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and their rights, overwhelmed with the weight of tyrannical kings, nobilities, and hierarchies, professing to reign in the name of God, and by divine ordination, have sought relief in atheism, and denied God, that they might shake off a tyranny which had become too grievous to be borne. Give the atheist perfect liberty to profess his atheism, take away from him the conviction that in professing it he is warring against an arrogant authority, and he will himself be disgusted with it, and no longer have any wish to profess it. When men are permitted to see in God a father, they have no disposition to deny him; and when they see belief in him drawing mankind together as brothers, they will love that belief and do their best to acquire it.*
Similar remarks may be made in regard to sabbathkeeping and attendance on public worship. The first question is always, whether the government have a right to enforce them? The Sabbath, it is said, should be kept holy, but they only will keep it holy who believe it to be holy time, law or no law; - and they who believe it to be holy time will keep it holy,
It may also be remarked, that society depends not on religion for its subsistence, but on the social instincts of human nature. Man lives in society, not because he has a religion, but because he is man, and is created with a social nature. The instinct of society is a primitive, not a secondary instinct. It is not a result of a belief in God, nor of any other belief. Men have not reasoned themselves into society; they have not said to themselves, Let us create society. They have always lived in society. Society is as old as man himself. God, in giving us social instincts, social affections, and cravings, which society alone can satisfy, has amply provided for its subsistence. If men would believe more in God, and understand a little more of human nature, and rely less on their positive creeds, they would have fewer fears of the disastrous effects of the propagation of error. He, who really believes in God, believes that the Power which controls all worlds and events is mightier than any false opinion. They who think a little heterodoxy can bring the world to an end, or essentially alter its course, who fear that it can dissolve society, and prevent men from uniting with one another, be they called what they may, or profess they what faith they will, are the genuine infidels, the real atheists, against whom the friends of religion should be most on their guard, and against whom, if against any, laws of blasphemy should be enacted and enforced.
although not legally enjoined. They who believe in the propriety of public worship, and who would profit by attendance on it, will attend it, if they can. They who do not believe in its propriety, and have no relish for it, would not worship, though compelled to attend the places of worship. Religious worship, to be acceptable, must be free and sincere. If it be not offered freely, from the spontaneous promptings of the heart, it can have no worth. All laws, having for their object the enforcement of religion, or a respect for its ordinances, are therefore useless in the case of those who are religious, and can only produce hypocrisy in the case of those who are not. And hypocrisy, in our estimation, is a much more heinous sin in the sight of God, than sabbath-breaking, or neglect of public worship.
We have spoken, as we have, from no indifference to religion or to its ordinances, but from the overflowings of our zeal for Christian freedom. We would by no means encourage atheism, sabbath-breaking, non-attendance on public worship, or the habit of elevating to office men deficient in high moral and religious worth. But we are convinced that the best way to secure belief in the existence of God, reverence for religion, its ordinances, and the practice of the Christian virtues, is for Christians to be just, to respect all the rights of man, and to attempt to secure no legal or political advantages to themselves. We would leave religion perfectly free, and rely solely on arguments addressed to the reason and the conscience for its maintenance and prosperity.
The disposition on the part of churchmen to arrogate to themselves rights, they will not concede to others, the practice believers indulge of denouncing unbelievers, treating them with bitterness, scorn, and contempt, of ridiculing their notions and their writings, publishing from the pulpit and the press gross exaggerations of their doctrines, and utter falsehoods about their personal characters, the low and vulgar rank to which they seek to sink them in the social scale, and their unwillingness to respect them for what is just and true in their doctrines and characters, may be set down among the chief causes of existing indifference to religion, and the spreading infidelity, which every true Christian deplores; and till the church become Christianized, and professed Christians imbibe the spirit and follow the example of their Master, it will be of little avail to demand laws against unbelievers and sabbath-breakers, to speak against infidels, or to labor for their conversion.
