Walter Scott The Kingdom of God (1845)

The Protestant Unionist



      The elements of human rights are these--life, knowledge, duty, happiness, property and personal freedom. To live and to be free to acquire knowledge and property, to be dutiful and reap the reward of a virtuous life in rational happiness are rights and prerogatives conferred on man by his Creator; and on account of their intrinsic excellence, they are styled inalienable rights.

      The aggressions of Catholicism upon all these prerogatives have been so enormous as to involve the character of Christianity with many reasonable men who have not been directed in their judgments by a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

      But the harmony of Christianity with those rights may be proved not only practically by reference to the liberty and security enjoyed under all Protestant governments, but also verbally from the Holy Scriptures. 1st. Touching life. Christianity esteems it the most admirable of all the gifts of God. "Is not the life," she exclaims, "more than meat?" But indeed her grand aim is life--eternal life; and therefore we are constrained a priori to conclude that it is utterly improbable that a religion professedly bringing to us the message of eternal life from God should be found at last pregnant of plots and snares and treasons against the life of man as Catholicism has proved itself to be. 2d. Touching knowledge. Christianity purposes to enrich us with the treasures of Christ; and for his purpose adds all the wealth of religious to all the opulence of nature; and assuring us that this great and glorious universe is of God, she inspires us with an ardent zeal to enquire into it, and to possess ourselves of the excellence both of God's words and word. She is the mistress and mother of free discussion, and with the authority of God commands us to "prove all things and to hold fast that which is good." 3d. Dealing with us therefore as intellectually capable of knowledge she would also honor our moral tastes and direct us to "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report; in a word, she says, if there be anything virtuous, anything praise-worthy, think of these things." Christianity knows full-well that political law is but an imperfect outside, pasty thing, and that it never reaches the root of the matter; she would therefore seat her own holy principles deep down in the soul and spirit of man and impregnate us with the seed of all virtue and loveliness. 4th. Touching happiness, she understands that mere animal enjoyment can never fill up the measure of our capacity for it; and has therefore opened up for us in revelation inexhaustible stores of the most heavenly rational blessedness of which our nature is capable. In a word, she introduces us to God and his Son Jesus Christ the sources of all true and lasting bliss and bid us "rejoice ever more;" again, "I say rejoice." 5th. As for property she bid us to be diligent in this world, and promises us the next; only directing that we shall glorify God in all things through Christ Jesus. 6th. Finally--touching personal freedom--All other rights depend for their value upon this. It is by this, man reaches perfection in genius, in science, art, duty, knowledge and happiness. It is this blessing that freshens all the rest, for it alone introduces us to society and nature--the blue skies, the spangled heavens, the verdant and flowering earth, the brooks and rivers and oceans of the globe--all the works of God indeed and all the works of man, and God and man themselves are to be understood, imitated and enjoyed only in the possession of this inestimable right and prerogative of man. Now Christianity is conservative, and favors this right by providing for all men one faith and one morality:

      Nature confers rights. Society imposes restraints. The former is God's system; the latter man's; and it is said that man's political system is perfect in proportion as it approaches God's natural system, or as it imposes few restraints; for it is a fact that there is ever a strong tendency in human government to increase the number of restraints, and to verge towards consolidation--towards monarchy.

      What aspect then does Popery bear to these two systems--the natural government of God, and the political government of man? It carries the one as far as possible from the other; it divorces them: It first demands implicit and blind obedience to lords spiritual in all matters religious; and afterwards inculcates an equally blind obedience to lords temporal in all things secular. It glorifies the monarchy, or as Scripture expresses it, "causes all men to worship the beast"--(Rev. 13th chap.)

      Not so with Christianity; she favors God's system of natural freedom in all her facts and principles. She inclucates the natural equality of man; "God," she affirms, "has made of one blood all men." She sets an equal estimate upon all men. "Christ gave himself for all." The moment they appear in the church she levels all men. "You know that the princes of the Gentiles reigns over them; it shall not be so among you; you are all brethren." She delivers one morality for all men: "Do unto all men as you would they should do to you." In a word, Popery inclines directly to human thraldom.--Christianity to natural freedom. While therefore the kingdom of that Roman Pontiff is destructive of the rights of man, the kingdom of God is conservative of these rights.



["The Kingdom of God." The Protestant Unionist, 1 (February 26, 1845): 70.]


      Walter Scott's "The Kingdom of God" was first published in The Protestant Unionist, Vol. 1, No. 2, February 26, 1845. The electronic version of the essay has been produced from microfilm of the newspaper.

      Inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and typography have been retained; however, corrections have been offered for misspellings and other accidental corruptions. Emendations are as follows:

            Printed Text [ Electronic Text
 p. 70:     she would there- ore [ she would therefore

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik

Created 17 January 2003.

Walter Scott The Kingdom of God (1845)

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