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able fallacy of applying the rules of free trade to religion-the dangerous error of leaving the wishes, the demand of the people, to regulate the supply of religious instruction.*
"The spontaneous demand (says he) of human beings for religion, is far short of the interest which they actually have in it. This is not so with their demand for food, or raiment, or any article which ministers to the necessities of our physical nature. The more destitute we are of these articles, the greater is our desire after them. In every case where the want of any thing serves to whet our appetite, instead of weakening it, the supply of that thing may be left, with all safety, to the native and powerful demand for it among the people themselves. The sensation of hunger is a sufficient guarantee for there being as many bakers in a country as it is good and necessary for the country to have, without any national establishment of bakers.
"But the case is widely different when the appetite for any good is short of the degree in which that good is useful or necessary; and above all, when just in proportion to our want of it, is the decay of our appetite towards it. Now this is, generally speaking, the case with religious instruction. The less we have of it, the less we desire to have of it. It is not with the aliment of the soul as it is with the aliment of the body. The latter will be sought after; the former must be offered to a people whose spiritual appetite is in a state of dormancy, and with whom it is just as necessary to create a hunger, as it is to minister a positive supply."
Is it not a mockery to contend that the people, who, according to this reasoning, do not know when they want, or what they want, or how much they want, should yet be pronounced the best judges of the quality of the spiritual food most convenient for them-that those whose religious desires are represented as decaying and becoming cold in proportion to the increase of their spiritual destitution, should, in the appointment of their pastor, be invested with the irresponsible and uncontrolled power of gratifying their slightest wish-of indulging their caprice, however unreasonable? The glutton, or the drunkard, whose constitution has been impaired by excesses, may, by skilful
treatment, be restored to health; but the physician who undertakes his cure will not leave to such a patient the choice and regulation of his own diet.
No doubt, we are told, that the Veto will generally be exercised with prudence and moderation, and that the mere existence of the power in the people will, of itself, work out the benefit contemplated by the Act, without the necessity of calling that power into active operation. Now, this is either a dishonest or a very shortsighted statement. The Veto is introduced, because the people's power of stating special objections was thought to be inefficient in preventing the intrusion of unqualified or unacceptable ministers. The purpose of the Veto is to give effect to a certain class of objections, which could not be stated, or would not be listened to under the former law. These can.. not, of course, be objections to the life, literature, or doctrine of the presentee, which would have been good without the help of the Veto. The form of objection is, that the presentee is unacceptable; but we enquire in vain for its grounds. He is a man of great talent and acquirements, of unquestioned character and orthodoxy; as a preacher, eloquent, impressive, convincing; in private life, distinguished by the most winning and agreeable manners; zealous and industrious in the performance of his duty, beloved and respected by all who know him; above all, he is in the judgment of the presbytery eminently qualified for performing the duties of a parish minister-yet such men as this may be rejected, ay, and have been rejected, under the operation of the Veto Act. We say nothing, in the mean time, of the hardship, or the pernicious influence of such an event. But the grounds of rejection are unexplained-no one but the objectors can tell why he is unacceptable; nay, it is contended that there may exist in the minds of the congregation, objections of too subtle a nature to admit of their being stated, and this is a favourite argument in support of the Veto Act. Objections which cannot be stated, seem to us marvellously like caprice; but let that also pass for the present. The Veto Act is intend
ed to give effect to such objections, and, in consequence of them, the presentee is rejected in the case supposed. The patron had selected him as the most distinguished, and most eminently qualified man in the Church, and the presbytery applauded the patron's choice. But now the patron is called on to present another, and yet he is not informed for what reason the object of his former choice was unacceptable. However anxious he may be to consult the wishes of the congregation, (consistently with the exercise of his own right of choice,) they furnish him with no means of doing so. To all his anxious demands of explanation, the hard, dry, ungrateful, unreasoning, unchristianlike answer invariably is, "we won't have him." The patron, therefore, is compelled a second time to exercise his right of choice, and in so doing to execute a public trust involving a high responsibility, without any new light-without any additional information. His conscience leads him to select the man whom he believes to be the best fitted for the office-his choice is, of necessity, regulated by the same considerations as formerly the second presentee will, therefore, naturally very much resemble the first, and for that reason will, in all human probability, be equally unacceptable with the first. Again, therefore, we say, that it argues either dishonesty or short-sightedness in any man to main. tain, that the object of the General Assembly's Act will be gained by the mere existence of the power which it confers, without the necessity of its frequent exercise; for the right of Veto cannot possibly influence the patron's choice indirectly and ab ante, while the objections to which the Veto is intended to give effect are unexplained and unintelligible to the patron.
