Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

State and Church in 1492 and in 1892

STATE AND CHURCH IN 1492
AND IN 1892 1

"He brought us out, that he might bring us in." Out of Egypt into Canaan; out of slavery into freedom; out of the despotism and idolatry of the Pharaohs into the good land and large where they could worship the God of their fathers. It was the first great national deliverance, the beginning on earth of civil and religious liberty. No wonder that the glory of it is ascribed to God. Only his mighty outstretched arm could have drowned the oppressor in the sea, led his people like a flock through the wilderness, turned a multitudinous rabble of cowardly bondmen into a disciplined army,—into an independent, liberty-loving, Godfearing nation. But the God who brought Israel out also brought Israel in. He did not leave those whom he had redeemed to perish in the desert. He provided a land for the people, as well as a people for the land. There in Palestine, secure under his protection from the ravenous heathen monarchies around them, Israel entered for the first time in human history upon the sublime experiment of combining just civil government with the service and worship of the true God.

1 A sermon before the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Philadelphia, May 29, 1892, on the text: Deut. 6 : 23—"And he brought ns out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers."

The hand that brought Israel out, that it might thus bring Israel in, was the hand of Christ. Moses was the human instrument, but the real agent was one greater than he. For this reason we read in the Apocalypse of "the song of Moses . . . and the song of the Lamb." It is intimated that this first deliverance of God's people through Moses was a victory of the pre-incarnate Son of God, and that it was the type and beginning of a long series of deliverances scattered through history and culminating in the final triumph of Christ and his church, when they shall stand on the heavenly shore, looking back upon that glassy sea mingled with fire in which the last enemy has been overwhelmed. Every advance of liberty, culture, faith, takes place under the leadership of Christ. All patriotic songs are written, consciously or unconsciously, in his honor. It is he, the Lamb of God, who from age to age brings out his people, in order that he may bring them in.

Human history has been the history of migrations. The immense westward movement that first populated and then depopulated the classic lands, that first established the Greek and Latin empires and then overthrew them, was the most significant political event of the ancient world. And the greatest political event of the modern world is that same westward movement in its continuance to the American shores. The discovery of this continent by Columbus is the beginning of modem history, and about it turns the whole future destiny of man. It is fit that we should mark this four hundredth year by a solemn recognition of what Edward Johnson, the old Puritan writer, called "the wonder-working providence of Zion's Saviour."

IDEAL OF THE DIVINE FOUNDER 211

With this view I have taken for my theme: State and Church in 1492 and in 1892; or, the progress of civil and religious liberty in four hundred years, with American Christianity as a factor in that progress.

As we follow the march of the nations from the Tiber to the Thames, and from the Thames to the Mississippi, we shall find equal reason for rejoicing, whether we consider from what our American Israel has been brought out or to what our American Israel has been brought in. Fourteen hundred and ninety-two,—how looked the world in that year of our Lord? What were Church and State, and what the relations between them? As for the church, we may answer that it had utterly forgotten its spiritual vocation, and had become over all Europe the servile abettor and instrument of civil despotism. How low it had fallen and how far it had departed from the ideal of its divine Founder can be easily seen if we remember what that ideal was, and then trace the stages of the church's history. The foundation of the church is the spiritual connection of the individual believer with the living Christ, his Saviour and his King. His rule is a rule over the human spirit; within the realm of faith and conscience he is the supreme and the only Lord. As his reign is a spiritual one, his laws are enforced solely by spiritual sanctions.

Side by side with the Church, but in entire independence of it, stands the State. It too is a divine institution and is clothed with a divine authority. But it has to do only with men's outward and earthly and temporal affairs. While the Church visits spiritual offenses with purely spiritual pains and penalties, the State has only to do with civil offenses, and these it visits with civil pains and penalties. The Church is not to intrude into the sphere of the State, or wield its physical weapons; nor is the State to intrude into the sphere of the Church, or meddle with things spiritual. The State is to help the Church only by protecting it from external violence, and by securing to all its citizens the right to exercise and to propagate their faith so long as that faith does not involve violations of the rights of others. The Church on the other hand is to help the State by declaring that the powers that be are ordained by God, and that the citizen in all civil matters owes obedience to constituted authority. This entire separation, yet friendly co-operation, of Church and State is the scheme of the New Testament. Leopold von Ranke was a true statesman, as well as a true churchman, when he said that " Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's," was the most important utterance of Christ.

For three centuries, or down to the time of Constantine in 325, the Church was true to Christ's prescription, though the State was not. The one word that designates the period is the word persecution. Christianity was an illicit religion. Yet it prospered in spite of repression. The pruning knife only gave vigor to its growth. Ten converts rose to fill the place of every martyr. At last the heathen world stood awe-stricken before the spectacle of such self-forgetful constancy and yielded, at least outwardly, to the claims of Christ. Then began a second period, lasting from 325 to 1050, for which the word patronage is the only proper designation. The Emperor Constantine took the church under his protection. As his imperial predecessors had THE PERIOD OF POLICY

213

persecuted the Christians, so now his successors in the empire began to persecute the heathen. It became a matter of worldly advantage to profess Christianity. The civil power combined with a lax morality and with infant baptism to sweep the whole population into the church. The kingdom of God came to be identified with the visible church, and the visible church little by little came to mean the Roman hierarchy.

The Church, thus nourished in the bosom of the State, repaid the kindness shown, by stinging to death its benefactor. Ecclesiastical arrogance and ambition outgrew all bounds. A third period followed, from 1050" to 1250, in which the Church usurped the functions of the State and brought the world to her feet. The Papacy lorded it over the bodies as well as over the souls of men. It calmly appropriated to itself the traditions and the prerogatives of the Roman Empire. As the first period was the period of persecution, and the second period was the period of patronage, so this third period was the period of power. In Hildebrand's claim to jurisdiction over all civil governments, in Henry IV.'s purchasing his crown by penitential prayers as he waited barefoot during those cold January days at Canossa, and especially in the wresting from the emperors of the election of the popes and the giving of it to the cardinals as princes of the church, we see how near the Roman hierarchy came to absolute temporal dominion.

