Meaning: The highest rule of conduct is that which is induced, by religion.
This is the golden rule of every nation. All perfect laws are founded upon religion. The laws of all nations are supposed to be so founded. No people will deny this. The only question is, what is religion? and to the difference of opinion upon this question, is owing the difference in the customs, habits, and laws of the universe. The laws of England are supposed to be, in every respect, consistent with the religion there established.
By reason of this rule, the law gives to the church many privileges in order to favour religion. So upon a question as to in whom is the fee simple of glebe lands holden to the parson and his successors, it is said not to be in the patron or ordinary, but in abeyance ; being vested in the parson and his successors, which the patron and ordinary are not, and this, because the parson has curam animarum, and is bound to celebrate divine service, and to administer the sacraments, and, therefore, no act of the predecessor can take away the entry of the successor, and drive him to a real action whereby he shall become destitute of maintenance in the meantime.
It is also said that a parson, for the benefit of the church and of his successor, is in some cases esteemed in law to have a qualified estate in fee simple ; but, to do anything to the prejudice of his successor, in many cases, as to commit waste, he is considered as having only an estate for life. For, though a parson may make the living better for his successor, he is, otherwise, as a minor, he cannot make it worse. “Ecclesia fungitur vice minoris ; meliorem facere potest conditionem suam, deteriorem nequaquam;” and, “ Ecclesia meliorari non deteriori potest.”
If a parson make a lease for years not warranted by any statute, the lease is void as against his successor, and no act of his successor can make it good ; but it binds the lessor, for no man shall take advantage of his own wrong. The King even, is bound by Acts of Parliament which restrain ecclesiastical persons from committing waste unless special provision be made for him therein, and this, it must be observed, is contrary to the rule of law, “Roy n'est lie per ascun statute si il ne soit expressement nosme” Many Acts of Parliament have been passed limiting the granting of leases of glebe land to short terms of years, and regulating the terms of the grants so as not to injure the successor, and with a view to maintain the efficiency of the church in matters spiritual, by providing for the temporal wants of its ministers. For, if this were not so, it is said the result would bedilapidations,decay of spiritual livings, and of hospitality, and utter impoverishing of the successors, and by consequence decay of religion and justice.
The law will never presume or admit anything against reason or religious duty, and, therefore, it may be that it is a principle to be regarded in the laws of this country, that, though the King is not bound by any statute unless expressly named where it affects his temporal prerogative, yet, that must not be understood with reference to matters solely for the maintenance of the religion of this country, in respect of which he will be as much bound as the subject, unless thereby expressly exempted.