« VorigeDoorgaan »
is at stake, and to such of their Christian brethren as they believe to be in error on the subject - to use vigorous exertions, in order to disseminate among all the friends of religion, a knowledge of the Scriptural principles on which their convictions are founded; so as to correct the wide-spread misapprehension and ignorance of those principles, which prevail not only among the adherents of Established Churches, but even, to a large extent, among the adherents of Voluntary Churches themselves,
That whilst there are many different aspects, political, economical, and ecclesiastical, in which the connexion between the Church and the State may be properly contemplated, it especially becomes Christians and Christian ministers to regard it in the solemn light of a religious question, a question of extensive good or extensive injury to the Church of Christ, a question of obedience or disobedience to his will, a question to be discussed by the common friends of the Redeemer, in the spirit of Christian love and candour, and in the exercise of mutual forbearance.
Moved by the Rev. A. Wells, seconded by the Rev. J. Burnet :II. That on the basis of the principles, stated in the foregoing Resolutions, a Society be now formed, to be called “The Evangelical Voluntary Church Association," and that the following be the rules of such Society, viz. :
1st. This Association shall be composed of Evangelical Christians holding Voluntary principles.
2nd. This Society shall not take part in any appeals to the Legislature of the country, but its simple business shall be-in the spirit of meekness and of charity towards those of our Christian brethren, whether in or out of the Establishment, who dissent from its object, and with the view of convincing and of persuading their minds—to advocate and extend, by means of public lectures, and through the press, and in every other practicable way, the principle of Voluntary Churches.
3rd. The business of this Society shall be conducted by a Committee of not less than twenty persons, with a Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretaries, and that the following be the office-bearers for the present year, viz.
Treusurer.- Sir Culling Eardley Smith, Bart.
Committee - Revs. Dr. J. Pye Smith, Dr. Morison, Dr. Harris, Dr. Leifchild, T. Morell, J. Freeman, J. Burnet, J. Blackburn, J. Young, A. Wells, J. Davies, Tottenham, W. Bean, E Steane, Jos. Angus, and J. Woodwark; T. Rundle, Joshua Wilson, H. Waymonth, Thos. Challis, H. Bateman, J. H. Tooke, Hull Terrell, and G. F. Angas, Esqrs., with power to add to their numbers.
5th. All Meetings of this Society and of its Committees shall be opened and closed with prayer; and it shall be the endeavour of all who take part in its proceedings to avoid whatever might unnecessarily give offence to any candid Christian.
Moved by the Rev. J. Davies ; seconded by the Rev. J. Dyer :III. That this Association invites the co-operation and correspondence of individuals, and of Local Societies having the same object in view; and respect. fully urges Christian ministers concurring in these views, to take frequent occasion to press them upon their respective congregations.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND MINOR CORRESPONDENCE. Favours have been received from Rev. Drs. Fletcher-Payne-Urwick -- Rev. Professor Kidd - George Taylor --Thomas Milner-J. Kennedy-W. MarchJ. Ketley-Benjamin Brook -A. Tidman - J. Carlile--J. C. Galloway-Thos. Keyworth – R. Ashton-Thomas Scales— Benjamin Hobson - N. M. HarryI. Cobbin - Algernon Wells.
Also from Sir C. E. Smith, Bart.- Messrs. E. Swaine - J. Cooper-E. Phillips-Joshua Wilson-J. Rogers—PIII.
Mr. Rogers will hear from us in our next.
THE CONGREGATIONAL MAGAZINE.
THE PRESENT CONFLICT
ECCLESIASTICAL AND CIVIL POWERS OF
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE KIRK.
BY SIR CULLING EARDLEY SMITH, BART.*
POPERY was abolished in Scotland in 1560, by an Act of the Scotch Parliament. In 1558, Elizabeth had ascended the throne of England, and Popery had the second time been abolished in that country. The Reformation in the northern part of the island differed from that in the south, by its being altogether a popular movement, and by the circumstance that the Scotch Parliament substituted no ecclesiastical system for that which it had displaced.
