HC Deb 18 June 1878 vol 240 cc1738-99

Sir, in accordance with the Notice which I gave some time ago, I now rise to call the attention of the House to the relative position of the various Religious Denominations in Scotland; and to move— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Patronage Act of 1874, and its effect on the reciprocal relations of the various Religious Denominations in Scotland, and to ascertain how far the people of Scotland are in favour of maintaining the connection between Church and State in that Country. I have to ask the indulgence of the House while speaking on a question of so much importance to the people of Scotland, and which I am sure cannot be regarded with indifference by the people of England or Ireland. The fact that my hon. Friends the Members for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) and Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) gave Notice that they also would move for inquiry with reference to the state of religious parties in Scotland, is an evidence that this question is exciting wide and general interest in Scottish constituencies. I should have preferred that this question had been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government, as I believe the time has come when, in the interests of religion and in justice to the various religious denominations in Scotland, it is desirable that we should ascertain whether or not the people of Scotland are in favour of maintaining an Established Church in that country. I have asked for a Select Committee, as I believe it is more likely to come to an early decision than a Royal Commission. I assure hon. Members that, in moving this Resolution, I do so with a sense of the grave responsibility which attaches to a private Member who takes up a question which, directly or indirectly, affects a great and time-honoured national institution. I can further assure them that I shall approach this subject in no spirit of partizanship, or from any hostile feeling to the Church; but I shall endeavour to do so in a fair and, as far as possible, in a judicial spirit. I would remind hon. Members that ecclesiastical questions, whether of faith or Church government, have at all times excited the most intense interest among the people of Scotland. It is true that for many years the bitter feelings which were called forth by the Disruption have to a large extent died away. Those feelings, however, have again been aroused, and fresh interest has been given to this question by two recent events—namely, the abolition of patronage by the Act of 1874, and the declaration of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition. When on a visit to Scotland last autumn, he said that if the people of Scotland desired the disestablishment of the National Church, he and the Liberal Party would be in favour of giving effect to their wishes. After such a declaration, it was impossible that this question could be put aside; and so long as it continues unsettled, so long shall we have that irritation and that waste of religious power arising from a state of things which Scotchmen of all Parties must deplore. In considering the Resolution which I have proposed, I would ask hon. Members to do so not from an English or Irish, but, if possible, from a Scottish point of view, and with reference to the history, the feelings, and the wants of the people of Scotland. The position and circumstances of the Church of Scotland are entirely different from those of the Anglican Church, or the Church of Ireland before it was disestablished. What, therefore, may be suitable in one country may not be suitable in another. In Ireland you had a State Church enjoying great revenues, ministering to a mere fraction of the people, and having little or no sympathy with the history, the feelings, and the religion of the great mass of the people. That Church has been disestablished. In England you have an Established Church which has still a strong hold on the people and a close connection with the State. Side by side with that Church you have a powerful and energetic Body of Nonconformists, whose system of Church government, whose forms of Church worship, and, in some respects, whose Articles of Faith are different from those of the Church of England; and whose ministers are, as a rule, drawn from a less aristocratic class than those of the State Church. The consequence is, that socially as well as ecclesiastically, the laity and clergy of the Church of England on the one hand, and of the Nonconformists on the other, to a large extent keep themselves apart from each other. In Scotland we know of no such distinctions between Churchmen and Nonconformists. There, the connection between Church and State has always been slender; and now, by the passing of the Patronage Act, has become attenuated to such a degree that, practically, it is independent of the State. Happily, nearly all Scotchmen have a common interest in the history of the Church of Scotland, for they either belong to it or have sprung from it. They can unite in admiring the farseeing and statesmanlike sagacity of John Knox and his able coadjutors in planting a church and a school in every parish; and, although from time to time, one Body after another have felt it to be their duty from conscientious motives to leave that Church, the highest tribute that can be paid to the memory of the great Reformer is to be found in the fact that the three great Presbyterian Bodies in Scotland are the same in doctrine, discipline, and form of Church worship. The union of Churches, having so much real agreement and so much in common, would appear to be natural and easy, and as I think, with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire, it certainly would be most desirable; but, unfortunately, this has not been found to be the case. To understand this, we must look to the past history of the Church of Scotland. After the Reformation, with the exception of a comparatively small number of Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, all Scotland was Presbyterian, and all Presbyterians, with an insignificant exception, were united in their adherence to the National Church. From that time down to the present day, the cause of every secession from her pale has directly or indirectly been the question of patronage. During the last 300 years patronage has been thrice established and thrice abolished, and during that long period it has never ceased to agitate the people of Scotland. In 1560, the "First Book of Discipline," which, although not formally ratified by Parliament, was subscribed by a majority of the Privy Council and by the General Assembly, lays down the principle on which the appointment of ministers should proceed in the following words:— It appertaineth to the people and to every several congregation to elect their ministers, and adds— For altogether this is to be avoided, that any man be violently intruded or thrust in upon any congregation, for this liberty with all care must be reserved to every several church to have their votes and suffrages. The Book of Discipline, which received the sanction of the General Assembly in 1578, and became the authorized standard of the Church of Scotland in regard to government and discipline, again affirmed that— None are to be intruded into any ecclesiastical office contrary to the will of the congregation to which they are appointed. Notwithstanding that such was the constitution of the Church of Scotland for more than 30 years after the Reformation, an Act was passed in 1592, which provided that the Presbytery be bound to receive and admit qualified ministers presented by the Crown or other lay patrons. This Act remained in force till 1649, when patronage was abolished as being unlawful and unwarrantable by God's Word, and contrary to the doctrine and liberties of the Kirk. This Act was annulled by Charles II. in 1660, and patronage once more was restored. In 1690, by what was known as the Revolution Settlement, patronage was again abolished. Previous to the Union of Scotland and England, so anxious were the people of Scotland to preserve all their national privileges, that what is known as the Act of Security was passed by the Scottish Parliament. In that Act, which was afterwards ratified by the Act of Union, it was expressly stipulated— That the true Protestant religion, as presently professed within this Kingdom, with the worship, discipline, and government of this Church, shall be effectually and unalterably secured; and adds— to continue without any alteration to the people of this land in all succeeding generations. It would be difficult for language to convey more clearly the idea that, in forming a Union with England, all the existing rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland were to remain unimpaired and intact. Notwithstanding this solemn agreement, in 1712 an Act was passed—too well known afterwards as the Act of Queen Anne—with such indecent haste, that the people of Scotland and the General Assembly had no time to oppose legislation which was in direct violation of the Treaty of Union, and most distasteful to the whole country. That proceeding was immediately protested against by the General Assembly. In the following year they attempted to have the Act repealed, but were unsuccessful. From that time down till 1783, the General Assembly year after year gave instruction to their Commission, to take every opportunity to have the law altered, but without avail. Sir, I have been thus particular in referring to the history of patronage, in order to show that the people of Scotland have always been averse to patronage, that it was not in accordance with the principles of the Church of Scotland at the Reformation, and was in direct violation of the Act of Union. I shall now, with the permission of the House, endeavour to show that at all times the people of Scotland have been warmly attached to the principles of the Church of Scotland as they were at the Union, and that all secessions from her have been made, not by way of dissent from these principles, but in opposition to the forced departure in the Church itself from one of her fundamental principles—"That it appertaineth to the people to elect their minister." In 1733, the forcing of a minister on the parish of Kinross, in opposition to the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the people, led to the secession of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine and other protesting clergymen, who formed themselves into what became known as the "Associate Presbytery." But, Sir, those men, in leaving the Church, did so avowing their unaltered adherence to the doctrine, discipline, and government of the Church. In 1752, repeated acts of forcing ministers on objecting parishes led, in 1761, to the second secession, known as the "Presbytery of Relief," because the seceders took this method of obtaining relief from intolerable tyranny of patronage. They had no desire to be regarded as schismatics, and earnestly declared that they withdrew from the Church of Scotland because her principles had been violated. Such was the determination to have freedom from patronage, that by 1773 there were no less than 190 congregations of seceders, and in 1834 they numbered upwards of 600, nearly all of whom had by that time adopted what was known as the Voluntary principle—that is, that there should be no connection between Church and State. In that year, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in order to remedy the evils of patronage, passed the "Veto Act," by which a presentee might be set aside, if objected to by a majority of the male heads of families being communicants. Disputes arose as to the legality of this Act, culminating in the Disruption of 1843. One of the last acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland previous to that event was to carry, by a majority of 241 to 110, what was known as the "Claim of Rights," in which they claimed a spiritual independence of the civil magistrate, and complained that the Court of Session, by compelling the Church to carry out its decisions with reference to disputed settlements of ministers had invaded the jurisdiction and encroached upon the spiritual privileges of the Courts of the Church. They further declared that they could not intrude ministers on reclaiming congregations, and that at the risk and hazard of suffering the loss of the secular benefits conferred by the State and the public advantages of an Establishment. On the same day they adopted a Petition to the Crown, praying to be delivered from the "grievance of patronage," as being opposed to the discipline of the Church as set forth in her earliest constitutional Standards, And also— as a breach, of the Revolution Settlement and an infringement of the Treaty of Union. They add— The exercise of patronage has been attended with great injury to the interests of religion, and has been the chief source of the Dissent that exists in Scotland. And they further stated— It is the main cause of the difficulties in which the Church is at present involved; and concluded by a prayer for such a measure as would secure the rights of congregations in the appointment of their ministers. This Petition was presented to the House of Commons by the Right Hon. Fox Maule, who moved that the House should go into Committee to take into consideration the claims of the Church of Scotland. The result of two days' discussion was, that his Motion was defeated by 211 to 76; but it is a significant fact that, of the Scottish Members who voted, 25 were in favour of the Motion, while only 12 were against it. That decision was, I think, a great political blunder on the part of the statesmen of the day. The result was, that upwards of 470 ministers left the National Church, and claiming in their freedom to be the true custodiers of the principles of that Church, and supported by a large number of the people, formed themselves in the Free Church of Scotland. Whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the wisdom of the course which they took, I venture to say that history cannot furnish a nobler example of self-denial, and of determination, at all hazards, to act in obedience to the dictates of conscience than that of those men leaving the Church of their fathers, and throwing themselves on the liberality of the people for support. It is an event of which not only Scotland but the Empire may be proud, and from which undoubtedly religion and education received an impetus which has had an important and beneficial effect on the people of Scotland for the future—while it almost rendered the power of lay patrons inoperative. Sir, those men, clergy and laity, left the Church of Scotland, not because they disapproved of an Established Church, but because they could not comply with the conditions attached to that Church. In the famous Protest which they made on leaving, they used these remarkable words— While firmly asserting the right and duty of the civil magistrate to maintain and support an Establishment of religion in accordance with God's Word, we do not hold ourselves at liberty to retain the benefits of the Establishment while we cannot comply with the conditions now desired to be thereto attached. I think I have said sufficient to prove that the main cause of all Dissent in Scotland has been the question of patronage; but, Sir, I shall fortify myself still further by quoting the words of Lord Macaulay, a statesman who gave great attention to this subject. He said— The British Legislature violated the Act of Union and made a change in the constitution of the Church of Scotland. From that change has followed almost all the Dissent now existing in Scotland; for the Act of 1712 undoubtedly gave rise to every secession and schism that has taken place in the Church of Scotland. When patronage was abolished in 1874, the Church of Scotland was simply restored to its original constitution and put in accord with the universal practice of all the Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, while the main cause of all Dissent was removed. I, in common with many others, voted for that Act, believing that it would be a healing measure, and that some way might be devised by which those Churches which had seceded on account of patronage might again be united and form a strong National Presbyterian Church. That expectation has not been fulfilled. It is true that eight ordained ministers from the Free Church, and about 15 or 16 from other Bodies, and three or four congregations have joined the Church of Scotland; but such isolated action has naturally rather been productive of irritation than of union; and two great Dissenting Bodies—namely, the Free Church, and the United Presbyterian Church, naturally ask why they, who protested against patronage, and gave up so much for principles which they held dear, now that patronage has been abolished, should be placed in a different position from the Church of Scotland? What, then, is now the ecclesiastical position of Scotland? It is a very remarkable one. If by a Church is meant a body of men bound together by community of beliefs and similarity of Church forms, then all Presbyterians in Scotland are, in reality, one Church; but, unfortunately, in the actual relations to each other, they are divided into three distinct Churches. First of all we have an ancient Church established by law, enjoying all the revenues set apart for religious purposes, a Church whose history is closely interwoven with all that is great and glorious in the history of Scotland. Those who are within her pale and those who have left it will, I think, equally acknowledge the accuracy of the opinion expressed by the Royal Commission appointed in 1834 on Religious Worship in Scotland, when they reported— We believe that no institution has ever existed which, at so little cost, has accomplished so much good. The eminent place which Scotland holds in the scale of nations is mainly owing to the purity of the Standards and the zeal of ministers of its Church, as well as to the wisdom with which its internal institutions have been adapted to the habits and the interests of the people. The Church of Scotland has moulded all the other Churches which from time to time have left her; but time and circumstances have, in one respect, changed those Churches. The Free Church, which comes next in importance, when it left the Church of Scotland did so, as I have pointed out, protesting that it still adhered to the principle of having a Church in connection with the State. Long disconnection with the State, and no doubt a natural feeling of jealousy towards the Established Church has, to some extent, brought about a change, so that there is a division of opinion in the Free Church as to whether or not there should be a State Church. The United Presbyterian Church, which is third in importance, and combines within itself nearly all the earlier seceding Churches, has, from, longer separation from the State, as a rule become opposed to all connection between Church and State. Those three great Presbyterian Bodies—namely, the Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches—embrace 85 per cent of the church-going people of Scotland; while the various smaller denominations, such as the Independents, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians, include about 15 per cent. I shall now call the attention of hon. Members to the hold which those three Churches have respectively on the people of Scotland. This is somewhat difficult, as we have no reliable statistical information on the subject till we go back to 1851, when a religious census was taken in connection with the usual Census. At that time, I find that the total number of places of worship in Scotland was 3,395, and the attendance on the morning of the 30th March was roundly 944,000, apportioned as follows:—The Church of Scotland had 1,183 places of worship, and 351,500 present at worship; the Free Church had 889 places of worship, 292,300 present at worship; the United Presbyterian Church had 465 places of worship, and 159,200 present at worship. All other Churches had 858 places of worship, and 141,000 present at worship. From this, it is evident that at that time the Church of Scotland supplied little more than a third of the places of worship, and had only 37½ per cent of the church-going population attending her services. It is interesting to note how far each of the three Churches has since that date supplied the religious wants of Scotland. The Church of Scotland, notwithstanding the shock which she received at the Disruption, entered on a career of church extension with so much vigour that, in 1877, her places of worship had increased from 1,183 to 1,406, or an increase of 19 per cent, exclusive of 126 preaching and mission stations. The Free Church had increased from 889 to 1,032, or 16 per cent; and the United Presbyterian Church from 465 to 525, or 13 per cent. From this, it would appear that the Church of Scotland had, relatively, made greater progress in providing accommodation than either of the other two Bodies. Whether the number of adherents has increased in the same proportion, we have no reliable information to guide us; but I think we may fairly assume that it has been in similar proportions. Allow me now to call the attention of hon. Members to the annual revenue of the respective Churches. From a Return made to this House in 1874, I find that the Church of Scotland had from teinds, £235,759; Exchequer grants, £16,300; local sources—chiefly rates in towns—£23,502; total, £275,501. That constituted the amount of her State or national endowment. I may here note that of her 1,406 churches; only 988 are endowed by the State—the remaining 418 being endowed or supported by voluntary contributions. If, however, we are to form an estimate of the energy of the respective Churches, as shown by their contributions for Church and other religious purposes of all kinds, we must look to their official returns. From those, I find that in 1876, 1,286 churches connected with the Church of Scotland contributed £374,715. If we take the same proportions for the churches which made no returns, the amount would be £408,600, or nearly £291 per congregation—a sum greatly in excess of all she received from the State. The Free Church, during the same year, raised £575,719, or £558 per congregation; while the United Presbyterian Church gave £378,079, or the enormous average of £710 per congregation. From this statement, it would appear that the total amount of free-will contributions of the three great Presbyterian Bodies, which form 85 per cent of the population of Scotland, amounted in 1877 to£l,363,400. If we take the Independents, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and other smaller denominations, as contributing in a similar proportion, as they form 15 per cent of the population, we must add, say £204,500, or a total of free-will offerings amounting to £1,567,900; while, as I have already stated, the total amount of State endowment amounts only to £275,500, or, in other words, the maintenance of religion in Scotland costs roundly £1,843,400 a-year, of which the State endowments amount to rather less than 15 per cent. From this, it is evident that the maintenance of religion in Scotland does not mainly, or even to any considerable extent, depend on State endowments. And now, as to the present position of the Church of Scotland. It is impossible to deny that, owing to the causes to which I have referred, a great change has taken place, especially since the Disruption. Formerly, the Church was extensive with the country. Now, of rather more than 4,000 places of worship, she has only 1,406, or about 35 per cent. Then, the parish minister gave the benefit of his ministrations to, and they were accepted by, the whole parish. Now, he is the minister of a particular congregation in a parish, while in some districts in the Highlands he has almost no congregation. I find, for instance, that in 1851, and I believe the proportion is much the same now, in four Northern counties—Caithness, Sutherland, Ross, and Cromarty—only 2,100 out of 36,250, or six out of every 100, of the church-going people of those counties attended the parish church. In those districts, the anomalous position of the Established Church, whose ministers, it has been well said, gather the wool while others tend the flock, is a continual source of irritation, a waste of ecclesiastical power, and a scandal which is injurious to religion. If we, on the other hand, turn to two of the great centres of population—namely, Edinburgh and Glasgow—we find, from the same source, that the number of church-going people attending the Established Church in those cities was rather under 24 per cent, a proportion which, in both cases, was slightly exceeded by the Free Church. Having thus endeavoured to put before the House, as clearly as I can, the relative positions of the Established, Free, and United Presbyterian Churches, the question arises—Are the people of Scotland satisfied with the present state of things? There are many, myself among the number, who would hail with pleasure any scheme which would unite all Scottish Presbyterians into one strong National Church, retaining those endowments which have hitherto belonged exclusively to the Established Church, but sharing them in common. There are, however, difficulties in the way, which appear to be all but insuperable. It would be rash to deny that, had patronage been abolished in 1834, instead of 1874, it would in all probability have prevented the Disruption of 1843, and there would have been no occasion for the assertion on the part of that Church of that spiritual independence which she has always claimed; but which, as formulated by the Free Church in their celebrated Claim of Rights at the Disruption, the State is not likely to acknowledge. The difficulties in connection with the United Presbyterian Church are even greater, as they are opposed on principle to all religious State endowment. There are others who would be glad to see the Church disestablished, and the funds which are now used for the endowment of religion applied to some other purpose of a national character, such as education—as thereby all classes, Churchmen and Dissenters, would alike share in the benefits of reduced school rates. I have already pointed out that less than 40 per cent of the church-going population attend her places of worship, while her endowments and free-will offerings put together amount to less than 40 per cent of the money expended in connection with religion in Scotland. I venture to think that hon. Members will agree with me, that a Church can only be regarded as a National Church so long as its continuance is in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people. The real question, therefore, is—Do the people of Scotland wish that the Established Church, notwithstanding the anomalous position in which it is placed, should be continued as a National Church, or that it should be disestablished and disendowed? I believe that I am warranted in saying that, beyond her own pale, there are many who would not wish to see the Church disestablished. There are many members of the Free Church who still adhere to the principles which were so emphatically stated at the Disruption that, although they had to leave the Church because they held the principles of the Church to be violated, they still held that there should be a Church in connection with the State. As an example of this feeling, let me quote from a letter written recently by Lord Moncreiff, one of the most distinguished leaders of the Free Church— As an adherent of the Free Church, I see no more reason for taking any part in an agita- tion against the Established Church now than the leaders of the great body of the General Assembly did in 1843. Then, again, there are some even among the United Presbyterians, although I believe the number to be small, who adhere to the principle that there should be an Established Church; while some of the smaller bodies of Dissenters, such as the Original Secession Synod, counting, I understand, about 50 congregations, hold the same view. It is, therefore, impossible, with the information which we now possess, to arrive at anything like a definite opinion as to what are the views of the people of Scotland on this question. Sir, we have had no inquiry of a general character into the ecclesiastical state of Scotland since 1834, and I trust that I have said enough to show that since that time events of great importance have occurred, which render it necessary that there should be one now, in order to ascertain whether the people of Scotland have such a respect for an ancient Institution which has done good service in the past, and is still doing good work, as would lead them to desire its maintenance as a State Church in the future, or whether they believe that the time has come when that Institution, having fulfilled the great religious and educational purposes for which it was established, and having been the parent of other Churches which, in all essentials, are precisely the same as herself, no reason exists for continuing to her privileges which, from being exclusive, are a source of irritation to other Presbyterian Bodies. You may ask me how this is to be done? It is scarcely for me to answer, as part of the work of a Select Committee would naturally be to determine the best mode of getting such information. For myself, I should be satisfied if each elector should be allowed to put in the ballot box a voting paper "for" or "against" the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland; and if the result should prove that the majority are in favour of Disestablishment, I have no hesitation in saying that, on Constitutional grounds, no Church can be called National to which a majority of the people are opposed; and, whatever may be my own feelings towards the Church of Scotland, I am bound to say that it ought to be disestablished, and the funds to which it has at present an exclusive right, should be devoted to some other National purpose. I sincerely trust that the Government will agree to my Resolution, and grant an Inquiry by a Select Committee; as I rest assured that till this question is settled, it will continue in the future, as it has done in the past, to create an amount of irritation and bitter feeling, which cannot but prove prejudicial to the highest interests of the people of Scotland. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


