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Perhaps something might be said in the way of disputing the pretensions of the two first to be regarded as indigenous Scottish Churches. Certainly the Reformation did make a pretty complete sweep of the North country ; and although there have lingered (as for example at Braemar, under the eye of royalty itself) some remains of the old religion, which, like patches of some old Caledonian forest or snow-wreaths in cold furrows of the Grampians, have withstood the civilization and warmth of centuries, yet it has not been from these spots as centres that the Romanism of the present day has extended itselt. Scotland is still, in the eyes of Rome, a missionary district ; its ecclesiastics are men who draw their support in a great measure, and their inspiration, from abroad, and by far the greatest proportion of those who form their congregations are Irish or their descendants. At the same time the Church of Rome in Scotland is a formidable religious force, and its proceedings merit all the watching which our friends of the Bulwark bestows upon it. In 1862 it had a body of clergy numbering 181; it had 125 churches and chapels ; it had one college at home and four abroad (at Rome, Paris, Valladolid, and Ratisbon); and out of the funds of the Propaganda it received upwards of £3,000. We are aware that since then it has grown considerably, and that higher figures might now be given, but we have no later reliable information to give than that which is furnished by the Catholic Directory for the year we have named.
The claims of the Scottish Episcopalians to be regarded as the rightful Church of Scotland, have a much less logical basis to stand upon than the claims of the Papists. It is true that there were times when they enjoyed State support and formed “the Church as by law established ;” but there are two facts which it is not possible for us to forget, and which tend, as most will think, seriously to invalidate their pretensions. The one is that the original Reformation Church was Presbyterian; and the second is, that the Episcopalian Establishment was imposed at the sabre's point upon an unwilling people. But, of course, it is not necessary to consider such a claim seriously. It is too ridiculous to be entertained by sober thinking men for a moment. The consideration which deserves real attention is this, that in our day the Episcopal Church is undeniably growing. The aristocracy may be said to have already gone over to it, and it will be no surprise to us if, in the course of a few years, the Government cannot find a Presbyterian nobleman to act as Commissioner to the General Assembly, But this is not all. It is notorious that in all our great cities, and even in our provincial towns, many of our young men are joining themselves to this church. This may be because it is held to be a more genteel community than others; or because among our ingenuous youth there has sprung up a craving for the symbolic and liturgical; or because the Presbyterians are so divided among themselves ; or because, as we once heard a learned professor say, you can occupy a pew in a comfortable chapel, and “say your prayers [and we presume hear a sermon] without being molested,” even to the extent of having your conscience aroused. Whatever is the reason, the fact is indisputable, and so happy a symptom has naturally excited high hopes in the breasts of some of the leading men. Bishop Wordsworth, of St. Andrews, has particularly signalised himself in making efforts to take what he thinks this tide at the turn. His grand idea is the reconstruction of the National Church on an Episcopal basis. Imagining that the restlessness exhibited lately by many of the clergy of the Scottish Establishment is to be accepted as proof that they are dissatisfied with things as they are, and would welcome change in his direction, he has been plying them with charges, and pamphlets, and letters, all to show that they will never find peace until they have acknowledged the jus divinum of " a threefold ministry." Nor has he been without apparent success. In a newspaper correspondence that went on for a considerable time a year or two ago, several of the clergy (if we are not mistaken) expressed their readiness to submit to a modified episcopacy, and there are many who think that Principal Tulloch and Dr. Norman Macleod would have no great objection to escape from the tyranny of confessions and the bigotry of Scottish ecclesiastical society, into the “glorious liberty” of the Church of England. This state of matters has suggested a counter movement, of which, it is possible, we shall hear much more by-and-bye—a movement to reconstruct the National Church on the basis of its original Presbyterianism. It is supposed that among the sounder men in the Scottish Establishment there are many who view with real alarm the spread of a latitudinarianism to which they see no issue but the abolition of all creeds and all securities for teaching what they consider the doctrines of the Gospel, and who would be glad to have their hands strengthened by a reunion with those Nonconformist bodies who are more sound in the faith. The union of the Presbyterian churches abroad has suggested the possibility of the union of all the Presbyterian churches at home ; and we may
hear soon a proposal to that effect, or something that is not unlike it.
