people tended to see Warburton's theory as a route to a shared conclusion. The underpinnings of Warburton's position were also revealed in his reply to Bolingbroke in 1766. Only Christian doctrine was God given, he argued. 'Church-government', on the other hand, 'may be administered by an Episcopacy, a Presbytery, or an Independency', since its 'specific form' was 'not prescribed'. On the contrary, Jesus had left it 'to particular churches to follow such as were most agreeable to the forms of those civil societies, in which they were to be established'.20 Warburton's view, however, was not shared by most mid- and late eighteenth-century churchmen.
If Warburton in the 1730s expressed the idea of establishment in the language of natural law and contract, Paley in the 1780s equally captured the idiom of his day when he expressed a similar idea in the language of utility. On the surface, both Warburton and Paley denied that the civil magistrate had any concern with the truth status of religion. Warburton presented his key defence of the establishment as not truth, but utility.21 Read more closely, however, even Warburton and Paley ultimately grounded the claims of the church on the truth of its doctrine. Warburton argued that the state would ally with the larger church in the realm as that best 'enabled ... to answer the ends of an alliance', but only 'where there is an equality in other points'. In the first edition of 1736, the key qualification was '(where the difference [between churches] is not in Essentials)': clearly the Church of England claimed its foundation on natural law. Warburton also included in a footnote a strongly positive commendation of the church: 'I would recommend that excellent Treatise intit[uled] A Vindication of the Corporation and Test Acts'.22 But Thomas Sherlock's tract of 1718 had, as a premise, truth as the basis of the church's authority.23 Although Warburton later omitted this argument, he continued to include his closing claim that the alliance 'secures ... the advancement of truth'.24
Inhisbestsellingworkof 1785, William Paley, at least on the surface, adopted a similar argument: 'The authority ... of a church establishment is founded in its utility'. This position was not an anticipation of the utilitarian Jeremy Bentham, but rather a latitudinarian belief (like Warburton's) that no form of church government was prescribed in Scripture. Paley did not, however, claim that no theology whatever was there authoritatively set out. His other latitudinarian premise was that 'In religion, as in other subjects, truth, if left to itself, will almost always gain the ascendancy'. It followed that 'of different systems of faith, that is the best, which is the truest . . . we are justified in pronouncing the true religion, by its very truth, and independently of all considerations of tendencies, aptness, or any other internal
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