said, that he rose with great diffidence to second the Motion; and, in doing so, had need to ask hon. Members for that indulgence which usually extended to those who, for the first time, ventured to address the House. He hoped that the Government would be disposed to acquiesce in granting a Select Committee. All who were acquainted with ecclesiastical affairs in Scotland must be aware, and must, he thought, admit that they were in a high degree unsatisfactory. He need not remind the House that the Presbyterian form of worship and of Church government was in a literal sense national in Scotland. He supposed he was quite within bounds in saying that not less than 80 per cent of the entire population adhered to that form of worship and of Church government; but, unfortunately, circumstances had arisen which had broken up the Presbyterians of Scotland into three powerful Denominations. Thoughtful men in each of those Denominations, feeling how much they held, both in faith and in practice, in common, deplored the differences which kept them apart; and there had consequently arisen a widespread and deeply-rooted desire that some means might be devised by which the Presbyterians of Scotland might be united in one National Church. The Motion before the House, and the Amendment which had been placed after it, were evidences of that desire. He trusted that the House would give its assent to the inquiry, which would, no doubt, be conducted in an impartial spirit, and the evidence adduced would help to guide them to a right solution. He confessed that he shared in the very prevalent feeling of dislike to raise a discussion as to the relative position of the Churches in Scotland on account of the heat which such discussions were too apt to engender; but there could not be a doubt that for some years past that question had been assuming an increased importance in Scotland. He believed it would not admit of further postponement, and therefore he thought that before men's minds became inflamed with controversy as to what were, and what were not, facts, it was in a high degree desirable that some authoritative inquiry should take place to establish the facts, so that they might be able to form a right judgment on the whole matter. There was no doubt, he thought, that such an inquiry would necessarily embrace in its scope the question of Disestablishment; but he hoped that Churchmen on both sides of the House would not be deterred from granting an inquiry on that account. The answer to that question would have to depend upon three things—firstly, whether it could be shown that the large majority of the people of Scotland were outside the communion of the Established Church; secondly, supposing that to be shown, did the maintenance of the Established Church constitute an injustice to the majority; and, thirdly, did that majority desire to have the Church disestablished? Should it turn out that those questions must be answered in the affirmative, he thought that even Churchmen themselves would admit that the time would seem to have come for its Disestablishment. He did not think the liberal-minded portion of the Established Churchmen would consider Disestablishment an unmixed calamity, provided it brought about a prospect of a re-union of Presbyterians in one National Church. He could not but think that they would consider the advantages of union outweighed largely the disadvantages of Disestablishment. As a Scotchman, and knowing the loss which religion and morality suffered from the present condition of things, and from the weakness which was inseparable from disunion, he earnestly desired to see some means taken which would open the door for a union of Presbyterians. The Patronage Act of 1874 had that object, no doubt, in view; but, as his hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) had pointed out, it had utterly failed in accomplishing it. For himself, he was bound to say that, while he had not arrived at the opinion that the Established Church was in all cases and circumstances indefensible or unscriptural, yet he was convinced that the first step towards the desired end—namely, the union of Presbyterians, would be found to lie in the separation of Church and State in Scotland; for, so long as the union of Church and State was maintained, a barrier existed which must prevent union, except of the most fragmentary character—and for this reason, that the United Presbyterian Church was opposed to the principle of endowment of religion by the State, whilst the Free Church, though originally holding the Establishment theory, had discovered by her own experience that a Church could flourish independently of the State; and, accordingly, the vast majority of her people had now departed from that principle. He knew there were so-called Constitutionalists, who feared that if they touched the Church they touched the State; but no opinion, in his mind, could be more absurd. He believed there were no more loyal subjects than the Nonconformists of Scotland. There were strong distinctions in the connection which existed between the Church and State in England as compared with that in Scotland. He was not going to enter into these; but he would remind the House of one—namely, that whereas in England the Church recognized the Queen as its head, the Scotch Church did not do so, and never had done so; and, therefore, it was clear that by its constitution the Scotch Church was not by any means so intimately connected with the State as the Church of England. Some of the friends of the Established Church thought that she numbered amongst her adherents the majority of the people of Scotland. If that were so, he admitted that her position would be stronger than he took it to be; but it seemed to him that there was considerable evidence against that assertion. He did not suppose that people pretended that the congregations of the Established Church were larger as a rule than those of other Denominations. Well, then, he found there were 1,517 churches attached to the Free and United Presbyterian Churches, against 1,390 attached to the Established Church. And these last comprised about 300 Highland charges, most of them very meagrely attended. In regard to the money raised for religious purposes during the past year—which was not an unfair test of the vitality and power of Church organization—£965,000 had been contributed by Free and United Presbyterians, against £385,000 by the Established Church. If these were facts, then it seemed to him that the Established Church had not that hold upon the church-going population of Scotland which was asserted; and that there was, at all events, good ground for inquiry into the facts. If it be said that the present condition of things formed no injustice to those outside the Established Church, he could only reply that he could not understand how those who had given the question full consideration could hold that opinion. Here they had national funds set apart for the maintenance of religion, of a form which still continued to be the National form which by the action of the State—admitted now to have been blundering action—lay persons of the population were unable, unless by the sacrifice of what they held to be principle, to participate in the advantages to be derived from those funds. Was there no injustice in that? Then, again, it might be said that the union of the Presbyterians was a Utopian idea; but he had sufficient faith in the practical common sense of his countrymen to believe that if they removed this barrier, a re-union sooner or later must become inevitable. It was also objected that if they disendowed the Church, they would not know what to do with the funds; but in educational and other matters those funds, he maintained, could be applied in such a way that the whole population, and not one section of the community only, would benefit. He entertained no feeling of hostility towards the Established Church of Scotland. He acknowledged the important share she bore in carrying on the religious work of Scotland, and he did not wish to see her means of usefulness crippled or impaired. He believed the withdrawal of State funds would have no such effect. He believed, on the contrary, that it would have an opposite effect, and that it would develop within her bounds those potent resources which lay in the free-will offerings of her people, and upon which her sister Churches had with such conspicuous success relied. From this source, he found that during the space of the last 35 years, the Free Church had received for religious purposes no less a sum than £12,000,000, which was upwards of £340,000 per annum; and, as his hon. Friend the Member for Paisley had shown, the income had last year amounted to £565,000. They who belonged to that Church might be pardoned if they pointed to those results with some degree of pride. In his opinion, the withdrawal of all State funds, and the placing of the Established Church and of the Presbyterian Churches on one and the same footing, as regarded recognition by the State, was the only way in which they could hope to see the idea of a National Church in Scotland attained. No Church had a practical title to be styled national unless she comprised within her bounds the great majority of the people of the country. There was a time when there was a National Church of Scotland; but that National Church was now represented, not by one section, but by the three sections into which the Presbyterians were divided. He would not detain the House by entering in detail into the advantages which would accrue to Scotland by the removal of the obstacles which kept Presbyterians apart. He would only say, that if the Government assented to that inquiry, and were able to deal with that important question in such a way as to heal the unhappy divisions that existed, they would earn for themselves, and he was sure they would receive, the respect and gratitude of the people of Scotland.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Patronage Act of 1874, and its effect upon the reciprocal relations of the various religious denominations in Scotland, and to ascertain how far the people of Scotland are in favour of maintaining the connection between Church and State in that Country."—(Mr. William Holms.)

MR. C. S. PARKER moved the following Amendment:— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the present relations of the Established Church with the other Churches in Scotland, and with the people at large, and in particular to inquire how far the Church Patronage Act of 1874 has tended to remove the causes of disunion and dissatisfaction among the Presbyterians of Scotland, and what further legislation would most conduce to that end? He was sure that the House generally would respond to the wish expressed that the Government might be able, if not to accept any of the Motions before the House, at least to find some mode of dealing with the question which should promote the cause of Christian Union in Scotland. The House must have been favourably impressed by the tone and temper of the speeches to which they had listened—the one from a member of the Established Church in Scotland, the other from a member of one of the non-Established Churches. Those speeches represented fairly the prevailing tone of feeling in the country. It was true that the sense of injustice had caused a bitterness of language on the part of some agitators; but at the more solemn meetings of the Churches and in their formal resolutions would be found a presiding spirit of Christian mutual goodwill. Even those Churches which might seem to be pursuing an aggressive policy did so in the firm belief that they were promoting not only the Christian welfare of the nation, but the higher interests of the Church to which, for the time, they were opposed. His Amendment was in no way hostile to the Motion. With his hon. Friends (Mr. W. Holms and Mr. J. Stewart), he believed that there was a strong case for inquiry, and that it had been rendered more urgent by recent legislation. He further agreed in asking for a Select Committee. It was only when he came to the question, what should be the Instruction to the Committee? that he found a difficulty in accepting the Motion. But, before he proceeded to explain where in his Instruction to the Committee would differ from that already proposed, he wished to speak in general support of the Motion for inquiry. The facts and statistics of the case had been so amply set forth by his hon. Friends, that it was unnecessary to weary the House by referring to them any further. But he was sure the House would feel that such magnificent displays of Christian liberality, life, and vigour through out Scotland as were indicated by these figures were a matter of congratulation. The chief appeal that he would make to hon. Members who represented English and Irish constituencies was, that they would endeavour not to look at this question too much in the light of any supposed analogy with the case of their own country. He did not disguise from himself the fact that whatever general principles were involved in the Motion were applicable to the Church of England as well as to that of Scotland; but he believed there were few hon. Members who held those general principles in so abstract a form, that they were prepared to apply them in the same way irrespective of the very different circumstances of each country. There were, no doubt, some who felt so strongly in favour of the principle of Establishment that they would be indisposed to admit almost any case in which it would be right for Parliament to put an end to an existing National Establishment; while, on the other side, there were, perhaps, a greater number who took the exactly opposite view, and held that all State Churches were contrary to Scripture and to justice. But the majority of hon. Members on both sides would concede that they must look at the particular case presented by each country. What was broadly the state of things in Scotland as compared with the other parts of the United Kingdom? In Ireland, the Church till lately established by law was that of a small minority. The great bulk of the people were taught to regard it as teaching deadly heresy. They also associated it with foreign invasion, and regarded it as imposed by conquest and maintained by force. In England, the Established Religion being, in its origin, the religion of the Reformation, was at first accepted by all the country, and still might be regarded as in the main the religion of the large majority. But, even in doctrine, at the present day a considerable difference existed between the Church of England and Dissenters—a difference, perhaps, best manifested in the fact that the House, in its wisdom, thought it well to prohibit the Catechism either of the Church of England or of any other Denomination from being taught in the Board Schools. And, besides the difference in doctrine, there was a difference which struck the imagination more in the outward forms of worship; and, further, there was an important difference in the mode of government. In Scotland there were no such distinctions. Almost the whole population had one creed—the Westminster Confession. For the instruction of the young they had one Catechism, which, instead of dividing, united the Churches. The forms of worship were so much the same, that very few would be able to guess whether they were in one of the Established or non-Established Presbyterian Churches. The forms of government were also alike, and each Church took an equal pride in the glorious obstinacy of their common ancestors in the faith, in rejecting English Prelacy, and securing the government of the Church by Kirk Sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies. Thus it would not be going too far to say that they had one National Church in Scotland, not to be confounded with the State Church. The State Church held the endowments, and was in special relation with the State. But the National Church in Scotland, as was well known in Europe, America, and the Colonies, was not the Established Church, nor the Free Church, nor the United Presbyterian, but all put together formed the true National Church of Scotland. The broad fact with which they had to deal was, that they must distinguish between the State Church and the National Church. But then came the question—what was the cause of divisions in the National Church, and how far did those divisions create bodies so separate from each other that it was necessary to regard them no longer as one, but as several? There was a good deal of confusion on this subject in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen who were not familiar with Scotland. It was often said that the causes of difference were microscopical and speculative. He must deny that such a statement was correct. As regarded doctrine, or government, or worship, there was no difference at all; but when they came to the question of the relation of the Church to the State, the difference was by no means microscopical. As to its being speculative, he did not know what question could well be more practical than the question, how much independence or self-government, or autonomy, as it was now called, the Church was to enjoy? The doctrine of Hooker and Arnold, that Church and State were one, was held, he should think, by very few indeed in Scotland. Nor did the theory find more favour that the State was to rule over the Church—a doctrine most associated in their minds with the name of a certain German doctor, and in their own days with the much respected Dean of Westminster, who had the courage, speaking in the Presbyterian capital, to declare himself an Erastian of the Erastians. But he would also venture to affirm that the extreme opposite view—as taught by Hildebrand and Cardinal Manning, the Ultramontane theory—that the Church should rule over the State in such things as the Church was pleased to regard as spiritual, was not largely represented. It was often said that such was the theory of the Free Church of Scotland; but any one looking at the documents of that Church would find it strongly repudiated. What they did hold was a very different tenet—namely, that the jurisdictions of State and Church were co-ordinate, the State dealing with things temporal, the Church with things spiritual, and each deciding for itself what things were spiritual. This, indeed, was the doctrine of the Confession of Faith, held in common by all Presbyterians. But the two largest non-Established Churches held distinctive opinions. He would mention first the United Presbyterians, not as the more numerous body, but because they perhaps had the clearest and most defined doctrine as to the relations of Church and State. They held that State aid, as well as State control over the Church, was to be rejected as unsound and as unjust. Union between the Free Church and the United Presbyterians had as yet been found impracticable, even with an agreement in the following terms about the relation of the Church and State:— That the civil magistrate, acting in his public capacity as a magistrate, ought to further the interests of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ in every way consistent with its spirit and enactments. These last words were a saving clause to the United Presbyterians, because they were prepared to say that an Established Church was not consistent with its spirit and enactments. But they agreed that the civil magistrate should be ruled by the Christian religion in the making of laws, the administration of justice, and other matters. As to the Free Church, they had, last month, declared afresh their adherence to the Claim of Right, which was a claim to be considered the true Church of Christ in Scotland; and, as such, to be entitled, under the old Constitution, to all the rights and privileges of an Established Church. These they resigned only when they found they could not be held consistently with maintaining their spiritual independence. One of the few points on which he must differ from the hon. Member who proposed the Motion (Mr. W. Holms) was as to the cause of the Disruption. No doubt, the hon. Member was right in saying that patronage was the occasion of the Disruption, and that had these questions not arisen, or had the Government and Parliament, when they did arise, dealt with them wisely, there would have been no Disruption. But the Free Church, he was convinced, would not think they were properly represented, if the cause of the Disruption were admitted to be patronage. When that was asserted, they always contradicted it. Patronage was the chief occasion; but, in the conflict between the Civil Courts and the Church Courts, another class of questions arose—namely, as to the right to constitute parishes, and to give to the new parish ministers votes in the Presbyteries and Assembly. And, in the collision between the Civil and Ecclesiastical Courts, came out the deeper question of spiritual independence. He did not agree with the opinion of some hon. Members, that spiritual independence was unintelligible. What it meant was this—that while the then Church of Scotland were willing that all questions concerning their endowments, and all civil consequences should be regulated by the Civil Courts, they protested against interference by the Civil Courts in such questions as ordination or deposition of ministers. He now came to the question, whether it was true that the case for inquiry had been made more urgent by recent legislation? He should not use any of the language, so often heard, about the Patronage Act as being of an aggressive nature, or as having been meant to steal a march in any way upon the Free Church, or to filch its members from it one by one. At the same time, he did consider that a mistake was made in the mode of bringing forward that Act. When Dr. Norman Macleod, as Moderator of the Established Church, first came to ask for the abolition of patronage, he (Mr. Parker) was one of those who went with him to the right hon. Member for Greenwich, then Prime Minister, who replied to this effect— What seems to be most important is, that if you are to make a change of this kind, you must reckon with the Free Church of Scotland. You must remember that Patronage was the occasion of driving the Free Church out. This being so, it was an unfortunate mistake that, when the Patronage Act was brought forward, there was no attempt made to negotiate with the Free Church. A right thing was done in the wrong way. He laid some of the blame upon the Free Church, for he did not think their attitude at the time, or since, was very encouraging. The Established Church, however, was making approaches to the Free Church now, and had received a courteous answer, and he did not see why proposals for re-union should not have been made then. It was unhappily forgotten that the State Church, was only one section of the greater National Church, and the matter was argued, by some of the ministers who assisted in passing the Act, as if it were a question affecting the Established Church alone. He was glad to say that the Lord Advocate of the day, (Lord Gordon), took a different line. He said— I believe it to be essential to get Patronage out of the way in order to effect a union with the other Churches. I believe this Bill will afford a basis of union between parties who are so much at one in doctrine and government, and I think it would be of the utmost advantage to the entire Church of Scotland; meaning thereby, not the State Church, but the National Church. But, in order to effect any such union, it was necessary to negotiate, not with individual members, but with the Governing Bodies of other Churches. His right hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) at that time proposed a Committee of Inquiry. Unfortunately, that was regarded by the House merely as a counter-move against the Bill, and, in consequence, it was not entertained. The other Churches were refused a hearing, and the opportunity of consideration was lost. The question now was, whether an inquiry by a Select Committee was not still the best mode of proceeding? What were the alternatives? There was one which his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) would probably bring before the House—namely, a Royal Commission, which might have some advantages. But he feared that in Scotland, where Liberalism was still somewhat rampant, there would be much distrust of a Commission appointed by a Conservative Government, and that distrust would counterbalance all the advantages. There was another alter- native—an admirable one at times—that of letting things alone. That might have two issues. The Gentlemen most anxious for Disestablishment were also most desirous of having the matter let alone just now, because they believed that the pear was ripening fast. An inquiry, which might issue in a Report favourable to the Established Church, would interfere, they thought, with the whole some development of opinion going on in Scotland; whereas, if things were let alone, the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church would employ their influence at the Elections, and return Members to vote for Disestablishment. But, whether that would effect Disestablishment or not depended upon what the English majority would do. A third more hopeful alternative was offered, by the fact that the Churches were approaching each other in a friendly manner. This might lead to some good result; but Churches could hardly solve the question without the aid of Parliament, because the point upon which all must turn was, whether Parliament at the present time was disposed to grant that amount of spiritual independence with which the Free Church would consent to become an Established Church again? It was only fair to say that not many Free Churchmen now regarded this as practicable; the majority of the last General Assembly had committed themselves to the contrary opinion. It therefore appeared to him that there was most advantage in referring this question to a Select Committee, partly as a means of opening communication with Parliament; but also because it would bring together the leaders of these Churches before an impartial and friendly tribunal. In a few words he would explain his reasons for moving the Amendment. He thought that the Instruction proposed by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) would be found inconvenient by a Committee. The inquiry into the general effects of the Patronage Act was wider than need be; while, on the other hand, to inquire into the reciprocal relations of the various religious Denominations in Scotland only so far as affected by that Act, was too narrow; and, thirdly, as to the direction to ascertain how far the people of Scotland were in favour of maintaining the connection between Church and State in that country—that was a matter upon which information might be gained without the assistance of a Committee upstairs. Therefore, he moved that a more general inquiry should be made into the present relations between the Established Church and the other Churches and the people at large. He objected to the proposal of his hon. Friend to send round ballot-boxes, and wished rather that light should be thrown upon questions of principle. He wished, in fact, that the Committee should try to ascertain what form of national recognition of religion would be most suitable at the present day for Scotland. In conclusion, while thanking the House for their kind attention, he would remind them that the opportunity, neglected now, might not return. Private Members had done their humble part in bringing the question forward, and now, among the Leaders on one side or the other, he hoped there might be found more than one to earn the poet's praise, as statesmen— Who knew the seasons when to take Occasion by the hand, and make The hounds of freedom wider yet.

[The Amendment, not being seconded, could not be put.]


joined with his hon. Friend who had just sat down in commending the tone of moderation in the speeches with which the debate began. But he confessed that he was somewhat at a loss to understand the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to this question. They had had three speeches already. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) spoke as a member of the Established Church, and as one who was friendly to it; but he procured a Seconder to the Motion in the person of the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. J. Stewart), who had avowed himself an out-and-out promoter of Disestablishment. The hon. Member for Paisley had spoken of the keen interest with which the people of Scotland regarded the question; but what had taken place? The hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) at 7 o'clock suggested that the House at its Evening Sitting, instead of dealing with this question, on which the hearts of the people of Scotland were set, should proceed with the discussion of the great Imperial topic—the abolition of cause- way-mail. More than that, he noticed that the Previous Question was to be moved from the other side of the House. That was not a bad idea, he owned, though he did not like the quarter from which it came. With regard to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker), it pointed to what the hon. Gentleman had himself called the admirable alternative of leaving things alone. The speech was characterized by much learning; but it was a question whether that had been the proper time for introducing many of the topics which had been raised. He really did not know the course which the debate would take; but he considered that the House should decide whether or not a primâ facie case had been made out for inquiry. If such a case had not been made out, then it was a serious matter to demand an inquiry. He was of opinion that no Committee should be granted unless a case had been shown to exist. His contention was, that the promoters of the Motion had not got a case; but, on the other hand, wanted the Committee to get one up, and it would not be according to the customs of the House to appoint a Committee, unless a clear case had been made out. They were indebted to several of the Motions upon the Paper in reference to Church Disestablishment to the visit to Scotland of the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs (the Marquess of Hartington). The other day, he (Mr. Dalrymple) was much amused at a speech made at a meeting of the Liberation Society by a Mr. Carvell Williams in reference to that visit. He remarked that the visit of the noble Lord had developed a remarkable amount of latent sympathy with the movement; that the noble Lord had probably been cautioned as to the subject of Disestablishment, but he had said as much as could have been expected from a gentleman in his position, whatever that might mean. The noble Lord had spoken of the abolition of patronage as a step towards Disestablishment, because it weakened the connection of the State with the Church. He had no doubt that that sentiment would be very popular in certain quarters, among those who grudged the Church her liberty, and with some landlords who had lost their patronage. He wanted to know why, when the noble Lord spoke in Scotland, he was not told a little more of the truth about patronage? Why was he not told that patronage was no essential part of the Established Church. He wanted to know whether its abolition was not the ne plus ultra of what was asked in 1842? Patronage might not have been the sole cause of Disruption; but if it had been abolished formerly, would it not have prevented Disruption? The noble Lord, in Scotland, said he was not going to say anything about Disestablishment in England; but, as the Secretary of State for India said in Edinburgh in December, when there was a burning in Scotland there would be a vast amount of scorching in England. The noble Lord had said that he hoped that this would not be made a test question; and, further, that he would not be a party to stimulating agitation, though he would not repress discussion. That sort of declaration was most cruel to one set of persons—namely, wire-pullers. To them it meant positive starvation. As to repressing agitation, to many who heard the noble Lord it must have been like proposing to forbid them to draw breath, it being as natural to them to do the one thing as the other. It would appear that the subject had already been made a test at Elections, and some hon. Members had fallen into trouble over it. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms) was perplexed at the questions put to him by his constituents, and he (Mr. Dalrymple) suspected that his Motion to-night was made to escape from his troublesome constituents. He did not blame hon. Members for bringing the matter before the House, as he believed the more the Church was attacked the firmer hold it would have in the hearts of the people. But he wanted to know who desired the inquiry asked for? They had heard that the hon. Member for Paisley and the hon. Member for Greenock wanted it. The latter Gentleman was prepared for Disestablishment, and had seen his way to the apportionment of the funds of the Church, though he did not say whether they were to be devoted to religious or secular education. Did the Free Church of Scotland want the inquiry? They knew that the Free Church had petitioned the House in the matter, and repudiated the notion of overturning the Establishment. Did the United Presbyterian Church ask for an inquiry? By resolutions which they had passed, he thought not, as those resolutions expressed the opinion that the Motions brought forward to-night were unworthy of earnest legislation. And what did Dr. Hutton say? The House did not know Dr. Hutton. But the hon. Member for Paisley did, as he was one of his constituents. Dr. Hutton said the Dissenters would be more simple than usual if they surrendered their right to have the question settled by the usual constitutional methods, or if they were willing to accept the result of any tentative inquiry before such tribunals as were proposed, or the evasive confusion and delay of preparing Blue Books, which altered nothing and could add nothing to their knowledge either of the principle or facts of the case. Dr. Hutton said the Free Church was ready armed for war, and by hand and voice was prepared to do battle against the Erastianism of the Establishment. One more authority he would quote, and for a particular reason—Dr. Adam, who had particular knowledge of what were called the "Constitutionalists." The "Constitutionalists" were a small minority in the Free Church who maintained the principles of 1843, and who were against Disestablishment. Dr. Adam was very severe upon them because they had had an interview with the very source and centre of all Erastian evil—he meant the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate. That was an unpardonable offence. He wanted to know what other course they could have followed than having an interview with the Lord Advocate, if something like an approach was to be made towards the Established Church? But there was one other Body that had not been mentioned—namely, the Established Church herself. The position of the Established Church in reference to inquiry was simply this. It was not afraid of inquiry in any way. It in no way asked for it, or refused it. It only wished to watch the proceedings. It occupied the dignified position of making no complaint, or in any way deprecating the inquiry which was asked for. He might, however, say one word on the kind of matter shadowed forth as the subject of these inquiries. The hon. Member for Perth wished to inquire into the working of the Patronage Act, and wanted to know whether it had had an effect which those who had anything to do with the passing of the Act never supposed it would have—namely, the settlement of religious differences in Scotland? That was not the motive with which it was passed. It was hoped that would be one result. There were those who said the desire was to draw off adherents from other bodies, though he had never been able to ascertain how that was to be done. If that were the object, it had succeeded in a very small degree; but, not being conscious of any such motive, he felt no disappointment. The main object of passing the Act was to free the Church of Scotland from something which was not natural to it, and from which it had long wished to be free. He maintained that the time had not come for inquiry into the working of the Patronage Act. Inquiry only took place when the incumbents died, and the mortality among incumbents had not been greater since the Act passed. Occasionally there had been scandals in connection with the election of a minister, since the Act passed; but there were scandals in connection with the elections of ministers elsewhere than in Scotland. It could not, therefore, be said that these were due to the Patronage Act. That Act had created great satisfaction among the people of Scotland, and they were thankful to the Government that had courage to deal with the question. As to the proposal of the hon. Member for Paisley, that the opinion of the people of Scotland for or against an Established Church should be taken by ballot, he was sure no such project would be sanctioned by the House. Not with standing the remarks of the Seconder of the Resolution, he could not admit that the question of Disestablishment was before the House. It had not yet come to that, although there were some in the House who desired it as a consummation to be arrived at. He was content to leave the defence of the Established Church to some future time, and he believed there would be many defenders in the House, and those not confined to one side of it. The position of the Church of Scotland at present was deserving of admiration. The address of Principal Tulloch at the close of the recent General Assembly was not only high in its tone and characteristically liberal, but it was essen- tially unlike the address of on ordinary ecclesiastic. Principal Tulloch was not only content to claim sympathy and support for his own Church, but he used expressions of kindness and charity for other bodies, and admiration for their work and their vitality. A time might come when the political exigencies of Party might hasten on the question of Disestablishment. It was possible that the position of other Denominations was becoming more and more untenable on account of the very liberty which the Church of Scotland enjoyed, and that might lead them to desire her overthrow. It was possible that the very vigour and life which were in the Established Church might make others feel that it was now or never if she was to be overthrown. But he felt assured that they would not be able to procure Disestablishment on any reasonable grounds with regard to the state of the Church, because it was engaged in quiet yet active and faithful work, was in no sense aggressive, and was holding out the right hand of friendship to the other religious Bodies in Scotland who were separated from it. It might be said of the Church of Scotland as it had been said of the Church of England— Yea, she hath mighty witnesses, and though Her deeds of good have had their ebb and flow; she yet awaits in calm and faith sublime The righteous judgment of all after time.


in rising to move, as an Amendment to Mr. Holms's Motion— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the causes which keep asunder the Presbyterians of Scotland, with a view to the removal of any impediments which may exist to their re-union in a National Church as established at the Reformation, and ratified by the Resolution Settlement and the Act of Union, said, his object in moving it was because he thought a Royal Commission would be a far better mode of inquiry into the state of Ecclesiastical matters in Scotland than a Select Committee of that House. What he wanted to gain by such an inquiry was that an end might be obtained, by the best means available, of the unfortunate differences existing in Scotland among the three Presbyterian Bodies, all professing to have the same object in view—the upholding of the Protestant religion as adopted at the Reformation, and agreeing upon all those difficult questions which had their origin in an unknown world—differing only in the more trivial subjects, those of the government of the Church, payment of ministers, and things of that character. The observations which he wished to address to the House were intended to impress the House with the trivial nature of the differences which existed in the Churches of Scotland, and with the conviction that those differences might be removed if the question were gone into with a sincere desire to promote that object. In support of that view, he would refer to the testimony of Dr. Welsh, and others, who had treated upon the question. From these he derived the impression that Disestablishment was not wanted for its own sake, but as leverage for the Disestablishment of the Church of England. The case of America, he might add, was often alluded to as affording an illustration of the way in which religion might exist in a State in which there was no Established Church. The word "religion" it was true, was ignored in the American Constitution; but he found that in Congress at Washington they always had a chaplain to read prayers, and he was curious to know, as they had no national religion, how it was they arranged the question of having a chaplain? The Secretary of Congress had told him that they asked every minister of religion in turn to come and open Congress; and when he asked him if there were no limit to that, the reply was that there was no limit, and that on one occasion the Senate had been opened by a Jewish Rabbi. Neither in this country, nor in Scotland, would they be prepared for that. The truth was, that with them the Disestablishment of the Church meant the ignoring of all religion; and the question that ultimately would be asked when this matter came up, was—Should Great Britain be Protestant or not? Should Great Britain have a Protestant Sovereign or not? If they disestablished religion, they had no standard by which they could judge whether the Sovereign were Protestant or not. He should like to quote the remarks of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), who did Scotland the honour to go there last year, and, he was bound to say, had created a good deal of the excitement which now existed on this subject. The noble Marquess said that what struck him, a stranger in the matter, was that, where there was so much agreement, and so much co-operation, there should be so much real rivalry, and where the exertions of one Church had only been equalled or surpassed by the self-sacrifice of the others, there should be so much rivalry existing; and he claimed for the Liberal Party sympathy with all the Presbyterian Churches. He thanked the noble Marquess for those words. The well-wishers of the country agreed with the noble Marquess, that there ought to be, and might be, some way of remedying that state of things; and he hoped the House would give its assistance in the inquiry which they wished to have. It was, however, impossible to deny that the speeches of the noble Marquess at Edinburgh and Glasgow had given great encouragement to the Liberation Societies of Scotland; but the noble Marquess probably had not known that their real designs were against the Church of England. He (Sir Alexander Gordon) could not but regret that, when the noble Marquess went to Scotland, he had not consulted two distinguished Members, who could have given him good advice on the subject—namely, Lord Moncreiff, who was Lord Advocate some time ago in the late Government, and the present Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Principal Tulloch, who entertained very strong views against the Disestablishment, or rather, the disendowment, of the Church of Scotland. If he had done so, he would have found that the Free Church always spoke of the necessity of Establishment, and only said that the Church, as now established, was what they wished to be rid of. They asked for the Disestablishment of the existing Church, in order that another might be established in the future. It was clear, from the statement of Dr. Welsh, that the exercise of patronage had been attended with great injury to religion, and was the chief source of Dissent in Scotland, and the main cause of the difficulties in which the Church was involved. Petitions had been presented that day from the Free Church of Scotland to the effect that, whilst desirous of preserving the ancient securities of the Church, the petitioners did not regard the maintenance of ecclesiastical establishments as the appropriate means of fulfilling those obligations, and prayed the House to consider the matter and adopt measures for bringing the differences which existed to as early a termination as possible. That was precisely what he wished. He wished the House to take the subject into their consideration, either by a Select Committee or by a Royal Commission. He would prefer a Royal Commission, because he thought a Royal Commission would be better qualified to consider the matter. The hon. Member for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple) had not put, in as strong language as he might, that patronage was the cause of the Dissent which existed in Scotland, and was the main cause of the difficulty in which the Church was at present involved. The Free Church now came complaining that the Government had removed patronage, and that proved how little they had to build a grievance upon. The fact was, there was a conflicting interest between the urban and the rural districts upon this question. It was well known to those who had gone into the question, that the United Presbyterian Church had its strength in the large cities and the populous towns, and not in the country places, and the chief opposition to the Established Church came from that Body. In their Report for 1877, the United Presbyterians said that an increase of Church membership could be looked for only in the great centres of population, and that the work of the Church should be prosecuted there. Surely, it was hard that they who said they could not extend their operations to the rural districts, should be so keen to take away from those districts that which they now had? That was what the people of the rural and the highland districts deeply felt. It was quite natural that the United Presbyterians should flourish more than the Established Church in a financial point of view, because they only took those who were able to pay. One of the questions put to applicants for admission to their Churches was—"Do you promise to contribute, according to your ability, for the support and extension of the Gospel?" That was the fact, and no doubt it was a good and right thing so to contribute; but was that to be made a condition to admission to a Church? The Established Church invited the people to go to it without stipulating for their money. True, the Highlanders in many cases did not use the Established Church; but they were, nevertheless, unwilling to give up the principle of an Establishment. They were proud, and did not desire to depend on Glasgow and Edinburgh for their religious ordinances. At the present time more than half the funds for the support of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church came from Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the Highlanders saw that if the endowments of the Church were taken away, they would be left at the mercy of the people of those large cities. Both the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church petitioned Parliament for the Disestablishment of the Church of England also; but they objected to any inquiry, and said that the repeal of one Act—the Act of Union of England and Scotland—would be quite sufficient to disestablish those Churches. He thought, however, that Parliament would not repeal that Act without inquiry. The only point of difference between the Free Church and the Established Churches in Scotland was the question of spiritual independence, and that question simply amounted to this—that the Ecclesiastical Law should be superior to the Civil Law, and that the Courts of the Church should decide what was and what was not an ecclesiastical subject. ["No, no!"] Perhaps the hon. Member who said "No," would tell the House what spiritual independence really was. The leading men of the Free Church said—"Our position here in Scotland is absolutely ridiculous. We are standing looking at one another and wondering how in the world we got into this position, and wondering how in the world we can get out of it." That was his own description of his own Church. The result of their deliberations appeared to be a desire to pull down the Established Church to their own level, and, when it was down, to try to build up another. He would not detain the House much longer; but he wished to correct one error. The leading journal had said that a large number of ministers had left the Established Church rather than admit the claim of a lay patron. But the fact was, that the law only required the Presbytery to receive and examine a nominee as to his fitness. But the law left the Presbytery at perfect liberty to reject a nominee, if, after examination, they found him unfit. There never was a claim on the part of the law to force a minister on a congregation without regard to his fitness. He trusted that, under the whole circumstances of the case, Her Majesty's Government would feel it to be their duty to institute an inquiry by Royal Commission, with the view of ascertaining clearly what were the points of difference which kept asunder the Presbyterians of Scotland. He held it to be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to look after the interests of Her Majesty's subjects; and as that was a subject which the Scotch people had very much at heart, he thought it was the duty of the Government to take up the matter and institute an inquiry. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the causes which keep asunder the Presbyterians of Scotland, with a view to the removal of any impediments which may exist to their re-union in a National Church, as established at the Reformation, and ratified by the Revolution Settlement and the Act of Union,"—(Sir Alexander Gordon,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


Sir, it is not my intention at this late hour—a quarter to 12—to inflict a long speech upon the House, and certainly I will not follow the example of those who have preceded me, by expatiating upon the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, or dilating upon the doctrine of spiritual independence. My object is in a few, plain, practical sentences, to lay before the House my views of the ecclesiastical situation in Scotland. From what has taken place, both in this House and out of it, it must be evident to everyone that the ecclesiastical relations of the State in Scotland are not in a satisfactory condition, and must sooner or later be revised by the Imperial Parliament. Every Session we have Bills brought in to remedy minor grievances more or less pressing, at every Election candidates are questioned in regard to their views on the subject; and now we are asked to institute a general inquiry respecting the facts of the case and the wishes of the people. The last time the matter was discussed in this House was in July, 1874, when the Government brought forward a Bill for the abolition of patronage, in the vain hope that it would bring about union and strengthen the Established Church. Believing that this expectation would prove a mere delusion, I met it by an Amendment on the second reading, recommending inquiry; because I was convinced that any fair tribunal must come to the conclusion that such a measure would prove utterly futile, and certainly not effect the purpose in view. The hon. Member for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple) has stated that it was no part of the object of the promoters of the Bill of 1874 to bring back other Bodies into the Establishment. I am amazed at his forgetfulness of the debate which took place on the second reading of that Bill. It is very curious and instructive to read the speeches which were delivered on that occasion. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate lauded the Bill as a basis of reconciliation between the Churches, and seemed to have no doubt that it would bring about union and harmony. Everyone who spoke on the same side indulged in this pleasing hallucination, excepting the hon. and gallant Member for South Ayrshire (Colonel Alexander), who was not so easily taken in, and expressed more than doubts as to the efficacy of the healing measure. In moving the Amendment, I stated my firm belief that the Bill, if passed, would throw the great body of the Free Church into the arms of the Liberation Society, and I quoted the remark of a Conservative statesman, to the effect that he could not comprehend why the Dissenters did not hail with joy a proposal which, in his opinion, was a long step towards Disestablishment. Now, who that is conversant with what has taken place since can hesitate for a moment in deciding who were the true prophets. Confessedly, the measure has been a great failure. The people that in consequence of it have gone over to the Established Church are so few in number, and their history is so peculiar, that they are not worth mentioning. The great leading un endowed Denominations, with singular emphasis and unanimity, have repudiated the idea of returning to the Establishment, and the advocates of separation between Church and State have received such an accession of numbers and strength as to render the adoption of their views an ultimate certainty. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow said, in the debate of 1874, "that a Bill undertaken for the purpose of dishing the Dissenters would land the country in Disestablishment." He was right; that is now a mere question of time. Those whose fond hopes have been crushed by the consequences of the Act of that year, should not have forgotten the wise saying of Sir Robert Peel—"Whatever you do regarding an Established Church, don't legislate." Now, Sir, I am not one of those who think that the Establishment of the Church of Scotland is a crying evil, or that its Disestablishment ought to be made a test question at Elections. A man may be a very good Liberal, and yet fail to see that such a measure is called for, at all events, for the present. It must be kept in mind that there is no social grievance in Scotland as in England to redress; the landed proprietors and the gentry belong not to the Church established by law, but to a body of Episcopalian Dissenters, and adherence to the Church confers no social superiority of any kind; in fact, a large number of the upper classes belong to the Free Church. Then the revenues of the Establishment are small; there are no rich livings and no sinecures. The great body of the clergy do their duty faithfully and well, and a new school has arisen amongst them, and, I believe, is rapidly increasing, distinguished by a breadth of thought and a liberality of sentiment which are worthy of the grand history and traditions of their ancient Church. It gives me sincere pleasure to bear this testimony: but I can go farther, and point to better evidence than mere words. Most of the noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen who, in both Houses of Parliament, laud the Church of Scotland and oppose its Disestablishment, never enter the doors of its Churches. Many of them regard it as no Church at all, and they would advocate its separation from the State to-morrow, did they not imagine that in some way or other it served as a buttress to the Church to England. I entertain no such feeling. I have the highest respect for the Church of Scotland, its services, and its ministers. I attend my parish church when at home; and, in my opinion, it is a great misfortune, if not a danger, that the bulk of the proprietors in Scotland do not worship with the people. With these feelings and sentiments, I utterly repudiate any desire to injure the Established Church, and I regard the ecclesiastical situation in Scotland from an absolutely impartial position; but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the Church is now in a minority, and that there is not the slightest chance of any of the other Demominations rejoining it. It may have two-fifths of the community, or it may have one-third, but it has not a majority; and when I consider that the unendowed sects have more than 2,000 congregations, that they are raising vast and increasing sums for religious purposes, and that between the three great Presbyterian Churches in Scotland there is little or no difference either in creed or practice, I cannot defend the endowment of one of them alone. The necessity for such endowment can only be defended on the assumption that the voluntary principle could not be trusted to supply adequately the religious wants of the community in large, increasing towns, or in poor and sparsely-peopled country districts. Now, it is no disparagement to the Church to say that the other Denominations have been even more active in building places of worship to meet the wants of great towns; and sceptical indeed must be the mind of anyone who, after the experience of the last 30 years, could for a moment doubt that State assistance is not required to provide an ample number of churches in the great centres of commercial and manufacturing industries. The case of the purely country parishes is still more conclusive against the maintenance of State endowment. Not only is the Established Church in a minority in Scotland as a whole, but there are entire districts in the Highlands where the people en masse have left her communion and entire counties where her adherents are so few as to make State provision ridiculous. In these very poor parts of the country where you, from a theoretical point of view, profess it to be necessary, the people are of a very different opinion. They have provided and they sustain their own churches; the Act of 1874 has utterly failed to bribe them back into the Establishment fold, and if they can do without your aid, much more can the wealthier and more thickly-populated parts of Scotland dispense with it. I will not trouble the House with statistics; but, perhaps, in order to show the absurd state of things prevailing in the Highlands, I may be permitted to give the attendance on Sunday, 8th April, 1877, in two Presbyteries and in two counties at the Established and Free Churches; leaving out of view United Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, and other Bodies. In the Presbytery of Tain, 429 people attended the Established Church, 6,115 the Free Church. In the Presbytery of Loch Carron, 261 people attended the former, 3,210 the latter. In the county of Caithness, 1,477 attended the Established Church, and 9,306 the Free Church; in the county of Sutherland the numbers were 517 to 6,480. What I want to impress upon the House is, that no change whatever in the sense intended by the promoters of the Patronage Act of 1874 has taken place in the ecclesiastical situation in Scotland. On the contrary, the Free Church, by overwhelming and increasing majorities, has pronounced in favour of Disestablishment; the United Presbyterian Synod has issued an emphatic protest against all State Churches; and recent Elections in Scotland have rendered it evident that the time for inquiry has passed, and that that for action is close at hand. Let English and Irish Members keep in mind that £22,000 a-year is paid out of the Consolidated Fund for parishes in the Highlands; that 42 clergymen in these districts have their salaries entirely paid out of that Fund; that, in the great majority of the 42 parishes, there are very few adherents of the Established Church, and in some of them not a single soul. Great stress has been laid in certain quarters upon the necessity of an actual union of all the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, which are really united both in doctrine and in form of government. To expect the Free Church and United Presbyterians to go back to the Establishment is a mere chimera— a vain and foolish delusion which the Legislature had better set aside at once. That union has already been effected in England, in the United States, in Canada, in South Africa, in Australia, and in New Zealand, and it can only be effected in Scotland after the same fashion—that is, on the basis of freedom and disconnection with the State. I do not profess to be very keen in the matter, because the evil is not a crying one, and the injustice is small in comparison with that in England; but I have no doubt that in a few years the national endowment at present bestowed upon one of the sects in Scotland must be withdrawn. [Laughter from the Ministerial Benches.] Oh, yes, hon. Gentlemen may laugh; they laughed a few years ago when it was proposed to disestablish the Church in Ireland, and I have been long enough in this House to remember many, many proposals which they at one time laughed at, but which are now embodied in the Statute Book. The question will then be what is to be done with the money? It does not belong to the landed proprietors who succeeded to or bought their estates with this burden upon them, and probably Scotland would grumble if it were simply paid into the Exchequer as belonging to the nation, which, undoubtedly, it does. Possibly, the best arrangement would be to let it go in aid of the school rate, which, although very useful, is in some cases very heavy, and which is levied upon all, and benefits all classes of the community. Some such change as this I look upon as inevitable, and I have reason to know that some of the most thoughtful and far-seeing minds in the Church of Scotland are coming gradually to that conclusion. I am not anxious to hurry on the consummation, and do not despair of seeing it brought about by-and-by without bitterness or bad feeling, and in such a manner as will prove once more what an example Scotland can set to the world in the matter of religious vitality and power.


said, it would be vain to disguise the fact, that upon ecclesiastical questions there was great variety of opinion among Ecclesiastical Bodies in Scotland, and even among individual members of those Bodies. At the same time, it was a matter upon which he could congratulate his country and the House, that upon all essentials of faith and doctrine, upon all questions of form and ceremonial, the Churches were substantially at one. They were better still. They were as brethren in this, that they all mingled one with another and recognized that they stood upon the same common religious ground. He quite admitted, when they turned from that position, that there were great differences between them; and he could only hope that in any further discussion of these important matters, there might be shown the same fairness and moderation as that observed by hon. Gentlemen that evening on both sides of the House. From the very earliest period of the history of the Church of Scotland there had been a great deal of uneasiness, a great deal of distrust, a great deal of jealousy of the interference of the State. The complaint of the Church from the outset had been that her position and constitution had been invaded and encroached upon by the Legislature and the Courts of the country, and that she had been deprived of her right of electing her ministers, and also of other constitutional rights, such as those of appointing clergymen, of ordaining ministers, and of instituting cures. It was not only patronage that led to the Disruption in 1843; but much deeper issues were involved than those arising out of the Act of 1711—such, for instance, as the independence of the Church. He did not wish to refer to controversial matter; but it was right to keep in view that the Free Church made it the very head and front of her protest that she was the Church established by law upon the basis of the Revolution Settlement; and that, as a consequence, she was entitled to exercise all the rights and privileges which the Church possessed in virtue of that Settlement, but of which she had been wrongfully deprived in the interval. Accordingly, when the Free Church claimed the position of the original Church of Scotland, she claimed among the rights and privileges given to that Church by law, the privilege to choose her own ministers, to institute her own cures. Although the Courts of Law held that these claims were not according to the Constitution, as by them interpreted, they had never been abandoned by the Free Church; or, at least, by many within her pale. He did not wish to enter into the merits of this question, or to refer to the question of Disestablishment, because that would be quite beyond the limits he had set himself; but he might say, that beyond the pale of the Church of Scotland there were those who maintained the principle of an Establishment. There were certainly differences among those outside upon these questions. While many maintained the purely voluntary principle, and contended that there should be no relations between Church and State, there were also many, who, though they did not belong to the Established Church, still held as a fundamental principle of their faith that the State ought—though, perhaps, not in the form of the present Establishment—directly to recognize religion; and who also were of opinion, rightly or wrongly, that the emoluments, and the scanty funds of the Church should not be diverted from the purpose to which they were at present applied, but should be used for no other purpose than the teaching of religion. As to the observations that fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs (Mr. Baxter), although a great proportion of those who lived in the Highlands did not attend the Established Church, he ventured to challenge the right hon. Gentleman with this fact—that those were the very parts of Scotland, and those were the very persons who most strongly maintained the principle of an Established Church, and were most thoroughly averse from a single penny of these funds being diverted to any other purpose. These could not be referred to, therefore, as instances of a desire for Disestablishment. They wished to have the benefits of the funds for the religious teaching of themselves and their families; but they would not take them unless certain restrictions interfering with their religious convictions were removed. If they could have them as they were originally established, they would have no objection to derive any benefit from them. They would infinitely prefer that to any application of the fund to the augmentation of the school rate, which they objected to as an attempt to relieve the laird at the expense of the poorer population. As to the position of the Government, he frankly confessed that the arguments and views of the hon. Members who had supported the Motion either went a great deal beyond or failed to support the proposals for inquiry they had made. The Motion was limited to two points—it asked for a Select Committee to inquire into the Act of 1874, and also to ascertain the feeling of the people of Scotland. He was not very well versed in the Business of the House; but he was surprised to have a Committee asked for to conduct an inquiry in order to ascertain the public opinion of Scotland. It was an unconstitutional, and not an expedient mode of ascertaining that opinion. On the other hand, he thought it was premature and unnecessary to inquire into the Act of 1874. He contended that the Act was working satisfactorily, and had removed the sore of patronage which existed before; but, of course, the change did not get rid of all sources of unpleasantness, just as there were no circumstances in which there would never be disputes in Dissenting congregations. It would require a very strong optimist to believe that popular election succeeding patronage would sweep away all sources of trouble. He would, however, venture to say it had given far greater satisfaction than the other system, and that when the strife was over, there was far greater and heartier unanimity of sentiment among the congregation, than when a minister was forced upon them by patronage. Then, it was asked that there should be a special inquiry into the Church Patronage Act, its results, and the points on which further legislation might be desirable. In all the Motions which had been discussed grave questions were involved, which could not be usefully determined by any of the proposed inquiries. These were questions upon which the Government must make up their own minds when action was necessary. He did not think they would be much aided by any such inquiry. It might be necessary to inquire into certain facts; but, if so, the reference would have to be different in form from any then before the House. There were questions involved on which he felt deeply, and should like to express his views; but he thought it would be better to confine himself to simply indicating that the Government could not accept any of the three Motions proposed.


Sir, this debate has divided itself into two branches, one as to the expediency of an inquiry in the form proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. W. Holms), and the other as to the general condition of the Established Church in Scotland. I will offer one or two remarks upon the first question which is before us—namely, whether we ought to have an inquiry into this subject? Now, Sir, when I take the Motion of my hon. Friend on the particular question before the House, I fully admit that the Patronage Act of 1874—omitting from the present question whether it is consistent with the time during which it has been in operation to make it expedient that there should be an inquiry—is a perfectly legitimate subject for Parliamentary inquiry according to the precedents which former years afford. The subject of patronage was carefully investigated by a Committee of the House, and there could be no reason in the nature of the case why the same thing could not be done again. But when my hon. Friend proceeds to propose that a Committee should be appointed to ascertain how far the people of Scotland are in favour of maintaining the connection between Church and State in that country, I do not know of any adequate answer to the objection taken by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and by other Gentlemen, that a Select Committee is no competent or suitable instrument for conducting an inquiry of the kind. If it is to be instituted at all, it ought to be conducted before another tribunal, and the proposal to break the connection ought to be made on higher and more solid responsibility than the recommendation of a Select Committee of this House. Well, Sir, when my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) proposed to proceed by a Commission, instead of a Committee, it does not appear to me to mend the matter at all. A Committee is a body appointed by this House and responsible to it, and the Government would be placed in a position of considerable difficulty were they called upon to appoint a Commission. They could not be blamed if they chose the Members of that Commission, or a majority of them, from amongst those who shared their own views. I think, also, in a case like this, where there is a great difference of opinion actually existing in Scotland, it would be extremely difficult to secure the confidence of what I may call both parties in the Report of any Commission the Crown might appoint. It would be far better if there were to be a public inquiry into so much of the subject as might be legitimate—that the inquiry should have a popular source, and originate in this House—rather than that it should spring from the Prerogative of the Crown. As regards the main question of Church and State, I do not see that it is a proper subject for inquiry at all—or, more properly speaking, a subject upon which we need have any preliminary inquiry. The people of Scotland are the persons who are mainly to be considered in the discussions upon this matter. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple) has made an appeal to English feeling, on the ground that a conflagration in Scotland might produce a very disagreeable increase of temperature in England. Those, I may say, are the old arts—perfectly legitimate, but still the old arts—by which it was formerly attempted to maintain the Established Church in Ireland. What I certainly must say is this, that the case of these Church Establishments must be considered distinct from one another, and that each must be dealt with upon its own merits, with a careful regard to the principles that it presents, and to the feeling in each case of the people of the three countries. In this particular instance, the feeling of the people of Scotland must have a very large, and probably dominant, influence in the determination of the question; and the House would be placed in a totally false position if it were to say—supposing it to be true—that the deliberate national sentiment of Scotland is opposed to the maintenance of an Establishment; that, notwithstanding that fact—"We will invoke the force of English opinion, and the sentiment in favour of keeping up an Establishment in England, to rule the case of Scotland." As respects the inquiry, though with the most sincere desire to ascertain the feeling of the people of Scotland upon the working of the Act and other ecclesiastical questions, in the country, yet I confess my belief that the organs with which the Constitution provides them are sufficient to enable them to convey in an intelligible form to the House what their desires are. They have the power of meeting, the power of petitioning, and the power of the franchise; and, when I look at the course of the elections in Scotland from time to time, I doubt whether hon. Gentlemen opposite might not have acted more wisely, and fulfilled their character as interpreters of the opinions of the Scottish people better, if they had spoken with a little more reservation this evening. Therefore, although I, for one, would not object to institute the precedent laid down for us, and inquire into the working of the Patronage Act, if it were shown to be the earnest desire of the Scottish public in general that such an inquiry should take place, yet I find an entire absence of any evidence of such desire. The two great Presbyterian Nonconformist Churches are against this inquiry, and the Presbyterian Established Church of Scotland has not expressed any desire that such an inquiry should take place; and I should rather presume from the course taken by the Government, who must be taken to be in sympathy with the Church as an Establishment, that they are opposed to it. Therefore, I think, that after the three or four hours we have spent in the discussion of this question, we have attained to this point—that those who have proposed this inquiry in different forms to the House must have arrived at the conclusion, in their own minds, that there is no desire either in the House or in the community out-of-doors, which would warrant them in pressing their proposals. But the debate has taken a wider range. At the time that the Scottish Patronage Act was introduced in 1874, the House was warned that it would go directly to break the ground upon a subject which had previously remained tranquilly in the back-ground, and would raise the whole question of Church Establishment in Scotland. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate has just stated, and I pay great deference to his opinion and do not question its accuracy, that the working of the Patronage Act within the precincts of the Established Church of Scotland, has, in his judgment, been satisfactory, and has diminished the range and intensity of those divisions in parishes which are connected with the choice and election of ministers. That may be so, and the union of a Church within itself is a matter which we all greatly rejoice to see, and every well- wisher to religion must contemplate it with satisfaction. But the union of a Church within itself does not go very far to determine the question whether or not that Church should be established as the national religion of the country, and should enjoy the ecclesiastical property of the country, in which the mass of the people are supposed to have a common interest. The Irish Established Church was one remarkably united within itself, one colour of theological opinion spread almost entirely over the whole Institution, and the cries of party were almost unknown within its pale. But the allegation of the union of that Church within its borders would not have availed as a plea for its maintenance; indeed, I do not think that the experiment of urging such an argument was ever tried by a solitary Member of the House during the discussions on the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, however interesting and material for its own purposes such a statement may be. It borders but little upon the wider question which has been contemplated but timidly and indecisively by nearly all the speakers in this debate. My right hon. Friend, indeed, has spoken out with great decision his opinion upon the question of the Establishment in Scotland. But I observe that the opinions of hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who differ from him, were far from being spoken out with force and breadth, and have only been indicated as matters that may hereafter be developed; and it is very difficult to collect, either from the speech of the right hon. and learned Lord, or from that of the hon. Member for Bute (Mr. Dalrymple), or even from that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), what are the precise grounds on which they are prepared to contend that it is necessary to maintain a Church Establishment in Scotland. I do not think that the subject has been sufficiently developed in the course of this debate for one to give any opinion, with regard to it; but I observe, undoubtedly, an absence of disposition on the part of the supporters of the Establishment to bring forward positive arguments in favour of it. I have heard it said, and said with great truth, that the Established Church in Scotland is highly respectable. There is no question about it, it is highly and universally respected; and so I think I may say was the Established Church in Ireland—that is to say, it had all the titles to respect that it could possibly derive from the high character, conduct, zeal, and energy of its ministers. But that, after all, goes a very little way towards showing that, on that ground, it ought to be the Establishment of the country. The promoters of the Act of 1874 have, it is evident, opened this question effectually. Before 1874 what did we know? We knew that the Church Establishment of Scotland was the religion of a minority of the people—that we knew perfectly well; but we knew, also, that a great majority of the people acquiesced, and contentedly acquiesced, in the maintenance of the Establishment. We know even now, as has been stated in the course of the debate, that this is not a burning question; no arguments of great vehemence have been employed either upon one side or upon the other; we have not been told on either side of the House, as we were told when the question of the Irish Church Establishment was raised, that the consequence of destroying the Irish Established Church, as an Establishment, would be more grave and formidable than those of a foreign conquest in the country. No such dismal prospect has been held out on this occasion. This is a matter which lies within a narrow compass; and I am convinced that whatever happens in Scotland, the people of Scotland are a religious people, and are certain to make an adequate provision for their own religious wants—a provision certainly not less adequate than what now prevails. Before 1874 there was an acquiescence which, if not universal, was, at all events, that of the majority, in the existence of the Established Church; and those who protested against it constituted not only a minority, but a small minority, though perhaps not an unimportant one, of the country. In my opinion, it would have been wisdom in the Church of Scotland to have been contented with the state of things that existed. But others of more enlarged views pressed the passing of the Patronage Act, and the consequence of that Act has been that men now look at this as a national question. The other Presbyterian Churches, which jointly must out-number the Church of Scotland, and which may be said to constitute if not a majority, at least one moiety, of the people of Scotland, have accepted the Patronage Act as a distinct challenge on the subject of Establishment, and have answered that challenge by saying that it is their deliberate conviction that the Establishment that now exists in Scotland ought not to continue in possession of the national property. I understand the Free Church at present to say that they do not think the existence of an Establishment ought to be maintained, and that they believe that the maintenance of an Establishment is no longer necessary to the welfare of religion, whatever use it might have been in former times. Until 1874 the question slept dreamily; but now, the two Independent Presbyterian Churches are united in their demand for a cessation of the preference shown to the third Church. I admit that, in the abstract, it is very difficult to prove that a Church should be national which does not command the adhesion of the majority of the people. As a general rule, I hardly know how a Church can be national which is the Church of the minority. The Established Church of Scotland has every title which it could possibly derive from its respectability; from the energy, cultivation, zeal, and piety of its clergy; and it also derives much advantage from many recollections of former times; but still, nothing has been said to show upon what principle it is that an Establishment is to be maintained which is the Establishment of a minority only of the people. I can conceive a case where the minority consists almost entirely of the poorest classes. I will suppose that the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church of Scotland had a monopoly of the wealthy and middle classes, and that the Established Church had the poorest classes left to its special and almost exclusive care. Such a case I can conceive, and I can believe, also, that it would have a most important bearing upon the question of Establishment in Scotland. I apprehend that the contrary holds in the present instance, and that if you take the average of the wealthy members of the Established Church and of two great non-Established Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, you will find that the average temperance standard of the members of the Established Church is higher and not lower than that of the others. It was at one time contended—and I thought at the time with great force—that the maintenance of a Protestant Church in Ireland was necessary in order that it might continually uphold the testimony against the errors of the Church of Rome. But will any man rise in his place and say that the maintenance of the Established Church of Scotland is essential as a protest against the errors of the Free Church and United Presbyterian Church? Therefore, Sir, I do not see what arguments there are in favour of the Established Church, and I will reserve to myself any arguments that I may have to raise on the general question, until I hear on what grounds the Establishment is supported. It is the people of Scotland and their convictions which will have ultimately to settle this question; or, if Her Majesty's Government think that the will of England ought to settle the question for Scotland, then, by all means, let it state that proposition, and then we shall know what we are about. As I have already said, it is my strong conviction that it would have been wise of the Church of Scotland not to have forced this question to the front. As they have judged right to do so, it is fair to call upon them to produce their arguments, and not to say only that they are a respectable body, which no one contests—that their clergy are excellent, which I admit—or even that the Patronage Act has diminished the feuds in parishes, which is quite possible—they must also show that the exclusive enjoyment of the national property which has been set apart for ecclesiastical purposes in Scotland by our religious communion ought to be maintained. My intention is to hold myself free on this subject; but, first of all, I should like to be assured of the concurrence of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in what I have said. I should like to know whether they agree with me, that this is a matter which ought to be determined by the sentiment of Scotland and not of England? If they agree in that proposition, we shall have made some progress towards placing this question upon a sound and solid basis. If they do not agree with me on that point, the sooner the fact is made known for the information both of Scotland and England the better. In some sense there might be some self-gratulation upon the part of myself and my right hon. Friends, who saw the danger of the change in 1874 and warned the promoters of the Act of it. The change that has taken place in Scotland in the position of this question is one which any intelligent man who comes from Scotland will not for one moment deny. The position of this question now is totally different from what it was 10 or even five years ago. A controversy has been raised by those whose interest, and, perhaps, whose duty, it would seem to have been to have avoided raising such a controversy. Let them now set out clearly and intelligibly what they think to be the merits of the case, and I have no doubt that it will receive an impartial hearing. But it will not be got rid of by mere superficial or collateral criticism, such as that of the hon. Member for Bute upon the speech of my noble Friend the Member for the Radnor Boroughs (the Marquess of Hartington). I was glad to hear that speech, because the propositions of my noble Friend were excellent, and I was glad that they had received additional currency from being repeated from the mouth of the hon. Gentleman. The Established Church of Scotland must stand or fall according to the general convictions of the people of Scotland; but, whether it stands or falls, the House is pretty much united in the opinion that there can be no advantage at present in instituting either a Parliamentary or other inquiry.


