Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sam Storms: The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by author Sam Storms is set to be released by Crossway Books next month.

The Hope of Glory is a wonderful substitute to the trite non-sense common to so many so-called devotional books. It is a devotional book you would do well to read.

Far superior to most standard devotional reading, Storms challenges his readers to think deeply and practice passionately their Christian faith. Storms isn’t into spiritual pop-tarts. He’s into helping Christians live their faith.

For instance, in his chapter entitled: “Salty” Speech and the Salvation of Souls, Storms comments on Colossians 4:5-6:

I’m convinced he [Paul] is talking about evangelistic witness, and for three reasons. First, as noted, evangelism is on his mind in the immediately preceding context (see vv. 2–4). Second, he wants all of us to be fully equipped to “answer each person,” those he calls “outsiders” (undoubtedly a reference to those outside the church, i.e., non-Christians). And third, the word translated “speech” in verse 6 is the same Greek word (logos) used in verse 3 where he asks that God open a door for the “word,” i.e., that he be granted opportunities to preach the “word” of the gospel, the mystery of Christ.

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, pages 329-330. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Devotional books normally don’t challenge Christians on their spiritual deficiencies, but then again The Hope of Glory isn’t a normal devotional book. Storms then gives five points about sharing our faith.

First, we are exhorted to conduct ourselves wisely toward outsiders. I think at least two things are in view here. I’m immediately reminded of our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matt. 7:6). Wisdom requires that we be discerning as to when we speak and to whom. Sometimes we need to be bold and forthright, while on other occasions, because of the calloused and hostile posture of our audience, we need to keep our mouths shut.

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, page 330. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

That comment alone ought to root you to the Holy Spirit. “Discernment”, a concept virtually consigned to evangelical obscurity, is freely advanced by Storms. No “one-size-fits-all” “cookie-cutter” evangelism here. Wise reliance on the Holy Spirit is what is necessary.

Second, we mustn’t lose sight of the urgency of our task. The ESV renders this, “making the best use of the time,” while older translations retain the more literal translation, “redeeming the time” (KJV). Commentators do a good job of highlighting Paul’s emphasis. Peter O’Brien renders it, “snapping up every opportunity that comes.” Murray Harris is even more to the point: “In the open market where the commodity of ‘kairos’ [time] is on sale, Christians are to make a ‘timely’ purchase for themselves. In other words, they are to seize eagerly and use wisely every opportunity afforded them by time to promote the kingdom of God.”

Don’t waste any opportunity that comes your way or squander the chance to walk boldly through an open door into the heart of an unbeliever! Every encounter has the potential to be soul-saving. Don’t let fear or hesitation or lack of preparation steal that moment.

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, pages 330-331. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Storms confronts the reader with another word all but lost to evangelicals—“urgency”—and graciously reminds us “Every encounter has the potential to be soul-saving.” No statement could be sweeter, more encouraging and yet more convicting at the same time. Evangelism must recover its sense of urgency.

Third, our witness must always be “gracious” (v. 6), which is to say, as charming as possible without crossing the line into compromise. Be accommodating and kind, says Paul, but not at the expense of truth.

What matters is not simply the content but the manner or spirit in which you speak of Christ to others. We are to be both pointed and pleasant in our witness. Sadly, many embrace one to the exclusion of the other, finding it difficult to embrace both in delicate balance. Either they care for nothing but the truth, regardless of how it is conveyed, or they are so afraid of sounding offensive or pushy that they end up diluting the truth and fail to articulate the realities of sin, death, and hell.

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, page 331. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Well, if Fred Phelps would promise to read this chapter, I’d buy him a copy. Sadly, Storms is accurate. These are virtually the only two extremes modern evangelism knows. Of course, to say Phelps cares “for nothing but the truth” would be extremely generous. But the point is that the angry, “you’re going to hell, sinner” type approach seems to be the only alternative to silent apathy.

Fourth, our proclamation of the mystery of Christ must be “seasoned with salt” (v. 6). Let there be a pungency to our preaching, a flavor worthy to savor. There’s no virtue in being dull or insipid or lukewarm in the presentation of the gospel.

My former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary Howard Hendricks was often heard to say: “According to the old adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. That’s true, but you can feed him salt!” Do you talk of Jesus in a way that makes people’s mouths water? Do your words and manner create the opportunity for a spiritual thirst to emerge?

The psalmist said, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8a). Do people see and sense the sweetness of the Savior when we speak of him? He is altogether lovely and should not be made known in an unlovely or unappealing manner. Jesus tastes good! Don’t spoil the flavor by sinful additives and sour dispositions.

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, page 331. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

To borrow from a book title from John Piper, there is too much duty in our evangelism and not enough delight. Christians used to testify because Jesus had changed them; because they were so in love with Him; because they adored and worshipped him. Now, we have to get ourselves worked into a frenzy, overcoming our cowardice but a dutiful delivery of a “gospel presentation” which is all too often stale and dispassionate.

Fifth, and finally, we must be diligent to answer “each person” (v. 6). He doesn’t mean that we should speak the same way to “everyone,” but that we ought to speak appropriately to “each separate person” as he or she has need. We must supply perceptive and discerning answers in accordance with the unique circumstance of each individual. Not everyone hears the gospel the same way. Some encounter Christ with probing intellectual objections, while others are struggling with deeply entrenched sinful habits.

Evangelism should never be monolithic, as if one mode or manner of presentation is suitable for all souls. Yes, each is in need of a savior from sin. Of course, there is but one Savior and his name is Jesus. But each person is also at a different stage of life, facing a unique set of trials and troubles, each with varying degrees of understanding of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished. In sum, be adept to adapt, and pray that the Spirit would awaken all hearts to see and celebrate the mystery of Christ!

From The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians by Sam Storms, © 2008, page 331-332. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

With such meditations, The Hope of Glory promises to do a gentle, but effective work in stretching the Christian’s devotional life by deepening our resolve to live true to our professions. It’s a book that is truly devotional.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chalk Up a Win for Free Religious Speech

When Choose Life of Missouri Inc. applied for a specialty license plate in 2006, they were about to experience cold-hearted discrimination from two very powerful feminist state Senators.

Missouri has two ways you can get a specialty license plate through the Department of Revenue. The first is to have a legislator file a bill that gets approved by a majority vote of the entire Legislature. Some 70 specialty license plates have been created through this process, many of them very obscure, including those for the Knights of Columbus, the Grand Chapter of the Missouri Order of the Eastern Star, the Grand Lodge Ancient Arabic Order or Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and such.

The second process is the one Choose Life used and that is by making an application with the Department of Revenue. The application must 1) generally describe the specialty license plate; 2) have a sponsor of at least one current member of the Missouri Legislature; 3) list at least 200 people who intend to buy the plate; 4) include a $5,000 application fee.

The application then goes to the Joint Committee for Transportation Oversight for required unanimous approval. The Joint Committee is composed of seven senators, seven representatives and three ex-officio members (the state auditor, the director of the oversight division of the committee of legislative research and the commissioner of the office of administration).

That’s where the Choose Life application stopped being a routine matter and turned into a denial of First Amendment rights. Two senators, Joan Bray and Rita Heard Days, both radical, pro-abortion politicians, decided to flex their muscle and squash free speech. They used a new Missouri law that allowed two senators to object and stopped the application dead in its tracks.

Interestingly, Senator Bray had sponsored a bill in 2005 to allow a pro-choice license plate, so she wasn’t objecting that political speech or abortion speech was being inserted into the specialty license program. She was clearly objecting that pro-life speech was being allowed. In her kind of liberal thinking, only her side of the argument should be represented.

The Joint Committee held its hearing on February 21, 2006 to review the applications for specialty license plates. Four applications were approved: Choose Life, Ethan and Friends for Autism, Missouri Cattlemen Foundation, Missouri Caves and Karst Conservatory, Missouri Support our Troops; one was denied.

Hence a one-and-a-half year law suit filed by Choose Life of Missouri Inc which concluded last week when another well known Missouri liberal, Scott O. Wright, Senior Judge for the US District Court of Western Missouri, wrote:

ORDERED that Missouri Statute 21.795(6) is hereby deemed unconstitutional and an injunction shall be entered requiring the defendant to issue the Choose Life specialty license plate.

Judge Wright's decision siding with pro-lifers can only mean this was one of the worst abuses of power Missouri has ever endured. Thankfully, the wrong has been righted.

I, for one, would love to see Missouri’s specialty license plate program abolished. With some 200 to choose from, can anyone say “bumper sticker”? But as long as the state allows one non-profit group to utilize this program, it must allow all. So why not order your specialty license plate and support the pro-life cause?

By the way, Bray and Days often tag team to destroy our heritage. This session, they are hopeful to outlaw Missouri’s death penalty and have jointly filed Senate Bill No. 835.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

From Spurgeon's Catechism

How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Friday, January 25, 2008

What’s Your Human Life IQ?

Family Research Council developed this short, three question multiple choice quiz:

Question 1: Since 1973, how many induced abortions have been carried out in the United States?
◦ 20,000,000 to 25,000,000
◦ 30,000,000 to 35,000,000
◦ 45,000,000 to 50,000,000

Question 2: The percentage of Americans who say that abortion should be legal at any time for any reason (current law) is:
◦ 31%
◦ 22%
◦ 16%

Question 3: The percentage of U.S. abortions done for reasons other than "health" or "rape and incest" is:
◦ 54.2%
◦ 73.6%
◦ 93.5%

The answers might surprise many Americans unfamiliar with our great national sin of abortion.
(respectively, the answers are: 45--50,000,000; 16%, 93.5%). You can request from FRC a free source "The Top Ten Myths of Abortion" either in PDF download or a hard copy to read and pass along to others.

And if you want to learn even more, take this test developed by Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America.

The Church has been pretty powerless to end abortion. We’ve curtailed it, slowed it, depopularized it, but still abortion continues. While we continue our zealous efforts, we must appeal to “the governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28) for help. Only He can grant America a repentant heart. Only He can heal our national blindness and replace our cold cruelty with love for children. May our God do so with the United States of America.
“Your baptism and your confirmation and your name on the church roll and the big Bible you carry--
these are not the things that are important to God. You can train a chimpanzee to carry a Bible.”
A.W. Tozer, Faith Beyond Reason, 96

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ABC's anti-Christian Hypocrisy

The American Family Association reports the following:

ABC fired an actor because of an anti-gay comment, but gave anchorwoman who told an audience 'F---Jesus' what amounted to a one-week vacation.

Last June, when actor Isaiah Washington, star of ABC's show Grey's Anatomy, made an anti-gay slur in reference to openly homosexual T.R. Knight, the network immediately fired Washington.

But when ESPN (owned by ABC) anchorwoman Dana Jacobson publicly said "F--- Notre Dame," "F--- Touchdown Jesus" and finally "F--- Jesus," the network gave her a one week suspension. In essence, ABC gave Jacobson a one week vacation.

ABC has two standards, one for anti-gay comments and one for anti-Christian comments. Those who use anti-gay comments are punished. Those who use anti-Christian comments are supported. If ABC refuses to fire Jacobson, would you be willing to support a one-year boycott of the sponsor of her program?

Take the AFA poll and read background information.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Roe v. Wade

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a 7-2 decision by the United States Supreme Court that would plunge America into its darkest and most evil sin.

Abortion had long been practiced before 1973, but on January 22 the Court gave it sanctuary and enshrined it into the fabric of American jurisprudence as a constitutional right.

Writing for the majority, Justice Harry A. Blackmun opined that the 14th Amendment contains a right to privacy "broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."

Justice Potter Stewart, with a concurring opinion, blasted the Texas statute protecting the developing baby. “…it is difficult to imagine a more complete abridgment of a constitutional freedom than that worked by the inflexible criminal statute now in force in Texas.”

Chief Justice Warren Burger, a rather conservative jurist at the time, surprisingly joined the majority. In his concurring opinion, he wrote what was perhaps the most inaccurate prognostication in the court’s entire history. “I do not read the Court's holdings today as having the sweeping consequences attributed to them by the dissenting Justices; the dissenting views discount the reality that the vast majority of physicians observe the standards of their profession, and act only on the basis of carefully deliberated medical judgments relating to life and health. Plainly, the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortions on demand.”

Yet, Roe did have “sweeping consequences” by immediately changing the laws of 46 states. Millions of babies have been brutally killed; thousands of women have been physically and emotionally damaged; most physicians will not perform the heinous abortion procedures; Planned Parenthood and like minded abortionists break the law as well as “the standards of their profession”; and “abortion on demand” is now understood to be a Constitutional right. Burger could not have been more wrong.

Roe did have two dissenting voices. Justice William Rehnquist, who would later become Chief Justice, writing the dissenting opinion was prophetic. “Unless I misapprehend the consequences of this transplanting of the ‘compelling state interest test,’ the Court's opinion will accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of leaving this area of the law more confused than it found it.”

The other dissenter Justice Byron White, was even more scathing. “I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court's judgment. The court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes."

White accused his colleagues of an “exercise of raw judicial power” and wrote concerning the majority that “its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”

White also clearly saw past the ideology of activist judges, realizing the case lacked merit. “It is my view, therefore, that the Texas statute is not constitutionally infirm because it denies abortions to those who seek to serve only their convenience, rather than to protect their life or health.”

And so today, because of America’s new culture that seeks “to serve only their convenience” we mourn the brutal, tortuous deaths of 50 million Americans because of Roe v. Wade.

PS: The other Supreme Court Justices who voted in the majority are William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, William J. Brennan, Lewis F. Powell

PS2: In case you don't think abortion brutally kills developing babies, go here for pictorial evidence of its heinous barbarity (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC & DISTURBING PHOTOS)

AND: Byron White’s dissenting opinion is worth reading in its entirety, so I’ve listed it below.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE, with whom MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST joins, dissenting.*
At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are, nevertheless, unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons -- convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. The common claim before us is that, for any one of such reasons, or for no reason at all, and without asserting or claiming any threat to life or health, any woman is entitled to an abortion at her request if she is able to find a medical advisor willing to undertake the procedure.

The Court, for the most part, sustains this position: during the period prior to the time the fetus becomes viable, the Constitution of the United States values the convenience, whim, or caprice of the putative mother more than the life or potential life of the fetus; the Constitution, therefore, guarantees the right to an abortion as against any state law or policy seeking to protect the fetus from an abortion not prompted by more compelling reasons of the mother.

With all due respect, I dissent. I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment. The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers [410 U.S. 222] and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion
statutes. The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally disentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the mother, on the other hand. As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.

The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries. Whether or not I might agree with that marshaling of values, I can in no event join the Court's judgment because I find no constitutional warrant for imposing such an order of priorities on the people and legislatures of the States. In a sensitive area such as this, involving as it does issues over which reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ, I cannot accept the Court's exercise of its clear power of choice by interposing a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life and by investing mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to exterminate it. This issue, for the most part, should be left with the people and to the political processes the people have devised to govern their affairs.

It is my view, therefore, that the Texas statute is not constitutionally infirm because it denies abortions to those who seek to serve only their convenience, rather than to protect their life or health. Nor is this plaintiff, who claims no threat to her mental or physical health, entitled to assert the possible rights of those women [410 U.S. 223] whose pregnancy assertedly implicates their health. This, together with United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971), dictates reversal of the judgment of the District Court.

Likewise, because Georgia may constitutionally forbid abortions to putative mothers who, like the plaintiff in this case, do not fall within the reach of § 26-1202(a) of its criminal code, I have no occasion, and the District Court had none, to consider the constitutionality of the procedural requirements of the Georgia statute as applied to those pregnancies posing substantial hazards to either life or health. I would reverse the judgment of the District Court in the Georgia case.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

I can still remember stepping out of my back door in Adrian, Missouri, one cool January and seeing a confederate flag hanging from a neighbor’s porch. I hadn’t remembered seeing it before and thought it strange then, this new banner flapping in the breeze. It wasn’t until several hours into my work day that I realized the day was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday.

