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Home -> Adam Smith -> An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations -> Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations - Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

1. Introduction And Plan Of The Work

2. Book 1, Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 8 continue

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 10 continue

14. Chapter 11

15. Chapter 11 continue

16. Chapter 11 continue.

17. Chapter 11 continue..

18. Chapter 11 continue...

19. Conclusion of the Chapter 11

20. Book 2 Introduction

21. Chapter 1

22. Chapter II

23. Chapter II continue

24. Chapter II continue

25. Chapter 3

26. Chapter 4

27. Chapter 5

28. Book 3, Chapter 1

29. Chapter 2

30. Chapter 3

31. Chapter 4

32. Book 4, Chapter 1

33. Chapter 1 continue

34. Chapter 2

35. Chapter 3, Part 1

36. Chapter 3, Part 2

37. Chapter 4

38. Chapter 5

39. Chapter 5 continue

40. Chapter 6

41. Chapter 7, Part 1

42. Chapter 7, Part 2

43. Chapter 7, Part 3

44. Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

45. Chapter 8

46. Chapter 9

47. Book 5, Chapter 1, Part 1

48. Chapter 1, Part 2

49. Chapter 1, Part 3

50. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue

51. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

52. Chapter 1, Part 4

53. Chapter 2, Part 1

54. Chapter 2, Part 2

55. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue

56. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue B

57. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

58. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue D

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 3 continue

It was in this manner, by facilitating the acquisition of their military
and gymnastic exercises, by encouraging it, and even by imposing upon
the whole body of the people the necessity of learning those exercises,
that the Greek and Roman republics maintained the martial spirit of
their respective citizens. They facilitated the acquisition of those
exercises, by appointing a certain place for learning and practising
them, and by granting to certain masters the privilege of teaching in
that place. Those masters do not appear to have had either salaries or
exclusive privileges of any kind. Their reward consisted altogether in
what they got from their scholars; and a citizen, who had learnt his
exercises in the public gymnasia, had no sort of legal advantage over
one who had learnt them privately, provided the latter had learned
them equally well. Those republics encouraged the acquisition of those
exercises, by bestowing little premiums and badges of distinction upon
those who excelled in them. To have gained a prize in the Olympic,
Isthmian, or Nemaean games, gave illustration, not only to the person
who gained it, but to his whole family and kindred. The obligation which
every citizen was under, to serve a certain number of years, if called
upon, in the armies of the republic, sufficiently imposed the necessity
of learning those exercises, without which he could not be fit for that

That in the progress of improvement, the practice of military exercises,
unless government takes proper pains to support it, goes gradually to
decay, and, together with it, the martial spirit of the great body of
the people, the example of modern Europe sufficiently demonstrates. But
the security of every society must always depend, more or less, upon the
martial spirit of the great body of the people. In the present times,
indeed, that martial spirit alone, and unsupported by a well-disciplined
standing army, would not, perhaps, be sufficient for the defence and
security of any society. But where every citizen had the spirit of a
soldier, a smaller standing army would surely be requisite. That spirit,
besides, would necessarily diminish very much the dangers to liberty,
whether real or imaginary, which are commonly apprehended from a
standing army. As it would very much facilitate the operations of that
army against a foreign invader; so it would obstruct them as much, if
unfortunately they should ever be directed against the constitution of
the state.

The ancient institutions of Greece and Rome seem to have been much more
effectual for maintaining the martial spirit of the great body of the
people, than the establishment of what are called the militias of modern
times. They were much more simple. When they were once established,
they executed themselves, and it required little or no attention from
government to maintain them in the most perfect vigour. Whereas to
maintain, even in tolerable execution, the complex regulations of
any modern militia, requires the continual and painful attention of
government, without which they are constantly falling into total neglect
and disuse. The influence, besides, of the ancient institutions, was
much more universal. By means of them, the whole body of the people was
completely instructed in the use of arms; whereas it is but a very small
part of them who can ever be so instructed by the regulations of any
modern militia, except, perhaps, that of Switzerland. But a coward, a
man incapable either of defending or of revenging himself, evidently
wants one of the most essential parts of the character of a man. He is
as much mutilated and deformed in his mind as another is in his body,
who is either deprived of some of its most essential members, or has
lost the use of them. He is evidently the more wretched and miserable
of the two; because happiness and misery, which reside altogether in the
mind, must necessarily depend more upon the healthful or unhealthful,
the mutilated or entire state of the mind, than upon that of the body.
Even though the martial spirit of the people were of no use towards the
defence of the society, yet, to prevent that sort of mental mutilation,
deformity, and wretchedness, which cowardice necessarily involves in it,
from spreading themselves through the great body of the people, would
still deserve the most serious attention of government; in the same
manner as it would deserve its most serious attention to prevent a
leprosy, or any other loathsome and offensive disease, though neither
mortal nor dangerous, from spreading itself among them; though, perhaps,
no other public good might result from such attention, besides the
prevention of so great a public evil.

The same thing may be said of the gross ignorance and stupidity which,
in a civilized society, seem so frequently to benumb the understandings
of all the inferior ranks of people. A man without the proper use of the
intellectual faculties of a man, is, if possible, more contemptible than
even a coward, and seems to be mutilated and deformed in a still more
essential part of the character of human nature. Though the state was
to derive no advantage from the instruction of the inferior ranks of
people, it would still deserve its attention that they should not be
altogether uninstructed. The state, however, derives no inconsiderable
advantage from their instruction. The more they are instructed, the less
liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which,
among ignorant nations frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders.
An instructed and intelligent people, besides, are always more decent
and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one. They feel themselves, each
individually, more respectable, and more likely to obtain the respect
of their lawful superiors, and they are, therefore, more disposed to
respect those superiors. They are more disposed to examine, and more
capable of seeing through, the interested complaints of faction and
sedition; and they are, upon that account, less apt to be misled into
any wanton or unnecessary opposition to the measures of government. In
free countries, where the safety of government depends very much upon
the favourable judgment which the people may form of its conduct,
it must surely be of the highest importance, that they should not be
disposed to judge rashly or capriciously concerning it.

Art. III.--Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Instruction of
People of all Ages.

