« السابقةمتابعة »
Ar the commencement of a new periodical publication, it is no less a duty towards the reader, than an advantage to the work itself, to avow its true character and object. It is no part of our design to entangle additional supporters by hoisting false colours, or to propitiate opposite parties by spurious conciliation. We start, then, having for our primary object, the welfare of the Church,-that one indivisible body, having many members, but all united in one common interest, and one Great Head. This we hope to make the ruling principle of the writings which may appear in this publication; not confining our efforts, however, to dogmatising theories, or discussions of abstract doctrine; but endeavouring practically to enforce the duties, and illustrate the privileges which the Church offers for the observance and benefit of her children. But in subordination to this great and general end, we propose, in a more particular and local sense, to direct our energies to the defence and advancement of that branch of the true Catholic Church, which, though for the present disestablished, exists (would that we could say flourishes!) in this portion of the United Kingdom. It is not our intention here to enter into any account of that small but interesting portion of Christ's flock; but we may observe, that for nearly a century it had been in a state of actual proscription
'When persecution waved her iron rod,
And men still waged an impious war with God.'
And even since those foul blots were erased from the statute-book, and the Church was restored to the use of her apostolic services without risk of incurring the fearful penalties imposed by an unholy race of legislators, her poverty and paucity of numbers kept her in
such a state of obscurity, that her very name and existence were unknown to the world at large beyond the Scottish border. Of late years, however, a portion of that reanimating spirit which the Great Head of the Church has sent among his people on earth, has been communicated to this small and retired branch; and she begins to lift up her head, and take her place among the lights of the world. In spite of the dulness and apathy which too frequently prevail in her high places, she has, under the influence of faithful sons, put forth her strength with the most consoling and encouraging success. Under their energies, temples fit for the worship of the Most High rise rapidly around us, and when schism endeavours to distract her powers, diminish her usefulness, falsify her history, and misrepresent her offices, we see champions of the truth come forth in succession from her slender ranks, who, while they confound the devices of her adversaries, diffuse a knowledge of her excellencies into wider and yet wider circles. We firmly believe that every attack made upon the doctrines and practice of the Church in Scotland has been serviceable to her cause. Possessing, as she does, the inestimable quality of Truth, she can only be benefited ultimately by becoming known and those attempts which aim at a total prostration of her usefulness, end not only in the confusion of her adversaries, but in the establishment of her Catholic orthodoxy. Notwithstanding, however, the known existence of much and varied talent in the body of Scottish Churchmen, lay as well as clerical, no attempt to establish a regular periodical publication in consonance with their principles, has yet succeeded. It would be a waste of time to enter into a detail of the reasons for these failures; but there are one or two obvious points which require remark. The Scottish Church, as before observed, is numerically a small body, and generally speaking, as far as its wealth is concerned, a torpid one. Now, it is well known, that in all worldly exertions, hereditary wealth and property rarely take the initiative. It is the active spirit, which has not so much in fruition, but looks forward to the fruits of enterprise, which carries its measures to perfection. In Scotland, the Church, that is, the body of nominal Churchmen, is probably the wealthiest of any class; and it was stated in a publication not long since, that the united incomes of the Scottish Episcopal landed proprietors exceed three millions sterling annually! Yet the Scottish Clergy are the poorest in the Christian world, and in many instances, have great difficulty in struggling through the year. Their minimum income, as fixed by the
Episcopal Society, is £80 per annum; and as few of them have private incomes, in many cases that must be the maximum also. The annual sum collected in Scotland for the Episcopal Society does not on the average exceed fifteen hundred pounds! Let us place as a contrast to this, the brief career of the last body of dissenters from the Presbyterian Establishment. In a period little exceeding four years, their active industry has organized an establishment in mockery of their late brethren, instituted and maintained periodicals, and collected the enormous sum of a million and one quarter sterling. The strength of this body lies in numerical force; and although they have few members in the high and rich classes, they include vast numbers of that middling rank, whose contributions are always more ready, and even proportionably more liberal, than those of the aristocratic On the other hand, the Church in Scotland has few of the middling class, consisting chiefly of the two extreme sections of society, whereof the one cannot, the other cares not, to support her measures. Thus external circumstances have hitherto militated against the success of these publications, but we understand also, that there were internal errors which contributed to the same result. The spirit of party and personal feelings gained possession of their pages, and thus, what was intended to be the vehicle of Catholic principles and doctrines, became the mere channel of personal acrimony. Undismayed, however, by these failures, we again advance into the field; and as we trust, in all humility, to avoid the rocks on which our predecessors wrecked themselves, so we hope that the im proved condition of ecclesiastical matters will afford us better hopes of success. We have before alluded to the complete ignorance which, generally speaking, prevailed out of Scotland respecting this Church. To some extent this mist has been dispelled, this darkness cleared away. The greater intercourse which has latterly taken place, and is still increasing, between the two divisions of the Island; the writings and missions of Scottish Clergy; and even the attacks of enemies, have brought the Church into more prominent notice. Still, however, throughout England, considerable misapprehension prevails respecting her. Multitudes there are, and ever have been, who are content to take for granted what they hear, and will scarcely think or inquire for themselves. In this respect, the assumption, by the Presbyterian Establishment, of the name which belongs only to bran
* Last year they were increased to £90; but whether this addition would be permanent, is doubtful.
ches of the one true Catholic body, has caused much confusion. People heard of the Church of Scotland: they knew not that the body so called was the mere creation of political expediency; and that with the name it had usurped the property and functions of the true Church. And in the absence of all information on the real state of matters, it is not surprising, when Catholic knowledge was at so low an ebb that people only just believed there could not be two Churches in the same country, that they sat down contented to acquiesce in that which was sanctioned by the law of the land, without examining the claims of the true Communion, even if they knew of its existence.
Our present publication will, we trust, be serviceable in this respect, and tend to exhibit the position of this Church in the proper light. We look for greater sympathy and interest from our brethren in England, when they learn to know us better: we look for the return of stray members to the flock in this our land. We firmly believe, that were the principles of the Church better known, her numbers would be indefinitely increased: that the smouldering ashes of orthodox belief may yet be kindled into a flame again, where the flame has long been deemed extinct. Since the Church has been strengthening her stakes, and lengthening her cords, many sons and daughters have been restored to her communion, who had long been innocent partakers of the schism which descended to them from their progenitors. When the turbulence of faction, and the results of successful usurpation had prostrated the altars of God in this land, the rightful religious principle might and did, for a while, struggle against the schismatical establishment which was then set up by law; but the lamp which is not fed with oil will expire: principles, unsupported by external aids to devotion, will become corrupt: and as the innate worshipping principle of man cannot be satisfied without a participation in religious services, which the Church was no longer able to supply, the congregations belonging to the Church, which thenceforth was forbidden by impious and tyrannical laws to feed her children with the bread of life, gradually became absorbed and amalgamated in the new and erroneous system, to which alone, as a medium of public worship, they had access; and thus many a family once alienated, as it were, by necessity, from the truth, has slumbered in error and schism, until roused again by the awakening voice of the Church.
In the course of maturing our present plan, we have naturally