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in a very limited sense, the case being in reality much more one of contrast than of resemblance. The resolutioners were undeniably more under the influence of worldly motives than were the protesters, and when the contest began the former party constituted very decidedly the majority in the Assembly and its commission. Their procedure tended inevitably to the violation of the national covenant and the other constitutional standards of the church; and to the adoption of this course they were led by considerations of worldly and political expediency. Nothing can be more strongly contrasted with this than the conduct of the present majority. The very essence of their whole line of procedure, ever since they became the majority, has been a strenuous endeavour to revive the dormant principles of the constitutional standards and laws of the church, and to return to the practice of earlier and better days, in government, doctrine, and discipline; and to this they were led, not by considerations of worldly or political expediency, but when all such considerations would have suggested a totally opposite course. Very easily might they have obtained the cordial support of either of the great political parties that have alternately swayed the government, if they could have abandoned, or even kept in abeyance their own reforming principles and course of procedure. By adhering to the dictates of duty and conscience, on purely religious grounds, they have given offence to every political party, and thus provoked a combination of the most formidable magnitude against them, though of a very heterogeneous character. In these respects the present evangelical and constitutional majority of the church presents a very marked contrast to the resolutioners.
On the other hand, the contrast is equally marked between the protesters, the minority of that period, and the moderates, the minority of the present. The protesters resisted the decisions of the General Assembly,so do the moderates; but the protesters did so on the ground that their opponents had so far violated the covenant for the sake of political expediency, and had unlawfully vitiated the Assembly itself by issuing a citation to those who opposed the resolutions, as liable to censure, which precluded them from taking their places as members. The only apparent resemblance to this, on the part of the moderates, is their opposition to the ministers of quoad sacra parishes; and this is manifestly an afterthought, since, about the beginning of the present contest, they placed one of these ministers in the Moderator's chair. Even, by their own showing, the moderates oppose the decisions of the General Assembly on civil and political grounds, not on those of a religious character ; whereas the conduct of the protesters was the direct reverse. The moderates oppose the decisions of the General Assembly because it is asserting its spiritual independence, and resisting the encroachments of secular courts and politicians ; the protesters opposed the decisions of the General Assembly because it was yielding its spiritual independence, and permitting itself to be vitiated and controlled by secular courts and politicians. The appeal of the protesters was always to the Bible, the covenants, and the Confession of Faith, and Books of Discipline; the appeal of the moderates is to acts of parliament, framed avowedly for Erastian purposes, and to hostile decisions of mere courts of civil law; and when they do refer to the Confession of Faith and the other standards of the church, it is for the purpose of endeavouring to explain away their direct meaning, and to torture them into the semblance of what may seem to hear an Erastian construction. The protesters were ready with undaunted hearts, to peril name, property, and life in defence of the rights, the liberties, and the purity of the church; the moderates are warily careful to take no step which may involve them in any danger, till they have contrived to procure the apparent authority and protection of the civil courts. The protesters acted as they did, under the strong constraining power of their solemn vows to Him, who is at once the only Lord of the conscience, and the sole Head and King of the church; the moderates acknowledge no higher obligation than that of their oath of allegiance to an earthly monarch, as they have themselves declared in their defensive explanations of their conduct. So glaringly manifest, indeed, is the contrast between the spirit of the protesters and that of the moderates, that there is only one point of similarity,-each happened to be the minority in its day; but every man who approves the one, must condemn the other, and no person who rightly understands his Bible, the Confession of Faith, constitutional law, and the principles of religious and civil liberty, can hesitate which party to approve, and which to condemn.
We have already directed the attention of our readers to what we regard as the great error of the protesters,—the attempt to support their cause against their powerful opponents by means of a counterbalancing political combination ; and we have shown that this vitiated their cause, embittered the mutual hostility of the two parties, and rendered their reconciliation almost impossible, till as Wodrow remarks, they were united by being both thrown into the same furnace. Let this sharp lesson be learned by the evangelical majority in the present time of peril. Nothing could be more fatal to the church than the adoption of such a course of procedure as should give a political character to the present contest. The great principle of spiritual independence, founded upon and essential to the sacred doctrine of the Redeemer's sole sovereignty, would speedily be obscured by the cloudy confusion of political intrigue
and diplomatic craft; and were this to take place, how could the church expect her divine head to make bare his holy arm in defence of a cause no longer seen to be manifestly his own? It is not present danger, but present defection, that the church must strive to avert; it is not present victory, but present and perpetual truth that the church must struggle to maintain. And surely warnings of a very marked and significant character have already been given, such as ought to teach us to cease from man.' Repeatedly have we been drawn into the most imminent danger of being induced to submit to an unsatisfactory, if not a sinful compromise, in our anxiety to obtain a peaceful settlement. And marvellously has the interposition of providence rescued us from the shoals and quicksands of wily craft and half-measure expediency, and constrained us again to bear away into the open, though still stormy sea.
