Puslapio vaizdai


in our church, was a professor at Wittenberg. Melancthon was a professor and a minister. Calvin's successor held a professorship and a church.Dr Nicoll read a passage from the second book of discipline, compiled by the famous Andrew Melville, which, he contended, fortified the practice. They had not only Melville's opinion but his practice also. Melville was, at one period of his life, obliged to leave Scotland; but, at another period of it, he was Principal of the College of Glasgow, to which he gave a new constitution; he being at the same time minister of Govan, a parish three miles distant. The same practice existed in Edinburgh; and in a university founded at Fraserburgh, the minister was required to be the Principal. It was a universal practice then, and he could show that it had continued from the reformation till now. The case of Robert Hamilton was the only exception; and it, instead of making against his general argument, was rather in its favour, because that case, as appeared from the record, was decided expressly on special circumstances. At that time Hamilton had, in addition to his duties as a teacher, to look after the spiritual concerns of two whole parishes, and part of other two. It was also worthy of remark, that Hamilton paid no attention to the sentence of the Assembly, from what cause he could not say; but the fact was, he held these two offices for three years after that judgment, and continued to do so till within a few months of his death.-Then came the case of Arbuthnot, who was appointed Principal of King's College, Aberdeen, in June 1669, and on the 25th of July following, was inducted to the parish of Arbuthnot, distant several miles. At all periods of our history, it had been the desire of the leaders of the Reformed Church to draw close the cords of their connexion with the universities. The kirk sent

committees to inquire into their state, and exercised an authority over them, which in these days would be thought little short of absolute tyranny. In that section of the 17th century, which was counted the period of the most perfect Presbyterian party, we find Samuel Rutherford refusing to be one of the masters of the New College of St Andrews, unless he was joined in the parochial charge with one of the four ministers of St Andrews. Many other individuals of celebrity in the church had held the double office. He would mention Ramsay, Henderson, Boyd, and Smith. In Edinburgh, too, many held the office of professor or principal, conjoined with their parochial charges. As to the 18th century, the whole was still fresh in their recollections. He would only refer to the case of Principal Hill in 1789, where the judgment of the Assembly sustaining his appointment was unanimous. Dr Hunter, than whom a more conscientious man never entered the hall of the Assembly-he also held a parochial charge in union with a professorship. Dr Nicoll trusted gentlemen would pause before they severely condemned a practice of 250 years standing-a practice never till lately objected to, except by Mr Burns of Forgan. Is Melville, is Rutherford, are the Wisharts, is Blair, is Robertson, are all the individuals who have held these offices to be stigmatised as pluralists? Is it fitting on us to cast a slur over the memories of such men? To sound the tocsin of alarm, as if the hedge of the vineyard of the Lord had been broken down, that the wild boar might trample that vine which our fathers had planted and protected with their lives?

He was old-fashioned enough to believe that a university was not the worse for containing within its walls two or three clergymen. Would any man say that Dr Hunter did not perform his duty?-for that was the proper way to put the question,—that

he did not do as much duty as a professor as any member of the university, and as much duty as a minister as was performed by any of his brother clergymen? Did not Principal Hill do the same? What would be the consequences, he would ask, if the object of the overtures were allowed? Where would you get a man of talent and character to accept the office of a principal for L.100 per annum, a divinity professor for L.150, or a professor of church history for L.200? Under the proposed regulation, he was convinced the interests of religion and of literature would suffer. It was, no doubt, a part of the scheme to apply to Government to increase the salaries of professors; but he thought that was beginning at the wrong end. He would say, get your provision first, and make your disjunction afterwards. The Rev. Doctor made a very feeling allusion to his own cure-his having resigned his parochial charge in St. Andrews, because, however this might end, he would not have his children taunted that their father had set an example of ruining the church. The Reverend Doctor concluded by recapitulating the heads of his argument, and by imploring the Assembly not to break the last link of the chain which bound the church and the universities together, and which it had been the uniform policy of their reforming ancestors to draw closer and closer.

Mr Thomson, advocate, Mr Carment, Mr Robertson of Cambuslang, Mr H. Grey, Mr Kirkwood of Holy wood, and Mr Bennie of Stirling, all supported the overtures at considerable length.

The Rev. H. Anderson said this was perhaps the first instance in which a national church had to deliberate whether it would consent to cut up by the roots its ancient and established connexion with the education of the people, and

practically separate itself from those who are intrusted with the education of the influential part of the community. Mr Brown, of Turiff, supported, at some length, the overtures.

Mr James Moncrieff thought the House should adjourn, as many gentlemen had yet to deliver their sentiments. The debate should be resumed to-morrow at one o'clock.

