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What, then, are they to do with Scotland, if the majority of its people are alien from the existing Establishment?
There is a class of Churchmen who believe that an Establishment, with all its drawbacks, is of great advantage to the community--that it is the means of preserving religion in the land. With such it may not be in vain to argue; and we request them seriously to weigh the statements we have made, and the evidence we have adduced, which go to demonstrate that religion has uniformly suffered in purity and power from State alliance. We would have them also to remember, that the injustice with which a State-church is chargeable towards those who dissent from it and decline its services, but who must contribute to its support, necessarily neutralizes its influence; of which the most affecting proof we have is in Ireland, where an Episcopal Establishment, in the midst of a Roman Catholic population, has caused the very name of Protestantism to stink in their nostrils.
But there is another class of Churchmen with whom no reasoning will avail, men who desire that the Church should be in bondage, and that the very condition of things should be realized which the orthodox and the pious so earnestly deprecate. We would deprive these men of the power of doing mischief. Such should have no place in a Church of Christ. Nay, they would not seek admission into a truly spiritual and independent society. And why should they occupy the position they hold at our expense? Are we to be taxed to please them, and to give them an opportunity of perverting and degrading what ought to be a religious institution? If we consent to this we become partakers of their sin. We do not consent to it. We lift our indignant protest against it, and shall neither relinquish nor relax our efforts while so flagrant an iniquity continues to oppress the land.
It is in vain now to speak of the power of the Establishment principle, and the weakness of the Voluntary, By their fruits ye shall know them.”
The quoad sacra churches at present belonging to the Kirk number about 156, and the history of them supplies a memorable illustration of the power of the
voluntary principle, and the enslavement of an Established Church. “ The first report," says Dr. Hetherington, “ of the Church Extension Committee, displayed to an astonished and admiring public the mighty energies of the Church of Scotland, when set free from the leaden enthralment of moderate dominion. short year, from the passing of the Chapel Act in 1834, till the Assembly of 1835, no less than sixtyfour new churches had either been built, or were in the process of erection-exactly one more than had been erected during the whole preceding century.” In these two brief sentences the writer at once admits the previous deplorable inefficiency of the Established Church, as an instrument for propagating the gospel, and furnishes a striking proof of the efforts which righthearted men will of their own accord put forth for the cause of the Redeemer. The Church Extension scheme was quite a voluntary device. The General Assembly sanctioned it, but not one farthing of its accumulations came from the British Exchequer. They were the free-will offerings of the people, and hence, in perusing the glowing accounts that are given of the increase of the fund from year to year, we perceive how wisely, yet unwittingly, the non-intrusionist ministers were being prepared, in the providence of God, for casting themselves, without fear, on the affections and liberality of their people.
During the four years subsequent to the Assembly of 1834, no fewer than 187 additional churches were built, or were in progress, within the pale of the Establishment, a number exactly three times greater than had come into existence during the entire hundred years that went before. The amount of money contributed during these four years was no less than the munificent sum of £205,930 4s. 10 d. How marvellous that these should have been the doings of men who, at the very moment, were waging war with Dissenters, and denouncing the voluntary principle as the veriest impotency; as, in short, utterly unable to do the very thing
which in their own hands it was actually and triumph* antly accomplishing !