Nor is it difficult to perceive, that the temptation to return to the same error remains undiminished. We are constrained to hold intercourse with secular politicians; and we can easily see how we could call forth a very powerful counterbalancing political influence, were we at liberty to do so, consistently with our sacred principles. These snares must be most carefully and earnestly avoided. The cause is God's, and to him we must leave the determination not only of the time when, but also of the means by which, it may please him to give the victory. At present the danger of entering into some pernicious political combination and compromise does not seem very urgent, it being the fact that all merely political parties regard the Church of Scotland with jealous dislike, if not with determined hostility. Many of them cannot understand her principles, simply because these are essentially spiritual, and because they, being without spirituality, cannot discern what is spiritual; some have a dim perception of the nature of these principles, and hate them with a perfect hatred, because they are so pure and lofty as to cause worldly-minded men to stand rebuked, overawed, and self-condemned in their presence. So long as the church maintains these principles firmly, and asserts them clearly, her danger of falling into a sinful compromise will be abated, by the very repelling power of these principles themselves, which will cause the contaminating influence to keep aloof from contact with the clear condemning light of heavenly truth.
Perhaps the greatest immediate danger may arise from the attempts of well-meaning and friendly men, clergymen or otherwise, constitutionally timid, gentle and soft in temper, deficient in penetration, weak, or at least undecided in judgment, and of a temperament so fond of peace, that they can scarcely think any sacrifice too great by which it might seem likely to be obtained. Such men have almost always been injurious to the cause on which they hung with clogging and encumbering feebleness. Especially pernicious is it, when they, misled perhaps by more designing men, attempt to occupy a middle position, and strive to procure a pacification on the basis of some mutual compromise. When great principles are at stake, all compromise is sinful. What is a compromise between light and darkness P-twilight-dim, shadowy, uncertain, illusive twilight-pleasant to moles and bats, and the cold weaklings of nature, but ungracious to strong-eyed eagles, and all other mighty creatures that enjoy and use the broad bright blaze of day. It may well be that these gentle friends of peace have neither mental nor physical courage enough to enable them to meet the encounter of imminent peril on the high places of the field, yet could patiently suffer all that persecution could inflict, were times of direct persecution to arrive. If so, let them act according to their constitutional temperament. They need not join the full of hope misnamed forlorn,' or attempt to lead on the charging vanguard. It may be their duty to act like the twenty and two thousand fearful and afraid of Gideon's army, and to abstain from directly engaging in the shock of conflict. But if they truly love the cause of the Divine Redeemer's sole sovereignty, and the spiritual independence of his kingdom the church, let them beware of putting themselves forward in search of a delusive truce, and inviting a compromise, which could but ruin the cause which they wish to triumph. The death-bed remorse of Robert Douglas, Robert Baillie, and David Dickson, furnishes but little to induce men, not certainly their superiors in any thing, to follow a course such as theirs, and thereby to infuse an element so black and bitter into the cup of nature's latest and most fearful draught.
Although the protesters formed the minority of the church in their day, while the evangelical party forms the vast majority at present, there is yet one point of similarity between the positions they respectively occupied, which should not be overlooked. The union of England and Scotland into one kingdom, has rendered
Church of Scotland, even if united in itself, necessarily the minor party, so far as regards the established churches of the empire. The Church of Scotland must therefore always occupy a position similar to that of the protesters, and be viewed with jealousy by statesmen chiefly familiar with an Erastian church, like that of England, which possesses no separate and independent government, and is therefore always under the control of secular politicians. And when, as at present, a considerable party in the Church of Scotland adopts Erastian views, and would willingly subjugate the church to the state, or to mere subordinate civil courts, the evangelical party, though a majority in Scotland, must needs be only a small minority in the eyes of undiscerning worldly states
men. The peril, in such a case, may be the greater, and the struggle the more severe and protracted; but let it be borne in mind, that it must necessarily attract observation to a far greater extent than would be possible if Scotland alone were concerned ; and consequently may be the means of bringing the great principles involved in the contest more distinctly and impressively before the view of the whole Christian world than would otherwise have been possible. This is a very important consideration. The Church of Scotland is a minority in the British empire, and has therefore a perilous contest to wage. But Britain is a minority in the world, and is yet its moving power; evangelism is a minority in Christendom, and is yet its life; nay, Christianity is a minority among mankind, and is yet the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Is not Scottish evangelism at this moment in the position to bring before the universe the life, and light, and power of gospel truth and purity, in a manner, and to an extent never before possible since the fall of man? And is this a position, from the occupancy of which to turn away in mean, unmanly, and unchristian terror? Is it one to be abandoned for the sake of a speedy and fallacious peace, obtained perchance by means of some sinful and disgraceful compromise ? Most assuredly not. An unsatisfactory settlement, of a nature to obscure the principles, for the sake of which we stand on the field of conflict, would be an event to be deeply deplored by the whole Christian world. Even an early settlement is not greatly to be desired, however satisfactory, inasmuch as that might permit the attention of mankind to be too soon averted from the struggle, so that our sacred principles might not be sufficiently made known to all Christendom. Earnestly do we wish that such views of our duty, and our possible destiny, may enter deeply into the hearts of those distinguished men by whom, humanly speaking, the councils of our church are guided; that they may maintain the conflict with unyielding front-onor bate a jot of heart or hope, but still bear up, willing to suffer the loss of peace, domestic retirement, health, and life itself, if need be, so that they may be gloriously instrumental in declaring and defending those sacred truths and principles, which, sooner or later, shall guide the administration of the whole world, when He shall come whose right it is to reign, and when the kingdoms of this earth shall become the kingdoms of Jehovah and of His Anointed.
The path equally of duty and of safety seems to be this:-to maintain our principles, temperately yet fearlessly; to avail ourselves of every opportunity and every method of bringing these principles so clearly and prominently forward, that they cannot easily be misrepresented or misunderstood; respectfully and calm