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ritorial revenue for the labourers of this extensive vineyard; and so enabled each to set himself down in his own little vicinity, the families of which he could assemble to the ex-ings which Christianity scatters in its
ercise of Christian piety on the Sabbath, and among whom he could expatiate through the week in all the offices of attention and Christian kindness. Such an offer, whether Christianly or politically made on the one side, could most Christianly be accepted and rejoiced in by the other. It extended inconceivably the powers and the opportunities of usefulness; it brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ into contact with myriads more of imperishable spirits: and, with as holy a fervour as ever gladdened the breast of the devoted missionary when the means of an ampler service in the Redeemer's cause were put into his hands, might the church in these days have raised to heaven those orisons of purest gratitude, that kings at length had become its nursing fathers, and opened up to us the plentiful harvest of all their population.
way, do the princes of this world find these are the best citizens of the earth; and that the chief defence of nations, the best safeguard of their prosperity and power, is a universal Christian education. There need be nought of contamination in this. The state pays the church, yet the church, in the entire possession of all those privileges and powers which are strictly ecclesiastical, maintains the integrity of her faith and worship notwithstanding; she would be the same hallowed church as when the fires of martyrdom were blazing around her-possess the same spirituality among her ministers, the same lofty independence in all her pulpits. The effect of an establishment is not necessarily to narrow Christianity, but to extend it—not necessarily to vitiate the ministration of the Gospel, but certainly to disseminate its ministrations amongst, as well as to spread them more diffusely abroad, over the families of the land.
other than the purest services of the sanctuary. Its single aim, as heretofore, is the preparation of souls for heaven; but in virtue of the bless
There is just as little of the essentially corrupt in this connexion between the church and the state, as there is in the connexion between the missionary cause and its pecu-in niary supports: each is a case of the earth helping the woman. But whatever the earthliness may be on the one side, there might be none, and there need be none, on the other. The one may assist in things temporal, while the other may continue to assert its entire and untouched jurisdiction as heretofore in things spiritual. There might be thus an alliance between the altar and the throne, yet without the danger of any one earthly intermixture being at all engendered by it. The state avails itself of the church's services, and the church gives back again no
But, just as in philanthropy and politics, there are mistakes upon this subject of a religious establishment, from the very common error of not assigning the right effect to its right cause, there is a kind of vague and general imagination as if corruption were the invariable accompaniment of such an alliance between the civil and the ecclesiastical. And this has been greatly fostered by the tremendously corrupt popery which followed in historical succession after the establishment of Christianity in the days of Constantine, and which certainly shows in vivid contrast the difference between this religion in the period of its suffering, and this religion in the
period of its security and triumph. | vasion on the state, and all the adul
terations practised either in the worship or the lessons of Christianity was gendered from within. So far from the state having too much power, so that it could make such an unlawful invasion on the church, it had too little power, so that it could not resist the unlawful invasion made by the church upon itself. The theoretical fear is, lest the state should meddle with the prerogatives of the church; the historical fact is, that the church meddled with the prerogatives of the state. So far from the apprehended corruption having experience to rest upon, it is precisely the reverse in the actual corruption.
But it were well to discriminate (and it requires attention to do so-more attention we fear than is sufficient to bear down the popular and the prevailing cry which is lifted against establishments)-I say, it were well to discriminate the precise origin of this frightful degeneracy. It arose not from without-it arose from within. It was not because of any ascendency of the state over the church, whom it now paid, and thereby trenched on its independence in things spiritual: it was because of an ascendency of the church over the state-the effect of that superstitious terror which it wielded over the imaginations of men, and which it most unworthily prostituted to the usurpation of power in things temporal. The fear that many have of an establishment is, lest the state should obtain too great a power over the church, and so be able to graft its own secularity, or its own spirit of worldliness, on the pure system of the gospel whereas the actual mischief of popery lay in the church having obtained too much power over the state, and in the false doctrine which it devised to strengthen and perpetuate a temporal dominion which should never have been permitted to it. There is no analogy between the apprehended evil to Christianity from an establishment now-a-days, and the actual evil inflicted on Christianity by the corrupt and ambitious hierarchy of Rome. The thing dreaded from that connexion between the church and state which an establishment implies, is, lest the state, stepping beyond its own legitimate province, should make invasion on the church, and so, by a heterogeneous ingredient from without, in some way adulterate the church. The thing experienced, on the contrary, was, that the church, stepping beyond its legitimate province, made an in
But the truth is, that, after many conflicts, the matter is now better understood; and the understanding is, that neither should meddle with the prerogatives of the other. The state may pay the church, and that without conceding to it one particle of temporal sovereignty. The church may serve the state, yet without the surrender of one spiritual prerogative. To teach the people Christianity,that is the church's service: to teach them no other than what itself judges to be the Christianity of the Bible,— that is the church's prerogative: to deal out among her parish families the lessons of faith and of holiness,— this is the church's incumbent duty; but that these shall be no other than what it judges to be the very lessons of that Scripture whose guidance in things spiritual it exclusively follows, and that in this judgment no power on earth shall control it, this is the church's inviolate privilege. The state may maintain a scholastic establishment,-which it does in Scotland, though not in this country,— but, without charging itself with the methods of ordinary education, leave these to the teachers. The state may maintain an ecclesiastical establishment, but, without charging itself
