On the Constitution of the Church and State by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Routledge and Kagan Paul £9.95) Throughout his life, Coleridge was concerned with the role of the Church in a pluralistic society. The question which raised the issue most acutely at the time was that of Ireland or, more specifically, the emancipation of Catholics.
How could Roman Catholics enjoy their civil and political rights without endangering the Protestant Constitution?
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Coleridge avoided becoming entangled in theological or
political details, which were often complicated and irrelevant, by resting his argument on the basic constitutional principles governing the relationship between Church and State.
Coleridge clearly recognised the implications of political or religious reforms on the position of an Established Church. As a result, although his work did not appear until the Act of Emancipation had already been passed into law, this was not in itself significant, because he was chiefly interested in the fundamental relationship between Church and State.
Coleridge argued in favour of the separation of Church and State on both historical and philosophical grounds: the opposition of Church and State was not incompatible with their necessary interdependence His ideas had an immediate and profound influence on a whole generation of politicians and theologians, while his vision of the cultural role of the National Church remains at once inspiring and provocative even today.
This is the tenth volume of Coleridge's "Collected Works" published by Princeton University Press and sponsored by the Boll ingen Foundation.
The text is based on the second edition, published with the author's revisions in 1830, and has been richly annotated by the editor, Professor John Colmer, who has also included a number of valuable appendices as well as a most informative chronological table and authoritative introduction.
J. Derek Holmes