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structive of salvation of souls, but the fantastical points for which we generally persecute are often very questionable ; as we may be assured by the very different conclusions of people. Our Savior chose not to propagate his religion by temporal punmts or civil incapacitation, if he had, it was in his almighty power. But he chose to extend it by it's influence on reason, there by shewing to others how they should proceed.
The commonwealth is 'a Society of men constituted for protecting their civil interests.'
Civil interests are ‘life, health, indolency of body, liberty and property.' That the magistrate's jurisdn extends only to civil rights appears from these considns.
1. The magistrate has no power but w' y people gave.
The people hve n' give h" the care of souls bec. ye ca not, ye ca not, because no man he right to abandon ye care of his salvation to another.
No man has power to let another prescribe his faith. Faith is not faith with believing. No man can conform his faith to the dictates of another. The life & essence of religion consists in the internal persuasion or belief of the mind. External forms of worship, when against our belief are hypocrisy & impiety. Rom. 14. 23. “he that doubteth is damned, if he eat, because he eateth not of faith : for whatsoever is not of faith, is sin ?”
2. If it be said the magistrate may make use of arguments & so draw the heterodox to truth, I answer, every man has a commission to admonish, exhor', convince another of error.
12. A church is ' a voluntary society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord, in order to the public worshipping
f god in such a manner as they judge acceptable to him & e sfectual to the salvation of their souls.' It is voluntary bec. no man is by nature bound to any church. The hope of salvation is the cause of his entering into it. If he find anything wrong in it, he should be as free to go out as he was to come in.
13. What is the power of that church. As it is a society it must have some laws for it's regulation. Time & place of meeting. Admitting & excluding members & Must be regulat" but as it was a spontaneous joining of members, it follows that it's laws extend to it's own members only, not to those of any
other voluntary society, for then by the same rule some other voluntary society might usurp power over them.
Christ has said 'wheresoever 2 or 3 are gather togeth in his name he will be in the midst of them. This is his definition of a society. He does not make it essential that a bishop or presbyter govern them. Without them it suffices for the salvation of souls.
Compulsion in religion is distinguished peculiarly from compulsion in every other thing. I may grow rich by art I am compelled to follow, I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take ag my own judgment, but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve & abhor.
Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth, or permitted to the subject in the ordinary way, cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses : & whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses & therefore prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred rites. For instance it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things or in a private house to murder a child. It should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children: it is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs. They may therefore be religiously sacrificed, but if the good of the state required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the true extent of toleration.
Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself. She seldom has received much aid from the power of great men to whom she is rarely known & seldom welcome. She has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men. Error indeed has often prevailed by the assistance of power or force. Truth is the proper & sufficient antagonist to error. thing pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner & no otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market. These meetings ought not to be sanctuaries for faction & flagitiousness.
Locke denies toleration to those who entertain opns contrary to those moral rules necessary for the preservation of society; as for instance, that faith is not to be kept with those of another
If any. persuasion, that Kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns, that dominion is founded in grace, or that obedience is due to some foreign prince, or who will not own & teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of religion, or who deny the existence of a god (it was a great thing to go so far—as he himself sais of the parl. who framed the act of tolern but where he stopped short we may go on.)
He sais ‘neither Pagan nor Mahomedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.' Shall we suffer a Pagan to deal with us and not suffer him to pray to his god? Why have Xn; been distinguished above all people who have ever lived, for persecutions? Is it because it is the genius of their religion ? No, it's genius is the reverse. It is the refusing toleration to those of a different opn which has produced all the bustles and wars on account of religion. was the misfortune of mankind that during the darker centuries the X" priests following their ambition and avarice combining with the magistrate to divide the spoils of the people, could establish the notion that schismatics might be ousted of their possessions & destroyed. This notion we have not yet cleared ourselves from. In this case no wonder the oppressed should rebel, & they will continue to rebel & raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them & all partial distinctions, exclusions & incapacitations removed.
DRAFT OF BILL TO ABOLISH ENTAILS.?