with the methods of Christian educa- | the alternative of its existence or tion, leave these to the church. In non-existence, there would hang a both cases it will multiply and extend most fearful odds to the Christiover the land the amount of instruc- anity of Scotland. Let us admit tion, yet the kind of instruction it it as true that the apparatus may might leave to other authorities, to be made greatly more effective, still other boards of management than its it is true that a deadly effect would own; and this is the way to secure follow, and be felt to her remotest the best scholarship, and the best parishes, were the apparatus taken Christianity. For the sake of an down; it were tantamount to a moral abundant gospel dispensation we are blight over the length and breadth upheld in things temporal by the of our land. And though we have state; for the sake of a pure gospel not time to demonstrate what now dispensation we are left in things spi- we have only time to affirm, yet with ritual to ourselves; and on ourselves all the certainty of experimental it depends alone, whether the church demonstration we say it,-that the now might not be the same saintly and ministrations of our church once done unsullied church that it was in the away, would never be replaced to days of martyrdom,- -as spiritual in within a tenth of the efficacy, in all its creed, as purely apostolical in its the zeal and energy, and talent of spirit, as holy in all its services. private adventure.
Addressing ourselves to Presbyterians, and speaking of our own church, we will not allege its infallibility, for this were Popery in the dress of Protestantism. We will not contend for the wisdom and the rectitude of all its doings, for we hold that there is neither individual nor corporate perfection on the earth. Let the distinction be made between the acts of an establishment and the powers of an establishment, and we know not if through the whole of Christendom there be one more happily devised in any other country for the religious good of its population. The fitness of the machine is one thing, the working of it is another. We feel that it is no more than a warrantable confidence, when we stand up for the former, though we should feel it most tremendous presumption did we in every instance, and upon all occasions, stand up for the latter.
In regard to the fitness of the mechanism it may be the best possible; in regard to the actual working of the mechanism, one would need to side with all the majorities which, in the popular constitution of our church, have occurred for two centuries, and under all the changes of ecclesiastical polity, ere we could conscientiously affirm that the working at all times has been the best possible. Still, amid all the imputations and the errors which its greatest enemies have laid to its door, we hold that, upon
In my desire to carry your conviction along with me on this subject, it is impossible that I can enter on the use of ecclesiastical statistics without detaining you more than I should be warranted in doing therefore, I shall just give one numerical and perfectly true statement, with regard to the highlands of Scotland, those who speak the Gaelic language.
It is about one hundred years ago since the great dissent from the church of Scotland commenced; and in this land of toleration they have been at perfect liberty to traverse the whole length and breadth of that land. In a population of about half a million, the whole amount of the product arising from their exertions, the whole of what has been called "the voluntary principle" has certainly not exceeded six churches, wherein the stated Gaelic service is performed. The establishment has contributed one hundred and sixty churches to that people. Within these few years-and it is a proof that there is no want of materials, for the success of private adventurers,— within these few years, by a single fiat of the legislature acting on the principle of an establishment, there were decreed no less than forty government churches; and these, I am happy to say, followed up in general by a pure and conscientious exercise of the patronage, are now filled with as many flourishing congregations
people who would never have had any thing like a regular steady supply of Christian ordinances without the extension of the principle of an establishment to them also.
You may take two extreme cases, -one a thinly populated country, and the other a locality as densely peopled as possible. Go to the closest population of any city, and compute the amount of accommodation that there is within the localities where that population is situated: I am perfectly sure that I am within the limits of certainty when I say that four fifths of the population go no where; or, in other words, in that field which is laid open to the zeal and talent of private adventure in this land of toleration for a century, this is the amount, the partial amount to which they have overtaken them; and I see no other mode of reaching them but by the extension of a dangerous principle of an establishment even to them, that is, by a greater number of ministers and churches; when, by a pure and righteous exercise of the patronage, were these filled (which must always be presupposed in any argument) with zealous and well-principled men, I should predict such a moral organization of our cities as no other device, and no other expedient, could possibly afford
Well, then, suppose that the establishment were overthrown,—we are warranted by these two facts to affirm that on the event of its being overthrown there would arise no compensation for the present regular supply, -there would arise no compensation for its fulness. Instead of the frequent parish church (that most beautiful of all spectacles to a truly Scottish character, because to him the richest in moral association-and to whom, therefore, its belfry, peeping forth from among the thick verdure of the trees which embosom it, is the sweetest and fairest object in the landscape) --instead of this we should behold the rare and the thinly-scattered meeting houses; for large and convenient churches, we should have nothing but precarious and transient itineracies; the old established habits of Sabbath attendance,—now as constant, with
many of her families, as the weekly recurrence of the parish bell,-would necessarily disappear; in a moral sense, they would become the waste and the howling wilderness of Scotland. We feel quite assured that under this withering deprivement, a rude and outlandish aspect would gather on the face of our people. The cities might be somewhat served as heretofore, but the innumerable hamlets would be forsaken and neglected, just as they were anterior to an establishment at all; our peasants would again become pagans, and the plain ritual of Christianity would sink into the blindness of idolatry, and the rude inorganization of paganism.
