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Such is a rough abstract of the religious statistics of this country at the opening of this present year. A reflective man who casts a glance at the table, and who considers the vast aggregate of annual strife, the controversial virulence, the ruptures of domestic peace, the alienations of friends, the social jealousies, the obstructions to brotherly love and benevolent effort, which these names and figures represent, will be apt to entertain the very obvious questions-Has it been so always? Is it so everywhere?

The answer to both questions may be given in as many sentences. In Scotland there was only one communion during the thousand years which intervened between the settlement of Christianity in the northern part of the island, and the appearance of John Knox. The same thing may be affirmed of the first fifteen centuries of the Christian religion considered generally, with some slight exceptions; and there is not a country in the world in which ancient faith is so relatively weak, and modern opinion so relatively strong, as in Scotland.

This fact will give pause to a thinking man, and of itself will induce him to enquire farther. It may be that the immense majority of Christians from the beginning have utterly mistaken and perverted their religion; but this, to say the least, is not likely beforehand, and he that affirms it must be well on in a belief, rather in his own infallibility or inspiration, than in the infallible promise and providence of Christ, or the inspiration of the New Testament. The broken surf of sects and schisms which beats on this corner of the world, and this corner of time, is not a sample of the wide ocean of Christian religion, else it would not be very safe to sail on.

There is, then, a double presumption that the popular theories of belief in this country are wrong. If we adopt the measure of territorial extent, it is Scotland against all Christendom. If we adopt the measure of historic duration, it is the Scotland of barely three hundred years against the Scotland of thrice three hundred, and against, we may say, the Christianity of the wide world from the beginning of the religion to the present hour.

It is on the score of this prima facie presumption that the argument of what is commonly called the Episcopal, or more consistently

and correctly the Reformed Catholic Church of this country, claims attention from the members of Protestant Separatism. We believe that an Institution, as well as a System of Doctrine, is part and parcel of the Christian Religion,-an Institution divinely constituted, and organically one; invested with certain inalienable functions, marked by certain indelible attributes, perpetuated according to one unchanging model, existing at the beginning, existing now, destined to exist till the end. We believe, in short, in consonance with the immemorial faith of Christendom, in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.'

How different is this belief from the popular religionism of Scotland in the nineteenth century! Does the New Testament-does the ancient creed of all Christendom-declare the necessity of one Church? We have at least a dozen. Does it signify the existence, within that one, of a Divine authority proper to itself? We have the various religious bodies, with two exceptions, either denying altogether that such an authority exists, or avowing that it is not peculiar to any of them.



Unity, in the plain English sense of the term, is very generally regarded as a thing unnecessary, and our ears are familiarized to the promiscuous praise of all denominations of Christians." The word Church has no plural in the New Testament except for place. There is not,' as has been well observed, a single instance in it of a believer who was not externally united with the rest in the profession of Christianity.' (Palmer on the Church.) We are accustomed at the present day to speak, or at least to hear others speak, of different 'Churches' in the same locality,-the Establishment, the Free, the Secession, the Congregational, the Baptist, the Methodist, and a multitude besides. But such a way of speaking would have been strange to the Apostles, was totally unknown in Christendom for the first 1500 years, would sound quite as uncouth as ever in the ears of nine-tenths of Christendom at the present moment, and is only familiar in this nook of the world and this little angle of time. read in Scripture of the Churches of Judea, Galatia, Antioch, Corinth, Rome; but we never read of opposition Churches setting up in defiance of each other in the same place. Not that divisions were unknown; but then they were called by their right name. The bodies separating from the original Institution were never recognised as capable of separate existence or an independent organism, or a perpetuated spiritual life, analogous to that of its own peaceful


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progeny, any more than an amputated arm would have been thought a thriving child. Divisions were not then unknown, but they were called by their right name. As yet, the gentle phraseology of the nineteenth century was uncoined; no honied tongue was as yet lisping about various denominations;' and 'dissent' had not as yet, to ears polite, become the mild substitute for Schism.' The holy Apostles used a bolder strain. 'There is One Body,' said St Paul; 'mark them who cause divisions, and avoid them.' from us,' said St John, because they were not of us.' In like manner has the idea of a Divine Authority, and that by necessary consequence, been obscured or lost. For how can any religious body, which owes its corporate existence, its organic constitution, and its distinctive identity, to the actings of any uninspired man, or set of men, at the distance of fifteen, sixteen, or eighteen hundred years from the time when the Christian religion began, and the Christian Church was founded,-how can such a body, if it do claim in any sense a divine commission, refuse to concede a share in it to other self-constituted bodies, whether they be twin secessions from the parent stock, or sub-secessions from itself? Accordingly, it is sometimes taken for granted, sometimes openly taught, that any voluntary league of individual Christians, whatever peculiar principles they may choose to adopt, or by what peculiar name they may choose to dub themselves, may vote themselves at will into a Church of Christ, and forthwith proceed to exercise all the corporate powers originally conferred on the Church of the Apostles. To such leagues no limit is put. Dissatisfaction with any of the older bodies is thought sufficient warrant, on the part of the dissatisfied, for the creation of a new. A new Church costs as little thought as a new club, or any fresh political confederacy. A few committees, a few monster meetings, a few thundering speeches, a few turns of the 'sustentation' screw, and the thing is done.

