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First Impressions of England and its People
Chapter XX


Dissent a Mid-formation Organism in England. — Church of Englandism strong among the Upper and Lower Classes: its Peculiar Principle of Strength among the Lower ; among the Upper. — The Church of England one of the strongest Institutions of the Country. — Puseyism, however, a Canker-worm at its Root; Partial Success of the Principle. — The Type of English Dissent essentially different from that of Scotland ; the Causes of the Difference deep in the Diverse Character of the two Peoples.—Insulated Character of the Englishman productive of Independency.—Adhesive Character of the Scotch productive of Presbyterianism. — Attempts to legislate for the Scotch in Church Matters on an English Principle always unfortunate.—Erastianism; essentially a different thing to the English Churchman from what it is to the Scot. — Reason why.—Independent Scotch Congregation in a Rural District. — Rarely well based ; and why. — Conclusion.

When I first came among the English, I was impressed by the apparent strength of Dissent in the country. At least two out of every three Englishmen I met in the lodging-houses, and no inconsiderable proportion of the passengers by the railways, so far as I could ascertain their denominations, were, I found, Dissenters. I had lodged in respectable second-class coffee-houses and inns : I had travelled on the rails by the second-class carriages: I had thus got fairly into a middle stratum of English society, and was not aware at the time that, like some of the geologic formations, it has its own peculiar organisms, essentially different, in the group, from those of either the stratum above or the stratum below. Dissent is a mid-formation organism in England; whereas Church of Englandism more peculiarly belongs to the upper and lower strata. Church of Englandism puts up at the first-class inns, travels by the first-class carriages, possesses the titles, the large estates and the manor-houses, and enjoys, in short, the lion’s share of the vested interests. And in the lower stratum it is also strong after a sort: there exists in its favor a powerful prejudice, capable of being directed to the accomplishment of purposes of either good or evil.

Among the mid-stratum Dissent of England I found a marked preponderance of Independency, which, indeed, seems the true type of English Dissent in the middle walks; and shrewd, intelligent, thoroughly respectable men the English Independents are. But when I descended to a humbler order of lodging-houses, and got by this means among the lower English people, I lost sight of Independency altogether. The only form of Dissent I then encountered was Wesleyism, — in the New Connection, political, speculative, and not over sound in its theology, — in the Old, apparently much more quiet, more earnest, and more under the influence of religious feeling. The type of Dissent seems as decidedly Wesleyan among the humbler English, as it is Independent among the middle classes; nay, judging from what I saw, — and my observations, if necessarily not very numerous, were at least made at points widely apart, — I am inclined to believe that a preponderating share of the vital religion of the laborers and handicraftsmen of the English people is to be found comprised among the membership of this excellent body. And yet, after all, it takes up but comparatively a small portion of the lower population of the country. Among the great bulk of the humbler people, religion exists, not as a vitality, — not even as a speculative system, — but simply as an undefined hereditary prejudice, that looms large and uncertain in the gloom of darkened intellects. And, to the extent to which this prejudice is influential, it favors the stability of the Established Church. The class who entertain it evince a marked neglect of the Church’s services, — give no heed to her teachings, — rarely enter her places of worship even, — nay, her right has been challenged to reckon on them as adherents at all. They have been described as a neutral party, that should be included neither in the census of Dissent nor of the Establishment. But to the Establishment they decidedly belong. They regard the National Church as theirs, — as a Church of which an Englishman may well be proud, and in which each one of them, some short time before he dies, is to become decent and devout. And there may be much political strength, be it remarked, in prejudices of this character. Protestantism in the Lord George Gordon mobs was but a prejudice, not a religion. These mobs, scarce less truly in history than as drawn by Dickens, were religious mobs without religion; but the prejudice was, notwithstanding, a strong political element, which, until a full half-century had worn it out of the English mind, rendered concession to the Papists unsafe. We see nearly the same phenomenon exhibited by the Orangemen of Ireland of the present day, — a class with whom Protestantism is a vigorous, influential principle, though it bears scarce any reference to a world to come; and find, in like manner, the Episcopalian prejudice strong among the English masses broken loose from religion.

