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ing to which he agreed to accept a pen- / them unfit conservators of public relision out of the stipend, to withdraw from gious truth and moral purity, and because the parish, and to permit an assistant to their allegiance to a foreign and necessabe appointed to discharge those duties rily hostile power at Rome, the enemy which public decency would no longer of religious and civil liberty, and the imsuffer him to desecrate. This was called placable foe of the British constitution,
mercy to a weak and erring brother;" rendered it impossible for them to be what was it to the feelings of the dis- safely intrusted with influence in a Progusted community ?--what to the pil- testant government, which they could not laged assistant ?--what to the purity of but regard it as a sacred duty to subvert. * the Church of Christ? Many such cases These arguments were not answered might be mentioned, from the earliest re- then; they have not since; and our own corded instance during the domination times have furnished the most appalling of Principal Robertson, down till the loss demonstrations of their truth. of power by that party from whose cor- [1780.] Several events occurred to rupt policy they originated ; but we for- mark the year 1780 as memorable in the bear, under a strong feeling of shame history of the Church of Scotland. Of and regret that such things could be these, the first that demands attention is done by men who were at least nominal- the discussion respecting the propriety of ly Christian ministers.
a minister holding a plurality of offices, [1779.] The year 1779 is chiefly re- such as a church and a professorship markable for the formidable tumults, There had been many instances of a aniounting almost to civil convulsions, minister being professor of Theology or which agitated the country in conse- Church History, and at the same time quence of the passing of an act of parlia- preaching regularly every Sabbath ; but ment, relaxing the civil disabilities and in all these instances there was either no penalties resting upon the adherents of pastoral charge, or its duties were fulPopery in England, the provisions of filled by a colleague. The case out of which were proposed to be extended to which the discussion rose was that of Dr. Scotland. The subject came before the Hill of St. Andrews, who, while profesGeneral Assembly in the form of an sor of Greek in that university, had been overture for petitioning parliament appointed to a parochial charge in the against the bill, and was discussed with city, and still continued to hold the progreat ability, the Moderate party advocat- fessorship. A strong endeavour was ing the removal of these disabilities, and made by the Evangelical party to prethe Evangelical party opposing it. The vent this plurality of offices from obtaindiscussion ended as was to be expected; ing the sanction of the General Assemfor when the arguments of such men as bly, both as incompatible with the constiDr. Erskine and Mr. Stevenson of St. tution of the Church, and as rendering it Madoes could not be answered, they absolutely impossible that the important could be overwhelmed by a vote. But duties of a pastor could be adequately disthough the overture was rejected on its charged in that parish. But Dr. Hill first appearance in 1778, the tumultuary was already regarded as the second hope excitement of 1779 induced Robertson to of the Moderate party, and they defended retrace his steps, and consent to its being the appointment strenuously, and with then passed as an act. The views of complete success. There is, besides, the orthodox party, by whom the over- reason to believe, that there was more in (ure was supported, were utterly averse this than was allowed to meet the
eye, from any thing like giving sanction to that it was the initiatory step in a scheme persecution. The main argument was, intended to introduce the system of pluthat while Roman Catholics ought not to ralities and non-residence, resembling as be prohibited from worshipping God in closely as might be possible that system their own way, nor subjected to severe as it exists in its palmy state in England.f penalties because they did; yet they This, it will be admitted, was no unnaought not to be intrusted with political power, because their own corrupt and
* Life of Erskine, pp. 284-294.
† Narrative of the Proceedings of Assembly 1780, by erroneous system of religion rendered the Rev. James Burn, minister at Forgan, pp. 29-31
tural result of King William's "compre- | demonstration, that Moderatism is essenhension scheme," which, after the struggle tially anti-presbyterian and anti-scripof three generations, seemed ripening into tural, --contrary at once to the constituan assimilation scheme.
