« AnteriorContinuar »
with the methods of Christian educa- | the alternative of its existence or tion, leave these to the church. In non-existence, there would bang a both cases it will multiply and extend most fearful odds to the Christiover the land the amount of instruc- anity of Scotland. Let us admit tion, yet the kind of instruction it it as true that the apparatus may might leave to other authorities, to be made greatly more effective, still other boards of management than its it is true that a deadly effect would own; and this is the way to secure follow, and be felt to her remotest the best scholarship, and the best parishes, were the apparatus taken Christianity. For the sake of an down; it were tantamount to a moral abundant gospel dispensation we are blight over the length and breadth upheld in things temporal by the of our land. And though we have state ; for the sake of a pure gospel not time to demonstrate what now dispensation we are left in things spi- we have only time to affirm, yet with ritual to ourselves; and on ourselves all the certainty of experimental it depends alone, whether the church demonstration we say it,--that the now might not be the same saintly and ministrations of our church once done unsullied church that it was in the away, would never be replaced to days of martyrdom,-as spiritual in within a tenth of the efficacy, in all its creed, as purely apostolical in its the zeal and energy, and talent of spirit, as holy in all its services. private adventure.
Addressing ourselves to Presby- In my desire to carry your convicterians, and speaking of our own tion along with me on this subject, it church, we will not allege its infalli- is impossible that I can enter on the bility, for this were Popery in the use of ecclesiastical statistics without dress of Protestantism. We will not detaining you more than I should be contend for the wisdom and the recti- warranted in doing : therefore, I tude of all its doings, for we hold that shall just give one numerical and there is neither individual nor corpo- perfectly true statement, with regard rate perfection on the earth. Let the to the highlands of Scotland, those distinction be made between the acts who speak the Gaelic language. of an establishment and the powers It is about one hundred years ago of an establishment, and we know not since the great dissent from the if through the whole of Christendom church of Scotland commenced ; and there be one more happily devised in this land of toleration they have in any other country for the religious been at perfect liberty to traverse the good of its population. The fitness whole length and breadth of that of the machine is one thing, the land. In a population of about half working of it is another. We feel a million, the whole amount of the that it is no more than a warrantable product arising from their exertions, confidence, when we stand up for the the whole of what has been called former, though we should feel it most “the voluntary principle” has certremendous presumption did we in tainly not exceeded six churches, every instance, and upon all occa- wherein the stated Gaelic service is sions, stand up for the latter.
The establishment has In regard to the fitness of the me- contributed one hundred and sixty chanism it may be the best possible ; churches to that people. Within in regard to the actual working of the these few years—and it is a proof mechanism, one would need to side that there is no want of materials, for with all the majorities which, in the the success of private adventurers, popular constitution of our church, within these few years, by a single have occurred for two centuries, and fiat of the legislature acting on the under all the changes of ecclesiastical principle of an establishment, there polity, ere we could conscientiously were decreed no less than forty goaffirm that the working at all times vernment churches; and these, I am has been the best possible. Still, happy to say, followed up in general amid all the imputations and the by a pure and conscientious exercise errors which its greatest enemies have of the patronage, are now filled with laid to its door, we hold that, upon as many flourishing congregations
people who would never have had many of her families, as the weekly any thing like a regular steady sup- recurrence of the parish bell,-would ply of Christian ordinances without necessarily disappear; in a moral the extension of the principle of an sense, they would become the waste establishment to them also.
