HC Deb 31 July 1843 vol 71 cc10-74
Sir J. Graham

then rose to move the second reading of this bill. He said, I wish it were possible for me to entertain a hope that the House would adopt the idea of the hon. Member for Northampton, that it is the usual practice of the House not to oppose the second reading of a bill which has come down from the other House of Parliament; for then the duty I have undertaken of stating the reasons of the Government for introducing a bill to remove doubts respecting the admission of ministers to benefices in Scotland would be superfluous in this stage of the measure. Feeling deeply as I do the great importance of the subject, I am bound, to claim the indulgent consideration of the House; for it is only in consequence of the absence of the law advisers of the Crown for Scotland that I feel myself justified in bringing under the notice of the House a subject of so much importance, one intimately connected with the usages of the civil courts of a country, with the laws and practice of which I am not very conversant, and immediately affecting the discipline and safety of a church of which I am not a member. But having given, on the part of the Government, much anxious attention to the important subject, I do feel myself justified in pressing on the earnest consideration of the House the bill now before it. I do not think it necessary to dwell, upon the present occasion, on many important points, which it was desirable to debate at a former period of the Session; the circumstances under which this bill is now brought under the notice of the House are materially different from those which existed at that period. At that time what is termed the Veto Act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which had been declared by the supreme court of judicature of this country to be illegal, remained un-repealed; and one of the principal objects of the right hon. Member for Perth, in the discussion which then took place, was to ascertain the sense of Parliament with respect to the policy of giving statutable force to that act; or, at all events, if that was not the right hon. Gentleman's direct object, the speech, with which he introduced his motion, indicated no other purpose. The right hon. Gentleman, however, raised a question of still higher importance,—namely, whether the subject-matter of the veto law, being spiritual in its essence, the co-ordinate authority of the General Assembly was in itself sufficient to give authority to that act? Another question also incidentally was raised, whether, in matters where a doubt might exist, as to the jurisdiction of the respective courts, the General Assembly, as the spiritual court, had not a right to decide what was civil, and what was spiritual? These questions have been decided by a large majority of this House, and will not, I presume, come under discussion this evening. The former point can no longer be matter of question, as by an act of the General Assembly itself, the Veto Act has been repealed. The circumstances, then, are al- together different now from what they were when we last deliberated on the affairs of the Church of Scotland. The bill which I am about to propose to the House to read a second time, has for its purpose the removal of great doubts which have arisen in the course of the unhappy disputes which have taken place during some years past, with reference to the admission of presentees to livings in the Church of Scotland, and the respective jurisdiction of the civil and spiritual courts in that country. I will not weary the House by reference to historical circumstances; it will be sufficient for me to trace the leading facts. From the earliest period of the Reformation, this question of the right of lay patrons to present to livings in the Church of Scotland, has been the subject of great jealousy in that country. In the books of discipline, and in the statutes of the Church, from the first foundation of Presbyterian discipline, the doctrine of non-intrusion of the presentee against the wishes and feelings of the parishioners has been studiously insisted upon, but the statutes and regulations of the Church to this effect, have at no time received statutable sanction. On the contrary, the absolute right of presentees, duly qualified, to admission, has been enforced by various statutes. By the act of 1592, the presbytery were bound, and "astricted" to admit persons, duly qualified, when presented by the Crown or by lay patrons. With reference to persons who were objected to by the parishioners, this distinction was drawn—that when it was the minority of the parishioners who dissented, the onus of proving their objections lay upon them; when the majority objected, it was for the presentee to disprove the charges. By and by came the act of 1690, which has always been regarded by the Church of Scotland as one of the very greatest importance, and which has been designated the Revolution Presbyterian settlement. This act certainly laid down great and important principles, well deserving the attention of the House, more especially in reference to the subject of patronage. I beg leave to read a passage from the act, which I think peculiarly calls for the close attention of all those who take an interest in the subject. It runs thus.— And to the effect the calling and entering ministers in all tyme comeing may be orderly and regularly performed, their Majesties, with consent of the estates of Parliament, doe statute and declare that in case of the vacancie of any particular church, and for supplying the same with a minister, the heretors of the said parish (being Protestants), and the elders are to name and propose the persone to the whole congregation, to be either proven or disapproven by them. And, if they disapprove, that the disapprovers give in their reasons to the effect the affair may be cognosced upon by the Presbytery of the bounds, at whose judgment, and by whose determination the calling and entry of a particular minister is to be ordered and concluded. The first principle laid down here is—that no right is given to disapprovers, except that of stating their reasons for the consideration of the Presbytery; the next is—that those who object, having stated their reasons, the Presbytery are to act judicially and not ministerially; the third principle is—that the Presbytery, in giving their decisions, shall state the reasons on which their own decision is founded. The act of 1690 laid down these great principles of the Presbyterian church, and these great principles must never be lost sight of legislating on this subject. I must admit, indeed, that the act of Anne, the last which was passed in reference to the admission of ministers, is considered by some persons to be a total repeal of the act of 1690. No doubt it is a partial repeal, but there is a great difference of opinion among lawyers as to whether the repeal he total or only partial. Now, on this part of the subject I will call the attention of the House to one provision of this act of Anne. It is this, that the Presbytery shall be obliged to admit such qualified person as the patron or patrons may present. It appears to me, that in these words "such qualified person," this act recognises the great principles to which I have adverted, as laid down in the act of 1690. I cannot conceive that, although the act of Anne took from the presbytery and elders the power of presentation, and restored it to the patrons and the Crown, the principles I have adverted to were interfered with, or annulled; especially when I reflect on these words, which form part of the act of Anne. I am free to admit, that after the passing of the act, for a very considerable time the practice prevailed of consulting directly the feelings, and opinions, and wishes of the parishioners. The change in the statute law did not at once introduce any material alteration in the practice of the Scottish church in this respect, and though the patron exercised the right of nomination, the parishioners exercised on their part very great control over the admission of the presentee; but in the lapse of time, the feelings and wishes of the parishioners came to be less attended to, and the power of the patrons and of the Crown was exercised more arbitrarily. Up to the year 1784, an annual address was delivered by the General Assembly against the exercise of patronage by lay patrons, but from 1784 to 1834, no such protest has been presented. The complaints, however, upon the subject were loud in the body of the church; and in 1834, the General Assembly passed the Veto Act. With the permission of the House, I will trace what the conduct of her Majesty's Government has been with respect to the unhappy controversy, in order to show that the principle of the bill now before the House is the principle upon which the Government has acted from its first interference in this matter. The bill rests upon the great principles of Presbyterian Church Government, which I have stated, and which I believe to be the law of Scotland, and to which principles her Majesty's Government has uniformly and steadily adhered. With the permission of the House, I will refer to the letter which it was my duty to address to the moderator of the general assembly in the early part of the present year. That letter, though it bore my signature, must be considered as the deliberate act of her Majesty's Government, proceeding upon the authority of the first law officers of the Crown, and written after advice taken from the Crown lawyers in Scotland, who, whatever political differences may exist between them and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the right hon. Gentleman must adroit are authorities well entitled to implicit confidence, and the highest consideration. They are both dispassionate persons with respect to this matter. One of them, the Lord Advocate, is a member of the Presbyterian church; the Solicitor-General is an Episcopalian. Both of them have abstained from taking any active part in the controversy—both are learned in civil and ecclesiastical law. I will not read the whole of the letter, but merely passages to which I wish to call the attention of the House. With regard to alterations of the existing law to be made by Parliament, her Majesty's Government must observe, that the demand of the assembly is not a declaration of the law, which might remove doubts or smooth difficulties in the spirit of concord and good-will, fait a subversion of the existing law, and a total abolition of patronage. Her Majesty's servants have evinced no disinclination to prevent the collision of doubtful authority even by ex- press enactment, and to secure to the Church, in the matter of collation, all the judicial power which it can reasonably claim. Doubtless in times past, the right of patronage has been abused: but stringent and wholesome correctives have been progressively applied. The choice of the patron is now limited to licentiates, who derive their right of preaching from the will of the Church; who are subjected to long training under ecclesiastical discipline; and who undergo the most strict examination before the licence to preach is granted. The powers of rejecting candidates for this licence is absolute in the Church. But even after this ordeal, the presentation of the patron only opens the way to a second examination. The licentiate, when presented, is taken on trials by the Presbytery; his qualifications are tested; if he be not fit and suitable to the congregation, objections are stated; reasons are heard, of which the Presbytery alone may judge; and although presentation is a civil right, examination belongs exclusively to the Church Court. It is open to the Presbytery acting as judges, with the sense of their moral responsibility attaching on them, either to give effect to objections on cause shewn, or to overrule them; making in both cases a judicial deliverance. Admission also is an ecclesiastical act. The Church Court alone can create the pastoral relation between the presentee and his parish; or dissolve it, when it has been created. The licence, then, which precedes presentation, is in the power of the Church—the examination and admission which follow it, and without which presentation is ineffectual, are fully conceded to the Church; and unless it be contended that patronage itself must be either directly or indirectly abolished, the matter in dispute is reduced to narrow limits. The refusal to take the presentee on trials, under the operation of the Veto Act, constituted in the Auchterarder case the defeat and violation of the patron's legal rights. The statute is imperative; the presentee is entitled to be taken on trials. The Veto Act interposes an obstacle; this obstacle can be of no avail except in defiance of law; and it is no answer to say that the Presbytery is an ecclesiastical body, for this is neither more nor less than a claim for churchmen of exemption from the duty of obedience to the statute law. There is a rigid construction of the word "qualification," maintained by some persons, which would restrict the objection and the adjudication of the Presbytery to three points, namely, life, learning, and doctrine, instead of adopting the more extended meaning of the term "qualified," namely, whether the presentee be fit and suitable to the congregation to whom he is to minister in spiritual things; and in the course of this angry controversy, serious doubts have arisen with respect to the most im- portant point—doubts as to whether the objections are not to be confined to life, learning, and doctrine. I am afraid I shall weary the House by going into these matters, but they are matters of paramount importance to the people of Scotland, and I do not think our time will be ill-bestowed in discussing them with anxious attention and care. I lie under the great disadvantage of not speaking with the authority of a lawyer; but if I apprehend the matter rightly, these three objections as to life, learning, and doctrine, may, in the language of the Scottish law, be libelled. These objections are quite different from what are technically termed special objections; objections of a wider kind, extending to the fitness or suitableness of the presentee for a particular parish. I have said, that in the course of the controversy great doubts have arisen with respect to the true state of the law. I think it would ill become this House to question too narrowly what passes in the other House of Parliament; but I may be permitted to refer to the judgments delivered by learned Lords in the other House of Parliament in the Auchterarder case. That case was decided, not upon the interpretation of the important words "duly qualified;" but, upon another point, namely, whether the Presbytery were justified in refusing to take a presentee on trial. That was the point on which issue was joined, and upon which judgment was pronounced. Noble and learned Lords of the highest legal authority, in delivering their judgment upon that question, used various arguments and delivered various opinions with respect to the law of Scotland generally, as affecting the patron's right of presentation; and these opinions incidentally involved points of paramount importance, and, among others, what under the statute constituted qualification. The highest authorities declared in favour of the restrictive use of the term—namely, that objections touching "qualification" were limited to life, doctrine, and learning. The effect of these opinions, or rather obiter Dicta, which accompanied this judgment, was so contrary to Presbyterian usage and to Presbyterian feelings, as not only to create in Scotland sentiments of deep regret, but to give rise to very great excitement. A noble Colleague of mine, a member of the Presbyterian church, who was not then a member of the Government, introduced a bill in the other House of Parliament, dissenting from the narrow interpretation which had been put upon the term, for the purpose of removing the doubts to which the judgment had given rise, and for the purpose of giving statutable sanction to the wider construction, for which I now contend, as applicable to the term "duly qualified." With reference to that bill, in the letter already referred to I have said— In the hope of peace, Lord Aberdeen, one of her Majesty's present advisers, sought by legislation to remove doubts, which by some were supposed to exist, respecting the admission of ministers to benefices in Scotland, by declaring the law, and by defining with precision the respective rights and powers of the different parties interested in the settlement of a minister. In the same spirit I expressed, on the part of the Government, in the course of last Session, willingness to attempt legislation on the same recorded principles, hoping that both the church and people of Scotland might be found desirous to terminate this unhappy controversy on terms which are strictly conformable to Presbyterian discipline, and to established rights. That bill introduced by Lord Aberdeen in the other House of Parliament before the change of Administration, did not go beyond a second reading. We thought it right on the change of Government to adopt the bill which my noble Friend had brought forward and advocated. Although the present bill contains some matters not found in the first bill of my noble Friend, that bill realized our views of the law according to the most correct knowledge we could obtain, and we adopted conscientiously the interpretation of the law which was therein given. Finding the distracted state of the Church of Scotland when we came into office, we lost no time in giving further consideration to the subject, and in endeavouring to give practical effect to the principles for which we contended in Lord Aberdeen's first bill. We were deliberately opposed to the veto, because we believed that the veto was the transfer of jurisdiction and power from the presbytery to the people; it was the transfer of power from a responsible to an irresponsible body—from a body enlightened by education, to a body that might be called illiterate—from a body whose judgments are recorded, and whose reasons are given, to a body whose judgment was not recorded, and whose reasons were not given. It was the transference of power from a body on whom public opinion might operate, to a body likely to act under the influence of caprice and of excitement. Such as I have stated was the principle of the bill when it was introduced in 1840, and we are ready, with some modifications, to adhere to the principle and the details of that plan for the settlement of the question. It was in March, I believe, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Fox Maule) submitted his motion to the House respecting the Scotch Church, and the opinion of the House was conclusive against giving the power of deciding on objections to the people, and against the abolition of patronage. That was on the eve of the meeting of the General Assembly, and before that large, but I hope not fatal, though dangerous, secession from the Church of Scotland—a secession comprising gentlemen of great ability, of high station, of eminent character—had taken place. After the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, when the Assembly was legally constituted, and in full possession of all its rights and powers, this supreme ecclesiastical authority rescinded the Veto Act. That act being rescinded, and the Church being submissive to the superior authority of the State, acknowledging the power of the civil tribunals, to which the Veto Act was opposed, I addressed a letter to the General Assembly, in the name and on the behalf of her Majesty, which contained the following passage:— The Church of Scotland, occupying its true position in friendly alliance with the State, is justly entitled to expect the aid of Parliament in removing any doubts which may have arisen with respect to the right construction of the statutes relating to the admission of ministers. You may safely confide in the wisdom of Parliament; and we shall readily give our assent to any measure which the Legislature may pass for the purpose of securing to the people the full privilege of objection, and to the Church judicatories the exclusive right of judgment. That is the declaration of the true and sound principle of Presbyterian church government, and it was answered forthwith by the General Assembly. On the receipt of my letter that body appointed a committee on the 25th of May to consider the subject. On the 26th of May that committee reported, and I will read to the House the conclusion it came to:— The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland being met and constituted, and having again taken into consideration the report of the committee appointed at a former diet of this Assembly, for taking into consideration what steps should be taken as to the paragraph in her Majesty's letter with respect to the right construction of the statutes relating to the admission of ministers, the General Assembly approve of the same, as follows. I beg the attention of the House to the words which I am about to read. The committee are of opinion that it is most desirable that all doubts regarding the state of the law concerning the settlement of ministers be removed with as little delay as possible, and they rely with perfect confidence upon the intentions of her Majesty's Government. The General Assembly then, with my letters before them, have declared that they adopted the same principles as the members of her Majesty's Government. They quite agreed with her Majesty's Government as to the necessity of removing all doubts concerning the state of the law respecting the settlement of ministers, and they professed their willingness to place perfect confidence in her Majesty's Government. The General Assembly also passed a minute concerning Church Courts, which, though not an ad interim act, is in principle identical with the bill now before us; it recognises the same rights on the part of the congregation and of the Church Courts; it rests on the same basis; it proceeds in the same mode [Mr. Rutherford was understood to ask when.] The last act of the General Assembly to which I referred was on the 26th of May. The right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to doubt whether the Assembly had seen the bill; but he must be aware that the Assembly was cognizant of the provisions of Lord Aberdeen's former bill, to which I had distinctly referred in my letter to the moderator. The bill had been canvassed, its provisions were well known; they were confirmed by the letters I had addressed to the General Assembly, and no rational man could entertain any doubt respecting the nature of the measure the Government meant to recommend to Parliament, nor can any rational man entertain any doubt that the General Assembly approves of the bill before the House. The right hon. Gentleman, now, I am aware, may object, as I believe it is that right hon. Gentleman's intention to withdraw from the Church as by law established—the right hon. Gentleman may say that the free Church is no party to the proceeding. I regret, that the Church, as by law established, should lose a gentleman of his high station and eminent capacity—I deplore the loss—but the Legislature can only regard the General Assembly, legally constituted, as the organ of the Established Church in Scotland. [Mr. Fox Maule was understood to dissent from this doctrine.] The right hon. Gentleman may doubt, but he will find little support in this view. Proceeding, however, with my account of the conduct of the General Assembly, I must state that the Assembly drew up an overture on the regulations to be observed in the case of settlement of Ministers. The General Assembly has the power to pass an ad interim act, which, under the Barrier Act, has the force of art Act of Assembly, when it has been submitted to each presbytery for its deliberate assent. On this occasion the General Assembly made an overture, and transmitted it to the several presbyteries of the Church, in order to ascertain whether they adhered to it. Now that overture, in its principles and its details, is co-incident with the bill before the House. Both the overture and the bill contain nearly the same provisions, and the coincidence between them is very remarkable. At least, it establishes the fact, that the Church of Scotland entertains the same views as her Majesty's Ministers, and that the plan which the latter have proposed meets the approbation of the ecclesiastical authorities of that country. This overture is a remarkable document, but does not constitute an ad interim act, nor possess its authority. I find, too, that in the year 1833, the year before the General Assembly passed the Veto Act—and respecting this there can be no misconception, for the words were carefully drawn up by one of the most distinguished members of the General Assembly, I allude to Dr. Cook—a resolution was moved in the General Assembly, and on that resolution an ad interim act was based. This was the motion of Dr. Cook:— The General Assembly declare, that in all cases in which a person is presented to a vacant parish it is by the law of the Church, sanctioned by the law of the land"—(I call the attention of the House to these words) 'sanctioned by the law of the land'—"competent for the heads of families in full and regular communion with the Church, to give in to the presbytery, within the bounds of which the vacant parish lies, objections of whatever nature against the presentee, or against the settlement taking place. And here I would remark that the objections are not limited to life, literature, or doctrine, but the objections are of "whatever nature." The overture continued— That the presbytery shall deliberately con- sider these objections, and that if they find them unfounded, or originating from causeless prejudices, they shall proceed to the settlement; but if they judge that they are well founded, that they reject the presentation, the presentee being unqualified; it being competent to the parties to appeal from the sentence pronounced if they shall see cause. From 1834, when the ad interim act expired, to 1843, when the Veto Act was rescinded, presentations were in fact subjected to popular caprice; but by the passing of the overture in the last session of the Assembly, the Church reverted to the principle of the ad interim act of 1833. To the overture I adhere. I declare, moreover, that the resolution of 1833 and the passing of the overture, in 1843, are both proofs that the Church of Scotland agrees with the principles of the bill now before the House. I find additional proofs of the same fact in the declaration, signed by 400 Ministers of the Church, and a considerable body of elders, who declare in 1840, that, in their opinion, Lord Aberdeen's bill was fully accordant with the principles of the ecclesiastical constitution and with the scriptural view of the duty which belongs to the office bearers of the Church of Scotland. I find a confirmation of this view in the language of Dr. Chalmers, to whose great learning, eminent piety, undoubted honesty, and superior talents I willingly bear testimony. I must add, that I believe that eminent individual, whose secession I cannot help deeply regretting—has acted from the most conscientious motives and from no secular or personal interest. In the year 1839, Dr. Chalmers addressed an answer to a letter from the Dean of Faculty to the Lord Chancellor; and I find in it the following passage, which distinctly admits that legislation in the only possible solution of the complicated difficulties, which have arisen in the controversy respecting the bounds of civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The words are these:— Would men lay aside their passions and look calmly on the matter; they might see, that, as in any other case of clashing but co-ordinate jurisdiction, the contest on the judicial arena should cease; and the question, by consent of parties, be carried up, as it were, to the higher or legislative arena. Meanwhile there ought to be a cessation of hostilities between the co-ordinate courts. It is only by a new legislation, whether on the part of the State or on the part of the Church, that those difficulties can be extricated; and while such an interval lasts, all hostilities on either side ought to be suspended. This is the view which I and her Majesty's advisers take of this matter; and these are the principles on which we press the adoption of this legislative measure. In 1839 then it was the opinion of this distinguished man that hostility would be suspended, and doubts removed by refering the question to the Legislature. The two great principles are that it is the right of the people to object, and of the Church Courts to adjudicate. To the first proposition, that it is the right of the people to object, I am not opposed. I am not opposed to the non-intrusion principle, which is undoubtedly the constitution of the Presbyterian Church. It is my opinion, and I venture to express it strongly, because I have taken some pains to inquire into this matter, and by my researches I am satisfied that the inhabitants of every parish are entitled to object to the presentee on the general ground that he is not suited to the charge of the particular parish. In addition to libelled objections, which are limited to life, learning, and doctrine, objections of a more general character, and of a far wider scope may, in accordance with Presbyterian usage and discipline, be urged by members of the congregation before the Presbytery. This right of the people to object on general grounds was distinctly recognised by judges of great eminence in the Auchterarder case. I will now quote from the revised judgments of Lord Medwyn and Lord Corehouse in confirmation of this statement. If I were not unwilling to weary the House, I might multiply quotations from the highest legal authorities in Scotland; the passages, which I will now read, may suffice; and first observe the dictum of Lord Medwyn:— Suitableness or meetness for the situation may be among the qualifications of a presentee, which the Church may inquire into, besides examining into his life, literature, and conversation; but then they must inquire into these matters themselves: it must be the subject of trial by them. It is the Presbytery, who must decide, and not take the decision of another body, that the presentee is qualified or meet for the parish; for of this they must be the judges and not the people. Again, the high authority of Lord Core-house is concurrent and no less express to the same effect. His words are these— The congregation is always to be consulted, and no one is to be intruded in face of their dissent; provided it be founded on good reasons. Before the act, 1834, this was uniformly the practice of the Church, which gives to the people the right of objection to the pre- sentee. 1st. When the call is moderated; 2nd. By allowing them to present a libel at any time during the course of his trials, charging him with immorality of conduct or unsoundness of doctrine; and, 3rdly, After his trials are finished, when, by the service of the edict, all, who have any objections, are invited to state them without the formality of a libel, and though a libel should be incompetent. The voice of the people, therefore, was always heard; and their reasons of dissent, if they had any reasons of dissent, were judged of by the Presbytery. I may be asked, where is the statute which embodies this law? Where is the enactment which recognises the principle for which I contend? In the first place I answer, that the act 1690, which contains the Revolution settlement, and which the act of Anne did not totally repeal, gives effect in the most ample manner, and in the clearest terms to the right of the congregation to object, and of the Presbytery to "cognosce," to "judge," and to "determine." But no less binding and authoritative than statute is the usage and prescription of the Church, the Ecclesiastical Common Law, if I may so call it, which is recognised in the Civil Courts, and which is there cited with respect. I appeal to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Leith; nay, I will quote his own words, which lay down this principle with force and with perfect truth, in his argument in the Auchterarder case. He says, It is impossible to take the most general survey of the statute book without seeing the fallacy of any argument that would rest on two or three statutes alone as explaining and defining the constitution of the Church. They do not create but recognise an existing order of things. Their language is too vague to have been used, if it had been their object to create and not merely to acknowledge and to ratify an actual constitution, To see what it is that Parliament approved and ratified, you must look to the practice of the Church herself, and to her records; wad you must find in her statute books and in her practices the more exact definition and explanation of that constitution, which Parliament generally and by reference sanctioned and ratified. It is only by referring to the history of the Church, and examining the various ways in which the Church has exercised her judicial and legislative powers, that you can know and see what is the form and extent of her constitution. [Mr. Rutherford: "But that was overruled."] Overruled on the particular occasion, as not applying to the particular case; but the argument I think admirable, and I quite agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that we are to seek in the usage of the Church for the laws of the Church; that there is a common law which depends on usage, which is as binding as the statutes, and equally entitled to consideration. If between usage and statutes there are doubts and differences, such as I have adverted to, and such as have disturbed the peace of Scotland, is it not the business of the Legislature to take measures to remove them? This is sound and admirable doctrine, conclusive in favour of the respective rights of the Presbytery and of the people, for which I contend. In many cases the statutes do but ratify the practice of the Church. It was, indeed, asserted that in this usage might be found the origin of the Veto Act. Such was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, and though it lacked in the particular application, the general argument, I admit is cogent and well-founded. I must repeat, therefore, that when doubts exist respecting the statute law, and respecting the usage of the Church, as ascertained by the ecclesiastical authorities, these doubts can only be removed by the legislative interposition of the State. The doubts which exist are the grounds on which the Legislature is asked to interfere, and to adopt the present measure. Besides the high authorities I have quoted of Lord Medwin, Lord Corehouse, and Dr. Chalmers, I have another authority to quote, I refer to the evidence given before a committee of this House in 1834, which sat to inquire into patronage by Dr. Macfarlane. I will read an extract from the examination of Dr. Macfarlane:— What is the nature of the objections against a presentee, to which when urged on the part of the people, the Presbytery ought in your opinion to give effect? They ought, in my opinion, to give effect to all just and fair objections against his literature, his orthodoxy, his morals, and his fitness for that particular place to which he is presented. Supposing, for instance, that the people were to say, We have nothing to object to the moral character of the presentee, but we find that his preaching is not edifying, that his prayers are not refreshing to our souls; we do not think, that he is calculated to minister comfort to us in our dying hours, or to instruct our families as we could wish in the great truths of the Gospel,' do you think such objections as these ought to be sustained?—I do not think that they ought to be sustained, if they are merely stated without some reasons for them being given; because such objections as those to an individual who could be but very slightly and imperfectly known to the objectors, could hardly be considered as founded upon experience or knowledge, Do you think if the majority of the parish were to make those objections, they would not be entitled to weight?—I should think it would make very little difference whether the objections were made by the majority or a minority, if they were not valid in themselves, the judgment of which must, in the first instance, be with the Presbytery. Supposing the parishioners had the means of knowing that all the objections stated in the question before the last were well-founded, should not such objection be sufficient to induce the Presbytery to sustain the objection?—I think it is scarcely a possible case that such objections could be brought forward in such a form as to affect the judgment of the presbytery, without special grounds being assigned. If such objections were substantiated to the conviction of the Presbytery, I have no doubt that they would hesitate to proceed to the settlement; but the question would be, how far those objections were bonâ fide objections, and whether they were or were not suggested by a right motive. Would the Presbytery think it their duty to inquire into the accuracy if such objections were stated?—I think they should do so. Are they bound to do so under the present administration of the law?—In my understanding of the law, I think they are. I am not sure that they have frequently done so in practice for a considerable time. I am glad to see the noble Lord, the Member for the city of London in his place. There are rumours abroad of the course which the noble Lord means to pursue; but those rumours must, I think, be unfounded, for I agree in a great measure with the judgment which the noble Lord has already pronounced on the question. I think that I shall be able to justify my own judgment by the noble Lord's authority. I find, that on March 8, the noble Lord said:— 'It appeared to me, that if ever there was an opportunity, which I confess I am most anxious to see, for the settling of this question, I should be most desirous to see it settled; but, as I said, not only when in office, but also last year, when the present Government was in office, that if even it was settled, that the power must be given to the congregation of making an objection, that the Presbytery should judge of that objection, that the objection should be a real one, and that it should be one against the usefulness of the minister. I think a power to make a valid objection should be given, and a minister not placed if it were valid. Such were the opinions of the noble Lord. The present bill is founded on the principles the noble Lord then laid down, and the Ministers of the Crown have endeavoured to give effect to the precise view of the whole subject, so clearly stated by the noble Lord. We may have miscarried, but I venture to hope that the noble Lord will give his assent to the measure. The House is aware that the act of collation in Scotland to a benefice is generally combined with ordination. In England parties first enter into holy orders, and are subsequently appointed to benefices. In Scotland, the reverse is the fact. There ordination is given as to a peculiar cure, to which the minister is collated. There is an exception to this rule in Scotland. I allude to "transportation," that is, the translation of a clergyman from one cure to another. The respective rights and powers of the Presbytery and of the people are most strongly illustrated by the undoubted practice of the Presbyterian Church, when a minister is translated, transported as it is termed in Scotland, from one living to another. I cannot so well explain the matter as in the words of Dr. Chalmers— On any question of a second induction, and wherein the ordination of the presentee is not at all concerned, he having been already ordained on admission to his first parish—on any such question of induction, and of induction alone, the Church Courts do put forth the very power, which it is said to be monstrous to conceive as possible. They call on the first congregation to appear at their bar, and cite their reasons, if they have any, why their minister should not be dissevered from them; and they call also on the opposite side to state their counter-reasons why the removal should take effect. The Presbytery sits in judgment on these reasons; and if their finding be the superior fitness of the presentee for his present over his proposed charge, they can put their authoritative interdict on the removal, an interdict the power of which has never been disputed that we know of; but as a matter of course is acquiesced in by all parties, though to the great disappointment it may be both of the patron and the presentee. So late as last year this very process was gone through to the very great disappointment of the patron. I quote this passage from a speech delivered by Dr. Chalmers, in the General Assembly in 1839; and the case to which reference is made, is the case of Paisley, where the Presbytery refused to sanction, and annulled a removal, in opposition to the wishes both of the patron and of the presentee, but in conformity with the objections of the congregation, which was unwilling to part with their minister. This is an exercise of power by which civil rights may be affected. Though the relative value of livings in Scotland is not very unequal, yet, in some cases, inequality does prevail. I see the hon. Member for Renfrewshire opposite (Mr. P. M. Stewart) and if I am not wrong, I may state, for example, that the cure of Greenock is worth 800l. a-year. The hon. Gentleman's family exercises the right of patronage, and they might desire to place in that cure some person distinguished for his learning and piety, who had a living in a distant part of Scotland, not worth more than 100l. a-year. In that case, then, the patron could not exercise the right of translation, without the consent of the parishioners, where 800l. a-year is to be given, and also without the consent of the parishioners, where the clergyman is officiating, and where the stipend is Worth but 100l. a-year. If the Presbytery should decide in favour of the objections against the removal, that decision would be final and conclusive against the right of the patron and the presentee, thus proving in the clearest and most conclusive manner, the right of the community to object, and of the Presbytery to determine. Observe the effect of this established usage. The Presbytery refuses induction from a first to a second charge, when in their judgment it is fitter that the minister should remain in the first, rather than that he should be removed to the second charge. They look to the different degrees of fitness, and they decide accordingly; the question is one of more or less; the difference between the fitness of the presentee for one charge, and his fitness for the other. And surely the conclusion is legitimate and irresistible. If the Presbytery can thus arrest a presentee, in the case of a second presentation, on the smaller consideration of a difference in fitness between two charges, how much more is it competent for the Presbytery to arrest a presentee, in the case of a first presentation, when the sole question before them is his fitness or his unfitness for a vacant cure? I know it will be said that the legislative measure now proposed comes too late. I say that it was impossible, consistently with the dignity of the Legislature, whilst the Church of Scotland was contumacious—whilst it was in open and flagrant disobedience to the law of the land—for any Government to bring forward a measure of this description, with the hope of settling the contest. The state of affairs has now changed. The Church of Scotland, by its constituted organ, has appealed to the Legislature to remove the serious doubts, which have arisen. No man can regret more deeply than I do the rent in that Church; but nevertheless I entertain the confident hope that the Church of Scotland, as established by law, will still continue the ornament, the blessing, the comfort, and the pride of the people of that country. Its emblem is still the bush, which in fire was visited by the Most High and was not consumed. I believe that this Church retains its place in the hearts and affections of the people; it will triumph over all its difficulties; and this ark, which is freighted with the hopes and blessings of a nation, though tossed on the tumultuous wave of angry contention, will still reach triumphantly the haven of peace and security. Animated by this hope, and confident in these expectations, I earnestly recommend the second reading of this bill to the favour of the House.

Mr. Wallace

in rising to oppose the second reading of the bill, said, that great praise was due to the right hon. Gentleman for the calm and deliberate manner in which he had introduced this subject—and, unacquainted as that right hon. Gentleman must be with the laws of Scotland, his speech showed a vast deal of industry. This was a question which very deeply affected the interests of Scotchmen; and he must say that its introduction into that House on the last day of July, was an affront to the people of Scotland not less than was offered by the Act of Queen Anne, which was carried in such breathless haste, that his countrymen were not allowed sufficient time to oppose it. As one of the representatives of Scotland, he felt it to be a very great affront, and, therefore, with all the calmness that was in his power, he should state the reasons why he thought it ought not to pass into a law. In the first place, it was said that the measure was not earlier introduced before, because the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had been contumacious. Now, he asked whether or not they had been contumacious when Lord Aberdeen introduced his bill in 1840? No doubt they were. What, he asked, was meant by this bill? It was declared to be a bill for the purpose of removing certain doubts with regard to the settlement of ministers in Scotland. His belief was that the bill would be the direct and certain means of creating a great many doubts and much litigation. In the first place, he begged to deny that the bill was brought into the House at the suggestion of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The original suggestion came from her Majesty's Government and the General Assembly was induced to ask for this bill. It was brought in without there being a single petition asking for it. He denied that the people of Scotland had any desire for this bill,—it was the clergy and not the people who came before the House. The people of Scotland were too far-sighted to be animated with the desire of increasing the power of the clergy. They desired not to give such power to the clergy, however desirous they might be to have more power in the election of the clergy. He affirmed, that if this bill passed, it would lead to immense numbers flying from the Church of Scotland. It was felt that sufficient time was not given to the consideration of the measure. It was in vain to tell him that a former hill had been introduced by Lord Aberdeen. What happened as to that bill? It was kicked over the bar. The bill proposed to give all parties men, women, and children—the power of objecting to a presentee. Then too, the Presbytery were to be the judges of the objections to a man they had never heard. Any thing more monstrous than this there could not be. He could tell her Majesty's present advisers, that the people of Scotland placed very little confidence in them; but the confidence of his countrymen in them would be much less should this bill pass into a law. There were no parties, he conceived, less competent to adjudicate than the clergy. They invariably sent out contradictory decisions. From these decisions there lay an appeal to the Civil Courts. They had sufficient proof of what then happened by what had occurred on the Veto Act before the law Lords in the Court of Session. There was nearly one half of one opinion, and another half of a different opinion. After this, there was an appeal to the House of Lords. But there was an important point connected with this subject, to which he wished to call the attention of the House and the Government. He wished to know if this power was to be conferred on the clergy, whether it was to be followed by the removal of all the schoolmasters who had adhered to the Free Church? If it were, he would say that they could do more to injure the education of the people of Scotland than anything that had yet occurred. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite, of what had of occured on the education clauses of the Factories Bill; and he asked whether the whole of the funds given for the purpose of education were now to be allocated solely for those who adhered to the Church. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman, if that were to be the case, it would add to the immense majority who had seceded from the Church. It would make the people seceders or dissenters, whilst the Established Church would be the Church of the minority. The Queen, in her coronation oath, solemnly engaged to preserve the Church of Scotland, as by the laws established. He saw the Attorney-general and Solicitor then opposite, and he begged to remind them of the Queen's oath. A great deal had been said of the disruption of the Scotch Church; and if report spoke truly, the bill was introduced into that House, and was about to be forced upon the people of Scotland not for the purpose of preventing the disruption of the Scottish Church, but the disruption of the Ministry. It was said that the noble Lord who had originated this measure, threatened the Government, that unless they passed this bill, he would quit the Ministry. He said, that her Majesty's Ministers should advise the Queen not to give her sanction to this bill. He believed, that this was a most unjust, a most unwise, and a most cruel act, and it came unfortunately after a secession, when men's minds were far from quiet,—when they were in a state of excitement, and when, beyond all other occasions, he thought he was justified in calling upon her Majesty's Government to pause, to weigh well what they were doing, and consider what might be the consequences of the advice they gave their Sovereign. Influenced by this consideration, and in order to give the Ministers time, he moved as an amendment, that the bill be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. B. Cochrane

never knew a bill on which it was more difficult to form an opinion. On the whole, however, he had come to the conclusion, that he would vote for the second reading, contenting himself with stating his objections. It was, in fact, the same bill which had been introduced by Lord Aberdeen in 1840. Its tendency certainly was to destroy all the patronage in Scotland. If the objections to a presentee were allowed to be weighed and considered by the Presbytery, it was clear that it threw the whole of the patron- age into the Church Courts. With respect to the opinions of the judges, he would quote that of Lord Meadowbank, which he approved of. That learned judge said that— If objections were offered to the sdmission of a presentee, it was the duty of the Presbytery, being in the place of an ordinary, to take notice of the objections, and hear the reasons of dissent; but the power of determining rested with the Presbytery alone. And Lord Aberdeen had said— That the Presbytery were bound to give great latitude to the objections to the fitness of a presentee. In the case of a congregation objecting once to a presentee on the grounds of unfitness in life, literature, and doctrine, the Presbytery might fairly judge of the opinions of the parish; but, after that, the patron should have the right to present. The "jus devolutum" was not referred to in the bill—it did not state how many presentations the patron possessed. He did not understand whether, if the second presentation did not please the people, the right was not then vested in the Presbytery. Another objection which might be urged against the bill was, that it gave the right of objecting to any members of the congregation, as the hon. Member for Greenock observed, to any man, woman, or child. Even the non-intrusionist party went no farther than that the right should be vested in a majority. The practice of the English Church, as settled in 1649, had been referred to as a model on which to form the constitution of the Church of Scotland, but surely no one would refer to a period of rebellion for an authority on which the Church of Scotland was to be conducted. There could be no doubt but that this question was connected with politics, and it had been even said by one of the great leaders of the seceding party, that it would raise the question of the Repeal of the Union with Scotland. He would put it to the right hon. Baronet, whether it was possible for the people to judge of the qualifications of a clergyman who had preached before them twice. The qualifications on which they were to judge were all that related to his efficiency, and, among others, was one as to the physical capability of a presentee to take charge of a large parish. He would ask how such objections could be taken without the experience of some time. He doubted whether this bill would prevent any further secession of ministers from the Church. The growth of Presbyterianism had always been accompanied by fanaticism and cant, and even now it was the tendency of that persuasion to place the Church above the Sovereign. He thought that a lesson was to be drawn from the state of that Church which would go to show the impossibility of the existence of several Church establishments under one Sovereign. With respect to the sacrifices which had been made by the ministers who had seceded, and which seemed to have such an effect on the people of Scotland, God forbid that he should say that there were not among those who had left the Church many excellent and conscientious men; but why should their fate be commiserated? If they suffered for conscience sake, why let their conscience be their reward? It was true a pathetic picture might be drawn of men sacrificing their homes, their worldly goods, their household associations, for their religion, so that the spot which knew thorn once should know them not again. But there was much dramatic effect in the secession. Those men in solemn garb marching through the streets in procession with all that pride which the old proverb tells is "the pride which apes humility." In his mind all this excited no other feeling than disgust, and regret that the law was not powerful enough to punish them. In the midst, however, of all this anarchy, it was one great consolation to find good arise out of evil, for the Protestant Church was daily gaining fresh disciples. It was daily taking deeper root, and would soon be fostered and cherished by those who now wished its destruction; and they would turn to a Church which was not involved in doubt, uncertainty, and change, which contained something more than mere barren speculative doctrines, which did not wholly deaden the affections, and which had not grown up in opposition to all constituted authority.

Mr. Rutherfurd

said, that he could not avoid expressing surprise, that although it was declared that the subject of this measure had occupied the serious attention of the Members of her Majesty's Government, both in and out of office, during nearly three years, they only attempted now to force it through Parliament at a period when, as was generally admitted, so little of public business had been done, and so much remained to be done. And this surprise was not at all diminished by what had been stated this evening by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Great and momentous events had been going on in Scotland for years, the result of which was, that the Church of Scotland had been literally rent in twain. That Church had long commanded the unanimous approbation and affection of the people; but now, through these dissensions, Scotland was provided with a Church which scarcely lived in the good opinions of the minority. And had this change taken place suddenly? Had not these events cast their shadows deep and darkly defined, before them Her Majesty's Government pretended that, this measure was calculated to bring back to the Church those who had secedes from it; to restore that Establishment to the affections of the people; and again to place it in that position which it had formerly occupied. But if such were there tendency of the measure, why had it not been brought in time to avert the calamity which it now only proposed to remedy? It was strange that the proposers of this measure only now urged this subject upon the attention of the House. The right hon. Baronet stated, as a reason why this measure should now be adopted, that great changes had taken place in the position of this question since May last the General Assembly having declared that the Veto Act was illegal, and that this circumstance rendered possible it July 1843 what was not possible in May. But, unfortunately for this argument, the, had also heard the right hon. Baronet state that Lord Aberdeen had brought in the self-same measure which was now before them, with the concurrence of the, right hon. Baronet and his colleagues in 1840. He would ask, had the Veto Act been declared illegal in 1840? or had any step been then taken for its repeal? On the contrary, the Church was declared at that period to be in open hostility with the law authorities of the land. Yet a that time of the rebellion, as it had been called, of the Church against the law, this very bill was introduced, and those letters were written by the right hon. Baronet to the heads of the Church, which held out hopes of conciliation. It was not easy to conceive the difficulties which must be the consequence of this false step. He would not allude to the various topics which had, been entered upon by the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his able speech and by which he had sought to justify the course which he and his colleagues had taken in this matter; he would merely say, that when he contemplated the calamities of hundreds who had left the Church, with their families, who were suffering for conscience sake, and of whose heroic conduct their country was proud,—he was proud of them for their heroic conduct; when he saw two hundred licentiates of the Church, to any one of whom any one of the four hundred livings now vacant, would have afforded the consummation of all their hopes in life,—when he saw two hundred of these men throw down thus, not hopes, but certainties, trample them under foot, and go forth upon the world in obedience to the dictates of their conscience,—when he saw all this, he could not reconcile to himself the delay which had taken place in administering what it was pretended would alleviate so much misery and distress. And he would tell the right hon. Baronet and the Government that their delay in bringing forward this measure, which they represented as of such salutary tendency, and which they had so long since resolved on, had produced a deep feeling of injustice which would ever be remembered against them, and which the insufficiency even of the measure itself would not remove or abate. With respect to the provisions of this measure, there was one point upon which he was sorry the right hon. Baronet had not given a fuller explanation than he had done. He wished he had informed him whether the measure was to be considered as entirely declaratory, or entirely enactive,—or, if not, what part of it was declaratory, and what part enactive; because great difficulties might result in consequence of the way in which this question was treated in that respect. With respect to the Veto Act, the view taken by the Church of Scotland was, that it might be a sufficient reason to refuse to settle a minister in a parish that he was not acceptable to the parishioners and the Church passed a law of the Church, with come it of a great majority of the Presbyteries throughout the country, that, upon any objection being made, they should take care to ascertain that such objections did not arise out of personal or factious motives. The Veto Act merely gave the power to do generally what could be done individually in every case, and it was passed in the usual way, with the general concurrence of the Presbyteries. Such were the means by which the General Assembly sought to establish the principle which it had always held, that no presentee should be thrust upon a congregation to whom he was not acceptable. Then came the other side of the question, which might be understood from the preamble of the bill now before the House; in which were quoted several Acts of Parliament: namely, the Scottish Act of 1567, by which It is statute and ordained, that the examination and admission of Ministers within this realm be only in the power of the Kirk, now openlie and publicly professed within the samin, the presentation of laick patronage always reserved to the just and auncient patrones. And the Act of 1592, by which it was ordained, That all presentations to benefices be direct to the particular Presbyteries in all time cuming, with full power to give collation thereupon, and to put ordour to all maters and causes ecclesiastical within their boundes, according to the discipline of the Kirk; providing the aforesaid Presbyteries be bound and astricted to receive and admitt whatsumever qualified minister presented be his Majesty or laick patrones. The 10th of Anne, and the 5th of Geo. 1st, by which it was also declared and enacted, That nothing herein contained shall prejudice or diminish the rights of the Church, as the same now stands by law established, as to the trying of the qualities of any person presented to any church or benefice. In the Auchterarder case, the question as to the validity of the Veto Act came on for decision before the Court of Session, and again by appeal before the House of Lords, when the speeches of the judges, Lord Brougham and Lord Cottenham, were strongly against it; it being held by them, that the Presbyteries could not refuse to receive a qualified presentee under any pretence, because the statutes bound them to receive him. He admitted, with the right hon. Baronet opposite, that a great deal depended upon what was the meaning attached to the word "qualified." The right hon. Baronet said, that there were two constructions of which it was susceptible; the one a very rigid one, and the other much more broad. The first construction might be limited to the literature, life, and doctrine of the presentee; the other was of much larger import. There was something very distinct between a man having great mental culture and accomplishments, and adding to great learning an utter blamelessness of life, and his being a fit person to administer the consolations of religion with advantage to a particular parish. A very learned man might yet be a very unfit person to preach to a very primitive and unlearned parish; a man endowed with those accomplishments of mind and manner which might render him eminently qualified successfully to bring home the truths of religion to the educated and refined, might not be at all qualified to convince and console a man in humble circumstances and of lower intellectual acquirement. The Church in its earlier times adopted the larger interpretation of the word "qualified;" and held that the presentee should not only be fit and suitable by reason of his own conduct and acquirements, but in respect to his suitableness to the parishioners he would be called upon to instruct. He would now turn, however, to some of the opinions which had been declared on this subject on the occasion of the recent judgment in the House of Lords. The right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted passages from the judgments of Lords Brougham and Cottenham, to the effect that Presbyteries, in judging of the qualifications of presentees, had to do only with objections to the life, literature, and morals. Those noble Lords reduced the word qualified to the "rigid" construction spoken of by the right hon. Baronet opposite, and stated that that construction of the term comprehended the whole question reserved for the consideration of Presbyteries. They had orders to admit a qualified presentee, and a qualified presentee meant a person who was sufficient in literature, blameless in life, and of unquestionable morals. Such was the judgment delivered in the Auchterarder case. He knew that the only question technically decided was, whether a presentee should be taken on trial; but when he found such an authority as Lord Cottenham, in deciding this one question, was looking, with the eyes of a great statesman and a great judge, forward to the vast number of questions which would arise from it, he could not but think that his object was to decide the case upon such a principle as would settle the respective rights and respective duties of the parties upon a clear line of demarcation. Such being the case, he wished the House to refer to the judgment of Lord Cottenham, and to say whether this bill was a declaratory or enactive bill. Was it only a bill to remove or explain a doubt, or was it one distinctly conferring upon the Church powers which, according to the authorities to which he had referred, did not at present exist in the Church. Of what use was it to refer to the authority, and it was a great one, of Lord Jeffrey, one of the minority in the Court of Session upon the Church question? That would be to put themselves in the position of the persons whose opinions and acts had been so much run down, and who had been called rebels, when acting in accordance With the views of the minority of the Scotch judges, and who did not bend to the majority of the courts of law and the House of Lords. This House must look to the opinions of the House of Lords, and the Majority of the judges, and must receive the law as they laid it clown, not in the technical words of the judgment, but upon the principles on which it had been pronounced. What did this bill propose to do? It proceeded upon statements of previous acts, and went on to say, that, Whereas it is expedient to remove any doubt which may exist as to the powers and jurisdictions of the Church as by law established in Scotland, in the matter of collation, and as to the right of the Church to decide that no person be settled in any parish or benefice having cure, against whom or whose settlement in such parish or benefice there exist any just cause of exception. Now, it was to remove doubts with respect to the right of the Church to decide that no person be settled against whom or whose settlement, there exist any just cause of exception. Then what did the bill declare? It declared that If one or more parishioners, being members of the congregation, have any objection to the individual so presented, in respect to his ministerial gifts and qualities, either in general or with reference to that particular parish, or any reason to state against his settlement in that parish, and which objections, or reasons, do not infer matter of charge against the presentee, to be prosecuted and followed out according to the forms and discipline of the Church, the Presbytery are ready either then, or at their next meeting, to receive the same in writing, or to write down the same in their minutes, in the form and manner which such parishioners may desire. This was to be the form of proceedure in taking a presentee upon his trials. Were the objections confined to the subject within which Lord Brougham and Lord Cottenham said they must be confined? Were the qualifications of the presentee, in the rigid sense which they interpreted them alone to be tried? No, not at all. The power of the Presbytery to judge, extended to any objections to "the individual so presented in respect to his ministerial gifts and qualities." Did that mean merely, his life literature, and morals? Could this be called a declaratory measure, or was it an enactive one? Let the House inquire into this. What were the "ministerial gifts and qualities" of a man? Why, within that category might come the objection, that he had not a good voice, or that he did not preach with sufficient effect or earnestness. His "ministerial gifts and qualities" comprised these particulars, and the Presbytery was to receive objection to them. This was beyond their powers, according to the judgments of Lord Brougham and Lord Cottenham; but the bill before the House gave the Presbytery still more extensive jurisdiction, for it placed within their powers to judge of "any reason against his settlement in that parish." This first part of the act referred to Presbyteries receiving objections at a particular time—the time of collation; and it might be said, that the various objections to be received would be more fully explained at the time that the presentee was to be settled. The bill went on to provide that the Presbytery, or other judicature of the Church, to whom the said objections or reasons shall be stated or referred, as aforesaid, shall in cognoscing and determining on them judicially, have regard only to such objections and reasons, so stated, as are personal to the presentee in regard to his ministerial gifts and qualities, either in general or with respect to that particular parish. But it did not stop here, it went on, But shall be entitled to have regard to the whole circumstances and condition of the parish,—to the spiritual welfare and edification of the people, and to the character and number of the persons by whom the said objections or reasons shall be preferred. This was a very important part of the bill, as respected the power to be given to Presbyteries. Yet what said Lord Cottenham and the House of Lords upon this subject? Why, that if the presentee be qualified,—if he be able to pass his examination in life, literature, and morals, that the Presbytery should go no further. But what said the bill? Why it, on the other hand, gave, or proposed to give, to the Presbytery power to take into consideration objections generally, as to ministerial gifts and qualifications in the first place, and then to consider these objections with reference to the Particular circumstances and condition of the parish, to the spiritual welfare and edification of the people, and to the character and number of the persons by whom the objections are preferred. Now, was all this declaratory, or was it not? It could not be declaratory if the judgments of Lord Cottenham and Lord Brougham were correct; and he believed that he was speaking within the book, when he said, that the right hon. Gentleman knew that such was the opinion of Lord Cottenham himself. The bill, then, was enactive, and not declaratory. Where did they find the law which was declared in this bill? In what statutes, or where was the record of usage and practice which, if there were no such statutes, was to come in their place, and make common law? He had heard nothing of the kind referred to, except the resolution of the General Assembly in 1833, to the effect that the Presbyteries had power to receive and decide upon objections of whatever nature, conning from heads of families; and he wanted to know what law that resolution was founded upon? This was decided to be an invasion of the rights of patrons, and the judges limited the nature of the objections which were to be made. Unless, then, Parliamant was to declare law against the judgment of the House of Lords, disallowing that judgment, and inflicting a deep wound on the judicial tribunals of the country, the bill was and could not be declaratory of the law. Well, if it was enactive—if they were now introducing, under the colour of a declaratory law, that which was really a new law, which was only to be brought forward by positive enacting words, he would beg to draw their attention, in the first place, to the position in which they stood. He would tell them that from accounts received that day, that the bill was by no means such a favourite in Scotland as it was when first introduced in 1840, or even when reintroduced during the present Session. If it was an enactive measure they were bound to have had regular communication with the Church upon the subject. The constitution of the Church of Scotland was as sacred as any Constitution could be, where one country amalgamated its legislative powers with another. Previous to the Act of Union, there was passed an act called the Act of Security, by which it was provided that the Church of Scotland, as then established, should remain for ever. That Act of Security was made a part of, and embodied in, the Act of Union. The people then did all that lay in their power to prevent future Legislatures from encroaching upon the constitution of the Church. Now, however, they were about to enact—they were going to alter, because, by enacting, they must alter, that constitution. Why, the right hon. Baronet opposite had talked of the consent of the Crown to the measure. Why was that consent given, if the measure was declaratory only? It was because it was enactive that consent was required. They were, therefore, going to alter the constitution of the Church, and that with respect to the internal regulations of its own jurisdiction. They were going into the essence of its constitution, giving to it some new powers, and limiting other old ones; they were enacting, and by enacting they were changing. Now, let them not run away with the notion that the people of Scotland were blind to the difference between a declaratory and an enacting law. They were now changing the constitution of the Church—a constitution sacred by the Act of Security—without having officially communicated with the Church. What was it to him to speak of 400 ministers whose names stood signed to a resolution approving of the bill introduced in 1840? That bill, indeed, differed in important respects from the present, for it was purely of a declaratory nature. What was the use then of talking of the consent of these clergymen? They would not stand by the friends of the bill now. Many of them were off already, and had declared that they would not accept such a measure. Of what use was it to refer to the General Assembly, and say that it relied upon the intentions and motives of the Government to do what was right? That did not imply consent to this bill, and, therefore, at the very entrance of their legislation, they had committed this blunder—they had touched upon a point the most tender of all—they had begun to alter the constitution of the Church, by an act purely legislative, without communication with the Church, through its recognised and legitimate channels. But the objections to the bill were endless, and as they increased in number they did not diminish in importance. They were invading the rights of patrons—at least if the House of Lords had justly defined the rights of patrons—and he would take the liberty of saying that many people had no great dislike to the measure upon that score—imagining, and justly too, that if the rights of patrons were once encroached on, and that barrier broken down, no serious obstacles would remain to the introduction of popular control over the exercise of patronage, or possibly to its total abolition. Let Government weigh that well. If the abolition of patronage were soon demanded by the people of Scotland, or the constitution of a popular control upon its exercise, they would in vain plead that patronage, as property was sacred. If this bill passed into law, they would find their answer, and one without reply. But upon whom were they conferring the rights of patrons? They were giving them to the Church. They were giving them to a priesthood. They were giving them to that body of men which at this time of day, in this year of 1843, he should have considered as the very worst depositories of them. It was truly said by Milton, that "New Presbyter is but old priest writ large." What he meant by that was this, that no matter what might be the constitution of a priesthood—no matter what might be the form of the hierarchy no matter what particular scheme of jurisdiction or distribution of power the constitution of a priesthood involved—still the priests were priests, presbyters were priests. Their object would be to use that power with which it was proposed to invest them for the purpose of influencing the civil and religious rights of their fellow-subjects. They would try to wield such power for that purpose; and, therefore, it was, he thought, that they should not be depositories of it. The Government proposed a law taking away the rights of the patrons on one hand, and bestowing them upon the Church on the other. And was this all? With due deference to the advisers of Government, he thought that they had not well observed the course of events, or read the signs of the times, or understood the feelings of the people, But he knew this well, that those who read the history of Scotland from the dawning of the Reformation down to the present time, could not but acknowledge that there had not been simply a jealousy of the power of patronage, but a rooted desire, a deep-seated wish, to possess a voice in the nomination of their own ministers. Absurd as they might think this in England—unable as they might be to understand why his poor countrymen longed to have this voice—it was certainly the truth, that in the eyes of the people of Scotland, there was nothing more valuable, and they would bear with many calamities rather than part with it. The Scotch Church had hitherto worked well, and had been popular, because, despite of the reservations of the acts of 1567 and 1692, patronage had been very little in force in Scotland, the people had always been much consulted, and had much to say in the nomination of ministers. The popular feeling in this respect was very strong; and he could tell them, with respect to the Veto Act, that, although he could not answer for the sentiments of Dr. Chalmers, yet, with respect to two learned persons, Lord Moncreiff and Lord Cockburn, they had supported the Veto Act, and viewed it as a compromise between patronage on the one hand, and the old and deep desire on the part of the people for its abolition upon the other. Now, let, them not imagine that that feeling had died away in Scotland. Late events had given it more life and energy than it ever before possessed. In the Seceding Church it would grow and increase till it absorbed the best portion of the Establishment, leaving in its place a mere skeleton of office-bearers without a people. They were giving all the patronage to the Church, which should not have it, and which the people thought they should themselves have. What the people wanted was a popular control over the right of patronage,—that control, in short, which the Bill took from the patrons and gave to the priests. He could tell them that if the Church was to live even for a few years in the estimation of the people, it would be by doing under the rose that very thing which should have been done openly by the law,—namely, allowing the people to have a voice in the election of a minister,—in fact, giving them non-intrusion in substance. He must here re- mark upon the nature of the power which they were giving to the Church, and the probable effects which its exercise would give rise to. The Presbyteries were to consider the ministerial gifts and qualities of the person appointed, not only generally, but with regard to the particular parish. They were not confined to literature, life, and morals. Everything was to be considered which could fall under the terms "ministerial gifts and qualities." They were to have regard, too,—let the House well consider this,—to the circumstances and condition of the parish, and what was more extraordinary than all, they were to consider the number and character of the objectors; so that if twelve or twenty objectors came forward. the first thing to be considered was, not merely the objections themselves, whether in themselves they were good or bad, but the character of the objectors. By this method of proceeding, an objection might be reckoned a good one if proceeding from a good man, but a bad one, and one not to be taken into account, if brought forward by an unprincipled person. The Presbytery was to be called upon to institute a strict judicial examination into the life, character, manners, and conversation of those who made any objections. An objection from A. B. might be a good one, if A. B. was a good man, but if, on the contrary, A. B. had been known to swear, to talk loosely, if he did not attend church regularly, if he buried his child on a Sunday—for that was a great offence in Scotland—then A. B. 's objection, however strong in itself, was nought. They proposed to give the Presbytery power to go into deep considerations affecting a man's character,—affecting the happiness of his family. Was there ever such a measure? At this time of day, were they going to arm the Presbyteries with this general power of inquisition into the life of any person who might state objections? They were not to consider the objections, but go out of the way to consider the objectors; and they not only empowered the Presbyteries to do so, but enjoined upon them this unconstitutional duty. He did think that this was a most extraordinary law to be proposed. Looking at the 2d section, it was difficult to see what it meant. It looked as if certain words had been taken out of another section, and which did not stand well in juxtaposition with the rest. Perhaps, indeed, that was the history of the clause, and if this House had the votes of the other House of Parliament, that might possibly appear; at all events it looked very like it. But these were comparatively minor events, though the last objection he had made went to the essence of the measure. He did submit that Members would best discharge their duty to the Legislature, as well as act in a way most acceptable to the people of Scotland, by voting for the motion of the hon. Member for Greenock. He insisted on it, the bill was brought forward a great deal too late. They should not have waited till a calm came before they poured what oil they had on the waters. If the measure were intended as one of conciliation, it should have been taken earlier. He objected to it farther, in this respect, that if considered a declaratory measure, it was inconsistent with the judgment in the Auchterarder case. If it was enacting, he objected to it on every ground on which such a measure could be opposed. He thought it invaded the right of patronage. He thought that in doing so they had created new powers and given them to the Church, which should never be made the depository of them. Legislative interposition was required to put the patronage in other hands. In the hands of the people. Until it was vested in the people, or somehow or other placed under popular control, the Scotch would never be satisfied with the constitution of the Church. They were acting blindly if they supposed that they would render those remaining in the Church more popular by this measure. The only effect of it would be to deprive the Church of any small claim it might have on the affections of the people. He was persuaded it would only lead to further secession, and excite still more those feelings of bitterness which are already too widely spread, too deeply impressed throughout Scotland.

