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congregation. We shall select one confided to or exercised by the people. example, which is the most important But if there be any who still maintain and the most frequently and confi- that the principle of the Act 1736 is dently cited by our opponents.
identical with that of 1834, we chal. In 1736, the General Assembly, in lenge them to produce a single instance the vain hope of conciliating the in which such a principle was acted original Seceders, passed an upon, either before or after the year against intrusion of ministers into 1736. The bare assertion, in the Sea vacant congregations, and recom- cond Book of Discipline, of a principle mendation to Presbyteries concern- in some respects analogous to this, ing settlements,"'* which, though founded on a gross and palpable misshort and simple, is one of the most in. tatementof historical fact, is but slender structive passages in the Records of authority ; and the re-assertion of the the Church. It consists, as might be principle in 1736, accompanied with a gathered from the title, of two parts, new and equally glaring mistatement, a declaration and a direction. The would not make matters much better for General Assembly, after citing the the Church, supposing this construction Second Book of Discipline, and seve- of the Act 1736 to be correct. But we ral of its own former acts, declares, should not be doing justice to the Gene“ That it is, and has been since the ral Assembly of 1736, were we to disReformation, the principle of this guise our firm conviction, that nothing Church, that no minister shall be in- was farther from their minds than to truded into any parish contrary to the confer on the people a privilegeantagwill of the congregation.” Now, here onist to, or destructive of the right of is an entire abandonment of the histo- the patron.
The direction to presrical accuracy of the Second Book of byteries is to have a due regard to the Discipline. If it had been true-if the principle announced in the declaratory General Assembly of 1736 could safe. part of the Act, and with that view ly and honestly have maintained—that to “be at pains to bring about harprevious to the Reformation, in the mony and unanimity in congregagolden age pointed at in the Second tions, and to avoid every thing that Book of Discipline, when the “ Kirk may excite or encourage unreasonable was not corrupted by Antichrist,” the exceptions in people against a worthy voice of the people was allowed to de- person that may be proposed to be feat or to control the choice of the their minister.” If this be the working patron, why introduce these limiting of the non-intrusion principle, our obwords “ since the Reformation ? ” jections to its legality and its expedienWhy not adhere to the position as. cy are both equally at an end. If this sumed by their predecessors in 1578 ? be the duty of presbyteries in the main. The necessity of limiting the proposi- tenance of that principle, we contend tion to the period following the Re- that it has ever been the sacred and peformation, is conclusive against the ve- culiar duty of presbyteries, as statutory racity of the Second Book of Disa functionaries, as officers of the Church, cipline. The Churchmen of the as spiritual teachers. If this be the eighteenth century thus virtually gave fundamental law maintained by the the lie to Andrew Melville and his co- Church, the Act and Regulations of adjutors; but they are not one whit 1834, waiving for the present the more accurate themselves, if the prin consideration of their mischievous ciple of the Act 1736 be interpreted to tendency, were, on this ground alone, be, that the dissent of the congregation idle, useless, uncalled-for, and absurd. shall be given effect to without the The fundamental non-intrusion law, presbytery judging of the grounds of as thus explained, required no objection. We have been altogether enactment; it was neither obsolete wasting our time, if we have not es- nor neglected, but still in viridi obtablished that neither before nor since servantiâ. But the non-intrusion Act the Reformation, in no one of the va- of 1834, differs in its essence from that rious systems devised for the election of 1736. It is illegal, because it arroand settlement of ministers, was an gates a power to the Church which absolute and unexplained Veto ever was not dreamt of by the Churchmen
of the last century: it is at once illegal the Act of 1834, the groundwork of and inexpedient, because it bestows the whole system, is an historical unon the people a privilege for which no truth-that the rejection of a presenwarrant is to be found within the four tee on the ground of the people's un. corners of the Act of 1736 ; in place of explained dissent is not warranted bringing about “ harmony and unanie by any previously existing law of the mity in congregations," it is eminently Church. calculated to so excite and encourage The expediency of the Veto Act is unreasonable exceptions in people a separate question; but the supporters against a worthy person that may be of that Act, bereft of the aid which proposed to be their minister." they hoped to derive from history,
What then becomes of the funda. must now undertake the task of showmental law ? What is the result of ing good and sufficient cause for the the appeal to history? The people's fundamental change which they advodissent without cause shown the sim- cate-for the introduction of a new ple negative—the unreasoning rejec- principle into the constitution of the tion-the enfranchisement of the po- Church. On all fair rules of argupular caprice, is an invention of the ment the burden lies with them. It is present age, unknown to the ecclesias- not enough that a Reformer should tical constitution of Scotland, unheard defend the innovation which he proof in the history of any other Chris- poses against the objections of his antatian Church.
gonist. He must show at least some rea. But what is new is not for that sonable prospect of benefit, present or reason necessarily bad ; the principle future, otherwise he has made out no of an institution or an enactment may sufficient case to justify the change. be defended on other grounds than its But it is not the least remarkable feaantiquity or its fundamental character. ture in the present controversy, that, We are not such exclusive and unrea- neglecting the task of furnishing matesoning lovers of the time that is past, as rials for the direct support of their to refuse our assent to this proposition. new principle-instead of showing at But our readers must not forget the once the importance of the end which argument from antiquity, or the result they seek to achieve, and the ades of our researches. The induction, no quacy of the means employed-the doubt, might have been made much advocates of the Veto principle act fuller and more complete, and we are exclusively on the defensive-they apdeeply conscious that greater learn- pear to find sufficient employment for ing and greater talent might, with their logic and their ingenuity in enadvantage, have been brought to bear deavouring to answer the numerous on the subject. But we sincerely trust and varied objections of detail to which that our enquiries have been as impar- it is exposed. They maintain, indeed, tial as they have been diligent. We at in general terms, that it is in the least shall be believed when wesay, that highest degree expedient, and almost so far from being actuated by a feeling indispensable to edification, that a of hostility to the Church, the sole minister should be acceptable to his end of our endeavours is to contribute flock. But they have provided no to her present welfare, and to the ex- standard by which to measure this tension of her usefulness. In the spirit expediency; and they have furnished of reverence and grateful affection, no test by the application of which which becomes us both as members of we may distinguish between that acthe Church and as Scotchmen, but ceptableness which meets the reasonwith the independence of thought able desires and spiritual wants of the which the Reformation has secured people, and that which is content with to all men, we have spoken boldly and satisfying their caprice, or which poscandidly, because we feel that, on a sibly may promise to indulge their subject of such vital importance, to vicious habits or to give scope to their withhold the expression of opinions irreligious propensities. deliberately formed and confirmed by It is the difficulty to which we now every day's after consideration and advert, that appears to constitute the experience, would have been an un- most fundamental and the most fatal pardonable dereliction of duty. Again, objection to the principle of the Veto therefore, we say, let our readers bear Act. There are certain well-known in mind that the first proposition in qualifications which ought to be possessed by every minister, and the absence vourite candidate. But we shall not of any of these may naturally and rea- dispute about words. We condemn the sonably render a presentee unaccept- principle of the Veto, because it, in able. But if any man be inducted into fact, makes the people the uncontrolled a parish, who is truly disqualified, from judges of the presentee's qualifications insufficiency of talent or attainments, for the benefice—of his fitness to mi. from heresy, or from a sinful and god. nister to their spiritual necessities ; less life, the Church herself is deeply while it is universally true that those responsible for this calamity ; for to who stand in need of spiritual aid are her is committed the duty of examina- not only the very last to seek it, but tion, and every minister of a parish are also the most incapable of underhas twice undergone trials by a Church standing what kind of instruction, and court, first, when he was licensed to admonition, and spiritual exercise and preach, and a second time previous to religious culture, is the best adapted his induction to the benefice which he to their own minds and hearts. We holds. The people, too, by the existing deprecate all free-trade notions in law, are privileged to oppose, and will religion ; we deny that the demand successfully oppose, the settlement of may safely be left to regulate the supany man against whom they can esta- ply of spiritual instruction and pasto. blish objections, founded on such dis- ral superintendence ; we therefore qualifications as those of which we support civil establishments of relinow speak. This is the ordeal to gion, and for the very same reason we which every minister in the Church condemn the Veto Act. This analogy is subjected; it is the duty of the is close and obvious enough; and it presbytery both to enquire and to is surprising, it is monstrous, that judge, and it is the privilege of the men, who, in defending the utility of congregation, if they see fit, to direct church establishments, have, in the and assist the enquiries of the presby- most eloquent and convincing lantery by the statement of objections. guage, demonstrated the absolute inIn this state of the law two things capacity of the people to understand are clear, Ist, That the presbytery their own spiritual wants—who have are the sole judges in the matter of qua- argued in vindication of church eslification; and, 2d, That the grounds tablishments on the assumption, that of objection competent to the people the wishes and the wants of the people are limited to certain classes, definite in spiritual matters are not only not and ascertained. But the new system identical or commensurate, but very reverses these rules ; for the Act of often directly opposed that these men 1834 proceeds on the assumption, that should so far forget theirown principles there is a certain class of objections —thegrounds of their own argumentsof which the people and not the pres- their own deliberate written opinions, bytery ought to be the judges ; and so as to maintain, in the present question, far from attempting a definition oreven that this same people are the best a description of this class, it commits judges of a presentee's fitness to mini. to the people a power of absolute re- ster to their spiritual wants—that the jection, on any ground which may be preacher selected because he is the satisfactory to their own minds, al. most acceptable to the people, and though it is confessedly possible that most completely meets and gratifies their objection, if stated, might turn their wishes, will necessarily, or natuout to be frivolous or positively im. rally, or probably, be also the most moral.
zealous and the most successful-the Some of the framers and supporters most peculiarly fitted to minister to of the Veto Act are exceedingly in- their wants.
are not mis. dignant when they are charged with taken, it was Dr Chalmers-now the introducing into the Church the evils keen partisan of the Veto Act, the of popular election ; and yet it is author of the resolution, which, in difficult to see the distinction, in support of that Act, and for the sake principle or in substance, between of the principle which it embodies, a direct right of choice, and such a ne- pledged the Church to her present gative power as controls and nullifies inequal, unseemly, and mischievous the patron's choice, and ultimately contest with the civil power_it was leads to the gratification of the people's he who first detected, or at least who wish, by the appointment of their fa- first explained and exposed, the miser
able fallacy of applying the rules of treatment, be restored to health ; but free trade to religion-the dangerous the physician who undertakes his cure error of leaving the wishes, the de- will not leave to such a patient the mand of the people, to regulate the choice and regulation of his own diet. supply of religious instruction.*
No doubt, we are told, that the “ The spontaneous demand (says he)
Veto will generally be exercised with of human beings for religion, is far short prudence and moderation, and that of the interest which they actually have
the mere existence of the power in the in it.
This is not so with their demand people will, of itself, work out the befor food, or raiment, or any article which nefit contemplated by the Act, without ministers to the necessities of our physical the necessity of calling that power
The more destitute we are of into active operation. Now, this is these articles, the greater is our desire either a dishonest or a very shortafter them. In every case where the want sighted statement. The Veto is in. of any thing serves to whet our appetite, troduced, because the people's power instead of weakening it, the supply of that of stating special objections was thing may be left, with all safety, to the thought to be inefficient in preventing native and powerful demand for it among the intrusion of unqualified or unacthe people themselves. The sensation of ceptable ministers. The purpose of hunger is a sufficient guarantee for there
the Veto is to give effect to a certain being as many bakers in a country as it is
class of objections, which could not good and necessary for the country to
be stated, or would not be listened to have, without any national establishment
under the former law. These can.. of bakers. “ But the case is widely different when
not, of course, be objections to the
life, literature, or doctrine of the the appetite for any good is short of the degree in which that good is useful or
presentee, which would have been necessary; and above all, when just in good without the help of the Veto. proportion to our want of it, is the decay The form of objection is, that the of our appetite towards it. Now this is, presentee is unacceptable ; but we engenerally speaking, the case with religious quire in vain for its grounds. He is instruction. The less we have of it, the a man of great talent and acquireless we desire to have of it. It is not ments, of unquestioned character and with the aliment of the soul as it is with orthodoxy ; as a preacher, eloquent, the aliment of the body. The latter will impressive, convincing; in private be sought after ; the former must be life, distinguished by the most winoffered to a people whose spiritual appe- ning and agreeable manners; zealous tite is in a state of dormancy, and with and industrious in the performance of whom it is just as necessary to create a his duty, beloved and respected by all hunger, as it is to minister a positive who know him ; above all, he is in the supply."
judgment of the presbytery eminently Is it not a mockery to contend that qualified for performing the duties of the people, who, according to this a parish minister-yet such men as reasoning, do not know when they this may be rejected, ay, and have want, or what they want, or how been rejected, under the operation of much they want, should yet be pro- the Veto Act. We say nothing, in nounced the best judges of the quality the mean time, of the hardship, or the of the spiritual food most convenient pernicious influence of such an event. for them—that those whose religious But the grounds of rejection are undesires are represented as decaying explained-no one but the objectors and becoming cold in proportion to can tell why he is unacceptable; nay, the increase of their spiritual destitu- it is contended that there may exist tion, should, in the appointment of in the minds of the congregation, obtheir pastor, be invested with the irre- jections of too subtle a nature to sponsible and uncontrolled power of admit of their being stated, and this gratifying their slightest wish—of in- is a favourite argument in support of dulging their caprice, however un- the Veto Act. Objections which canreasonable ? The glutton, or the not be stated, seem to us marvellously drunkard, whose constitution has been like caprice; but let that also pass
for impaired by excesses, may, by skilful the present. The Veto Act is intend
* Christian and Civic Economy, vol, i. pp. 89, 90,
ed to give effect to such objections, in the selection by the former of a and, in consequence of them, the pre- qualified person, binding the latter to sentee is rejected in the case supposed. greater care and strictness in taking The patron had selected him as the trial of the qualifications both of premost distinguished, and most emi. sentees to benefices, and of candidates nently qualified man in the Church, for license. But such was the natural and the presbytery applauded the effect of the people's right, simply patron's choice. But now the patron because the patron and the presbytery is called on to present another, and were made fully aware how the objecyet he is not informed for what reason tions of the people might, with certhe object of his former choice was tainty, be anticipated and obviatedunacceptable. However anxious he they knew the precise line of duty may be to consult the wishes of the prescribed to them by the Church, congregation, consistently with the and, in particular, the duty implied exercise of his own right of choice,) in and necessarily arising out of the they furnish him with no means of power vested in the people. No doing so. To all his anxious demands analogy exists between this system of explanation, the hard, dry, ungrate and that proposed under the Veto Act. ful, unreasoning, unchristianlike an- The dissent which the people are enswer invariably is, “we won't have couraged to tender by the Act of him.” The patron, therefore, is com- 1834, is not founded on objections to pelled a second time to exercise his the qualifications of the presentee, right of choice, and in so doing to but is the mere expression of dislike, execute a public trust involving a arising from causes which, if they will high responsibility, without any new bear the light of day at all, are, at light-without any additional infor- least, in point of fact, neither stated mation. His conscience leads him to nor explained. select the man whom he believes to be After all, then, what is the precise the best fitted for the office-his choice value of acceptableness, apart from is, of necessity, regulated by the same qualification ? If the presentee be a considerations as formerly--the second sound theologian, and an excellent presentee will, therefore, naturally scholar, a man of unimpeachable moral very much resemble the first, and for character, of earnest and unassuming that reason will, in all human proba- piety, active and industrious in his bility, be equally unacceptable with profession, mild and agreeable in his the first. Again, therefore, we say, manners-realize such a picture as that it argues either dishonesty or this, and for our own part we care short-sightedness in any man to main. little whether on first acquaintance he tain, that the object of the General be acceptable to the people or no, beAssembly's Act will be gained by the cause it is impossible that such a man mere existence of the power which it should be many days among them confers, without the necessity of its without conciliating the regards of the frequent exercise; for the right of most prejudiced, and winning the Veto cannot possibly influence the esteem of all. Should it be otherwise, patron's choice indirectly and av ante, the phenomenon must be accounted while the objections to which the Veto for, `not by the unfitness of the is intended to give effect are unex- minister for his office, but by the plained and unintelligible to the pa- present lamentable incapacity, or distron.
inclination, of the people of that The congregations in the Scotch parish to profit by the instructions Church have always, in the settlement even of the most eminently qualified of ministers, had the right and the individual. Indulge the mere will of power of scrutinizing the qualifications such a congregation-give way to of the presentee, and, if they saw cause, their caprice, by arming them with of stating special objections found the Veto, and the inevitable conseed on the deficiency of these qualifica- quence must be, that they will reject tions. This certainly, unlike the every man who is highly qualified to Veto, was a power more in posse than reclaim them from their vicious and irin esse ; and the very existence of the religious courses, and will at last choose right operated as a check at once on him from whose apathy and indolence patrons and presbyteries, inducing they anticipate the smallest amount more diligence and more deliberation of disturbance with whom they