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under the Education Department at Whitehall. The machinery for permanently enlarging the area of employment would thus be always at work, training and teaching young and old for work upon the land, and providing the land for them to settle upon when so trained and taught. The Congested Districts Boards for Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland are already doing for these districts what I propose to do for the country as a whole. Then also, instead of the sporadic and spasmodic attempts to deal with unemployment when it has brought about an acute crisis, the means of dealing with such a period would be always in existence, and its coming foreseen and prepared for. Endowed with the powers which I have endeavoured to outline above, and under obligation to find a place for every capable applicant for work, as the school authority is to find a seat for every child of school age, these new Councils by the exercise of ordinary powers of forethought and application would rid us of at least the worst of the horrors of a period of depressed trade, while again putting the land of Britain under tribute for the food supply of the British people.
I repeat that sooner or later the work of organising industry as a national concern will require to be faced. Free Trade has not solved the social problem; Protection would but add fresh terrors to it. But the doctrine of laissez-faire will no longer hold good in industry. Poverty is a disease for which a remedy must be found. It is like some cancerous growth eating its way into the vitals of the nation, and which, if not removed, will sooner or later prove fatal. Despite all that is said to the contrary, poverty is growing amongst the poor, just as lavish display is assuredly on the increase amongst the rich. The body politic is thus threatened from both sides. Poverty in our midst is chronic, and an unemployed crisis is but an acute stage of the disease. It is this fact which must be faced resolutely. No half-hearted, temporising, semi- or wholly charitable measures will suffice.
The grim phantom of Want will not be exorcised by such means. Bold statesmanlike handling is called for, and fortunately, with the advent of a Labour party thirty or forty strong in the next Parliament, there are good grounds for hoping and believing that such statesmanlike handling will be forthcoming. Whether the suggestion here put forward be the one adopted or not, one thing at least is certain—that the crisis through which we are passing ensures that some serious effort to deal effectively with this growing evil cannot now be long delayed.
J. KEIR HARDIE.
THE CHURCH CRISIS IN SCOTLAND
On the 1st of August in last year the House of Lords, sitting in its judicial capacity, found the United Free Church of Scotland to be in unlawful possession of the general property and revenues of the Free Church of Scotland, and ordained restitution of these to the rightful beneficiaries. These were held—in the light of the typical case, Bannatyne and Others v. Overtoun and Others-to be the disinherited remnant of the Free Church as it existed prior to 1900. The decision was at once assailed with a virulence that consorted ill with the dignity of the parties concerned. Some alleged misconception of the facts ; others imputed unworthy motives to the devisers of the judgment; almost all deplored its consequences. The intolerance that is so pronounced a feature of religious disputes found vent in intemperate criticism, and all Presbyterian Scotland was in a ferment. To have an adequate conception of this extraordinary indignation we must first approach the case from its historical side.
The original Free Church of Scotland, whose patrimony formed the subject of litigation, was constituted on the separation from the Established Church of Scotland, in 1843, of a body of divines led by the broad-minded and sagacious Dr. Chalmers. This schism is known to history as the Disruption, and its immediate occasion was disagreement as to the right of presentation to the livings of the Church, which right was then vested in the landowners on whose property the churches stood. There had been notorious abuses of
privilege, against which the 'Evangelicals '—the progressive party among the ministers—had protested vehemently. In 1842, being now in a majority, they repudiated entirely the claim of the State or its nominees to exercise patronage in the Church, and, failing to obtain redress, they seceded from the Church in the following year, to the number of 475 divines.
The schismatics thereupon proceeded to found a new Church, to be known as the Free Church of Scotland, which should permit no
authority to dictate, or interfere in, its ecclesiastical polity, but should be in theory and in practice alike a free Church, subservient only to Christ as its Head. The new Church appealed powerfully to
all that was liberal and progressive in the country. Her ministers, erudite and pious, were the flower of Scottish religion. Her people, zealous and lavish, made good by voluntary contributions the loss of the endowments that had been surrendered. Schools, churches, colleges rose into being, and the Church, supported by the marvellous generosity of her adherents, propagated far and near. Abroad, a similar activity characterised her missionaries, and a like success crowned their efforts, so that by 1899 she ranked with the greatest Churches of Christendom, and her wealth amounted to millions of pounds.
Physically regarded, Scotland presents a striking contrast. To the South and East communication is easy and intercourse uninterrupted : industry flourishes and the population is relatively
But of the North and West the reverse holds true. Mountain ridges and inlets of the sea intersect the country and separate the people: communication is difficult and at times perilous : employment is uncertain and the inhabitants are isolated and poor. Not seldom their only intellectual enlightenment comes from the weekly news-sheet—imperfectly interpreted—and from the pulpit. They are worse informed and more conservative than their compatriots of the South, regarding the New with suspicion because they have proved the Old to be true and, moreover, absolutely sufficient. Hence it comes that in all history these two divisions of Scotland have progressed in civilisation at different rates.
We have seen that these Northerners are averse to innovation, and this is especially conspicuous in their religion. In every hamlet are to be found a few devout and often pragmatic persons, whom the rest regard with awe and allude to as the 'men. The influence of these far exceeds that of the resident minister, on whom, indeed, they keep a watchful eye in all that pertains to doctrine. They are Calvinists to a man, and woe betide him if he attempt to introduce a milder creed, for they are hostile to all humanising elements in religion. At its inception the Free Church found no obstacle in the 'men, for the reason that all her adherents then held the same beliefs; but we shall see anon how modifications arose.