The Solicitor-General

owed an apology to the House for addressing them after the able and eloquent speech of his right hon. and learned Friend, feeling that he had not the same personal acquaintance with the habits and the feelings of the people of Scotland or with the law of the subject; but he might perhaps be pardoned a few observations in defence of the bill. His right hon. and learned Friend had alleged that it had been brought in too late, that a fatal secession had already taken place of a great many ministers from the church, that it was idle to attempt now to win them back, and that the Government had stupidly gazed on the discussions and the disagreements which had issued in this secession without, till too late, attempting to settle the question. Now the bill had not been introduced with the hope or the expectation of bringing back any considerable number of those who had seceded from the church, who, if they retained the views which they had stated in the papers laid before the House, when last Session their case was brought forward by the right hon. Member for Perth, it was impossible that this bill, or any other likely to be introduced by any Government, would satisfy them. What were their claims? They included the total destruction of patronage in Scotland. [Cries of "No."] Certainly this had been understood; and that another claim even more important had been put forward by this party, namely, that the church was not bound to pay obedience to the law ["No;"] that they had a right to canvass the intentions of the Legislature in enacting laws, and exercise discretion as to their observance of them. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should observe also, that he involved the late Government in his accusation of having stupidly gazed on the dissensions that had taken place. But it was utterly impossible for the past Government or for the present to have introduced any measure at all satisfying claims such as those he had just stated. The church, however, was now governed by more moderate counsels; and it was a question for anxious consideration whether it were not the duty of the Government to introduce some measure to remove doubts and difficulties which yet hung over the important subject of the right of presentation. With that object the bill had been introduced, and with the assent of the present General Assembly. His right hon. and learned Friend had entered much into the Auchterarder case, and had repeated some of the arguments he had urged at the bar of the Lords as an advocate in that case. However, he should only advert to that ease to exhibit the doubts and difficulties which had arisen on it. His right hon. Friend had said, that the judgment in that case was inconsistent with this bill. Now he doubted, whether it followed because the Lords had delivered a correct judgment, the law thus declared should not be altered. The measure might have been objectionable had it professed to be declaratory, and declared the law laid down by the Lords to have been had law; but surely there could be no reason for not removing doubts and difficulties which embarrassed the law so delivered? The question as to that case was wholly dististinct from the proposed measure, and although aware it was not at all a palatable, it was so important a part of the subject, that he could not avoid adverting to it. Without entering too minutely into it, every one knew that at the time of the Reformation there was an attempt to get rid of patronage in Scotland, and to place the appointments of preachers in the hands of the people; an attempt however, which the statutes of Scotland showed to have been unsuccessful. Some of those statutes were referred to in the preamble of the bill; more especially, that establishing presbytery in Scotland in 1690, reserving the rights of patrons. The question now turned in truth upon certain dicta of the judges in the Lords, not at all necessary to the decision pronounced in the Auchterarder case, but on a matter wholly distinct from it. The act of Anne had repealed the act of 1690, which vested the right of presentation in the heritors and elders, who should Present to the congregation to be approved or disapproved, and if the congregation disapproved, the disapprovers were to give in their reasons to the intent that the matter might be cognosced upon by the presbytery, by whose judgment the minister was to be approved or rejected. He thought he could show, not merely from the opinions of the opponents, but of the supporters of the Auchterarder judgment, that this had been the law of Scotland as to objections to presentees. He ventured not to express any opinion of his own on the Scotch law; he only wished to show that doubts and difficulties existed on the question. The Act of 1690 continued in force only till 1711, when it was repealed in rather an extraordinary manner. It only repealed, in fact, that part which related to the right of presentation by the heritors and elders: it was not a general repealing statute; and after restoring the patron's right, it had this proviso:— That the Presbyteries shall admit such qualified persons as shall be presented by the respective patrons, and as ministers that had been presented before the act ought to have been admitted. Now, his right hon. Friend had said this could not be the law if the Veto Act were illegal. He differed from his right hon. Friend decidedly on that point. What was the Veto Act? That the majority of heads of families in a congregation might, by their mere dissent from an appointment, procure the rejection of the presentee; not leaving it to the presbytery to decide, but interposing between the patron and the presbyteries a power unknown before. The decision of the Lords was, that this was an infringement upon the rights of the patron. His right hon. Friend had referred to the opinions of Lord Cottenham, who, in his judgment, let it be remarked, had said— It has been suggested that the Act of 1711, in enacting that the Presbyteries shall admit persons presented as before the Act, intended to observe the forms prescribed by the Act of 1690, and enable the congregations to state objections for the consideration of the Presbyteries, and liable to be overruled by their decision. If that be so, it would not affect the present question. That part of the provisions of the Act of 1690 would be consistent with what has often been contended for, and what in form, at least, prevails in ordinations. … "It would only add facilities to the Piesbyteries. So that the noble and learned Lord did not hold the illegality of the Veto Act inconsistent with the law as to objections being for the congregations, and the decision being with the presbyteries. The noble and learned Lord, indeed, had expressed an opinion as to objections being confined to qualifications in "life, literature, and doctrine." But he did not rest his judgment upon that. It was on the illegality of the Veto Act that the noble and learned Lord had relied, and had only adverted to the other point in following the argument at the Bar, and tracing the history of the "Book of Discipline." In this difficulty and this doubt, then, it was necessary that some act should be passed; and he had not heard his right hon. Friend venture to affirm that the usage of Scotland was not, and had not been, in accordance with the law so alleged. He believed that at all events the general impression in Scotland was, that the obiter dicta of the noble and learned Lords in the Auchterarder case, had been inconsistent with the law of Scotland. It would, of course, be presumptuous in him to give any opinion of his own on the point; but he could state that those judges in Scotland who had decided against the Veto Act, had affirmed the usage to have been as he had alluded to. Lord Medwin said, Suitableness to the parish is one of the grounds of objection. Lord Justice Clerk said— The important right of collation possessed by the Church in so far as it includes the sole right of pronouncing on objections, is by the Act of 1833 surrendered to the 'majority of heads of families' in the congregations, whose dissent, without any examination of reasons, is declared sufficient ground for rejection, although the Church in all its judicatories had hitherto always maintained the right of deciding." "The great advantage of this was, that while no man would be inducted without the sanction of the Church, after hearing every ground of objection urged by the people, neither could any one be arbitrarily rejected, without an opportunity being afforded to the Church of ascertaining the validity of objections urged, and seeing that they were not founded on mere causeless prejudices. This was concurred in by Lord Meadow-bank, Lord Mackenzie, and Lord Core-house, whose letter, which it had been alleged was against such a view of the law, was to the following effect:— That objections before the church courts might be urged not only as to life, literature, and doctrine, but likewise on some other grounds recognised by law, as unsuitableness in point of utterance, &c., or other causes tending to depreciate his ministration in the particular parish, ignorance of the language of the majority, unavoidable connection with secular business, &c.; but I never held, that the unacceptableness of the presentee to the parishioners, or his not preaching according to their views of the 'edifying,' were relevant objections. That was the statement of Lord Core-house in his letter; but in his judgment in the court below he said that the people had had the opportunities of making objections. What he stated in his letter was, that unacceptableness alone he never considered a disqualification. Nor did this bill do so; but it required that the parishioners should state their reasons, and the Presbytery should decide upon the matter. If doubts were allowed to remain the effect would be, that litigation would again occur in Scotland, and there would be other appeals to the House of Lords. At present the people were in a state of uncertainty as to what course was to be taken. It was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite that it was clear that this measure, upon the point of qualification, was inconsistent with the statute law. He could not come to that conclusion, because the words of the statute law pointed to the same words in this measure as to qualification. Take the statute of George 1st. In that it was declared— That nothing therein contained should prejudice or diminish the rights of the Church as the law then stood, with respect to the trying of the qualifications of any person presented to any Church or benefice. If, therefore, he could find that since the establishment of the Presbyterian religion in Scotland the Presbytery had been in the habit, upon a person being presented to a benefice, not only of examining into the life, learning, and doctrine properly the subject of jurisdiction in the ecclesiastical courts, but also of hearing objections to the suitableness of the person for any particular benefice or parish. The end of this measure would not be inconsistent with that statute of George 1st. With respect to analogy between the English Bishops and the Scotch Presbytery, he thought none such could be drawn, and that the practice in England was no fair criterion for Scotland. Finding that the General Assembly of 1833 was of opinion that an act should be passed the same in substance with that now before the House—namely, allowing the parishioners to object and the Presbytery to decide; and, feeling that it was the wish of the Church of Scotland and of the people of Scotland now in communion with the Church that this matter should be settled, the only question appeared to him to be in what way it should be done. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said, "If you alter it at all, give the right to the people." He could not help thinking that that would be most injudicious. They had had some experience in that House of such a course, and he himself had had some personal experience upon the same point. In this country there are some livings in the hands of the parishioners, and he knew nothing that it would be better to avoid or remove than that. Then, again, the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether this was a declaratory or enacting bill. He (the Solicitor-general) answered, that it was a bill to remove doubts that now existed in Scotland. Let them call it if they would a declaratory or enacting bill; it was in substance a bill to remove doubts, and to make provisions for carrying into effect what the Legislature had declared should be in future the law of Scotland. It might be declaratory, although it did not contain the word "declare," and it might be enacting, although such a word was used, The word "declare," however, was used only in one clause of this measure, and it was clear that as that clause was an enacting clause, the same as the other clauses, it was an enacting measure. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, why not see what the General Assembly of Scotland said as to an enacting law, and then the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to fall back upon the same ground he took in the early part of the Session as to the rights of the Church, and to imply that since the Act of Union it was not in the power of the Imperial Parliament to pass this measure; but if he understood rightly the papers that had been laid before the House, the General Assembly were perfectly aware of the substance and importance of this measure, and had expressed their approbation of it. He must, moreover, say he was astonished at the right hon. and learned Gentleman's assertion that this bill was to give new powers to the Church when he supported the power of the Assembly to pass the Veto Act. It was for these reasons he should give his support to the second reading of the bill. He much regretted the secession that had taken place, but he hoped the blow that had been given by it to the Church of Scotland would not be fatal, and that the Church, under good counsels, would go on harmoniously with the other constituted authorities of the country, and the people of Scotland long enjoy the advantage of the learning and piety of her ministers.