Dr Nicoll proposed a motion, that this Assembly, apprehending no danger from the junction of offices at present allowed by the laws of the church, refuse to sustain the overtures on the table.

Dr Andrew Thomson thought this a question of such importance, that a full opportunity should be given to both parties.

The vote was called upon the question, adjourn or not, when there appeared-for adjournment, 108; against it, 134; majority, 26.

When the vote was announced, the Lord Commissioner retired, and the Assembly resolved into a committee of the whole House.

Dr Begg spoke in favour of the overtures at great length; as did Dr Brown of Langton.

Mr Walter Cook, W. S. never had felt greater satisfaction than when the act of 1817 was passed. He conceived that even now, and with regard to some professorships in universities, they were incompatible with the proper discharge of the parochial duties of their incumbents. But he thought, on the other hand, that nothing was more important to the interests of religion, than that certain chairs in every university should be held by those who are in the daily and constant practice of the duties of religion. Had the overtures been modified in this shape, he for one should have supported them; but as they at present stood, he must vote for the motion of the reverend Principal.

Mr Paul supported the overtures. Sir Patrick Murray supported Dr Nicoll's motion.

Mr James Gibson Craig said, that if the House refused to adjourn just now, he would compel them to adjourn by repeated motions to that ef fect.

The Rev. W. Liston said, that in consequence of the learned gentleman's threat, he should propose, that if such motion of adjournment were made, the motion of the Rev. Dr Nicoll should be the counter motion.

Principal Nicoll was not aware what principle or usage in this church could warrant the learned gentleman to hold out such a threat.

Mr Gibson Craig said that it was the practice in the House of Com


Dr Nicoll replied, that he never heard the practice of the House of Commons stated as a rule for guiding the proceedings of the Assembly; and he was sure that there was not a man in this House, who, whatever be his respect for the House of Commons, would allow its usages to be any rule for guiding the deliberations of this


The Solicitor-General and Lord Justice Clerk thought it would be now the most advisable course to adjourn. This was unanimously agreed to; and the House adjourned at half past twelve o'clock.

26.-The Assembly met this day at noon; and resumed the debate on the overtures relative to the union of offices.

Professor Jardine was understood to support the overtures; but he spoke in so low a tone as to be almost inaudible throughout the house.

The Procurator, in opposing the overtures, contended, that before they made a new law, the supporters of the measure should establish a strong case of necessity.

W. Menzies, Esq. advocate, at some length supported the motion of Dr Nicoll.

Dr D. Ritchie was one of those who were against making alterations. As to the importance of the duties of a minister or professor, he felt as much perhaps as those who made more noise about it. According to the reasoning of the supporters of the overtures, there must be a great weight of duty in those parishes where there were ten, twenty, or even fifty thousand inhabitants, if five hundred was the maximum which would occupy the whole and undivided attention of a minister. How did it happen that a parish of fifty thousand did not require as many ministers as the proportion of five hundred was to fifty thousand? That was a question of arithmetic, and required little calculation. They were not here to point out the beau ideal of duty; they were to legislate for men of ordinary average intellect— not for a Galileo, or a Bacon, or a Newton-but for the general rate of clerical duties; that was all they were entitled to ask or to look for. Had professorial duties been neglected? Let them look to their Campbells, their Hills, and their Hunters. Did not all these discharge their duties in a conscientious, an honourable, and a profitable manner? It had been said that few literary works had come from the pens of the clergy; and that falling off arose from the union of offices: where were Campbell and Robertson? Clerical professors had many opportunities, in the course of their prelections, on the spur of the moment, of making allusions and giving hints to their pupils-that he could say from experience, he had found to be most beneficial, while it associated religion with science. He much doubted, however, if that could be expected from secular men; and even suppose a clergyman were to give up his charge and be

come a professor, was he not liable to forget his former clerical duties? That wasno hypothetical case-it had occurred. The way to prevent that evil was, to have officiating clergymen in some of the chairs in our universities; and to remove them would be inflicting a severe injury upon the youth of our country, particularly the more influential classes of society. He thought that the disunion would have that effect. He concurred with those who opposed the overtures, in trying to pre

vent it.

Mr Hodgson, and Mr Donald, advocate, supported the overtures.

