of the
speakers, no allusion to this important instrument is to be
found. The truth is that this treaty is a nonentity. It is by
coercion, it is by the sword, and not by free stipulation with
the governed, that England rule India; nor is England bound by
any contract whatever not to deal with Bengal as she deals with
Ireland. She may set up a Bishop of Patna, and a Dean of Hoogley;
she may grant away the public revenue for the maintenance of
prebendaries of Benares and canons of Moorshedabad; she may
divide the country into parishes, and place, a rector with a
stipend in every one of them; and all this without infringing any
positive agreement. If there be such a treaty, Mr. Gladstone can
have no difficulty in making known its date, its terms, and,
above all the precise extent of the territory within which we
have sinfully bound ourselves to be guilty of practical atheism.
The last point is of great importance. For, as the provinces of
our Indian empire were acquired at different times, and in very
different ways, no single treaty, indeed no ten treaties, will
justify the system pursued by our Government there.

The plain state of the case is this. No man in his senses would
dream of applying Mr. Gladstone's theory to India; because, if so
applied, it would inevitably destroy our empire, and, with our
empire, the best chance of spreading Christianity among the
natives. This Mr. Gladstone felt. In some way or other his theory
was to be saved, and the monstrous consequences avoided. Of
intentional misrepresentation we are quite sure that he is
incapable. But we cannot acquit him of that unconscious
disingenuousness from which the most upright man, when strongly
attached to an opinion, is seldom wholly free. We believe that he
recoiled from the ruinous consequences which his system would
produce, if tried in India; but that he did not like to say so,
lest he should lay himself open to the charge of sacrificing
principle to expediency, a word which is held in the utmost
abhorrence by all his school. Accordingly, he caught at the
notion of a treaty, a notion which must, we think, have
originated in some rhetorical expression which he has imperfectly
understood. There is one excellent way of avoiding the drawing of
a false conclusion from a false major; and that is by having a
false minor. Inaccurate history is an admirable corrective of
unreasonable theory. And thus it is in the present case. A bad
general rule is laid down, and obstinately maintained, wherever
the consequences are not too monstrous for human bigotry. But
when they become so horrible that even Christ Church shrinks,
that even Oriel stands aghast, the rule is evaded by means of a
fictitious contract. One imaginary obligation is set up against
another. Mr. Gladstone first preaches to Governments the duty of
undertaking an enterprise just as rational as the Crusades, and
then dispenses them from it on the ground of a treaty which is
just as authentic as the donation of Constantine to Pope
Sylvester. His system resembles nothing so much as a forged bond
with a forged release indorsed on the back of it.

With more show of reason he rests the claims of the Scotch Church
on a contract. He considers that contract, however, as most
unjustifiable, and speaks of the setting up of the Kirk as a
disgraceful blot on the reign of William the Third. Surely it
would be amusing, if it were not melancholy, to see a man of
virtue and abilities unsatisfied with the calamities which one
Church, constituted on false principles, has brought upon the
empire, and repining that Scotland is not in the same state with
Ireland, that no Scottish agitator is raising rent and putting
county members in and out, that no Presbyterian association is
dividing supreme power with the Government, that no meetings of
procursors and repealers are covering the side of the Calton
Hill, that twenty-five thousand troops are not required to
maintain order on the north of the Tweed, that the anniversary of
the Battle of Bothwell Bridge is not regularly celebrated by
insult, riot, and murder. We could hardly find a stronger
argument against Mr. Gladstone's system than that which Scotland
furnishes. The policy which has been followed in that country has
been directly opposed to the policy which he recommends. And the
consequence is that Scotland, having been one of the rudest, one
of the poorest, one of the most turbulent countries in Europe,
has become one of the most highly civilised, one of the most
flourishing, one of the most tranquil. The atrocities which were
of common occurrence: while an unpopular Church was dominant are
unknown, In spite of a mutual aversion as bitter as ever
separated one people from another, the two kingdoms which compose
our island have been indissolubly joined together. Of the ancient
national feeling there remains just enough to be ornamental and
useful; just enough to inspire the poet, and to kindle a generous
and friendly emulation in the bosom of the soldier. But for all
the ends of government the nations are one. And why are they so?
The answer is simple. The nations are one for all the ends of
government, because in their union the true ends of government
alone were kept in sight. The nations are one because the
Churches are two.