“ The erection of hundreds of kirks, schools, and manses-the support of at least an equal number of zealous and able ministers--the extensive propagation of the gospel in foreign climes, has been effected, and that almost exclusively, by the middling and poorer classes, not only without the countenance of an overwhelming majority of the great and wealthy, but in defiance of their most determined and inveterate hostility. How much more, then, might have been achieved -how much more amply, I had almost said, how adequately, might the means of instruction have been provided throughout the length and breadth of the land, if all had, in proportion to their means, contributed to the spontaneous furtherance of these momentous objects, and if the titled and wealthy of the land had concurred in putting their necks to the work of the Lord.' Under present circumstances, the powers and capacities of voluntaryism have been tried under the most disadvantageous and unpromising conditions, and yet they have accomplished incalculably more than its most sanguine votaries could have anticipated. The arguments in favour of the opposite principle have indeed been greatly and unexpectedly weakened, so far as both the town and the country are concerned. It used to be contended, for instance, by myself and others, that, if in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, the state provision were withdrawn from the Establishment, the ministers would not subsist. however, have a large proportion of the most venerated, enlightened, and devoted members of the different Presbyteries withdrawn from the Establishment, than commodious churches and adequate salaries are supplied; and there is reason to believe that many, if not most of them, are at least as happy, as comfortable, and as useful, as they were before, Their places in the Established Church, if not filled, are at least occupied ; and the question naturally presents itself—if these eminent and excellent men can be, and are, supported by their own hearers, why should the annuity tax and other burdens continue to be imposed for the advantage of their successors? Why should not they also
derive their income from the congregations which benefit by their superintendence, and cease to extort it from a reluctant and grudging community, most of whom have pastors and churches of their own to maintain ? Nor is the reasoning, which was wont to be applied to rural districts in favour of the Establishment principle, by any means so conclusive as it formerly appeared to be.
“ When it is considered, that, in the counties of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, about 160,000 persons, most of them possessed of only very
limited means, have erected a sufficient number of kirks and manses at their own expense, and contribute largely towards the support of their ministers, does not the inference almost force itself upon every impartial observer, that when the voluntary principle has achieved so much under such disadvantageous circumstances, it might, throughout the whole of the country, be found adequate for the accomplishment of its object? I repeat, that the result of the disruption has, in no small degree, weakened the confidence in the soundness of the Establishment principle, which many honest and contemplative minds habitually and reverently cherished.”*
III. We now turn to Free-churchmen, and without dwelling on the inconsistency, to call it by no harsher name, of decrying the principle by which they live, we would offer a few remarks on the theoretical views in which they glory
In the first place (and here we entirely agree with them), they hold the Church to be a spiritual society, founded and upheld by the Lord Jesus Christ, deriving its existence, its laws, its institutions, its privileges, from him alone. In the Ten Years' Conflict the author expresses himself on this point in terms that meet with our entire approval. These are his concluding remarks :-“ Christ must be all in all,—the one only Prophet, the one only Priest, the one onl King. The doctrine this Prophet teaches, the worship this Priest consecrates, the discipline this King enjoins,
* Six Letters.
must be preserved inviolate; for thus alone can the Church, which is his body, exhibit the fulness, and manifest the glory, of her unseen but ever-living Head. Whatever in the Church's creed, ordinances, or government, is other than Christ's, so far clouds his glory, and so far obstructs the conversion of the world. If, instead of Christ's image in the Church, the world sees its own, it will only be the more encouraged in its errors and its sins.”
In the second place, they contend that the Church is not at liberty to yield subjection to any power on earth. Here again we are at one with them, and, therefore, we are voluntaries. Free-churchmen have need to repent of the injustice they have done to Voluntary-churchmen, in denouncing them as a species of infidels or atheists. They have separated themselves from the State ; so have we. They have done so from regard to the authority, or, as they love to express it, the crown rights of the Redeemer; so have we. It is because Christ has legislated on the subject, and ordained that ministers of the gospel shall live on the freeofferings of their people, that we repudiate State support. If, then, separation from the State exposes us to the charge of atheism, they undoubtedly must lie under the same condemnation; or if, on the other hand, it entitles them to renown because they have chosen their position from regard to Christ as their supreme Lawgiver, we ought also for the same reason to be esteemed worthy of praise.
In the third place, they contend, that, while the Church ought to preserve its liberty or independence inviolate, it is, nevertheless, the duty of the State to endow it. They hold that the Church is entitled to enjoy its endowments on terms consistent with her true and unqualified allegiance to her only Head and Lord. The reasoning of Free-churchmen on this subject is a remarkable illustration of what is termed begging the question. They lay down the same principles that a voluntary does. Dr. Buchanan, one of their best writers, reasons exactly as we do, in reference, first, to the church as a spiritual and independent institution, a kingdom not of this world, and then, in reference to