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Scottish Episcopal Clergy Disabilities Removal Bill Lords

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1864

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(No 161) Second Reading

Order for Second Reading read.

:* Sir, I rise to move that the Scottish Episcopal Clergy Disabilities Removal Bill be now read a second time. Before I enter on the argument for the Bill, permit me to justify myself for presuming to take charge of it in this House. When I was asked to do so my first impression was that the removal of a grievance bearing entirely on Scottish clergymen would be more fitly committed to one of the Scotch Members of the House, among whom there are many men of eminence and ability capable of stating any arguments which may be adduced in favour of the Bill much better than I can, and with a general concurrence of opinion, although they sit on opposite sides of the House. There was, however, one consideration which weighed with me—and I hope it will weigh with the House—in leading me to believe that I was not intruding myself where I had no right, and that was, that although it is a Scotch grievance, it is really an English question. The disabilities which it is the object of this Bill to remove were imposed originally by English jealousy. The Scotch Established Church never moved for them, and at the time they were introduced the Scotch Members of Parliament were against them. They were introduced so lately as 1792 with reference to supposed interests of the Established Church in England, but without the sanction of the Prelates of that Church. They were due entirely to one man, who, whatever his eminence may have been as a lawyer, or his notoriety as a politician, is proved by his speeches on this subject to have been ignorant of the facts and the principles involved in its discussion. I refer to Lord Chancellor Thurlow. Under these circumstances, and considering that no small amount of English oppression has been inflicted upon Scotland, I think there is a special propriety in an English Member endeavouring to remove it, and above all in one who, as representing one of the Universities, stands in an intimate relation with the Church of England. Perhaps the House will now allow me to make a short statement of the facts of the case, and to show how it was that these disabilities were, at a late period, and with extraordinary inconsistency on the part of the Legislature, for the first time imposed upon the Scottish clergy in the very same Act which recognized that they were no longer to be viewed with suspicion. After the Restoration, in 1660, the Episcopal Church was restored to its position as the Established Church of Scotland. At that time nearly all the Bishops of that Establishment had died out—in fact, only one remained. Four Scotch clergymen went up to London to be consecrated, and then went down to set the restored Church in motion; so that even so late as the time of Charles II. the Scotch Episcopal Church received its orders from the Anglican branch of the Church. That went on until after the Revolution in 1688, when most of them being non-jurors politically opposed to the Government of King William III., the Episcopal Church was displaced from its position as the Established Church, and its clergy were, from political suspicion, placed under severe restrictions in the exercise of their ministry in Scotland. But there was even then no disposition to question their spiritual character or to fail to recognize their orders. Let them come to England, and they were received and recognized just as much as clergymen of English ordination. Considering that so many of them were nonjurors, and that their employment in England implied their taking the oaths, it is rather remarkable that the instances are so numerous, but a few or even one would have proved their recognition. But, in fact, this recognition was not scanty, nor as it were in a corner, or by stealth, but occurred in the cases of eminent men, who were prominently before the world. To say nothing of members of the priesthood presented to benefices and to cathedral dignities in England, and one at least who was chaplain to King William III., there were English Prelates of no less mark than Archbishop Tillotson, and Bishop Burnet the historian, who had received Scottish orders; and Dr. Cairncross, who had been a Scotch bishop, was translated in the time of William III. to the bishopric of Raphoe, in Ireland. In 1707 came the Union, on which the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Kinnaird) means, I believe, to rely, which confirmed the position of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. After the Union, in 1712, there was an Act passed which relaxed several of the stringent regulations that were imposed in King William III.'s time. In the discussions on this Act of 1712, a doubt was raised whether this relaxation was consistent with the Act of Union, and there was a more plausible show of reason for that doubt than can be alleged now; first, because those restrictions which were relaxed in 1712 applied to Scotland only, and it might be alleged that they had been imposed in favour of the Established Presbyterian Church; secondly, because they had been imposed before the Union, and it might be suggested that they had been in the view of the Parliament which passed that measure. But these objections were overruled by the very generation who passed the Act of Union, and knew well what it meant; and I shall show that there is not a shadow of pretence for importing them into the present discussion, which is concerned with disabilities imposed long after the Union, and with reference not to the Established Presbyterian Church in Scotland, but to the Established Episcopal Church in England. After Queen Anne's time came the darkest period of the history of the Church in Scotland. When George I. and George II. were assailed by insurrections in Scotland, the greater part of the Episcopalians were Jacobites, and they became the objects of great jealousy to the Government. They were dealt with as political enemies, and were restrained by severe regulations. A series of Acts affecting them were passed between 1718 and 1748; and in 1748 the severity culminated in this remarkable circumstance, that whereas the great hostility to these men proceeded from the fact that they would not take the oaths to Government, an Act was passed which rendered it impossible for them to do so. It was enacted that no Episcopal clergyman should perform service in any congregation (except in his own house), unless he took the oaths and registered his letters of orders; but it was also provided that no letters of orders should be registered unless they had been conferred by a Bishop of England or Ireland. That went on until the extinction of the House of Stuart, about 1788, when the last of them, I believe, died. By that time the loyalty of the Scottish Episcopal clergy and their flocks had been transferred to the reigning Sovereign; and although up to that time they had been treated almost as criminals, there had not been the slightest attempt to question their spiritual character, or to interfere with the discharge of their spiritual functions anywhere except in Scotland. There was nothing to prevent them from officiating in England, or from being appointed to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, as Archbishop Tillotson had been before. It was not until the Act of 1792, which recites that they are no longer objects of suspicion, and that all the disabilities upon them ought to be removed, that they were for the first time subjected to other and new disabilities, being such as no one had ever proposed to impose upon them in the times of sharpest persecution. This marvellous inconsistency was no part of the Act as originally introduced, but was grafted upon it in a remarkable manner. The Government found the Episcopal clergy and their flocks loyal, and looked upon them with favour; the Scotch Presbyterian Church had no wish to oppress them; Dr. Robertson, the historian, and others, came forward in their favour; the Scotch Members in both Houses supported