There followed a fourth period in the church's history which may be designated as the period of policy.

1 More exactly 1059, when the election of the pope was taken out of the hands of the emperors and committed to the College of Cardinals.

Vaulting ambition had overleaped itself. Papal assumption provoked revolt. The Crusades, undertaken in the interest of the church, resulted in the weakening of the church and the transfer of her power to the rising kingdoms of Western Europe. Rome was no longer supreme. She was compelled to maintain her existence and to secure her ends by diplomacy and persuasion. As in the days of her power she had wrested from the empire the election of the popes, so now there was wrested from the popes the election of the emperors, and the seven electors chose their imperial head without asking whether the reigning pope said yea or nay. So from the year 1250 1 to the year 1517 the church became the slave of the temporal powers, depending upon them for support, and by most unworthy concessions in matters spiritual purchasing their help in the extermination of her foes.

Fourteen hundred ninety-two, when judged by moral or religious standards, was as dark a year as the world had seen since Christianity had begun to be. The church had run through its four stages of persecution, patronage, power, policy. It had apostatized from Christ, sold itself for worldly gain, become a false church instead of a true. Where in that dark time was the true Church of Christ? It was hiding in dens and caves of the earth, excommunicated, stretched upon the rack, burned at the stake. The Albigenses had been well-nigh exterminated; John Huss and Jerome of Prague had suffered martyrdom; Savonarola's fiery ap

1 More exactly 1256, when the seven electors first chose as Emperor, Richard of Cornwall. The privilege was confirmed a century later by the Golden Bull.

AN INCESTUOUS ALLIANCE

peals were preparing his doom. Between the years 1478 and 1498 thirty thousand persons were in various ways punished by the Inquisition, and more than eight thousand persons were burned alive.

And who was the head of the hierarchy in this same 1492? None other than Roderigo Borgia, otherwise known as Pope Alexander VI. He sold for money the highest offices of the church; by assassination he made offices vacant that he might have offices to sell. Books of inconceivable obscenity received his sanction; books with a tinge of evangelical truth he condemned. For impiety, worse than a Nero, for impurity, worse than a beast, he yet claimed to be the vicar of Jesus Christ. Not too harshly did Dbllinger speak of him as among those popes "whom hell has swallowed up."

The world in 1492 had reached a practical demonstration that the alliance of Church and State is an incestuous one. Whether the Church dominate the State, or the State dominate the Church, the result is equally disastrous. When the Church assumes temporal powers, it ceases to be a church. In 1484 John Laillier, Doctor of the Sorbonne, cried out: "Since the days of Pope Sylvester, Rome is no Church of Christ, but a mere instrument of the State for the purpose of extorting money." And we shall never understand such a monstrosity as Alexander VI., unless we see in him a mere temporal prince, who for purposes of ambition pretends to be Christ's vicegerent, and hypocritically assumes to administer spiritual affairs. The very conception of a spiritual kingdom had well-nigh died out from the minds of men, or such a phenomenon would not have been possible.

While the Church had become the mere tool and slave of secular ambition, what shall we say of the State in 1492? Was civil government more free than ecclesiastical government? The short and simple answer is, that it was "the age of the despots." The characteristics of the time were Caesarism, absolutism, centralization. Every king of Europe at that time could say: "L'Etat, cest mot,"—"I am the State," just as the pope could say: "L'Eglise, cest mot,"—"I am the Church." But in order to appreciate how much this means, and from what hideous civil conditions our fathers were brought out, it will be necessary to take a backward glance at the history of the State, as we have just reviewed the history of the Church.

Mr. John Fiske, in his "Beginnings of New England," furnishes us with a generalization which greatly helps our inquiry. The characteristic of the Oriental State, he tells us, was conquest without incorporation. Hence the unassimilated provinces of the Eastern empires fell apart just so soon as the external force that aggregated them was withdrawn. The characteristic of the Roman State, on the contrary, was conquest with incorporation, but without representation. Here was a great advance on the Oriental method; wherever Rome carried her victorious banners she made the conquered peoples Romans, giving them not only Roman protection but Roman citizenship. The Roman Empire was an organic whole; its organization and law enabled it for centuries to resist attack. Still it lacked the one element which alone could have given it perpetuity—the element of representation.

How shall a widely extended empire be kept toTHE PRINCIPLE OF REPRESENTATION 217

gether? How can the separated parts be made to retain their interest in the whole? Mere incorporation will not accomplish it; besides giving protection to the parts, you must give to the parts an actual share in the government. Hence Aristotle, ignorant of the principle of representation, declared that a republic must be small,—none can be permanent where the free citizens number more than ten thousand. The Greek democracies were indeed of brief duration. The Roman Empire also fell. We hear occasional predictions that our own republic, simply because of its bigness, must some day fall to pieces. Such predictions fail to take into account the fact that a third method has appeared in history, a method which we can call English, as distinguished from the Oriental and the Roman. While the Oriental State was characterized by conquest without incorporation, and the Roman State by conquest with incorporation but without representation, the English State is marked by incorporation and representation together.

The principle of representation is the gift of the German tribes to the world's civilization. Wherever those tribes overran Europe, they planted the seeds of this new principle of civil unity and freedom. We see the signs of it in the Cortes of Spain and the StatesGeneral of France. But on the Continent it is only in secluded spots, such as Switzerland and the Netherlands, that the seed bore permanent fruit. The old Roman method of government by prefects crowded the new element out. The separate parts were too unintelligent and lifeless to clamor for the liberty, or to defend the right, of representation. And so the Continent in great measure lost its opportunity and relapsed into political despotism, just as afterward, when the Reformation came, it lost its opportunity and relapsed into ecclesiastical despotism. Only in England—and there mainly because of its isolation from Continental example and its separation from the Roman past—did the representative principle have a chance to show what it could do to make a nation united and free.