The Act of Parliament passed on the 24th August. On the 20th December, the first “ General Assembly" of reformed ministers and laymen, self-called and self-organised, met in Scotland. This association, with the societies of Christians connected with it, was called the “ Kirk." The body adopted, in the same year, the first book of discipline, drawn up principally by John Knox—the chief actor in that mighty movement by which popery had just been disestablished. The first book of discipline embodied the main features of Presbyterianism, such as they exist at present in Scotland. Under that system, all ministers or elders are considered on an equality ; some being termed preaching, and some ruling, elders. The preaching and lay elders of from four to forty congregations constitute a presbytery, whose principal function consists in licensing competent
* This article forms part of a series of Letters published by the worthy Baronet in the Herts Reformer, but as it supplies a valuable abstract of the controversy which now agitates the whole of Scotland, and is likely to produce the most important results, we are happy to reprint it by his permission for the information of thousands who have never seen that able provincial journal.- Editor.
N.S. VOL. IV.-Vol. XXIII.
persons to preach, and in ordaining to cures of souls those who are called or appointed to that office. Superior to the presbyteries are the synods, of which there are sixteen in Scotland. These review the proceedings of the presbyteries; and at the half-yearly meeting of each synod, one individual at least from each presbytery is required to attend, and to produce the minutes of the proceedings of the presbytery. Over the whole of the foregoing tribunals the General Assembly presides. With this body resides the legislative authority of the kirk, subject to the consent of a majority of presbyteries to each law enacted. It will be perceived that the presbyterian system, though its advocates were, and still are, most vehemently opposed to the episcopalian, is in some respects identical with it, the names of offices only being altered, and considerable popular power, or appearance of power, being introduced into the machinery. As Milton said, “ New presbyter is but old priest, writ large.” Presbyteries are archdeaconries, with the addition of the power of ordination. Synods are sees. A synod means “ coming together.” A see means “ a seat,"—the bishop sits alonc, the elders come together for conference. The general assembly corresponds with the archiepiscopal authority. Under both systems the same idea prevails, that local Societies of Christians require external superintendence. Under both, there is a manifest yearning after an embodiment, in a substantial and tangible form, of " the church" of an entire nation. The New Testament speaks of " churches," and of “a church.” The former, it is agreed, are local societies of professing Christians. The latter, Presbyterians and Episcopalians believe to mean a grand and comprehensive organization, equally perceptible to the senses with the visible local societies. All other Christians believe that the church of Christ means an invisible aggregate of dispersed Christians, united by a common faith and love, but not by any centralised authority.
At the time that the presbyterian system branched off from the episcopalian in Scotland, it partook much more of the episcopalian character, and aspired to a much more offensive authority, than most sensible Presbyterians would claim for it at present. In 1567, Presbyterianism being still unestablished, the General Assembly deposed the Bishop of Orkney, for transgressing the act of the kirk in marrying the Queen (Mary) to Bothwell. Now the bishop, from the very name of his office, was not a Presbyterian. The Queen, certainly, was a Roman Catholic. What right had a number of private and unauthorized individuals to interfere with matters pertaining to persons not being of their own communion ? The answer lies in the claim of the kirk to be, what unhappily an Act of Parliament, in the year 1567, proclaimed it for the first time to be, "the only true and holy kirk of Jesus Christ within this realm.” This theory, in fact, lies at the root of all religious establishments. It may suit modern defenders to suppose, that the state selects the religious teachers of one, out of several bodies of Christians, as an expedient means of moralizing the nation, by bringing home gratuitous religious instruction to all who are willing to accept it. Such, however, was not the origin of any national establishment. The view adopted and acted upon, on both sides of the Tweed, at the time of the Reformation, was that the entire civil society of a country, regarded under an ecclesiastical aspect, is “a church.” The utility of preaching was by no means the chief motive for endowing a priesthood. Preaching was looked upon as only one out of many effects of antecedent organization. Discipline and the sacraments were regarded as even more important than the pulpit. In so far as their first idea of a church was that of “a society," a body subjected to strict rules, admitting persons solemnly within its pale on certain conditions, excluding them if those conditions are violated, and statedly meeting for the celebration of the Lord's death, the theory of our ancestors appears to me to have been far more in harmony with the original institution, than the utilitarian views of many excellent defenders of the establishment principle of late years. The application of those early views was, indeed, erroneous; the godly society was made up of an ungodly population ;-the theoretical discipline became null in practice. There was an abuse of principles in themselves right,principles which are too much lost sight of by those who regard a national clergy as mere lecturers-mere channels for indoctrinating the people.