Such is the union of England with Scotland, an union which
resembles the union of the limbs of one healthful and vigorous
body, all moved by one will, all co-operating for common ends.
The system of Mr. Gladstone would have produced an union which
can be compared only to that which is the subject of a wild
Persian fable. King Zohak--we tell the story as Mr. Southey tells
it to us--gave the devil leave to kiss his shoulders. Instantly
two serpents sprang out, who, in the fury of hunger, attacked his
head, and attempted to get at his brain. Zohak pulled them away,
and tore them with his nails. But he found that they were
inseparable parts of himself, and that what he was lacerating was
his own flesh. Perhaps we might be able to find, if we looked
round the world, some political union like this, some hideous
monster of a state, cursed with one principle of sensation and
two principles of volition, self-loathing and self-torturing,
made up of parts which are driven by a frantic impulse to inflict
mutual pain, yet are doomed to feel whatever they inflict, which
are divided by an irreconcileable hatred, Yet are blended in an
indissoluble identity. Mr. Gladstone, from his tender concern for
Zohak, is unsatisfied because the devil has as yet kissed only
one shoulder, because there is not a snake mangling and mangled
on the left to keep in countenance his brother on the right.

But we must proceed in our examination of his theory. Having, as
he conceives, proved that is the duty of every Government to
profess some religion or other, right or wrong, and to establish
that religion, he then comes to the question what religion a
Government ought to prefer; and he decides this question in
favour of the form of Christianity established in England. The
Church of England is, according to him, the pure Catholic Church
of Christ, which possesses the apostolical succession of
ministers, and within whose pale is to be found that unity which
is essential to truth. For her decisions he claims a degree of
reverence far beyond what she has ever, in any of her
formularies, claimed for herself; far beyond what the moderate
school of Bossuet demands for the Pope; and scarcely short of
what that school would ascribe to Pope and General Council
together. To separate from her communion is schism. To reject her
traditions or interpretations of Scripture is sinful presumption.

