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and the topics of prominent interest of the day, and the subjects of religious joy or despondency of the times. He then nominally dissolves the Assembly, in the name of the Lord Jesus, the King and Head of his church, At this name the members all make an obeisance. He then names a certain day, in the month of May in the following year, for the next assembly to meet. After all these formalities are concluded, his grace the lord commissioner rises, and in his majesty's name really dissolves the As. sembly, and appoints the same day named by the moderator for the next assembly to convocate. The Assembly makes no obeisance when they are dissolved in the king's name. The moderator then prays, and the Assembly sing a psalm; after which the moderator pronounces a blessing, and they depart.
I will now notice the distribution and exercise of the judicial, legislative, and executive powers. In all spiritual societies there is a judicial power exercised in the infliction and removal of censures. On this point the Confession of Faith is very decided. “To these officers (the ministers) the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the word and censures ; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.”* By the presbyterian constitution, however, this power is not intrusted to the minister of a parish in his individual capacity. It is only when he sits as moderator of his parish session, and in concurrence with his lay elders, that he can rebuke, suspend, or excommunicate. The minister's immediate superior is the presbytery. That court can, at any time, inquire in what manner he performs his official duties. It exercises a censorial inspection over his whole conduct, and complaints against him must be brought before it. Should he be deposed, its sentence deprives him of all right to the stipend, and renders his parish vacant. This is the effect of the connexion between church and state.
Each of the courts have the right of making laws obligatory within their own jurisdiction. But the General Assembly alone possesses the power of legislating for the whole establishment. This privilege is, however, not altogether supreme, as by the Barrier Act, already cited, the presbyteries possess a controlling power. The Barrier Act has the effect of preventing hasty legislation, an evil always to be deprecated. Especially as, in the space of ten days, it is hardly possible to give that mature consideration to any subject which its importance may require." At the same time," says Dr Hill," it must be acknowledged, that the operation of the Barrier Act tends to produce great tardiness in the legislation of
• Conf, of Faith, cxxx, sec. 2.
the church. For some presbyteries neglect to send any opinion ; others disapprove; others propose alterations ; so that many years sometimes elapse before the consent of forty presbyteries can be obtained to the whole complex proposition that was transmitted to them."* As a remedy for this, the Assembly generally passes an “interim act," which temporary law is, however, binding on the whole till the meeting of the next assembly. This interim law rouses presbyteries to consider the overtures more expeditiously. Sometimes these interims, by tacit acquiescence, acquire the authority of standing laws.
All the inferior courts exercise an executive power in the ordinary discharge of their duty. In the trial of candidates for the ministry, presbyteries are the especial executive officers of the establishment. But the supreme executive power lies in the General Assembly, which, in concurrence with the state,t gave the inferior courts also an executive power. In virtue of this power, the Assembly issues peremptory mandates ; summons both individuals and inferior courts to its bar; sends precise orders to inferior courts, directing, assisting, or restraining them in the discharge of their functions. The decisions of the Assembly are the common law of the establishment. “ The existence of this authority is essential to the unity and vigour of our political system. Without it the Church of Scotland would soon lose its glory, and separate into a number of petty independent jurisdictions, scattered over the districts of the country, unequal to their own defence, and insufficient for the purposes of an ecclesiastical establishment." The settlement of vacant parishes has chiefly called for the executive powers of the Assembly. Its vigour in this particular occasioned a secession from its communion in the beginning of the last century, When a presbytery, from any cause, delays or refuses to settle a minister, complaint is made to the Assembly. If it is satisfied that the presbytery has not acted right, it peremptorily enjoins them to proceed, with all speed, to admit the presentee. Should the presbytery still demur, the Assembly appoints certain days for meeting, prescribes the whole course of procedure, and constitutes the presbytery the Assembly's ministerial officers for that particular case. The presbytery is not allowed to exercise its own judgment, but are required implicitly to obey the instructions of the Assembly.
It is impossible, however, for a court which only meets once a year, and then only for ten days, to exercise its executive power all the year round. Therefore, before dissolution, it appoints a commission. This commission consists of thirty-one members, whereof twenty-one must be ministers, the remainder lay elders. They choose their own moderator. They
* Hill's View of the Constitution.
† Act of Parliament 1592, c. 114.
66 The judi
have the power of an assembly in all matters referred to them from it. Strictly speaking, they can only act by recommendation of the Assembly. But that recommendation usually includes a clause, empowering them to act in anything that may be for the general good of the church. Among other things the annual instructions are, “ to advert to the interest of the church on every occasion, that the church, and present establishment thereof, do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which they can prevent, as they shall be answerable.” The commission is responsible to the next General Assembly, they therefore keep a register of their proceedings. We sum up
this delineation of the constitution in the words of professor Hill, to whom we have been chiefly indebted for this sketch. cial power ascends through all the courts, terminating in the General Assembly: the legislative both originates and ends there, with this restriction
upon the exercise of it, that without the concurrence of a majority of presbyteries, the General Assembly cannot enact any law: the supreme executive is lodged in the General Assembly, whose orders direct and control the inferior branches, until the whole body declare that they are illegal. In this distribution of power, there is a sufficient energy and vigour for the despatch of business : there is a tardiness only with regard to that which, of all things, requires the most deliberation, the enactment of permanent laws; and there is a provision made for the constitutional operation of that jealousy, natural and proper in all republics, by which the rights and liberties of the inferior branches are defended against encroachment, and the General Assembly, however respectable by the description of its members, and the various offices assigned to it, is effectually restrained from making innovations."*
The established ministers of Scotland are individually styled reverend; a presbytery, the reverend presbytery; a synod, the very reverend synod; and the supreme court is styled the venerable Assembly. In the Assembly, his majesty is represented by a nobleman, who is styled grace. He is received and attended with royal honours. He takes precedence of all other noblemen for the time being. The keys of the city are always given into his custody, by the lord provost of Edinburgh, on his knee ; to whom his grace returns them, accompanied with a speech. He holds a levee, which is attended by all the nobility and gentry in Edinburgh, by all the magistrates, naval and military officers, and the members of Assembly. He is attended by a military escort, and the streets are lined with military when he proceeds in state to church and to open the Assembly. For this pageantry, his grace the commissioner is paid £2000 by the exchequer in Scotland : and I have Mr Joseph Hume, M. P. for Middlesex's letter,
* Hill's View of the Constitution.
dated 26th February, 1830, stating that he is paid £1000 further on his return to London. It requires a further sum, of about £1000, to pay the purse-bearer, clerks, pages, and other expenses incident to the respectability and efficiency of this ancient court. Besides these expenses, his inajesty is pleased to place £1000, from the privy purse, at the disposal of the Assembly, for promoting education in the highlands and islands.
At the Revolution, the presbyterian religion was established in Scolland, on the basis of the “inclinations of the people.” Patronage was abolished in 1649, and again revived in 1662. In 1688 it was again abolished, and continued in abeyance till the year 1712, when the act of queen Anne, already given, was passed, which restored patronage. When this bill was before parliament, the commission of Assembly declared patronage to be “contrary to the presbyterian constitution solemnly ratified by acts of parliament of both kingdoms, and calculated inevitably to obstruct the work of the gospel, and create great disorder and disquiet in this church and land." “ In fact, the large share of patronage possessed by the crown in Scotland, serves for the same purpose as the supremacy which it enjoys in England does."* Patronage and toleration were loudly complained of as being “the floodgates of error and corruption." Strong remonstrances were accordingly made both to parliament and the General Assembly. By a tacit compromise, the people and the patron united their claims for a number of years, but it gradually became common to accept of a presentation. The General Assembly also showed an inclination to support the patron. In consequence, violent settlements were made sometimes by the presbyteries, and at others, by committees appointed by the commission of Assembly.
Ever since the Revolution, it has been the fruitful parent of schism and division in Scotland. Mr Glass, minister of Tealing, contended, in 1727, not only against patronage, but also against all civil establishments. The presbytery of Dundee cited him to answer for his heterodoxy, in April, 1728. In his defence, he maintained, “ that a church might be persecuted or tolerated according to the will of princes, and that all those bearing the name of christian ministers, who accepted of civil emoluments from the state, were unacquainted with the gospel, and enemies to Christ's kingdom.” Were such doctrines to be established, the presbytery feared the crown might sequestrate their livings. The presbytery deposed Mr
* Test. Associate Synod of Original Seceders.
Glass from the ministry. From this sentence, Mr Glass appealed to the synod. He defended his opinions in that court with great ability. The synod confirmed the sentence of the presbytery, “ deposed him from the ministry, prohibited and discharged him from exercising the same, or any part thereof, in all time coming, under pain of the highest censures of the church.” Mr Glass disregarded the primary deposition by the presbytery. He continued to exercise his functions as formerly; and, as might be expected from the nature of presbyterian government, from this last sentence he appealed to the General Assembly. In the interim, he was compelled to vacate his parish. Yet he continued to exercise his ministerial office, to those who adhered to him. His popularity was great. The reputation of persecution engaged the sympathies of the people in his favour. In the course of a few years, his followers increasing, he erected a chapel in Dundee. On the 12th March, 1730, the commission of the General Assembly confirmed the synod's sentence of deposition. In the Assembly of 1731, an attempt was made to restore Mr Glass. They annexed a con. dition, however, which no doubt influenced Mr Glass in rejecting the offer. The Assembly “did take off the sentence of deposition, passed by the commission, 12th March, 1730, against Mr John Glass, then minister at Tealing, for independent principles, and did restore him to the character and exercise of a minister of the gospel of Christ; but declared, notwithstanding, that he is not to be esteemed a minister of the established church of Scotland, or capable to be called or settled therein, until he shall renounce the principles embraced and avowed by him, that are inconsistent with the constitution of this church.” This condition merely served as a salvo for the Assembly's intolerance. Mr Glass paid no attention to it, but continued his separation. He made frequent tours through the kingdom, preaching in all the principal towns. He erected meeting-houses wherever he found a competent number of persons who adopted his pecuJiar tenets. Dundee continued to be the principal scene of his labours. He was joined by several ministers; and as their acknowledged chief, he drew up a system for their regulation.
In 1731, an overture was transmitted to the presbyteries, in terms of the Barrier Act, “concerning the method of planting vacant churches :" a kind of supplement to the law of patronage. This act lodged the sole power of election in a meeting of protestant elders and heritors. This act made no exception of the episcopalian heritors, so that when they were most numerous in a parish, they had it in their power to present. This was naturally considered a grievance. To enforce these settlements, the Assembly had recourse to very despotic measures. That court denied dissenters the right of exercising the ordinary methods of expressing their dissent. In consequence, the only method left for complaint was from the