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altogether,' announces that patronage is contrary to the word of God: Mr. Buchanan, one of the Church's negociators with Lord Aberdeen, following on the same side, and nothing daunted by the fact that he had himself three times accepted a presentation from a patron, repeats that not only is patronage contrary to the word of God, but that Providence had specially thwarted their endeavours to obtain a modification of it by the veto law, in order that the full energies of the Church might be directed towards the total extinction of the evil.* •It is earthly, sensual, devilish, adds Mr. Cunningham, winding up the discussion with characteristic mildness. † Abolition of patronage, in short, is now the general watchword, from the consistent head of the party, Dr. Chalmers, who, with an elasticity of sentiment,'—to use his own description of himself—for which even we were not prepared, bids God-speed in 1840 to the measure which in 1833 he seems to have regarded as a national pest; to the consistent tail of the party, the newly-appointed presentee to Falkland, who pockets the presentation of Mr. Tyndal Bruce with the one hand while he signs the anti-patronage bond with the other! No doubt the procurator for the Church, with a desperate gallantry, which gives us wonder great as our content,' heads a kind of forlorn hope against the increasing columns of the movement; but with the absolute shall’of Mr. Dunlop and the abolitionists on one side, and the laissez faire' of Dr. Chalmers and the concessionists on the other, what is even he among so many ?
What then would the enactment of the veto law do to satisfy those who had in view these more sweeping changes ? About as much as the proposal to extend the elective franchise to Leeds or Manchester would have done to satisfy those who had fixed their hearts on the reform bill. Humbly but earnestly, therefore, we say, let not parliament legalise the veto, or its equivalent, the necessity of a call by a majority of the people.
II. Are we then to go farther, and, in hopes of allaying excitement, abolish patronage ?
To our English readers we need hardly say this cannot be a Scotch question. If the abolition of patronage in Scotland is to be rested on grounds of positive scriptural precept, or even on its necessity for the spiritual and moral well-being of the people, these principles must be of general application; for it is very plain, to use the words of Lord Moncreiff, “that if there be any
* Providence is manifestly HEDGING US UP to this point [abolition of patronage], as the only safe course left to the Church to pursue. She has already and often tried to obtain a settlement of her difficulties by taking a middle course, but she was defeated. Providence is now pointing out to us the real source of the evil.' + Witness, Wednesday, August 14, 1840.
authority against the law of patronage in the Bible, that must be equally effectual with regard to England as to Scotland, and indeed with regard to every country in Christendom ;** while, even if resting merely on religious expediency, there cannot long be one law for England and another for Scotland.
Let us see then what, according to the opinion of the friends of the Presbyterian Church, would be the result in Scotland of the abolition of patronage, and the transference of the whole right to the people or to the Presbyteries; and in order not to multiply citations, we shall confine ourselves chiefly to the evidence of Lord Moncreiff before the committee in 1834.
The argument, that patronage is anti-scriptural, we dismiss in the words of his lordship in the debate of 1836 in the Assembly: • I do not reason with any gentleman who maintains that there is anything in the word of God to regulate this matter.' That part of the case is indeed so plain, that we are not aware that any one of the witnesses examined before the committee attempted to rest his opposition to patronage on any such grounds. And we would recommend to the advocates of anti-patronage, on the ground of its anti-scriptural character, particularly those who have accepted three consecutive presentations from patrons, inwardly to digest the following remark of Dr. Simpson, the Clerk of the General Assembly, and a warm friend to the veto, in the debate in 1936: 'A clergyman who should say that patronage was con. trary to the word of God, and yet hold a living under patronage, believing it to be contrary to God's word, would do what was dishonourable and sinful.' If they entertain any further doubt on the subject, let them follow the plain and honest advice of another non-intrusionist, Mr. Lewis Rose. If they came in by the wrong door, let them just walk out, and come in again, if they can, by the right one, and then sensible men will believe them to be single hearted.' †
Passing, then, to the question of the abolition of patronage as one of expediency, we think everything proves the correctness of Lord Moncreiff's conclusion, “I am of opinion, I must say, upon very deliberate, very anxious, and very sincere deliberation and reflection, that it is not expedient.'
And here let us advert for a moment to one delusion which appears to be studiously circulated on this subject, and by which a popular agitation in its favour is sought to be evoked. The people are told that patronage is to be abolished; and that this is to be accomplished by repealing the obnoxious act of 1712,* and falling back on the revolution settlement of 1690.
* Report on Patronage, Q. 1330.
| We recommend Mr. Rose's (Humble Attempt,' &c., named in our list, to most serious attention.
What then? Would that abolish patronage, or bestow popular election on the people ? Not in the least. The act 1690 (which, be it observed, provided full compensation to the patron) vested the patronage in the heritors (landowners) and kirk-session (a term for which no exact English equivalent can be found, but which in substance corresponds with the English churchwardens). It gave to the people no right but that of objecting. Its operation was simply an extended patronage. In many cases the extension was trifling :-three or four heritors might possess the whole lands within the parish; nay, if more numerous, they might also forin the majority, or the whole, of the kirk-session. In some, as where the patronage is in the hands of corporate bodies, it might even narrow instead of increasing the number of those in whom its exercise was yested. Is this the settlement which the people have been led to expect as recognising their Christian pria vileges: a patronage divided between the landed interest and the kirk-session? .
The truth is, that, search the statute-book through, the movement party will never lay their hands on one act which confers or recognises popular election. Repeal the revolution settlement --they must retire upon the act 1592, by which the right of the patron, and the obligation of presbyteries to admit his presentee, are expressly recognised. Repeal backward, even to the act 1567, the original declaration on the subject, and still lay-patronage is found in full vigour,
Once, and once only, was lay-patronage abolished within this country; and mark the time ! On the 30th of January, 1649, Charles I. laid his head upon the block in Whitehall. On the same day, the Commission of the General Assembly adopted a petition to Parliament for the abolition of patronage (prepared by Rutherford, Livingstone, Guthrie, and Gillespie, four of the most violent of the party of the Remonstrants), which resulted in the act of 9th March, 1649.
