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NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

No. CCL.

JANUARY, 1876.

ART. I. -- RELIGION IN AMERICA, 1776 - 1876.

The Revolution which a century ago severed the connection between Great Britain and her colonies issued so directly from political disputes that its religious aspects have been obscured ; yet no fact lies plainer on the page of colonial history than the intimate alliance of religious and political ideas, - a fact which the elder Adams emphasized when he cautioned the Abbé Mably not to undertake the War of Independence without first mastering the church system of New England. And it would form a singular exception to the ordinary laws of historical development, if that which is so evident in the causes of the Revolution could not be traced in its results. Those results supplied new ecclesiastical as well as new political conditions, and flowered, at the same time, in the novel experiments of a self-governed state and of a self-directing and self-supporting church. Nor should the formal separation of these two experiments betray us into the error of supposing that they are essentially distinct. They have been carried on together, by the same people, and during the same period, and throughout all this period have had a connection more close and real than will be conceded by such as are accustomed to look only at the superficial causes of political and social progress. There can be no doubt that whatever circumstances tend to affect the one must ultimately affect the other VOL. CXXII.

NO. 250. 1

also, and that any extensive modification of the religious sentiment would ultimately react upon political opinion. An acute critic of American society, not a religious philosopher but a political economist, has found in our experience a signal illustration of the principle“ that there must be harmony between the political and religious schemes that are suited to a people”; and a later writer, the least inclined of any historian of civilization to lay stress on the spiritual forces that shape society, has indorsed Chevalier's maxim, in a striking passage which traces the influence exerted op political opinion by religious creeds. The religion of a people is, in a profound sense, a part of its history, and results in phenomena to which the mere political student cannot afford to shut his eyes.

The hundred years which we are passing in review have been marked by sweeping ecclesiastical and theological convulsions. Hardly had the last royal regiment left our shores when the sky grew black with signs of a more far-reaching revolution, and for a time altar and throne went down together. Since that return of chaos and old night, the vexed problem which Hildebrand and the Hohenstauffens left unsolved has harassed every European state. In France, in Italy, and in Germany the struggle has presented its most brilliant phases. In the South the Pope has been stripped of every vestige of a political dominion which long antedated that of the proudest royal dynasty ; while in the North a new Protestant empire has been called into existence, which boldly remits to antiquaries the traditional relations between Germany and the Holy See. England, if less powerfully convulsed, has by no means escaped. The repeal of the Test Act, Catholic emancipation, the disestablishment of the Irish Church, are legislative measures which deserve to rank beside the Reform Bill and the abolition of the Corn Laws; and Mr. Gladstone has renewed the discussion of civil allegiance which Mr. Pitt opened with the Irish universities the very year that our Federal Constitution went into operation. The two greatest statesmen whom this century bas produced have expended their supreme energies on the question which is, at this moment, the fundamental question of European politics. Nor have the revolutions of theological opinion been less marked. The

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