Lord J. Russell

said, that nothing which had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman had in any material degree diminished the force of those objections which had been urged by his right hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Leith. He never heard, in a case of this kind, a speech which contained arguments more solid, or which required a greater weight of argument to overthrow it. He had waited with much anxiety to hear what defence a gentleman of such acknowledged learning and undoubted ability as the So-licitor-general could make of the bill before the House, and he was sorry to say that he had been disappointed. When he found such a man as the Solicitor-general fail in the task which he had undertaken, it confirmed him in the opinion he had formed, that there was something in this bill so indefensible, that the House ought not to give its consent to it. It was with some alarm he heard some of the grounds for passing the bill urged by a gentleman so high in the law, and so high in the State as the hon. and learned Solicitor-general. Some of the highest judges of the land, sitting in the Supreme Court of Appeal, had expressed their belief that the bill, as far as it was declaratory, was contrary to the law of Scotland. What was the answer to that; Why, merely, that judges of inferior courts, from which appeal was made, had, in certain parts of their judgments, expressed opinions contradictory of those given by Lords Cottonham and Brougham sitting in the highest court of appeal. Upon similar grounds, a bill might be introduced to reverse any decision which Lord Lyndhurst might give adverse to the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland. The Solicitor-general seemed, in one part of his speech, to doubt whether the bill was contradictory of the judicial opinions of Lord Cottenham. A protest had been entered on the journals of the House of Lords, which was not unknown to the country. Now, the first ground on which that protest rested was, that the bill declared that to be the law of Scotland which was not the law of Scotland. The protest was signed by Lord Cottenham, Lord Campbell, and Lord Langdale; and he was informed, that Lord Cottenham had received a letter from Lord Denman, informing him that nothing but his absence from town had prevented him from signing the protest. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not deny that the word was used, but made this excuse for it—that the word "declare" would frequently mean "declare" when they meant to enact, and "enact" when they meant to declare. The less they followed that practice, and the more precise they were in that respect the better. When they declared the law, they ought to declare that which the two Houses of Parliament believed to be the raw. All he could say was, that if precedents of that kind existed, they ought to be avoided. When the law was declared, it ought to be what Parliament believed to be the law. The Solicitor-general had told the House to beware how it altered a bill of this kind when it came down from the Lords; but he must confess that the conduct of the House of Lords, in passing the bill, did not tend to remove the apprehension with which he regarded it. Lords Cottenham and Brougham had pronounced their decision on the law of the case, after great deliberation, without any political views, and with no other object except that of doing what in their consciences they believed to be just and right. That decision had been overthrown by a political majority of the House of Lords, who wished to express their approbation of the conduct of the Government, and particularly of the Minister who presided over foreign affairs, and were anxious to give that noble Lord the strongest possible proof of their confidence in the wisdom with which he conducted foreign negotiations, and they, therefore, declared that to be law which Lord Cottenham had solemnly pronounced not to be law. Under these circumstances, he could not help thinking that the declaratory part of the bill established a most dangerous precedent. The declaratory and enacting part of the bill were connected in a curious manner. It was declared to be the law of Scotland, that any person might object to a presentee, and that the Presbytery might direct him to preach, on his trials, a certain number of times, and there the declaratory part of the bill ended. So that, according to the bill, there existed the power of objection on the part of the parishioners, but no power of deciding upon the objection in any quarter. The bill then goes on to enact a new law, and the argument of his right hon. and learned Friend was so conclusive on this point, that he was almost ashamed to touch upon it himself. His right hon. and learned Friend had told the House that objection might be taken to a presentee by persons who were not present at his trials. The noble Lord read the words of the clause which referred to this point. It appeared to him, that this clause gave a dangerous power to the Church. The hon. and learned Solicitor-General did not, after all, state whether he thought the act 1711 repealed the act of 1690, but Lords Brougham and Cottenham expressed a strong opinion that it did. As the bill now stood, any members of a congregation, in number not more than three or four, had the power of objecting to a presentee. If it had been proposed, that the majority of the congregation should exer- cise the power of objection, he could have perceived some propriety in it; but if a congregation consisted of a thousand heads of families, of whom 997 approved of the presentee, was it not absurd to give the power of objecting to three dissatisfied persons? He feared that such a power might be perverted to promote the objects of a high Church party, and to oppress clergymen of liberal character. He was opposed to the bill both in its declaratory and its enacting character. It was said, that the bill was to settle the Church of Scotland. What Church was it to settle? As to those who had seceded from the Church, he thought that the Government might have proposed to them, before they left the Church, such terms as they thought fit and proper. It was probable that they would have rejected those terms, but still the Government would have enjoyed the advantage which would have resulted from the knowledge of their having made every concession which was consistent with the supremacy of the law. He was informed, that a great number of those who remained in the Church were opposed to the bill. A notion had been entertained, that what was called an interim act, resembling the present bill, had been passed by the General-Assembly; but he learnt from Edinburgh, that was not the fact, it was very different from the fact; and that there were many who considered the bill not only not beneficial, but highly injurious to the Church of Scotland. Having already lost a large and valuable majority by the late secession from the Church, they should take care not to press forward a measure which, instead of conciliating the remainder, would be calculated to engender fresh divisions. It would be far better and more discreet not to legislate at all than to legislate in such a manner as would only tend to create a new breach in the Establishment. All that had taken place was this,—on the day on which the Assembly sat, a gentleman brought up a report of a committee, which was ordered to be sent to the Presbyteries, and to be taken into consideration at the next meeting of the Assembly. He was informed, that members of the Assembly, who had seen the bill in its amended form, thought it would be injurious instead of beneficial to the Church. He believed, that the bill would create dissensions amongst those who still remained attached to the Church. They would only create a new breach in the Church of Scotland, and expose it to this further danger, that in bringing forward this bill to conciliate what might be called the high Church party, they would be separating the Church of Scotland from the people even more than was at present the case, so that some years hence they would find nothing on one side but a clergy putting forward claims as large as had ever been contended for by the Popes, and on the other side they would find the great body of the people filling the Free Churches. They might then, indeed say, that the Established Church of Scotland had become useless, and the people of Scotland themselves would come forward to demand the abolition of a Church which had done so much good in its time to the country.

Sir G. Clerk

said, that he, in common with those who had preceded him, deeply deplored the calamity which had fallen upon the Church of Scotland; but he felt it to be the bounden and imperative duty of the House to come forward with some legislative measure, to alleviate, as much as possible, the consequences of that calamity. It had been asked, why, if they intended to legislate, they had not done so at an earlier period? He did not think there was any ground for the censure implied by that question. He begged to remind the House, that as far back as the year 1840, his noble Friend, the author of this bill, was so deeply impressed with the necessity of averting the calamity which he saw was then approaching, that upon ascertaining the then Government had no intention to bring forward a measure on the subject, he did, as an individual Member of the other House of Parliament, bring in a measure to effect that object. But the General Assembly was as contumacious as it had been in the Auchterarder case. The bill of his noble Friend was submitted to the General Assembly. It was disapproved of by a majority of that body as then constituted, because they did not think it went far enough in giving weight to the objections of the people, and as being restrictive in its character and interfering with the rights of the Church. It was said, that the bill as then framed, did not go so far as the recommendations of Dr. Cook in 1833. Having been himself a Member of the General Assembly at the time, he had endeavoured to satisfy them that that bill gave them the same powers as they had had under the act of 1690. He was told, that if such were the case, they would gladly accept any such measure. He thought the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was mistaken in thinking, that under the act of 1690, it was necessary the whole congregation should come forward to state their objections. The disapprovers, be they many or be they few, were bound to state their objections. He had always understood it to be the wish of the people of Scotland to revert to the act of 1690, and that their objection was to Anne's statute of 1711. This opinion appeared to him to be supported by the opinion of Sir H. Moncreiff, who seemed to think that the provisions of the act of 1690 would be satisfactory to the Scottish clergy. He agreed in the opinion which had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general—an opinion which was entertained by many people in Scotland—that there was considerable doubt whether the act of 1711 totally repealed the act of 1690, or whether, taking the plain sense and meaning of the enactment, it repealed only so much of that act as related to the presentation of Ministers. He contended that there was nothing in the bill now before the House which gave the Church greater power than they possessed under the act of 1690. A large party in the Church had always contended that the Church had the power of entertaining any objections raised to a presentee by any members of his congregation, and in 1838 a proposition to that effect had been brought forward by the moderate party. It had been asked why legislate now after a schism had taken place, and it was said if any intention had existed of legislating, why not legislate last year? He must be permitted to call the attention of the House to the state of the case. A motion was made early in the Session by a right hon. Member on the opposite side of the House, calling the attention of the House to the unfortunate position of the Scotch Church, and praying for some inquiry; and he rather thought some reproach was thrown on the Government for not showing a disposition to take any steps to settle the unhappy differences by which that Church was divided. In reply to this, his right hon. Friend, Sir J. Graham, stated, that if any reason existed for supposing that the dominant party in the Church of Scotland would have consented to a compromise, the Government would have been prepared to introduce a bill; but, as such was not the case, the Government was unwilling to engage in fruitless legislation. The hon. Gentleman then stated, that if he considered the dominant party would accept such terms as he could propose with any chance of success, he should be ready to bring in a bill, and the Member for Argyleshire subsequently brought in a bill which was afterwards withdrawn; but why? Because the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had received an intimation from Scotland which led him to believe, that a bill embodying the principle of the one now on the Table, would meet with the approbation of a large party in the Church. Then came the memorial of the General Assembly, calling for the abolition of all patronage, stating that no measure of this sort would give satisfaction. Of course it would have been perfectly idle to think of conciliating those who insisted on such extreme views as the entire and immediate abolition of patronage, and who on that account were prepared to abandon the Church; but he entertained hopes that the proposed bill would have the effect of bringing back to the establishment many of those clergymen who had seceded on conscientious grounds. In addition to this, it would remove doubts at present existing as to the power of the Church to give weight to the objections of the people, and fix the manner in which these objections were to be received. He also felt confident, that it would prove satisfactory to the great body of the laity still in connexion with the establishment, as well as to many others who had for the present seceded rather from a feeling of affection to their clergymen than from any decided scruple or principle, who, he trusted, would soon be induced to return to the ministration of their Church. Whatever might be the opinions of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the relative merits of the acts of 1690 and 1711, and he thought there was great inconsistency in them, they would admit that Dr. Cook's propositions of 1833 were nearly identical with the provisions of the act of 1690, and that they were framed on the same principles. The noble Lord objected that the bill went further than the act of 1690, but the right hon. Gentleman objected that it did not go far enough. Those who contended for giving weight to the objection of the people, said they preferred the act of 1690 to that of 1711; but they, nevertheless, chose rather to let matters stand as they were, than make any attempt to mend them. For his own part he had always looked upon the act of 1690 as calculated to secure that which ought to be the aim of every act on the subject—namely, an able, pious, and useful clergy in the various parishes of Scotland. By the present bill the patron nominated the presentee, who was then to undergo the ordeal of preaching before the congregation, the members of which then had the power of lodging objections on any ground they might think proper with the Presbytery. It was not, however, proposed to give effect as under the Veto Act to a mere expression of dissent, without reason assigned, which might be founded on caprice, or might arise from prejudice, or a total ignorance of the merits of the case; but the objections must be fairly stated to the Presbytery, who were to decide on their validity. So that there was, in the first place, a check on the unlimited exercise of patronage, which never was considered in Scotland as an absolute right, and no man could be admitted to a church against the will of the congregation; and on the other hand precautions were taken against the power of rejection being improperly exercised by placing a controlling power where it was fitting it should reside—namely, in the Church. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who was favourably inclined towards the Veto Act, and had he believed supported it, whether he thought the limitation imposed on the people, which required them to assign the reasons why they desired the rejection of a presentee, likely to prove so inconvenient that he would prefer remaining under the interpretation of the existing laws given by the decision of the House of Lords, drawn from the arguments of Lord Cottenham on the Auchterarder case, a decision which produced a great sensation, and occasioned great alarm in Scotland, not on account of the manner in which the case was decided, but on account of the particular expressions used by the noble and learned Lords who delivered judgment in the House of Lords, and which went the whole length of denying any weight to the objections of the people. As his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General had observed, with great force, in stating their reasons, they stated them in a matter which was not the subject of adjudication before the House of Lords; they stated their opinion on a point which was never argued either in the courts below, or formed any part of the argument before their Lordships. The practical effect of the present bill would; in his opinion, be to produce that which Dr. Chalmers anticipated from the Veto Act—namely, to induce patrons to bestow greater care in the selection of their candidates. The Government had been charged with doing nothing before the secession actually took place; such, however, was not the fact, for his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had in two communications with the General Assembly made an effort to effect an arrangement. He must contend that Government had done all that lay in their power to avert this schism. They had always stated that they never could recognise the extravagant claims put forward by the Church to a concurrent jurisdiction with the courts of law and the House of Lords, in deciding what ought to be the statute law of the land. His right hon. Friend could not agree to the other proposal of the clergy, that patronage should be entirely abolished; it had always been the desire of the Government to settle the question on the principles contained in Lord Aberdeen's bill of 1840. It was impossible for any one connected with the Government not to look with great sorrow to the unfortunate events which had lately taken place in Scotland. Intimately acquainted as he was with many of the persons who had thought it their duty to secede, knowing the great piety and zeal by which they were animated, he could not, however he might differ from them as to the course they had taken, but express the greatest respect for the conscientious motives which had induced many of them to give up almost all their worldly property. He had not yet heard on what precise grounds many of the Gentlemen opposite objected to this bill. He must contend that even according to their view of the case, it was a very great improvement on the existing state of the law, and would give satisfaction to the people of Scotland. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman talked of the opposition offered to the measure by the Church, he must say he was not aware that any Presbytery of the Church, which had taken the bill into consideration, had expressed an opinion adverse to it, but, on the contrary, almost every one had given an opinion decidedly favourable to it. The noble Lord had talked of the danger of forming enactments which would be satisfactory only to those who entertained extreme views of the powers of the Church. Now, if any doubt had been expressed as to the operation of the bill, he believed it was confined to those who warmly espoused the moderate party in the Church. When Dr. Cook's resolutions were circulated through the country in 1833, they gave general satisfaction as regarded their tenor, and the only objection made to them was, not that they were an innovation, or gave arbitrary power to the Church, but that they did not go so far as Dr. Chalmers and his party thought right. He believed the people of Scotland had long wished for some measure of this kind. He anticipated great good order from its passing; he wished it had passed three years ago, when first introduced by Lord Aberdeen, but he believed that even at this late period it would be attended with beneficial consequences to the Church and people of Scotland.