the Bill as it was first introduced; and the celebrated Bishop Horsley, on the part of the English Church, was its warm advocate. If it had passed as it was introduced, with this great concurrence of authority, the condition of the Scottish clergy would have become in 1792 what we wish to make it now. In the House of Lords, however, they had one great enemy, who was so powerful that it was necessary to conciliate him in every way, and that was Lord Chancellor Thurlow, who put a clause into the Bill in Committee, having reference to the position of the Scottish clergy in England. He did it craftily, having drawn it so as to be harmless, and such as might have remained to the present day and hereafter, without complaint; being merely to the effect, that under the Act no greater powers should be given than already existed for the employment of the Scottish clergy in England. This would have left to them the freedom in that respect which they enjoyed before, and all that we now ask, and the promoters of the Bill of 1792 were accordingly thrown off their guard. On the third reading, however, a most important Amendment was introduced into this clause; silently, without attracting observation, and without even the usual description in the Journals of the House, by which it was put into its present stringent form, and has for more than seventy years excluded the Scottish clergy from their just rights. At the time, however, the repeal of the laws which were actually penal was thought too important to be risked by a resistance in the House of Commons to a provision framed by so powerful a Member of the House of Lords and of the Government, who would have insisted on maintaining what he had done, and perhaps have been able to defeat the Bill if he was not conciliated. So it remained till 1840, when these restrictions were so far relaxed as to abandon all semblance of a defencible principle on which to ground them; all pretence of absolute disqualification was thrown aside, and the Scottish clergy were admitted, under stringent limitations, to officiate in English churches. This concession admitted as much as what we now seek, the validity of their orders, and the completeness of their communion with us. But although this concession gave up the principle, it was narrow in its extent, and, moreover, was clogged by a new restriction, then added for the first time, in respect of Ireland. Ireland had been always perfectly free to the Scottish clergy, notwithstanding the exclusion from England which the legislation of 1792 had introduced. But in 1840, for the first time, Ireland was closed against them, except under the limitations within which the partial opening of England was conferred. Again, in 1840, for the first time, penalties in respect of the performance of spiritual duties beyond the prescribed limitations were imposed. This retrospect of previous legislation brings us down to the present time, and to the disabilities which now affect the Scottish clergy, and from which it is my duty to ask the House to relieve them. What are the facts of the case? Here there is a clergyman ordained by a Bishop, in communion with the English Church, from which was derived, at no distant date, his own consecration — a clergyman of a Church which adopts the English formularies; yet if he asks to be admitted to a curacy or benefice in England, to which he may be presented, it is not that the English Bishop may refuse him, but he must. The Bishop may know that he is the best man in the world for the post, but, nevertheless, he must refuse him. He says, "I can ordain you if you are a Dissenter, I can receive a Roman Catholic, I can receive a person belonging to the Greek Church— let them come and profess conformity by making the different subscriptions which are necessary, and I can receive them without difficulty." It is sometimes said that this is because they go through a process of recantation—but it is no such thing. There is nothing like recantation, except this, that so far as any previous opinion is inconsistent with those which are embodied in our Articles and formularies, the clergyman who adopts those Articles and formularies must, by implication, abandon what is inconsistent with them. So far there is a recantation. There is only this difference between the Scotch clergy and others, that the Scotch clergy do it at the beginning of their ministry in their own country, and have never held anything inconsistent with our Church; whereas the others, whom you will receive without any questions, do not do it until you admit them, having been previously opposed to you. That is the state of things, and it is a state of things involving the almost incredible absurdity that the very conditions which would seem to make exclusion impossible are precisely those which, under the statute, make the exclusion of a Scottish clergyman inevitable and irremediable. The first condition for his exclusion is, that his orders should be recognized by us as valid and complete, and therefore incapable of repetition. If he was a minister in some communion where he had received ordination other than Episcopal, be might receive ordination at the hands of an English Bishop, and such cases frequently occur. The second condition for his exclusion is, that his Episcopal ordination, valid, indelible, and incapable of repetition, shall have taken place in a church with which our own is in communion. If he had received his ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, which actually excommunicates our Church, then, upon his testifying his conformity with us, an English Bishop could receive him without let or hindrance. And what is the remedy we propose? The remedy we propose is not the simple repeal of these disabilities, so as to place the Scottish clergy in precisely the situation of clergy in English orders. That, perhaps, would seem to be what mere justice would require. But we are willing to take precaution against abuses, possible, however improbable; and to give to the Bishops in England the power of refusing to receive a clergyman in Scottish orders absolutely and without cause assigned. We do not seek to compel the English Bishops to receive the clergy of Scottish ordination, but only to enable them to do so. We are to be met, it seems, by an Amendment, in which the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) will suggest fears lest the Union with Scotland should be damaged, by conferring what he calls "privileges" on the Episcopal clergy. The Union with Scotland! The hon. Gentleman might as well refer to the Heptarchy, so far as any connection with this Bill is concerned. The earliest of these disabilities which we seek to repeal was not enacted till near a century after the Union, and the others were very much later. And as to "privileges," he cannot point to one line in this Bill which confers any privilege at all. It only seeks to remove an oppression which weighs down the Scottish clergy, and not in any way to exalt them above the rest of their countrymen. And then the hon. Gentleman tries by his Amendment to hold out a bribe to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which shall induce them to concur in an ungenerous opposition to this relief. I venture to predict that they will not fall into his trap. The Presbyterians of Scotland took a more generous view of this subject in 1792, and again, at the present time, having considered this very Bill in a Committee of their General Assembly, they have come to the conclusion that it is not one which they ought to oppose. They know that it is a Bill which in no way touches the status of the Episcopal clergy in Scotland, or regulates their conduct there, but only in England; and that the penal enactments which had existed in Scotland were long ago removed by the very Act of 1792, which imposed the English restrictions which we now seek to remove. Nor is the Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland likely to forget that their Episcopalian fellow countrymen are owners of a large part of the lands of Scotland, and as such have cheerfully, and with the respect due to the law borne the burden of maintaining not only the churches, but the