The congregations in the Scotch Church have always, in the settlement of ministers, had the right and the power of scrutinizing the qualifications of the presentee, and, if they saw cause, of stating special objections founded on the deficiency of these qualifications. This certainly, unlike the Veto, was a power more in posse than in esse; and the very existence of the right operated as a check at once on patrons and presbyteries, inducing more diligence and more deliberation
in the selection by the former of a qualified person, binding the latter to greater care and strictness in taking trial of the qualifications both of presentees to benefices, and of candidates for license. But such was the natural effect of the people's right, simply because the patron and the presbytery were made fully aware how the objections of the people might, with certainty, be anticipated and obviatedthey knew the precise line of duty prescribed to them by the Church, and, in particular, the duty implied in and necessarily arising out of the power vested in the people. No analogy exists between this system and that proposed under the Veto Act. The dissent which the people are encouraged to tender by the Act of 1834, is not founded on objections to the qualifications of the presentee, but is the mere expression of dislike, arising from causes which, if they will bear the light of day at all, are, at least, in point of fact, neither stated nor explained.
After all, then, what is the precise value of acceptableness, apart from qualification? If the presentee be a sound theologian, and an excellent scholar, a man of unimpeachable moral character, of earnest and unassuming piety, active and industrious in his profession, mild and agreeable in his manners-realize such a picture as this, and for our own part we care little whether on first acquaintance he be acceptable to the people or no, because it is impossible that such a man should be many days among them without conciliating the regards of the most prejudiced, and winning the esteem of all. Should it be otherwise, the phenomenon must be accounted for, not by the unfitness of the minister for his office, but by the present lamentable incapacity, or disinclination, of the people of that parish to profit by the instructions even of the most eminently qualified individual. Indulge the mere will of such a congregation-give way to their caprice, by arming them with the Veto, and the inevitable consequence must be, that they will reject every man who is highly qualified to
reclaim them from their vicious and irreligious courses, and will at last choose him from whose apathy and indolence they anticipate the smallest amount of disturbance with whom they
expect to strike the best compromise between virtue and vice-whose love of popularity and servile disposition, they think, will lead him rather to disguise the asperities of religion, and to connive at their laxity of morals, than to labour," in season and out of season," to convince them of sin. It is in such a parish as this that the Veto, will be most generally and most unscrupulously exercised, by men who, from obtuseness of moral perception, and the absence of religious habits and feelings, are least of all qualified to judge of the fitness of a minister, even if they were disposed to enquire and consider what is conducive to their own present and eternal welfare. The unacceptableness, therefore, of a presentee, may in certain cases be the very best evidence of his fitness to minister to the people who steadfastly reject him. But here let us speak in the language of one who treats the subject with the dignity and the candour of a true philosopher :
"Acceptableness is not a quality in the presentee at all, either absolutely, as connected with the duties of a pastor in general, or relatively, as regards the discharge of those duties in the particular parish to which he is presented. He may be perfectly able for the performance of those duties in the most efficient and edifying way he may be peculiarly suited to that congregation, and yet he may be very unacceptable-perhaps on that very account the more unacceptable. When the Apostles first preached at Ephesus they were by no means acceptable; and it was not a majority of the male heads of families there who objected. We are told that the whole city rose and rushed into the theatre, threatening them with personal violence. If an
apostle had preached one hundred years ago in some parishes on the coast of Orkney or Shetland against plundering wrecks, or if he had preached fifty years ago in any one of half the parishes in the north of Scotland against illicit distillation, he would probably have experienced a similar reception. Paul afterwards became very popular at Ephesus; and we know that many presentees, who were settled in Scotland with the assistance of a troop of dragoons, became useful ministers, and obtained the love and veneration of their parishioners. Acceptableness per se is a matter not within the province of collation at all, though collators may enquire whether
the want of it has arisen from a good and sufficient cause."
