Графични страници
PDF файл

We can


[ocr errors]

expect to strike the best compromise the want of it has arisen from a good and between virtue and vice-whose love sufficient cause." of popularity and servile disposition, Acceptableness, therefore, is an elethey think, will lead him rather to dis- ment in the choice of a minister which, guise the asperities of religion, and to even if it could be recognised and given connive at their laxity of morals, than effect to in all cases without difficulty, to labour, " in season and out of sea- is not in itself a thing so absolutely son,” to convince them of sin.

It is desirable, or so necessary as some men in such a parish as this that the Veto, have chosen to assume. will be most generally and most un- But the “ act and regulations" for scrupulously exercised, by men who, carrying out the principle of the Veto, from obtuseness of moral perception, are, in our opinion, productive of and the absence of religious habits and much direct and immediate evil to feelings, are least of all qualified to the people themselves. judge of the fitness of a minister, even not pause at present to describe if they were disposed to enquire and or illustrate the animosities and heartconsider what is conducive to their burnings, the wranglings, and the own present and eternal welfare. struggle for personal power and in. The unacceptableness, therefore, of a fluence, between the factions in a parish presentee, may in certain cases be the who severally support two rival candivery best evidence of his fitness dates for the office of the ministry. to minister to the people who stead- We need not picture the pernicious fastly reject him. But here let us moral effects of such a contest-effects speak in the language of one who treats which cannot fail long to survive the the subject with the dignity and the contest itself, necessarily rendering candour of a true philosopher:-* the successful competitor, even after

his induction, an object of hostility or “ Acceptableness is not a quality in the jealousy to the defeated minority of presentee at all, either absolutely, as con- , nected with the duties of a pastor in gene

his parishioners. The General As

sembly have themselves assumed that ral, or relatively, as regards the discharge of those duties in the particular parish

the Veto may be exercised improperly, to which he is presented. He may be per

that the persons dissenting may be fectly able for the performance of those

“ actuated by factious and malicious duties in the most efficient and edifying

motives;' and it would be idle for us way—he may be peculiarly suited to that to argue, because it cannot be disputed, congregation, and yet he may be very un

that the malicious exercise of this petty acceptable-perhaps on that very account tyranny must be productive of the most the more unacceptable. When the Apostles demoralizing influence on the hearts first preached at Ephesus they were by no of the people. It may be said, indeed, means acceptable ; and it was not a majo- that the right of dissent is confined to rity of the male heads of families there who communicants, and that this affords in objected. We are told that the whole city security against the abuse of the rose and rushed into the theatre, threaten- right. But such is not the opinion of ing them with personal violence. If an

the General Assembly,who think it neapostle had preached one hundred years

cessary to

covide against the operaago in some parishes on the coast of tion of 65 factious and malicious Orkney or Shetland against plundering motives” among this very class. He wrecks, or if he had preached fifty years

must be a partial and inattentive ago in any one of half the parishes in the

observer of human nature, who puts north of Scotland against illicit distillation, his faith in such a check as this. The he would probably have experienced a similar reception. Paul afterwards became enfranchisement of communicants exvery popular at Ephesus; and we know clusively, may lead some men to the

[ocr errors]

communion table from a desire for that many presentees, who were settled in Scotland with the assistance of a troop of power, who would never have appeared dragoons, became useful ministers, and ob

there from better motives; but it is tained the love and veneration of their too much to expect of the common parishioners. Acceptableness per se is a people, that the mere circumstance of matter not within the province of collation having joined in the celebration of at all, though collators may enquire whether the Sacrament should render them

* Lord Corehouse in Robertson's Auchterarder Case, vol. ii, p. 229,


proof against the influence of evil dent have wasted or misapplied his passions, and should enable them time, must ensure qualifications of no successfully to resist the temptation small excellence. But this is a matter to the indulgence of those passions, too important to be presumed from which the Church has been guilty of the mere lapse of time, or from throwing in their way. This is to the circumstance of the candidate for attribute to the Sacrament the char- the ministry having enjoyed sufficient acter and effects of a quack medi. opportunities of cultivating his talents cine, rather than of a religious ordi- and disciplining his mind. The pres

Our readers, therefore, can- bytery, therefore, carefully try his not be surprised to be informed that qualifications by personal examination, the practical working of the Veto before they license him to preach*; and Act, during the few years which have again, on his presentation to a benefice, elapsed since it was passed, has in most a second trial takes place, for the purinstances realized our worst anticipa- pose of ascertaining whether his qualitions; and that, in more than one parish, fications continue to be as unexcepthe exercise of the people's new-born tionable as before, and whether they power led to scenes which might have have not fallen to decay from want of rivalled the horrors of a contested exercise. The Veto Act, however, election in the most corrupt and de- is not content with this ordeal. It is graded constituency in Great Britain. not enough now, that a man should be

But if such be the pernicious influ- qualified in the sense in which our ence which the working of the Veto ancestors from the earliest ages have Act is calculated to exercise, both di. understood qualification-he must be rectly and indirectly, on the moral acceptable also to the people. But and religious habits of the people ; if, the science of acceptableness is not at the same time, the situation of the taught at the university; and the patron--the honest and conscientious presentee is therefore not prepared by patron—anxious to discharge his duty his education to practice the necessary in such a manner as at once to secure art. And yet this is a condition prean efficient and worthy minister, and cedent of his induction. Unless he to gratify the reasonable wishes of the can overcome the unstated and unexpeople—if his situation also be one of plained objections of the majority of hardship and difficulty, tending to es- male heads of families, he must be trange his sympathy and to alienate his rejected; and it is too true that the atfections from the Established Church rejected of one parish will probably --what shall be said of the influence become the rejected of every other to of this great constitutional change on which he is presented. The young the views, and feelings, and habits, student, who is preparing himself for and pursuits, of the probationers of the office of the ministry with a zeal the Church, and through them on the and an industry beyond all praise, character of the whole clergy of Scot- anxiously enquires what is necessary land ? This is a most momentous to render himself acceptable, and what enquiry, and, within our limits, it is are the objections of the people, indealtogether impossible to do justice to pendent of qualification, to which the the subject. We must content ourselves Church gives such fatal effect. Is it with a mere statement of the case- eloquence that the people demand, or with shadowing forth certain views the cultivation of a more polished and topics which invite and will repay style? Let him, in the name of jusmuch after thought.

tice, be told so, that he may spend The education required in a candi- more of his time with the elocutionist date for the ministry in the Church of and the rhetorician. If the use of Scotland—required by the letter of the written sermons be generally distastelaw, and rigidly exacted in practice, ful or unpopular, and if the Church is more laborious and more compre- allow the people to dissent on such hensive than is known or demanded grounds, he can improve his menory in any other of the liberal professions. by more assiduous exercise, and learn Seven years of a university life are to dispense even with notes. No! indispensable, of which the last four acceptableness is something which he are devoted exclusively to theological cannot acquire, because it is not a learning, forming altogether a curri. quality in the presentee at all ; " or, culum of study, which, unless the stu. if it be part of qualification, then is the

[ocr errors]


curriculum prescribed by the Church ther sacred or profane, and to discourimperfect, and the enactment of the

age or rudely to check firmness and Veto rule ought to have been accom- independence of mind-such a system panied by a corresponding change in surely is, of all others, the most to be the course of education reqnired for the condemned, and yet such is the tenministry. Admittedly, every man is dency at least of the fundamental law. exposed to the exercise of the Veto, Far different were the principles of however wellqualified; and admittedly, that church government which proalso, the best qualified minister may be duced and nurtured the pious and sinrejected from “factious or malicious gle-minded, the energetic and useful motives.” But, though there race of clergy who taught our fathers; depth of learning, no soundness of the advantages and consolations of doctrine, no purity of life and conver- whose ministry we ourselves experisation, which can exempt a presentee enced, ere yet the church had been from the danger of having his hopes distracted by the present mischievous blasted and his prospects sacrificed and unjustifiable agitation. In those by the caprice of a mob-though happy days it was learning, and piety, years of laborious and expensive study, and a spotless life, that secured to the of anxious moral and intellectual dis- pastor the respect and the love of his cipline, may thus at once be thrown flock. His time and his talents were away, lest thie" factious and malicious” consecrated to their service, and to among the people should lose an op- the service of his God ; his thoughts portunity of giving vent to their unbroken by any dream of ambition, spleen, or of avenging their quarrel his heart uncorrupted by the imaginawith the patron--though qualifica- tion, or the practice of deceit. tions and merit are comparatively

66 Unskilful he to fawn or seek for power, worthless under the fundamental law,

By doctrines fashion'd to the varying yet there is a school in which the pro

hour; bationer may be taught how to avoid

Far other aims his heart had learn'd to the brand of unacceptableness; he will

prize, soon perceive by experience, without More bent to raise the wretched than to the help of any other teacher, that if

rise. he would ensure the favour of the mob-of those who, on all occasions, And as a bird each fond endearment press forward the most eagerly to tries, wield their newly acquired power, and To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the to triumph in the destruction of its skies, victim, he must have recourse to He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, cunning sycophancy, to servile and Allured to brighter worlds, and led the unprincipled flattery--he must pander way.” to the prejudices and vices of the mob As regards presbyteries, the Veto

- he must prefer the applause of man Act is not less objectionable. It into the approval of God and his own volves a delegation of the duty comconscience.

mitted to them by the Church, and We shall be told, perhaps, that by the statute law, to take trial of this picture is overdrawn, and that the qualifications of presentees, and, no evils of such magnitude can rea- according to their own judgment of sonably be apprehended as the re- these qualifications, to admit or result of the Veto Act.

Would that ject. There is superinduced on the it were so ! But, granting this for the former useful and intelligible system a sake of argument, it is at least un. power which overrules the presbytery deniable that the evil consequences the exercise of which the presbytery of the Veto Act, as affecting the cha. can neither review nor control-which racter of the clergy, are of the kind can command the rejection of a prewhich we contemplate. A system of sentee contrary to the judgment of the ecclesiastical polity which tends to presbytery, or which at least can aufoster worldly wisdom and ambition thoritatively forbid the presbytery to among the ministers of the Church- take the necessary steps for forming which seems altogether to disregard an opinion on his qualifications. the unobtrusive but not less estimable There is, no doubt, one case in which virtues of the clerical character--to the presbytery are still, as formerly, neglect and disparage learning, when made the sole judges of qualification,




where the right of presentation falls to their dissent, is described as a cowardly them jure devoluto ; and it is not a and inexcusable abandonment of the littie remarkable, that though the non- Church's duty to the people. And intrusion principle seems to contem- yet, in those cases where all power plate the tripartite division of intiu. comes to be vested in the presbyteryence between the patron, and the peo- where the Veto Act might be carried ple, and the Church, as likely to be into the fullest operation without inproductive of the most salutary effects, terfering with the civil rights of any yet, wherever the jus devolutum arises, patron—where they themselves are the there is concentrated in the presbytery patrons, they will not even listen to alone the powers and privileges of the the people's voice, they will not deign whole three. For the regulations of to enquire whether their presentee be 1834 provide, “that if no presentation acceptable or no, or whether a majority shall be given within the limited time, of the male heads of families do not to a person from whose settlement a object to his induction. They are to majority on the roll do not dissent, proceed, forsooth, “ according to the the presbytery shall then present jure general laws of the Church.Is the devoluto ;" and " that cases of presen- fundamental law of non-intrusion not tation by the presbytery jure devoluto, one of the “ general laws of the shall not fall uuder the operation of the Church ?" Has the General Assembly regulations in this and the relative Act not distinctly pledged itself to the of Assembly, but shall be proceeded maintenance of this proposition, that in according to the general laws of the giving effect to the unexplained dissent Church applicable to such cases. of the congregation is not only warHere, therefore, the Church court ranted but enjoined by the laws of the nominates, examines, and inducts with Church? But the laws of the Church out the possibility of any other party the fundamental principle of non-ininterfering. This is the most absolute trusion-the interests of the people, and uncontrolled exercise of patronage the Church's consistency, and every which it is possible to conceive-a right thing else, must be sacrificed rather more absolute and more uncontrollable than interfere, in the slightest degree, than any patron ever pretended to with the uncontrolled exercise by the possess, or attempted to enforce-far presbytery of that patronage which, so more absolute and far more uncontrol. long as remained in other hands, lable than that exercise of patronage was denounced as inexpedient, immowhich the Church declared to be so ral, unscriptural, tyrannical. This is intolerable a grievance as to demand the most unaccountable inconsistency, the harsh and sweeping remedy of the the most impolitic and useless deceit; Veto law. It is certainly not a little for the congregations of the Church curious to observe, “ that while the and the people at large, cannot fail to Veto is a wall of brass against the pierce the thin veil which is intended to patron, it is a web of gossamer against hide the workings of clerical ambition. the presbytery."

»* We are told it is a But we have done. Our warnings fundamental law of the Church, that and our remonstrances will probably no minister shall be intruded into a have but little influence with those who parish who is unacceptable, from any seem to have assumed to themselves cause, to a majority of the male heads the lead in all cases in the General of families. For the vindication of Assembly; and yet we would once this principle we have already seen more earnestly entreat them to pause, what the Church has done, and what and for a moment to consider the conshe is yet prepared both to do and to dition of the Church. They have resuffer. The violation of this principle, solved to go to Parliament. But have even in a single instance, is looked upon they considered in what tone they are as a most serious calamity—the omis- to address the Legislature-what it is sion by a presbytery, upon any presen- that they propose to ask, and on what tation by a lay patron, to ascertain when conditions ? An acute observer has ther a majority of the congregation said, " that if we cannot obtain every dissent, or the refusal to give effect to vain thing we ask, our next business

* Lord Corehouse's Speech, Robertson's Auchterarder Case, vol, ii. p. 231,

is to take pet at the refusal.”* Are they course, ask Parliament to repeal the altogether sure that their present existing law, because they say it is alcourse has not been adopted in some ready sufficient for them, and they such spirit as this, and therefore with must therefore demand a declaratory out proper deliberation ? If it be not enactment. Now, to ask Parliament so_if they will not avail themselves of to declare that a court of law is misthis apology-we say without hesita- taken in its interpretation of statute, tion that they have been guilty of the is to make Parliament a court of most unaccountable rashness and ab- appeal—it is to confound the legislasurdity, and that they will too soon be tive function (jus dare) with the made to understand the indecorous judicial (jus dicere)—an anomaly in and mischievous position in which constitutional law obvious to any they have placed themselves and the schoolboy. They would be asking Church.

Parliament to reverse the judgment In approaching Parliament, they of the House of Lords, the Court of have either given up the claim to inde- last resort asking the House of pendent jurisdiction, or they have not. Lords, as a branch of the legislature, If they are prepared to abandon this to declare that it had committed ini. high ground, and to acknowledge the quity in its judicial capacity. It is easier supremacy of the civil court in the to conceive than describe the reception interpretation of statutes, they may no which such a proposal would inevitably doubt obtain the abolition or modifica- and most deservedly meet with in that tion of the law of patronage, provided august assembly—the calm and digthey can make out a sufficient case to nified rebuke from the Woolsack justify the measure. But then this the withering scorn of Lord Brougham would be at once admitting their error, or Lord Lyndhurst-the sorrowing, and sacrificing their boasted indepen- commiserating, but conscientious and dence-it would be in effect an ac. distinct negative of the Church's best knowledgment that they had pertina- friends, Lord Haddington and Lord ciously and dishonestly maintained a Aberdeen-the manly and overwhelmdoctrine which now they cannot justify ing denunciation, by the Duke of to Parliament or to themselves it Wellington, of those whom he would would be a late and ungracious sub- not scruple to brand as lawbreakers mission to the civil power, but a sub- and rebels. Is this a spectacle which mission which would bind them for the Church would wish to realize ?

They could never again be Is the bare risk, the possibility of such heard to question the power of the a result, not enough to make the rashest Court of Session to define and enforce and most reckless pause ? But supthe duties imposed on presbyteries pose that even this hostility might be by statute : nay, their new Act of disarmed, and this difficulty surmountParliament, the reward of their sub- ed-suppose the House of Lords calmly mission, would necessarily be subject to listen to the insolent plea, that as a to the construction of that Court-the court of law they have committed charter, which they had sacrificed error, what is the nature of the statute their theoretical independence to ob- which the Church must then obtain ? tain, would not renderthem practically To effect the avowed object of the one whit more free. And then, what Church, it must be different from becomes of the case of Mr Young and every other in the Statute Book-it his intrusion into the parish of Auch- must not be subject to the interpretaterarder ? They must proceed to in- tion of the civil court; the same law trude him, for they would then have which recognises the propriety of the admitted that his exclusion was ille- Church's present attitude of resistance, gal. But, on the other hand, if they must constitute Church Courts their still maintain their claim to indepen- own interpreters of statutes, and must dent jurisdiction, and contend that, arm them with secular power to resist the interference of the Court of Ses- the encroachments of co-ordinate, or sion being unwarranted by the con- rather of what would then be rival stitution, its judgment is an absolute jurisdictions. What the Church de. nullity in this case they cannot, of mands is not a repeal or alteration of


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »