« PrécédentContinuer »
CHIEFLY OF REPRINTS OF SCARCE PAMPHLETS
LAY-PATRONAGE IN THE CHURCH OF
“ The order whilk God's Word craves cannot stand with patronages and presentations to
CHURCH PATRONAGE has been the subject of more or less eager discussion in Scotland for nearly three hundred years. It is the only corruption which the enemies of truth have succeeded in engrafting, by the force of civil law, upon our simple scriptural Establishment for any lengthened period, and it has been productive of countless evils; but now that a spirit of vigorous inquiry is awakened, and that the country is set free from political vassalage, it seems destined speedily to fall before the march of truth and spiritual freedom. Any thing short of the total abolition of Patronage, and the restoration to the Christian people of Scotland of unfettered liberty in selecting pastors, will, we believe, afford only if indeed it does so mucha temporary lull of the present storm. Achan must be thrust out of the camp of Israel altogether—the root of bitterness must be thrown out of the vineyard—Jonah must be cast into the sea, and then, and then only, there will be a calm.
The Volume of Tracts now presented to the reader, will be found an armoury of weapons on this question. A man who will only make himself thoroughly master of its contents, need not fear the face of any adversary, whether Lawyer, Historian, or Divine. The whole range of the subject is here discussed within very limited bounds, and in a distinct practical manner.
The first Tract contains a series of Acts of Parliament and of the General Assembly in regard to Patronage, bringing together, in one short view, the scattered documents of nearly three centuries, and proving an uniform and more or less sustained
struggle for the rights of the Christian people, on the part of the Church of Scotland, from the Reformation till the present day. This Tract will sufficiently confute the hardihood of such as would gravely represent Patronage as consistent with the principles of our Presbyterian Establishment, instead of being, as it is, a remnant of Popery and the dark ages.
The second Tract, by the celebrated Dr Owen, justly called, in some respects, “ the Prince of Theologians,” goes higher in the investigation, and tests the claims of Patrons by the infallible standard of Divine truth. It proves that Patronage has not a vestige of foundation in the Word of God, but is diametrically opposed to the mode of appointing ministers pointed out in the New Testament, and sanctioned by the example of the Apostolic Church.
The third, by the venerable Dr Doddridge, in answer to the cavils of certain Moderates who had sprung up amongst the English Independents of his day, brings the question with great calmness and masterly sense to the test of enlightened reason and practical utility. He proves most convincingly, that an orator, whatever be his subject, to whom men will not listen, may as well not speak, that the common people love the Gospel, and that cold, dry, unacceptable preaching is, and has been, in all ages, the greatest curse of the Christian Church. In a word, he illustrates very strikingly the sagacious maxim of Dr Witherspoon, viz., “ A minister can do little good if his people don't like him, and no good at all if his people won't hear him.” Surely we may, with some confidence, set such names as those of Owen and Doddridge, men the praise of whose piety “is in all the Churches," against those of certain modern sanctimonious defenders of abuses in the Church upon pretended “ Bible principles."
Our readers are aware, however, that the defence of Patronage in Scotland does not rest merely on abstract principles, but on a certain specific enactment—the Act of Queen Anne (1711) restoring Church Patronage in this country, after it had been swept away, as our ancestors thought finally, by the Revolution Settlement (1690). That the Act of Queen Anne is the true origin of the present dispute between the Civil and clear from the words of the decision in the case of Auchterarder, wherein the Lords“ find that the said Presbytery have acted *** contrary to the provisions of certain statutes libelled on, and IN PARTICULAR, CONTRARY TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE 10TH ANNE, CHAP. 12, entitled “An Act to restore Patrons to their ancient rights of presenting Ministers to the Churches vacant in that part of Great Britain called Scotland.”” We have, therefore, furnished our readers with clear and full information in regard to the nature and history of this nefarious and illegal statute (which will be found amongst the Acts in the first Tract), a statute branded with every mark of infamy, passed by the worst of men for the worst of purposes, and in the most nefarious way, and destitute of any force or authority whatever, as being flagrantly a violation of the Treaty of Union betwixt England and Scotland. All this is clearly proved in the fourth, fifth, and sixth Tracts.
The fourth was written, as will be seen by its date and title, during the continuance of the Act 1690, nine years before the passing of Queen Anne's Act, and by a distinguished member of the Seafield family. It sets forth, with great terseness and power, not only the legal rights of the people of Scotland in the choice of ministers, as secured by the Revolution Settlement, but the infinite value of such rights as primarily founded on the Word of God, and bearing upon the eternal destinies of man. The fifth, by Mr Begg of Liberton, contains an account of the actual history of the passing of Queen Anne's Act, the motive which led to it, and a variety of other interesting contemporaneous facts never before collected in a consecutive form, but essential to be known to a proper understanding of the authority of Queen Anne's Act under the constitution of the United Kingdom. The same Tract, in a more enlarged form, appeared in the volume of Non-Intrusion Lectures. It is now accompanied by a list of the Patrons of Scotland, with a statement of the number of Patronages claimed by each. The reader will see from this list, the precise number of persons whose imagined rights are ranged against those of the entire Scottish people, whilst even these patrons are not all in favour of Patronage in any