V. S. A
(Oct. 14, 1776.] A Bill to enable tenants in tail to convey their lands in fee-simple. Whereas the perpetuation of property in certain families by
1 "Will not his own excellent rule be sufficient here too ; to punish these as civil offences. e. gr. to assert that a foreign prince has power within this Commonwealth is a misdemeanor. The other opns may be despised. Perhaps the single thing & which may be required to others before toleration to them would be an oath that they would allow toleration to others.”—T. 7.
? On Oct. 12, 1776, leave was granted to introduce this bill, and Jefferson, Starke, and Bullitt were named a committee to draft it. Jefferson reported means of gifts made to them in fee-simple is contrary to good policy, tends to deceive fair traders who give credit on the visible possession of such estates, discourages the holder thereof from taking care & improving the same, and sometime does injury to the morals of youth by rendering them independent of, and disobedient to, their parents; and whereas the former method of docking such estates tail by special act of assembly formed for every particular case employed very much time of the legislature, was burthensome to the public, and also to the individual who made application for such acts :
Be it therefore enacted by' and it is hereby enacted by authority of the same that any person who now hath, or hereafter may have any estate in fee tail general or special in any lands or slaves in possession, or in the use or trust of any lands or slaves in possession, or who now is or hereafter may be entitled to any such estate tail in reversion or remainder after the determination of any estate for life or lives or of any lesser estate, whether such estate hath been or shall be created by deed, will, act of assembly, or any other ways or means shall have full power to pass, convey, or assure in fee-simple or for any lesser estate the said lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves or such reversion or remainder therein, or any part or parcel thereof, to any person or persons whatsoever by deed or deeds of feoffment, gift, grant, exchange, partition, lease, release, bargain, and sale, covenant to stand seized to uses, deed to lead uses, or by his last will and testament, or by any other mode or form of conveiance or assurance by which such lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves, or such reversion or remainder therein might have
this draft Oct. 14th. It was considered and amended in the Committee of the Whole on Oct. 17th and 18th, was passed by the lower house on Oct. 23d, and concurred in by the Senate, Nov. I st. It was the first great blow at the aristocratic or landed class of Virginia, and is noticed by Jefferson in his Autobiography; ante, 1, 49. This is the draft of the bill, in Jefferson's handwriting, the bill as finally adopted being in the Session Acts for 1776, p. 37 ; A Collection of the Public Acts of Va., 1785, p. 45; and in Hening, ix, 226.
As this was one of the first bills passed by the Assembly as formed under the Constitution adopted in this year, the enacting clause was not yet definitely settled, and is left blank in the draft.
been passed, conveied or assured had the same been held in feesimple by the person so passing, conveying or assuring the same : and such deed, will or other conveiance shall be good and effectual to bar the issue in tail & those in remainder and revertor as
1 to such estate or estates so passed, conveied, or assured by such deed will or other conveiance.
Provided nevertheless that such deed, will, or other conveiance shall be executed, acknoleged, or proved, and recorded in like manner as, and in all cases where, the same should have been done, had the person or persons so conveying or assuring held the said lands or slaves, or use of lands and slaves or such reversion or remainder in fee-simple.
Amendments to Bill to Abolish Entails.'
(Oct. 18] Line 18. omit ‘have &c. to the end of the bill, & insert 'from henceforth, or from the commencement of such estate tail, stand ipso facto seized, possessed, or entitled of, in, or to, such lands or slaves or use in lands or slaves so held or to be held as aforesaid in possession, reversion, or remainder in full & absolute feesimple, in like manner as if such deed, will, act of assembly, or other instrument had conveyed the same to him in feesimple ; any words, limitations, or conditions in the said deed, will, act of assembly, or other instrument to the contrary nothwithstanding.
Saving to all & every person & persons, bodies politic and corporate, other than the issue in tail & those in reversion & remainder, all such right title, interest & estate claim & demand, as they, every, or any of them could or might claim, if this act had never been made : and Saving also to such issue in tail & to those in reversion & remainder any right or title which they may have acquired by their own contract for good & valuable considation actually & bona fide paid or performed.
These amendments were proposed by Jefferson himself, and are taken from the original in his handwriting, in the Virginia archives.