schools and parsonage houses, of the establishment to which they do not belong, and have never raised the anti-Church rate cry with which we are so familiar in England. And the hon. Gentleman does little justice to the acuteness of his countrymen if he thinks that they will fail to discover that there is not even the very slightest analogy between the enactments of this Bill and his proposed dealing with the Act of Uniformity. The hon. Gentleman raises the question, whether the Act of Uniformity should be altered so that Presbyterian orders should be recognized here as well as Episcopalian orders? But the provision of the Act of Uniformity is only a recognition of an essential principle of the Anglican Church; what we want to get rid of is a statutory interference with that very principle. What would the hon. Member for Perth say to this — if it is right that the Episcopal Church should be prohibited from employing in its service other episcopally-ordained clergy, fellow-subjects of the Queen, who come from the other side of the border, is it not equally right to prohibit the Presbyterian Church of Scotland from employing, if they think fit, ministers who have been ordained by Presbyteries in London or Belfast? But there are objections taken from an English point of view, on which I will say a few words. We are told—and that is a favourite topic — that if this Bill were passed, and these Scottish clergymen were employed in the Church of England, we should have an inferior race of clergy. Now, the Scottish Episcopal clergy, excepting in the Highland parishes, are educated at the old Scotch Universities; and, in addition, there is for many of them a special training at the College of Glenalmond, under an eminent scholar and divine from the University of Oxford. I doubt whether it is becoming in English Bishops, and especially those in the northern dioceses who look much to St. Bees and Birkenhead for their supply of clergy, to throw stones at Scottish education. There is another objection entirely destructive of the last, namely—that the number of the Scottish clergy preferred in England will be so great as to interfere with the expectations of the English. This implies that private lay patrons (it cannot possibly apply to others) will think the superiority of the Scottish over the English clergy so great as to outweigh all the claims of family connection or personal intimacy. I really think that objection is not worth talking about. The whole number of Episcopal clergy in Scotland is only 160, and of these men more than one-half of them are of English ordination, and can return and be employed there whenever they please. There remains one more objection, resting as I think on no foundation of fact or reason, which however is, I suspect, the only one which really operates on the minds of those who oppose the Bill. The English Prayer Book is the recognized Prayer Book of the Scottish Church, prescribed by its canons, and necessarily used at ordinations and other solemn occasions; but there is in that Church an alternative office for the Holy Communion, which may be used in such congregations as desire it, and which is, in fact, used in about one-fourth of the whole number of the congregations. This office is viewed with suspicion by some, on the allegation that it is of a Romanizing tendency. This allegation is unfounded in fact, and beside the question, if true. This is not the place to go into controversy on the shades of difference between theological terms; but the authority, on that point, of the present Bishop of St. David's (Dr. Thirlwall) will not be questioned; and he has given it as his opinion, in a charge delivered in 1857, that the Scotch office is in itself unobjectionable and more irreconcilable with the peculiarities of Roman belief than our own. In truth, I believe that a Roman Catholic Priest might use the English office though he would think it inadequate and falling short of the truth, but could not use the Scottish office without implying what he would consider to be deadly error. But if the fact were otherwise, and if this office did wear a Roman aspect, what would follow from it? If a clergyman is an actual Roman Catholic you do not exclude him. Is he to be excluded because he was ordained in a church in which there is an alternative office which you dislike, permitted, but not used by more than about one-fourth of the clergy? But if this ground is shifted, and it is said that the objection is taken not to the permission to use but to the actual use, and to those clergy who do use it, then it will follow that the mere rejection of this Bill will not answer the purpose; but there must be an extension of the existing disabilities to English clergy also, if they ever accept a cure in Scotland. Of the favourers of the Scottish office in Scotland the larger number are of English, orders; and they will be equally free, whether this Bill is passed or rejected, to return to England and accept preferment without any hindrance from any Bishop, except on cause shown, according to Ecclesiastical Law; while, on the other hand, if the Bill passes, the Bishop to whom a Scottish clergyman shall first present himself will have absolute power to reject him, even on suspicion, and without reason assigned. On the other hand, this absolute veto is not unnaturally distasteful to those who most fully recognize the identity of character which unite the English and Scottish clergyman, and who accordingly desire to put them on a footing of absolute equality. I am prepared to justify the veto: first, on the ground of principle and reason; second, on that of practical expediency. The first ground is supplied by the analogy between the first admission to ministerial functions by ordination, and the first admission to the same of an applicant ab extra who is already ordained. A candidate for Holy Orders is subject to absolute rejection by the Bishop to whom he applies, without reason assigned; and it does not seem unreasonable that a stranger already ordained in another branch of the Church should satisfy the Bishop that he is such a one as that Bishop would have ordained; and as after ordination by one Bishop within the English Church no other can summarily reject from a benefice, so after one admission of a Scottish clergyman to a benefice, rejection, in case of presentment to another, must be on reason assigned, and not summary. Again, there is this power in the Bishop in the case of clergy ordained in the colonies, and also, if I read the statute rightly, in the case of clergy of Roman or Greek orders who may conform. The second ground is this. The Bill, as it now stands, is the result of deliberation in a Select Committee of the House of Lords and of compromise, to overturn which might be fatal to its success. The petitioners for it may be trusted to know their own case, and they are most anxious that it should pass in its present form. I trust the House will send back the Bill to the House of Lords with as few Amendments as possible, and retain the restriction which is in favour of those who object to the Bill. I think I have now said all that is requisite in support of the Bill; and will only add, in conclusion, that this subject has sometimes come before us in the shape of Private Bills, in cases which were certainly cases of aggravated injustice which it was considered desirable for the Legislature to remove. The last time such a Private Bill was before the House it was not agreed to, the House being of opinion that such a subject ought to be dealt with by the Government; and Sir George Lewis said that he could not conceive any argument for maintaining the present condition of the law. I believe you will find the great weight of authority on that side of the question; and I hope that the House will not make an angry struggle, but that English Members will combine to do away with the injustice which is inflicted on Scotland by England, and that Scotch Members will combine to rescue their fellow countrymen from the position in which they now stand with regard to this question.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this Bill be now read a second time."—( Sir William Heathcote).

rose to move, as an Amendment,

"That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire how far any Privileges which may be conferred upon the Clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland would interfere with the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and into the expediency of removing at the same time from the Ministers of the Established Church of Scotland the disabilities imposed on them by the Act 13 & 14 Charles II. c. 4."
His reasons for proposing that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee were — First, that the Bill dealt with a constitutional question. To a certain extent it set aside the provisions of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, by giving an adventitious advantage to an episcopal body in Scotland dissenting from the Established Church. And for what purpose? Not to supply a want in England; for already they were overburdened with clergymen who had insufficient incomes, because the endowments did not suffice to give them all a real maintenance, and thousands of curates had little hope of ever obtaining preferment; but to give the sanction of the State to episcopacy in Scotland. They heard a great deal south of the Tweed of the evils of schism, and yet by that Bill they were doing what they could to foster division in every parish of Scotland, by forcing on episcopacy, and giving the sanction of the law to the assumption of territorial titles now forbidden by law; and he could not but have a shrewd suspicion that to attain that end was one of the concealed objects of the Bill. His second reason was that the question gravely affected the Church of England as bylaw established. At present one of the main safeguards given to the congregations in communion with it was the ordination of clergymen by Bishops bound to certain articles of doctrine, and pledged to the supremacy of the Crown. That safeguard was effectually removed by the present Bill, which provided for the introduction of a body of clergymen who, for aught they knew, might still subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles, with the qualification expressly drawn up in 1792 by the then Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, of "every subscriber explaining them to himself." And might be ask whether the Canons of that Church still required the following declaration to be signed by candidates for Holy Orders?
"I, —, do hereby solemnly promise that …. I will not appeal from any sentence to a civil court, but acquiesce in the decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities."
That was, in the decisions of the seven Bishops—a complete despotism. Again, the Scotch Bishops were, or were up to a very late period, pledged to the following declaration:—
"I will co-operate with my colleagues in supporting a steady adherence to the truths and doctrines by which our Church has been so happily distinguished, and particularly to the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, as laid down in our excellent Communion Office."
If, then, that Bill unhappily passed, it would render necessary some law giving a veto to congregations for their protection against strange doctrines. But the Bill removed a second safeguard; for whereas at present before even the Colonial clergy could be admitted to the Church of England, the consent of the Archbishop of the province and the Bishop of the diocese must both be given, that Bill provided for the removal of that double safeguard with reference to a body whose doctrine and discipline were at variance with those of the Church of England, and which had no permanence in either. How differently did they act when the Irish Protestant Episcopal Church was united to that of England! The Act of Union expressly provided for unity of doctrine and discipline. Did they not see how easy the road from Rome to England might thus be made? Suppose, for example — what was not an impossible supposition — that they should have even one Bishop not ill-affected towards the Church of Rome or the Greek Church. There was nothing of a legal kind to prevent the Episcopal Church in Scotland allying itself as a sister with those Churches, and taking their ministers into its communion, without requiring the renunciation of their special doctrines. Then that Bill would make it perfectly easy to introduce them into the diocese of that Bishop, if they would only sign the Articles and other documents, according to the plan adopted in 1792 of every subscriber explaining them to himself. And now let him call attention to a clause in the Bill which provided that once admitted by a Bishop into his diocese, every other Bishop must receive the Scotch nominee without any of the special guarantees provided by the Bill; for it enacted that the provisions of section 4, which contained those guarantees, should not apply to any person who should hold, or should have held, any benefice or ecclesiastical preferment in England or Ireland. At present, by the 3 & 4 Vict. c. 33, Romish orders were under a ban, and those holding them forbidden to officiate in the Church of England. But he had a third reason to urge against the Bill, and that was, that it affected the Church of Scotland as by law established. That Church had hitherto religiously observed the terms of the Treaty of Union, and studiously abstained from pushing her jurisdiction south of the Tweed. The Free Church, also, which claimed to be the rightful Church of Scotland, though separated by what they deemed an unwarrantable encroachment by the State on their liberties, had likewise abstained from extending its jurisdiction into England. But that Bill was an intrusion upon the Established Church of Scotland, as it virtually raised the Scottish Episcopal Church to form a part of the English Establishment; and that, as he had said, altered the Constitution of the country. But if it were thought expedient to do that, and to remove so called disabilities from a body consisting of some 25,000 persons in the whole of Scotland, there were, he thought, other disabilities which ought also to be removed. It certainly was a great anomaly, that whereas Her Majesty's English Chaplains could officiate in her Royal Chapels in Scotland, Her Majesty's Scotch Chaplains could not do the same in England. The Act 13 & 14 Charles II. c. 4 prohibited it. If, therefore, this Bill should pass, he should propose to remove that stigma from the Presbyterian Church. There would be nothing unconstitutional in doing so; for the Act of 1662 was a grievous hardship newly imposed upon the Church of Scotland, in revenge for the conduct of the English Presbyterians during the Commonwealth. If, therefore, the offence of the Episcopal Church in Scotland of the last century of non-allegiance to the House of Hanover was to be condoned, the offence of the English Presbyterians of the previous century visited upon the Scotch ought to be condoned also. It was a new thing to have a claim of sisterhood advanced on the sole ground of episcopal ordination. That belonged equally to the Church of Rome, from which they dissented, and the Church of England. The true ground of unity was unity of doctrine. But he believed that that Bill was part of a great scheme to establish at any cost episcopal claims foreign to their Protestant Church of England, dangerous to the peace of the community, and also to the very existence of the Church of England. In another place it had been said that "the spiritual jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church in Scotland had continued uninterrupted," though it was put under a ban for disloyalty. In other words, it claimed then, and it claimed now, to rule all Scotland in spiritual matters, despite the State and the Established Presbyterian Church, which it dignified with the name of a schism. Its pretensions were akin to those of the Church of Rome, which claimed to rule England spiritually. It had consequently parcelled out Scotland into territorial dioceses, for which a civil sanction was now indirectly sought. It was the granting of that sanction to which he demurred. The hon. Gentleman read a letter from Dr. M'Crie in support of his argument, and stated that the Bill was viewed by persons in Scotland as the first step towards recognizing and establishing episcopacy in that country, contrary to the Treaty of Union. On these grounds he hoped the House would consent to the Bill being referred to a Select Committee, in which case he was prepared to consent to the second reading, with the understanding that they were not thereby pledged to the principles of the measure.

Amendment proposed,

To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire how far any privileges which may be conferred upon the Clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland would interfere with the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and into the expediency of removing at the same time from the Ministers of the Established Church of Scotland the disabilities imposed on them by the Act 13 & 14 Charles II. c. 4,"—(Mr. Kinnaird,)

—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Sir, I think it may perhaps tend to shorten this discussion, and may assist myself, and probably other hon. Members, in coming to a decision, if some of the hon. Gentlemen who are particularly interested in this question would be kind enough to explain to the House what would be the precise status of a clergyman of the Scottish Episcopal Church admitted under the provisions of this Bill to an English benefice, supposing the measure to be passed. I think that is necessary and material to the question we are going to vote upon; and as my own opinion is not quite made up as to how I should vote, I wish to state what my difficulty is. The point which I wish to have cleared up is this—Will an Episcopal clergyman of the Church of Scotland who has been admitted to an English benefice be at liberty to go back to Scotland, and officiate as a clergyman of the Scottish Episcopal Church? My hon. Friend (Mr. Kinnaird) seems to be under some apprehension that there is some attempt to effect a sort of amalgamation between the English and the Scottish Episcopal Church. I do not know whether such a scheme is on foot, but I think it would be a very mistaken policy. It would be creating a sort of spiritual Schleswig-Holstein in Scotland, and indeed a more uncomfortable state of things could hardly exist. I understand the law to be that at present an English clergyman is not at liberty to go into an Episcopal Church in Scotland and read the Scotch Communion Service; that is a point about which there is a good deal of jealousy in this country, and I want to know whether under this Bill a Scotch clergyman coming into England, and appointed to an English benefice, will be at liberty to go back to Scotland and officiate as a Scotch Episcopal clergyman in Scotland. If that be answered in the negative, I shall have no difficulty in supporting this Bill; but I should deprecate any arrangement which would leave the Scotch clergyman at liberty to go back to Scotland and officiate as a clergyman of the Scotch Episcopal Church, That is a point on which my hon. Friend offered no explanation, but if it were cleared up it would do away with the doubts of some English Members.

