Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. II.: Containing the Religious Part of this Model, propos'd practicably. - The Oceana and Other Works
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CHAP. II.: Containing the Religious Part of this Model, propos’d practicably. - James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works 
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
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Containing the Religious Part of this Model, propos’d practicably.
THERE is nothing more certain or demonstrable to common sense, than that the far greater part of mankind, in matters of religion, give themselves up to the public leading. Now a national religion rightly establish’d, or not coercive, is not any public driving, but only the public leading. If the public in this case may not lead such as desire to be led by the public, and yet a party may lead such as desire to be led by a party, where would be the liberty of conscience as to the state? Which certainly in a well-order’d commonwealth, being the public reason, must be the public conscience. Nay, where would be the liberty of conscience in respect of any party which should so procede as to shew, that without taking their liberty of conscience from others, they cannot have it themselves? If the public, refusing liberty of conscience to a party, would be the cause of tumult, how much more a party refusing it to the public? And how, in case of such a tumult, should a party defend their liberty of conscience, or indeed their throats, from the whole or a far greater party, without keeping down or tyrannizing over the whole or a far greater party by force of arms? These things being rightly consider’d, it is no wonder that men, living like men, have not bin yet found without a government, or that any government has not bin yet found without a national religion; that is, som orderly and known way of public leading in divine things, or in the worship of God.
A national religion being thus prov’d necessary, it remains that I prove what is necessary to the same: that is, as it concerns the state, or in relation to the duty of the magistrat.
Certain it is, that religion has not seen corruption but by one of these three causes: som interest therwith incorporated, som ignorance of the truth of it, or by som complication of both. Nor was ever religion left wholly to the management of a clergy that escap’d these causes, or their most pernicious effects; as may be perceiv’d in Rome, which has brought ignorance to be the mother of devotion, and indeed interest to be the father of religion.Chap. II. Now the clergy not failing in this case to be dangerous, what recourse but to the magistrat for safety? specially seeing these causes, that is, interest and ignorance (the one proceeding from evil laws, the other from the want of good education) are not in the right or power of a clergy, but only of the civil magistracy Or if so it be that magistrats are oblig’d in duty to be nursing fathers and nursing mothers to the church; how shall a state in the sight of God be excusable, that takes no heed or care lest religion suffer by causes, the prevention or remedy wherof is in them only?Isa. 49. 23. To these therfore it is propos’d,
46. Universitys.THAT the universitys being prudently reform’d, be preserv’d in their rights and indowments, for and towards the education and provision of an able ministry.
Joh. 5. 39.We are commanded by Christ to search the Scriptures: the Scriptures are not now to be search’d but by skill in tongues: the immediat gift of tongues is ceas’d: how then should skill in tongues be acquir’d but mediatly, or by the means of education? How should a state expect such an education (particularly, for a matter of ten thousand men) that provides not for it? And what provision can a state make for this education, but by such schools so indow’d and regulated, as with us are the universitys? These therfore are a necessary step towards the prevention of such ignorance or interest, as thro the infirmitys or bias of translators, interpreters, and preachers, both have and may frequently com to be incorporated with religion; as also to the improvement or acquisition of such light as is by the command of Christ to be attain’d or exercis’d in searching the Scriptures.
The eighth parallel.The excellent learning of the Levits in all kinds, not ordinarily infus’d, but acquir’d (there having bin among them as well the teacher as the scholar) leaves little doubt but their forty-eight citys were as so many universitys.1 Chron. 25 8. These, with their suburbs or indowments,Mal. 2. 12. contain’d in the whole (each of their circuits in land reckon’d at four thousand cubits deep) about a hundred thousand acres; that is, if their measure was according to the common cubit: if according to the holy cubit (as with Levits was most likely) twice so much; which, at the lowest account, I conceive to be far above the revenues of both our universitys.
These being order’d as has bin said, it is propos’d,
47. Augmentation of livings.THAT the legal and antient provision for the national ministry be so augmented, that the meanest sort of livings or benefices, without defalcation from the greater, be each improv’d to the revenue of one hundred pounds at least.
The ninth parallel.This, in regard the way is by tithes, coms up so close to the orders of Israel, as, in our day, may shew that a commonwealth may com too near that pattern to be lik’d. We find not indeed that the apostles either took or demanded tithes; in which case the priests, who were legally possest of them, might have had suspicion that they, under color of religion, had aim’d at the violation of property. But putting the case, that generally the priests had bin converted to the Christian faith, whether the apostles would for that reason have injoin’d them to relinquish their tithes? Or what is there in the Christian religion to favor any such surmise? To me there seems abundantly enough to the contrary. For if the apostles stuck not to comply with the Jews in a ceremony which was of mere human invention, and to introduce this, as they did ordination by imposition of hands, into the Christian church; that they would, upon a like inducement, have refus’d a standing law undoubtedly Mosaical, is in my opinion most improbable. So that, I conceive, the law for tithes now in being may or may not be continu’d, at the pleasure of the lawgivers, for any thing in this case to the contrary. Confident I am, that the introducing of this model in the whole, which is thought impracticable, were not to willing minds so difficult a work as the abolition of tithes.