Church of Englandism is peculiarly strong in the upper walks of English society. Like the old brazen statue, huge enough to hold a lighthouse in its hand, it strides across the busy current of middle English life, and plants its one colossal foot among the lower orders, and the other among the aristocracy. It undoubtedly possesses among the higher classes a double element of strength. It il5 strong, on the principle eulogized by Burke, from the union which it exhibits of high rank and the sacerdotal character. Religion developed in the Puritanic type, and existing as an energetic reforming spirit, is quite as independent of riches and exalted station in its ministers now as in the days of the apostles; but to religion existing simply as a conservative influence, — and such is its character in the upper walks of English society, — wealth and title are powerful adjuncts. When the mere conservative clergyman has earls and dukes to address, he is considerably more influential as a rector than as a curate, and as an archbishop than as a dean. The English hierarchy is fitted to the English aristocracy. And, further, the Church of England, as an Establishment, derives no little strength through an element from which the Establishment of Scotland, owing in part to its inferior wealth, but much more to the very different genius of the Scotch people, derives only weakness, — it is strong in its secular and Erastian character. There is scarce an aristocratic interest in the country, Whig or Tory, with which it is not intertwined, nor a great family that has not a large money stake involved in its support. Like a stately tree that has sent its roots deep into the joints and crannies of a rock, and that cannot be uprooted without first tearing open with levers and wedges the enclosing granite, it would seem as if the aristocracy would require to be shaken and displaced by revolution, ere, in the natural course of things, the English Establishment could come down. The Church of England is, at the present moment, one of the strongest institutions of the country.

There is, however, a canker-worm at its root. The revival of the High Church element, in even its more modified form, bodes it no good; while in the extreme Puseyite type it is fraught with danger. In the conversions to Popery to which the revival has led, the amount of damage done to the Establishment is obvious. We see it robbed of some of its more earnest, energetic men. These, however, form merely a few chips and fragments struck off the edifice. But the eating canker, introduced by the principle into its very heart, threatens results of a greatly more perilous cast, — results none the less formidable from the circumstance that the mischief inflicted is of too covert a nature to be exactly estimated. If the axe of an enemy has assailed the supporting posts of the hut of the Indian, he can at once calculate on the extent of the damage received; but the ravages of the white ants, that scoop out the body of the wood, leaving merely a thin outside film, elude calculation, and he trembles lest the first hurricane that arises should bury him in the ruins of the weakened structure. This much, at least, is obvious, — the position in which the revived influence has placed the English Church is one of antagonism to the tendencies of the age; and equally certain it is that institutions waste away, like ice-flows stranded in thaw-swollen rivers, when the general current of the time has set in against them. The present admiration of the mediaeval cannot be other than a mere transitory freak of fashion. The shadow on the great dial of human destiny will not move backward: vassalage and serfship will not return. There is too wide a diffusion of the morning light for bat-eyed superstition; and the light is that of the morning, — not of the close of day. Science will continue to extend the limits of her empire, and to increase the numbers of her adherents, unscared by any spectre of the defunct scholastic philosophy which Oxford may evoke from the abyss. Nay, the goblin, like those spirits that used to carry away with them, in their retreat, whole sides of houses, will be formidable, in the end, to but the ecclesiastical institution in which it has been raised. It is worthy of notice, too, that though Popery and Puritanism — the grand antagonistic principles of church history for at least the last four centuries — are both possessed of great inherent power, the true analogue of modern Puseyism proved but a weakling, even when at its best: it was found not to possess inherent power. The Canterburianism of the times of Charles the First did that hapless monarch much harm. But while many a gallant principle fought for him in the subsequent struggle, from the old chivalrous honor and devoted loyalty of the English gentleman, down to even the poetry of the playhouse and the esprit du corps of the green-room, we find in the thick of the conflict scarce any trace of the religion of Laud. It resembled the mere scarlet rag that at the Spanish festival irritates the bull, but is of no after use in the combat. It is further deserving of remark, that an English Church reformed in its legislative and judicial framework to the very heart’s wish of the Puseyite, would not be greatly more suited to the genius of the English people than in that existing state of the institution over which the Puseyite sighs. To no one circumstance is the Church more indebted for its preservation than to the suppression of that Court of Convocation which Puseyism is so anxious to restore. The General Assemblies and Synods of Presbyterian Scotland form, from their great admixture of the lay element, ecclesiastical parliaments that represent the people; and their meetings add immensely to the popular interest in the Churches to which they belong; but the Convocation was a purely sacerdotal court. It formed a mere clerical erection, as little representative in its character as the Star Chamber of Charles. It was suppressed just as it was becoming thoroughly alien to the English spirit; and its restoration at the present time would be one of the greatest calamities that could befall the English Establishment.