Have men lost their religion, or have they lost their wits, that they tamper thus recklessly with divine things, or imagine that they can force up their own modern institutions to a level with the Institution of Christ? If one Divine Institution existed once, what has become of it? Was this given to be copied, or to be kept,-as a model, or as a permanent reality? Is it the duty of Christians to set up Churches for themselves, or not simply to keep up, each in his own place, the Church set up once for all on the day of Pentecost? Surely to these questions but one answer can be returned in any pious, im

partial, and rightly-educated mind. Surely it sounds like a truism to say that if a Divine Church was in the world, as the product, nay, rather as a constituent part, of the most recent of the divine revelations, that Church must be existent still. What presumptuous folly to suppose that God's Institution would ever fall, for man's institutions to rise on the ruins of it; that His arrangements would fail, and ours succeed; that what He made once, we have cause or power to make over again!

The oldest of the separated bodies in Scotland is not yet three hundred years of age-it has not existed quite one-sixth of the entire duration of the Christian religion and the Catholic Church. Does any one believe, then, that inspiration was revived, and the old revelation superseded, at the epoch in question? The Church Catholic was founded on the day of Pentecost, A. D. 29. Was it abrogated in deference to the institution of John Knox in 1560? Was that individual inspired and authorised to put down the Apostolic polity, and set up his own in its stead, as the Twelve, fifteen hundred and thirty years before, were authorised to abolish the Mosaic polity, and set up the apostolic? If not, the corollary is clear. No self-constituted body, springing into existence in a recent age, can extrude, or supplant, or pretend to rival, the Church of Pentecost. The only ecclesiastical authority on earth must depend on derivation from, and corporate identity with, it. Likeness is not enough, there must be sameness. We may fashion a statue, God only can create a man. We may organize Churches, God only THE CHURCH.

These desultory thoughts may serve to introduce an argument, which we hope to prosecute at leisure hereafter. Meantime let us bespeak a candid and earnest consideration from our brethren that are without, for views which may be new to some of them. And difficult as it is to hang the dewdrop on the thorn of controversy,' it is the trust of those who write in the present periodical, that they may be shielded from the controversial temptations so peculiarly incident to their theme; that they may be preserved from substituting unseemly railing or angry declamation for calm and sober argument; that the inevitable repugnance to the truths they state may not be increased by any harshness in the mode of stating them; and that whatever may be thought of the force of the reasoning, no fault be found with its temper.


AMID the conflicting din which pervades this Mammon-loving island, an occasional whisper of national insecurity arises among the busy throng, a sort of intrusive warning, that things may not always be as they are at present, and that although we toil to heap up riches, others may, perchance, be fated to gather them. Sometimes this desultory warning proceeds from some obscure, though meditative individual, who, apart from active life, may have time to ponder on the variableness of human affairs, and struck with the reckless race which a whole nation seems to run, puts forth a theory tinged, perhaps, with the fears of an over-excited temperament, but replete with prospects of national disasters. Sometimes an ingenious fabricator of articles, necessary to fill the columns of a newspaper at a dull period, diverges from the ordinary list of individual casualities, and takes the wider range of national fears for his theme. But from whatever source they may proceed, we find in periodicals, from time to time, ingenious essays, pointing out our defenceless state, and urging the probability that, unless a wiser course be adopted, England, great, glorious, and free,' 'must in her turn to tyrants fall.' Hitherto, these speculations have been little heeded in public. Undoubtedly, many an individual, not necessarily therefore timid, has shuddered at the thought of beholding the glitter of French bayonets in the now peaceful vales and plains of Kent and Sussex; and reverted, with a feeling of horror, to the atrocities committed by those armies in Spain and Portugal; but the feeling gradually subsides: a judicious article in the Times proves to the satisfaction of its readers, and, doubtless, to its own also, by a few well chosen statistical references, that such a calamity is impossible: fears are allayed, and we hear of them no more.


Latterly, however, the subject has been taken up in a more serious and deliberate manner by the highest possible authority. We have the calm and solemn statements of an illustrious commander, whose military knowledge and experience far exceed those of any other living individual, that he has for years past been contemplating with anxiety the defenceless state, not only of our coasts, but of the kingdom generally, and the low ebb to which our means of resistance, offensive and defensive, have been rashly and imprudently reduced. Other individuals also, of high rank, extensive knowledge, and unbiassed judgment, coincide with the opinions expressed by our great

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