and the howling wilderness of ScotYou may take two extreme cases, land. We feel quite assured that -one a thinly populated country, and under this withering deprivement, a the other a locality as densely peo- rude and outlandish aspect would pled as possible. Go to the closest gather on the face of our people. population of any city, and compute The cities might be somewhat served the amount of accommodation that as heretofore, but the innumerable there is within the localities where hamlets would be forsaken and negthat population is situated : I am lected, just as they were anterior to perfectly sure that I am within the an establishment at all ; our peasants limits of certainty when I say that would again become pagans, and the four fifths of the population go no plain ritual of Christianity would sink where; or, in other words, in that into the blindness of idolatry, and the field which is laid open to the real rude inorganization of paganism. and talent of private adventure in But, without enlarging on this consithis land of toleration for a century, deration-on which head lies much of this is the amount, the partial amount the strength of our case--you are aware to which they have overtaken them ; | that some economists have advocated and I see no other mode of reaching the principle of free trade in Christhem but by the extension of a dan- tianity on the same principle as they gerous principle of an establishment would advocate it for trade, as if the even to them,—that is, by a greater supply always suited itself to the denumber of ministers and churches ; mand; but, in point of fact, it is just when, by a pure and righteous exer- because the supply would not suit itcise of the patronage, were these self to the demand, that it would be filled (which must always be presup- so certainly followed up by the adopposed in any argument) with zealous tion of an establishment. There is and well-principled men, I sbould no such demand for Christianity as predict such a moral organization of for the articles of merchandize, thereour cities as no other device, and no fore the principle does not apply: the other expedient, could possibly afford cases are utterly distinct and dissimius.
lar one from another. Now in point Well, then, suppose that the esta- of fact, it is just because the supply blishment were overthrown, -we are would only suit itself by the adoption warranted by these two facts to affirm of an establishment, not that the that on the event of its being over- people would fall away from such thrown there would arise no compen- a demand. But I cannot enlarge on sation for the present regular supply, this consideration, in which there lies --there would arise no compensation much to strengthen the case. And for its fulness. Instead of the frc- without doing this, let us briefly recur quent parish church (that most beauti- to the leading argument of the day, ful of all spectacles to a truly Scottish which is, to prove that there is nocharacter, because to him the richest thing essentially corrupt in the estain moral association—and to whom, blishment. therefore, its belfry, peeping forth It is not true that corruption must from among the thick verdure of the adhere, in virtue of its very nature, trees which embosom it, is the sweet and as of necessity, to an establishest and fairest object in the landscape) ment. There will be corruption, in -instead of this we should behold the fact; but, rightly to estimate the rare and the thinly-scattered meeting quarter it comes from, distinction houses ; for large and convenient should be made between the pature churches, we should have nothing but of the institution, and the nature of precarious and transient itineracies ; man. In virtue of the former, there the old established habits of Sabbath may be no contamination, while in attendance,-now as constant, with virtue of the latter there may be a great deal. An establishment may in can tell the numerous ills that would this case be the occasional, but not fester on every hand, and fall in in. the efficient, cause of mischief. The numerable forms on society, were the machine may be faultless; but, ex- rights and restraints of parental auposed as it must be, when the me- thority therefore put an end to? And chanist is removed, to the innovation there may be corruption in the ecclesiof hands wbich, in a certain degree, astical government of our own church; will despoil and vitiate all they come this may be true; and yet it may be in contact with,—the remedy is not just as true, that if, either by the to demolish the machine, but to trans- policy of infatuated rulers, or by the fer the bands that wrought it to other frenzy of an infatuated people, this management and other modes of ope- church was put away, it would inflict ration : there will still be corruption the most disastrous blow on the chanotwithstanding. It will prove a vain racter of Scotland and on the Chrisattempt to escape if you think to tianity of Scotland's families. It is make a good by transferring human not by the violence of public hostility nature from the economy of an esta- against our church that the nation is blishment to the economy of any of to be reformed; it is rather by the our sectaries. The human nature control of the public opinion of her which you thus transfer, will carry ministers, and, most of all, by the its own virulence along with it; and answer from heaven to the people's while that nature remains there will prayers, that their “priests may be be corruption, and which is strictly clothed with salvation.” Were the chargeable neither on the one economy establishment, and that, too, under nor on the other. It follows not, there- the pretext of its corruption, defore, because of this one or that other stroyed,—this would do nothing, and abuse, that the frame-work of an es- worse than nothing. Were the estatablishment should be destroyed. To blishment, either in the whole, or in make head against an abuse we should certain parts of its constitution redirect our efforts to the