Regarding the Reformed Presbyterian Church, it is not necessary to say much. It represents, as is well known, the Cameronians, or that extreme section of the Covenanters which, towards the close of the “ fifty years' struggle,” suffered most at the hands of the intolerant rulers of the time. When William uplifted the blue banner again, and succeeded in rallying under it the heterogeneous ecclesiastical elements which he found in Scotland, the sterner hill-folk stood aloof, and thus they have remained outside the church as by law established unto this day. They have always occupied a position of high respectability. Men of universally recognised ability have sprung from the midst of them, and though in some connections they hold views which seem to us impracticable, they have exercised a most beneficial influence on Scottish theology and life, and that (on account of their high character and strength of principle) in a much greater degree than from their numbers we could reasonably have expected. The progress of events has. not been altogether without its influence even upon this stern and determined community. A few years ago, certain measures were carried in its supreme court, allowing to its members greater liberty in the exercise of their rights as citizens, but this relaxation of the reins was viewed with suspicion and alarm by some of the stricter sort, and the dispute which ensued unfortunately issued in a disruption. Let us hope that this division will soon be healed, or, if that may not be, that the small sect which has thus been needlessly formed, may find another community with which it can conscientiously ally itself.
Such a community, we venture to suggest, will be found in the “Synod of United Original Seceders.” This body forms the residuum which remained in a state of isolation when the cream of that branch of the Secession joined the Free Church a few years ago.
We use the word " residuum ” in no offensive sense, for we sincerely believe that the men who held back on that occasion were thoroughly conscientious, and we know that some of them are men not only of worth, but of ability. But it does tend to give one the heart-ache to see how the efforts to heal the breaches of Zion are so often frustrated by narrow-minded, crotchety men who cannot be made to understand when their most cherished principles are conserved, and who, while swallowing without any difficulty the camel of permanent division, must needs strain at the gnat of trifling variations from an absolute uniformity. This seems a big, and not very intelligible, sentence, but what we mean is this, that it is a thousand pities that good men cannot see (in these days especially, when the very citadel is threatened) that a certain amount of freedom and forbearance must be tolerated if we would secure anything like a great or formidable combination among the churches of the Reformation.
The Independents have a considerable number of churches in Scotland; few of them, however, being strong, except those in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee. The history of the origin of this community makes a very painful chapter in the history of the Church of Scotland. Such a body need not have existed north of the Tweed at all, except in the shape of a foreign and in-coming society, providing ordinances for those Englishmen and others who preferred that particular form of worship. But unfortunately we must acknowledge that there exists in Scotland an indigenous Congregationalism, and in the Lives of the Haldanes we have a plain enough account of how such a thing came into being. These good men and their co-workers were not Independents to begin with, nor had they the most distant thought of becoming so. But the Presbyterianism of the time, both Established and Dissenting, was narrow and hidebound. The evangelistic movement, which was the fruit of a revived interest in religion, was frowned upon and discouraged, instead of being welcomed and directed; and the leaders of the movement were driven to seek assistance from the Dissenters of England, and “ learnt their ways.” This result we can never cease to regret, because if a wiser and more catholic spirit had prevailed—such a spirit as was manifested, for example, during the late awakenings in Scotland, when the help of lay evangelists like Brownlow North was not ungraciously refused, but thankfully and officially accepted-if, we say, such a spirit had prevailed at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century, there would certainly have been one sect the less upon Scottish ground. We say this, of course, without any disparagement to the body itself. Its ministers bear a character of high respectability, and much earnestness is to be found in many of its congregations. Any church especially might be proud to have as one of its leaders such a man as Dr. Lindsay Alexander, a sound theologian, a most striking preacher, and a true-hearted Christian man. The Free Church we are sure will not soon forget that, while some held back from whom she might fairly have expected assistance and sympathy, Dr. Alexander (Independent though he was) was one of her most cordial and active supporters under the anxieties connected with that miserable Cardross business.
It is a matter of history that the founders of the Scottish Congregational Churches became Baptists; and something should by right be said here about them. But our acquaintance with that “ asteroid " is so slight, that we must be content to pass it by with the single mention of the fact that it appears to contain very nearly ninety congregations. This looks formidable, but the body we suspect is considerably less of a religious force in Scotland than it seems. No name of eminence appears in its ministerial lists; a large number of the congregations are presided over by pastors who have had no regular education, and who have businesses to attend to through the week; and the community, though it appears as one in the Almanack, is really broken up into fragments, one having no dealings with another.
The Unitarian Churches in Scotland are scarcely worth mentioning, though they do make a desperate effort now and then to apprise the world of their existence. The few Wesleyan Methodists who are scattered over the country must find a field chiefly among English people ; and as for the Morisonians, forming what they call “the Evangelical Union," it is probable that as their normal condition is excitement, they will only continue in strength where there is no solid, sound, and earnest preaching in the orthodox churches.
We must not conclude this article without a passing reference to a sect which does not appear in the Almanack, but which is nevertheless somewhat numerous and influential-the sect of Nothingarians, as Dr. John Bruce has called them. The organ of this party is a certain newspaper in Edinburgh which professes no religious principles in particular, but whose attitude in relation to all religious questions can be forecast with the most absolute confidence. Nobody knows what its conductors do believe, but everybody knows what they don't believe. If you want to promote a revival of religion, or the sanctity of the Sabbath, or the circulation of any evangelical doctrine, you may assure yourself of their opposition ; but if you want to drive a coach and six through the Decalogue, or to set up anything that may seem likely to sap the foundations of the National Confession of Faith, you may calculate on their wishing you very heartily “God speed.” On this account this body has been justly called the most bigoted and intolerant of all the Scottish sects. It is inade up of men who teach nothing-who propose to the world no system of their own to rest on; and yet, mere negationists as they are, they strike out with a blind and indiscriminate fury at everything which the best men of their country happen to propose. A very diverting illustration of the bias which affects this profoundly catholic and candid party has just been furnished to us in connection with Dr. Norinan Macleod's views on the Sabbath. We do not think we are unclaritable in assuming that the subject of the relations of the Old and New Testaments is not one which editors of newspapers are likely to have studied very profoundly. We might reasonably have expected, therefore, that when the question of the continued obligation of the Decalogue was raised, these lay gentleman would have been silent awhile till the matter had been discussed by practised theologians. But no! The end was what they wished—they were glad to have one of the buttresses of the Sabbath removed. And though the idea was probably quite new to them, leaders came out at a day's notice, showing it to be as clear as day that we are under no obligations to keep the commandments! How delightfully ingenuous ! Would that all truth met with so frank and hearty a reception.
LIGHT REFLECTED; OR, THE WORD ITS OWN
INTERPRETER. “ YE shall not observe times," said the Lord to his people Israel. The heathen did so, having dies fasti et nefasti, lucky and unlucky days : on the former of which they were encouraged to do, and on the latter discouraged from doing, what they should have done without any regard to times. To observe, however, the providence of God in the times and things around us, is commanded by him. “ The men of Issachar had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.” Our blessed Lord reproved the people of his day who were weather-wise, but ignorant of the importance of the times in which they lived, saying, “ O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times ?" We would subject ourselves to a share in the reproof, were we to be blind to the
character of the times in which we live, and the signs of them that are passing around us.
We admit the tendency to overrate the importance of one's own times. Several reasons might be assigned for doing so. The intimate knowledge that people have of them—their present connection with them and the immediate interest that they take in them ;-these, and other accompanying circumstances, make them bulk largely, sometimes too largely, in our view.
We do not desire to give the times in which we live any undue prominence. Still all whose eyes are open will admit that they are important. This importance seems increased by the great rapidity with which everything is moving ; by the facility of acquiring information of what is passing in all corners of the earth; and by the opportunities for communicating and receiving, whether for good or ill, for weal or woe. “Many run to and fro and knowledge is increased."
While men and the works of men, mental and material, are moving so quickly, everything stationary is likely to be affected by the very circumstance of its standing still. People will likely grow weary of what is old, seek after something that is new, reversing the saying that “the old is better."
All this is true with regard to the works of men ; to arts and sciences, and the modes of prosecuting them. In these there are discovery, progress, and improvement ; and whatever method of pursuit admits not of improvement and advancement will be neglected, passed by, left behind, or laid aside. Old modes of mechanism, locomotion, navigation, architecture, and even agriculture; old modes of prosecuting arts, sciences, and philosophy, have been laid aside. New ones have been discovered ; and still newer in all are sought after. Excelsior, and even above it, seems now the order of
But these observations on progress, however just as to the works of man, will not hold in regard to the works of God. They came from his hand in a state of perfection ; such a perfection as is suited to their condition as creatures. “As for God, his works are perfect.” He surveyed them all at the close of creation, and,“ lo, they were very good." The visible objects which we behold in the heavens, and the ball on which we tread, except those parts of it which man is upturning, and the changes arising from earthquakes and eruptions, are the same, even in appearance, as when viewed by the generations that are past, and they shall be the same in the generations to come.
Nor will the observations made about the works of man hold in relation to the word, the revealed will, of God. It, too, like his work, is stamped with perfection. “Every word of God is pure.” “ All is given by inspiration of God.” It has admitted of no improvement since, ere dropping his pen, the last of his apostles said, “Let no man add, and let no man take away." Where carefully preserved—and nothing else has been so carefully preserved—it is unchanged; and where faithfully translated-and, as a whole, our translation is good-it is virtually the same word as when first written; unaffected by changing circumstances, unaltered by passing events, and unimproved by all the improvements that have gone on around it.
Improvements, inventions, discoveries, new modes of prosecuting the arts and advancing the sciences, have not at all affected the word of God. It remains the same, unaltered and unalterable, unimproved and unimprovable. The language in which the first volume is written has not been improved since then, and is not, as a language, better understood than it was then. I
suppose no Christian, at least, will say that he understands it better than