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likely to be overthrown, for men seem convinced that, like their government, it suits them better than any substitute. It is a firm despotism in religion. For reasons elsewhere explained, it is the true form of worship for a sensuous, luxurious people.
After these methods, varying according to the circumstances of the community, the governed are in this stage of society predisposed to an absolute form of religious belief, which, while it is intolerant of opposition, is not troublesome to those who acquiesce in it. What part does the government take?
“Jungamus dextras, gladium gladio copulemus" has been the overture made on more than one momentous occasion by the ministers of peace to an absolute monarch, nor made in vain. Napoleon said that the Papacy was worth 50,000 men to him, and in that saying he expressed the feeling of every despot who can manage to make the crosier stand beside his sceptre, and confirmed the wise advice of Machiavelli* to princes, to found their government upon religion. Duty and interest combine to make a despotism enforce religion upon its subjects.
It is the manifest duty of paternal governments to stop the usual deterioration and the unhappiness that never fail to follow infidelity both among individuals and nations, and to teach in their state schools some form, however erroneous, of religious belief.+ It is perhaps not in the power of the state always to make an unbelieving nation believe, but belief is much more subject to external influences than is commonly supposed. We feel before we think, we often feel before we believe, though it gratifies our self-love to imagine that our thought and our belief are pure creations of our untutored mind. Again, equality is established in the nation, at least equality among all the educated citizen classes ; if the government can once set the fashion of believing or professing to believe among this class, the whole will follow from the then irresistible impulse of avoiding eccentricity. Perhaps the first generation will be but conforming infidels ; but the second, taught to believe from their infancy, will do so in good earnest. And thus to transform a disbelieving into a believing nation is a task far from hopeless.
* Discors. ch. xii.
† On the effect of infidelity in producing perjury and demoralising ancient Greece, see Coleridge, Friend, iii. 122.
But beside being the duty it is the interest of government to establish this element of tranquillity and order. It is its interest to enlarge the class of functionaries by including in it the class of religious ministers ; and this is seldom difficult when there are no haughty and independent classes from whom the priesthood can be drawn, and where the same system of examination that admits any citizen to the civil government may be applied to admit him equally to the ministry of the religious despotism.
In fact in this stage the position of the ecclesiastical body depends entirely upon the fact whether it is or not taken out of the governed and into the government, and overtures made by the government to admit them are not likely to meet with refusal or indifference. The priest thus becomes more a servant of the emperor than a servant of God; and in fact in such a society it is all one whether a man preaches the gospel or collects the taxes. He is nothing but a functionary dependent on the head of the state. The Church is the stipendiary of the civil power Those who need an example of this relation between the monarch and the priests, may remember how, on the accession of Napoleon the Third, the doctrine once connected with the Tory party in England, now given up by them and consigned to oblivion or ridicule in this country, was revived in full force by the state priests of France, who, with the most fulsome and blasphemous adulations, proclaimed the elected of the people emperor by “ Divine right ;” and those who wish to see its effects after a prolonged period of working may contemplate the history of Spain and Spanish America.
* The reader of Locke is familiar with his admirable exposé of the ease with which new principles obtain implicit credence in the human mind. Essay on the Human Understanding, bk. 1, ch. iii, $ 21 897.
The consequence of this intimate relation between civil functionarism and ecclesiastical functionarism is that the religion of despotism is a state religion, not in the sense of a creed authorised and established by the elected legislators of a free nation, because it was the creed which the greater part of the population believed, but after the fashion of the ordinary edicts of those governors who prescribe paternally what is good for those under their pupilage. One of the worst examples of this was afforded by the Roman empire, where “the various modes of worship were all considered by the people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.”* And the statesmen of the later empire, yielding to the cosmopolitan character of the age, as they added every new polytheisticť tribe and race to the Roman citizenship, admitted their gods into the Pantheon, and made it the centre of the religions of the world, thus openly establishing and supporting creeds which they did not profess to believe. Something of the same policy has been pursued by the English rulers of India.
But with this exception, statesmen of nations in modern times, which have arrived at the despotic age of their existence, have generally been relieved from the necessity of so flagrant an indecency by the universality of the Christian religion, and the only difficulty has been to choose the form which they should establish, when too often they had no belief of their own to guide them. One system has
* Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. ii.
† The Egyptian and Jewish religions were occasionally persecuted, because their deities could not make themselves social with the deities of the rest of the Roman empire.
generally been preferred upon such occasions, and not without good political reasons. A form of religion in which the division between priest and layman, or the governing and governed in ecclesiastical matters is most broadly drawn, coincides best with social systems in which the civil distinction of governing and governed is marked with the same broad line. Religions which relieve the layman from the greater part of the trouble of religious duties and impose it upon the priests,—religions which strive more to insure the happiness and amusement of mankind on earth than their welfare hereafter,-religions which are not exacting and ascetic,--suit a population devoted either to ease and material gratifications, or to business divided into minute tracks, each of which engrosses the whole mind of the artisan. Consequently, a religion like the Roman Catholic accords with the social conditions of an absolute despotism better than any other form of religion *, and these considerations explain their frequent alliance.
According to some witnesses t, there is now in America a craving for one universal and comprehensive religion which shall put an end to the troublesome and disastrous war of sects, and the disgraceful means they take to attract a crowd of worshippers. Such a feeling is the natural result of the too great license of sectarianism, for in the same way as out of political anarchy and license rises a desire for one strong government to insure tranquillity and order, so an anarchy of creeds, when abused, produces a tedium of sectarian quarrels, which finds its only refuge in one comprehensive and intolerant religion. The time for Roman Catholicism in America is not yet come, nor will it, so long as the Whig Federalists, who are naturally Protestant, retain a considerable portion of their power. But Catholicism has two supporters in the United States :
Confer, however, the relation of the Protestant Church with the kingdom of Prussia, and mark the Minister of Public Worship at Berlin.
† Maurice, Kingdom of Christ, 2nd ed. i. 208.
the incipient plutocracy (for ceremonial religions always suit plutocracies * as much as Calvinism suits poorer citizens), and the despotic centralisation, which will certainly establish itself in America when all public virtue has departed from their statesmen. The Roman Catholics in America at the present day are among the most urgent for the establishment of perfect equality ; and equality is the common foundation of their own religious system and of centralised despotisms. When a centralised and despotic system of religion is imposed upon a lively and thoughtful race, hitherto habituated to a multitude of creeds and no very strong devotion to any one of them, it is long before they quietly subside in orthodoxy. This was shown in the Greek Church of the Constantinopolitan empire. The heresies which sprung from the East (and scarcely any arose in the West, then in the stage of primitive theocracy), were caused by the active minds of the Greeks, then fond of novelty and thought. Four centuries have worked a change. We hear now of no more heresies in the East. The dissent and the thought are in the West. The great boldness of the Venetian merchants who joined the crusades in their dealings with the Pope and his legates, excited the astonishment and almost distrust of the French knights, who were accustomed in all things to yield to their theocracy; and this is one among the many curious contrasts that nations in such different stages of existence as were in the twelfth century Venice on the one hand, and France and Germany on the other, present.†
So the Venetians liked ceremonial piety.
“Why are the Venc
* It is worthy of note that Puseyitism, the most ceremonial form of Protestantism, thrives most among the rich idle classes of England, who have no country estates or duties, but live almost entirely at watering-places. Nowhere is it more rise than in Belgravia, which these plutocrats haunt in the season, because the old noblesse is there to be met; unless it is in Brighton, a favourite abode of those who have wealth without duties.
† Michaud, Hist, des Croisades, iii. 124.