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confiftent with good logic and plain English, it will Mr.Mack be time enough to difcufs it. Till that definition (with the Greek calends) comes, I should as foon dispute about the meaning of facrilege as about that of herefy or witchcraft.

VI. The whole fubject is indeed fo evident, that little diverfity of opinion could have arifen, if the queftion of church property had not been confounded with that of the prefent incumbents. The diftinction, though neither ftated by Mr. Burke nor Monf. Calonne, is extremely fimple. The ftate is the proprietor of the church revenues; but its faith, it may be faid, is pledged to those who have entered into the church, for the continuance of thofe incomes for which they abandoned all other purfuits. The right of the state to arrange at its pleasure the revenues of any future priests may be confeffed, while a doubt may be entertained, whether it is competent to change the fortune of thofe to whom it has folemnly promised a certain income for life. But these distinct fubjects have been confounded, that fympathy with fuffering individuals might influence opinion on a general question, that feeling for the degradation of the hierarchy might fupply the place of argument to eftablish the property of the church. To confider this fubject diftinctly, it cannot be denied, that the mildeft, the most equitable, and the moft ufual expedient of polifhed ftates in periods of emergency, is the reduction of the falaries of their fervants, and the fuppreffion of fuperfluous places. This and no more has been done regarding the church of




Mr.Mack- France. Civil, naval, and military fervants of the state are fubject to fuch retrenchments in a moment of difficulty. They often cannot be effected without a wound to individuals *; neither can the reform of a civil office, nor the reduction of a regiment: but all men who enter into the public fervice must do fo, with the implied condition of fubjecting their emoluments, and even their official existence, to the exigencies of the ftate. The great grievance of fuch derangements is the fhock they give to family fettlements. This is precluded by the compulfory celibacy of the Romish church; and when the debts of the clergy are incorporated with thofe of the state, and their fubfiftence infured by moderate incomes, though fenfibility may, in the least retrenchment, find fomewhat to lament, justice will, in the whole of these arrangements, difcover little to condemn. To the individual members of the church of France, whofe hopes and enjoyments have been abridged by this refumption, no virtuous mind will refufe the tribute of its fympathy and its regrets. Every man of humanity muft wifh, that public exigencies had permitted the French legiflature to fpare the income of prefent incumbents, and more especially of those whom they still continued in the discharge of active functions. But thefe fentiments imply no forrow at the downfal of a great corporation, the determined and implacable enemy of freedom; at the converfion of an immenfe public property to na

This is precifely the cafe of "damnum abfque injuria."


tional ufe, nor at the reduction of a fervile and im- Mr.Mack perious priesthood to humble utility, as the moral and religious inftructors of mankind. The attainment of these great objects confoles us for the portion of evil that was, perhaps, inseparable from them, and will be juftly admired by a pofterity too remote to be moved by these minute afflictions, or to be afflicted by any thing but their general splendour. The enlightened obferver of an age thus diftant will contemplate with peculiar aftonishment, the rise, progress, decay, and downfal of fpiritual power in Chriftian Europe. It will attract his attention as an appearance which stands alone in hiftory. Its connection in all ftages of its progrefs with the civil power will peculiarly occupy his mind. He will remark the unprefuming humility by which it gradually gained the favour, and divided the power, of the magiftrate; the haughty and defpotic tone in which it afterwards gave law to fovereigns and fubjects; the zeal with which, in the first desperate moments of decline, it armed the people against the magistrate, and aimed at reeftablishing spiritual defpotifm on the ruins of civil order; and the asylum which it at last found against the hoftilities of reafon in the prerogatives of temporal defpotifm, of which it had To long been the implacable foe.

The first and last of these periods will prove, that the priesthood are fervilely devoted when they are weak; the second and third, that they are dangerously ambitious when ftrong. In a state of feebleness,


Mr.Mack- bleness, they are dangerous to liberty; poffeffed of intofh. power, they are dangerous to civil government itfelf. But the last period of their progrefs will appear peculiarly connected with the ftate of France. There was no protection for the opulence and exiftence of the European priesthood in an enlightened period, but the throne. It formed the only bulwark against the inroads of reason; for the fuperftition which once formed their power was gone. Around the throne therefore they rallied. To the monarch they transferred the devotion which had formerly attached them to the church, and the fierceness of priestly zeal was fucceeded in their bofoms by the more peaceful fentiments of a courtly and polished fervility. Such is, in a greater or lefs degree, the prefent condition of the church in every nation of Europe; yet France has been reproached for the diffolution of fuch a body. It might as well be maintained, that in her conquefts over defpotifm fhe ought to have spared the ftrongest fortreffes and moft faithful troops of her adverfary. Such, in truth, were the corporations of the nobility and the church. The na tional affembly enfured permanence to their eftablishments, by difmantling the fortreffes, and difbanding the troops of their vanquished foe.

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So determined is the oppofition of Mr. Burke to thofe measures of the atlembly which regard the finances of the church, that even monastic institu

*I always underftand their corporate existence.



tions have in him found an advocate. Let us dif- Mr. Mackcufs the arguments which he urges for the preferva tion of these monuments of human madness. fupport of an opinion fo fingular, he produces one moral and one commercial reafon. "In monaftic

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"inftitutions," in his opinion, was found a great power for the mechanifm of politic benevolence."-"To deftroy any power growing wild from the "rank productive force of the human mind, is al"most tantamount, in the moral world, to the de"ftruction of the apparently active properties of "bodies in the material." In one word, the fpirit and the inftitutions of monachifm were an inftrument in the hand of the legiflator, which he ought to have converted to fome public ufe. I confefs myfelf fo far to fhare the blindness of the national affembly, that I cannot form the moft remote conjecture concerning the various ufes which have fuggefted themselves to a contriving mind." But without expatiating on them, let us attempt to conftruct an answer to his argument on a broader bafis. The moral powers by which a legiflator moves the mind of man are his paffions; and if the infane fanaticifm which firft peopled the deferts of Upper Egypt with anchorites, ftill exifted in Europe, the legiflator must attempt the direction of a fpirit which humanity forbad him to perfecute, and wisdom to neglect. But monaftic inftitutions have for ages furvived the fpirit which gave them birth. It was not neceffary for any legiflature to destroy" that power growing wild out of the rank productive

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