Page images
PDF
EPUB

pearance ? Answer. Because that which is in appearance a complete appointment, is in reality nothing more than an initiative, controuled and capable of being defeated by a negative in other hands :-by an independent, apt, and efficient negative, actually controuled, and by all candidates, as well as by all Patrons, universally known to be so.*

knowledgement of insincerity be made, any self-condemnation be passed, any humiliation be incurred. From every man,-if any such man there be now living, by whom, to every proposition without exception contained in the book in question the firmest assent is given, -might even the proposal to this effect come, as completely free from all inconsistency, as from any one, if any such there were, by whom not so much as one single proposition in it were believed. These” (he might say) “from the first were, and now to “ the last continue to be, my own opinions. Of all who dissent from any of “ them, the opinions are consequently, in proportion to the degree of « their distance from these of mine, in my eyes erroneous. But, what I “ know but too well is—that among persons, possessing means of right “ judgment not inferior to my own, for every one that agrees, there are

many more that disagree with me. Under these circumstances, is it in " the nature of the case, that of every one of the whole number of these

persons, by whom all this vast assemblage of opinions is professed to be li entertained,-persons, by every one of whom a comfortable subsisteuce “ for life, which otherwise he could not have had, is obtained—the belief " applies to it with the same universality as my own?—If not, then, of the « continuance of the obligation in question the effect is—to give birth—and “to what good end?—to a perpetual course of insincerity :-of insincerity, « and where?-in the bosoms of a class of men, in whose instance not only “the practice, but the bare suspicion of that'vice is more pernicious than “ in the instance of any other.”

What?-among so many, and those surely not ill-paid, professors of piety and the purest morality, shall there be no one who will be preserved by shame, from the reproach of leaving altogether to a layman the praise of standing forth the only advocate of sincerity in a Christian Church?

To the English reader, the following sketch of the state of the Pa. tronage in the Established Church of Scotland may be matter of curiosity, if not of use. It has been made out from one of the lists annually published in the Edinburgh Almanack. In it, the persons and classes of persons of different descriptious, in whose hands the patronage of the several pa

In the above portraits,-drawn in miniature indeed, but from the life,—not to speak of Scotland, behold now on the

7

rochial benefices appears to be vested, are as follows; the subjoined figures being expressive of the number of benefices possessed by them respec. tively; viz. 1. Individuals ...

590 2. The Crown..

250 3. Individuals and the Crown alternately

30 4. The Town Councils of various Towns 5. The Parishioners at large......

13 6. The University of St. Andrew's .. 7. The University of Glasgow ... 8. The University of St. Andrew's and an individual alternately... 9. The University of St. Andrew's and the Crown alternately.... 1 10. The Town Council of Edinburgh (the Parishes being outlying). 3 11. The Town Council of Glasgow (the Parishes outlying)...... 12. The Directors (Quære, of what ?) .... 13. The Heritors (Land-owners) of the respective Parishes..

2 14. The Kirk Session (governing body, corresponding to the Vestry) of

the Parish ... 15. In litigation .

1

1

944

Deduct Parishes ....

895 Add Churches styled Collegiate, each having two Ministers...... 49 Total number of Parochial Benefices as above .....

944

1. The great difference turns npon the difference between the descrip. tion of the persons by whom the examination is performed, and thereby that test of aptitude applied, without which admission into the order of men in question cannot take place. Under Excellent Church there is but one person to examine, and of that sole Judge the candidate himself has the choice, and at this trial no other person is ever present. See above, $7. The test is therefore in this case but a sham. Under the Church of Scot. land, the tribunal by which so important a species of judicature is exercised, is a many-seated ope: the Presbytery of the Presbytery bound in which the benefice is situated; a mang-seated and open judicatory, which wbile in

one hand the picture of Excellent Church, on the other hand the picture of Schism :—the picture, in which are comprehended all those Churches, of which, in the declared opinion of the present Bishop of London, Dr. Howley, the members are, all of them, as such, in a state of constant guilt.Such excellence and such guilt—which then is most eligible?

[ocr errors]

some measure it sets the lead to, is at the same time checked and controled by, the opinion of the people at large: the acts of this judicatory being moreover in this as in other cases subject to ulterior tribunals, one above another, viz. the Synod of the Synodical bound, and lastly, to the General Assembly,: tribunals in every one of which a number of Laymen in consi. derable proportion have seats : and moreover,- in addition to the examination before the Presbytery,--service, consisting of a prayer and sermon, the sermon sometimes, the prayer constantly, pronounced either in the Parish Church before the congregation, or in the Presbytery room before the Presbytery, in an open audience. In this case then, that which in name and to a first appearance is an absolute choice,—is in effect, but an initiative, subjected to a negative: and that negative applied--not arbitrarily, but on a judicial inquiry, performed with the substance as well as the forms of judicature.

2. In one respect,-viz. that of security for intellectual aptitude, so far as depends upon appropriate learning,—this Established Church possesses, it is evident, an indisputable advantage over the generality even of Non-Established Churches. But if, generally speaking, in respect of this qualification,—which, after all, is but a collateral and not an effectual one,-the Clergy of the Scottish Established Church bave the superiority over those of the English Non-Established Churches,—it is not in the nature of the case that, in the essential article of appropriate zeal, the superiority should not in general be on the other side. Of these the two qualifications, which is it that with reference to the great ends in view, is the most effectually conducive? A question this of no small importance in itself, but which, considering that under Excellent Church there is no tolerable security for either, belongs not to the present purpose.

$ 10. Facienda in the way of Reform.

of the vices by which the system of Excellent Church has been found distinguished, such as presented themselves, twenty-five in number, as being on this occasion worth putting upon the list, have just been brought to view : by every one of these, so far from being subservient, it will have been seen to be rendered adverse to the joint interests of piety, morality, and economy: by every one of them, distinguished from the system common to all Protestant Non-Established Churches: by all of them but two, and those it is hoped not very difficultly removable, from that of the Established Church of Scotland.

Of the plan, a brief sketch of which here follows, the design is to shew how this same system may be most effectually purged of all those vices :-how that which is at present corruption may put on incorruption.

On this occasion, with joint aim,—to two antagonizing yet not irreconcileable objects—both of them leading and all-comprehensive objects—has the er.deavour been all along directed.

Main or positive object. To place the business of religious instruction and worship in England upon a footing -as beneficial to the joint interests of piety, morality, and economy, as the nature of the case admits of.

Secondary or negative object.-In so doing, to produce as little disturbance as possible to established habits, expectations, and prepossessions.

Both these objects being steadily and constantly kept in view,-for guiding the pen in the pursuit of them, the fol. lowing rules have presented themselves in the character of leading principles.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »