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to cast themselves to escape the squeezing and crushing of their 'nursing fathers and nursing mothers.' Yet it is not quite consistent to eat the bread which this principle provides, and then to lift up their voice against it.
In Ireland, as well as in England and Scotland, the voluntary principle is working its way. It is taking fast hold of the minds of intelligent and thinking men. The recently increased endowment of Maynooth has added to its power, and accelerated its course. That event led during the past year to a discussion of the voluntary question in the Londonderry Sentinel,' the great organ of Church and State in that city. The Editor, who had thrown down the gauntlet and gallantly expressed his readiness to break a lance' with an opponent, after some smart-fighting, was however compelled abruptly to quit the field his lance broken, and his panoply sadly battered.
And a new thing under the sun-somewhere about the same time, two memorials were presented to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, one from Belfast and the other from Derry, praying that body to consider the propriety of taking immediate steps to render the ministers of your communion independent of all state endowments:' or, as the Derry memorial expresses it, to abandon, or rather refuse any longer to accept of the Parliamentary grant, commonly called Regium Donum.' The Belfast memorial took the ground of expediency on which to rest its prayer. The state has, by the endowment of Maynooth, made 'provision' for 'the maintenance and propagation in these realms, of the doctrines of the church of Rome,' and 'can no longer be justly regarded by any of the churches of the Reformation in these countries as their auxiliary in contending for the faith once delivered to the saints; therefore all such churches established and endowed, should, the one 'withdraw from its alliance; the other refuse its bounty, lest by continuing to receive its support, they appear in the eyes of the world to sanction its principle, or in any degree render themselves unable to bear efficient and faithful testimony to the truth, and thereby expose themselves to the reproach of men, and the righteous displeasure of God.'
The Derry memorial is more decided, but not so explicit in the repudiation of the establishment principle as we could wish; yet we have reason to know that the memorialists are thorough voluntaries. They say that the Maynooth bill cannot be consistently opposed by those religious bodies, who are themselves endowed by the state:' that the withdrawment by the state of all grants now given for religious uses, would place all parties on a just and equal footing: that thus the ladder would be removed by which Roman catholics can climb to power
and ascendancy;' and that from these changes 'there would result no loss to the cause of vital christianity, but, as in the case of the Free Church of Scotland, great gain. These are liberal, enlightened, noble sentiments. But were we the memorialists, we should have taken the liberty of declaring, that we believe all state support and state alliance for the churches of Jesus Christ, to be unscriptural and wicked, impugning and contravening the will of Christ our King; and that the endowment of truth is as bad as the endowment of error, nay, to the cause of Christianity, infinitely worse. However, the presentation of these memorials produced a 'DISCUSSION' in the General Assembly: a discussion of a question never before we believe, at least since the reception of regium donum, mooted in that body. Counsellor Gibson, of Belfast, presented the memorial from that town, and supported it in a speech of some length. He took his stand on the principle on which his memorial was based-the principle of expediency. His speech is therefore, in our view, a failure. The state is no longer the ally of the truth; it is everywhere running away from the battle of the Lord; it is subsidising error; it is fostering in its bosom the most antagonist principles. The church is represented as leaning on the arm of her Beloved; but were she to direct her looks to one who sought to rob her of her right-to the regards of her Lord and Master, and to separate her from his case, would not the latter leave her in his anger,' &c. But have Mr. Gibson and his fellow memorialists been sleeping up to the period of the Maynooth endowment bill? Were they not aware of the endowment of Arianism in Ireland, Puseyism in England, of the patronage of paganism in India, and of Romanism in Lower Canada? Have they only now, for the first time, opened their eyes to look about them? There exists, we confidently aver, there exists no reason now for the refusal of regium donum by the General Assembly which has not always existed. Are Mr. Gibson and his friends in a pet, because the Irish Presbyterian church cannot hope to be the favoured child of the state, or long to enjoy any of its bounty?' If not, why is it they have now come forward as men who have made new discoveries, when these fresh revelations happen to be state facts, always spread out palpably before their eyes? What is the increased endowment of Maynooth a single fact added to the many of the same sort long previously existing? Perhaps these friends are now beginning to be ashamed of being found in bad company? Certainly, a man of character will not relish this. We commend the spirit, but would rather see them eschewing badness itself. Dr. CARLILE, the moderator of the assembly, left the chair and proceeded to reply to Mr. Gibson. Of Dr. Carlile we wish
to speak respectfully. For piety, extensive information and good sense he has no superior in his church. We have often listened with delight, spite of his awkward manner, to the words of wisdom which proceed out of his mouth. But on this occasion his good sense failed him. We speak moderately when we call his speech miserable. The sum substance of his reasoning is, that the question of voluntary support is one for the people alone, not for the ministers (!!!); that were terms attached to the receiving of regium donum, the question would be theirs alone [are there no terms attached to the receiving it?]; that it is an unchristian thing to endow error; that should they throw away their bounty it would go to the endowment of Maynooth,-' should we,' he adds, 'throw away £35,000 because Roman Catholics gained £30,000?— that should they depend for support on the Presbyterians of Ulster, there might be some enemies of Christ in Ulster, and 'to receive support from enemies of Christ was more withering and blasting than to receive any payment from the hands of government' !!! Gentle reader, this is Dr. Carlile's reasoning; and if you believe not us, read the report of the 'Discussion.' The Rev. JAMES DENHAM, of Derry, however, came directly to the point. His met Mr. Gibson's reasonings thus:
As to the principle that it was wrong and sinful to take aid from a party of men who, like their statesmen, had given support to Popery, he asked, was there any one man, or any one church, or any one missionary society, who would act on that principle; who would refuse from any man or party a sum of money for good purposes, because such party had given aid to build a Romish chapel or college? He believed no persons would think of refusing for such a reason. .... If the memorialists themselves would not refuse money for a church, or a missionary society, from such a motive, was it not most inconsistent to come and ask the ministers of their body, for such reasons, to throw away the means of their support?'
Right and as a reply to Mr. Gibson's expediency speech perfectly conclusive.
The Rev. Mr. MOLYNEAUX, among many other things silly and wise, said, 'the government may or may not be the auxiliary of the true church; no proof has been given that it is not; it must be regarded rather as inclining in the opposite direction. We affirm and we believe that we are the true Church, and are we not endowed by government? The government gives us more in proportion to our numbers than it gives to what we consider a false church; and, therefore, in the same ratio are we to regard the state as more favourable to the true Church than to a false one'!! Is this moral philosophy, Mr. Molyneaux? Certainly it is not common sense. Much of his reasoning is of
the same character. Another choice specimen is as follows: 'Mr. Gibson had said that the government is the enemy of the true Church, and, therefore, it is not to receive any support from its enemy. That is, if we possess any advantage, and if we are to struggle with our enemies, we must weaken ourselves and add to their strength before we begin the conflict.' There is much to the same purpose. The only scrap of argument in the speech is a reference to Ezra and Nehemiah. Were they to be denounced in receiving assistance from an eastern monarch, who was a heathen, to rebuild Jerusalem and again erect its ruined temple for the worship of the true God?' Certainly not; but it is for Mr. Gibson, not for the consistent voluntary, to answer this: Ezra and Nehemiah, though living under a national dispensation, did nothing that infringed the principles of the strictest voluntaryism. They received what the king gave of his 'own proper good,' and out of the royal treasure.' He gave of his own, and gave freely.
The REV. DR. STEWART referred to the same point, but with no better effect. The Rev. Dr. Brown held to the principle of the ancient covenanters, that the state was bound to support the truth, and to resist the encroachments of error;' and yet he denounces 'Popery' as having been 'always adverse to civil and religious liberty.' But with Dr. Brown, civil and religious liberty is probably the liberty of the true kirk to tyrannise over and crush all dissidents from her doctrine and government,-to extirpate 'independency, popery, and prelatcy.'
The Rev. Mr. Gibson, while expressing his general concurrence with the members of the assembly, did not enter at all on the argument, but delivered a speech expressive of some apprehensions as to the probable course of affairs, but of firm faith in God, whatever might be the result, that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland would ever bear a faithful testimony to the truth, trusting not to an earthly arm for support, but, under God, to the purity of their principles, and looking to the sympathy of their brethren in the Lord of all denominations, which they would find more sustaining far, in the hour of need, than any favour which might be extended to them by courts and parliament.'
Mr. Gibson's reply to the various speeches of his clerical opponents adds nothing in the way of argument to his introducductory address. There is no sound argument in either. He failed to make out a good case. He had taken a false, and therefore untenable, position. He made, he could make no impression on the advocates of Regium-donum. They looked on him and the memorialists as very silly men in asking them to part with their money; and as to the scheme of the memorialists,
their sustentation by which £50,000 were to be raised for the support of their ministers instead of the £83,000 of donum, it was 'utopian' and 'perfectly visionary.' The donum 'doubled,' Dr. Stewart and Mr. Molyneaux would prefer to its being 'taken away altogether.' And, indeed, the memorialists. do appear in a position not a little absurd when they stand before the assembly and say, 'Reverend fathers and brethren, we think it is wrong for you to receive regium donum, give it up, and we herewith present a plan by which we think we shall be able to support you better than you are supported at present.' The reverend fathers naturally enough reply,-'Give up our Donum-Give up a certainty for an uncertainty!' Do Do you think, 'intelligent' men as you are, that we are so 'foolish' as 'to place dependence on' your statement?' Why should we give up our donum? 'Oh,' say the memorialists, 'the government is endowing Popery,-they are giving £30,000 a-year to Maynooth.' And,' reply their reverences, are we therefore to prevent them endowing truth? Because they do wrong in one case, are we to hinder them doing right in another?' We never before heard 'such a specimen of logic' as this.
And then, as Mr. Gibson admitted that it was right for government to provide Roman Catholic chaplains for jails and workhouses, he completely nullified his own reasoning. He bereft it of what semblance of strength, (and semblance was all) which it previously possessed. It were 'monstrous persecution' he says, to refuse to make such provision. On this admission Dr. Stewart fastens. He properly admits the 'monstrous persecution' in case of not 'allowing the inmates of jails and workhouses to receive instruction;' but it is quite a different thing to pay those who instructed them.' It is part and parcel of the same evil;' as the establishment of Popery.' Very true; the principle in both is precisely the same. And how Mr. Gibson, a man of great intelligence and a lawyer, could fail to perceive this, is perfectly astounding.
The discussion may do good, if it only served to stir up thought. But the truth on the great question was not presented to the Assembly. The argument for voluntaryism, and against church establishments, and government endowments, was neither exhibited nor grappled with. It is much to be regretted that the Derry Memorialists, at least, had not a better representative in the Assembly-one who would have taken his stand on high scripture ground, and denounced all state support for religion, as opposed to political justice, and to the laws of Christ's kingdom.
In closing, we have one question to put to the judgment, and conscience of the memorialists, and which we hope they will