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The privilege possessed by the people, in the earlier times of Scottish ecclesiastical history, was in fact little more than the liberty of consenting to the nomination of a pastor—the liberty of accepting what was offered them-the liberty of taking what they could get. That church courts were required to shew respect to the feelings and wishes of the people, is at once admitted; but the necessity laid upon the people if dissatisfied, to bring forward their objections to the candidate, and the power of the presbytery to sit in judgment on the grounds of refusal, were conditions plainly at variance with the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.'
To the Sccession movement belongs the high honour, the enviable distinction, of giving to the winds the scheme of ccclcsiastical checks and limited concession, founded neither in generous views of popular right, nor of the real interests of the christian people; and of substituting in room of all half-way measures, the avowal of a principle that of the right of the members of the church, a right founded on christian law, to clect their spiritual teachers under no restriction but their duty to conscience and to God. As contrasted with the cautions, and modifications, and mincing policy of the church procedure, in former times, and still more in our own—the principle on which the seceders took their ground had something tangible in point of advantage—was clear and definite as a rule of procedure-consistent in what it gave to the people, and in what it reserved to the courts of the church-bold in its simplicity, and scriptural in its sanction.
It is no small enhancement of the honour which the founders of the sccession claim at our hands, that the principle which they cspoused and pleaded for was maintained by them amidst mockery and reproach. It was run down as a novel and dangerous power to place in the hands of the people; derided as a fanatical absurdity, to suppose that the sheep could choose the shepherd; and deprecated as a fruitful source of discord and dissension. In short, the people were spoken of as a herd of irrational creatures; and their spiritual interests being unsafe in their own incapable hands, were to be cared for by graceless squires, titled swearers, or prelatical ministers of state. The same insolent ribaldry, worse indeed because scoffing in its spirit, which in these days has been poured forth so profusely against the admission of the many to the right of political citizenship, used to be the favourite cant of church conservatives in the peculiar affairs of their vocation. His Grace of Newcastle, and their worships of Old Sarum, had many a worthy prototype in the generation of railers, who vented their spleen or took their joke at the ecclesiastical whiggery of the Secession. In privileged bigotry they were blind to the arrogance of r
the rich, however graceless-men who cared not for their own souls-scoffers, perhaps, at all care of the kind, the only qualified persons to choose the spiritual guardians of the people. Men who were themselves ignorant of the question, as one of religiou and of scripture, constituted property the test of fitness to choose the pastor of the parish; not withdrawing from the sheep the choice of the shepherd, but giving that choice, it might be, to the most worthless and imbecile of his kind ;-an absurdity this, surpassing that of making church membership or visible saintship the only qualification for civil rights the right to practice physic, or to choose one's physician ; the right to follow a trade, and to choose what trade to follow; the right to vote for an M.P., and to support the man of our choice.
To the political philosopher and the public journalist it ought to be no uninteresting task to trace the progress of those principles which emerged into full light during the rise and early struggles of the Secession. Sacred as in their nature they are and must ever be regarded, the influence which they exert touches other departments of the social system, and is already extensively felt. Principal Robertson, who, in the courts of the establishment, trode with ruthless foot on the espiring embers of the popular cause, has remarked, if we remember rightly, that in all probability the example of representation and of popular influence in the synods and councils of the primitive church planted the germ of political liberty in the various states of Europe. All modern experience coincides with the idea. It is in those portions of the community which are ecclesiastically free that the attachment to public liberty is strongest. Toryism and exclusiveness have little influence among presbyterian and congregational dissenters; within the Scottish church this in. fluence used to be mitigated on one side by the comparatively liberal views entertained of the rights of the people; on the anti-popular side of the church, liberalism in politics has long been extinct; and among the clerical oligarchy of the methodist body, it is dead or dying. These things are ominous; and we find the lesson progressively illustrated and confirmed by the struggles of the Secession.
We have accomplished our object, at least for the present, in tracing the rise of the SECESSION, and the consolidation of the cause, in the formation of a denominational body contending for the purity of evangelical doctrine against Pelagian and Arminian errors; and assuming clear and decided ground in the defence of popular rights. We have purposely waived going into detail on the doctrinal merits of the Secession controversy, important as those are, and have dwelt on the principles of religious liberty which this nonconformist struggle involved
—our object being to view the progress of the Secession movement in its character of a protest against high-church domination, and in its bearing both immediate and remote on the rights of conscience and the privileges of the Christian people. That consequences were depending on the struggle which the fathers of the Secession did not distinctly foresee; and that principles were involved, which, in their native breadth and in their various bearings, these good men did not appreciate, is no more than was to be expected in their circumstances, or than may be acknowledged without disparagement to their memory. The sequel of the Secession history is replete with interest, and conveys lessons which, though sometimes chequered, are richly instructive. Differing in the interpretation of an oath administered in certain burgh towns on the admission of burgesses, in which were expressions which some considered incompatible with Secession principles, the contention became so sharp that the synod, in 1747, divided into two bodies, each claiming to itself the name and powers of the Associate Synod. Both sections, however, remained true to the banner of the Secession; held fast the ‘form of sound words;’ and exerted themselves, not without success, to convey the gospel, for which they suffered, beyond the borders of their native land. At a subsequent period, a discussion arose in both synods on the subject of the magistrate's power in religious matters. This question terminated in the separation from each synod of a portion of their number, who adhered to the stringent doctrime of the Westminster Confession, on the right and duty of the civil power ‘to take order” in the christian church. This controversy at the time was regarded by the world of onlookers as an acrimonious, petty feud; whereas it was the agitation of great principles, the fruits of which in Scotland the Secession church is now reaping in those high and generous views of Christian liberty which the great body of seceders entertain and zealously contend for in the movements of the present day. One of the happiest events in the modern history of the church was the reunion of the two leading bodies of seceders in 1820, under the designation of the United Secession Church, . since which period the cause has advanced with accelerated speed. The congregations of the united body at the present date amount to nearly 400, comprising about 130,000 communicants, with a population computed at more than 260,000 souls. The missionary operations of the Secession extend to Canada and the West Indies; in the former field there is a missionary presbyterian synod in connection with the body; and in Jamaica and Trinidad there are nine missionaries, besides cate
chists, under the inspection of the united synod. There is also a missionary minister settled in South Australia,
The part which of late years the United Secession Church has taken on the voluntary question is, we believe, not unknown to our readers. This branch of the subject would require a considerable chapter for itself, especially as connected with the rise, progress, and results of the controversy. In the meantime we forbear; although the details, we are persuaded, would be found of great and growing interest, should we by and by find leisure to resume the annals of THE SECESSION.
Art. VI.-The Travels and Romantic Adventures of Monsieur Violet,
among the Snake Indians and Wild Tribes of the Great Western Prairies. Written by Captain Marryatt, C.B. Three Vols. 12mo. Longman and Co.
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Since the renowned travels of ‘Baron Munchausen,' we doubt whether anything so like them has appeared as the “Travels and Romantic Adventures of Monsieur Violet.' His · Adventures' are, indeed, well entitled to be so called.
We notice the book principally for the sake of protesting against the principle on which it is composed. History, travels, and novels, are all very well in their way ; but we like to have them tolerably distinct. We like it to be evident to which of these classes of composition a book belongs; and do not approve of their being so jumbled together as at once to strip a work of the authenticity which should be impressed on the two first, and the inter-connexion of parts, which ought to characterise the last. It is more especially necessary that this distinctness of aim and object should be maintained in works which, like the present, may be expected to fall principally into the hands of the young. They should, at all events, know, when reading works which profess to be “Travels,' and which gravely handle here and there matters historical, geographical, and political, whether they are reading fact or fiction.
No person of reflection can take up the present work, in spite of the solemnity of the preface, without coming to the conclusion, that whatever fragments of fact the worthy Captain may have gleaned from some types of his "Monsieur Violet,' it is essentially a work of fiction, and is to be added-though violating all those laws of the probable, which ought to preside over such compositions—to the author's long list of novels. But the
young are not usually persons of reflection ; and as it is desirable in any case, so it is especially desirable in theirs, that the boundaries between true history and mere fiction should not be thus studiously obliterated.
On the supposition—which every grown-up man must arrive at—that this series of adventures is, in the main, fictitious, we must also protest against that unusually solemn assertion of their truth which is found in the writer's preface, as far passing the ordinary licence by which writers of fiction sometimes seek to give an air of authenticity to their tales. Those contrivances, long since exhausted, deceive no one, and are intended to deceive no one: and are, therefore, of little consequence, Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham and Dr. Dryasdust are understood to be as much fictitious personages as any of those in the tales which they serve to preface. The bundle of old MSS. found in a neglected chest amongst other family papers, is perfectly well understood to be a nonentity; and, indeed, it, and other similar claptraps, have been so often repeated, that they are now considered rather proofs of poverty, than of fertility, of invention. It is no wonder, therefore, if authors-resolved not to tell us that their tale is a tale-should strive to hit on some less hackneyed vouchers of authenticity. We cannot think, however, that this laudable desire should carry an author to such gravity of asseveration as is found in the following passages of Captain Marryatt's preface :
• It is unnecessary to inform the reader in what manner I became acquainted with the party from whose notes and memoranda I have compiled these volumes. Of the authenticity and correctness of what he asserts, I have myself no doubt, as he has been with me during the whole time which it has taken me to write the work, and I have had full opportunity for explanation and correction. . . . . If the reader discovers an air of romance in this narrative, it must not be laid upon my shoulders. I have, as far possible, softened down the tone of it; but romantic it certainly is, and must be, from its very nature..... . Some of the descriptions in the natural history of these countries may surprise ; but in unknown countries, unknown creatures must be expected to be met with. I can only say that the accounts of these have been submitted to the severest investigation, and that I fully believe that they are correct, not only on that account, but from the respectability of the party who has furnished me with the details.'
These passages indicate what Walter Scott, speaking of Defoe's grave assertions of the matter-of-fact truth of one of his inimitable fictions, calls,— Ineffable powers of self-possession.'
Such language can be justified, even artistically, only where the veri-similitude of the narrative is so perfect as not to VOL. XVII.