• This act has very frequently, but very erroneously, in the course of this discussion been called the act of 1711. It did not pass the House of Commons till 7th April, 1712: it went through the Lords on 12th April; was sent down, with some amendments, to the Commons, who agreed to them on the 14th; and it did not receive the royal assent till 22nd May, 1712.
+ It has been maintained that the Scottish Covenanters at this time, republican as their principles were, so far from countenancing the murder of the King, strongly disapproved of that atrocious act. We find it difficult to reconcile this view with the conduct of the General Assembly. The execution of Charles was announced to the Assembly on the 6th February, by the following dry epistle from their commissioners in London:
• Right Reverend and Honorable.—This day, about two of the clock in the afternoone, his Majestie was brought out at the window of the balcony of the Banqueting
We presume we are not bound to recognise as an act of parliament a measure passed while no parliament could be said to exist—while all law and order was in abeyance ; and long since blotted from the statute-book with the other acts of the great rebellion. And yet even in this revolutionary period it is remarkable that the initiative of presentation was not given to the people at large, even when the whole matter was put into the power of the Presbyterian Church. The act of 1649, while it abolished lay patronage, left it to the Church itself to say on whom the right was to be conferred. On whom then did the Church bestow the right? On the people in general?-on communicants ?-on male heads of families ? No. The General Assembly, by its directory of 1649, vested the right in the kirksession, and not in the congregation, with this further most important proviso, that, where a congregation was disaffected and malignant, the Presbytery was to provide them with a minister,' against whom no objection of the congregation was to be al. lowed. Any one who knows the meaning given to these words at the time, viz., that they embraced all who favoured the engagement of 1648, or hesitated to give an unqualified adherence to the principles and policy of the dominant party, will easily perceive in how many cases the Presbyteries thus retained the appointment in their own hands. The truth is plainly this: it was the object of the act of parliament to wrest the patronage from the patrons ; it was the object of the act of Assembly not to gue them to the people, but to vest them in the church courts. And such we believe to be truly the aim of the majority of the Assembly at the present moment.
The repeal of the act 1712, and the revival of the act 1690, then, would not even materially enlarge the right of the people. It would substitute a certain number of landed proprietors for one patron, and it would increase the power of Presbyteries through their influence over kirk-sessions, but it would still leave the people exactly where they are, in the place of objectors bound to assign a reason for refusing the call.
But assuming the very improbable hypothesis that the act 1690, if revived, would satisfy the people, what would be its prac. tical effect on their interests and those of religion? It is well known that the preamble of the act 1712 alludes to the great heats and dissensions which had arisen under the act 1690. The truth of this statement has been questioned, and Sir Henry Moncreiff expressed an opinion that on the whole the settlements under it had been harmonious.' But Lord Moncreiff, with that candour which forms a conspicuous part of his character, has admitted (Evidence on Patronage, Q. 1327) that he had some cause to doubt the correctness of his father's view, and that he had been informed that, on a strict inquiry, it may appear that there was more dissension in the settlement of ministers at that time than had been supposed.' And certainly the doubt was well founded, for it appeared from the evidence of Dr. Lee and Dr. Cook*-who had carefully examined the original records, which Sir Henry had not done—that anything less creditable than the state of matters under the act 1690 could not well be imagined. The Rabbling Act passed by Parliament in 1698, with reference to the riots attending settlements of ministers, in itself speaks volumes; but improper practices to obtain calls, perpetual attempts to remove popular ministers from one parish to another, in which the party seeking and the party opposing were heard pro and con; conflicting calls, † where one part of the electors chose one party and the other another, each claiming to be the legal majority, and obliged to resort to the superior courts for the determination of the question; the appointment not unfrequently falling to the Presbytery from the impossibility of bringing the people to unite; complaints that many parishes were left destitute of ministers, and that even in large towns like Edinburgh and Glasgow; many settlements, like that of Benholm in 1710, of Old Deer in 1711, and of Dull in 1712,1 attended with rioting and great violence, the Presbyteries being obstructed by an armed rabble, and several of their members beaten and wounded : hosts of persons brought to trial before the Criminal Court for obstructing settlements every element in short which could poison the minds of the people and injure the cause of sound religion seemed to be combined in the working of the act 1690. We are not surprised therefore that Lord Moncreiff, who eren from the first stated that he could not
house at Whitehall, near which a stage was set by, and his head struck off' with an axe; wherewith we hold it our duty to acquaint you; and so being in haste we shall say no more at this time, but that we remain your affectionate friends to serve you.
LOTHIAN. * Covent-Garden, the 30th January, 1619.
'J. CHIESLIE." The force of coolness could no further go; and this business-like announcement is received and entcred in the minutes of the Assembly, without one word of comment; one expression of pity or regret!--See MS. Records of the Commission of the General Assembly, 16-19.
* Dr. Cook, 2221, Dr. Lee, 2722, 2712, 3025-29.
† The records of Assembly, from 1690 to 1702, are lost---but an inference as to the number of disputed settlements during that period may be drawn from the fact mentioned by Dr. Cook, that twenty or thirty cases of disputed settlements came before the Assembly in the period from 1702 to 1712. And Dr. Lee explains that, besides these, a great many which came before the provincial synods were settled there without reaching the Assembly.
In both these latter cases the matter came before the Court of Justiciary. In the case of Benholm in 1710, twenty-four persons appear to have been indicted, and the riot was of the most serious character.