The difficulty which has been raised by the hon. Member for Berks is not a very serious one. Indeed, at this moment, a large proportion of the clergy of the Scotch Episcopal Church are in English orders, and amongst these are several of the best known Bishops. It is not often, Sir, that I agree with the hon. Baronet opposite, and I am accordingly all the more pleased to be able to do so on this occasion. I am not myself a member of the Scotch Episcopal body. I have no sympathy with the opinions which are popularly attributed to many of the gentlemen whom this Bill is intended to relieve. I object, however, in the strongest possible way to allowing the odium theologicum to be mixed up with political questions. And this, Sir, is a pure political question. The disability which we are asked to remove is not an ecclesiastical disability. It is a civil disability. As far as regards the objections of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth, they are easily disposed of. This Bill was brought before the notice of the General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland by one of its most distinguished members, who said that his attention had been called to it by his correspondents. It was referred to a Committee. It was examined by that Committee, and the Committee reported that the interests of the Established Church of Scotland were in no wise affected by it. The Assembly adopted the Report, and it hardly lies in the mouth of an independent Member of this House to say that a Bill is dangerous to the Established Church which has not appeared dangerous to it in the eyes of the General Assembly. As for this Bill being a first step to the re-establishment of episcopacy in Scotland, who that knows Scotland is not aware that a notion more crazy —more absolutely insane—than the notion of its being possible to re-establish episcopacy in that country, never entered into the brain of mortal man?