The institutions for the instruction of people of all ages, are chiefly
those for religious instruction. This is a species of instruction, of
which the object is not so much to render the people good citizens in
this world, as to prepare them for another and a better world in
the life to come. The teachers of the doctrine which contains this
instruction, in the same manner as other teachers, may either depend
altogether for their subsistence upon the voluntary contributions of
their hearers; or they may derive it from some other fund, to which the
law of their country may entitle them; such as a landed estate, a tythe
or land tax, an established salary or stipend. Their exertion, their
zeal and industry, are likely to be much greater in the former situation
than in the latter. In this respect, the teachers of a new religion
have always had a considerable advantage in attacking those ancient and
established systems, of which the clergy, reposing themselves upon their
benefices, had neglected to keep up the fervour of faith and devotion
in the great body of the people; and having given themselves up to
indolence, were become altogether incapable of making any vigorous
exertion in defence even of their own establishment. The clergy of an
established and well endowed religion frequently become men of learning
and elegance, who possess all the virtues of gentlemen, or which can
recommend them to the esteem of gentlemen; but they are apt gradually
to lose the qualities, both good and bad, which gave them authority and
influence with the inferior ranks of people, and which had perhaps been
the original causes of the success and establishment of their religion.
Such a clergy, when attacked by a set of popular and bold, though
perhaps stupid and ignorant enthusiasts, feel themselves as perfectly
defenceless as the indolent, effeminate, and full fed nations of the
southern parts of Asia, when they were invaded by the active, hardy, and
hungry Tartars of the north. Such a clergy, upon such an emergency, have
commonly no other resource than to call upon the civil magistrate to
persecute, destroy, or drive out their adversaries, as disturbers of the
public peace. It was thus that the Roman catholic clergy called upon the
civil magistrate to persecute the protestants, and the church of England
to persecute the dissenters; and that in general every religious sect,
when it has once enjoyed, for a century or two, the security of a legal
establishment, has found itself incapable of making any vigorous defence
against any new sect which chose to attack its doctrine or discipline.
Upon such occasions, the advantage, in point of learning and good
writing, may sometimes be on the side of the established church. But the
arts of popularity, all the arts of gaining proselytes, are constantly
on the side of its adversaries. In England, those arts have been long
neglected by the well endowed clergy of the established church, and are
at present chiefly cultivated by the dissenters and by the methodists.
The independent provisions, however, which in many places have been made
for dissenting teachers, by means of voluntary subscriptions, of trust
rights, and other evasions of the law, seem very much to have abated the
zeal and activity of those teachers. They have many of them become very
learned, ingenious, and respectable men; but they have in general ceased
to be very popular preachers. The methodists, without half the learning
of the dissenters, are much more in vogue.

In the church of Rome the industry and zeal of the inferior clergy are
kept more alive by the powerful motive of self-interest, than perhaps in
any established protestant church. The parochial clergy derive many of
them, a very considerable part of their subsistence from the voluntary
oblations of the people; a source of revenue, which confession gives
them many opportunities of improving. The mendicant orders derive their
whole subsistence from such oblations. It is with them as with the
hussars and light infantry of some armies; no plunder, no pay. The
parochial clergy are like those teachers whose reward depends partly
upon their salary, and partly upon the fees or honoraries which they
get from their pupils; and these must always depend, more or less,
upon their industry and reputation. The mendicant orders are like those
teachers whose subsistence depends altogether upon their industry. They
are obliged, therefore, to use every art which can animate the devotion
of the common people. The establishment of the two great mendicant
orders of St Dominic and St. Francis, it is observed by Machiavel,
revived, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the languishing
faith and devotion of the catholic church. In Roman catholic countries,
the spirit of devotion is supported altogether by the monks, and by the
poorer parochial clergy. The great dignitaries of the church, with all
the accomplishments of gentlemen and men of the world, and sometimes
with those of men of learning, are careful to maintain the necessary
discipline over their inferiors, but seldom give themselves any trouble
about the instruction of the people.

"Most of the arts and professions in a state," says by far the most
illustrious philosopher and historian of the present age, "are of such a
nature, that, while they promote the interests of the society, they are
also useful or agreeable to some individuals; and, in that case,
the constant rule of the magistrate, except, perhaps, on the first
introduction of any art, is, to leave the profession to itself, and
trust its encouragement to the individuals who reap the benefit of
it. The artizans, finding their profits to rise by the favour of their
customers, increase, as much as possible, their skill and industry; and
as matters are not disturbed by any injudicious tampering, the commodity
is always sure to be at all times nearly proportioned to the demand.

"But there are also some callings which, though useful and even
necessary in a state, bring no advantage or pleasure to any individual;
and the supreme power is obliged to alter its conduct with regard to the
retainers of those professions. It must give them public encouragement
in order to their subsistence; and it must provide against that
negligence to which they will naturally be subject, either by annexing
particular honours to profession, by establishing a long subordination
of ranks, and a strict dependence, or by some other expedient. The
persons employed in the finances, fleets, and magistracy, are instances
of this order of men.

"It may naturally be thought, at first sight, that the ecclesiastics
belong to the first class, and that their encouragement, as well as that
of lawyers and physicians, may safely be entrusted to the liberality of
individuals, who are attached to their doctrines, and who find benefit
or consolation from their spiritual ministry and assistance. Their
industry and vigilance will, no doubt, be whetted by such an additional
motive; and their skill in the profession, as well as their address in
governing the minds of the people, must receive daily increase, from
their increasing practice, study, and attention.

"But if we consider the matter more closely, we shall find that this
interested diligence of the clergy is what every wise legislator will
study to prevent; because, in every religion except the true, it is
highly pernicious, and it has even a natural tendency to pervert the
truth, by infusing into it a strong mixture of superstition, folly, and
delusion. Each ghostly practitioner, in order to render himself more
precious and sacred in the eyes of his retainers, will inspire them
with the most violent abhorrence of all other sects, and continually
endeavour, by some novelty, to excite the languid devotion of his
audience. No regard will be paid to truth, morals, or decency, in the
doctrines inculcated. Every tenet will be adopted that best suits the
disorderly affections of the human frame. Customers will be drawn to
each conventicle by new industry and address, in practising on the
passions and credulity of the populace. And, in the end, the civil
magistrate will find that he has dearly paid for his intended frugality,
in saving a fixed establishment for the priests; and that, in reality,
the most decent and advantageous composition, which he can make with
the spiritual guides, is to bribe their indolence, by assigning stated
salaries to their profession, and rendering it superfluous for them to
be farther active, than merely to prevent their flock from straying in
quest of new pastors. And in this manner ecclesiastical establishments,
though commonly they arose at first from religious views, prove in the
end advantageous to the political interests of society."

But whatever may have been the good or bad effects of the independent
provision of the clergy, it has, perhaps, been very seldom bestowed
upon them from any view to those effects. Times of violent religious
controversy have generally been times of equally violent political
faction. Upon such occasions, each political party has either found
it, or imagined it, for his interest, to league itself with some one or
other of the contending religious sects. But this could be done only by
adopting, or, at least, by favouring the tenets of that particular sect.
The sect which had the good fortune to be leagued with the conquering
party necessarily shared in the victory of its ally, by whose favour and
protection it was soon enabled, in some degree, to silence and subdue
all its adversaries. Those adversaries had generally leagued themselves
with the enemies of the conquering party, and were, therefore the
enemies of that party. The clergy of this particular sect having thus
become complete masters of the field, and their influence and authority
with the great body of the people being in its highest vigour, they were
powerful enough to overawe the chiefs and leaders of their own party,
and to oblige the civil magistrate to respect their opinions and
inclinations. Their first demand was generally that he should silence
and subdue all their adversaries; and their second, that he should
bestow an independent provision on themselves. As they had generally
contributed a good deal to the victory, it seemed not unreasonable that
they should have some share in the spoil. They were weary, besides,
of humouring the people, and of depending upon their caprice for a
subsistence. In making this demand, therefore, they consulted their own
ease and comfort, without troubling themselves about the effect which it
might have, in future times, upon the influence and authority of their
order. The civil magistrate, who could comply with their demand only by
giving them something which he would have chosen much rather to take,
or to keep to himself, was seldom very forward to grant it. Necessity,
however, always forced him to submit at last, though frequently not till
after many delays, evasions, and affected excuses.