Of the partial successes of Puseyism I cannot speak from direct observation. There are cases, however, in which it seems to have served to some extent the ends which it was resuscitated to accomplish; — in one class of instances, through the support lent it by a favoring aristocracy, — in another class, through the appliance of means more exclusively its own. And, at the risk of being somewhat tedious, I shall present the reader with a specimen of each.

It has been told me by an intelligent friend, who resided for some time in a rich district in one of the midland counties, in which the land for many miles round is parcelled out among some three or four titled proprietors, that he found Protestant Dissent wholly crushed in the locality, — its sturdier adherents cast out, — its weaker ones detached from their old communions, and brought within the pale of the Establishment, — and a showy if not very earnest Puseyism reigning absolute. The change had been mainly brought about, he ascertained, by the female members of the great landholding families. The ladies of the manors had been vastly more active than their lords, with wdiose Conservative leanings, however, the servile politics of Puseyism agreed well. Charities to the poor of the district had been extensively doled out on the old non-compulsory scheme; but regular attendance at the parish church, or the chapel attached to the mansion-house, was rendered all-essential in constituting a claim : the pauper who absented himself might, if he pleased, fall back on the workhouse and crush bones. Schools had been erected in which the rising generation might be at once shown the excellence and taught the trick of implicit submission to authority; and the pupils who attended school had to attend church also, as a matter of course. Even their parents had been successfully hounded out. Lords of the manor have no little power in England where their tenants are tenants-at-will, and where almost every cottage of the villages on their lands is their own property. Obstinate Dissenters found the controversy speedily settled by their removal from the scene of it; while the less stubborn learned in time to grope their way to the parish church. Even the itin-erant preacher now finds himself barred out of districts in which he could draw around him considerable audiences only a few years ago. There are eyes on his old hearers, and they keep out of ear-shot of his doctrine. And this state7 of things obtains in localities in which the clergy, though essentially Puseyite, are by no means so overburdened by earnestness as to be in danger of precipitating themselves on Rome. I have heard of a whole parish brought out by such means to listen to a zealous sprig of High Churchism who preached to them with a broken face, — the result of an accident which he had met at a fox-hunt a few days before.

This, however, is not a safe, nor can it be an enduring triumph. To use Cowper’s figure, the bow forced into too violent a curve will scarce fail to leap into its “first position with a spring.” The reaction in English society on the restraint of the times of Cromwell, which so marked the reign of Charles the Second, will be but faintly typical of the reaction destined to take place in these districts. It is according to the unvarying principles of human nature, that the bitterest enemies of High Churchism and a High Church aristocracy England ever produced should be reared at the Puseyite schools and churches, which mere tyrant compulsion has thus served to fill. In the other class of cases in which the revived religion has triumphed, its successes have been of a more solid and less perilous character. I have been informed by a friend resident in one of the busier English towns, that by far the most influential and flourishing congregation of the place is a Puseyite one. Some eight or ten years ago it had been genteelly Evangelistic ; but, without becoming less earnest, it had got fairly afloat on the rising tide of revived Anglo-Catholicism, and had adopted both the doctrines and the policy of the Puseyite party. It has its energetic, active staff of visiting ladies, who recommend themselves to the poor of the district by their gratuitous labors and their charities. Its clergyman, too, is a laborious, devoted man, frequent in his visits to families saddened by bereavement or afflicted by disease ; and the congregation have their missionary besides,— a person of similar character, — to second and multiply in the same walk the endeavors of his superior. Whatever Moderatism and its congeners may think of the aggressive system of Dr. Chalmers, Puseyism at least does not deem it either unimportant or impracticable. The revived principle is, besides, found supplementing the system with expedients of its own. The Whig poor-law adds, as has been shown, to Puseyite influence; and Puseyism adds to that influence still more, by denouncing the Whig poor-law. Is a pauper in the locality aggrieved through the neglect or cruelty of some insolent official? — Puseyism in this congregation takes up his cause and fights his battle ; and hence great popularity among the poorer classes, and pews crowded with them to the doors; while Evangelistic clergymen of the Establishment, in the same town, have to preach to nearly empty galleries, and the Dissenters of the place are fain to content themselves with retaining unshortened, and hardly that, their old rolls of membership. The only aggressive, increscent power in the locality is Puseyism. Nor is it found, as in the case of the Popish converts, precipitating itself on Rome. Much must depend, in matters of this kind, on the peculiar character of the leading minds of a congregation. Mr. Newman has become a zealous Papist; but Dr. Pusey, on the other hand, is still a member of the Church of England ; and it is a well-known historical fact, that Laud, with all his Popish leanings, refused a cardinal’s hat, and died an English bishop. There are minds that, like Mahomet’s coffin, can rest in a middle region, surrounded by balancing attractions, — that can dwell on premises without passing to conclusions, — and' thus resist the gravitating influence ; and in the English Establishment the balancing attractions are many and powerful. Hence the midway position occupied by the great bulk of the English Puseyites, and the bad metaphysics with which they bemuse themselves, in justifying their sudden halt at what should be so palpable a point of progress. As has been quaintly remarked by an English clergyman on the opposite side of the Church, “they set out for Rome, but stopped short on reaching Appii Forum, and got drunk at the Three Taverns.”