Acceptableness, therefore, is an element in the choice of a minister which, even if it could be recognised and given effect to in all cases without difficulty, is not in itself a thing so absolutely desirable, or so necessary as some men have chosen to assume.
But the "act and regulations" for carrying out the principle of the Veto, are, in our opinion, productive of much direct and immediate evil to the people themselves. We cannot pause at present to describe or illustrate the animosities and heartburnings, the wranglings, and the struggle for personal power and influence, between the factions in a parish who severally support two rival candidates for the office of the ministry. We need not picture the pernicious moral effects of such a contest-effects which cannot fail long to survive the contest itself, necessarily rendering the successful competitor, even after his induction, an object of hostility or jealousy to the defeated minority of his parishioners. The General Assembly have themselves assumed that the Veto may be exercised improperly, that the persons dissenting may be "actuated by factious and malicious motives;" and it would be idle for us to argue, because it cannot be disputed, that the malicious exercise of this petty tyranny must be productive of the most demoralizing influence on the hearts of the people. It may be said, indeed, that the right of dissent is confined to communicants, and that this affords a security against the abuse of the right. But such is not the opinion of the General Assembly, who think it necessary to provide against the operation of "factious and malicious motives" among this very class. He must be a partial and inattentive observer of human nature, who puts his faith in such a check as this. The enfranchisement of communicants exclusively, may lead some men to the communion table from a desire for power, who would never have appeared there from better motives; but it is too much to expect of the common people, that the mere circumstance of having joined in the celebration of the Sacrament should render them
*Lord Corehouse in Robertson's Auchterarder Case, vol. ii, p. 229,
proof against the influence of evil passions, and should enable them successfully to resist the temptation to the indulgence of those passions, which the Church has been guilty of throwing in their way. This is to attribute to the Sacrament the character and effects of a quack medicine, rather than of a religious ordinance. Our readers, therefore, cannot be surprised to be informed that the practical working of the Veto Act, during the few years which have elapsed since it was passed, has in most instances realized our worst anticipations; and that, in more than one parish, the exercise of the people's new-born power led to scenes which might have rivalled the horrors of a contested election in the most corrupt and degraded constituency in Great Britain. But if such be the pernicious influence which the working of the Veto Act is calculated to exercise, both directly and indirectly, on the moral and religious habits of the people; if, at the same time, the situation of the patron-the honest and conscientious patron-anxious to discharge his duty in such a manner as at once to secure an efficient and worthy minister, and to gratify the reasonable wishes of the people-if his situation also be one of hardship and difficulty, tending to estrange his sympathy and to alienate his affections from the Established Church -what shall be said of the influence of this great constitutional change on the views, and feelings, and habits, and pursuits, of the probationers of the Church, and through them on the character of the whole clergy of Scotland? This is a most momentous enquiry, and, within our limits, it is altogether impossible to do justice to the subject. We must content ourselves with a mere statement of the casewith shadowing forth certain views and topics which invite and will repay much after thought.
The education required in a candidate for the ministry in the Church of Scotland-required by the letter of the law, and rigidly exacted in practice
is more laborious and more comprehensive than is known or demanded in any other of the liberal professions. Seven years of a university life are indispensable, of which the last four are devoted exclusively to theological learning, forming altogether a curriculum of study, which, unless the stu
dent have wasted or misapplied his time, must ensure qualifications of no small excellence. But this is a matter too important to be presumed from the mere lapse of time, or from the circumstance of the candidate for the ministry having enjoyed sufficient opportunities of cultivating his talents and disciplining his mind. The pres bytery, therefore, carefully try his qualifications by personal examination, before they license him to preach'; and again, on his presentation to a benefice, a second trial takes place, for the purpose of ascertaining whether his qualifications continue to be as unexceptionable as before, and whether they have not fallen to decay from want of exercise. The Veto Act, however, is not content with this ordeal. It is not enough now, that a man should be qualified in the sense in which our ancestors from the earliest ages have understood qualification-he must be acceptable also to the people. But the science of acceptableness is not taught at the university; and the presentee is therefore not prepared by his education to practice the necessary art.
