網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

of the public peace, an enemy to the true Christian religion, and shall suffer perpetual punishment.” (Plant. Laws, p. 294.) A similar law was in force at this time in Massachusetts. (Plant. Laws, p. 54.) One that lived in those days, we imagine, could hardly suspect that, before another century passed away, the people of the whole United States would declare that " Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This was a grand principle to incorporate in the Constitution of a great country; but it must be borne in mind that its effect is, to leave to the people of each State the power to make any law they may deem expedient, “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Were it not for this reserved power, the law as to religion in schools could have been explained in five minutes. Now, however, the explanation is not so easy. We have said elsewhere that our schools are, for the most part, free from sectarianism, and this is true. But a general statement of this kind will not answer the ends of those who would be exact, careful, and critical in their inquiries. It is for the gratification of such that we place the laws of the several States on this particular subject in close juxtaposition—a thing which is now done for the first time. We give the law, and cite the authorities in which the very language as given will in every case be found.

SEC. 6. In Maryland, where a distinguished historian assures us “religious liberty obtained a home, its only home in the wide world,”(1 Bancroft's Hist. U. S. p. 247,) it was enacted that, if any person whatever, inhabiting within this province, shall blaspheme, that is, curse God, deny our Saviour to be the Son of God, or deny the Holy Trinity, or the Godhead of any of the three persons, or the unity of the Godhead, or shall utter any reproachful words or language concerning the Holy Trinity, or any of the three persons thereof, he or she shall, for the first offense, be bored through the tongue, and fined twenty pounds sterling; for the second offense, he or she shall be branded on the forehead with the letter“ B,” and fined forty pounds sterling, or imprisonment for one year; and for the third offense, he or she so offending shall suffer death, with confiscation of all their goods and chattels. (Plant. Laws, p. 8.) The Book of Common Prayer, and administration of the sacraments, with other rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, shall be solemnly read by all ministers in the churches and other places of Worship in this province. (Plant. Laws, p. 62.)

SEC. 7. In Virginia, it was enacted that, if any person brought up in the Christian religion shall, by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny the being of a God, or the Holy Trinity; or assert or maintain there are more gods than one; or deny the Christian religion to be true; or the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be of divine authority; and be thereof lawfully convicted upon indictment or information in the general court, such persons, for the first offense, shall be disabled to hold any office or employment, ecclesiastical, civil, or military, or any profit or advantage therefrom. · And every such office or employment, held by such person at the time of his or her conviction, is hereby declared void. And

And every such person, upon a second conviction of any of the crimes aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, shall from thenceforth be unable to sue in any court of law or equity, or to be guardian to any child, or executor or administrator of any person, or capable of any gift or legacy, or to bear any office, civil or military, forever within this colony; and shall also suffer from the time of such conviction three years' imprisonment, without bail or mainprise. (Laws of Va. 1758, p. 14.) This same law. was in force in South-Carolina from about 1703. (Pub. Laws of S. C. 1790, p. 3.) No other catechism could be taught than the Church catechism inserted in the Book of Common Prayer. (Plant. Laws of Va. p. 12.) The following law was made in Virginia, in the year 1663, and was "in force and in use" still in 1704: “If any Quakers or other separatists whatever in this colony assemble themselves together to the number of five or more, of the

age of sixteen

years or upward, under the pretense of joining in a religious worship not authorized in England or this country, the parties so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted by verdict, confession, or notorious evidence of the fact, shall for the first offense forfeit and pay two hundred pounds of tobacco; for the second offense, five hundred pounds of tobacco; to be levied by warrant from any one justice of the peace upon the goods of the party convicted; but if he be unable, then upon the goods of any other of the separatists or Quakers then present. And for the third offense, the offender, being convicted as aforesaid, shall be banished the colony.” (Plant. Laws of Va. p. 52.) About the time this law was enacted in Virginia, and before any of the laws of the other colonies which we have cited were abolished, the people of the little colony of Rhode Island, perfectly consistent with their professions from the first settlement of their colony by Roger Williams, caused to be inserted in their charter, obtained from Charles II. in 1665, the grand original idea of religious liberty, which seems since to have been adopted to a considerable extent by nearly every State in the Union, and by some of them entire.

SEC. 8. RHODE ISLAND.-The language of the charter above referred to is as follows: 6 No the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for any difference in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the peace of our said colony; but that all and every person and persons may from time to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of land hereafter mentioned, they bebaving themselves peaceably and quietly, and not using their liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, or to the civil injury or outward disturbance of others.” The charter fur

person within ther says that this remarkable liberty of conscience is given to the people of Rhode Island, in order “that there may, in time, by the blessing of God upon their endeavors, be laid a sure foundation of happiness to all America.” To show the remarkable strength of the faith of these men in their new theory of religious liberty, which was to be “a sure foundation of happiness to all America,” we transcribe the following law in full from one of their ancient records: “Whereas Almighty .God hath created the mind free, all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who, being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in His almighty power to do; that the presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to

« 上一頁繼續 »