But, without enlarging on this consideration-on which head lies much of the strength of our case--you are aware that some economists have advocated the principle of free trade in Christianity on the same principle as they would advocate it for trade, as if the supply always suited itself to the demand; but, in point of fact, it is just because the supply would not suit itself to the demand, that it would be so certainly followed up by the adoption of an establishment. There is no such demand for Christianity as for the articles of merchandize, therefore the principle does not apply: the cases are utterly distinct and dissimilar one from another. Now in point of fact, it is just because the supply would only suit itself by the adoption of an establishment, not that the people would fall away from such a demand. But I cannot enlarge on this consideration, in which there lies much to strengthen the case. And without doing this, let us briefly recur to the leading argument of the day, which is, to prove that there is nothing essentially corrupt in the establishment.
It is not true that corruption must adhere, in virtue of its very nature, and as of necessity, to an establishment. There will be corruption, in fact; but, rightly to estimate the quarter it comes from, distinction should be made between the nature of the institution, and the nature of man. In virtue of the former, there may be no contamination, while in virtue of the latter there may be a
great deal. An establishment may in this case be the occasional, but not the efficient, cause of mischief. The machine may be faultless; but, exposed as it must be, when the mechanist is removed, to the innovation of hands which, in a certain degree, will despoil and vitiate all they come in contact with,-the remedy is not to demolish the machine, but to transfer the hands that wrought it to other management and other modes of operation: there will still be corruption notwithstanding. It will prove a vain attempt to escape if you think to make a good by transferring human nature from the economy of an establishment to the economy of any of our sectaries. The human nature which you thus transfer, will carry its own virulence along with it; and while that nature remains there will be corruption, and which is strictly chargeable neither on the one economy nor on the other. It follows not, therefore, because of this one or that other abuse, that the frame-work of an establishment should be destroyed. To make head against an abuse we should direct our efforts to the place where the abuse originated, not to the machinery, therefore, in the present instance, but to the men who work the machinery. It is not to a constitutional or political change in any of our establishments, that we shall look for the coming regeneration of our land; it is to a moral and a spiritual change in those who administer them. It is there, and not in the frame-work, where the change and the correction must be made. This is the way to get rid of corruption, and not by putting forth upon our national institutions the innovating hand of a destroyer. There are corruptions in the civil government of our empire; yet that is no reason why it should be brought to dissolution. There are corruptions in the municipal governments of our towns; yet what fearful anarchy would ensue, should that be made the pretext for another overthrow, and every populous community in our land were left without a presiding magistracy to check and to control them! There is corruption, we will say it, in every family government throughout the nation; yet, who
can tell the numerous ills that would fester on every hand, and fall in in numerable forms on society, were the rights and restraints of parental authority therefore put an end to? And there may be corruption in the ecclesiastical government of our own church; this may be true; and yet it may be just as true, that if, either by the policy of infatuated rulers, or by the frenzy of an infatuated people, this church was put away, it would inflict the most disastrous blow on the character of Scotland and on the Christianity of Scotland's families. It is not by the violence of public hostility against our church that the nation is to be reformed; it is rather by the control of the public opinion of her ministers, and, most of all, by the answer from heaven to the people's prayers, that their "priests may be clothed with salvation." Were the establishment, and that, too, under the pretext of its corruption, destroyed,-this would do nothing, and worse than nothing. Were the establishment, either in the whole, or in certain parts of its constitution reformed,-this of itself would do little, and so little as to stamp insignificance on many a contest of ecclesiastical policy. Were the establishment to have the Spirit of God poured forth upon its clergy in their work, and the multiplication of its churches and parishes made more commensurate with the wants of our increasing population,-this, and this alone, would do every thing. A conscientious minister, even within the establishment, precise as it is, has within the borders the liberty and the privilege of unbounded usefulness. He has scope and an outlet for the largest desires of Christian philanthropy; he has a parish within which he may multiply his assiduities at pleasure, and with no other control but that of the word of God over his doctrines, and his services, and his prayers. Should he quarrel with the reigning policy of our church, he has at least liberty to offer his testimony against all that which he may esteem to be its defects and its errors. He can give his eloquence and his vote to the strength of its minorities; he can, by the contribution of his own name,