But enough, and, I am afraid, more than enough, of Puseyism. It forms, however, one of the most remarkable features of the domestic history of England in the present day; and seems destined powerfully to affect, in the future, the condition and standing of the great ecclesiastical institution of the country. And it is worth while bestowing a little attention on a phenomenon which the future chronicler may have to record as by far the most influential among various causes which led to the downfall of the English Establishment. It may yet come to be written as history, that this great and powerful institution, when casting about for an element of strength, instead of availing herself of the Evangelism of_ her first Reformers, — the only form of religion fitted to keep ahead of the human mind in its forward movement, — attached herself to that old stationary religion of resuscitated tradition, idle ceremony, and false science, which her reformers had repudiated; and that, unable, in consequence, to prosecute the onward voyage, the great tidal wave of advancing civilization bore her down, and she foundered at anchor.

I was a good deal impressed by the marked difference which obtains between the types of English and Scotch Dissent. They indicate, I am of opinion, the very opposite characters of the two countries. No form of Dissent ever flourished in Scotland that was not of the Presbyterian type. The Relief body, — the various branches of the Secession, — the Free Church, — the followers of Richard Cameron, — are all Presbyterian. Wesleyism thrives but indifferently; — Independency, save where sustained by the superior talents of its preachers in large towns, where the character of the people has become more cosmopolitan and less peculiarly Scotch than in the smaller towns and the country, gets on at least no better;— Episcopacy, with fashion, title and great wealth, on its side, scarce numbers in its ranks the one-sixtieth part of the Scotch people. Presbyterianism, and that alone, is the true national type of the religion of Scotland. In England, on the other hand, there are two distinct national types, — the Episcopalian and the Independent; and both flourish to the exclusion of almost every other. Wesleyism also flourishes ; but Wesleyism may be properly regarded as an off-shoot of Episcopacy. In the New Connection there is a palpable development of the Independent spirit; but in that genuine Wesleyism established by Wesley, which gives its preachers at will to its people, and removes them at pleasure, and which possesses authority, order, and union, without popular representation, the spirit and principle is decidedly Episcopalian. It may be worth while examining into a few of the more prominent causes in which these ecclesiastical peculiarities of the two countries have in a great measure originated, altogether independently of the jus divinum arguments of the theologian, or of the influences which these exercise.

There obtains a marked difference in one important respect between English and Scotch character. The Englishman stands out more separate and apart as an individual; the Scotchman is more mixed up, through the force of his sympathies, with the community to which he belongs. The Englishman’s house is his castle, and he glories in its being such. England is a country studded over with innumerable detached fortalices, each one furnished with its own sturdy independent castellan, ready, no doubt, to join, for purposes of mutual defence, with his brother castellans, but not greatly drawn towards them by the operation of any internal sympathy. Englishmen somewhat resemble, in this respect, particles of matter lying outside the sphere of the attractive influences, and included within that of the repulsive ones. The population exists as separate parts, like loose grains of sand in a heap, — not in one solid mass, like agglutinated grains of the same sand consolidated into a piece of freestone. Nothing struck my Scotch eyes, in the rural districts, as more unwonted and peculiar than the state of separatism which neighbors of a class that in Scotland would be on the most intimate terms maintain with respect to each other. I have seen, in instances not a few, the whole farmers of a Scotch rural parish forming, with their families, one unbroken circle of acquaintance, all on visiting terms, and holding their not unfrequent tea-parties together, and all knowing much of one another’s history and prospects. And no Scotchman resident in the parish, however humble, — whether hind or laborer, — but knew, I have found, who lived in each farm-house, and was acquainted in some degree with at least the more palpable concerns of its inmates. Now, no such sociableness appears to exist in the rural parishes of England; and neighbor seems to know scarce anything of neighbor.

In the “Essay on National Character,” we find Hume remarking a different phase of the same phenomenon, and assigning a reason for it. “We may often observe,” he says, “ a wonderful mixture of manners and characters in the same nation, speaking the same language, and subject to the same government; and in this particular the English are the most remarkable of any people that perhaps ever were in the world. Nor is this to be ascribed to the mutability and uncertainty of their climate, or to any other physical causes, since all these causes take place in the neighboring country of Scotland, without having the same effect. Where the government of a nation is altogether republican, it is apt to beget a peculiar set of manners. Where it is altogether monarchical, it is more apt to have the same effect, — the imitation of superiors spreading the national manners faster among the people. If the governing part of a state consists altogether of merchants, as in Holland, their uniform way of life will fix the character. If it consists chiefly of nobles and landed gentry, like Germany, France, and Spain, the same effect follows. The genius of a particular sect or religion is also apt to mould the manners of a people. But the English government is a mixture of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. The people in authority are composed of gentry and merchants. All sorts of religion are to be found among them.; and the great liberty and independency which every man enjoys allows him to display the manners peculiar to him. Hence the English, of any people in the universe, have the least of a national character, unless this very singularity may pass for such.” Such is the estimate of the philosopher; and it seems but natural that, in a country in which the people are so very various in character, the extreme diversity of their tastes, feelings, and opinions, should fix them rather within the sphere of the repulsive than of the attractive influences.

Certain it is that the multitudinous sources of character in England do not merge into one great stream : the runnels keep apart, each pursuing its own separate course; and hence, apparently, one grand cause of the strange state of separatism which appears among the people. It seems scarce possible to imagine a fitter soil, than that furnished by a characteristic so peculiar, for the growth of an Independent form of Christianity. The influences of Evangelism are attractive in their nature : they form the social prayer-meeting, the congregation, the national Church, and, spreading outwards and onwards, -embrace next the Church catholic and universal, and then the whole human family. And unquestionably in the Evangelism of Independency, as in Evangelism in every other form, there is much of this attractive influence. But it is the distinctive peculiarity of its structure that it insulates every congregation, as forming of itself a complete Christian Church, independent in its laws, and not accountable to any ecclesiastical body for its beliefs; and this peculiarity finds in the English mind the most suitable soil possible for its growth. The country of insulated men is the best fitted to be also the country of insulated Churches. Even the Episcopacy of the national Church has assumed in many districts a decidedly Independent type. The congregations exist as separate, detached communities, — here Puseyite, there Evangelical, — High Church in one parish, Rationalistic in another; and, practically at least, no general scheme of government or of discipline binds them into one.