The fundamental principles of the Free Church creed were those inculcated by the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was adopted as the doctrinal basis of the Church. To this Declaration her ministers were required to conform, and they subscribed it on being licensed to preach. The Church started on her mission with unique co-ordination, and her material prosperity was assured from the outset. But with the flight of time came dangers, and not from one side merely. Her clergy, we have said, embodied the best religious thought of Scotland, and the inspiring sense of freedom had given an impulse to their intellectual activity to which they were not slow to respond. The old beliefs were rigorously scrutinised, the old
canons of doctrine sifted and restated in the light of experience. The critical methods which Sir George Lewis had applied to civil history were now, for the first time, applied to that of religion. Broader views and scientific methods were taught in the colleges of the Church, and the younger men often held opinions which to their elders savoured of heresy. The latter stood for the absolute infallibility of Scripture as the Divine Revelation : the former recognised and emphasised the fact that we come by that revelation through the fallible media of dead languages and post-temporary chronicles—with all their concomitant possibilities of error. The older men maintained that religious belief was for ever stereotyped by the Westminster Confession, and could make no allowance for enlightenment, against which they were bound, by the first letter of their creed, to stop their ears. And unequally yoked with these went the young, progressive minds, curious and inquisitive after truth, exulting in their mission.
But there was another danger, as yet latent. When the Church was now seen to be in a flourishing condition, with the prospect of greatly increased utility in the near future, proposals for union with other Churches began tentatively to be advanced. By the sixties these proposals had assumed the proportions of a movement in the Church, and caused not a little dissension. The anti-unionists found a strenuous leader in the eminent Dr. Begg, and so vigorous was his crusade that the attempted amalgamation with the United Presbyterians in 1874 proved abortive. However, the trend of the movement was no longer doubtful. Here again we observe that Time was the greatest innovator, for the younger men favoured a union, while the older and more rigid constitutionalists set their faces against it. Here once more was the losing battle of the Old against the New.
By 1892 all seemed propitious for the party of progress. The opposition to the Union was a spent force: the Highlands had been appreciably permeated and leavened with the newer doctrine: the anthority of ministers in their congregations had notably increased, while that of the men' had waned in proportion. Doctrines not in strict accordance with the Confession were boldly advocated, and the minds of men were unsettled. A remedy was sought in the sanative Declaratory Act, which declared certain doctrines of the Confession (6.9., Election and Predestination) to be no longer binding. A minority protested against any amendment of the standards of their creed, and a party-known to-day as the Free Presbyterians-seceded from the Church. The full significance of this Declaratory Act is seen when we mention that a similar Act was passed by the United Presbyterian Church : the evident aim was to bring the constitutions of the two Churches into closer conformity, and so pave the way for
From this time onwards the Union was in the minds of all ;
it was preached for and prayed for, and at last, in 1900, it was consummated. The Assemblies of the two Churches declared for union -the United Presbyterians unanimously, the Free Church by a majority-and the amalgamated Churches took the name of the United Free Church. The Majority took with them into the Union the whole patrimony of the Free Church, while the Minority who refused to enter the Union were declared ipso facto to be outside the Church, and therefore to have no title to its property. Litigation ensued, and, after twice failing in the Scottish courts, the Minority appealed to the House of Lords. The case was unusually protracted, and a rehearing was necessitated by the death of one of the judges. At length the Lords disposed of it by the much-abused pronouncement of the 1st of August. The grounds of their decision were three in number.
First. It was held that, for practical (and therefore for legal) purposes, the Free Church was simply a trust, subsidised for a certain end, to wit, the propagation of its creed. It has been declared that this view is erroneous, that it takes no account of the informing spirit of a Church. But it is easily vindicated. A Church may be regarded in two ways—from the side of its creed, as a body of believers professing a certain faith; and from the side of its property, as a body holding certain funds for the better extension of these beliefs. These funds, with their accretions, are held to be dedicated to a definite cause, and are inalienable. Should the believers be converted to another faith, they cannot in law also divert the funds to the diffusion of that new gospel. In a word, the property of a Church is wedded to its creed. Such a view is narrow, and, as indicated, incomplete, but not, so far, vicious.
Founding on this interpretation, the Lords derived two subsidiary conclusions.
Second. It was held that the Free Church, by her Declaratory Act, had departed from the Confession of Faith, her constituted creed, and consequently that she could no longer have the usufruct of moneys primarily intended for the advancement of that creed. The question here is, Had the Free Church a right to revise her creed? It is perfectly clear that her greatest divines-Chalmers, Candlish, Cunningham and others did not consider themselves rigidly bound by the Confession of Faith. 'I look on Catechisms and Confessions,' said Chalmers, as mere landmarks against heresy.' Indeed, the authors of the Confession themselves did by no means intend it to be an immutable standard of doctrine. George Gillespie, one of the most prominent of them, makes that very clear:
It is the duty, not only of particular Christians, but of reforming, yea, the
As the existing nomenclature is confusing, we propose, for the sake of lucidity, to name those of the Free Church who entered the Union the Majority,' and their opponents the · Minority.'