And yet this is a condition precedent of his induction. Unless he can overcome the unstated and unexplained objections of the majority of male heads of families, he must be rejected; and it is too true that the rejected of one parish will probably become the rejected of every other to which he is presented. The young student, who is preparing himself for the office of the ministry with a zeal and an industry beyond all praise, anxiously enquires what is necessary to render himself acceptable, and what are the objections of the people, independent of qualification, to which the Church gives such fatal effect. Is it eloquence that the people demand, or the cultivation of a more polished style? Let him, in the name of justice, be told so, that he may spend more of his time with the elocutionist and the rhetorician. If the use of written sermons be generally distasteful or unpopular, and if the Church allow the people to dissent on such grounds, he can improve his memory by more assiduous exercise, and learn to dispense even with notes. No! acceptableness is something which he cannot acquire, because it is "not a quality in the presentee at all;" or, if it be part of qualification, then is the
curriculum prescribed by the Church imperfect, and the enactment of the Veto rule ought to have been accompanied by a corresponding change in the course of education required for the ministry. Admittedly, every man is exposed to the exercise of the Veto, however well qualified; and admittedly, also, the best qualified minister may be rejected from "factious or malicious motives." But, though there is no depth of learning, no soundness of doctrine, no purity of life and conversation, which can exempt a presentee from the danger of having his hopes blasted and his prospects sacrificed by the caprice of a mob-though years of laborious and expensive study, of anxious moral and intellectual discipline, may thus at once be thrown away, lest the "factious and malicious" among the people should lose an opportunity of giving vent to their spleen, or of avenging their quarrel with the patron-though qualifications and merit are comparatively worthless under the fundamental law, yet there is a school in which the probationer may be taught how to avoid the brand of unacceptableness; he will soon perceive by experience, without the help of any other teacher, that if he would ensure the favour of the mob-of those who, on all occasions, press forward the most eagerly to wield their newly acquired power, and to triumph in the destruction of its victim, he must have recourse to cunning sycophancy, to servile and unprincipled flattery-he must pander to the prejudices and vices of the mob -he must prefer the applause of man to the approval of God and his own conscience.
We shall be told, perhaps, that this picture is overdrawn, and that no evils of such magnitude can reasonably be apprehended as the result of the Veto Act. Would that it were so! But, granting this for the sake of argument, it is at least undeniable that the evil consequences of the Veto Act, as affecting the character of the clergy, are of the kind which we contemplate. A system of ecclesiastical polity which tends to foster worldly wisdom and ambition among the ministers of the Churchwhich seems altogether to disregard the unobtrusive but not less estimable virtues of the clerical character-to neglect and disparage learning, whe
ther sacred or profane, and to discourage or rudely to check firmness and independence of mind-such a system surely is, of all others, the most to be condemned, and yet such is the tendency at least of the fundamental law. Far different were the principles of that church government which produced and nurtured the pious and single-minded, the energetic and useful race of clergy who taught our fathers; the advantages and consolations of whose ministry we ourselves experienced, ere yet the church had been distracted by the present mischievous and unjustifiable agitation. In those happy days it was learning, and piety, and a spotless life, that secured to the pastor the respect and the love of his flock. His time and his talents were consecrated to their service, and to the service of his God; his thoughts unbroken by any dream of ambition, his heart uncorrupted by the imagination, or the practice of deceit.
"Unskilful he to fawn or seek for power,
By doctrines fashion'd to the varying
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
* And as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way."
As regards presbyteries, the Veto Act is not less objectionable. It involves a delegation of the duty committed to them by the Church, and by the statute law, to take trial of the qualifications of presentees, and, according to their own judgment of these qualifications, to admit or reject. There is superinduced on the former useful and intelligible system a power which overrules the presbytery
the exercise of which the presbytery can neither review nor control-which can command the rejection of a presentee contrary to the judgment of the presbytery, or which at least can authoritatively forbid the presbytery to take the necessary steps for forming an opinion on his qualifications.
There is, no doubt, one case in which the presbytery are still, as formerly, made the sole judges of qualification,