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ing the wealthy an undue weight in comparison with the middling classes of society. And after all, the latter, those who do not live without exertion, yet whose exertions are fully competent to their support, who are neither so wealthy as to be tempted to the corrupt purchase of power, nor so necessitous as to be dependent on another's will, are the men whose rights are to be most carefully guarded, and to whose hands the supreme power may be committed most safely. They are in this country the mass of the people, the stay and the strength of the government, the very bones and sinews of the state.

But though every individual on entering society surrenders to the community the right of controlling his person and property by general laws, so far as is requisite in the opinion of the majority for the public good, no man does or can yield to others the right of controlling his conscience; and any provisions which do in fact restrain the consciences of men are oppressive and unjust. Is any part of our frame of government liable to this reproach? It provides that every member of the executive and legislative bodies shall declare his belief of the Christian religion, a general phrase adopted with the intention of including all the inhabitants of the state; and if it actually does so, it is evident that no one can be injured by it. Now suppose the majority of the electors of each of those officers are determined not to vote for any but a Christian, and no one will deny the right of every voter to be influenced by this consideration if he pleases,-there surely can be no injustice in their expressing this determination beforehand. Until then in some part of the state those empowered to elect a member of the executive or legislative departments prefer one who will not profess his belief of the Christian religion, a case whose occurrence can hardly be supposed, this provision, whatever difference of opinion may exist with regard to its correctness in theory, must be admitted by all to be nominal and inoperative in practice. But why introduce a clause totally inefficient, why make any profession of faith. though it be the faith of the whole people, a part of their political charter? We acknowledge we know no good reason for it; but there it is, and the question is not what should be inserted in a new constitution, but what should be expunged from this. It is one thing to abstain from a profession of Christianity when the occasion does not require it, and another and totally different thing when such New Series, No. 4.


profession has been unnecessarily and officiously made, solemily and deliberately to retract it. Nothing should be inserted in a frame of government which is not shown to be useful, nothing erased which is not shown to be injurious; and in both cases mere inoperative speculations are unworthy of regard, in comparison with those efficient rules by which principles are brought into practice.

Similar remarks are all we could urge in favour of the single word Protestant in the third article of the bill of rights; but the substance of that article admits a different and more complete defence. It authorizes the legislature to enjoin on all subjects an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers of religion, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend. It is a solecisin to say that this clause violates the rights of conscience, since they are expressly excepted from its operation. Without the concluding words, indeed, it might be unjust and tyrannical, but these render it at once sound in principle and nugatory in practice.

But the most important and useful provision of this article, is that which directs the legislature for the purpose of securing the good order and preservation of the government, to require towns, parishes, precincts, &c. to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the worship of God and the maintenance of public teachers of piety, religion, and morality; provided that these several bodies shall at all times have the exclusive right of electing their respective teachers, and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.' Is this a restraint upon the conscience of any man? On the same principle that the constitution empowersthe legislature to command military musters or town meet. ings; it may also authorize them to require the citizens to assemble for any purpose whatsoever which may be conducive, in the opinion of a majority of the people, to the public safety, and which does not infringe the rights of conscience. It is manifest that those who choose their own teacher, that is the majority in every parish, have no ground to complain that their rights are infringed. But the minority, who cannot conscientiously hear him, are not they injured? How?— They are not required to hear him; nor can it be an injury to them that doctrines, which they do not believe, are listened to by others, who do believe them. But then they are

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obliged to pay.-Ay, this is very apt to wound tender consciences. But seriously, it is said, to pay for the dissemination of tenets which in their opinion are false, and must drag to everlasting perdition all who embrace them. Here lies the fallacy of the whole objection They do not pay for the dissemination of any particular tenets, nor to promote the happiness or the misery of men in another world, but to render them better citizens in this; to secure the good order and preservation of the government.' The constitution has

no other object; it deems it entirely indifferent what system is adopted, and therefore gives all the members of each parish an equal voice in determining whom and what they will hear, which, of course, leaves the decision with the majority.

It is urged, however, that the burden is unequal, and different individuals, paying the same tax, do not receive the same equivalent, since only those who attend enjoy the benefit of the instruction. This is a strange objection in the mouths of those who urge it. According to them, this benefit possessed by others, this equivalent, of the want of which they complain, is neither more nor less than guidance on the road to ruin and instructions how to attain eternal misery. The true answer, however, is, that the equivalent proposed by the government for this tax is not the mere religious improvement or the future happiness of those who attend public worship, but the security which society derives from the establisment of institutions, where those who can conscientiously attend may be periodically and frequently reminded of their duties and their accountableness as moral agents; and this security is equally enjoyed by all.