Even in England, as we shall see, the germ was not yet fully developed, and it needed to be carried across the Atlantic and planted in virgin soil, where there was absolute freedom from rival or adverse influences, before it could bear its largest and noblest fruit. But the Magna Charta had been wrung from King John, in 1215, and Simon de Montfort's great victory, in 1264, had settled forever the principle that there can be no just taxation without representation. And though the Wars of the Roses drained England of her strength, and the death of Richard on Bosworth Field left Henry VII. free to rule almost without a parliament, yet the principle survived; it had indestructible vitality; it was destined still to animate the breasts of Englishmen, until they had brought a successor of this same Henry to the block, and had established a refuge and home for liberty beyond the sea.

It is always darkest just before the dawn. The great uprisings of freedom were, in 1492, things of the unknown and distant future. The shifting of the primacy from the Latin to the English race, and the development of that race in a new and greater England, could not yet have been predicted by man. The apathetic and gloomy despotism of Henry VII. in England was A TIME OF RETROGRESSION 2ig

contemporaneous with the reign in France of Louis XI., through whose tyranny and intrigue the power of the nobility was broken; standing armies were substituted for the service of feudal retainers, and every office of justice and legislation was made the instrument of the crown. Ferdinand of Arragon, with his smiles, his bigotry, and his remorseless coldness, had just married Isabella of Castile, a princess not so lovely as idealizing historians have painted her, and their united kingdoms constituted the Spain whose initial acts of State were the banishment of the Moors and the revival of the Inquisition. In Germany, Maximilian I. was following the example of Louis XI. in establishing a standing army which might, if possible, put an end to the universal reign of force and private war. In Russia, Ivan the Great had overthrown the Mongols after their two hundred and fifty years' supremacy, and had founded the united monarchy of Kiev and Moscow. Everywhere, so far as civil liberty was concerned, 1492 was a time of retrogression. Monarchical prerogative was overbearing all popular rights. Erasmus, not long after, compared the typical king to the eagle, and spoke of "that stern front, that threatening curve of the beak, those rapacious and wicked eyes, those cruel jaws." And it was of such times that Emerson wrote:

God said, *' I am tired of kings—

I suffer them no more;
Up to my ears the morning brings

The outrage of the poor."

I have thus depicted, in brief, the condition of Church and State in the year of our Lord 1492. But that year stands not only for the culmination of the old, but for the rise of the new order of things. As I have already intimated, the turning-point, the beginning of modern history, is the discovery of America by Columbus. That was the critical event in which previous wholesome influences culminated, and from which the great movements that were to follow took force and direction. Let us consider it in its relation to three great movements in particular: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Revolution. The Renaissance was the new birth of the human intellect, as the Reformation was the new birth of the human conscience, and the Revolution was the new birth of the human will. In spite of all the darkness, the morning hour had come. The exploration of the globe by Columbus in 1492, and the exploration of the universe by Copernicus in 1507, wonderfully expanded and stimulated the mind of man. The world was discovered to man, and man was discovered to himself. Every step of the process and every result achieved is a wonder of divine Providence. It has been customary to laud the early navigators. Closer investigation teaches us rather to magnify Him who directed their way. They were fallible, selfish, often wicked, men. But

Themselves from God they could not free;
They builded better than they knew.

The halo of romance has been stripped from the brow of Columbus. He had amazing courage and daring, but he was little more than a bold buccaneer. Some sense of a divine mission indeed possessed him; he celebrated mass on setting out from Palos, and the NORTH AMERICA KEPT FOR ENGLAND 221

first sight of the new world was greeted with a gloria in excelsis: he afterward declared that God had made him a messenger of the new heavens and the new earth. But he was a man of dreams and hallucinations, of chicanery and deceit; he deceived others, and he deceived himself. His religion was largely a cloak for his personal ambition; he was almost devoid of generosity or honor; he was so devoted to gain, that the Indians with whom he dealt held up a piece of gold and said: "Behold the Christian's God"; and, in spite of earnest protests from Ferdinand and Isabella, he sent cargoes of these same Indians to be sold in Spain, and thus became the first slave-driver of the new world. It was well that a flight of birds induced him to change his course to the southwest and to make for the West Indies, for otherwise he would have landed in Virginia, and with his first voyage would have brought North America under the dominion of Spain and the Inquisition.

The same Providence that turned Columbus southward against his will and so kept North America from Spain, only six years later turned Sebastian Cabot southward against his will and so kept North America for England. Under the patronage of Henry VII. Cabot set out for Labrador and Hudson's Bay. But icebergs terrified his crew; he changed his course and followed the coast as far as Chesapeake Bay, and this exploration laid the foundation for the British claim to the possession of most of our present United States. The subsequent settlements of New England and Virginia by the English, and the long conflict with Spain and her rival settlements in South America which ended only with the destruction of the Armada, may be seen wrapped up in the germs planted by Cabot and Columbus.

But these discoveries were also signs of a new spirit in Europe—a public spirit, a patriotic spirit, a spirit of breadth and enterprise, of inquiry and unrest, of revolt against the traditional tyrannies both of Church and State. The very centralization which the kings devised in their own interest had awakened a sense of nationality. Joan of Arc was not so much the cause as she was the expression of this new feeling of unity in France. The merely local and individual began to recognize its relation to the life of the whole. Kings used this new national consciousness for their purposes, but it was a spirit which they did not evoke, and which they could not permanently control. Macchiavelli's "Prince," with its calm praise of royal perfidy, shows at any rate that a third estate was rising, of which the monarch must henceforth take account. The fifteenth century witnessed the first systematic substitution of diplomacy for force.

Down to this time the peoples of Europe had not been intelligent enough to influence foreign affairs, and their monarchs did this business for them. But when the Turks took Constantinople, in 1453, and the Eastern Empire fell, and scholars fled from the ancient haunts of learning, and their Greek books were brought into the debased and ignorant West, there resulted such a sudden and mighty outburst of human intelligence as the world had never seen before. The thoughts of men were preternaturally widened. Science, literature, and art began to awaken from the sleep of ages. Italy was at EFFECTS OF THE RENAISSANCE

223

this time the great fountain of ideas, and in Italy the very extinction of her ancient liberties under the iron hand of the despots resulted in the turning of every energy into the new revival of learning. Printing had j ust been invented, and had made it impossible again to destroy the intellectual treasures of mankind. Whole generations set themselves to rediscover the classic writers, and to transfer their words from manuscript to the printed page. From the bed of the Tiber, and from the buried ruins of old Roman villas, were dug up such masterpieces as the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvedere; and Venus rose once more from the earth, as she was fabled of old to have risen from the sea.