But if politics had never called in the aid of religion, had the
conquering party never adopted the tenets of one sect more than those
of another, when it had gained the victory, it would probably have dealt
equally and impartially with all the different sects, and have allowed
every man to choose his own priest, and his own religion, as he thought
proper. There would, and, in this case, no doubt, have been, a great
multitude of religious sects. Almost every different congregation might
probably have had a little sect by itself, or have entertained some
peculiar tenets of its own. Each teacher, would, no doubt, have felt
himself under the necessity of making the utmost exertion, and of using
every art, both to preserve and to increase the number of his disciples.
But as every other teacher would have felt himself under the same
necessity, the success of no one teacher, or sect of teachers, could
have been very great. The interested and active zeal of religious
teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only where there is either but
one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society
is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of each acting by
concert, and under a regular discipline and subordination. But that zeal
must be altogether innocent, where the society is divided into two or
three hundred, or, perhaps, into as many thousand small sects, of which
no one could be considerable enough to disturb the public tranquillity.
The teachers of each sect, seeing themselves surrounded on all sides
with more adversaries than friends, would be obliged to learn that
candour and moderation which are so seldom to be found among the
teachers of those great sects, whose tenets, being supported by the
civil magistrate, are held in veneration by almost all the inhabitants
of extensive kingdoms and empires, and who, therefore, see nothing round
them but followers, disciples, and humble admirers. The teachers of
each little sect, finding themselves almost alone, would be obliged to
respect those of almost every other sect; and the concessions which
they would mutually find in both convenient and agreeable to make one to
another, might in time, probably reduce the doctrine of the greater part
of them to that pure and rational religion, free from every mixture of
absurdity, imposture, or fanaticism, such as wise men have, in all ages
of the world, wished to see established; but such as positive law has,
perhaps, never yet established, and probably never will establish in any
country; because, with regard to religion, positive law always has
been, and probably always will be, more or less influenced by popular
superstition and enthusiasm. This plan of ecclesiastical government, or,
more properly, of no ecclesiastical government, was what the sect called
Independents (a sect, no doubt, of very wild enthusiasts), proposed to
establish in England towards the end of the civil war. If it had been
established, though of a very unphilosophical origin, it would probably,
by this time, have been productive of the most philosophical good temper
and moderation with regard to every sort of religious principle. It has
been established in Pennsylvania, where, though the quakers happen to
be the most numerous, the law, in reality, favours no one sect more
than another; and it is there said to have been productive of this
philosophical good temper and moderation.

But though this equality of treatment should not be productive of this
good temper and moderation in all, or even in the greater part of the
religious sects of a particular country; yet, provided those sects
were sufficiently numerous, and each of them consequently too small
to disturb the public tranquillity, the excessive zeal of each for
its particular tenets could not well be productive of any very hurtful
effects, but, on the contrary, of several good ones; and if the
government was perfectly decided, both to let them all alone, and to
oblige them all to let alone one another, there is little danger that
they would not of their own accord, subdivide themselves fast enough, so
as soon to become sufficiently numerous.

In every civilized society, in every society where the distinction of
ranks has once been completely established, there have been always two
different schemes or systems of morality current at the same time;
of which the one may be called the strict or austere; the other the
liberal, or, if you will, the loose system. The former is generally
admired and revered by the common people; the latter is commonly more
esteemed and adopted by what are called the people of fashion. The
degree of disapprobation with which we ought to mark the vices of
levity, the vices which are apt to arise from great prosperity, and from
the excess of gaiety and good humour, seems to constitute the principal
distinction between those two opposite schemes or systems. In the
liberal or loose system, luxury, wanton, and even disorderly mirth,
the pursuit of pleasure to some degree of intemperance, the breach of
chastity, at least in one of the two sexes, etc. provided they are
not accompanied with gross indecency, and do not lead to falsehood and
injustice, are generally treated with a good deal of indulgence, and are
easily either excused or pardoned altogether. In the austere system, on
the contrary, those excesses are regarded with the utmost abhorrence
and detestation. The vices of levity are always ruinous to the common
people, and a single week's thoughtlessness and dissipation is often
sufficient to undo a poor workman for ever, and to drive him, through
despair, upon committing the most enormous crimes. The wiser and better
sort of the common people, therefore, have always the utmost abhorrence
and detestation of such excesses, which their experience tells them
are so immediately fatal to people of their condition. The disorder and
extravagance of several years, on the contrary, will not always ruin
a man of fashion; and people of that rank are very apt to consider the
power of indulging in some degree of excess, as one of the advantages of
their fortune; and the liberty of doing so without censure or reproach,
as one of the privileges which belong to their station. In people of
their own station, therefore, they regard such excesses with but a small
degree of disapprobation, and censure them either very slightly or not
at all.

Almost all religious sects have begun among the common people, from whom
they have generally drawn their earliest, as well as their most numerous
proselytes. The austere system of morality has, accordingly, been
adopted by those sects almost constantly, or with very few exceptions;
for there have been some. It was the system by which they could best
recommend themselves to that order of people, to whom they first
proposed their plan of reformation upon what had been before
established. Many of them, perhaps the greater part of them, have even
endeavoured to gain credit by refining upon this austere system, and by
carrying it to some degree of folly and extravagance; and this excessive
rigour has frequently recommended them, more than any thing else, to the
respect and veneration of the common people.

A man of rank and fortune is, by his station, the distinguished member
of a great society, who attend to every part of his conduct, and who
thereby oblige him to attend to every part of it himself. His authority
and consideration depend very much upon the respect which this society
bears to him. He dares not do anything which would disgrace or discredit
him in it; and he is obliged to a very strict observation of that
species of morals, whether liberal or austere, which the general consent
of this society prescribes to persons of his rank and fortune. A man of
low condition, on the contrary, is far from being a distinguished member
of any great society. While he remains in a country village, his conduct
may be attended to, and he may be obliged to attend to it himself. In
this situation, and in this situation only, he may have what is called a
character to lose. But as soon as he comes into a great city, he is sunk
in obscurity and darkness. His conduct is observed and attended to by
nobody; and he is, therefore, very likely to neglect it himself, and
to abandon himself to every sort of low profligacy and vice. He never
emerges so effectually from this obscurity, his conduct never excites
so much the attention of any respectable society, as by his becoming the
member of a small religious sect. He from that moment acquires a degree
of consideration which he never had before. All his brother sectaries
are, for the credit of the sect, interested to observe his conduct; and,
if he gives occasion to any scandal, if he deviates very much from
those austere morals which they almost always require of one another,
to punish him by what is always a very severe punishment, even where no
evil effects attend it, expulsion or excommunication from the sect. In
little religious sects, accordingly, the morals of the common people
have been almost always remarkably regular and orderly; generally much
more so than in the established church. The morals of those little
sects, indeed, have frequently been rather disagreeably rigorous and

There are two very easy and effectual remedies, however, by whose
joint operation the state might, without violence, correct whatever was
unsocial or disagreeably rigorous in the morals of all the little sects
into which the country was divided.

The first of those remedies is the study of science and philosophy,
which the state might render almost universal among all people of
middling or more than middling rank and fortune; not by giving salaries
to teachers in order to make them negligent and idle, but by instituting
some sort of probation, even in the higher and more difficult sciences,
to be undergone by every person before he was permitted to exercise any
liberal profession, or before he could be received as a candidate for
any honourable office, of trust or profit. If the state imposed upon
this order of men the necessity of learning, it would have no occasion
to give itself any trouble about providing them with proper teachers.
They would soon find better teachers for themselves, than any whom
the state could provide for them. Science is the great antidote to the
poison of enthusiasm and superstition; and where all the superior ranks
of people were secured from it, the inferior ranks could not be much
exposed to it.