tional laws of both Church and State, But the most signal event by which that and to the principles and regulations of year was distinguished was the retire- the gospel ? And the mighty magician ment of the celebrated Principal Robert- whose potent words had raised the demon son from the high functions which he had not the courage to confront and quel. had so long discharged, as leader of the it;—the magnanimous man, whose touch dominant party in the General Assembly of power had drawn from the infidel The only direct account of the reasons heart of unregenerate humanity this wild which induced Robertson to withdraw response, recoiled in terror, “scared by from his position as leader of the Assem- the sound himself had made." It is bly while his constitution was still unbro- deeply instructive to trace the progress ken, and all his faculties unimpaired, is of an evil principle, though it is startling to be found in a communication from the to see it when it appears in all its native Rev. Henry Moncreiff to Dugald Stewart, hideousness. given in the appendix to his life of Robert- We learn from other sources, that the
" I do not know," says Sir Henry, men by whom the proposal of abolishing “whether the reasons which led Dr. Rob- subscription to the Confession of Faith ertson to retire from the Assembly after was most importunately urged, were 1780 have ever been thoroughly under- Messrs. M'Gill and Dalrymple of Ayr, stood. He had been often reproached Wodrow of Stevenston, Oughterstan of by the more violent men of his party, for West Kilbride, Fergusson of Kilwinnot adopting stronger measures than he ning, Ross of Inch in Galloway, and a thought either right or wise. But there number of their neighbours and acquaintwas one subject which had become par- ances, who held similar opinions, but ticularly uneasy to him, and on which were somewhat less open in asserting he had been more urged and fretted than them. Several of these men not only emon all the other subjects of contention in braced, but publicly taught Socinian docthe Church,—the scheme, into which trines with little or no disguise.; and the many
of his friends entered zealously, for small remains of conscience which they abolishing subscription to the Confession possessed impelled them to desire to get of Faith and Formula. This he ex- altogether free from the bond of subscrippressly declared his resolution to resist in tion to a Confession of Faith which they every form. But he was so much teased did not believe, and of which their whole with remonstrances on that subject, that life and public teaching was a continual he mentioned them as having at least denial Principal Robertson, it appears, confirmed his resolution to retire. He opposed this reckless proposal" on claimed to himself the merit of having ground which very naturally suggested prevented this controversy from being itself to his habits of thought. He knew agitated in the Assemblies; but warned well that the Church established by law me, as a young man, that it would be in Scotland, is a Church publicly avowcome the chief controversy of my time, ing the doctrines stated in the Confession and stated to me the reasons which had of Faith ; and he saw clearly that to perdetermined his opinions on the subject."* mit subscription to this recognized standard And this was the result of Principal to be abolished, would involve the hazard Robertson's “ wise and enlightened" of severing the connection between Church policy during his despotic administration and State, since to cease subscription to of ecclesiastical affairsthe growth of that standard was virtually to cease from a party directly opposed to the very ex- being the Church established by law. istence of the Presbyterian constitution, The danger, however, was not so immitill it became too strong for even his firm nent as he apprehended; and the heady hand to control, and too importunately spirit of innovation in his mutinous folurgent for even his calm temper to en- lowers was checked by the encounter of dure! Could there be a more conclusive a comparatively slight obstacle. Some Life of Robertson, Appendix, - p. 297, 298.
landed proprietors, of better spirit and
sounder judgment than those unconstitu- From the time of the Reformation it tional innovators, hearing of their design, had been the invariable principle of the declared that the moment the signing of Presbyterian Church, as stated in the Confession of Faith was abandoned, they Books of Discipline and in many of the would consider the connection between acts of Assembly, that the call of the Church and State at an end, and would people, inviting a duly qualified person to therefore pay no more stipend. This was be their minister, was an indispensable a consequence which these men were not element in the formation of the pastoral prepared to meet, and their anxiety to ob- tie. Even when Prelacy was forced tain a greater liberty of conscience sunk upon the Church, the call continued to be into nothing compared with their dread used, and notwithstanding the imposition of incurring the loss of worldly wealth. and reimposition of patronage, the call How readily do worldly-minded men un- was never abandoned. This was a clear derstand, and how acutely feel a worldly proof that the Presbyterian Church had argument, when dead to every thing of a at all times, and in all diversities of cirhigher and more sacred nature.