Though the Renaissance began in Italy, it quickly extended throughout Europe. The presses of Florence and Venice were duplicated in Paris and Lyons and Basle. Learning and printing together penetrated even the thick darkness of England, where many a nobleman could not read, and where many a priest could not understand the Latin of his prayers. In 1471 William Caxton established his press under the shadow of Westminster Abbey, and Erasmus, Colet, and More began the teaching of Greek in the University of Oxford. Well has it been said that Erasmus laid the egg which Luther hatched. Scholasticism, and the whole brood of papal assumptions, had thrown upon them the blazing light of a new knowledge and a new zeal for truth.

How needful this enlightenment was may be judged when we remember to what slavery of intellect and heart Rome had reduced the world. In perfect accord with Rome's conception of arbitrary sovereignty, the scholastic philosophy of Duns Scotus and William of Occam had taught that truth and right are just what God's will makes them: they have no foundation in the nature of things, or in the nature of God. God has made the radii of a circle to be equal, but he could just as easily have made them unequal; he has chosen that veracity and purity shall be virtues, but he could just as easily have made lying to be right and purity to be wrong. Since truth and right are not necessary but only arbitrary relations, no amount of thinking or reasoning can ever determine what is right or what is true, —this is one of God's secrets, which only he can make known. He has told the secret only to the church. Only the church can dispense it to the world. This the priest will do for a consideration. The thoughtful naturally drew the inference that a merely arbitrary truth was hardly worth the purchasing, and a merely arbitrary right was hardly worth the doing. The world sank into a hopeless skepticism as to the very existence of truth, and into a desperate immorality which defied both right and God.

The first effect of the Renaissance indeed was an amazing increase of human wickedness. The reading of the classic writers stimulated not only the intellect but also the passions of men. Many a form of heathen depravity, which had been buried in oblivion, arose once more to corrupt the world. The spirit of the age is expressed in the legend of Doctor Faustus, ready to sell his soul for knowledge, and when knowledge failed to satisfy, throwing his whole being into the pursuit of pleasure. Never in all the world was there more complete proof that mere knowledge will not make men moral. The wickedest of the popes were great patrons NEED OF THE REFORMATION

225

of learning and of art. Ferocity and sensuality walked hand in hand with letters. The young world, just risen from sleep, had unbounded capacity for enjoyment; everything seemed possible and permissible to its fresh energy. Church and creed restrained no longer,—they were either thrown aside or they led the race for mere physical beauty and delight. In short, paganism had come again, and the gods of power and pleasure were worshiped in the place of Christ.

How infinitely important it was, if the world was not to go down again into heathenism and destruction, that the Renaissance, the new birth of the human intellect, should be followed by the Reformation, the new birth of the human conscience! Rome had become the Sodom and Egypt of the book of Revelation,—a Sodom for impurity, and an Egypt for darkness and oppression. She gave no relief or help to the conscience-stricken or the dying. When the conscience-stricken sought for pardon, the conditions were simply physical penance and the giving of their treasures to the church. When the dying stretched out agonizing hands to grasp some sure support as they walked out into the great darkness, their ears were dinned by the droning of the priest, as he offered unintelligible prayers to the Virgin and to a whole sky-full of saints. How terrible a commentary upon the corruptions of a false Christianity is the vow of the Sultan Amurath! That Moslem monarch, believing that there was but one God, and that Mohammed was his prophet, swore a great oath that he would give himself no rest till he had destroyed the gods of gold, silver, brass, and wood, that were worshiped by the

disciples of Christ. But there was another destruction

p

preparing, at the hands of a stouter heart and a truer believer, the converted monk of Wittenberg. Twentyfive years after the discovery of the new world a movement was inaugurated which was to link civil and religious liberty together, and to transport both to the shores of America. The false Church and the despotic State must be shaken to their foundations in order that a better order which could not be shaken might remain. That mighty movement was the Reformation under Luther. We have seen the need of it. And now the hour had struck.

Down came the storm. In ruins fell

The outworn world we knew.
It passed,—that elemental swell;

Again appeared the blue!

The Reformation was, above all things else, a revival of religion. It never would have accomplished what it did, if it had not begun with the heart and purified the springs of action. But it did not end with the heart,— it clarified the intellect also. It took up into itself whatever was good in the Renaissance and purged it of the evil. It made havoc of the saints and the ceremonies, the penances and the priests, with which Rome had encumbered and obscured the way of salvation, and it brought man once more, after the old New Testament fashion, into personal dealings with his God and Saviour. Here was the death-blow to skepticism. Faith was the highest sort of knowledge. The vision of God which the believer enjoyed through the Holy Spirit was more immediate than ocular perception or logical demonstration. Faith, at the Reformation, laid the foundation of DEFECTS OF THE REFORMATION

227

modern scientific certainty; it had God sure,—since God is truth and truth is God, other things may be sure also,—hence it proceeded to banish skepticism in philosophy and science. All our present convictions of the value of normally conducted investigation, all our faith in a rationally constituted universe, all our nineteenth-century harvests of knowledge and invention, are the fruits of spiritual seed planted by Luther at the Reformation.

It seems wonderful to us that Luther, after having revived the New Testament doctrine of faith, did not also revive the New Testament doctrine of the church. This was his error; this was the reason why his Reformation did not permanently endure in Germany. The multitude of the unregenerate which infant baptism brought into the church soon undid the work of religious revival, just as it had done once before in the time of the Emperor Constantine, and left Christianity a prey to formalism and skepticism. Luther undervalued polity, as compared with doctrine, and so he deprived doctrine of its divinely appointed guardian and defender. He did not trust enough in the self-governing powers of the body of true believers, and so he gave over to the State the government of the Church. Revolting at the fanaticisms of the uninstructed, and not knowing that the only remedy for the evils of liberty is liberty, he concluded that in the matter of church government the princes should lead and the people should follow. Did he not believe in the priesthood of individual believers? Ah, yes! but he also believed that, since the nation was Christian also, there should be a public judgment in matters of religion, and that this judgment should be expressed by the State. It was only the Roman principle in a modified form. Its adoption was a mistake so fatal that it vitiated the whole Reformation in Europe, and made absolutely necessary another movement on another continent for the establishment of a free Church in a free State.

