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seven such professors the council was to be filled by graduates who should be members of the Church of England and subscribe as above.
4. Degrees in divinity were conditioned on the same declarations, subscriptions and oaths as were required at that date in the University of Oxford. They were thus confined to the clergy of the established church.
The third document was a letter to Mr. Horton, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, setting forth the needs and claims of the church in Upper Canada to an establishment of two or three hundred clergymen deriving the greater portion of their income from funds deposited in England. This letter was seemingly connected with the bill already referred to, and contained statements very similar to those made in the sermon of 1825, and was accompanied by an ecclesiastical chart or table setting forth Dr. Strachan's estimate of the different religious bodies in Upper Canada. In this chart the names of thirty-one Anglican clergymen were given and the whole number was put at thirty-nine. The Presbyterians were placed as eight, the Methodists were said to be very uncertain, “perhaps twenty or thirty,” and all others “very few” and “very ignorant.”
These documents once more awakened the political and religious sentiment of the province. Petitions extensively signed by the inhabitants of the province were forwarded to England, and PETITION AND RESOLUTION representations by resolution of the House of Assembly were laid before the British House of Commons, and the whole subject of the civil government of both Upper and Lower Canada, which also had its important grievances, was referred to a select committee of the House, which, after taking voluminous evidence on all the questions raised, reported to the House in July 1828. Before this committee Mr. George Ryerson appeared on behalf of the Upper Canadian petitioners touching the university charter and the clergy reserves and the ecclesiastical chart. The petitioners presented a counter chart, compiled by the Rev. Dr. Lee of the Presbyterian Church. These facts are evidence of the earnestness of the people in the assertion of their civil and religious liberties at this juncture.
In the meantime, Dr. Strachan, having returned to Canada on March 7th, 1828, delivered a speech before the legislative council “to repel the charges against his conduct in relation to a certain letter and ecclesiastical chart, said to have been addressed by him to the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and in his agency in procuring the charter for the University of King's College for many months past circulated in the public journals.” This speech, which once more called forth the pen of Mr. Ryerson, is largely occupied with the defence of personal rectitude and consistency. Apart from this, its most important elements were
the history of the bill in the English parliament in the summer of 1827, and of Dr. Strachan's relations to it; his appeal to the self-interest of the Church of Scotland; his defence of the Church of England's claim to be the established church of Canada and to exclusive right as such to the clergy reserves; and his defence of his university charter as “the most liberal that has ever been granted.” As a minor point it may be noted that it contains an indirect appeal to the “Wesleyan Methodists,” by which at this time he means the British missionaries as distinguished from “those Methodists who get their teachers and preachers from the United States.” These last he holds to be “the enemies of the established church,” because they are “at this moment labouring to separate religion from the State, with which it ought ever to be firmly united, since one of its great objects is to give stability to good government; nor can it be separated with impunity in any Christian country.”
It was scarcely to be expected that the Methodists would sit down quietly under such a challenge. The address was published by request of the legislative council in March or April, and by the beginning of May Mr. Ryerson had commenced his reply, which was completed by June 14th, in a series of eight letters addressed to Dr. Strachan. In these letters he cheerfully admits Dr. Strachan's sincerity, but makes a very strong case against his consistency, and exposes the artful character of
THE SECOND PAMPHLET
his appeals to self-interest. Once more he vindicates the rights and the loyalty of the Christian body to which he belongs, and points out the fictitious character of the Doctor's sneering references to their ecclesiastical movement toward independence of the American Church as due to his advice. But by far the weightiest part of his reply is his masterly attack upon Dr. Strachan's fundamental principles and policy. He discusses the great questions raised as follows:
1. Is an established church a benefit to the state?
2. Is such the necessary or best means for promoting the interests of religion?
3. Is the Church of England already the established church of Canada?
4. Ought it to be so established with peculiar privileges and endowments ?
To each of these questions the reply is a most emphatic negative, enforced by such considerations as these: The great work of the church is not political, but purely moral and spiritual. When it enters the political sphere its presence there is productive of evil and a menace to the liberty of the citizen and the unity of the state. History proves that the establishment and endowment of a church has a tendency to destroy its spiritual vitality and power, the Church of England herself, according to the testimony of her own divines, being an example. The answer to the question, Is the Church of England by law established in Upper Canada, is a clear and comprehensive piece of legal argument founded on the Constitutional Act of 1791, which is interpreted by its own internal use of the terms employed, and by the fact that to secure certain special privileges to the Church of England, specific enactments are made, such specifications excluding a general comprehensive interpretation by a recognized principle of law. The claim that the Church of England is by law established in all the British colonies under acts of parliament from Elizabeth onward, by the language of the Coronation Oath and by acts of royal prerogative is clearly disposed of by the example of numerous British colonies since that time, in which such claim was neither recognized nor enforced, and by the fact that when it was so established it was done by express Royal Charter, and further by the recognition of the Roman Catholic Church in Lower Canada. Finally he concludes the fourth question in the negative by showing that every ground upon which such establishment might be based is lacking in the case of Upper Canada. It is not the church of the majority, nor does its moral and religious influence justify any such claim ; and to so establish and force it upon the people would be to its own fatal disadvantage.