But while the Englishman is thus detached and solitary, the Scotchman is mixed up, by the force of his sympathies, with the community to which he belongs. He is a minute portion of a great aggregate, which he always realizes to himself in its aggregate character. And this peculiarity we find embodied in our proverbs and songs, and curiously portrayed, in its more blamable or more ludicrous manifestations, in the works of the English satirists. “Most Scotchmen,” said Johnson, in allusion to the Ossianic controversy, “love Scotland better than truth, and almost all of them love it better than inquiry.” “You are almost the only instance of a Scotchman that I have known,” we find him saying, on another occasion, to Boswell, “who did not at every other sentence bring in some other Scotchman.” — “One grand element in the success of Scotchmen in London,” he yet again remarks, “ is their nationality. Whatever any one Scotchman does, there are five hundred more prepared to applaud. I have been asked by a Scotchman to recommend to a place of trust a man in whom he had no other interest than simply that he was a countryman.” — “‘Your Grace kens we Scotch are clannish bodies,’” says Mrs. Glass, in the “Heart of Mid Lothian,” to the Duke of Argyll.“ "So much the better for us,” replies the Duke, “and the worse for those who meddle with us.’” — “Perhaps,” remarks Sir Walter, in his own person, in the same work, “one ought to be actually a Scotchman, to conceive how ardently, under all distinctions of rank and situation, the Scotch feel the mutual connection with each other, as natives of the same country.” But it may seem needless to multiply illustrations of a peculiarity so generally recognized. The gregariousness of the Scotch, — “Highlanders! shoulder to shoulder,” — the abstract coherency of the people as a nation, — their peculiar pride in the history of their country, — their strong exhilarating associations with battle-fields on which the conflict terminated more than six hundred years ago, — their enthusiastic regard for the memory of heroes many centuries departed, who fought and bled in the national behalf, — are all well-known manifestations of a prominent national trait. Unlike the English, the Scotch form, as a people, not a heap of detached particles, but a mass of aggregated ones; and hence, since at least the days of Knox, Scotland has formed one of the most favorable soils for the growth of Protestantism, in a Presbyterian type, which the world has yet seen. The insulating bias of the English character leads to the formation of insulated Churches ; while this aggregate peculiarity of the Scottish character has a tendency at least equally direct to bind its congregations together into one grand Church, with the area, not of a single building, but of the whole kingdom, for its platform. It is not uninstructive to mark, in the national history, how thoroughly and soon the idea of Presbyterianism. recommended itself to the popular mind in Scotland. Presbyterianism found a soil ready prepared for it in the national predilection; and its paramount idea as a form of ecclesiastical government seemed the one natural idea in the circumstances. An Englishman might have thought of gathering together a few neighbors, and making a Church of them ; the Scotchman at once determined on making a Church of all Scotland.

It seems necessary to the right understanding of the leading ecclesiastical questions of Scotch and English history, that these fundamental peculiarities of the two countries should be correctly appreciated. The attempt to establish a Scottish Church on an English principle filled an entire country with persecution and suffering, and proved but an abortive attempt, after all. And a nearly similar transaction in our own times has dealt to the cause of ecclesiastical Establishments in Britain by far the severest blow it has ever yet sustained. What was perhaps the strongest of the three great religious Establishments of the empire, has become, in at least an equal degree, the weakest; and a weak State Church placed in the midst of a polemical people, is weakness very perilously posted.

In no respect did the national Churches of England and Scotland differ more, as originally established, — the one at the Reformation and Restoration, the other at the Reformation and Revolution,—than in the place and the degree of power which they assigned to the civil magistrate. The Scottish Church gave up to his control all her goods and chattels, and the persons of her members, but allowed him no voice in ecclesiastical matters; fully recognizing, however, as an obvious principle of adjustment, that when their decisions chanced to clash in any case, the civil magistrate should preserve his powers as intact over the temporalities involved, as the Church over the spiritualities. The magistrate maintained his paramount place in his own province, and disposed at will, in every case of collision, of whatever the State had given to the Church,— lands, houses, or money; while the Church, on the other hand, maintained in her own peculiar field her independence entire, and exercised uncontrolled those inherent powers which the State had not conferred upon her. She wielded in the purely ecclesiastical field a sovereign authority; but, like that of the British monarch, it was authority subject to a stringent check: the civil magistrate could, when he willed, stop the supplies. In England, on the contrary, it was deemed unnecessary to preserve any such nice balance of civil and ecclesiastical power. The monarch, in his magisterial capacity, assumed absolute supremacy in all cases, spiritual as well as temporal; and the English Church, satisfied that it should be so, embodied the principle in the Articles, which all her clergy are necessitated to subscribe. So essentially different was the genius of the two countries, that the claim on the part of the civil magistrate which convulsed Scotland for more than a hundred years, to be ultimately rejected at the Revolution, was recognized and admitted in England at once and without struggle.

The necessary effects of this ecclesiastical supremacy on the part of the sovereign are of a kind easily estimated. One has but to observe its workings, and then try it by its fruits. That there exists no discipline in the Anglican Church, is an inevitable consequence of the paramount place which her standards assign to the civil magistrate. For it is of the nature of civil law that it will not bear — let men frame its requirements and penalties as they may — against what happen for the time to be the gentlemanly vices. If hard drinking chance to be fashionable, as fashionable it has been, no one is ever punished for hard drinking. A gentleman may get drunk with impunity at a chief magistrate’s table, and have the chief magistrate’s companionship in the debauch, to set him all the more at his ease. In like manner, if swearing chance to be fashionable, as fashionable it has been, even grave magistrates learn to swear, and no one is ever fined for dropping an oath. Exactly the same principle applies to the licentious vices: there are stringent laws in the statute-book against bastardy; but who ever saw them enforced to the detriment of a magistrate or a man of fortune ? And it is by no means in exclusively a corrupt state of the courts of law that this principle prevails: it obtains also in their ordinary efficient condition, in which they protect society against the swindler and the felon, and do justice between man and man. It is of their nature as civil courts, — not a consequence of any extraordinary corruption, — that they will not bear against the gentlemanly vices ; and it is equally of their nature, too, in a country such as Britain, in which the influence of the toleration laws has been directing for ages the course of public opinion, that they should be thoroughly indif ferent to the varieties of religious belief. Unless the heresiarch be an indecent atheist, who insults society and blasphemes God, he is quite as good a subject, in the eye of the law, as the orthodox assertor of the national creed.

Now, the magistrate does not relinquish this indiflerency to mere matters of doctrine, and this leniency with regard to the genteeler offences,' by being made supreme in ecclesiastical matters. On the contrary, he brings them with him into the ecclesiastical court, where he decides in the name of the sovereign ; and the clergyman, whom he tries in his character as such, is quite as safe, if his vices be but of the gentlemanly cast, or his offences merely offences of creed, as if he were simply a layman. Hence the unvarying character of decisions by the English judges in Church cases. Is an appeal carried to the civil magistrate by a clergyman deprived for drunkenness ? — the civil magistrate finds, as in a late instance, that the appellant is, in the main, a person of kindly dispositions and a good heart, and so restores him to his office. Is an appeal carried by a clergyman deprived for licentiousness and common swearing?—the magistrate concludes that there would be no justice in robbing a person of his bread for mere peccadilloes of so harmless a character, and so restores him to his office. Is an appeal carried by a clergyman deposed for simony ? — the civil magistrate finds that a man is not to be cut off from his own living for having sold some two or three others, and so restores him to his office. Is a clergyman a frequenter, on his own confession in open court, of houses of bad fame? — What of that? What civil magistrate could be so recklessly severe as to divest a highly connected young man, for so slight an offence, of thirtein hundred a-year? As for mere affairs of doctrine, they are, of course, slighter matters still! Let the Socinian teach undisturbed in this parish church, and the Puseyite in that, — let the Arminian discourse yonder, and the Calvinist here, — the civil magistrate in the British empire is toleration personified, and casts his shield over them all. And such, in its workings, is that flagrant dread and abhorrence of the Evangelistic Scotch, Erastianism. 

It is impossible, in the nature of things, that it can coexist with discipline; for it is inherent and constitutional to it to substitute for the law of the New Testament the indifferency of the civil magistrate to mere theological distinctions, and his sympathy with the gentlemanly vices.

But while such seems to be the real character of this Eras-tian principle, the Scotch Presbyterian who judges the devout English Episcopalian in reference to it by his own moral standard, and the devout English Episcopalian who decides respecting the Presbyterian Scot with regard to it by his own peculiar feelings, may be both a good deal in error. In order to arrive at a just conclusion in either case, it is necessary to take into account the very opposite position and character of the parties, not only as the members of dissimilar Churches, but also as the inhabitants of different countries. That adhesive coherency of character in the Presbyterian Scot, which so thoroughly identifies him with his country, and makes the entire of his Church emphatically his, gives to the Erastian principle a degree of atrocity, in his estimate, which, to the insulated English Episcopalian, practically an Independent in his feelings, and deeply interested in only his own congregation, it cannot possess. A John Newton at Olney may feel grieved as a Christian that Mr. Scott, the neighboring clergyman of Weston-Underwood, should be a rank Socinian, just in the way a devout Independent minister in one of the chapels of London may feel grieved as a Christian that there should be a Unitarian minister teaching what he deems deadly error in another of the city chapels half a street away. But neither John Newton nor the Independent feel aggrieved in conscience by the fact: enough for them that they are permitted to walk, undisturbed, their round of ministerial duty, each in his own narrow sphere. The one, as an insulated Englishman and an Independent, is the leading member of a little congregational state, and all congregations besides are mere foreign states, with whose internal government he has nothing to do. The other, as an insulated Englishman, and as holding in an unrepresentative slumbrous despotism a subordinate command, which resolves itself practically, as certainly as in the case of the Independent, into a sort of leading membership in a detached congregational state, feels himself as entirely cut off from the right or duty of interference with his neighbors. And so long as the Erastian decision, unequivocally legalized by statute, fails to press upon him individually, or to opemte injuriously on his charge, he deems it a comparatively light grievance : it affects a foreign state, — not the state that is emphatically his. But not such the estimate or the feelings of the Presbyterian Scot. He is not merely the member of a congregation, but also that of a united, coherent Church, coextensive with his country, and whose government is representative. There is not a congregation within the pale of the general body in which he has not a direct interest, and with regard to which he may not have an imperative duty to perform. He has an extended line to defend from encroachment and aggression; and he feels that at whatever point the civil magistrate threatens to carry in the contamination which, when he assumes the ecclesiastical, it is his nature to scatter around him, he must be determinedly resisted, at whatever expense. Erastianism to the Scot and the Presbyterian is thus an essentially different thing from what it is to the Episcopalian and the Englishman. It is a sort of iron boot to both; but, so far at least as feeling is concerned, it is around the vital limb of the Scotchman that it is made to tighten, while in the case of the Englishman it is wedged round merely a wooden leg.

