Imatges de pÓgina
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their flocks, and “ instant in season and out of season," pressing affectionately and earnestly, on their attention, the great concerns of eternity, do, in fact, exercise a power over those under their charge, which belongs to no other class in the community. So palpable is this fact, that between Church and State, between religion and politics, an avowed or implied connection, for the good of the ruled and the ruling, has been felt by all rulers to be indispensable. In every Christian State, it has been found, that the operations of government could as little be carried on aright, without the agencyof the ministers of religion, in their own special department, as without religion itself. great moral police, as well as political power, has been called for by the constitution of society, and to make all act well, these must support one another. A proper relation must be maintained with those whose sacred office and daily intercourse with all classes, enable them to exercise so great an influence over the conscience and conduct of the masses amongst whom they move, and whom it is the duty of the civil ruler to govern wisely, and for the public good.

Hence arises the necessity of making some provision for the temporal wants of those set aside for the ministrations of religion. To admit that religion, and ministers of religion, are necessary to the right working of civil government, and the welfare of society, and yet to leave these ministers without support, would be a glaring inconsistencya gross absurdity-and a crying iniquity. Wherever, therefore, there has been a well-organised government, some method has been devised for the support of the ministers of the religion professed by that government. The mode and measure of support have been very different in different states; but in every age and country where the relative interests of society have assumed their natural importance and influence, there something of the kind has been called forth by existing exigencies; and something more than the scanty and precarious provision of the Voluntary scheme, which leaves every man to pay his minister as he pays his physician, has been held to be necessary, That scheme is essentially one of infidelity and indifference, is radically at variance with the obligations of every Christian government, is unfit to meet successfully, the resistance of our corrupt nature to what is good, and does not come home, with sufficient suitableness, to the wants and condition either of pastors or people. A consciousness of this has led Christian rulers, in all ages, to turn much of their attention to the best way of providing for the temporal necessities of their clergy In our days, the only great nation that has not considered it within the range of its duty to consult, with becoming care, the interests of that important class of men, is the United States of North America ; though even there, there is a profession of regard for religion and its ministers. To this national neglect of duty is owing, no doubt, in part, as well as to its republican constitution, the selfish, grasping, and unsoftened character of its government. Were its clergy better provided for, and were they, by that means, made more deeply interested in its welfare, they would feel more gratitude to it, would work more for its good, would have more power to benefit it, and would impart to it more strength and union, more mildness and sanctity of character.

In Europe, the strongest bulwark of the State has been the Church ; the throne has received its brightest rays of glory from the altar; the monarch, in his greatest need, has found his truest friends among the clergy; and every thing that has bound the governing and the governed most tenderly to each other, and made them blessings to one another, can be traced to the lessons inculcated by those preachers of righteousness, attached to the State, not only froin principle, but also from gratitude for temporal rights and privileges conferred on them by the State. The more the clergy have been indebted to the civil government under which they have carried on their Christian labours, so much the more have they wrought for its support in return. A sense of this has made all European governments endeavour to secure the attachment and good offices of their clergy, by providing for their support, in the way deemed most suitable to the circumstances of society, in the several nations over which they rule. In France and some other continental States, the clergy are supported by stipends paid from the public treasury. In England, they are supported by tithes, either converted, or received in kind. In Scotland, their stipends are also, except to a small extent, derived from tithes, a certain amount of which is decreed them, from time to time, by the Court of Session, to be converted into money, and paid to them, according to the highest fiar prices of the several counties, within whose bounds their respective parishes are situated.

But notwithstanding the convictions, which the wisest statesmen have felt, that such an order of men should exist, and be well provided for, and though these convictions have led to the various kinds of provision now mentioned, still, any temporal benefit which the clergy have thus reaped, has not been obtained, without a long and a severe struggle. In Scotland, when Popery was overthrown, the landed property, which the Romish Church had acquired, and the tithes of every kind, which she had long exacted, were forfeited; and the reformed clergy. had much to endure, before

any nearly adequate provision was made for them. The cupidity of the Crown, and of the great barons, long opposed their claims to a decent maintenance. Even the miserable and precarious pittance, which had nominally been allowed them, was very irregularly paid, and often not paid at all.

After they “ had been long defrauded of their stipends, and had fallen into great poverty and necessity," and their

distress could no longer be overlooked, James VI. passed the statute of 1507, which “ ordained, that the whole thirds of the whole benefices of this realm shall now instantly, and in all times to come, first be paid to the ministers of the evangel, and their successors ; and they being answered of their stipends, that the surplus be applied to the sovereign's use." But this enactment, like many others, professing to be for the benefit of the “ministers of the evangel, was not fully and fairly carried into effect, so far as their interest was concerned, and they had still to struggle on, amidst want and suffering. To reinedy this state of things, Charles I., passed the statute of 1627, and afterwards that of 1033, in which it was enacted that, “ tho lowest proportion in which the ministry serving the cure, at each kirk, shall be provided, shall be eight chalders of victual, as the Commissioners shall appoint, and according to the state of that part of the country where the payment of the stipend shall occur, and that the said proportion of eight chalders of victual

, or proportionally in silver, shall be the lowest maintenance to each kirk, except such particular kirks occur, wherein there shall be a just, and reasonable, and expedient cause, of going beneath the quantity now determined." The Commissioners, to whom the power of deciding in this matter was here given, were various, till the time of the union of England and Scotland, in 1707, when th Court of Session, acting as a Court of Tiends, had that power and title conferred upon them; and these they still retain. No maximum being here fixed beyond which the Commissioners might not go, they always have, “ where there is enough of free tithes in the parish, exercised a discretionary power of augmenting stipends," to keep pace with the expense of living in the sereral localities where aug

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mentations were required, and, instead of eight chalders, the minimum of parochial stipends is now raised far above that point. The tithes are declared in the decrees-arbitral” of Charles I. 1649, to be," where they are valued jointly with the stock, a fifth part of the constant yearly rent that is paid for the lands, stock, and tithe ;" and the “ free tithes," on which the Commissioners have to operate, are the proportion of this fifth part of yearly rent, which may not have been appropriated to the payment of sti. pend, but remains as a free and open fund, to be applied, in whole or in part, to future augmentations. In many parishes these have lorg ago been exhausted, and, “ from the depreciation of money,"and expense of living, “the maintenance of the incumbents became so inadequate,” that acts were passed in 1810 and 1824, to raise the stipend of these thus situated, to a minimum of L.150 per annum, by a supplementary grant from the public treasury. Where the tithes were not exhausted, applications for augmentations were so frequent that, in 1808, an Act, 48 Geo. III., c. 138, was passed, by which it was provided, that thereafter, no stipend“ shall be augmented until the expiration of twenty years from and after the date of last decree of modification"—that“ every stipend shall be wholly modified in grain, or victual," unless in certain instances specified, which are understood to apply to the Isles, and some other places, where the tithes are rated on other articles, that the minister“shall not be authorised to receive his stipend or any part thereof in kind”--that he shall receive it, “ according to the fiar prices” of the county, “ for that crop or year for which it shall be payable"--and that “where there shall have been, or shall be, different rates of annual fiar prices, struck, in virtue of authority from the Sheriff, the conversion shall be made according to the highest annual fiar prices struck in virtue of that authority.”

By this act, there is a very fair and adequate provision made for those clergymen to whoin it applies, if it were equally fairly, and fully carried into effect. But, in many counties, they have long had cause to complain that they have not been put in possession of all that it was intended, and is calculated to yield to them, especially that they have not been allowed the " highest fiar prices," nor the average, or fiars of the whole “ crop or year," for which their stipends are payable. Without these compensating conditions, the other provisions of the act impose restrictions upon them which are certainly, in some measure, hurtful to their interests, and place them in a less favourable position than that of other members of society, and also than that which the act as a whole contemplated.