The second of those remedies is the frequency and gaiety of public
diversions. The state, by encouraging, that is, by giving entire liberty
to all those who, from their own interest, would attempt, without
scandal or indecency, to amuse and divert the people by painting,
poetry, music, dancing; by all sorts of dramatic representations and
exhibitions; would easily dissipate, in the greater part of them, that
melancholy and gloomy humour which is almost always the nurse of popular
superstition and enthusiasm. Public diversions have always been the
objects of dread and hatred to all the fanatical promoters of those
popular frenzies. The gaiety and good humour which those diversions
inspire, were altogether inconsistent with that temper of mind which was
fittest for their purpose, or which they could best work upon. Dramatic
representations, besides, frequently exposing their artifices to public
ridicule, and sometimes even to public execration, were, upon that
account, more than all other diversions, the objects of their peculiar

In a country where the law favoured the teachers of no one religion more
than those of another, it would not be necessary that any of them
should have any particular or immediate dependency upon the sovereign
or executive power; or that he should have anything to do either
in appointing or in dismissing them from their offices. In such a
situation, he would have no occasion to give himself any concern about
them, further than to keep the peace among them, in the same manner
as among the rest of his subjects, that is, to hinder them from
persecuting, abusing, or oppressing one another. But it is quite
otherwise in countries where there is an established or governing
religion. The sovereign can in this case never be secure, unless he has
the means of influencing in a considerable degree the greater part of
the teachers of that religion.

The clergy of every established church constitute a great incorporation.
They can act in concert, and pursue their interest upon one plan, and
with one spirit as much as if they were under the direction of one man;
and they are frequently, too, under such direction. Their interest as an
incorporated body is never the same with that of the sovereign, and is
sometimes directly opposite to it. Their great interest is to maintain
their authority with the people, and this authority depends upon the
supposed certainty and importance of the whole doctrine which they
inculcate, and upon the supposed necessity of adopting every part of it
with the most implicit faith, in order to avoid eternal misery. Should
the sovereign have the imprudence to appear either to deride, or doubt
himself of the most trifling part of their doctrine, or from humanity,
attempt to protect those who did either the one or the other, the
punctilious honour of a clergy, who have no sort of dependency upon him,
is immediately provoked to proscribe him as a profane person, and to
employ all the terrors of religion, in order to oblige the people to
transfer their allegiance to some more orthodox and obedient prince.
Should he oppose any of their pretensions or usurpations, the danger
is equally great. The princes who have dared in this manner to rebel
against the church, over and above this crime of rebellion, have
generally been charged, too, with the additional crime of heresy,
notwithstanding their solemn protestations of their faith, and humble
submission to every tenet which she thought proper to prescribe to them.
But the authority of religion is superior to every other authority. The
fears which it suggests conquer all other fears. When the authorized
teachers of religion propagate through the great body of the people,
doctrines subversive of the authority of the sovereign, it is by
violence only, or by the force of a standing army, that he can maintain
his authority. Even a standing army cannot in this case give him any
lasting security; because if the soldiers are not foreigners, which can
seldom be the case, but drawn from the great body of the people, which
must almost always be the case, they are likely to be soon corrupted by
those very doctrines. The revolutions which the turbulence of the Greek
clergy was continually occasioning at Constantinople, as long as the
eastern empire subsisted; the convulsions which, during the course of
several centuries, the turbulence of the Roman clergy was continually
occasioning in every part of Europe, sufficiently demonstrate how
precarious and insecure must always be the situation of the sovereign,
who has no proper means of influencing the clergy of the established and
governing religion of his country.

Articles of faith, as well as all other spiritual matters, it is evident
enough, are not within the proper department of a temporal sovereign,
who, though he may be very well qualified for protecting, is seldom
supposed to be so for instructing the people. With regard to such
matters, therefore, his authority can seldom be sufficient to
counterbalance the united authority of the clergy of the established
church. The public tranquillity, however, and his own security, may
frequently depend upon the doctrines which they may think proper to
propagate concerning such matters. As he can seldom directly oppose
their decision, therefore, with proper weight and authority, it is
necessary that he should be able to influence it; and he can influence
it only by the fears and expectations which he may excite in the greater
part of the individuals of the order. Those fears and expectations
may consist in the fear of deprivation or other punishment, and in the
expectation of further preferment.

In all Christian churches, the benefices of the clergy are a sort of
freeholds, which they enjoy, not during pleasure, but during life or
good behaviour. If they held them by a more precarious tenure, and were
liable to be turned out upon every slight disobligation either of the
sovereign or of his ministers, it would perhaps be impossible for them
to maintain their authority with the people, who would then consider
them as mercenary dependents upon the court, in the sincerity of whose
instructions they could no longer have any confidence. But should the
sovereign attempt irregularly, and by violence, to deprive any number
of clergymen of their freeholds, on account, perhaps, of their having
propagated, with more than ordinary zeal, some factious or seditious
doctrine, he would only render, by such persecution, both them and
their doctrine ten times more popular, and therefore ten times more
troublesome and dangerous, than they had been before. Fear is in almost
all cases a wretched instrument of govermnent, and ought in particular
never to be employed against any order of men who have the smallest
pretensions to independency. To attempt to terrify them, serves only to
irritate their bad humour, and to confirm them in an opposition, which
more gentle usage, perhaps, might easily induce them either to soften,
or to lay aside altogether. The violence which the French government
usually employed in order to oblige all their parliaments, or sovereign
courts of justice, to enregister any unpopular edict, very seldom
succeeded. The means commonly employed, however, the imprisonment of
all the refractory members, one would think, were forcible enough. The
princes of the house of Stuart sometimes employed the like means in
order to influence some of the members of the parliament of England, and
they generally found them equally intractable. The parliament of England
is now managed in another manner; and a very small experiment, which the
duke of Choiseul made, about twelve years ago, upon the parliament of
Paris, demonstrated sufficiently that all the parliaments of France
might have been managed still more easily in the same manner. That
experiment was not pursued. For though management and persuasion are
always the easiest and safest instruments of government as force and
violence are the worst and the most dangerous; yet such, it seems, is
the natural insolence of man, that he almost always disdains to use the
good instrument, except when he cannot or dare not use the bad one. The
French government could and durst use force, and therefore disdained to
use management and persuasion. But there is no order of men, it appears
I believe, from the experience of all ages, upon whom it is so dangerous
or rather so perfectly ruinous, to employ force and violence, as
upon the respected clergy of an established church. The rights, the
privileges, the personal liberty of every individual ecclesiastic, who
is upon good terms with his own order, are, even in the most despotic
governments, more respected than those of any other person of nearly
equal rank and fortune. It is so in every gradation of despotism, from
that of the gentle and mild government of Paris, to that of the violent
and furious government of Constantinople. But though this order of men
can scarce ever be forced, they may be managed as easily as any other;
and the security of the sovereign, as well as the public tranquillity,
seems to depend very much upon the means which he has of managing them;
and those means seem to consist altogether in the preferment which he
has to bestow upon them.