cumstances, regarded the call of the (1781-82.] When Dr. Robertson people as an absolutely indispensable elewithdrew from the active management ment in the formation of the pastoral tie, of ecclesiastial affairs, Dr. Hill of St. whereas patronage never was declared to Andrews was immediately regarded as be either a prerequisite for, or an element his successor in the high office of Mode- in, that sacred relation between ministers rate leader in the Assembly. But though and people. It was clear, nevertheless, a man of great abilities and eloquence, he that there was an inherent incompatibility never reached the pitch of absolute su- between a call of the people and patronpremacy which had been possessed by age; and that to whatever extent the inRobertson. He cordially adopted the fluence of the one availed, to the same leading principles of his predecessor's extent was the other impaired. For that reign, as is clearly proved by his state- reason all ministers truly Presbyterian in ment and advocacy of them in the com- principle always contended earnestly munications which he furnished to Du- against patronage, as essentially and negald Stewart, and which are partly em- cessarily a violation of the constitution of bodied in the Life of Robertson, partly the Church. But when there arose a added in the appendix to that work. But worldly-minded and unpresbyterian fache never acquired that unquestionable as. tion, formed out of the admitted curates cendancy over the minds of the entire and the surviving indulged ministers, that party which the great abilities and the faction concurring with reimposed patronhigh literary fame of Robertson had se- age, and therefore supported by patrons cured to him. His absence from Edin- and politicians, gradually gained the asburgh contributed also not a little to pre-cendancy over the Church, and following vent him from possessing that degree of their natural bent, depressed the call into influence which he might otherwise have a mere matter of form, and elevated the obtained. The Edinburgh ministers, presentation of a patron into absolute several of them men of high talent, and supremacy. This was not fully accomthoroughly versant in ecclesiastical polity, plished till the despotic reign of Principal schemed, deliberated, and arranged, while Robertson ; for even Dr. Cuming pubDr. Hill was attending upon his own licly termed the law of patronage a “hard duties in St. Andrews; and there often law," which it was necessary to obey remained little more for him to do than to only till it could be got mitigated or restate and defend those measures which moved. But the first principle of Robertthe Edinburgh Doctors had already pre-son's administration, as stated by Dugald pared. Occasionally, too, it happened, Stewart, and corroborated by Dr. Hill
, that his opinion and theirs did not tho- “was a steady and uniform support of the roughly coincide, and that his eloquence law of patronage."* He could, however, in defence of his own view was over- both understand and imitate the wary borne by their superior management policy of an Augustus, and knew that it Of this a memorable instance occurred in was more safe to destroy the spirit of che
* Life of Robertson, p. 173.
liberty than to take away its form. Hei Cook, the call having, according to his therefore continued to require the form hypothesis, been abolished, is the follow of the call to be maintained, while he re-ing - That the first introduction of a duced it to an empty form, an unreal presentee to those whose spiritual state he mockery. After his resignation of the is destined to superintend, should not take reins of ecclesiastical government, the place till he was actually settled amongst constitutional. Presbyterians seem to have them: That after all these matters had cherished a hope that the ancient spirit of been arranged, a narration of the prothe Church might be at least partially re- ceedings should be communicated to the vived, and that some degree of life might people; and they should be invited to be infused into her paralyzed and pros- subscribe a paper, expressing their satistrate forms.
faction with the presentee, and their resoThe subject was discussed extensively lution to contribute, by every method in throughout the Church during the year their power, to his comfortable residence 1781, and in 1782 overtures from the amongst them.' It is not necessary to synods of Lothian, Glasgow, Fife, Perth, waste words in proving that such a theory Angus, and Galloway, were laid before is equally unpresbyterian and absurd; the Assembly, having for their object but it does seem passing strange that it that the call might be revived, so as to be could ever have been seriously promore than a mere matter of form, and to pounded by a native of Scotland, acoperate as a partial limitation to patron- quainted with the character of the strong. age. These overtures were, of course, minded and warm-hearted Scottish people. resisted by the Moderate party ; but Dr. When the people of Scotland have forHill's motion against them was not suffi- gotten that ever a Presbyterian Church ciently cautious to suit the wily policy of existed in their country, conferring upon the Edinburgh conclave, and a different them the inestimable blessings of civil motion was proposed by Dr. Macknight, liberty, educated intelligence, moral and carried. Dr. Macknight's motion worth, and high spiritual privileges, and was as follows:-" That the moderation when they have consented to become the of a call, in settling ministers, is agreeable abject slaves of civil and religious despotto the immemorial and constitutional ism, then may such a scheme be tried, usage of this Church, and that it ought but not till then. The futile theory is to be continued." Dr. Hill's motion ad. here stated, however, for this important mitted also that it was agreeable to the reason, that it is an irresistible demonimmemorial practice of the Church; but stration of the perfect identity, in principle neither termed it “constitutional," nor and nature, of Moderatism in former said that it ought to be continued,” end- times with Moderatism now.
It is coning thus,—“dismiss these overtures, as at stantly said by Moderates, in attempting this time unnecessary.” It was easily to defend their system and themselves, seen, that Dr. Hill's motion contained a that it is unfair to charge the Moderatism virtual, and, had it been carried, it would of the present day with all the enormities soon have produced a real, abolition of perpetrated by Moderatism in earlier and the call itself; and the older and more less civilized times. But till they diswary Moderate leaders were not prepared claim the principles, as well as repudiate to perpetrate so open an outrage upon the the practices, of their predecessors, they constitutional forms of the Church, though are justly liable to the charge.