The errors committed by the government of the country, in legislating for Scotland in matters of religion as if it were not a separate nation, possessed of a distinct and strongly-marked character of its own, but a mere province of England, have led invariably to disaster and suffering. Exactly the same kind of mistakes, however, when dissociated from the power of the State, have terminated in results of rather an amusing than serious character. In a country district or small town in Scotland, in which the Presbyterian clergy were of the unpopular Moderate type, I have seen an Independent meetinghouse get into a flourishing condition; its list of members would greatly lengthen, and its pews fill; and, judging from appearances on which in England it would be quite safe to calculate, one might deem it fairly established. The Independent preacher in such cases would be found to be a good energetic man of the Evangelistic school; and his earnest evangelism would thus succeed in carrying it over the mere Presbyterian predilection of the people. The true Scotch feeling, however, would be lying latent at bottom all the while, and constituting a most precarious foundation for the welfare of the Independent meeting-house. And when in some neighboring Presbyterian church an earnest Evangelistic minister came to be settled, the predilection would at once begin to tell: the Independent congregation would commence gradually to break up and dissipate, until at length but a mere skeleton would remain. The Independent minister would have but one point of attraction to present to the people, — his Evangelism ; whereas the Presbyterian would be found to have two, — his Evangelism and his Presbyterianism also; and the double power, like that of a double magnet, would carry it over the single one. Some of my readers must remember the unlucky dispute into which the editor of a London periodical, representative of English Independency, entered about a twelvemonth after the Disruption, with the Free Church. It hinged entirely, though I dare say the English editor did not know it, on the one versus the two attractive points. An Independent chapel had been erected in the north of Scotland in a Moderate district; and Evangelism, its one attractive point, had acquired for it a congregation. But through that strange revolution in the course of affairs which terminated in the Disruption, the place got a church that was at once Evangelistic and Presbyterian; and the church with the two points of attraction mightily thinned the congregation of the church that had but one. The deserted minister naturally enough got angry and unreasonable; and the Congregationalist editor, through the force of sympathy, got angry and somewhat unreasonable too. But had the latter seen the matter as it really stood, he would have kept his temper. The cause lay deep in the long-derived character of the Scotch; and it was a cause as independent of either Congregationalism or the Free Church, as that peculiarity in the soil and climate of an African island which makes exactly the same kind of grapes produce Madeira in its vineyards, that in the vineyards of Portugal produce Sherry.

After a stay of rather more than two months in England, I took my passage in one of the Liverpool steamers for Glasgow, and in somewhat less than twenty-four hours after, was seated at my own fireside, within half a mile of the ancient Palace of Holyrood. I had seen much less of the English and their country than I had hoped and proposed to see. I had left the Chalk, the Wealden, and the London Clay unexplored, and many an interesting locality associated with the literature of the country unvisited. But I had had much bad weather, and much indifferent health; I had, besides, newspaper article-writing to the extent of at least a volume, to engage me in dull solitary rooms, when the pitiless rain was dropping heavily.


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