In the ancient constitution of the Christian church, the bishop of each
diocese was elected by the joint votes of the clergy and of the people
of the episcopal city. The people did not long retain their right of
election; and while they did retain it, they almost always acted under
the influence of the clergy, who, in such spiritual matters, appeared
to be their natural guides. The clergy, however, soon grew weary of the
trouble of managing them, and found it easier to elect their own bishops
themselves. The abbot, in the same manner, was elected by the monks
of the monastery, at least in the greater part of abbacies. All the
inferior ecclesiastical benefices comprehended within the diocese were
collated by the bishop, who bestowed them upon such ecclesiastics as
he thought proper. All church preferments were in this manner in
the disposal of the church. The sovereign, though he might have some
indirect influence in those elections, and though it was sometimes usual
to ask both his consent to elect, and his approbation of the election,
yet had no direct or sufficient means of managing the clergy. The
ambition of every clergyman naturally led him to pay court, not so much
to his sovereign as to his own order, from which only he could expect

Through the greater part of Europe, the pope gradually drew to himself,
first the collation of almost all bishoprics and abbacies, or of
what were called consistorial benefices, and afterwards, by various
machinations and pretences, of the greater part of inferior benefices
comprehended within each diocese, little more being left to the bishop
than what was barely necessary to give him a decent authority with his
own clergy. By this arrangement the condition of the sovereign was still
worse than it had been before. The clergy of all the different countries
of Europe were thus formed into a sort of spiritual army, dispersed in
different quarters indeed, but of which all the movements and operations
could now be directed by one head, and conducted upon one uniform
plan. The clergy of each particular country might be considered as a
particular detachment of that army, of which the operations could easily
be supported and seconded by all the other detachments quartered in
the different countries round about. Each detachment was not only
independent of the sovereign of the country in which it was quartered,
and by which it was maintained, but dependent upon a foreign sovereign,
who could at any time turn its arms against the sovereign of that
particular country, and support them by the arms of all the other

Those arms were the most formidable that can well be imagined. In
the ancient state of Europe, before the establishment of arts and
manufactures, the wealth of the clergy gave them the same sort of
influence over the common people which that of the great barons gave
them over their respective vassals, tenants, and retainers. In the great
landed estates, which the mistaken piety both of princes and private
persons had bestowed upon the church, jurisdictions were established, of
the same kind with those of the great barons, and for the same reason.
In those great landed estates, the clergy, or their bailiffs, could
easily keep the peace, without the support or assistance either of the
king or of any other person; and neither the king nor any other person
could keep the peace there without the support and assistance of the
clergy. The jurisdictions of the clergy, therefore, in their particular
baronies or manors, were equally independent, and equally exclusive
of the authority of the king's courts, as those of the great temporal
lords. The tenants of the clergy were, like those of the great barons,
almost all tenants at will, entirely dependent upon their immediate
lords, and, therefore, liable to be called out at pleasure, in order to
fight in any quarrel in which the clergy might think proper to engage
them. Over and above the rents of those estates, the clergy possessed in
the tithes a very large portion of the rents of all the other estates in
every kingdom of Europe. The revenues arising from both those species
of rents were, the greater part of them, paid in kind, in corn, wine,
cattle, poultry, etc. The quantity exceeded greatly what the clergy
could themselves consume; and there were neither arts nor manufactures,
for the produce of which they could exchange the surplus. The clergy
could derive advantage from this immense surplus in no other way than
by employing it, as the great barons employed the like surplus of their
revenues, in the most profuse hospitality, and in the most extensive
charity. Both the hospitality and the charity of the ancient clergy,
accordingly, are said to have been very great. They not only maintained
almost the whole poor of every kingdom, but many knights and gentlemen
had frequently no other means of subsistence than by travelling about
from monastery to monastery, under pretence of devotion, but in reality
to enjoy the hospitality of the clergy. The retainers of some particular
prelates were often as numerous as those of the greatest lay-lords;
and the retainers of all the clergy taken together were, perhaps, more
numerous than those of all the lay-lords. There was always much more
union among the clergy than among the lay-lords. The former were under a
regular discipline and subordination to the papal authority. The latter
were under no regular discipline or subordination, but almost always
equally jealous of one another, and of the king. Though the tenants and
retainers of the clergy, therefore, had both together been less numerous
than those of the great lay-lords, and their tenants were probably much
less numerous, yet their union would have rendered them more formidable.
The hospitality and charity of the clergy, too, not only gave them the
command of a great temporal force, but increased very much the weight of
their spiritual weapons. Those virtues procured them the highest respect
and veneration among all the inferior ranks of people, of whom many
were constantly, and almost all occasionally, fed by them. Everything
belonging or related to so popular an order, its possessions, its
privileges, its doctrines, necessarily appeared sacred in the eyes
of the common people; and every violation of them, whether real or
pretended, the highest act of sacrilegious wickedness and profaneness.
In this state of things, if the sovereign frequently found it difficult
to resist the confederacy of a few of the great nobility, we cannot
wonder that he should find it still more so to resist the united force
of the clergy of his own dominions, supported by that of the clergy of
all the neighbouring dominions. In such circumstances, the wonder is,
not that he was sometimes obliged to yield, but that he ever was able to

The privileges of the clergy in those ancient times (which to us,
who live in the present times, appear the most absurd), their total
exemption from the secular jurisdiction, for example, or what in England
was called the benefit of clergy, were the natural, or rather the
necessary, consequences of this state of things. How dangerous must it
have been for the sovereign to attempt to punish a clergyman for any
crime whatever, if his order were disposed to protect him, and to
represent either the proof as insufficient for convicting so holy a man,
or the punishment as too severe to be inflicted upon one whose person
had been rendered sacred by religion? The sovereign could, in
such circumstances, do no better than leave him to be tried by the
ecclesiastical courts, who, for the honour of their own order, were
interested to restrain, as much as possible, every member of it from
committing enormous crimes, or even from giving occasion to such gross
scandal as might disgust the minds of the people.

In the state in which things were, through the greater part of Europe,
during the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, and for
some time both before and after that period, the constitution of the
church of Rome may be considered as the most formidable combination that
ever was formed against the authority and security of civil government,
as well as against the liberty, reason, and happiness of mankind, which
can flourish only where civil government is able to protect them. In
that constitution, the grossest delusions of superstition were supported
in such a manner by the private interests of so great a number of
people, as put them out of all danger from any assault of human reason;
because, though human reason might, perhaps, have been able to unveil,
even to the eyes of the common people, some of the delusions of
superstition, it could never have dissolved the ties of private
interest. Had this constitution been attacked by no other enemies but
the feeble efforts of human reason, it must have endured for ever. But
that immense and well-built fabric, which all the wisdom and virtue
of man could never have shaken, much less have overturned, was, by
the natural course of things, first weakened, and afterwards in part
destroyed; and is now likely, in the course of a few centuries more,
perhaps, to crumble into ruins altogether.