Neither Adrian nor my neighbor was especially racist, at least to my recollection. And I never discovered why he displayed his Stars & Bars. I’m of the opinion that perhaps Dr. King should not have a federal holiday in his honor. Not even the great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln gets his own day. He’s lumped into “Washington’s Birthday” with the common renaming of “President’s Day”. And I certainly realize credible evidence exists regarding Dr. King’s moral character, though much of it is embellished.

However, nothing can detract from certain facts. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man and led a great movement.

He is perhaps best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, but his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” ranks higher in my mind, in terms of great literature.

Racism is ugly. I am thankful that Dr. King did much to assault it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trivia Answer

For the answer to yesterday's trivia question, Jefferson noted as his three greatest achievements, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as referenced yesterday), the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia.

See his tombstone here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Religious Freedom

I may be a bit of a Johnny-come-lately, but yesterday was our country’s Religious Freedom Day. I’m fairly savvy about these things, but frankly I wasn’t aware of such a thing. January 16 is a good day for sipping hot chocolate by the fire (at least for the part of the country I live in). There’s even a website for the day, complete with all kinds of tshirts, coffee mugs and backpacks to help with promotion.

It seems the day was designated in 2003 by Senate Joint Resolution 154 and is a commemoration of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1786, the Virginia General Assembly enacted the statute into the state's law.

Of course, the real story behind Jefferson, Madison, Virginia, the First Amendment and Religious Freedom are Baptist preachers, particularly one named John Leland. Leland left his native Massachusetts in 1775 to help Baptists contend with the established Episcopalian church in Virginia.

As early as 1768, five Baptist preachers (John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh) were arrested in Fredericksburg for “preaching contrary to the law.” The Spotsylvania County prosecutor argued to the Virginia magistrates that the defendants “cannot meet a man upon the road, but they must ram a text of Scripture down his throat.” They were offered parole if they would agree to preach no more in the county for one year, and after refusing the offer, the Baptists were held 43 days in jail.

By the time Leland arrived, Baptist civil disobedience was strong and united. Leland thrived and help organize their resistance into political clout. Near the end of his life, he stated: “Next to the salvation of the soul, the civil and religious rights of men have summoned my attention more than the acquisition of wealth or seats of honor.”

Leland was so effective, that he influenced the history of the United States. When the Constitution was presented for ratification, Baptist opposition was fierce. The author of the U.S. Constitution was the Virginia James Madison, who was in New York City. But with Baptist opposition, particularly in John Leland’s home turf of Orange County, Madison’s election as a Virginian delegate to the ratifying Congress was in jeopardy and without the author’s presence, particularly in counteracting the eloquence of Patrick Henry who was opposed to ratification, the Constitution was doomed to failure.

Madison’s father wrote his son: “The sentiments of the people of Orange are much divided the best men in my judgment are for the constitution but several of those who have much weight with the people are opposed, Parson Bledsoe & Leeland with Colo. Z. Burnley. Upon the whole I think it is incumbent on you without delay, to repair to this state, as the loss of the constitution in this state may involve consequences the most alarming to every citizen in America.”

Well, Madison beat it home and had several private discussions with John Leland, who secured Madison’s commitment to present a Bill of Rights protecting religious freedom and eventually threw his support behind Madison’s election.

While religious freedom belongs to everyone, Baptists particularly have reason to celebrate its presence in American history. The English historian, Skeats wrote, “It is the singular and distinguished honor of the Baptists to have repudiated from their earliest history all coercive power over the consciences and actions of men with reference to religion. They were the proto-evangelists of the voluntary principle.”

= = = = = = = = = =

Trivia: Thomas Jefferson requested the Statute for Religious Freedom be one of three of his accomplishments named on his epitaph. What were the other two? (check back tomorrow).

And...click here and here. Which sounds more spiritual? Surprised?

Also, the text of Jefferson’s Statute is below:


[Sec. 1] Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

[Sec. 2] Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

[Sec. 3] And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.