Excerpt from Thoughts on the Separation of Church and State
It might, perhaps, be true in one sense to say, that the State united itself with the Church in this country: and it is important to remember, that the Church of England existed for centuries before there was any State, to which it could unite itself. A Church or body of Christians existed in this country, and was governed by Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, not only for many centuries before Unitarians, or Quakers, or Infidels were allowed to sit in Parliament, but for many centuries before Parliament itself was thought of. There is great reason to think, that Christianity was introduced into this island in the first century and there is positive evidence, that it had spread very widely in the second century, while the government was still Pagan. In the fourth century we read of Bishops from British churches attending Councils in different parts of Europe: and no fact in history is more demonstrable, than that the Episcopal form of Church Government prevailed at that time in Britain, as it did in the whole of Christendom. If we ask why our British ancestors preferred an Episcopal Church, we shall be drawn into the con troversy concerning Episcopacy, for which I have no fancy at present: and it is sufficient to observe, that the Christian inhabitants of the island settled the matter for themselves all Christians were then Episcopalians: there were no Presbyterians, no Independents, no Quakers, no Baptists, no Unita rians: there were, in fact, no Dissenters: all be longed to the Church of England and the frame work and constitution of that Church were precisely the same then as they are at present, with this difference in part of its arrangements, that the Epis copal sees were not established by any act of the civil power, nor was the nomination of Bishops in the hands of the Government.
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