place where formed, - this of itself would do little, the abuse originated,—not to the and so little as to stamp insignifimachinery, therefore, in the present cance on many a contest of ecclesiasinstance, but to the men who work tical policy. Were the establishment the machinery. It is not to a consti- to have the Spirit of God poured forth tutional or political change in any of upon its clergy in their work, and the our establishments, that we shall look multiplication of its churches and for the coming regeneration of our parishes made more commensurate land ; it is to a moral and a spiritual with the wants of our increasing change in those who administer them. population, — this, and this alone, It is there, and not in the frame-work, would do every thing. A conscienwhere the change and the correction tious minister, even within the estamust be made. This is the way to blishment, precise as it is, has within get rid of corruption, and not by the borders the liberty and the priviputting forth upon our national insti- lege of unbounded usefulness. He tutions the innovating hand of a de- has scope and an outlet for the largstroyer. There are corruptions in est desires of Christian philanthropy; the civil government of our empire; he has a parish within which he may yet that is no reason why it should be multiply his assiduities at pleasure, brought to dissolution. There are and with no other control but that of corruptions in the municipal govern- the word of God over his doctrines, ments of our towns; yet what fearful and his services, and his prayers. anarchy would ensue, should that be Should he quarrel with the reigning made the pretext for another over- policy of our church, he has at least throw, and every populous commu- liberty to offer his testimony against nity in our land were left without a all that which he may esteem to be presiding magistracy to check and to its defects and its errors.
He can control them! There is corruption, give his eloquence and his vote to the we will say it, in every family govern- strength of its minorities; he can, ment throughout the nation ; yet, who by the contribution of his own name,
and of his own proclaimed or re- and importance of its services. These corded opinion, add to that moral force will form our best security, infinitely which always tells in the opposition better than any which statesmen can of principle, and which numbers can- devise. There were certain recent not overbear. All this he may do, alarms (connected with Catholic and without forfeiting the respect, emancipation, and certain other nay, even the kindness of his adver- measures) in which I could not parsaries.
ticipate, because I felt that any apBut, to go back from the courts of prehended danger from without might our establishment to its parishes,- be greatly more than countervailed where, after all, he is on his best by the moral defence from within. vantage ground for the service of This is the reaction by which we have Christian patriotism,-he can there hitherto stood our ground against expatiate without restraint, in all the infidelity on the one hand, and secdeeds and the devices of highest use- tarianism on the other; and with such fulness. It is in this precious home- an effort, and with such an effect,walk of piety and peace that he can that is, with enough of energy, and acquit himself of his noblest ministra- conscientiousness, and enlightened tions for the interests of our immortal zeal on the part of our ministers, nature, and the good of human society. that all the menace and agitation by It is there where he sheds the purest which we are surrounded will only influence around him, whether by the rivet the church of Scotland more holiness of his pulpit, or the kindness firmly on her basis, and bring in and of his household, ministrations. I rally more closely around her all the cannot imagine a stronger, yet hap- wise and the good of our nation. pier ascendant, than that which be- In regard to an establishment, it longs to a parish minister, who throned makes all the difference in the world in the cordialities of his people, finds to a conscientious man, whether it exunbounded welcome at every cottage poses the church to the evil of an overdoor, and, by his unwearied attention bearing constraint from without, or, at sicknesses, and at deaths, and fune- in common with every other Christian rals, has implicated the very sound society, to the evil of a spontaneous of his name, and the idea of his per- corruption from within its own bosom. son, with the dearest interests of If not to the former,—that is, if there families. We positively know not be no overbearing influence from any where else than under this mild without, he may carry entire into the patriarchal economy, that a scene of establishment all his powers, and his such moral loveliness can be found, liberty of usefulness; if only to the or one where the hopes of heaven, latter,—that is, a spontaneous corand the best and kindest affections of ruption from within,-he may possithe heart are so beautifully blended. bly have no share in the corruption ; To uphold the system which covers and, politically (if such be the conall the land with so blessed and be- stitution of the church that he is nignant an economy as this may well vested with the privilege,) he may be termed, the chief defence of the na- resist; and, is overcome, may lift his tion : to up-root is the gothic imagina- testimony against it. tion of certain unfeeling calculators, In all these respects we know whose sole principle in their dealings nothing more perfect than the conwith society is to follow the leadings stitution of the church of Scotland. of a heartless arithmetic, but who, There is in each of its members an in the very outset of their plodding independent voice from within ; and computations, overlook what that is from without there is no force or which constitutes the chief element authority whatever, in matters eccleof a nation's prosperity and a nation's siastic. They who feel a dislike to greatness.