The gradual improvements of arts, manufactures, and commerce, the same
causes which destroyed the power of the great barons, destroyed, in
the same manner, through the greater part of Europe, the whole temporal
manufactures, and commerce, the clergy, like the great barons, found
something for which they could exchange their rude produce, and thereby
discovered the means of spending their whole revenues upon their own
persons, without giving any considerable share of them to other people.
Their charity became gradually less extensive, their hospitality less
liberal, or less profuse. Their retainers became consequently less
numerous, and, by degrees, dwindled away altogether. The clergy, too,
like the great barons, wished to get a better rent from their
landed estates, in order to spend it, in the same manner, upon the
gratification of their own private vanity and folly. But this increase
of rent could be got only by granting leases to their tenants, who
thereby became, in a great measure, independent of them. The ties of
interest, which bound the inferior ranks of people to the clergy, were
in this manner gradually broken and dissolved. They were even broken and
dissolved sooner than those which bound the same ranks of people to the
great barons; because the benefices of the church being, the greater
part of them, much smaller than the estates of the great barons, the
possessor of each benefice was much sooner able to spend the whole
of its revenue upon his own person. During the greater part of the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the power of the great barons was,
through the greater part of Europe, in full vigour. But the temporal
power of the clergy, the absolute command which they had once had over
the great body of the people was very much decayed. The power of the
church was, by that time, very nearly reduced, through the greater part
of Europe, to what arose from their spiritual authority; and even that
spiritual authority was much weakened, when it ceased to be supported by
the charity and hospitality of the clergy. The inferior ranks of
people no longer looked upon that order as they had done before; as the
comforters of their distress, and the relievers of their indigence. On
the contrary, they were provoked and disgusted by the vanity, luxury,
and expense of the richer clergy, who appeared to spend upon their own
pleasures what had always before been regarded as the patrimony of the

In this situation of things, the sovereigns in the different states of
Europe endeavoured to recover the influence which they had once had in
the disposal of the great benefices of the church; by procuring to the
deans and chapters of each diocese the restoration of their ancient
right of electing the bishop; and to the monks of each abbacy that
of electing the abbot. The re-establishing this ancient order was the
object of several statutes enacted in England during the course of
the fourteenth century, particularly of what is called the statute of
provisors; and of the pragmatic sanction, established in France in
the fifteenth century. In order to render the election valid, it was
necessary that the sovereign should both consent to it before hand, and
afterwards approve of the person elected; and though the election was
still supposed to be free, he had, however all the indirect means which
his situation necessarily afforded him, of influencing the clergy in
his own dominions. Other regulations, of a similar tendency, were
established in other parts of Europe. But the power of the pope, in
the collation of the great benefices of the church, seems, before the
reformation, to have been nowhere so effectually and so universally
restrained as in France and England. The concordat afterwards, in the
sixteenth century, gave to the kings of France the absolute right
of presenting to all the great, or what are called the consistorial,
benefices of the Gallican church.

Since the establishment of the pragmatic sanction and of the concordat,
the clergy of France have in general shewn less respect to the decrees
of the papal court, than the clergy of any other catholic country. In
all the disputes which their sovereign has had with the pope, they have
almost constantly taken part with the former. This independency of the
clergy of France upon the court of Rome seems to be principally founded
upon the pragmatic sanction and the concordat. In the earlier periods of
the monarchy, the clergy of France appear to have been as much devoted
to the pope as those of any other country. When Robert, the second
prince of the Capetian race, was most unjustly excommunicated by the
court of Rome, his own servants, it is said, threw the victuals
which came from his table to the dogs, and refused to taste any thing
themselves which had been polluted by the contact of a person in his
situation. They were taught to do so, it may very safely be presumed, by
the clergy of his own dominions.

The claim of collating to the great benefices of the church, a claim in
defence of which the court of Rome had frequently shaken, and
sometimes overturned, the thrones of some of the greatest sovereigns in
Christendom, was in this manner either restrained or modified, or given
up altogether, in many different parts of Europe, even before the
time of the reformation. As the clergy had now less influence over the
people, so the state had more influence over the clergy. The clergy,
therefore, had both less power, and less inclination, to disturb the

The authority of the church of Rome was in this state of declension,
when the disputes which gave birth to the reformation began in Germany,
and soon spread themselves through every part of Europe. The new
doctrines were everywhere received with a high degree of popular favour.
They were propagated with all that enthusiastic zeal which commonly
animates the spirit of party, when it attacks established authority. The
teachers of those doctrines, though perhaps, in other respects, not more
learned than many of the divines who defended the established church,
seem in general to have been better acquainted with ecclesiastical
history, and with the origin and progress of that system of opinions
upon which the authority of the church was established; and they had
thereby the advantage in almost every dispute. The austerity of their
manners gave them authority with the common people, who contrasted the
strict regularity of their conduct with the disorderly lives of the
greater part of their own clergy. They possessed, too, in a much higher
degree than their adversaries, all the arts of popularity and of gaining
proselytes; arts which the lofty and dignified sons of the church had
long neglected, as being to them in a great measure useless. The reason
of the new doctrines recommended them to some, their novelty to many;
the hatred and contempt of the established clergy to a still greater
number: but the zealous, passionate, and fanatical, though frequently
coarse and rustic eloquence, with which they were almost everywhere
inculcated, recommended them to by far the greatest number.

The success of the new doctrines was almost everywhere so great, that
the princes, who at that time happened to be on bad terms with the court
of Rome, were, by means of them, easily enabled, in their own dominions,
to overturn the church, which having lost the respect and veneration
of the inferior ranks of people, could make scarce any resistance. The
court of Rome had disobliged some of the smaller princes in the northern
parts of Germany, whom it had probably considered as too insignificant
to be worth the managing. They universally, therefore, established the
reformation in their own dominions. The tyranny of Christiern II., and
of Troll archbishop of Upsal, enabled Gustavus Vasa to expel them
both from Sweden. The pope favoured the tyrant and the archbishop, and
Gustavus Vasa found no difficulty in establishing the reformation
in Sweden. Christiern II. was afterwards deposed from the throne of
Denmark, where his conduct had rendered him as odious as in Sweden.
The pope, however, was still disposed to favour him; and Frederic of
Holstein, who had mounted the throne in his stead, revenged himself,
by following the example of Gustavus Vasa. The magistrates of Berne and
Zurich, who had no particular quarrel with the pope, established with
great ease the reformation in their respective cantons, where just
before some of the clergy had, by an imposture somewhat grosser than
ordinary, rendered the whole order both odious and contemptible.

In this critical situation of its affairs the papal court was at
sufficient pains to cultivate the friendship of the powerful sovereigns
of France and Spain, of whom the latter was at that time emperor of
Germany. With their assistance, it was enabled, though not without great
difficulty, and much bloodshed, either to suppress altogether, or to
obstruct very much, the progress of the reformation in their dominions.
It was well enough inclined, too, to be complaisant to the king of
England. But from the circumstances of the times, it could not be so
without giving offence to a still greater sovereign, Charles V., king
of Spain and emperor of Germany. Henry VIII., accordingly, though he
did not embrace himself the greater part of the doctrines of the
reformation, was yet enabled, by their general prevalence, to suppress
all the monasteries, and to abolish the authority of the church of Rome
in his dominions. That he should go so far, though he went no further,
gave some satisfaction to the patrons of the reformation, who, having
got possession of the government in the reign of his son and successor
completed, without any difficulty, the work which Henry VIII. had begun.

In some countries, as in Scotland, where the government was weak,
unpopular, and not very firmly established, the reformation was strong
enough to overturn, not only the church, but the state likewise, for
attempting to support the church.