Mr. Fox Maule

said, before the House came to a division, he thought it necessary for one who was looking on as it were from middle ground, shortly to state his opinions as to the course now proposed for the settlement of the question. He deeply regretted to say, that he found himself in the position of having been compelled, on the same grounds which had actuated a large body of the clergy of Scotland, accompanied by an immense number of the people, to separate himself from an Establishment which they looked back upon still with feelings of affection. He had not separated himself from that Establishment in any feelings of anger; he had done it with feelings of sorrow, and he had done it solely from motives of conviction. Speaking in his own name and speaking the feelings of those with whom he was connected, he must state to her Majesty's Government, that they would look with the most perfect indifference, as a party who had seceded from the Church, on the result of the bill now before the House. They felt that it could not and would not detract from their ranks, and they felt, also, that it would not prevent a single individual now remaining in the Church of Scotland who would join them on any appreciable motive, from coming out of the Church if they thought fit to do so. They scarcely took the slightest interest in this measure, and he had almost made up his mind to abstain from recording his vote against it. He did not think it was calculated to aid what remained of the Church of Scotland, but rather to advance the cause of the Church which the seceders called "the Church of Scotland," by creating differences within the Church as established by law, and giving the people who were still attached to that Church ground for hereafter separating themselves from it. The hon. Gentle- man who had just sat down said, that he had not heard any objections advanced against this bill; but he thought that the objections entertained to the measure had been most distinctly and lucidly stated by his right hon. and learned Friend. The main objection to the bill was, that it gave a power to the clergy which ought not to be placed in their hands; and it was on this very ground that those who had recently seceded from the Church, refused in 1840 to accept a measure similar to the present. When Lord Aberdeen's measure was submitted to the General Assembly of that year, in which the non-intrusionists had a large majority, it was at once rejected and upon the ground that they would not accept for themselves a power which they claimed, solely upon principle, for the people of the Church. The non-intrusionist majority of that Assembly had been charged—by those who ought to have known better than make such an accusation—with being ambitious, and with seeking to have power placed in their hands; but if this had been their object, they could not have attained it more easily and completely than by consenting to receive Lord Aberdeen's bill of 1840. The bill now before the House was not Lord Aberdeen's bill; it was the same bill, with some additions, resulting from the negotiations which the right hon. Baronet had been carrying on since 1840. It was, in fact, Lord Aberdeen's bill with a great deal that Sir G. Sinclair suggested. It contained, not expressed in words, but implied in every term of its enactment, what was called in Scotland the liberum arbitrium. Now he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he could state in his place in Parliament, that a measure containing the liberum arbitrium had the concurrence of his friends, Dr. Cook and others, in the General Assembly? Why, if he knew anything of this question, there never was a point to which Dr. Cook and his friends more strongly objected in the whole extent of the subject than arming the Presbyteries with the liberum arbitrium; and at this very moment, if the right hon. Gentleman did not know it, he could tell him that the heads of the moderate party, as they were called, had met within these few days in Edinburgh, Principal M'Farlane, the Moderator of the General Assembly, being present; and they had expressed their determination, which his right hon. Friend would see in time carried into execution, to oppose this bill in the Commission of the General Assembly, and denounce it as containing the liberum arbitrium. If he were rightly informed, Dr. Cook had, not very long ago, communicated to high authority his objections to this bill. He knew this, at least, from the records of the proceedings of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, that Dr. Bryce was strongly opposed to the course which had been pursued with respect to this measure. Dr. Lee had disclaimed that,—which was so artfully pat forth in the House of Lords,—this measure was founded on any act of the Assembly. True it was, that in answer to the letter of the Crown, a committee was appointed, which, he believed, on the last day of the Assembly, had made a report which was forwarded to those high in authority, by one who had not exactly followed Mrs. Glasse's prescription, "before you make your soup, catch your hare," who anticipated that this report was to be passed into an interim act. This led Lord Aberdeen so to consider it; and Lord Aberdeen misled himself—misled the House of Lords. That report was only adopted as an overture; and it was sent down for the consideration of the Presbyteries. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said, that all the Presbyteries who had considered this overture lead come to a resolution in favour of this bill, which was supposed to be founded on it. He would show the House how vaguely the hon. Gentleman had spoken on this point. This overture had not yet reached the Presbyteries, not even the Presbytery of Edinburgh,—it was not printed. Dr. Lee stated in that body on Wednesday last, that he would move on Thursday next to take it into consideration, and it was objected that he could not, because it was not printed and in the hands of the Presbytery. So little did the Presbyteries of Scotland know of this bill, that not a single Presbytery had considered the grounds on which it was founded. One great objection to it, independent of its giving a power to the clergy which they ought not to possess, was founded on the truly Presbyterian protest of Lord Breadalbane. The right hon. Member then read the protest, and contended that it laid down the true Presbyterian doctrine of the constitution of the Church of Scotland, and he would venture to say, if they were to ask Dr. M'Farlane, or other high authorities amongst the moderate party, whether there had ever been an instance of the Legislature having interfered with the discipline and independent spiritual Government of the Church without first submitting the measure to the Assembly, they would answer there never had been an instance of the kind in the history of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Assembly might conclude what were the intentions of the Government from their declaration, but he would take the opinion of Dr. Mearns, who was not their political enemy, and who had said that he had no confidence in their declaration at all. He (Mr. F. Maule) should record by his vote his opposition to the bill, but he would give the Government no further trouble so far as he was individually concerned, nor would he divide upon any part of the measure after it had gone into committee. He had, however, thought it right to warn them, that it was his calm and deliberate opinion that this was not a bill calculated to promote the confidence of the people in the Church, as it remained by law established. He would tell them that it was ill calculated to conciliate the great body of dissent to which he now belonged. And he was sure, speaking generally for the people of Scotland, they would one and all rather see that the exercise of patronage should remain as it was, in the hands of the patrons of Scotland, exercised with all the rigidity with which it had been characterised by the hon. Gentleman as being exercised at present, than they would see it transferred, as the bill proposed, to the clergy, and the decision vested in them in that form so much objected to, namely, the liberum arbitrium. He exhorted the Government to believe that all those whom this measure would prevent from seceding were not worth the trouble of keeping. They were men who had avowed a high and great principle, and who had gone to the full length except that of suffering for its sake—who had retreated from the high Around they had occupied, and now sought an excuse, no matter what, for remaining. Give them that, and they would remain. He thanked God, however, for the honour of the Church, that those men were few in number. Rather than pass such a measure as this, which would be unacceptable to the people of Scotland, which would be unacceptable to the Church of Scotland, it would be far better for the Government to stand upon high ground, awl let these few men leave the Church if they would. If that course was taken, what remained of the Church Establishment might be saved; but if they passed this bill, they would take a course which he thought was detrimental, and which would be ultimately subversive of it.

Mr. Hope Johnstone

vindicated the character of the ministers of the Church of Scotland. He gave credit for sincerity to those who had left the Church; and, although this bill might not have the effect of conciliating the seceders, he believed it would be hailed by the whole Church of Scotland as a very great boon indeed. The settlement which it proposes was a most reasonable one, because it afforded to congregations the means, not only of testing the character and attainments of presentees, but also their suitableness to the respective parishes into which they might be inducted.

Mr. Campbell

said, Sir, I rise to oppose this bill, not in my character of a seceder from the Establishment, for it really can have no effect whatever upon the free Protestant Church of Scotland; but I oppose it because I consider it a most unconstitutional and destructive measure, and utterly unworthy of a Conservative Government; and I cannot in sufficiently strong terms state my objections, not only to it, but to the time and manner of bringing it forward. The right hon. Baronet, the Home Secretary, stated that they could not bring it forward till the veto was rescinded. Sir, here the Premier and the right hon. Baronet are at variance; for he, much to his credit, said, and I read his words on the motion of the right hon. Member for Perth,— I wish most earnestly that the Veto Act, and all the impediments arising out of it, were removed; but, at the same time, I do not think it would conduce to an amicable settlement to absolutely insist on their removal. Now, therefore, the veto was not the obstruction; but I will tell the House what was the object of the Government in not bringing forward their bill till after the Assembly. They wished to delude the Church into the belief, that they did intend to bring in a satisfactory measure. They permitted hon. Members, who were supposed to know the intentions of Government, to publish letters declaring that they were ready with a measure totally different from the present one. By their silence they gave a tacit consent to these unfounded assertions, thus hoping to lure the Church from the high position it assumed. They hoped that when the day of trial came, the Church would desert its principles by rescinding the veto and repotting the Strathbogie ministers, and then would the Government have turned upon them, and offering this wretched bill, "Take it or leave it," have held them up to the ridicule, contempt, and scorn of the world. Sir, if such were their views, they have, thank God, been most signally overruled for, praised be God, these devoted servants of Christ have, notwithstanding all the wiles and all the fearful temptations and certain sufferings to which they were exposed, been enabled to lift up a testimony to the power of religious principle, which shall make their names honoured in all time to come. Sir how the noble mover of this bill could have dared, as he did, to call upon those men to answer to their God for not waiting to receive his measure, I am at a loss to conceive; but I have little doubt on whose side the responsibility lies. Let me just point out the difference between the principles they asserted, and those admitted by this bill. They say, that the simple dissent of the communicants of a parish is a bar to the right formation of a relation between a pastor and people; the fourth clause of this bill expressly precludes giving effect to this principle. They say, that in no spiritual matter ought Church Courts to be subject to the review of Civil Courts. There is a clause expressly laying them open to such review; and if there were any doubts on that, the speech of the noble Mover in another House, and the speech of the Home Secretary to-night, saying, that "in rescinding the Veto, the assembly had acknowledged the supremacy of the State," had completely removed it. In short, it stamps Erastianism on the brow of the establishment; and yet Lord Aberdeen, knowing their principles and his own bill, had ventured to use that language. There was another point with respect to which this bill was a violation of the constitution of the Church of Scotland—and I defy the right hon. Gentleman to show, that the matter to which I refer is in accordance with the constitution of the Church. The bill admitted the right of the congregation to object to the presentee, so that a person who merely sat in a Church,—for the bill did not say whether he should be a communicant or not,—would have the right to object. This was, indeed, the reductio ad absurdum attempted to be fastened upon the Veto,—this was indeed giving "schoolboys the right to choose their own master;" but it was never the practice of the Church of Scotland. They held that no one but he who evidenced the power of religion over his beast and life, and that living communion between himself and Saviour which rendered him meet to approach the table of the Lord, could say who was fitted to edify him. It is true, there is a provision that readers it very improbable that many will avail themselves of the power of objecting; their objections and their characters are to be weighed together; and it does not say what sort of objections to their characters may be taken,—that is left entirely to the Presbyteries. I look upon the bill as a most gross violation of the constitution of the Church of Scotland; and these are not the times when a Conservative Government should step out of the way to set so dangerous an example. I will read to the Government the testimony of Dr. Bryce, one of their own supporters, who said that the bill had now changed its character entirely,—that when it first appeared it was declaratory, and that now it was enacting; and I hold that the Church ought to be consulted when any alteration was made in it. The hill is distasteful to all but a few of the clergy who desire to set up a most intolerable priestly tyranny. Sir, it is nothing more or less than Scottish Puseyism. In short, I cannot believe, indeed I will not believe, even though I hear it from the Premier's own mouth, that his own reason and feelings go along with this measure. He is only giving effect to the preconceived views and opinions of others. And now let me give one word of warning to every evangelical member of the Church of England, who holds with us that Christ should be King in his own House. I call upon them to learn, by the fate of the Church of Scotland, what they may expect one of these days. Rest assured, their time—their day of trial—is fast approaching. I trust and pray that when it does come they may be enabled to "witness as good a confession." Depend upon it, the same spirit that prompted the Home Secretary, in a former debate during this Session, to recommend that the spiritual claims of the Church of Scotland should be "extinguished" in limine, still breathes in him, and only waits its opportunity to crush every thing like evangelical spiritual religion, in whatever form it appears. But let him beware and pause. Does the late secession in Scotland give him any hope? Does the fact of his Factory Education Bill not teach him how careful he ought to be in meddling with the Evangelical party in England? I told him before—I tell him again—he never can extinguish civil and religious liberty in this country. And now, Sir, one word more, and I have done. I am going to lay the case of my oppressed and persecuted fellow-countrymen before the English Gentlemen who sit in the House of Commons. You are famed, you are proverbial, for an innate love of fair play, and to you I unhesitatingly appeal. I am going to state to you a system of persecution and oppression which you will scarcely credit, but which is strictly true. Throughout Scotland, whole parishes, whole districts of country, and, in one case, a whole county, who have, almost to a man, seceded, or rather have been, for conscience sake, driven from the establishment, have been unable for payment to procure ground to build a chapel where they might worship God according to their conscience. They humbly approached the proprietor, and begged to be allowed to purchase ground; and what was the answer they received, in the nineteenth century, in this Christian country, in a land professing to enjoy civil and religious liberty? They were refused; they were told, if they did not like the Established religion and Church, they "might leave the parish." Yes, they were told they might leave it, leave the farms on which they had expended their industry and capital, the hearth-stones and the graves of their lathers. Sir, I am sure if such a system of persecution is not given up before next Session, that an English House of Commons will come to the rescue; they will not neglect the people of Scotland because they are too Christian, and therefore too loyal, to resort to Rebecca riots and Repeal meetings to enforce their claims. Sir, I do not ask Scottish proprietors to endow what they think wrong, by giving building ground for nothing. There is a marked distinction between toleration and endowment. I shall ever resist the endowment of what I hold to be error, but at the same time I am bound to tolerate it. Sir, I know no word more abused than toleration; it is generally used as if we had a right to tolerate. I deny that any man has a right to tolerate my opinions. He insults me when he says so. My religions opinions are my own, absolutely and entirely my own. I am far from wishing wantonly to interfere with the rights of property; I have my own and very decided opinion on the subject; but this I will say, I do not hold that I can absolutely do what I like with my own property; I am merely steward of it, under God, for the use of my fellowmen; and if I in such a case were so blind to my own interests, and my duty to my fellow-men, I believe the people would be entitled to come forward and demand from the Legislature that protection in the enjoyment of their rights which I was bigoted enough to refuse. Sir, I have felt it my duty to lay these facts before this House. Again I say, that I am sure if this cruel and tyrannical system of persecution continues till next Session, the Parliament will interfere. I may not be here to plead the cause of my oppressed fellow-countrymen, but I am sure that they will get justice and protection at your hands.