Art. III. – SUB-TREASURY BILL. — 1. Mr. Webster's
Speech on the Currency. Delivered in the Senate of
the United States. Sept. 28, 1837. 2. Speech of Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, on the
Sub-Treasury Bill. Delivered in the Senate of the
United States, Feb. 15, 1838. 3. Mr. Webster's Second Speech on the Sub-Treasury
Bill. Delivered in the Senate of the United States,
March 12, 1838. 4. Speech of Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, in reply
to Mr. Clay, on the Sub-Treasury Bill. Delivered
in the Senate of the United States, March 10, 1838. 5. Speech of Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, in
reply to Mr. Webster, on the Sub-Treasury Bill. Delivered in the Senate of the United States, March 22, 1838.
We regard the Sub-Treasury Bill as one of the most important measures which our government has proposed since its organization. It constitutes now, and will probably, for some time to come, the great question in Federal politics. Its adoption or rejection will have an immense bearing on our whole future history. We believe, therefore, it may be well to devote a few pages to the consideration of the principal arguments for it, and chief objections against it.
VOL. I. NO. III.
The principle of the Sub-Treasury Bill is simply that of providing for collecting, safe-keeping, and disbursing the public revenues without recourse to Banks. We shall not trouble ourselves or our readers with the details of the Bill. They are, we presume, in the main satisfactory; for we have heard little or nothing said against them. The principle of the Bill is all that we feel much interest in; it is all the friends of the Bill are very tenacious of, and all its enemies very strenuously oppose. To the principle of the Bill, as we have stated it, shall we, therefore, confine the greater portion of the remarks we have to offer.
It may be assumed in the outset, that the government has the right to collect, keep, and disburse its revenues, by means of its own officers, without any recourse to bank agency. It may also be assumed that the banks have no natural claim on the government to be employed as its fiscal agents, and that they will have no injustice to complain of, if they are not so employed. Moreover, it may be assumed again, that the government can, if it choose, manage its fiscal concerns without any connexion with banks or banking institutions. Banks are a contrivance of yesterday; but governments are older than history, older even than tradition; and there can be no doubt that they had fiscal concerns, which they managed, and in some instances very well too, a considerable time before banks were dreamed of. What has been done may be done. The question, then, on the side we are now viewing it, is one of expediency. Is it expedient for the government to dispense with banks, and all bank agency, in the management of its fiscal concerns ?
Our government, in its measures and practical character, should conform as strictly as possible to the ideal or theory of our institutions. Nobody, we trust, is prepared for a revolution ; nobody, we also trust, is bold enough to avow a wish to depart very widely from the fundamental principles of our institutions; and everybody will admit that the statesman should study to preserve those institutions in their simplicity and integrity, and should seek, in every law or measure he proposes, merely to bring out their practical worth, and secure the ends for which they were established. Their spirit should dictate every legislative enactment, every judicial decision, and every executive measure. Any law not in harmony with their genius, any measure which would be likely to disturb the nicely adjusted balance of their respective powers, or that would give them, in their practical operation, a character essentially different from the one they were originally intended to have, should be discountenanced, and never for a single moment entertained.
We would not be understood to be absolutely opposed to all innovations or changes, whatever their character. It is true, we can never consent to disturb the settled order of a state, without strong and urgent reasons; but we can conceive of cases in which we should deem it our duty to demand a revolution. When a government has outlived its idea, and the institutions of a country no longer bear any relation to the prevailing habits, thoughts, and sentiments of the people, and have become a mere dead carcass, an encumbrance, an offence, we can call loudly for a revolution, and behold with comparative coolness its terrible doings. But such a case does not as yet present itself here. Our institutions are all young, full of life and the future. Here, we cannot be revolutionists. Here, we can tolerate no innovations, no changes, which touch fundamental laws. None are admissible but such as are needed to preserve our institutions in their original character, to bring out their concealed beauty, to clear the field for their free operation, and to give more directness and force to their legitimate activity. Every measure must be in harmony with them, grow as it were out of them, and be but a development of their fundamental laws.