Luther mixed up Church and State once more. But he had his misgivings. "Satan remains Satan," he said; "under the pope, Satan pushed the Church into the State; now he wishes to push the State into the Church." But all the Reformers, save a few insignificant Anabaptists, unwittingly helped on this same retrogression. It matters not where you look. There was no real freedom of conscience anywhere. The Church included the entire baptized population. The State was simply the Church exercising civil functions. The State, therefore, must stand for Christianity, and must root out all unchristian belief and practice. In theory there was toleration, but only in non-essentials; and the State usually determined that everything was essential which in any way affected its creed or its influence. Hence Calvin, who has been called "the constitutional lawyer of the Reformation," assented to the burning of Servetus, and Zwingli assented to the drowning of Mantz.

I have mentioned the Anabaptists, and have called them insignificant. This they were in numbers, but not in influence. Originating in the valleys of Switzerland, a natural home of civil freedom, and possibly tracing their spiritual descent from the Waldenses on the southern side of the Alps, they represent the real Reformation movement, from which both Luther and PERSECUTION OF ANABAPTISTS

229

Zwingli for political reasons turned aside. Mantz, for whose drowning Zwingli was responsible, was an Anabaptist, and so were Sattler and Blaurock and Hetzer and Hiibmeier, some of whom had their tongues torn out, while others had their bodies lacerated with red-hot tongs, and all of them were burned at the stake. All these believed in complete separation of Church and State, while yet they enjoined obedience to the civil power in all things not contrary to conscience and the word of God. They were men of the highest learning, ability, and piety. Hiibmeier, before his conversion, had been Professor of Theology at the University of Ingolstadt. Most of them had been Zwingli's lieutenants, until Zwingli's desertion of scriptural principles compelled them to desert him. At Schleitheim, a little village near Schaffhausen, they issued, in 1527, the first published Confession in which Christian men claimed absolute religious freedom for themselves and granted absolute religious freedom to others. They were the first martyrs of soul-liberty in Europe; the first who dared proclaim even unto death the New Testament doctrine of a wholly spiritual church; the first who pushed to its logical consequences the principle that civil government has no authority over conscience. We glory in the fact that these reformers of the Reformers were Baptists.

God's providence is nowhere more clearly seen than in the topography of the earth and in the physical preparations for human history. Christianity has run in channels marked out by road lines and by river lines, simply because these have been the lines of human traffic and intercourse. It was so at the Reformation. Calvinism originated at Geneva, in Switzerland. Whither should it first extend itself? Why, naturally down the river Rhine to the Low Countries and the sea.

As Calvinism flowed downward with commerce and the waters of the Rhine to the Netherlands and so across to England, it was inevitable that the English Reformation should be tinged with Calvin's spirit. When the Presbyterians, who best represented Calvin, were persecuted by the Episcopal government, they prayed for toleration. And well they might, for one of their ministers, Alexander Leighton by name, for publishing a book against the bishops,1 was sentenced to deposition from the ministry, to public whipping, and to imprisonment for life, after being fined .£10,000, besides having his cheeks branded, his ears cut off, and his nostrils slit. This was in 1628, and the sufferer had been Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh. But when the Presbyterians came into power, they still held that it was the right of the State to add its civil penalties to the censures of the Church. The Westminster Confession, at the end of that very chapter on Christian liberty in which is affirmed the Reformation principle of private judgment, proclaims that the magistrate, by his power, may proceed against men who merely publish opinions, provided they are contrary to the known principles of Christianity, or to the power of godliness, or even to the external peace and order of the church. John Milton himself had no notion of

1 A rather violent book, indeed, in which he called those prelates "men of blood," and characterized prelacy in general as "anti-Christian and Satanical."

ANABAPTISTS IN ENGLAND

231

giving liberty to Papists; Richard Baxter called universal toleration "soul-murder," and "the way to men's damnation "; and even Oliver Cromwell retained lay patronage and the compulsory payment of tithes, the injustice of which has become the more apparent as time has passed by.

But now we find that the obscure sect of Anabaptists which was ruthlessly suppressed in Switzerland, and afterward was persecuted in the Netherlands, had made its way to the east of England, and had begun to exercise a leavening influence upon the British nation. In 1540 they refused to act as magistrates, because the magistrate had to enforce laws against dissenters. In 1550 Joan Boucher, of Kent, one of these Anabaptists, was burned at the stake; and in 1575 another of them, Terwoort by name, a Fleming by birth, suffered the same fate, leaving this testimony: "They who have the one true gospel doctrine and faith will persecute no one, but will themselves be persecuted." As early as 1560, indeed, John Knox quotes an English Anabaptist as claiming entire freedom of conscience, and threatens him with prosecution. It is probable that Robert Browne, the first advocate of Congregational doctrine, got originally from the Anabaptists of Norwich those Separatist ideas whose propagation resulted ultimately in the exodus of the Pilgrim Fathers first to Holland, and then to New England. It is certain that he was by no means the first to advocate in Britain the doctrine of soul-liberty,—this honor belongs to the Anabaptists.

Robert Browne's Confession bears the date of 1582. The Confession of John Smyth, an indubitable Baptist, in 1611, declares the absolute separation of Church and State to be the law of Christ. And since this Confession is so important a part of the history of Church and State, I quote these significant words of it:

The magistrate, by virtue of his office, is not to meddle with religion or matters of conscience, nor to compel men to this or that form of religion ; but to leave the Christian religion to the free conscience of any one, and to meddle only with political matters. Christ alone is the king and law-giver of the Church and the conscience.

