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1776.]

CIVIL FREEDOM GAINED.

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one voice of dissent was heard from the country, and that the Legislature being itself the creature of the Constitution, was subordinate to it, and was bound by its requirements.

The power of these last-noted arguments was recognised by Virginia. Her Constitution remained in force until it was regularly remodelled by a convention chosen for the purpose by the people, and her General Court, by a sound judicial decision, declared that this instrument was supreme, and that an act of Assembly running counter to its demands, was void and of no effect."

And whatever may have been the defects of her form of government, one of the grand objects for which it was intended was accomplished. Virginia was free from all foreign control. The dominion of Great Britain was totally destroyed. No royal governors were hereafter to be sent to obey a selfish monarch, or to reflect the views of an unscrupulous ministry, or to pillage on their own account, the people of their charge. No veto power was to be exercised by a distant king. No laws of navigation were to fetter her commerce and force it by unnatural means into the lap of her mother. No taxes were to be imposed to swell the revenues of an establishment three thousand miles from her shores. And the personal rights of her people were secured. England had often claimed the power to seize her Colonists and transport them for trial to her own soil, but the "Bill of Rights"

Kamper vs. Hawkins, Nov. 16, Wilson's opinion in that case, 1793; 1 Virg. Cases, 20. See Judge

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of Virginia, at once placed each one of her citizens upon a firm basis, and threw around him the safeguards of law.

Civil freedom was rendered absolutely secure in the "Old Dominion." But there remained another possession necessary to her happiness which she had not yet obtained; this was Religious Liberty. Her declaration of rights did indeed announce principles on this subject, which, if expanded, would have produced all she could desire, but the force of positive law was necessary to cut up by the roots the system which had grown in such strength on her soil. The church establishment, with its legal incidents, had so woven itself into society, that it was difficult at once to destroy it. The rights of conscience were yet invaded, and men were still liable to injury, who did not conform to the teachings of one favoured sect. We shall see with pleasure these evils removed, and all men placed upon equal ground in their religious relations. But in entering on this subject, it will be necessary to review the progress of religion in Virginia, and to trace the steps along which she passed in effecting this great object. If well ascertained facts, and legitimate inferences may be trusted, it will be made apparent, that for perfect freedom in the exercise of the rights of conscience, the people of Virginia, and of America, are indebted neither to Thomas Jefferson, nor to any other secular reformer, but to men in whose hearts burned the fire of love to the Redeemer of mankind.

CHAPTER III.

Religion Man naturally religious-Christianity the only true religionIts intrinsic evidences-Union of church and state-Its evils-Reforma. tion-Church of England established-Bishops-Church established in Virginia-First ministers-Church under martial law-Establishment of parishes and glebes-Bigotry of Sir William Berkeley-Archbishop Laud-Stephen Reek-Intolerance-Its effects Church in time of Governor Spotswood-Parishes-Progress of the Established Church— Her apparent prosperity-Real condition-Evils of the Establishment in Virginia-Rights of conscience infringed-Injustice to Dissenters-Intolerance-Cruelty-Wicked clergy-Irreligious people-Conduct of the Parsons-Rise and progress of Dissenters-Huguenots from FranceCongregationalists from New England-Regular Baptists-George Whitefield visits Virginia-Effect of his preaching in America-Separate Baptists

Their rapid progress in Virginia-Their zeal-They are opposed by the Episcopal clergy-Persecution-Patriotism of the Baptists-Presbyterians in the Valley-Stone Church of Augusta-John_Craig-Origin of Presbyterianism in Eastern Virginia-John Organ-Samuel Morris -Luther and Bunyan-Fines-William Robinson arrives-Effect of his preaching-Samuel Davies-His character and eloquence-His great success -Hampden Sydney and Liberty Hall-Methodists in Virginia-They co-operate with the Establishment-Legislature of 1776— Struggle for religious freedom-Memorials-Mr. Jefferson-Severe conflict-Bill in favour of Dissenters-Partial establishment of Religious Liberty.

Were he now per

RELIGION is natural to man. fectly pure and upright, it would be his most eagerly sought privilege to look to the Great First Cause, and with warm love to acknowledge dependence. Even his present depravity has not shut his mind entirely to the claims of Deity.

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There is a ceaseless struggle between the intellect and the heart, the first admitting the existence of a God and ascribing to him all conceivable perfections, the last abhorring his holiness, and turning away from the light so unwelcome to its own darkened impulses. Atheism is the fault not of the head, but of the heart; and it has seldom been avowed, and never fully believed. Man has not been able to resist the convictions of his own judgment, strengthened by the voice of conscience, the mystic witness for the truth, who lives in his bosom. And therefore throughout all ages, however dark, and among all nations however savage, the belief in the existence of a God has been found to prevail, and to keep alive the prominent motives of religion. But on this subject the sophistries of depraved affections have never been silent. They have been constantly pleading against the truth, and though they have not availed entirely to cover it, yet they have obscured its lustre, and degraded its majesty. Hence it is that no nation, however enlightened, has been able by its own wisdom to provide a religion which would either restrain from vice or guide to virtue.

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Had Christianity been of human invention, it would have borne the marks distinguishing all religious systems of man. The same lowering of the Divine character; the same arguments from human frailty; the same compromise of the claims of reason and appetite would have been found, which attend the most refined theories of heathen

"The fool hath said in his heart there is no God."--Ps. xiv. i.

CHRISTIANITY.

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philosophers. The religion of Christ stands alone in its holiness, and as it is the only true religion, so does it carry in its own teachings the infallible evidences of its truth. It has indeed its external demonstrations; miracles proved by testimony above the possibility of falsehood, or of undesigned error, and prophecy which gathers power with the unfolding of each successive page in history; but these are evidences which can only be appreciated by the learned, and which may convince the intellect without moving the heart. The Author of Christianity designed that it should carry with it power to convince by its intrinsic authority. The man who will apply his mind to its teachings, will believe as certainly as the man who will open his eyes in the sun's rays will see the light around him. It is because it provides an adequate remedy for every ill, that the recipient of its benefits knows it is from the Author of good. Pardon for sin; purity for corruption; comfort for sorrow; unerring precepts for doubt in duty; a life of usefulness; a death of peace, and an eternity of happiness: these are gifts offered by the religion of Christ, in a form which no man resists who desires to know the truth. But to accomplish its object, it must be pure as when it was first taught by its inspired originators. Mixed with human devices, it loses its force for good, and becomes the more dangerous because of its exalted claims.

Among the unhallowed inventions which have been applied to this system, none has produced so unhappy results as its union with civil government,

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