These fully determined that nothing which principles they cannot disclaim: for their tended to thwart patronage and Moderat- present leader has avowed and defended ism should ever be more than an empty them, even in their most aggravated form.
character,-nay, to an extent far beyond It deserves to be noted, that Dr. Cook, what his predecessors in successive giving, in his Life of Dr. Hill
, an account Moderate dynasties ever presumed to atof this debate on calls, enters into a long tempt. And we shall have occasion to defence of Dr. Hill's motion, resting that show, that in practice, equally as in prindefence on the ground, that “call is in- ciple, Moderatism remains unchanged. compatible with patronage, and therefore nugatory." The plan proposed by Dr. theory in Dr. Cook's Life of Hill, pp. 144-146
See the whole of this very curious argument and
There is another incident connected / rant application for redress." with this year, to which we refer with new arrangement must take p-ace sooner great delight, both on account of its own or latter, I conclude from the state of the pleasing character, and because it tends country. The desertion of great bodies to explain some otherwise inexplicable of the people from the Establishment is peculiarities in the new Moderate dy- the melancholy evidence of the necessity. nasty.
Whatever secondary causes may
be It has been already shown that the in- brought to account for it, there can be no subordination of the heretical division of manner of doubt that it is chiefly to be his forces was one of the chief motives ascribed to the law of patronage. that induced Robertson to retire from the Then, after stating that the Secession may management of ecclesiastical affairs. be estimated at two hundred congregaBut there was another reason, which tions, comprising at least one hundred must also be stated. A tendency to re- thousand people, he continues,—Mevive and defend evangelical doctrines be- thinks I hear some reckless youth, in degan to appear among individuals of the livering his maiden speech, exclaim on Moderate party; and this was felt to be this point, 'So much the better,-they
more dangerous matter than either are the factious, the turbulent, the enthuheresy or immorality, and more likely to siastic; the Church is happily quit; it is disturb the calm and steady progress of only her ill humours that are purged off.' despotism, inasmuch as men who possess Stay my young friend; you are very religious principles cannot be governed honest but you want experience; a few by mere worldly and selfish motives. more years will convince you, that tho The most conspicuous of the half-evan- Church is not enriched by her losses, gelical moderates was Dr. Thomas nor strengthened by the desertion of her Hardy, recently appointed one of the sons.". Further, speaking of the necesministers of Edinburgh, and professor of sity of a change, he adds,“ The exChurch History. This distinguished terior arrangement, therefore, ought in man had evidently formed the plan of sound policy to correspond with the esuniting the best men of the two parties in sential nature of the Establishment, otherthe Church into one body, able to con- wise the Church will never be at peace; trol the extreme sections of both. It is and the experienced opposition of seventy impossible to say how far he might have years, joined to the revolt of one hundred succeeded in this laudable design had his thousand people, are the proofs that absolife been prolonged ; but what is of im- lute patronage is irreconcilable with the portance to notice is, that in 1782, during genius of Presbytery."* the agitation in the Church connected The difference between this able with the overtures on calls, he published pamphlet and Dr. Robertson's manifesto a pamphlet, entitled “The Principles is very marked and very instructive. of Moderation, addressed to the Clergy of Dr. Hardy, though not decidedly evanthe Popular Ínterest in the Church of gelical in doctrine, was a man of great Scotland.” A very few extracts will candour and integrity of mind, and his suffice to show the spirit of this produc- enlarged and liberal views, together with tion. “ You subjoin that this trans- some theoretical knowledge of evangeliference of power in 1712 was wrong; cal truth, enabled him to apprehend what that it was unfriendly in its intention, and really is “the essential nature" of the has been hurtful in its effects; and that Presbyterian Church, and to perceive the liberty of British subjects entitles you that “absolute patronage is irreconcilable to say, that it is a grievance, in the sim- with it.” Dr. Robertson's peculiar theory ple and grammatical sense of the word, and his want of that knowledge, left him and ought to be redressed. What reply to view it as a man of the world would do we make to this ? None. We agree do, and to regard it as in nothing with you
in the sentiments of the law it-essentially different from a mere secular self; we allow that it is a hardship, or, if institution having, indeed, some distincyou will contend for a word, we say with you, it is a grievance, not such indeed as to justify resistance, but such as will war- | Magazine, No. xcvii. pp. 255, 256.
Those who cannot obtain this valuable pamphlet, will find extracts from it in Dr. Welsh's evidence in the Patronage Report, p. 260; and in the Dublin University