Among the followers of the reformation, dispersed in all the different
countries of Europe, there was no general tribunal, which, like that of
the court of Rome, or an oecumenical council, could settle all disputes
among them, and, with irresistible authority, prescribe to all of them
the precise limits of orthodoxy. When the followers of the reformation
in one country, therefore, happened to differ from their brethren in
another, as they had no common judge to appeal to, the dispute could
never be decided; and many such disputes arose among them. Those
concerning the government of the church, and the right of conferring
ecclesiastical benefices, were perhaps the most interesting to the peace
and welfare of civil society. They gave birth, accordingly, to the two
principal parties or sects among the followers of the reformation, the
Lutheran and Calvinistic sects, the only sects among them, of which the
doctrine and discipline have ever yet been established by law in any
part of Europe.

The followers of Luther, together with what is called the church of
England, preserved more or less of the episcopal government, established
subordination among the clergy, gave the sovereign the disposal of all
the bishoprics, and other consistorial benefices within his dominions,
and thereby rendered him the real head of the church; and without
depriving the bishop of the right of collating to the smaller benefices
within his diocese, they, even to those benefices, not only admitted,
but favoured the right of presentation, both in the sovereign and in
all other lay patrons. This system of church government was, from the
beginning, favourable to peace and good order, and to submission to the
civil sovereign. It has never, accordingly, been the occasion of any
tumult or civil commotion in any country in which it has once been
established. The church of England, in particular, has always valued
herself, with great reason, upon the unexceptionable loyalty of her
principles. Under such a government, the clergy naturally endeavour to
recommend themselves to the sovereign, to the court, and to the nobility
and gentry of the country, by whose influence they chiefly expect to
obtain preferment. They pay court to those patrons, sometimes, no
doubt, by the vilest flattery and assentation; but frequently, too, by
cultivating all those arts which best deserve, and which are therefore
most likely to gain them, the esteem of people of rank and fortune; by
their knowledge in all the different branches of useful and ornamental
learning, by the decent liberality of their manners, by the social good
humour of their conversation, and by their avowed contempt of those
absurd and hypocritical austerities which fanatics inculcate and pretend
to practise, in order to draw upon themselves the veneration, and upon
the greater part of men of rank and fortune, who avow that they do
not practise them, the abhorrence of the common people. Such a clergy,
however, while they pay their court in this manner to the higher ranks
of life, are very apt to neglect altogether the means of maintaining
their influence and authority with the lower. They are listened to,
esteemed, and respected by their superiors; but before their inferiors
they are frequently incapable of defending, effectually, and to the
conviction of such hearers, their own sober and moderate doctrines,
against the most ignorant enthusiast who chooses to attack them.

The followers of Zuinglius, or more properly those of Calvin, on the
contrary, bestowed upon the people of each parish, whenever the church
became vacant, the right of electing their own pastor; and established,
at the same time, the most perfect equality among the clergy. The former
part of this institution, as long as it remained in vigour, seems to
have been productive of nothing but disorder and confusion, and to
have tended equally to corrupt the morals both of the clergy and of the
people. The latter part seems never to have had any effects but what
were perfectly agreeable.

As long as the people of each parish preserved the right of electing
their own pastors, they acted almost always under the influence of the
clergy, and generally of the most factious and fanatical of the order.
The clergy, in order to preserve their influence in those popular
elections, became, or affected to become, many of them, fanatics
themselves, encouraged fanaticism among the people, and gave the
preference almost always to the most fanatical candidate. So small a
matter as the appointment of a parish priest, occasioned almost always
a violent contest, not only in one parish, but in all the neighbouring
parishes who seldom failed to take part in the quarrel. When the parish
happened to be situated in a great city, it divided all the inhabitants
into two parties; and when that city happened, either to constitute
itself a little republic, or to be the head and capital of a little
republic, as in the case with many of the considerable cities in
Switzerland and Holland, every paltry dispute of this kind, over and
above exasperating the animosity of all their other factions, threatened
to leave behind it, both a new schism in the church, and a new faction
in the state. In those small republics, therefore, the magistrate very
soon found it necessary, for the sake of preserving the public peace,
to assume to himself the right of presenting to all vacant benefices. In
Scotland, the most extensive country in which this presbyterian form
of church government has ever been established, the rights of patronage
were in effect abolished by the act which established presbytery in the
beginning of the reign of William III. That act, at least, put in the
power of certain classes of people in each parish to purchase, for
a very small price, the right of electing their own pastor. The
constitution which this act established, was allowed to subsist for
about two-and-twenty years, but was abolished by the 10th of queen
Anne, ch.12, on account of the confusions and disorders which this
more popular mode of election had almost everywhere occasioned. In so
extensive a country as Scotland, however, a tumult in a remote parish
was not so likely to give disturbance to government as in a smaller
state. The 10th of queen Anne restored the rights of patronage. But
though, in Scotland, the law gives the benefice, without any exception
to the person presented by the patron; yet the church requires sometimes
(for she has not in this respect been very uniform in her decisions)
a certain concurrence of the people, before she will confer upon the
presentee what is called the cure of souls, or the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction in the parish. She sometimes, at least, from an affected
concern for the peace of the parish, delays the settlement till this
concurrence can be procured. The private tampering of some of the
neighbouring clergy, sometimes to procure, but more frequently to
prevent this concurrence, and the popular arts which they cultivate, in
order to enable them upon such occasions to tamper more effectually, are
perhaps the causes which principally keep up whatever remains of the old
fanatical spirit, either in the clergy or in the people of Scotland.

The equality which the presbyterian form of church government
establishes among the clergy, consists, first, in the equality of
authority or ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and, secondly, in the equality
of benefice. In all presbyterian churches, the equality of authority is
perfect; that of benefice is not so. The difference, however, between
one benefice and another, is seldom so considerable, as commonly to
tempt the possessor even of the small one to pay court to his patron, by
the vile arts of flattery and assentation, in order to get a better.
In all the presbyterian churches, where the rights of patronage are
thoroughly established, it is by nobler and better arts, that the
established clergy in general endeavour to gain the favour of their
superiors; by their learning, by the irreproachable regularity of their
life, and by the faithful and diligent discharge of their duty. Their
patrons even frequently complain of the independency of their spirit,
which they are apt to construe into ingratitude for past favours, but
which, at worse, perhaps, is seldom anymore than that indifference which
naturally arises from the consciousness that no further favours of the
kind are ever to be expected. There is scarce, perhaps, to be found
anywhere in Europe, a more learned, decent, independent, and respectable
set of men, than the greater part of the presbyterian clergy of Holland,
Geneva, Switzerland, and Scotland.

Where the church benefices are all nearly equal, none of them can be
very great; and this mediocrity of benefice, though it may be, no doubt,
carried too far, has, however, some very agreeable effects. Nothing but
exemplary morals can give dignity to a man of small fortune. The
vices of levity and vanity necessarily render him ridiculous, and are,
besides, almost as ruinous to him as they are to the common people.
In his own conduct, therefore, he is obliged to follow that system of
morals which the common people respect the most. He gains their esteem
and affection, by that plan of life which his own interest and situation
would lead him to follow. The common people look upon him with that
kindness with which we naturally regard one who approaches somewhat to
our own condition, but who, we think, ought to be in a higher. Their
kindness naturally provokes his kindness. He becomes careful to instruct
them, and attentive to assist and relieve them. He does not even despise
the prejudices of people who are disposed to be so favourable to him,
and never treats them with those contemptuous and arrogant airs, which
we so often meet with in the proud dignitaries of opulent and well
endowed churches. The presbyterian clergy, accordingly, have more
influence over the minds of the common people, than perhaps the clergy
of any other established church. It is, accordingly, in presbyterian
countries only, that we ever find the common people converted, without
persecution completely, and almost to a man, to the established church.

In countries where church benefices are, the greater part of them, very
moderate, a chair in a university is generally a better establishment
than a church benefice. The universities have, in this case, the picking
and chusing of their members from all the churchmen of the country, who,
in every country, constitute by far the most numerous class of men of
letters. Where church benefices, on the contrary, are many of them
very considerable, the church naturally draws from the universities the
greater part of their eminent men of letters; who generally find some
patron, who does himself honour by procuring them church preferment. In
the former situation, we are likely to find the universities filled with
the most eminent men of letters that are to be found in the country. In
the latter, we are likely to find few eminent men among them, and those
few among the youngest members of the society, who are likely, too, to
be drained away from it, before they can have acquired experience and
knowledge enough to be of much use to it. It is observed by Mr. de
Voltaire, that father Porée, a jesuit of no great eminence in the
republic of letters, was the only professor they had ever had in France,
whose works were worth the reading. In a country which has produced
so many eminent men of letters, it must appear somewhat singular, that
scarce one of them should have been a professor in a university. The
famous Cassendi was, in the beginning of his life, a professor in
the university of Aix. Upon the first dawning of his genius, it was
represented to him, that by going into the church he could easily find
a much more quiet and comfortable subsistence, as well as a better
situation for pursuing his studies; and he immediately followed the
advice. The observation of Mr. de Voltaire may be applied, I believe,
not only to France, but to all other Roman Catholic countries. We very
rarely find in any of them an eminent man of letters, who is a professor
in a university, except, perhaps, in the professions of law and physic;
professions from which the church is not so likely to draw them. After
the church of Rome, that of England is by far the richest and best
endowed church in Christendom. In England, accordingly, the church
is continually draining the universities of all their best and ablest
members; and an old college tutor who is known and distinguished in
Europe as an eminent man of letters, is as rarely to be found there
as in any Roman catholic country, In Geneva, on the contrary, in the
protestant cantons of Switzerland, in the protestant countries of
Germany, in Holland, in Scotland, in Sweden, and Denmark, the most
eminent men of letters whom those countries have produced, have, not
all indeed, but the far greater part of them, been professors in
universities. In those countries, the universities are continually
draining the church of all its most eminent men of letters.

It may, perhaps, be worth while to remark, that, if we except the poets,
a few orators, and a few historians, the far greater part of the other
eminent men of letters, both of Greece and Rome, appear to have been
either public or private teachers; generally either of philosophy or
of rhetoric. This remark will be found to hold true, from the days of
Lysias and Isocrates, of Plato and Aristotle, down to those of Plutarch
and Epictetus, Suetonius, and Quintilian. To impose upon any man the
necessity of teaching, year after year, in any particular branch of
science seems in reality to be the most effectual method for rendering
him completely master of it himself. By being obliged to go every
year over the same ground, if he is good for any thing, he necessarily
becomes, in a few years, well acquainted with every part of it, and if,
upon any particular point, he should form too hasty an opinion one year,
when he comes, in the course of his lectures to reconsider the same
subject the year thereafter, he is very likely to correct it. As to be a
teacher of science is certainly the natural employment of a mere man of
letters; so is it likewise, perhaps, the education which is most likely
to render him a man of solid learning and knowledge. The mediocrity
of church benefices naturally tends to draw the greater part of men of
letters in the country where it takes place, to the employment in which
they can be the most useful to the public, and at the same time to give
them the best education, perhaps, they are capable of receiving. It
tends to render their learning both as solid as possible, and as useful
as possible.

The revenue of every established church, such parts of it excepted as
may arise from particular lands or manors, is a branch, it ought to be
observed, of the general revenue of the state, which is thus diverted to
a purpose very different from the defence of the state. The tithe,
for example, is a real land tax, which puts it out of the power of the
proprietors of land to contribute so largely towards the defence of the
state as they otherwise might be able to do. The rent of land, however,
is, according to some, the sole fund; and, according to others, the
principal fund, from which, in all great monarchies, the exigencies of
the state must be ultimately supplied. The more of this fund that is
given to the church, the less, it is evident, can be spared to the
state. It may be laid down as a certain maxim, that all other things
being supposed equal, the richer the church, the poorer must necessarily
be, either the sovereign on the one hand, or the people on the other;
and, in all cases, the less able must the state be to defend itself. In
several protestant countries, particularly in all the protestant cantons
of Switzerland, the revenue which anciently belonged to the Roman
catholic church, the tithes and church lands, has been found a fund
sufficient, not only to afford competent salaries to the established
clergy, but to defray, with little or no addition, all the other
expenses of the state. The magistrates of the powerful canton of Berne,
in particular, have accumulated, out of the savings from this fund, a
very large sum, supposed to amount to several millions; part or which is
deposited in a public treasure, and part is placed at interest in what
are called the public funds of the different indebted nations of Europe;
chiefly in those of France and Great Britain. What may be the amount
of the whole expense which the church, either of Berne, or of any other
protestant canton, costs the state, I do not pretend to know. By a very
exact account it appears, that, in 1755, the whole revenue of the clergy
of the church of Scotland, including their glebe or church lands, and
the rent of their manses or dwelling-houses, estimated according to
a reasonable valuation, amounted only to £68,514:1:5 1/12d. This very
moderate revenue affords a decent subsistence to nine hundred and
forty-four ministers. The whole expense of the church, including what is
occasionally laid out for the building and reparation of churches, and
of the manses of ministers, cannot well be supposed to exceed eighty
or eighty-five thousand pounds a-year. The most opulent church in
Christendom does not maintain better the uniformity of faith, the
fervour of devotion, the spirit of order, regularity, and austere
morals, in the great body of the people, than this very poorly endowed
church of Scotland. All the good effects, both civil and religious,
which an established church can be supposed to produce, are produced
by it as completely as by any other. The greater part of the protestant
churches of Switzerland, which, in general, are not better endowed than
the church of Scotland, produce those effects in a still higher degree.
In the greater part of the protestant cantons, there is not a
single person to be found, who does not profess himself to be of the
established church. If he professes himself to be of any other, indeed,
the law obliges him to leave the canton. But so severe, or, rather,
indeed, so oppressive a law, could never have been executed in such free
countries, had not the diligence of the clergy beforehand converted to
the established church the whole body of the people, with the exception
of, perhaps, a few individuals only. In some parts of Switzerland,
accordingly, where, from the accidental union of a protestant and
Roman catholic country, the conversion has not been so complete, both
religions are not only tolerated, but established by law.

The proper performance of every service seems to require, that its pay
or recompence should be, as exactly as possible, proportioned to the
nature of the service. If any service is very much underpaid, it is
very apt to suffer by the meanness and incapacity of the greater part of
those who are employed in it. If it is very much overpaid, it is apt to
suffer, perhaps still more, by their negligence and idleness. A man of
a large revenue, whatever may be his profession, thinks he ought to live
like other men of large revenues; and to spend a great part of his time
in festivity, in vanity, and in dissipation. But in a clergyman, this
train of life not only consumes the time which ought to be employed
in the duties of his function, but in the eyes of the common people,
destroys almost entirely that sanctity of character, which can alone
enable him to perform those duties with proper weight and authority.

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