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litical, and inconsistent with spiritual religion, and with Israel being a true church? Did God himself appoint in religion those things which are in their own nature inconsistent with spiritual religion? things wrong in themselves? I plead not for the divine right of this or the other form of church government; or for this or the other establishment; or even for the necessity of an establishment: I only state that, whatever faults there may be in any existing establishment, or in any that have existed, the thing cannot be evil per se. Otherwise God expressly appointed, and not only permitted, what was evil per se. Was spiritual religion under that dispensation, one thing, and under the Christian dispensation, another thing? Or was there no spiritual religion then? Was not the law itself spiritual? and were not many Israelites eminently spiritually minded? If God be unchangeable, true religion, as to its essence, must be the same: and, beyond doubt, the rule of duty, and the way of acceptance and of sanctification, were the same in substance, though the external administration differed. I cannot indeed consider the argument against establishments per se, especially as expressed sometimes in most unqualified language, as any thing less than a censure of what God himself actually instituted. We prove that oaths are not in themselves unlawful, because expressly appointed by God; and by the same rule we may prove that establishments are not evil per se, because allowedly appointed by God.
Again, did not all the pious kings of Judah, without exception, take the lead in matters of re
ligion, even to the exhorting, commanding, directing, encouraging, nay, censuring of the priests and Levites; the regular ministers of religion? Did they not also enforce the laws for the payment of the tithes and other dues to the priests and Levites Were they not in those things accepted, and commended, and encouraged, by prophets, and by the inspired writers; and this in proportion to their zeal, decision, and activity, as regulated according to the word of God? Were not those kings who neglected to do these things proportionably blamed, even when not directly idolatrous and wicked? Did not Ezra and Nehemiah, after the captivity, do the same? Did they not even consider heathen kings entitled to their gratitude, who countenanced and aided them; and exempted the ministers of religion from toll and impost? Now could that be "right, and "good, and truth,"2 in Hezekiah, or Josiah, or Nehemiah, which would be wrong, per se, in a Christian king? Circumstances may vary: but the thing could not be simply secular and political. Two things are clear in this view of the Old Testament history: first, that an establishment may be founded and superintended by pious princes, without requiring any thing except what the word of God requires; 3 and, secondly, that it may be thus acceptable to God, and peculiarly useful to mankind. I do not say that an establishment must be formed over the true Israel, because it was over the typical Israel: but are not nations, where
'Ezra vii. 13-28.
2 Chron. xxx. 20, 21.
32 Chron. xxx. 12.
Christianity is known, and to whom "are com"mitted the oracles of God," in nearly the same state as the nation of Israel was? And may not the same means conduce to increase the number of true Christians among nominal Christians, as were of old blessed to increase the number of true Israelites among nominal Israelites; and would it not be better to endeavour to state clearly, how existing establishments might be improved, and rendered more efficacious; than, by condemning the thing itself, in one sweeping sentence, to arm all establishments, in self-defence, to support unaltered, and unimproved, the whole existing system?
Again, do not the prophecies clearly foretell that "kings shall be nursing fathers, and their queens nursing mothers" to the true Israelites ? 1 and that they shall bring "gold and incense, and "shew forth the praises of the Lord?" "Kings "shall minister unto thee, &c."2 Surely this implies that they shall use their wealth, and influence, and authority, in something of the same manner as Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah, and Josiah did, to support and maintain the worship of God, according to his word, in their several dominions; 3 and as Nehemiah did, after the captivity.1
The vision in the latter chapters of Ezekiel 5 is indeed, very obscure in many respects; but it is generally admitted to predict future events, and to relate to the approaching Millennium. The waters,
'Isa. xlix. 23..
3 2 Chron. xvii. 4-9. 24. xxxi. 2-19, 20, 21. 'Neh. x. 19-29.
'Isa. Ix. 1-14.
xix. xxix. 3—11. xxx. 1-12, 22, xxxv. 6-18.
flowing from the threshold of the house, and growing wider and deeper in their progress,1 evidently refer to the same events, which Isaiah and Micah predict, under the emblem of " the moun"tain of the Lord's house being established on the top of the mountains, and all nations flowing "unto it :"2 and Daniel, "as the stone cut out of "the mountain without hands, and becoming a
great mountain and filling the whole earth." a This seems decisive that the vision does not refer exclusively to Israel, and their restoration, but to the general prevalence of Christianity throughout the earth, going forth from the sanctuary, and holy city, into all the nations. And let it be observed that the city is never called Jerusalem, nor the land Canaan. "The name of the city from "that day shall be called, THE LORD IS THERE, "JEHOVAH shammah." "Lo, I am with you al
ways, even unto the end of the world." Now the very things, in many respects, are ascribed in this vision to the prince, or princes, which the pious kings of Judah did, with acceptance and usefulness, before the captivity; and Ezra and Nehemiah after the captivity. Still a stated and large proportion of the land is allotted for the sup port of the ministers of religion, which must not be sold, or alienated; and the prince, or princes, are stated as bearing the expenses of the worship.5 Now I do not mean to argue for the divine right of tithes, or for any thing in particular which now
' xlvii. 1-12.
exists: but, if there be any meaning in these prophecies, kings and princes, in the predicted time, will have a more important station in religious concerns allotted to them, and take a more active, and liberal, and decided part in them, than the opposers of all establishments are willing should be assigned to them. If there be any instruction in these prophecies, (and they were "written for our "learning,") it cannot be a thing evil per se to provide a regular and stated maintenance for the ministers of religion, even when funds for that purpose did not previously exist: it could not be evil in itself (whatever the motive might be in those who did it, or however they might exceed all due proportion) for men to devote a portion of their estates to the service of the sanctuary, and the support of its ministers: it cannot be evil in itself to reserve this portion, or what remains of it, or is needful, for the same purposes at present, however it may be improperly parcelled out, or disposed of: nor can it be evil in itself to add to it, if exigencies, not to be supplied by a more equitable distribution of the existing fund, do require it. Nay, it cannot be wrong in itself for kings and princes to interpose, even in respect of the ministers of religion, and to require those who are supported as such to attend to the duties of their station according to the word of God, and according to such explanation of the word as they have voluntarily consented to. These things cannot be wrong in themselves, unless what God has recorded of his ancient servants, and predicted concerning his future servants, be wrong in itself.
It is admitted by some, that many things of this