It has sometimes been said that Sir Thomas More's Utopia, printed in 1516, was the first public advocacy of religious liberty. "It should be lawful," he says, "for every man to favor and follow what religion he would, and that he might do the best he could to bring others to his opinion, so that he did it peaceably, gently, quietly, and soberly, without hasty and contentious rebuking and inveighing against others." But we must remember that all this was in Utopia, the land of Nowhere. It was not the profession of a creed, nor did Sir Thomas More's practice answer to it. When he was Lord Chancellor, he himself persecuted and defended persecution. Our Baptist claim must still stand, that the people whom we represent made the first serious and combined effort in human history to establish entire freedom of conscience. But ah! the long struggle that was required to make that principle operative. The Church of England did not accept even the idea of toleration until 1688, seventy-seven years after John Smyth's Confession. And what were the chances, when that Confession was published in 1611, that its contention would be granted, may be sufficiently known from the reply of King James I. to the Presbyterians:

"I will make them conform, or I will harry them out of England." Well did the contemporary Duke of Sully call King James "the wisest fool in Christendom."

How evident it is that the Renaissance, the new birth of the human intellect, and the Reformation, the new birth of the human conscience, needed to be followed by the Revolution, the new birth of the human will! Political centralization confronted the liberty of thought. Absolute monarchy and free inquiry had triumphed at the same time in Europe. The Reformation had broken down the spiritual tyranny of the papacy. The Revolution under Cromwell was needed to break down the tyranny of the civil power. The French Revolution was only the later phase on the Continent of the same general conflict, and our own Revolution in 1776 may be regarded as its sequel also. Guizot has well said that in the English and the French Revolutions the principle of absolute authority was swept away. England was snatched from the side of absolutism to be the most powerful support of civil and religious liberty in Europe. Liberty triumphed in France also, but there were no institutions there to perpetuate it, and the populace became as great a tyrant as the king. Only in our own day is the French nation gradually shaping a system by which liberty can be made permanent. In neither the English nor the French Revolutions, although they established constitutional government, was the Church sundered from the State and made entirely free from its control. The system which gives both State and Church their rights had to be worked out in a land without precedents, and that land is America.

As divine Providence had frustrated all the efforts of Spain to gain a foothold in the New World north of the gulf of Mexico, so that same Providence delayed the exodus from England, and kept Englishmen in their native land until that land had been purified by the Reformation. Even then, a hundred and twenty-eight years after the first voyage of Columbus, it was not the common run of Englishmen that were permitted to go, but only those few select spirits in whom suffering for their faith had developed a stalwart manhood. Queen Mary had earned her title of "Bloody" by persecuting to their death more than three hundred of her subjects, and by driving more than eight hundred of them to the Continent. The burning of Archbishop Cranmer, however, was the death-blow of Roman Catholicism in England, and the only result of banishing his sympathizers was that they took refuge with their Protestant friends in Holland and Switzerland, and at length came back stout Calvinists and Presbyterians. So began the Puritan movement, which gathered force under the reigns of Elizabeth and of James, only to pour itself forth from 1620 to 1640 in one determined and heroic effort to establish Christian commonwealths in a land where ritual and prelacy were unknown.

The migration to America was marvelously timed, not only as to its beginning, but also as to its end. During those twenty years, a thousand Englishmen a year expatriated themselves and took up their abode on the rocky coast of New England. Among these twenty thousand Englishmen were men of the highest character and education. Of their eighty ministers, half were graduates of Cambridge or of Oxford, and Boston was only six years old when out of its penury the colony of THE EMIGRATION TO AMERICA

235

Massachusetts Bay established its new Cambridge on this side of the sea. Well might William Staughton say in his Election Sermon of 1688: "God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice grain into the wilderness." The Puritans and the Pilgrims came just at the time when religious conviction and love of liberty were at white heat. Never was there a migration with which the almighty dollar had less to do. So says a recent historian, and the incalculable hardships, the exalted steadfastness, the spiritual devotion of that migration are "dear to God and famous to all ages." They succeeded in their aim. They transplanted English institutions, the town-meeting, representative government, to American soil. They brought with them the habit of resistance to encroachment upon their liberties which prepared the way for our American Revolution. They brought with them the sense of nationality which prepared the way for our war in defense of the Union.

And yet in twenty years the movement was all over. Continuing during just those years when the two currents of civil freedom and of religious faith were strongest in all the history of England, the tide of emigration stopped with the assembling of the Long Parliament. Then Puritan energy had enough to do at home. The tyrant Charles was to be defeated at Naseby, tried at Westminster, and beheaded at Whitehall. Cromwell and the Commonwealth were to give order, and freedom, and power to England. And for nearly a century there was no more emigrating to America. Indeed, after the first Puritan energy had spent itself and the luxurious reaction came under Charles II., England could add but little to the heroic hearts that were working out their problem of government three thousand miles away. Hands off, now! Try your experiment, New England! See whether you can build up a State where there is freedom to worship God!

Ah, we must confess again that these brave colonists were led on by a higher wisdom and to nobler ends than they themselves were conscious of! Freedom to worship God? Yes, they sought a place to worship God themselves, but they had not the slightest notion of giving the same right to other men who desired to worship God in a way different from theirs. They not only had no design of establishing religious liberty, but they would have abhorred the very thought of it. Why, then, had they left their homes in England? Simply because the State religion there did not suit them, and because they wished to establish a new State religion. It was a New England that they sought on this side of the Atlantic. There were, indeed, important differences between the Puritans and the Pilgrims, between the colony of Massachusetts Bay and the colony of Plymouth. The Puritans never renounced their connection with the Episcopal Church as established by law. Their aim was simply reform within the church, reform which should do away with popish vestments and ceremonial, but which should leave the church after Calvin's fashion, still commanding the civil powers. No ideas of universal suffrage were ever harbored in their minds. They intended that only good men should rule, and theocracy was their ideal of government. They talked of toleration in minor matters; but the toleration of deadly error they regarded with abhorrence,—it was impiety THE PILGRIMS WERE SEPARATISTS 237

and treason to both God and the State. Whatever menaced theocratic government was deadly error. And so they not only hanged witches, but they banished the Quakers, together with Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth, on the other hand, were Separatists. They had given up the hope of reform within the Church of England, and they had begun a reform and had set up a church for themselves, "without tarrying for any." They were not Presbyterians, but Independents. They abjured altogether the theory of a national church. They had their rise in the east of England, and for this reason, after leaving Scrooby, where their first church was formed, and Leyden, the Dutch town of their temporary sojourn, they spread abroad from Plymouth, and named the counties and towns of eastern Massachusetts from the towns and counties of eastern England, their early home. A spirit of greater charity prevailed among them than manifested itself among the Puritans,—their exile in Holland, and the sorrows that followed it, had softened them, somewhat as the Puritans were softened afterward. While the Puritans admitted to full church privileges all who had been baptized in infancy, the Pilgrims limited the number of communicants in the church to those who were thought to be regenerate. While the Puritan wanted right government, the Pilgrim wished to add to this a certain measure of individual liberty. The Puritan desired not only to walk in the right way himself, but to compel other men to walk in it also; the Pilgrim held in theory, and for a time at least, that religion was a voluntary matter, and that the State must do nothing but protect the Church against violence. And so, through the early years at Plymouth, Miles Standish was captain of the military forces of the Old Colony, although he was not a member of the church; while the General Court of Massachusetts Bay decided, in 1631, that all State officials must be churchmembers, and that no one should be entitled to vote for these State officials unless he too was a member of some orthodox church.

It might also seem that Plymouth Colony was a home of religious liberty. But this was only because the Pilgrims were a homogeneous body, and no occasion for testing their liberality had yet arisen. Miles Standish was a whole-souled man; he loved the Pilgrims, if he did not love their faith; he had at any rate no heterodox or disturbing doctrines to propound. Until 1656 there was no express religious qualification for office. But two years later, as Mr. Winsor tell us,' "When the colony was overrun with Quaker propagandists, persons of that faith, as well as all others who similarly opposed the laws and the established worship, were distinctly excluded from the privileges of freemen, and, in the new revision of the laws in 1671, freemen were obliged to be at least twenty-one years of age, 'of sober and peaceable conversation, orthodox in the fundamentals of religion,' and possessed of at least twenty pounds' worth of rateable estate in the colony." It is true that this religious exclusiveness did not find formal expression in legislation until half a century after the colony was founded, and we must grant that the people of Plymouth were somewhat more liberal than those of Massachusetts

1 Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. III., p. 280.

BANISHMENT OF ROGER WILLIAMS 239

Bay. But the germ of intolerance was there, though for a time it was latent. Plymouth did not have enough love for free speech to make her willing in defense of it "to displease the Bay,"—a notable difference between her and Rhode Island, for Rhode Island, only a little while after, gave up all hope of union with the other colonies rather than give up the principle of freedom.

It is very plain that Roger Williams could not find a home at Plymouth any more than at Salem. Able, conscientious, and courageous as he was, he was without question restless and contentious also. But it was not merely his restlessness and contentiousness for which he was banished, but also his advocacy of the absolute separation of Church and State; or, to use his own words, his holding that "the civil magistrate's power extends only to the bodies and goods and outward state of men." This is the reason why he was warned off from Plymouth, after he had unwittingly taken refuge within the bounds of that colony.1 No wonder that he could not easily forget the inhospitality that forced him to leave the corn he had planted and the house he had built, and to wander through the forests "sorely tossed for fourteen weeks, in a bitter winter season, not knowing what bread or bed did mean." The Pilgrims as well as the Puritans thrust him out. But at last he reached a spot where both Puritans and Pilgrims ceased from troubling, and where the weary man found rest. In gratitude he called the place Providence. There he became a Baptist, and

1 Governor Winslow advised him that as his plantation was within the limits of Plymouth Colony, who "were loath to displease the Bay, he should remove the other side the water."

there he instituted the first government on earth organized upon the principle of absolute freedom to all belief and practice not conflicting with good order and morals. For the first time in the long and patient centuries soulliberty was recognized and guaranteed by civil government, and the unhallowed union of Church and State was formally dissolved.1

All this took place in 1636. But did not Lord Baltimore secure his charter for the Maryland Colony in 1632, and did not this charter provide for complete freedom of faith? The Maryland Colony was established in 1634, two years before Roger Williams settled in Providence. Does not this give to Maryland the honor of being the first government in which liberty in matters of faith was established by law? No, it does not. Liberal as Lord Baltimore was, and eager as he was to provide an asylum where Roman Catholics might have equal privileges with members of the Church of England, it never occurred to him that a wider liberty than this was possible. Toleration extended only to such as professed to believe in Christ. There was no toleration contemplated for Socinians or infidels.5 The "Act concern

1 Bancroft, History of United States, Vol. I., p. 375: Roger Williams "was the first in modern Christendom to assert in its plenitude the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law, and in its defense he was the harbinger of Milton, the precursor and the superior of Jeremy Taylor."

2 The charter gives the Proprietary the advowsons of all churches which might happen to be built, and provides that no law shall be made prejudicial to God's holy and true religion. This cannot be held to establish the Church of England, or to prohibit the exercise of any other worship. There was probably a secret understanding that Catholics and the Church of England should enjoy the same religious rights. The charter itself did not enforce toleration, for under this charter the Church

ing Religion," passed by the Maryland Assembly in 1649, was simply the writing out of Lord Baltimore's unwritten law, and it expressed the meaning of the charter of 1632. It declares simply that "no person professing to believe in Christ shall be in any ways troubled or molested "; and that there may be no mistake it provides that blasphemy and the denial of the Trinity, or of Christ's divinity, shall be punishable with death. Although Lord Baltimore himself was very tolerant, his charter did not enforce toleration. Under that charter, interpreted as it was by the Act of 1649,— an act for which Maryland has been too generously called "the land of the sanctuary,"—a Quaker missionary only ten years after, or in 1659,1 received a sentence of banishment. But who ever doubted that Quakers were free to propagate their faith in Rhode Island?

So Baptists first announced the principle of religious liberty in Switzerland; Baptists first advocated it in England; a Baptist first established it in America. In each case, so far as the evidence goes, it was a new discovery by men who studied the New Testament for themselves, and who sought to follow only Christ. In commenting on the Confession of English Baptists issued in 1644, Prof. Henry C. Vedder, in his "Short History of the Baptists," has well said:

of England was afterward established, and disabilities were put upon Catholics and dissenters. Freedom of worship was actually granted at first, and Christians of every name were invited to settle. Puritans and Prelatists came there when persecuted in New England. Bancroft, "History of United States," Vol. I., p. 256, "The clause for liberty in Maryland extended only to Christians."