congratulated the noble Lord the Member for the Radnor Boroughs on having found in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich an apt pupil as regarded the speech he had delivered in the autumn. But he ventured in all humility to say to the right hon. Gentleman that no one who had held his high position, or who held the high position which he still occupied, had a right upon a matter touching the deepest interests of any part of the United Kingdom to make such a speech as he had done to-night—a speech exactly similar to that of the noble Lord on another occasion—and yet to say that he had not formed an opinion on the subject. The tenour of that speech was this—"If you will cry out loud enough, I will come and help you. I am not going to suggest that you should steal that article from the shop window; but, when you have taken it, you may come and ask my opinion of what you have done." Such attempts as the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord to get up a cry in Scotland were unjustifiable, wrong, and inconsistent with their high position in the House and the country; because they were Leaders of public opinion in a Party they all valued, however much they might differ from its opinions. It was not the part of those who had to lead to induce their followers to make a cry in order that their Leaders might take it up. The right hon. Gentleman said he had heard no defence of the Church of Scotland. Of course, there had been no such defence, because the Church of Scotland had not been attacked, except by the right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), on matters which had nothing to do with the Motions on the Paper. When it was attacked they would be quite ready to defend it. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman reminded him of the days of 1868, when they were dealing with the Church of Ireland, and it brought out two differences—in 1868, the right hon. Gentleman always endeavoured to distinguish between the Church of Scotland and the Church of Ireland, and now he wanted to make them look as like each other as possible; and, moreover, at that time, the right hon. Gentleman had a large majority behind him, which, at present, he (Mr. Assheton Cross) was thankful to say he did not possess. He would not now argue the question, when the only question was whether they should have a Committee or Commission of Inquiry into the Church of Scotland? But he would make this further remark. The right hon. Gentleman said, he wanted to know what was the opinion of the majority of the people of Scotland at that moment upon that particular question; but when he asked on what principle the question was to be argued, he appeared to have forgotten a principle at one time declared by him—namely, that every State ought to have an Established Church; and in the arguments relating to the Irish Church, he did not touch this principle, where the Church was in the different position it occupied in England and Scotland, and thus it was only owing to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland that he ventured to attack the Established Church of Ireland. That evening he threw to the winds the idea that there was anything to be argued when the question of Disestablishment in Scotland came to be discussed. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman; he hoped the House did not. He knew the present House did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped it would be long before any other House did. He would now come to the actual question they were discussing, for he declined to be led into a long discussion on a matter which had nothing to do with the Motions before the House. Now, by the first of these Motions, inquiry was asked for in 1878 into the working of an Act which was passed only so recently as 1874, and also as to its effect on the reciprocal relations of the various religious denominations in Scotland. It was perfectly clear, however, that the result of the operation of the elective principle as established by the Act could not be fairly tested in four years, or even in 10. It must take almost a generation before the full working of that Act could be ascertained; and all inquiry into the matter, therefore, at the present moment, would be absolutely premature. Of course, there were only a certain number of ministers in Scotland; they did not all die every year or every other year; and, comparatively speaking, very few ministers had died in Scotland since the Act came into operation. The right hon. Gentleman had said a great deal about that Act; but it was scarcely necessary for him to inform the House that he entirely differed from almost every word which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. He did not believe that Act was a step in the direction of Disestablishment. He never, he might add, could understand the argument that the removal of a grievance which was the result of its passing into law constituted a hardship on the Free Church. He had heard that argument over and over again, but he never could understand it. He should think, on the contrary, that the proper course to pursue in a case of the kind would be to remove abuses if any were shown to exist. A right hon. Gentleman opposite said—"I assure you, whatever you do in this country the Free Church will never go back to the Established Church." Now, he did not believe that would ever be the feeling in Scotland.


said, he had quoted the declaration of that body itself.


said, that might be the declaration of certain persons for a particular purpose, but still he did not believe that it was the expression of the real feelings of the people of Scotland; and, as had been stated that night—and it could not be denied—it undoubtedly was not the feeling of the inhabitants of the Highland parishes, who, as his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate told them, would be the last people to allow a farthing of the Church's present endowments to be devoted to any secular purpose whatever. Certainly these were questions that might have to be inquired into. The Government were as anxious as anybody to remove proved abuses; and if, on due consideration, they found that there was any abuse which they could possibly remove, they would take the best means in their power for that object. The next part of the Motion was that there should be an inquiry instituted by a Committee of this House to ascertain how far the people of Scotland were in favour of maintaining the connection between the Church and the State in that country. He could not imagine that any people would apply for a Royal Commission to inquire into such a matter. That was a matter which the Government must find out for themselves. He hoped as to that it would be a long time before the right hon. Gentleman came to a definite conclusion; he hoped, if he arrived at such a definite conclusion, it would be longer before he propounded it to the public; and he hoped that if he did propound it, it would be longer still before he found himself in a position to carry out his conclusion. He had the same objection to a Commission as he had to a Committee. Practically, the Commission as proposed would inquire not with regard to the Established Church itself, but with regard to the obstacles to union in the Voluntary Bodies who had separated from that Church. Such an inquiry would not be assented to by the Voluntary Bodies, and it would not be right. The Government had gone one important step towards the removal of abuses by the abolition of patronage, and the members of the Established Church of Scotland felt that a great grievance had thereby been done away, and they were much more satisfied with their present condition. That, he thought, would become the feeling of other religious bodies in that country; and the very reason why the right hon. Gentleman charged the Government with being unjust to the Scottish Dissenting Denominations was, because, by removing a grievance, it would draw these Denominations back to the Church which they had left in former years. He could not help stating the strong feeling he entertained regarding the observations of the right hon. Member for Greenwich. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would remember the great responsibility which would fall upon him in dealing with matters of that kind, when every word must have weight; but he ought not to state his views in that way, and then state that he had formed no opinion on the subject. Then, the same might be said of the noble Lord's speech, for no one holding the position he did had a right to say that the people of Scotland ought to form their own opinion while he formed none. That would be right enough in private dealings, but not for a man in the position of the noble Lord, because it was meant to have an effect without committing him to an opinion—and the intended effect was, to raise a cry at every Election for the purpose of promoting the question of Disestablishment, and to sow discord where there ought to be peace, and to introduce political contests when everything ought to be done to produce union between the three Churches, instead of dissension.


thought it was inexpedient to proceed with the discussion, as many other hon. Members wished to address the House. He moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Dillwyn.)


thought it was the opinion of the House that the debate should be adjourned. It was quite impossible that the whole subject raised could be adequately discussed at that hour of the morning—a quarter past 1—seeing that they had heard scarcely more than the speeches of the Members who moved the Resolution and the Amendment, and had not been able to hear the speeches of Members who had other Amendments on the Paper. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken with considerable severity of the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich, which was, he said, of the same character as that which had been made at Edinburgh, and was unjustifiable. He had also said that it was an attempt to raise a cry. The right hon. Gentleman could not deny that the question existed long before last autumn. The supporters of the Established Church themselves admitted that dissatisfaction with the Establishment existed in Scotland; and what he said at Edinburgh, and what he repeated now, was that some remedy for that evil must be found. He was prepared to discuss any remedy that might be suggested, and was not committed to the opinion that Disestablishment was the only way out of the difficulty in which the people of Scotland found themselves as far as this matter was concerned. But he believed the feeling in Scotland in favour of Disestablishment was real; and, if the majority of the people decided in that way, he, for one, should support them in the course they pursued. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that the question did not exist long before he (the Marquess of Hartington) went to Edinburgh, or that it would not have existed had he not gone there? There was undoubtedly a difficulty in the condition of the Established Church of Scotland, as was shown by the numerous Motions made on the point, to a great extent by members of the Established Church. The hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) knew that the difficulty existed, and he was endeavouring to find a solution for it. He adhered to every word he had said at Edinburgh, for he felt that in Scotland there existed a state of things which could not last, and for which some remedy must be found. They had heard a great deal about the opinion expressed in Edinburgh last year by the noble Lord the present Secretary of State for India (Viscount Cranbrook) that if the question of Disestablishment were made a burning question in Scotland, it would be a scorching question in England, and this seemed to be the only argument which could be used in certain quarters in reference to the subject. As he had already said, he did not assert that Disestablishment was the only remedy that could be adopted; but, if it were, he thought the question was one that ought to be decided from a Scotch point of view, and not on considerations which might remotely affect any other part of the United Kingdom.


pointed out that the terms of the Union between England and Scotland were based upon the security the people had for the maintenance of tolerance in religion, and that the Sovereign of these Realms must be a Protestant, and in communion with the Churches both of England and of Scotland. That was the condition of the Union which lay at the foundation of the law on which Her Majesty and her heirs were entitled to the Throne. The right hon. Gentleman pursued a very dangerous course when, in respect of what had passed in Ireland, he endeavoured to merge a great constitutional question, which affected the whole of the United Kingdom, into one consideration affecting a small portion of the Kingdom, where there was some discontent. The right hon. Gentleman would give predominance to discontent, which might be temporary, against the securities for their liberties and their peace. He would ask him what had been the result of his experiment? Had they no murders in Ireland? Had they not in that House Representatives of Irish disorder? Had they not proposals for the further infraction of the Union? These were the peaceful fruits of the doctrine which the right hon. Gentleman had been at so much trouble again to enunciate for application to Scotland—Scotland, to which he looked with affection as the best security, in union with England, for the cause of freedom and of order.


said, if this debate were adjourned he did not think it was very likely that it would come on again; and he, for one, was not anxious that it should. He had a Motion for the Previous Question that he had no opportunity of bringing on; but he would like to say one word to explain the course he had taken He had arrived at the same conclusion as some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but he had done so by a totally different path. In putting on the Paper a Motion for the Previous Question, he did not wish to shirk the debate; on the contrary, he came early to assist in making a House, though, for his part, if the House had been counted out he did not know that the occurrence would have been much to be regretted; but he would say that there would have been one cause for regret. They would have lost the speech of the right hon. Member for Greenwich, which would be regarded in Scotland as an important landmark in this discussion. His great objection to the Motion was that in the present state of feeling in Scotland with respect to the Church, such an inquiry as was proposed would lead to excitement, and put the population of Scotland by the ears in a way that was not likely to lead to any peaceful result whatever. As to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir Alexander Gordon), his (Sir George Campbell's) own opinion was altogether adverse to the principle of an Established Church. Believing, as he did, that the Church of Scotland was the least intolerant of all State Churches, he was willing to leave it alone as long as it had in itself sufficient vitality to live in the will of the people of Scotland. But, on the other hand, he was wholly opposed to any attempt to prop it up by pressure from without. Therefore it was that he was opposed to the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member opposite to prop it up, altogether it must die, and he wanted it to die peaceably.


I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I never used any expression having the slightest tendency that way.


Then the hon. and gallant Gentleman and myself are entirely in accord. He does not wish to prop up the Church.


I did not say I did not wish to prop up the Church.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman is very difficult to please. He objected to my saying that he wished to prop up the Church, and then he equally objects to my saying he did not wish to prop up the Church.


said, he wished to congratulate the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) on the fact that there were not more Irish Members present, as a speech like that which the hon. Member had made would be sufficient to set them all against the Established Church in England, Scotland, and Ireland.


said, he did not wish to detain the House at that late hour of the night—20 minutes to 2—but he wished to disabuse the House of the impression made by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate as to the feeling in some of the Northern counties of Scotland, where the adherents of the Established Church were in a minority. It was stated that the great majority who did not belong to the Establishment were Establishment men in principle, and that they would resent any proposal to appropriate the present revenues of the Established Church for the purposes of education. Now, as regarded the principal portion of the county he represented—namely, Orkney—he could say, most distinctly and emphatically, that that statement was not correct; but that the distinct opposite was the case. In the county to which he referred, the great majority did not belong to the Established Church; and if there were a county which might be abandoned as an untenable outwork of the Established Church, probably that county of Orkney was the one. Yet the feeling of the people was now that things ought to remain as they were until the question was ripe for settlement. Although they did not belong to the Church, the whole county of Orkney might be searched, and they would scarcely find one member of the Free or Limited Presbyterian Churches, who was not in favour of Disestablishment. This result had been arrived at, not in accordance with any theoretical idea. It had been the result of a great many years' experience in a part of the country where the people had seen the great advantage of the working of the Voluntary system. He believed the working of the Voluntary system in these counties had been a great agent in civilization. This was the result of that experience in the great body of the Free Church in Scotland, which was gradually converting the people to that principle. They would find some old men belonging to the Free Church still in favour of the principle of Establishments; but as new men were brought into the pale of the Church, they would find them advocating the Voluntary principle simply and solely as the result of experience, and the intelligence of the Scottish people would lead them to wish that system to be extended to Scotland generally. Therefore, he said, most distinctly and emphatically, that in one, at least, of the Northern counties of Scotland the great majority, as he believed, were entirely in favour of the Voluntary principle and Disestablishment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Tuesday, 9th July.