Mr. Gladstone pronounces the right of private judgment, as it is
generally understood throughout Protestant Europe, to be a
monstrous abuse. He declares himself favourable, indeed, to the
exercise of private judgment, after a fashion of his own. We
have, according to him, a right to judge all the doctrines of the
Church of England to be sound, but not to judge any of them to be
unsound. He has no objection, he assures us, to active inquiry
into religious questions. On the contrary, he thinks such inquiry
highly desirable, as long as it does not lead to diversity of
opinion; which is much the same thing as if he were to recommend
the use of fire that will not burn down houses, or of brandy that
will not make men drunk. He conceives it to be perfectly possible
for mankind to exercise their intellects vigorously and freely on
theological subjects, and yet to come to exactly the same
conclusions with each other and with the Church of England. And
for this opinion he gives, as far as we have been able to
discover, no reason whatever, except that everybody who
vigorously and freely exercises his understanding on Euclid's
Theorems assents to them. "The activity of private judgment," he
truly observes, "and the unity and strength of conviction in
mathematics vary directly as each other." On this unquestionable
fact he constructs a somewhat questionable argument. Everybody
who freely inquires agrees, he says, with Euclid. But the Church
is as much in the right as Euclid. Why, then, should not every
free inquirer agree with the Church? We could put many similar
questions. Either the affirmative or the negative of the
proposition that King Charles wrote the Icon Basilike is as true
as that two sides of a triangle are greater than the third side.
Why, then, do Dr. Wordsworth and Mr. Hallam agree in thinking two
sides of a triangle greater than the third side, and yet differ
about the genuineness of the Icon Basilike? The state of the
exact sciences proves, says Mr. Gladstone, that, as respects
religion, "the association of these two ideas, activity of
inquiry, and variety of conclusion, is a fallacious one." We
might just as well turn the argument the other way, and infer
from the variety of religious opinions that there must
necessarily be hostile mathematical sects, some affirming, and
some denying, that the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the
squares of the sides. But we do not think either the one analogy
or the other of the smallest value. Our way of ascertaining the
tendency of free inquiry is simply to open our eyes and look at
the world in which we live; and there we see that free inquiry on
mathematical subjects produces unity, and that free inquiry on
moral subjects produces discrepancy. There would undoubtedly be
less discrepancy if inquiries were more diligent and candid. But
discrepancy there will be among the most diligent and candid, as
long as the constitution of the human mind, and the nature of
moral evidence, continue unchanged. That we have not freedom and
unity together is a very sad thing; and so it is that we have not
wings. But we are just as likely to see the one defect removed as
the other. It is not only in religion that this discrepancy is
found. It is the same with all matters which depend on moral
evidence, with judicial questions, for example, and with
political questions. All the judges will work a sum in the rule
of three on the same principle, and bring out the same
conclusion. But it does not follow that, however honest and
laborious they may be, they will all be of one mind on the
Douglas case. So it is vain to hope that there may be a free
constitution under which every representative will be unanimously
elected, and every law unanimously passed; and it would be
ridiculous for a statesman to stand wondering and bemoaning
himself because people who agree in thinking that two and two
make four cannot agree about the new poor law, or the
administration of Canada.

There are two intelligible and consistent courses which may be
followed with respect to the exercise of private judgment; the
course of the Romanist, who interdicts private judgment because
of its inevitable inconveniences; and the course of the
Protestant, who permits private judgment in spite of its
inevitable inconveniences. Both are more reasonable than Mr.
Gladstone, who would have private judgment without its inevitable
inconveniences. The Romanist produces repose by means of
stupefaction. The Protestant encourages activity, though he knows
that where there is much activity there will be some aberration.
Mr. Gladstone wishes for the unity of the fifteenth century with
the active and searching spirit of the sixteenth. He might as
well wish to be in two places at once.

When Mr. Gladstone says that we "actually require discrepancy of
opinion--require and demand error, falsehood, blindness, and
ourselves on such discrepancy as attesting a freedom which is
only valuable when used for unity in the truth," he expresses
himself with more energy than precision. Nobody loves discrepancy
for the sake of discrepancy. But a person who conscientiously
believes that free inquiry is, on the whole, beneficial to the
interests of truth, and that, from the imperfection of the human
faculties, wherever there is much free inquiry there will be some
discrepancy, may, without impropriety, consider such discrepancy,
though in itself an evil, as a sign of good. That there are ten
thousand thieves in London is a very melancholy fact. But, looked
at in one point of view, it is a reason for exultation. For what
other city could maintain ten thousand thieves? What must be the
mass of wealth, where the fragments gleaned by lawless pilfering
rise to so large an amount? St. Kilda would not support a single
pickpocket. The quantity of theft is, to a certain extent, an
index of the quantity of useful industry and judicious
speculation. And just as we may, from the great number of rogues
in a town, infer that much honest gain is made there; so may we
often, from the quantity of error in a community, draw a cheering
inference as to the degree in which the public mind is turned to
those inquiries which alone can lead to rational convictions of

Mr. Gladstone seems to imagine that most Protestants think it
possible for the same doctrine to be at once true and false; or
that they think it immaterial whether, on a religious question, a
man comes to a true or a false conclusion. If there be any
Protestants who hold notions so absurd, we abandon them to his

The Protestant doctrine touching the right of private judgment,
that doctrine which is the common foundation of the Anglican, the
Lutheran, and the Calvinistic Churches, that doctrine by which
every sect of Dissenters vindicates its separation, we conceive
not to be this, that opposite opinions rue; nor this, that truth
and falsehood are both may both be true; equally good; nor yet
this, that all speculative error is necessarily innocent; but
this, that there is on the face of the earth no visible body to
whose decrees men are bound to submit their private judgment on
points of faith.