1 This order provides that Quakers shall be arrested and whipped out of the province.

Q

This is a great landmark not only of Baptists but of the progress of enlightened Christianity. Those who published to the world this teaching, then deemed revolutionary and dangerous, held, in all but a few points of small importance, precisely those views of Christian truth that are held to-day. For substance of doctrine, any of us might subscribe to it without a moment's hesitation. On the strength of this one fact, Baptists might fairly claim that, whatever might have been said by isolated individuals before, they were the pioneer body among modem Christian denominations to advocate the right of all men to worship God, each according to the dictates of his own conscience, without let or hindrance from any earthly power.

Again and again they have endured persecution. The unmerciful whipping of Obadiah Holmes, in the streets of Boston, and the expulsion from his office of Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College, not a denominational but a State institution, for his preaching against infant baptism, were of the same piece with the fines and imprisonments with which Baptists were visited in Maine, New York, and Virginia. As Baptists began, so they continued the movement for entire abolition of church endowments and religious tests. Dexter, in his monumental work on Congregationalism, quotes from Belcher the statement that Jefferson considered Baptist church government the only form of pure democracy which then existed in the world and concluded, eight or ten years before the American Revolution, that this would be the best plan of government for the American colonies. Baptist influence in Virginia made possible the statute of religious freedom, of which Jefferson thought it an honor to be author. A Baptist committee laid its complaints before the Massachusetts delegates of the first Continental SIGNIFICANCE OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY 243

Congress. Baptists had a large share in securing the adoption of that memorable article of our national Constitution, which provides that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." And, finally, Baptists, more than any other denomination of Christians, by their persistent advocacy, brought Congress to propose, and the States to accept, just one hundred years ago, that famous first amendment to the Constitution, which declares that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." If we could now only secure the insertion in both the Federal and the State Constitutions of a provision that no public money shall ever be appropriated to sectarian institutions, the record of American Baptists would be complete.

Little by little the principle of religious liberty has made its way, until now the last vestige of a church establishment has been erased from our statute-books. The lingering relics of proscriptive legislation were not swept away in Connecticut till 1818, and in Massachusetts until 1833. But now these United States stand before the world as the embodiment of the voluntary principle in religion. This is the significance thus far of American Christianity. God brought our fathers out from the iron furnace and from the house of bondage, in order that he might bring us in, to a freedom both political and spiritual, such as the world has never seen before. It is seen nowhere else to-day but in America, and in the newer English colonies which have copied America's example. Everywhere else there still remain establishments or restrictions or partialities, which interfere with the free exercise and propagation of religious faith.

In Great Britain, Spurgeon may give to his Tabernacle, if he will, but if he own agricultural land he must pay tithes for the support of the Episcopal rector of his parish, whether he will or no. France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, give nominal freedom to all faiths. But France gives special aid to certain faiths; while other faiths receive no aid, but must seek the special permission of the police. Germany has an established church in every kingdom belonging to the empire; Switzerland in every canton belonging to the republic; while both Germany and Switzerland shut out the Jesuits. Italy acknowledges Roman Catholicism as the religion of the State, and it makes its annual dotation to the pope. Spain professes to tolerate all religions, but only Roman Catholicism is the religion of the State; and all meetings held by other religionists must be held in private houses, without placard or advertisement or bell, to indicate their existence to the outside world. Five years ago I visited Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire. I sought the little Baptist church. No directory could give me information as to its whereabouts. The pastor of a Presbyterian chapel volunteered to conduct me. We passed through the court of what seemed a gentleman's dwelling. We knocked upon a door which had no sign upon it to distinguish it from any other door. We waited till a bolt was withdrawn. We entered a passageway, and at length emerged in a room of moderate size, where thirty or forty German believers were gathered. They could not look upon us graciously, until they found that we were not detectives or TOLERATION IS NOT LIBERTY

245

officers of the police. But what is the anxiety of the feeble band of Baptists in Austria, compared with the harrowing uncertainty that attends the life of the Stundists, or of the Jews, in Russia!

Toleration is not liberty. Establishments are not liberty. Nothing is liberty but absolute equality of all faiths before the law. Toward this ideal Europe has been advancing. The abolition of the temporal power of the pope, the accomplished unity of the two great States, Italy and Germany, the sober and prosperous experience of twenty years in France under the republic, the disestablishment of the Irish Church—these are great achievements indeed, but they mark stages of progress which in the United States we have left far behind us. The democratic spirit is moving everywhere among the nations. But here it is triumphant. And the separation of Church and State has harmed neither of the two; but, where State aid has wholly ceased, religion has prospered as never before. Our one hundred thousand ministers of various denominations, our one hundred and forty thousand churches, our twenty million communicants in a population but little greater than thrice their number,1—these are results of the voluntary system which challenge the attention and the emulation of the world, and demonstrate the truth of Wordsworth's verse, that

Mightier far than strength of nerve and sinew,
Or the sway of magic potent over sun and star,
Is Love.

1 These statistics, though put in round numbers and correct when the address was delivered, are allowed to stand, as they sufficiently illustrate the point.

Let us be grateful, but let us also be humble. We are only at the beginning of our experiment. Here, in this last land of the temperate zone that can be occupied by man, the trial of the free Church in the free State is being conducted on a scale never before possible in human history. All the nations of the earth are sifted among us for material to work on. All the nations of the earth are accessible to our commerce. Standing midway between Europe and Asia as we do, the world is looking on, to watch our success or failure. Let us remember that faith and freedom will not preserve themselves; that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; that we must hold fast what God has given us, if we are not to see it snatched from our grasp forever. Let us remember that no people ever yet kept their liberty by confining its blessings to themselves; that the free Church in a free State is ours only to make the whole race of man partakers of it; that America can never fulfill the divine idea in her existence unless she stands at the gateway of the nations holding forth the word of life, not only to our own but to other lands, like another and grander statue of "Liberty enlightening the world."