Sir R. Peel

It appears to me that many observations have been made in the course of this debate, which have no bearing on the question which the House has now to decide—namely, whether or no it is fitting that this bill should, as far as its second reading, receive the sanction of the House? We are not to discuss to-night the phraseology of particular clauses; we are not to discuss the question which has been raised by the hon. Member who has just sat down; we are not to enter into the question whether particular parties have or have not refused to give ground for the purpose of the building of chapels. Those questions have no bearing upon the immediate one before the House. The second reading of this bill neither implies a sanction of the refusal of the parties referred to by the hon. Member, nor does it afford any additional facilities for either giving or withholding that consent. The question for us is, whether or not in the present state of the Church of Scotland, after a conflict has prevailed between the civil and ecclesiastical courts there, and after a decision of the House of Lords has been had on the power claimed by the Church of Scotland of legislating on the matters in question—whether or not, I say, the Legislature should abandon altogether any attempt at a satisfactory adjustment of these questions that have unfortunately disturbed the peace of Scotland? and whether the principle of the bill now before the House for that purpose, is entitled to the support of the House by being read a second time? An objection has been raised that we ought not to legislate on the subject at the present period without communication with the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. I confess that such an objection surprises me, and more particularly when look to the quarter from which it comes. Why, I find that in the last Session of Parliament a bill was brought in by the hon. Member for the county of Argyle, which did claim for the Parliament of this country, and without reference to the General Assembly, the power of legislation on this subject. That bill was entitled, "A bill to regulate the exercise of church patronage in Scotland." [Mr. Campbell: But the General Assembly had nothing to do with that bill.] Exactly so. That accords precisely with what I am contending for. I am meeting the objection that has been made, that it is incompetent for Parliament to legislate on the question of patronage without communication with the General Assembly, and I instance the measure of the hon. Gentleman to regulate the exercise of church patronage, upon which he gets up and tells me, that his bill was without reference to the General Assembly. That was exactly my statement, and I am happy to have it confirmed. [Mr. Wallace: What was the date of that measure?] I am as much obliged to the hon. Member for Greenock for that question, as I was to the hon. Member for Argyleshire for his remark. [Mr. Campbell: I was not a Member of the Government.] The hon. Member says he was not a Member of the Government. He exercised his right as an individual Member to introduce a measure which he believed to be conducive to the interests and welfare of the Church of Scotland. But it appears to me altogether beside the question to inquire whether the measure was introduced by an individual Member only, or by a Member of the Government. The real question is as to the power of Parliament to legislate without communication with the General Assembly. The hon. Member for Greenock, however, asks me, what was the date of the measure? It was proposed to be read a second time on the 4th of May, 1841. When the bill was introduced, my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham) requested the hon. Gentleman to postpone the second reading for some time, and he finally agreed to adjourn it for six weeks. Both the proposal and the concession of the hon. Gentleman were vigorously resisted at the time by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The late Lord Advocate objected to the delay. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the delay, and others acquiesced in the objection, and the ground on which they went was, that it was right that the General Assembly should know by the bill having been introduced and being read a second time, what it was the Parliament intended to do, and on what principle it was intended to legislate, by the time of their next meeting. Now, that argument is not quite consistent with the line of argument adopted to-night—namely, that for Parliament to interfere without consulting the General Assembly is a trespass on the rights and an infringement on the authority of the General Assembly. That was the line of argument adopted by the right hon. Gentlemen on the other side at the time. Mr. Rutherford on that occasion said:— They They were asked to postpone this bill when the General Assembly were about to meet in three weeks, and it was a matter of immense importance that they should know, and that the people of Scotland should know, whether the Parliament of this country would or would not give its sanction to the principle involved in that particular measure. The bill was postponed at that time, not for the purpose of enabling us to consult the General Assembly, but because we thought that we ourselves could introduce a measure that might prove satisfactory, it being declared on the other side, that it was desirable for the General Assembly to know what were the intentions of Parliament, and on what principles it was proposed to legislate. But now, when we propose the second reading of our bill, we are opposed upon the ground that the General Assembly had not been consulted, and that therefore we are about to interfere with the privileges of the Church of Scotland. I contend, however, that we are acting not without the approbation of the General Assembly in proposing to legislate on this subject during the present Session of Parliament. But it is said that that approbation is the act of a committee of the General Assembly. Nothing, however, can be more express and decisive, than the fact that the General Assembly, through their regularly constituted organ, did invite and encourage the Government to legislate on the subject of the Church of Scotland during the present Session. On the 24th of May last the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland referred it to a committee. consisting of members whose names are given, to consider what step should be taken in consequence of a communication that had been received by the Assembly from the Government of her Majesty. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had intimated to the church the intentions of the Government. He had told them that the Church of Scotland, occupying its true position in friendly alliance with the state, was justly entitled to expect the aid of Parliament in removing any doubts that might have arisen as to the right construction of the statutes regulating the admission of ministers. He had told them that they might safely confide in the wisdom of Parliament, and that the Government, would give its assent to any measure which the Legislature might pass for securing the full rights of patronage, and the due admission of ministers into the church. Nothing could be more express than that announcement; and what was the answer of the General Assembly? Did the General Assembly call on us not to legislate until after further consultation with them, or did they require to consider the details of our proposition? No; they replied in these words:— committee are of opinion, that it will be most desirable on all grounds if that state of the law concerning the settlement of ministers be removed with as little delay as possible, and they rely with perfect confidence on the intentions of her Majesty's Government. That was the report of the committee, and the General Assembly approved of it, and agreed that an extract from their minute should be forwarded to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. That being the case, can there be a question that we were encouraged to proceed with the subject this Session. A lamentable division has taken place in the Church of Scotland, which has led to the secession of many valuable ministers. The Assembly attempted in the year 1834 to regulate the right of patronage. Their power to do so was denied by the civil courts of Scotland, and the House of Lords affirmed the decision of those courts. Therefore we must take it for granted that the General Assembly has not the power by any inherent right to legislate on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, however, made an appeal to Parliament on the subject. He pre- sented to the House of Commons the claims of the Church of Scotland; he told the House that they claimed to exercise a spiritual jurisdiction free of all control by the civil courts. It was on that one question that the right hon. Gentleman opposite called for the decision of this House. To the question whether the demands of the church should be acceded to, the answer of the House of Commons, without reference to party considerations, was decidedly in the negative. The noble Lord the Member for London voted with the hon. Gentleman in resisting the hon. Member's proposal. Many of his political connections voted against the proposition; and I, therefore, am justified in saying that the vote was given without party considerations. It being then decided that the church had not the power to legislate, and Parliament refusing to sanction the hon. Gentleman's proposition, what is the next step to be taken? If, under the existing state of things, the church interferes in any way with the rights of patrons, the courts of law and the House of Lords will interfere. For the purpose, therefore, of giving satisfaction, not to any party, not to any minister who may seek to be inducted to any particular parish, but for the sake of giving satisfaction to the great body of the people, we have attempted by legislation to define what shall be the rights of the patrons, the people, and the church. That is the object of the bill; and in that bill we have defined those rights strictly, as we believe, in conformity with the ancient usages and practice of the Church of Scotland. In the first place we have preserved to patrons the right to present, subject to a control, which I believe to be in unison with the rights of the church. What have we done for the people? We have given them the power of objecting to the presentee on the grounds of defects in "life, literature and doctrine." In addition to that, we have given to congregations the right to offer objections on the ground of unsuitableness to perform the duties of a particular parish. That is a power for which the people are anxious, and I doubt if it could be conferred on them by the inherent right of the church. Well, then, are the people to have this favour, or are they not? Do you, the House of Commons, think it well that they should? The doctrine of a minister may be unexceptionable, his literature may be just, his life may be without blemish; yet we give the right to object to him on the ground of unsuitableness to perform the duties of a particular district. Is that right of objection to be exercised by the people simply? If there is to be no control over it, of course that would be a simple confirmation of the veto. We propose that there shall be no right of assigning as objections any causeless prejudices, and we conceive it to be most in unison with justice and with the rights of the Church of Scotland to give to the church courts the power of deciding as to what are causeless prejudices and what are valid objections. It is said, that by this measure we are giving additional power to the church. I believe that we are not. I believe that it is a leading principle of the Church of Scotland that the people should have the right to object, and that the church should have the right to judge of the objections. That I believe to be the leading principle of the Church. It certainly is the spirit of the present bill, and I believe that spirit to be in unison with the principle of the Church. Those, then, are the powers we propose to give. We give power to the patron to present, power to the people to make objections applicable to the life, literature, and doctrine of the minister, and to his applicability to a particular parish: we do not propose to give an absolute power to make those objections valid, but we give to the Church courts the power of deciding whether or not they ought to be entertained. And, be it observed, we propose this check on the Church courts; we propose that they shall act judicially, and that they shall put on record their reasons for arriving at their decisions. Now, these are the leading principles of the bill; and, whatever cavil I may have heard as to its phrases, must say that I have heard none as to its being against the rights either of the people or of the Church of Scotland. The noble Lord the Member for London says, that the bill reverses the decision of the House of Lords. I deny that. I deny that the bill reverses the decision of the House of Lords in the Auchterarder case. The decision in the Auchterarder case was, that the Presbyteries had no right in their own legislation to decide against a presentee without giving him a trial. That was the effect of the decision in the Auchterarder case; and I contend that that decision is not impugned by this bill. There were, undoubtedly, doctrines laid down in giving judgment in that case which in no small degree alarmed the people of Scot- land, but those were not points in the decision, and they are not touched by this bill. Why, the protests of Lords Campbell and Cottenham do not even proceed on the ground that the decision of the House of Lords is reversed by the bill. The objection embodied in the protest is, that the bill declared that to be law which is not the law of Scotland. If these noble Lords had supposed that the bill went to reverse their decision in the House of Lords, why not have said so in their protest? They do not take that ground, and I must contend that there was nothing in the judgment of the House of Lords in the Auchterarder case which can prevent this House from declaring this the law of Scotland, if the House shall be of opinion that the bill is in conformity with that law. I will not enter into the particular clauses of the bill. I ask the House of Commons if they think it fit to separate without an attempt to legislate upon this momentous subject? I believe the noble Lord opposite is wrong in saying that the bill is only likely to prove palatable to people of extreme opinions. I believe, on the contrary, that it is to people of extreme opinions to whom the measure will prove the most unpalatable. The hon. Member for Argyle has endeavoured to raise a prejudice against the bill by saying that it would introduce Puseyism into the Church of Scotland. It is easy for the hon. Member to raise a cheer on such a point, but did he prove his case? My belief is that the bill will be acceptable to a large portion of the Church of Scotland, that they would infinitely rather that this question should be decided by a legislative enactment, revocable only by legislation, than that it should be left to the decision of the Church herself. I have reason to believe that the people of Scotland are favourable to this bill, that they think the power confirmed to the people by its provisions a rational and reasonable power, and that they also think that that power ought to be controlled by the Church courts. Judging, too, from all I have learned, I believe that the secession of a much larger body of churchmen would have taken place if we had refused to interfere by legislation. We always have been pressed to legislate. The hon. Member for Argyle has said that the measure in the House of Lords deceived the people as to the principles on which it was intended to legislate. I believe that there never was any doubt on the point. This bill comes down to us having received the sanction of the other House of Parliament, and contains provisions most acceptable, not only to the Church of Scotland, but to a large body of the intelligent people of that country—a church and a people most anxious to see their rights and privileges defined by Act of Parliament. It is my confident belief, considering the important interests involved in the question, and the paramount necessity which all must feel for its satisfactory adjustment, that a large majority of this House will extend its support to her Majesty's Government in their endeavour to effect the settlement of a question—that they will vote for a measure not introduced for the purpose of conciliating the support of hon. Members, but introduced with the honest desire of promoting the welfare of the Church of Scotland and the extension of the principles of Christianity.

Mr. Campbell

wished, after the personal allusion which the right hon. Baronet had made, to say one word in explanation. He never said that the Church of Scotland was bound to accept the bill which he had brought in. He applied to the leaders of the Church of Scotland with the view of ascertaining whether it was necessary to have their consent to the bill. They said, in reply, it was not necessary to ask their consent to the measure which he had introduced; for they had previously given their sanction to a bill exactly similar to the one which had originated with himself.

The House divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question: Ayes 98; Noes 80; Majority 18.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Acton, Col. Cripps, W.
Antrobus, E. Damer, hon. Col.
Arkwright, G. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Astell, W. Douglas, J. D. S.
Bagot, hon. W. Duncombe, hon. O.
Baring, hon. W. B. East, J. B.
Bateson, R. Eliot, Lord
Bernard, Visct. Escott, B.
Blackburn, J. I. Flower, Sir. J.
Bodkin, W. H. Follett, Sir W. W.
Boldero, H. G. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Borthwick, P. Forman, T. S.
Botfield, B. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Broadwood, H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Buck, L. W. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Bunbury, T. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Cardwell, E. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Chelsea, Visct. Greene, T.
Cholmondeley hn. H. Grimston, Visct.
Clerk, Sir G. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Codrington, Sir W. Hardy, J.
Hervey, Lord A. Richards, R.
Hodgson, R. Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Hope, hon. C. Round, J.
Hope, G. W. Sandon, Visct.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Johnstone, H. Scott, hon. F.
Jones, Capt. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Shaw, right hon. F.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Sheppard, T.
Leslie, C. P. Sibthorp, Col.
Lockhart, W. Smith, rt. hn. T. B.C.
Lowther, J. H. Smythe, hon. G.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Smollett, Alexander
Mackenzie, T. Somerset, Lord G.
McGeachy, F. A. Stanley, Lord
Manners, Lord C. S. Stewart, J.
Martin, C. W. Stuart, H.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Miles, P. W. S. Taylor, E.
Milnes, R. M. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Mundy, E. M. Trotter, J.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Vesey, hon. T.
O'Brien, A. S. Vivian, J. E.
Patten, J. W. Waddington, H. S.
Peel, rt. hn. Sir R. Young, J.
Peel, J.
Pollock, Sir F. TELLERS.
Rendlesham, Lord Fremantle, Sir T.
Repton, G. W. J. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Archbold, R. Hastie, A.
Bannerman, A. Hawes, B.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Heathcoat, J,
Barnard, E. G. Hill, Lord M.
Berkeley, hon. C. Howard, hon. J. K.
Bernal, Capt. Howard, hon. H.
Blackstone, W. Hume, J.
Blake, M. J. Hutt, W.
Blewitt, R. J. Leader, J. T.
Bowring, Dr. Leveson, Lord
Brotherton, J. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Buller, C. Majoribanks, S.
Buller, E. Mitcalfe, H.
Campbell, A. Mitchell, T. A.
Christopher, R. A. Morris, D.
Clements, Visct. Morison, Gen.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. O'Brien, W. S.
Collett, J. O'Connell, M. J.
Crawford, W. S. O'Conor, Don
Dalmeny, Lord O'Ferrall, R. M.
Duncan, G. Oswald, J.
Duncombe, T. Plumridge, Capt.
Easthope, Sir J. Power, J.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Pulsford, R.
Esmonde, Sir T. Ricardo, J. L.
Ewart, W. Ross, D. R.
Fielden, J. Scott, R.
Ferguson, Col. Smith, B.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Forster, M. Stewart, P. M.
Fox, C. R. Stuart, Lord J.
Gill, T. Tancred, H. W.
Gore, hon. R. Trelawny, J. S.
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Villiers, hon. C.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Wallace, R.
Hall, Sir B. Ward, H. G.
Wawn, J. T. Wyse, T.
Wemyss, Capt. Yorke, H. R.
Wilde, Sir T.
Williams, W. TELLERS.
Wood, B. Maule, Fox
Wood, G. W. Rutherford, A.

Main question agreed to. Bill read a second time.