Is there always such a visible body? Was there such a visible
body in the year 1500? If not, why are we to believe that there
is such a body in the year 1839? If there was such a body in the
year 1500, what was it? Was it the Church of Rome? And how can
the Church of England be orthodox now, if the Church of Rome was
orthodox then?

"In England," says Mr. Gladstone, "the case was widely different
from that of the Continent. Her reformation did not destroy, but
successfully maintained, the unity and succession of the Church
in her apostolical ministry. We have, therefore, still among us
the ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, conveying it to
us through an unbroken series from our Lord Jesus Christ and His
Apostles. This is to us the ordinary voice of authority; of
authority equally reasonable and equally true, whether we will
hear, or whether we will forbear."

Mr. Gladstone's reasoning is not so clear as might be desired. We
have among us, he says, ordained hereditary witnesses of the
truth, and their voice is to us the voice of authority.
Undoubtedly, if they are witness of the truth, their voice is the
voice of authority. But this is little more than saying that the
truth is the truth. Nor is truth more true because it comes in an
unbroken series from the Apostles. The Nicene faith is not more
true in the mouth of the Archbishop of Canterbury, than in that
of a Moderator of the General Assembly. If our respect for the
authority of the Church is to be only consequent upon our
conviction of the truth of her doctrines, we come at once to that
monstrous abuse, the Protestant exercise of private judgment. But
if Mr. Gladstone means that we ought to believe that the Church
of England speaks the truth because she has the apostolical
succession, we greatly doubt whether such a doctrine can be
maintained. In the first place, what proof have we of the fact?
We have, indeed, heard it said that Providence would certainly
have interfered to preserve the apostolical succession in the
true Church. But this is an argument fitted for understandings of
a different kind from Mr. Gladstone's. He will hardly tell us
that the Church of England is the true Church because she has the
succession; and that she has the succession because she is the
true Church.

What evidence, then, have we for the fact of the apostolical
succession? And here we may easily defend the truth against
Oxford with the same arguments with which, in old times, the
truth was defended by Oxford against Rome. In this stage of our
combat with Mr. Gladstone, we need few weapons except those which
we find in the well-furnished and well-ordered armoury of

The transmission of orders from the Apostles to an English
clergyman of the present day must have been through a very great
number of intermediate persons. Now, it is probable that no
clergyman in the Church of England can trace up his spiritual
genealogy from bishop to bishop so far back as the time of the
Conquest. There remain many centuries during which the history of
the transmission of his orders is buried in utter darkness. And
whether he be a priest by succession from the Apostles depends on
the question, whether during that long period, some thousands of
events took place, any one of which may, without any gross
improbability, be supposed not to have taken place. We have not a
tittle of evidence for any one of these events. We do not even
know the names or countries of the men to whom it is taken for
granted that these events happened. We do not know whether the
spiritual ancestors of any one of our contemporaries were Spanish
or Armenian, Arian or Orthodox. In the utter absence of all
particular evidence, we are surely entitled to require that there
should be very strong evidence indeed that the strictest
regularity was observed in every generation, and that episcopal
functions were exercised by none who were not bishops by
succession from the Apostles. But we have no such evidence. In
the first place, we have not full and accurate information
touching the polity of the Church during the century which
followed the persecution of Nero. That, during this period, the
overseers of all the little Christian societies scattered through
the Roman empire held their spiritual authority by virtue of holy
orders derived from the Apostles, cannot be proved by
contemporary testimony, or by any testimony which can be regarded
as decisive. The question, whether the primitive ecclesiastical
constitution bore a greater resemblance to the Anglican or to the

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest