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undredeasonshe popular though
adds in another passage, “We are not willing that we should be bound to admit the presentee if the people do not make good their reasons. On the contrary, we hold ourselves free, though. not obliged, to exclude a presentee because of the popular dislike, though not substantiated by express reasons--a case which may occur, though not once in a hundred-I believe not once in a thousand times.' And again, the Act, 1690, "empowers the Presbytery to judge not on the reasons alone but on the whole affair,'-(precisely what is given, but in still stronger and more comprehensive terms by the words already quoted from Lord Aberdeen's Bill.) •With this I think, though your lordship will now observe I am writing my individual opinion, we will and ought to be satisfied.' The absolute veto then is given up, and the right of Presbyteries to decide judicially on the whole case is admitted.
At a late stage of the correspondence (pp. 54, 55, May 12, 1840) Dr. Chalmers objects that Lord Aberdeen's Bill does not secure the liberum arbitrium of the presbyteries in all respects, since by implication it excludes their right to reject solely because the people dissent without reasons. Lord Aberdeen explains that his bill is simply declaratory; that the restriction of which Dr. Chalmers complained, by which presbyteries could not reject without some reason assigned, was imposed not by his bill but by the law of the land, which he did not profess to alter. We have already said that under Lord Aberdeen's Bill this fact of the repugnance of the majority of the congregation—though not legalised as a substantive ground of rejection, is recognised as one of the elements of which the presbytery might competently judge. We even think that as the bill stood, à rejection by the presbytery grounded on this—that from the inveterate reluctance felt by the whole or the greater part of the congregation to his appointment, they conscientiously believed his settlement there would not be conducive to the spiritual welfare of the people-would have been one which the civil courts could not have interfered to review. But be this as it may, the question in dispute between Lord Aberdeen and Dr. Chalmers, narrowed itself at all events to this; whether the presbytery should have the power of rejecting a presentee where no objection was stated by others, or known to themselves-except that the majority did not like him. This was the only point in which it was here alleged that the liberum arbitrium was narrowed.
3. If the presbyteries were to decide, and their judgment was to be reviewable by the superior Ecclesiastical tribunals, the statement of the grounds of rejection in the sentence followed as a matter of course : and this Dr. Chalmers does not contest.
• There ought,' says he, most certainly at all times to be a ground of judgment, and that ground put into a record and stated in the face of day and with the full observation of a surrounding public. This point also then is conceded.
4. It is true, no doubt, that though Dr. Chalmers seems to concede, to the extent now mentioned, every substantive provision which Lord Aberdeen's Bill contains, he does object to something which it omits; namely, an express exclusion of the interference of the courts of law in any conceivable case. Lord Aberdeen reminds him that the Assembly have already done an illegal act, and may do another, and asks whether in the case of a clear undoubted illegality committed by the Church, Dr. Chalmers means to contend that the State should divest itself altogether of that controul which by the law and constitution it possesses over the Established Church of the country.' (February 22nd, 1840.) With respect to the practical question under discussion, I beg to repeat that I would give the greatest possible latitude to the honest objections of parishes; and would recognise in presbyteries a full discretion and the most ample powers. I would carefully prevent all vexatious interference; but there must be redress somewhere for wrong committed, and acts plainly illegal can never be tolerated. The question thus put by Lord Aberdeen was a difficult one to deal with, and accordingly Dr. Chalmers in his long reply does not deal with it at all. He does not venture to say in plain terms—though no doubt that may be implied from his silence, that even in the case of palpable and admitted illegality, there is to be no redress.
And thus then did the points of difference between the parties reduce themselves to these : 1st. The asserted right of the Presbytery to reject solely in respect of the dissent of the majoritya principle equally illegal and irrational, and a case which, practically speaking, Dr. Chalmers admitted was not likely to occur once in a thousand times : and 2nd. The removal of all control by the civil power, even where the Presbytery was guilty of an illegal and unconstitutional excess of powers !-a principle obviously subversive of all government whatever. And for these wild or dangerous chimeras, was this bill rejected, by which the Church of Scotland might have been rescued from her embarrassments--every control on presentation essential to the interests of religion, and legitimately belonging to the Church courts preserved, the Church courts restored to their constitutional right of judgment,—and that separation between the Church and its temporalities averted, which Dr. Chalmers had lamented as fraught with the ruin of the establishment. Because one fatal • blunder' in short had been committed by the Assembly in the
outset, they seemed now resolved—with a proud and peevish obstinacy, to blunder on to the close.
We have no sympathy with those whose deference for the Church rests on merely civil or political considerations. But we · have just as little sympathy for those who, in the spirit of de'fiance or of coarse and blustering independence, tell us of the prerogatives of the Church, and rather than not be constantly parading these, whether in or out of season, say they would give the State-endowments to the wind : one of the greatest moral calamities which could befal the myriads of a then churchless, ' and in the most emphatic sense of the term, deeply suffering
population !'— Are these our sentiments ? They are. But the words are those of Dr. Chalmers ! *
Let us notice in passing, as a charge insinuated by Dr. Chalmers, and now repeated in Mr. Colquhoun's late address—that the bill of Lord Aberdeen changed its character in the course of their communications with him, and became much more stringent against the Church than it had been in its original shape. Lord Aberdeen's consistency probably requires no vindication at our hands—but to this statement we feel bound to give the fullest contradiction. Surely Mr. Colquhoun himself does not mean to say that the bill ever existed in any other form, or was ever in any respect different from that in which it was shown to Mr. Buchanan, one of the negotiators for the Church, in London. Lord Aberdeen's letters, and his observations in Parliament on more than one occasion before introducing the bill, all pointed to one conclusion. From first to last the position taken by Lord Aberdeen was, that while he wishes to give the completest range of objection to the people, and the fullest powers of judging to the presbytery, he will make no provision for either legalising the veto, or excluding the control of the courts of law in the case of a clearly unconstitutional rejection. How Dr. Chalmers or any one after perusing his Lordship's letter of 22nd of February, 1840, already noticed, written more than two months before the bill was introduced, -and from which his Lordship, as might be expected, never departed in the slightest degree-could state on the 27th of May, 1840, that until three weeks before he had expected a different bill, we own to us is inexplicable. Such at Jeast does not appear to have been the view of the Secretary of the non-intrusion committee, Mr. Dunlop. Lord Aberdeen writing to him on the 24th April, 1840, says — Such as my views were as explained to the Committee in the month of January, such they remain at this moment. In the interval I have considered and discussed the merits of various projects, but reflection and * Speecha delivered in the General Assembly on the 22nd May, 1839. Glasgow, p. 10. examination have confirmed my conviction that none other would be constitutional, safe, and practicable.' To which the secretary replies (25th April, 1840), “Your Lordship has misapprehended me in supposing that I considered your present views to be different from those held by your Lordship at the date of your first Communication with the Committee;' and explains that he had alluded only to a proposal for giving more effect to the call,' to which Lord Aberdeen had at an interview with the Committee's deputation in London expressed himself to have been at one time favourably disposed, but which on a little reflection he had found to be impracticable. So much for the charge that the bill of Lord Aberdeen has not passed in the form in which it was first intended. • We have said that the majority of the Clergy have resolved to proceed with their defiance of the law. They have resolved to proceed with the enforcement of the Veto. At first we were disposed to think otherwise. Dr. Chalmers in his recent pamphlet thus announced his view of the course to be followed :
"We may now be said certainly and conclusively to have failed in obtaining the ratification of the veto law at the hands of Parliament; and what is now the Church's proper outgoing from the position in which she of course finds herself? We have no hesitation in saying that the first step of such an outgoing is to repeal the veto law. There is no inconsistency here-- the inconsistency were all on the other side in persevering with the law.' The veto being first abandoned, he recommended that the Church should fall back upon the call, instructing presbyteries to work the non-intrusion principle’ on that footing
Here, in the unequivocal admission that the illegal veto law must be ante omnia abandoned and rescinded on the first oppor. tunity, that is, at the next meeting of the General Assembly,' appeared the first dawning of rational counsels since the commencement of this unhappy contest. Alas! it was speedily obscured.
An ominous silence followed the publication of the doctor's manifesto. It soon became apparent, as in the case of the liberum arbitrium which the non-intrusionists had contemptuously rejected, that he could not carry his party along with him ; that they had made up their minds that the veto should not be repealed. The unlucky admission in his pamphlet must then be harmonised with the course now resolved upon by the majority; and accordingly at the distance of about a month appeared a letter addressed by Dr. Chalmers to Mr. Buchanan (what that gentleman's views as to the non-intrusion principle are will be immediately seen), intimating that he never meant that the veto should be given up till some other measure equally effectual was substituted for it. The
chance of the veto being repealed at the next General Assembly is therefore now to depend on that Assembly agreeing to pass another measure requiring the consent of the majority to the validity of a 'call '-a measure no doubt equally stringent with the veto, but of course equally illegal. For no one can for a moment suppose that the courts of law would so far stultify themselves as to require the consent of the majority to the efficacy of a presentation after determining that the dissent of a majority was no bar to the settlement.
In the next place, they have made up their minds to proceed to the deposition of the suspended ministers. It is impossible,' says Dr. Chalmers, · for the Church to give in without the abandonment of her most sacred prerogatives,'-'it is a matter in which we have no choice and ought to have no hesitation.'* Acting on this temperate and constitutional advice, the majority of the Assembly forthwith proceeded to the preparation of a libel or accusation against the suspended ministers with a view to their deposition: the Procurator for the Church (or legal assessor of the Assembly) suggesting that, in order to evade if possible the interference of the civil courts, it would be advisable to imitate the example of the House of Commons, and to suppress the fact—which was at once the justification of the parties accused and the condemnation of their accusers—that in disobeying the directions of the Ecclesiastical tribunal they had obeyed the previous judgments of the civil court. This notable advice no doubt was not followed in the libel as actually framed; which boldly charges the applications made to the Court of Session to suspend the sentence of the Church court, and to prevent its being carried into effect--as ‘heinous crimes and offences, contrary to the Holy Scriptures, the Confession of Faith, and other standards of the Church '-and punishable by deposition and the highest censures of the Church; though we have little doubt that, if ever a judgment be pronounced, the Procurator's astute hint will be acted on in the framing of the sentence.
That consummation is undoubtedly not very distant. Within the last few days the sittings of the Commission of the General Assembly have taken place. The “libels' against the suspended clergymen of Strathbogie, for obeying the Court of Session, and against Mr. Edwards, for asking the Presbytery to perform their legal duty of taking him on trials, have been found relevant, as it is called; that is to say, it has been decided by the Commission that if the facts are proved (these facts never having been denied) they afford grounds for the depo* What ought the Church and the People of Scotland to do now?--p. 50.