The establishment of public worship at the expense of the community is justified by the same reasons as that of public schools; indeed churches, so far as they are civil institutions, may be considered as schools for the adult. All the inhabitants of a school district are obliged to pay a tax for educating children, though the choice of a teacher and of the system to be pursued depends on the will of a majority alone. The minority may disapprove of the man or the system selected; some may think with Anacharsis Klootz that any education is a violation of the laws of nature, and that man has as much right to grow up without restraint as other animals, the obvious consequence of which would be to make him resemble them; some may insist that corporal punish


ment ought never to be inflicted and others again deeming every text of scripture a literal rule of conduct, may really have conscientious scruples about sparing the rod; yet if for these or any other reasons they refrain from sending their children to the public schools, they are not therefore exempted from contributing to the support of them. Of two men paying the same tax, one may be a solitary and hopeless old bachelor, and the other the father of a New England family sending his ten children to school every morning. Yet here is no injustice; the difference arises from circumstances, for which the Commonwealth is not responsible, and is merely incidental to the main object of the law, the peace and security of society, which is an equal benefit to all. Were these ten boys, for want of education, to grow up rogues, they would be quite as likely to plunder the old bachelor as any other man.

The oath abjuring the authority of every foreign potentate has been objected to, in our opinion unjustly, as a violation of the rights of Roman Catholics. The man who thinks

himself bound to obey the dictates of a foreign sovereign ought not be a magistrate among a free people, who must be exempt from the control, direct or indirect, of every earthly power not established by themselves. By complying, in the administration of the government, with the commands of a stranger, whether for conscience sake or from any other motive, he infringes the rights of his constituents and the fundamental principles of liberty. That the object of this oath was to renounce a principle inconsistent in its tendency with the independence of the state, and not to condemn the merely speculative doctrines of the Catholic religion, is evident from the instructions given to the committee who reported it. They were directed to form a declaration or test, wherein every person, before he takes his seat as a representative, senator, or governor, or enters upon the execution of any important office or trust in the Commonwealth, shall renounce every principle (whether it be Roman catholic, Mahometan, deistical, or infidel) 'which has any the least tendency to subvert the civil or religious rights established by this constitution. When we consider that Samuel Adams was one of this committee, we shall not wonder at the energetic and almost indignant language in which every thing like foreign control over the citizens of this Commonwealth is abjured.

But though this oath is perfectly defensible upon principle, we should not regret its erasure, since its length renders it really inconvenient, and the dangers against which it is de signed to guard are at this day altogether imaginary.

The utility of a Court of Chancery, and the propriety of making it entirely independent of any court of law, were amply discussed in our last number. To complete the system and prevent a clashing of jurisdictions, a Court of Errors should perhaps be established, to which an appeal may lie both at law and in equity; and this ought to be as stable and independent in its structure as the tribunals, whose judgments it revises. We fear, however, that no definite plan for the accomplishment of this object can be formed, which would receive, at present, the approbation of the people; and that they must suffer a little longer the inconveniences necessarily resulting in a wealthy and commercial community from the want of an equitable jurisdiction, before they will consent to make so great a change in our judicial system, as would be requisite in order to establish one on a proper footing.

It is of the utmost importance to provide some mode of making future amendments in the constitution. This will obviate the necessity of deciding immediately those questions ou which a great diversity of opinion prevails, and be a pledge of peace and unanimity in the convention. Should some new and important provision be recommended, and be found to excite the strenuous and decided opposition of a considerable portion of the public, it may be deferred, and introduced when its utility is better understood. If there be any existing article which some deem beneficial, and all acknowledge to be harmless in its present application, but from which we apprehend some possible inconvenience hereafter, it may remain to be removed when the danger is more distinctly and more generally perceived. As the object of a constitution is to limit and control the several branches of government, the power of changing it ought never to be entrusted to the government itself, but retained, as far as it can be done, in the hands of the people. Even the unanimous vote of the legislature ought not to change it, for however they might differ on other subjects, the members might very naturally be unanimous in wishing to remove every restraint on their own power; and might render our constitution mere waste paper, and assume the same su

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