an establishment, do so, in general, It is the part of ministers to vindi- because of the recoil from all contact cate the worth and importance of a and communication with the state. church establishment to society ; and we have no other communication this is best done by showing the worth with the state, than that of being maintained by it; after which we are strong as ever in the reverence of left to regulate the proceedings of her country's population, she would our great home-mission with all the be as much a church in the days of purity, and the piety and the inde- her suffering, as in the days of exterpendence, of any missionary abroad. nal security and triumph,—when a We are exposed to nothing from wandering outcast, with nothing but without, which can violate the sanc- the mountain breeze to play around tity of the apostolic character, if our- her, and nought but the caves of the selves do not violate it; and neither earth to shelter her, as now, when are we exposed to aught which can endowed with the powers of an trench on the authority of the apos- establishment. The magistrates may tolical office, if, of ourselves we make withdraw their protection, and she no surrender of it. In things eccle- cease to be an establishment any siastical we decide all : some of these longer; but, in all the high matters things may be done wrong, but still of sacred and spiritual jurisdiction, they are our majorities which do she would be the same as before. them ; they are not, they cannot be, | With or without an establishment, in forced upon us from without. We these she is the unfettered mistress own no head of the church but the of her doings. The king, by himself, Lord Jesus Christ: whatever is done or by his representative, might be a ecclesiastical, is done by our minis- looker on, but more the king cannot, ters acting in his name, and in pro- the king dare not. fessed submission to his authority. But we gladly bring our arguments Implicated as the church and the to a close. It has been well remarked, state are imagined to be, they are not that in the abstract discussions of men so implicated as that, without the about which there may be collision, concurrence of ecclesiastical courts, a it is difficult to avoid a certain tone of full and final effect can be given to harshness--a spirit the most unlike any proceedings, by which the good possible to that which should be, and of Christianity and the religion of indeed to that which actually is, in our people may be effected. There real and living exemplification. The is not a clerical appointment which vindication of our establishment, as can take place in any of our parishes, far as we have proceeded in it, till we have sustained it. Even the necessarily involves the vindication law of patronage, right or wrong, is of our order from the charge, that, in force, not by the power of the because supported by the state, we state, but by the permission of the are therefore, as if by necessary church, and, with all its fancied om- consequence, a mean and a mercenipotence, has no other basis than nary priesthood. In repelling this, that of our majorities to rest upon. we cannot but assert the real indeIt should never be forgotten that pendence which belongs to us: but in things ecclesiastical the highest let not the assertion of our indepenpower of our church is amenable to dence be interpreted into an assertion no higher power on earth for its de- of disrespect or defiance. What we fence. It can exclude, it can de- say, and say truly, in the abstract, prive, it can depose, at pleasure. Ex-may in the concrete be never realized ; ternal force might make an obnoxious and for this best and most desirable individual the holder of a benefice; of all reasons—that the one party but there is no external force in these ought never to be put on the hardy realms which can make him a minister and resolute defence of its prerogaof the church of Scotland. There is tive, just because the other party not one thing which the state can do may never have the wish or the to our independent and indestructible thought to invade them. There is church, but strip her of her tempo- many an ancient and venerable posralities; persecuted and derided, she session in our land whose writings would remain a church, notwith- are never called forth from their standing. Stronger than ever in the depository, or brought into court, bulwarks of her own moral and in- just because they are never trampled herent greatness, and at least, as on: and so of the rights of our