תמונות בעמוד

prietors, probably the least eligible of all arrangements. The disadvantage of this arrangement has indeed been actually experienced, and an attempt has been recently made to substitute for it the system of popular elections, with all its inconveniencies.

If the impediment, which obstructs a union of the two churches, be a preference of a parity of ranks among . theclergy, let it be considered, whether this preference was not accidental in its origin, and is not therefore now maintained only through the influence of habit. That ta presbyterian system was adopted by Calvin, appears to have arisen from this mere contingency, that the bishop of Geneva persisted in opposing the Reformation. Calvin indeed has expressly declared in the strongest terms his veneration for a rightly constituted episcopacy. “If,” says he," they would show to us a hierarchy, in which the bishops should be so exalted, that they would not refuse to be subject to Christ, that they would depend on him as the only head, and be referred to him, in which they should so cherish a friendly alliance among themselves, that they should be bound in no other manner than to his truth, then indeed I would confess that they are worthy of every anathema, if there shall be any who would not observe it reverently and with the most perfect obedience.” To the claim of right in the bishops, founded on a succession uninterruptedly derived from the apostles, he answers merely by expressing a doubt, “ whether that be sufficient, where all other things are dissimilar.” It is certain that Calvin, with Bullinger and others, offered to king Edward to have bishops in their churches, as in England, if he would undertake their defence; and that he has admitted that his church was deficient in not maintaining the ancient episcopacy. Other reformers, as Beza, Bucer, and Melancthon, have expressed sentiments at least equally favourable to the

+ Lest. on the Phils of Mod. Hist, vol. 5. 195...127;

episcopal order. Even John Knox, when he had declined the offer of an english bishopric, assigned as his reason only the foresight of trouble to come, and declared that he had done this with displeasure of all men. Neither was the church of Scotland presbyterian, as it was constituted by this reformer, for * he adopted the lutheran system of subjecting the parochial ministers to superintendents, who were invested with the powers of bishops; and even a form of common prayer was established by him, readers of the common prayers being appointed for those congregations, which could not be supplied with ministers qualified to preach. The presbyterian form of ecclesiastical government was introduced into Scotland in the year 1575, fifteen years after the establishment of the Reformation in Scotland, by Andrew Melvil, who had recently come from Geneva, and was impatient of the lutheran character of the scotish church.

* Spotswood's Hist. of the Church and State of Scotland, p. 156, 174, 258, 275. Lond. 1677. As Spotswood was a prelate, it may be satisfactory to support his authority by a document, which he has adduced to show, in what esteem the scotish reformers held the church of England, and how far they were from accounting its government antichristian. In the year 1566 a letter was addressed by the general assembly of the scotish church to the bishops of England in favour of some preachers, who were troubled for not conforming to the order of the english church in regard to vestments. The superscription of this letter is: “ the superintendents ministers and commissioners of the church within the realm of Scotland to their brethren the bishops and pastors of England, who have renounced the roman antichrist, and do profess with them the Lord Jesus in sincerity wish the increase of the Holy Spirit.” The spirit of the letter corresponds to its superscription, for the writers charitably desire the bishops to call to mind the sentence of Peter, feed the flock of God, which is committed to your charge ; and they

“ in what condition ye and we both travel for the promoving of Christ's kingdom, ye are not ignorant; therefore we are the more bold to exhort you to deal more wisely than to trouble the godly with such vanities, for all things, which seem lawful, edify not.” They lastly press their application as brethren and fellow-preachers of the english clergy, engaged with them in a common cause against the roman antichrist. 'Ibid. p. 198.

also say,

When circumstances are thus favourable to religious union, the mind is naturally prompted to enquire, why the two churches remain distinct, particularly at a time, when extraordinary efforts are exerted to reanimate the religion of Rome, which, however we may be disposed to cherish social harmony, must ever in a religious view be considered as the common adversary of both. Perhaps no more satisfactory reason can be assigned, than that they continue distinct, because they have long been separate, and no one has yet thought of enquiring, whether the causes of separation had ceased to operate.

A scheme of union has indeed been at three different times attempted in England without success; in the conference of Hampton-Court after the accession of James I, in the conference at the Savoy immediately after the Restoration, and in the plan of comprehension discussed after the Revolution. These efforts failed; but the circumstances in each case where such, that success was unattainable.

The conference of Hampton-Court was merely an occasion provided by James for manifesting his secret dislike of the scotish church, and his determination not to comply with the petition presented to him by the puritans of England in his progress from Scotland. Though the Restoration had been effected by the assistance of the presbyterians, indignant at the usurpation of the independents, yet the mutual antipathy of that body and the episcopalians had been in no respect moderated. The episcopalians could not so soon forget, that they had been overcome by the presbyterians, and these, proud of the assistance which they had given to the reestablishment of the king, were eager to claim the recompense of their services. In circumstances thus hopeless a conference was desired by the presbyterians, for the purpose of considering what concessions might be received from the other party. The episcopalians would make no concession, and the presbyterians would recede from no demand ; nor was it possible that any accommodation should have been then effected, for the agents of the latter declared that they had no commission from their brethren, and could speak only their private sentiments. In the conference which followed the Revolution, there was more disposition on both sides to bring the plan of union to a favourable issue, because both parties had severely suffered under the temporary ascendency of the religion of Rome; but jealousies still existed, sufficient to frustrate the efforts of those, who were anxious for a comprehension. In this case the opposition was made chiefly. by the presbyterians, who would propose no conditions, and received in silence the overtures of the episcopalians. The former were probably jealous of the doctrine of passive obedience, which they considered as held by the established clergy. The episcopalians were on their part apprehensive of affording a fair pretence for a schism of their church, which the jacobite clergy, then under suspension, were threatening to make.

The causes of mutual alienation have long lost their influence, especially in Ireland, where every trace of political distinction has been effaced during almost the half of a century. At this time, on the contrary, there are even in operation causes, which should dispose the minds of both parties, especially those of the presbyterians, to union. Both should be alike influenced by that prevailing principle, the apprehension of the efforts of their common adversaries. The presbyterians should now be sensible of the disadvantages of their existing system, under which they are actually divided in regard to the most important doctrines, and must in each congregation be ever exposed to the evil of uncertainty in regard to the religious principles of their ministers. The clergy of the established church can, on the

other hand, be influenced by no motive, except a consideration of the interest of religion, for the accession merely of the laity of the presbyterians would but increase the labour of their duties, and that of the ministers would open to others the participation of their advantages. That church too is now much more worthy of the union than in any former period, for'a spirit of religion has gone forth among its ministers, which has rendered them much more generally zealous in the discharge of their sacred duties; and it should be remembered that this revival of religious zeal began, as doctor Buchanan has remarked in the passage already cited, not among those who had abandoned forms, but in halls and colleges, amidst rational forms and evangelical articles.



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