But benefices, whether by way of tithes or otherwise, being thus order’d, it is propos’d,
48. Ordination.THAT a benefice becoming void in any parish, the elders of the same may assemble and give notice to the vice-chancellor of either university by a certificat, specifying the true value of that benefice: that the vice-chancellor, upon the receit of this certificat, be oblig’d to call a congregation of his university: that the congregation of the university to this end assembl’d, having regard to the value of the benefice, make choice of a person sit for the ministerial function, and return him to the parish so requiring: that the probationer thus return’d to a parish by either of the universitys, exercise the office, and receive the benefits as minister of the parish for the term of one year: that the term of one year being expir’d, the elders of the parish assemble and put the election of the probationer to the ballot: that if the probationer has three parts in four of the balls or votes in the affirmative, he be therby ordain’d and elected minister of that parish; not afterwards to be degraded or remov’d, but by the censor of the tribe, the phylarch of the same, or the council of religion in such cases as shall be to them reserv’d by act of parlament: that in case the probationer coms to fail of three parts in four at the ballot, he depart from that parish; and if he returns to the university, it be without diminution of the former offices or preferments which he there injoy’d, or any prejudice to his future preferment: and that it be lawful in this case for any parish to send so often to either university, and it be the duty of either vice-chancellor upon such certificats to make return of different probationers, till such time as the elders of that parish have fitted themselves with a minister of their own choice and liking.
In case it was thought fit that a probationer thus elected should, before he departs, receive imposition of hands from the doctors of the university, I cannot see what the most scrupulous in the matter of ordination could find wanting. But let this be so, or otherwise, it is indifferent. The universitys, by proposing to the congregation in every parish, do the senatorian office; and the people, thus fitting themselves by their suffrage or ballot, reserve that office which is truly popular, that is the result, to themselves.
The tenth parallel.MOSES (for so far back the divines reach at ordination) in the institution of the senat of Israel, wherein he can never be prov’d to have us’d imposition of hands, performing the senatorian office,Deut. 1. caus’d the people to take wise men, and understanding,Numb. 11. and known among their tribes, wherof the lot fell upon all but Eldad and Medad. And the apostles doing the senatorian office,Acts 1. 26. in like manner without imposition of hands, caus’d the whole congregation to take two, wherof the lot of apostleship fell upon Matthias. So that this way of ordination being that which was instituted by Moses, and the chief or first of those which were us’d by the apostles, is both mosaical and apostolical.See Book 2. chap. 8. Nor has a well-order’d commonwealth any choice left of those other ways of ordination, us’d by the apostles in complaisance to worse sort of government; but is naturally necessitated to this, that is, to the very best.
Ordination being thus provided for, it is propos’d,
49. National religion, and provision against scandalous ministers.THAT the national religion be exercis’d according to a directory in that case to be made, and publish’d by act of parlament. That the national ministry be permitted to have no other public preferment or office in this commonwealth. That a national minister being convict of ignorance or scandal, be movable out of his benefice by the censors of the tribe, under an appeal to the phylareh, or to the council of religion.Chap. III.
THAT no religion, being contrary to or destructive of Christianity, nor the public exercise of any religion, being grounded upon or incorporated into a foren interest, be protected by or tolerated in this state.50. Liberty of conscience. That all other religions, with the public exercise of the same, be both tolerated and protected by the council of religion; and that all professors of any such religion be equally capable of all elections, magistracys, preferments, and offices in this commonwealth, according to the orders of the same.
Upon the whole of these propositions, touching church disciplin, we may make these observations. Thus neither would the party that is for gifted men, and enemys to learning, thro ignorance (which else in all probability they must) lose religion; nor the clergy be able to corrupt it by interest. But decency and order, with liberty of conscience, would still flourish together; while the minister has a preferment he sought, the parish a minister they chose, the nation a religion according to the public conscience, and every man his Christian liberty. He therfore that indeavours to confute this chapter, must either shew how these things may be omitted, or more effectually provided for; or tithe mint and cumin, and neglect the weightier things of lawgiving.
A commonwealth having, in the establishment of religion, made resignation of herself to God, ought in the next place to have regard to the natural means of her defence; which introduces the military part of this model.