said, I am aware that there is a desire to suppress all expression of individual opinion upon this side of the House; but I am not likely to submit to the complete suppression of opinion which is desired. My attention has been called for a considerable number of years to this subject. I am perfectly willing to leave the interests of the Church of Scotland in this matter in the hands of the hon. Member who has moved the Amendment (Mr. Kinnaird), confident that in his hands the interests of the Church of Scotland will be duly guarded. As the House well knows, I am an attached member of the Church of England; but the apprehensions which I feel in regard to this Bill in its present form are not entertained by me alone. On the contrary, the objections which I feel have been felt and expressed by some of the most eminent Bishops and clergy of the Church of England. The proposal now before us is this —I speak not presumptuously on my own authority, but on the authority of those who, if I were permitted to name, would command the respect of the House. But the proposal appears to amount to the incorporation of the Episcopal Church of Scotland— not being an Established Church, bound by any legal obligation to observe the rights of the laity or the rights of the Crown—into the Church of England, in which the laity have securities constantly re-affirmed (as they have been by the decision of the House to-day), that no strange doctrines will be imported into the Church or inculcated on an unwilling congregation. What are the facts of the case? There are doctrines taught in the Communion Office of the Scotch Episcopal Church which, as shown by my hon. Friend (Mr. Kinnaird) are alien to the doctrine of the Church of England, and which may in this way be imported into that Church. It has been urged that the Scottish Episcopal Church accepts the articles of the Church of England and the Communion Office of the Church of England, and only retains the Communion Office of its own service as an alternative. The House would be totally mistaken if they were to accept this as a valid security. In the case of a congregation belonging to the Church of England, but located in Scotland, connection with the Scotch Episcopal Church was formed on condition that in this congregation the Communion Office of the Church of England only should be used. Dr. Skinner, the Primus of the Scotch Episcopal Church, insisted on the clergyman (Sir William Dunbar) using the Communion Service of the Scotch Church. On his refusal, the Primus excommunicated this clergyman, as an indication of his determination that that peculiar Communion Office should be used. That Communion Office, in the opinion of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, favoured, if it did not affirm, the doctrine of tran- substantiation, which is the peculiar doctrine of the Church of Rome. The primary and essential difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England, is clearly recognized in our own Articles — it springs from the acceptance of the doctrine of transubstantiation by the Church of Rome and its repudiation by the Church of England. The difference, therefore, between the qualified acceptance of that doctrine by the Episcopal Church in Scotland and its absolute rejection by the Church of England is not a small difference. It is an essential difference. And what is proposed in this Bill is, that the Episcopal Church of Scotland shall be incorporated into the Church of England, because incorporation into the Church of England in the sense of an Established Church is accomplished by admission to benefices. Now, a Church cannot remain established except she has distinctive doctrines, for you cannot recognize a Church except by that means. The distinctive doctrines of the Church of England are expressed in her Formularies, her Articles, and especially in her Communion Service; and that is the point touched by the present Bill. The House of Lords did not deal with this matter lightly. They referred the question to a Select Committee; and the point which we have to consider is, whether the securities introduced by that Committee are sufficient to protect the laity against the surreptitious introduction of erroneous doctrine, and whether these securities are not so framed as to be in themselves objectionable? Now, I state—not on my own authority, but on the authority of high authorities in the Church of England—that this Bill would enable any Bishop upon his own will and judgment to admit a clergyman of the Episcopal Church in Scotland to a benefice within his diocese, or to refuse to do so without assigning any reasons, independently of all archiepiscopal supervision. This is a most unconstitutional power when exercised without any supervision. Now, Sir, I stated that, not as an opinion of my own, but an opinion entertained by some of the highest authorities in the Church. And, Sir, the opinion of these authorities also is, that these securities, as they are termed, which were introduced by the Committee of the House of Lords, are insufficient to guard the Church of England from the introduction of the foreign doctrines, to which I have alluded, and that it is unsafe for the laity of the Church of England to invest any Bishop, at his own discretion, without regulation or appeal, with a power of this kind, independent of the Archbishop of the province in which the diocese may be situated, and independent of the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts. And I happen to know that these securities were purposely framed to evade the jurisdiction of the Archbishop, and to evade also the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts. Therefore the question at issue is not a small question, and it is for that reason that I begged the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir William Heathcote) to afford this House a fair opportunity of considering this Bill, which was considered gravely by the House of Lords upon its second reading, and by the House of Lords was referred to a Select Committee, who introduced provisions that I state upon high authority are unsatisfactory to some of the highest authorities in the Church of England. The Bill seems not to have been discussed on its third reading in the House of Lords. Sir, I shall vote for the Committee suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird). I think it duo to the people of Scotland that this Bill should be so considered, because if we take this long step towards recognizing an Episcopal Church as established in Scotland, we do virtually recognize that Church as established in Scotland; we actually recognize the establishment of a second Church in Scotland. And, Sir, if we vote for the establishment of a second Church in Scotland, we establish a precedent for the establishment of a second Church in England. It is well to look these matters in the face; the beginnings appear to be small. It is, Sir, because the difference between the doctrines of the Episcopal Church of Scotland and of the Established Church of England appears qualified and is concealed as far as possible, that I consider the danger great. If, Sir, it was openly proposed that without any adequate security, priests from the Church of Rome should be admitted to the benefices of the; Church of England, the proposal would at once be scouted; but the danger is this— that the House may be induced to pass an Act which will accomplish the purpose without being aware of the dangerous door which we open for admission to the benefices of the Church of England; and I pray the House gravely to consider whether when we sanction the incorporation of these clergy into the Church of England, we may not be affording an opportunity for the introduction of opinions and of doctrines which, by the Articles of the Church of England, we, as members of that Church, distinctly repudiate. I wish that we had been spared the consideration of this subject. I have every reason to wish that; but, at the same time, seeing in this Bill an approach to that which may prove a source of many dangers of no small magnitude, I think it my duty to represent them to the House. One danger is this—that this Bill will be the means of sowing division in the Church of England, by establishing a difference of practice among her Bishops. It is perfectly well known that there are Bishops of the Church of England who, using the latitude of opinion which the Church of England permits, would admit to benefices within their dioceses men of opinions which other Bishops would think utterly unsound. Sir, I do not wish to see this difference between the opinions of the Bishops of the Church of England aggravated. I do not wish to see that difference established before the people of this country. I do not wish to see the Bishops separated from each other, and driven apart for the mere sake of admitting a few Episcopalian clergy into the benefices of the Church of England—benefices for which there are thousands of poor curates in our Church only too anxious and ready — sound, honest, hardworking clergy, but kept in poverty by the paucity of the opportunities for their preferment. If there were not cases of this sort, there might be a plea for the provisions of this Bill; but there are thousands of clergy notoriously kept in poverty by the disproportion between the numbers of the clergy of the Church of England and the benefices to which they can be admitted; and, although, not by any means exclusively on that ground, still upon that ground also, I object to this Bill. I object to this Bill as not guarded, as I consider it ought to be, and as insufficient on the grounds I have stated. I object not upon my own authority, but on very high authority in the Church of which I am an humble member; and I shall, therefore, vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth.

Sir, I am desirous of stating in a very few words my reasons for supporting the Bill now before the House. I have had the privilege and pleasure of being acquainted with some of those in whose interests this Bill has been intro- duced, and I will say this for them, that they are as loyal, as learned, as charitable, and as pious as their brethren in England. I must say that I consider that a great deal that has been said on this question is entirely away from the point. Let us consider what the question is—What are the grievances of which the Episcopalian clergy of Scotland have to complain, and why were they imposed upon them? The fact is, that these penalties were imposed upon the Scotch Episcopalians not on account of their religious sentiments —these had nothing to do with it—but it was in consequence of the high church sentiments they entertained in regard to the Divine right of kings. They considered that the Stuarts were the legitimate and the only legitimate Sovereigns to whom they should pay homage, and in consequence of their opinions both in a political and in a religious point of view they did not think they were warranted in praying for King George, and refused to do so. Consequently, the Legislature imposed very heavy penalties on them for their disloyalty. But the fact is that, since the death of the last of the Royal Family of the Stuarts, in 1780, they have been the most loyal of the loyal in Scotland, and the ground upon which those penalties were imposed upon them is entirely done away with. Now, what is it that is proposed to be done? It may be demonstrated that they are decidedly innocent of the crime for which they are punished. It is said that may be all very true, but though innocent of the crime of which they are accused, they may be guilty of something else, and it is better to continue to punish them. These penalties were imposed in consequence of their political tenets, and they are now continued because it is said they are not altogether of the same religious views as their Episcopal brethren in England. I do not know that there is very much difference. I do not pretend to understand much about the different shades of religious opinion prevailing amongst the various sections of the Church of England; but I have no doubt that there are a great many in England entertaining the same views with many of the Episcopalian clergy of Scotland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) has stated that if you were to admit the Scottish Episcopalians to benefices in England, it would make another establishment. Why, the Church of Scotland does the very same thing, without making a second establishment. If there are any Presbyterian clergy in England, and there are such, well qualified for the ministerial office, they do not hesitate to admit them to benefices in Scotland. It is the very thing they do, and the proper thing they should do. I say that the Scotch Episcopalians, equally with their brethren in England, are qualified for the ministerial office, and that you should continue disqualifying statutes against them is quite discreditable, and a species of persecution. I wish to give full freedom to all. Provided, only, that they are worthy of the situation to which they are appointed, I do not see that there can be any fair objection made to this Bill.

, with reference to the Question put by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), said, that eighty-five—the majority of the Scottish Episcopal clergy—were in English, and seventy-nine—the minority — in Scotch orders; and that the effect of the Bill, if passed, would be to place the seventy-nine clergymen in Scotch orders on the same footing with the eighty-five in English orders, who at present are allowed, and to whom no English Bishop would refuse permission to officiate in any parish, or to accept any benefice or charge in his diocese, and who are at liberty to return to Scotland to officiate there. He was glad to find that on both sides of the House and by all varieties of religious opinions the Bill had been favourably received. He, therefore, hoped the second reading would be assented to.

said, I only rise for the purpose of expressing how deeply I feel—a feeling which, I am sure, is shared in by a large majority of the Scotch Members—the kindness of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, in having taken this matter up, and to thank him for the admirable speech in which he introduced the second reading of the Bill —a speech on which he may fairly rest the success of the measure, and which has been wholly unanswered by the speeches that have been made in opposition to the Bill.

It seems to me a very extraordinary fact, that one denomination happening to dwell on one side of the Tweed should entertain the same sentiments as another class of Christians dwelling on another side of the Tweed, and yet should have no communication whatever. That is a remarkable fact. But there is worse than that. The Establishment of England and the Church Establishment of Scotland hold no communication whatever. One of the most eminent men in the Church of Scotland told me not many months ago, when he came to England, that every pulpit of the Nonconformists was open to him, but not one of the Church Establishment. At this time there is no communication between these two Establishments—both Church and State—supported by the Legislature of the country. That is an anomaly which Christian men cannot understand. It is a disgrace to Christianity. Some of the most eminent men the country ever produced are not permitted to enter the pulpits of the clergymen in this country; and more than that, no clergyman is allowed to enter the pulpit of a Nonconformist. If they were we should value many of them; but they are not allowed, and, in fact, the language they employ concerning us is of a most objectionable character. A Bishop, writing to one of our most eminent Ministers—one of the most eloquent and one of the most esteemed men in this kingdom—said—

"I felt that neither the power of your intellect, nor vigour of your reason, nor mighty eloquence, nor purity of life, nor suavity of manners, nor soundness in the faith would justify me in departing from the rule of the Church of England, a tradition of eighteen centuries, which declares your orders irregular, your mission the offspring of division, and your Church system — I will not say schism— but standing apart."
For these reasons you will allow no communication with us nor between the Established Church of England and the Established Church of Scotland; and an Act of Parliament is necessary in order to allow 160 clergymen of your own denomination in Scotland to be introduced into the Established Church of England. These are elements in the Church of England that are convulsing it. There are more divergences among them than among the Dissenters. The party known in the Church of England as the Puseyite party will be strengthened by the addition of these 160 Scotch clergymen.

I shall vote for this Bill, which stands on the same ground as that which I had the honour of moving this afternoon. This is a matter affecting civil and not spiritual privilege. By Act of Parliament, a number of persons have been deprived of that which is a common right of Her Majesty's subjects, and on that ground I shall vote for this Bill; and on that ground I do not think the hon. Member for Sheffield can refuse to vote for the Bill. Here is my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford proposing to introduce into the Church of England a set of gentlemen eminent for their piety and training and character, who have, by his own statement, been brought up in a University where there is no doctrinal test—where there are none of those safeguards which the Church of England insists upon in this country. I wish my hon. Friend would profit by my example, and that when I bring forward my Bill again he will give me his support.

explained that his allusion to Dr. Lee was quite incidental, and that if that gentleman, for whom he had great respect, was opposed to this Bill, he could only say he was sorry for it. The hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) would not, however, dream of denying that the account of the proceedings in the General Assembly which he (Mr. Grant Duff) had given, was, as far as his argument was concerned, strictly correct. He desired farther to explain, in reply to other speakers, that the Scotch Office was now merely a permitted use, and he would refer those who raised a difficulty about the Thirty-nine Articles to the proceedings which took place before the passing of the Act of 1792.

said, he would not give the House the trouble to divide on his Amendment.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2o , and committed for Friday.