Principal M'Farlan said, that before entering into a more minute discussion of the subject, he begged to enter his protest against a number of those overtures which said that the union of offices was against the constitution of the church. In coming to a right conclusion on this subject, where could they look but to the statutes of the church? And did they not find from these statutes, that the practice of the church, from the Reformation and the Revolution, was substantially the same as it is now? The church statutes have uniformly sanctioned and confirmed all such unions of offices. A great deal had been said about a minister of a parish; that his duties required his undivided attention; and that his mind ought not to be distracted, and rendered inefficient and useless by holding any other office. He was sure that no one who knew him would suspect him of having any wish to undervalue the great importance and sacredness of these duties; but with the most energetic talents, how limited was the success of all human effort? There was no maximum of clerical duty; but there was a maximum of human power-a going beyond our powers, which will either end in mental aberration, or premature death. Did the objection apply to a

minister more than any other man? If applied to a lawyer holding a professorship, it would amount to this, he must not accept fees, or he would injure both his clients and his pupils. No man should fill the office of a sheriff and practise at the bar; nor no member of the bench should accept what was called a double gown. Mercantile men must not fill those municipal offices they have been accustomed to do. That was all truly ridiculous; but it followed from the principle which is laid down in this motion. Surely he might be permitted to pause before he subscribed to a theory, the arguments in support of which had been merely a ringing of changes. Of the importance of the ministerial office, all were agreed. It was of the utmost consequence that the people should have faithful, pious clergymen for public preaching, for private instruction, and for aiding the devotions of the dying. Where was the proof that the whole time of a clergyman was occupied with his parish? The thing was assumed, and held as proved. It had been stated that our church was behind in theological knowledge to a sister church. That was an imputation which the overtures, if approved of, would countenance and support. It was, however, contradicted by the influence they exerted over aspirants for literary knowledge. To cut off the connexion which existed between the clergy and the universities, would be to divide them into rival bodies. There would be nothing to prevent their universities from being filled with lay professors and principals. The evil consequences of disconnecting the clergy from the laity in the universities had been illustrated in other countries. surely worth while to guard against the recurrence of such an evil in our own. To adopt these overtures would be to weaken the safeguards of the

It was

church. In that view he called on his clerical brethren to be careful in pronouncing their own degradation. By these overtures, if carried into a law, the clergyman must give up literature, classics, and all personal property, for the care of it would disturb his thoughts; he must continue in a state of celibacy, for the rearing up of a family would distract his attention. They must be converted into a dark gloomy monastic body. He therefore opposed the overture, because he considered it injurious and disreputable to religion and literature, as well to the principles and constitutional practice of the church.

Mr Brown, of Largo, was an enemy to the union of offices.

Duncan Mathieson, Esq. advocate, opposed the overtures, and contended that there were chairs in the universities, which could only be filled by ministers, viz. the Theological, Church History, and Hebrew.

Mr Mackenzie stated a circumstance which had been communicated to him by a distinguished member of the House of Commons, that on a recent visit made by that Senator to a German university, where the professor is layman, he found the students gravely discussing, in presence of their teacher, whether Christianity was ideal and imaginary, or prejudicial to mankind. He opposed the overtures.

Mr Burns, of Paisley, supported the overtures, and entered into a minute history of the church, stating, that the union of offices was not consonant with its constitution, but resulted necessarily from the circumstances of the times; he cited several cases in support of his proposition. He then adverted to the probable influence which the disjunction would have upon the literature and morals of our countrymen.

Dr Chalmers begged to read an amendment made on his motion, which was, "That until such adequate pro

vision be obtained, such act shall be suspended."

The Lord Justice Clerk said, the union of offices was neither unconstitutional, nor contrary to the practice of the church. Had it been unconstitutional, the General Assembly never would have given it its sanction; and what had been the practice? There were one or two cases he could not help bringing forward. The first was that of Principal Hill, who was second minister of St Andrews, and Professor of Greek in that University; and he could affirm, that the duties belonging to these situations were never more uprightly performed than by that gentleman. The second was that of Dr Adamson. One with more assiduity than he had, does not exist. He was first minister of St Andrews, and accepted the chair of Civil History; but demonstrated to his colleagues and to the country, that he was fully able to do his united duties. He was convinced that the more intimate the connexion between religion and literature is, so much the more are the benefits to be derived. He wished learning to be the handmaid of religion; and he knew no way whereby they could be made more effectually to assist each other, than by the union of a parochial charge with a professorial chair. He was not one of those who had a regard for reverend squires. He gave his unqualified support to the motion of Dr Nicoll.

Mr Fleming, of Neilston, said, that from the year 1690, down to the present day, pluralities of professorial chairs with parochial churches had been universal. He also read an extract from a pamphlet, written by Dr Chalmers many years ago, which contained an opinion opposite to that which he now avowed.

Dr A. Thomson said, with regard to personalities, in this case no one could possibly avoid them-he had

« AnkstesnisTęsti »