Episcopacy was stunned, but not killed, by the great revolution which had overwhelmed it. Within two or three years of the Presbyterian system being proclaimed by Parliament to be the “ only trew Kirk,” the Government without consulting the clergy, bestowed on certain christian teachers the office and emoluments of prelates ; and in 1571, the prelates were made peers of Parliament. The popular feeling was thereby aroused to resistance. In 1572, the General Assembly of the Kirk, which met at Leith and is known to history as the “ Convention of Leith," appointed six of its members to meet an equal number of the Privy Council ; in consequence of which a compromise was agreed to by a subsequent assembly at Perth, depriving the bishops of their parliamentary honours, but embodying a modified episcopacy. Three years had not elapsed, when the clergy began to feel that the convention of Leith had conceded too much. During this interval John Knox had died,-an event, say the modern defenders of the semi-episcopal platform of Leith, which let loose the violent zeal of the presbyterian party, and carried them further than Knox himself would have been willing to go. This opinion is chiefly founded upon the fact, that under the system developed in the “ first book of discipline," there were to be “superintendents," as well as synods and presbyteries,--an office corresponding in name, as well as in some of its functions, with episcopus or bishop. On the other hand it is asserted that this office was always meant to be only temporary. However this may be, the Assembly which met in April, 1576, decided that “ the name of a bishop belonged to all who were in the pastoral office;' and ordained, that every so-called bishop should make choice of one congregation of which he might take particular charge. Some of the bishops yielded, and some disobeyed,—the conflict continuing for several years. In 1578, James the Sixth having in the preceding
year deposed the Regent Morton, and assumed the government at the age of twelve years, the General Assembly adopted the “ second book of discipline,” and carried it to the foot of the throne. The controversy now going on in Scotland, very much turns upon the question whether this book is a standard of the Established Church. That it is a standard of the kirk there is no doubt,—but that the state ever adopted it in toto, or that the kirk had received power from the state to enact the parts of it relating to temporalities I believe to be contrary to history. It takes very high ground as to the independence of the church on the state. It declares that “the order which God's word craved cannot stand with patronage." The object of its framers, says Mr. Hope in his letter to the Lord Chancellor, was to invest the church with authority, which might controul the state in almost every department. It skilfully confuses the proper spiritual authority of a church over its willing members, with the ecclesiastical supremacy of an established church over the state and the law. “ This power ecclesiastical,” it is asserted, “ flowis immediatlie from God and the mediatour Jesus Christ, and is spirituall not having a temporal head on earth, but onlie Christ, the onlie spirituall King and Governor of his Kirk." The power of election to ecclesiastical charges is claimed for presbyteries; and the jurisdiction of the church is expounded in terms so extensive, that had the state really adopted it, the whole power of the state would, in Mr. Hope's words, have been prostrated before it.
As the claims of the kirk rose, the spirit of the young king and his parliament rose also. The young king appointed Robert Montgomery, Archbishop of Glasgow. The Assembly deposed him. The king commanded them to desist from their proceedings against him. The kirk“ decerned the sentence of fearful excommunication to be pronounced" against the archbishop; and Montgomery " in the face of the haill Assemblie," acknowledged his error and promised submission. As soon, however, as the Assembly broke up, he resumed his attempts to gain possession of his bishopric. The Presbytery of Edinburgh fulminated a decree of excommunication against the bishop, and the king immediately annulled it by an act of Privy Council.
In 1584 the Black Acts, as they are called, were passed. The king perceived that if the state did not conquer the kirk, the kirk would shortly swallow up the powers of the state; and the Scotch parliament readily seconded his wishes. All existing church authority was repealed, and the royal power over all estates, spiritual as well as temporal, was confirmed. It was ordained, that certain bishops and commissioners named by the king should exercise ecclesiastical authority, and arrange all ecclesiastical matters within their dioceses. A considerable part of the clergy fled to England, -the party who had sided with them were prostrate and powerless and the To state” was for a time triumphant over the “church.”
In 1587, Mary, the deposed Queen of Scotland, was tried and executed in England, upon an accusation of treasonable conspiracy against Elizabeth. James felt himself totally unable to avenge this atrocious violation of justice and international law. The source