In practice, the act is not fully carried out as to the length of time, over which it extends for taking the averages. It provides that the fiars shall be “struck for that crop or year for which stipend, modified in grain or victual, sliall be payable," which evidently means the whole crop of that year. But instead of that, the fiars are struck in almost every county of Scotland, before the whole crop of the year is nearly disposed of, or thrashed out, and ready to be disposed of. There is perhaps fully a third of the crop in the stack yard, and a fourth more on hand intended for sale, but, from & variety of causes, not brought to sale at the time when the fiars are struck, and therefore cannot appear in evidence, for all this proportion of the crop still in reserve, and a large part of which is afterwards actuaily sold, and sold, too, at higher prices than it could have commanded before the time at which the fiars are struck, there is no allowance made in fixing the average value of the whole produce of the year; and to this extent the clergy are sufferers, by the whole provisions of the Act not being fairly and fully carried out; while the grower derives the benefit of the rise of prices, and is unrestricted as to time and other circumstances. The usual reply to this objection is that the rise of prices, after the fiars are struck,

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is nothing more than an adequate return to the grower of the interest he is entitled to expect for the outlay of his money in keeping his grain on hand. But this defence can only apply to him as a grain merchant, which no part of the Act recognizes. The grower is supposed, by the Act, to be in the situation in which perhaps nine-tenths of the occupiers of land in Scotland are, that is, that from want of spare capital, deficiency in granery accommodation, or some other cause, the produce must be brought to market as soon, after it is ready for market, as possible--that sales are made, as the article for sale is ready. But, because the whole produce cannot, in good husbandry, be made ready when the fiars are struck, the Act allows more time, and fixes no limits but the crop and the year.

The clergy have, therefore, nothing to do with speculations about interest of money, and returns for capital laid out, on the part of the grower.

Their only concern is their bargain—the fiars of the whole crop of the year—and that they do not get.

The Act, no doubt, puts them under restrictions of another kind, with a view to their ultimate benefit. But that benefit is not fully reaped by them when its counteracting, or compensating provision of the highest fiar prices is not extended to them. They have no power to help themselves. The amount of their stipends under the Act is fixed by the Court of Tiends, and cannot be altered for twenty years from the date of their Jast decreet, a period involving nearly two thirds of the average incumbency of the ministers of the Church of Scotland. The annual value of this amount is, again, fixed by the Fiar's Court of the county, upon the finding of a jury composed of landed Proprietors and their tenants, both of whom have interests, in different ways, opposed to those of the clergy. The clergy themselves have no voice in the matter, and no way of influencing directly any of those thus sitting in judgment on what so nearly concerns them. They are entirely in the hands of parties over whom they have no control. They are equally hedged about, in other respects, in which the grower has advantages denied to them. He may increase his returns in various ways; and, even in unfavourable seasons, as to prices, he may reap additional bolls for diminished value. This has been realized, to a very considerable extent, in the crop of 1848. It has been estimated, and perhaps fairly, that that year's produce exceeded the produce of 1847, by one third in quantity, and, therefore, though the grower received smaller prices, the larger quantity supplied the deficiency. But no compensation of this sort falls to the lot of the clergy. They may have advantage in years of high prices. But these are all eaten up, like Pharaoh's fat kine, in years of low prices. Their stipends being always fixed at the lowest amount of chalders which, the Court of Session think, will decently support them, in their several localities, when years of great depression overtake them, they are placed in circumstances of the most trying nature, in which they cannot, like others, by any effort of their own, or by any bar lancing of things affecting their interests, improve their condition.

If they were allowed to receive the ipsissima cor pora, of which the stipend is composed, and to dispose of them in such ways and at such times as they might think most for their advantage, they would at least have a wider range of chances in their favour, and they might, with judgment and activity, turn a larger sum out of their fixed 'number of chalders than is possible under the operation of a single rate of fiar prices. But by a certain part of the Act, already quoted, this liberty is not left to any clergyman receiving stipend by grain or victual fiars under any decreet of aug. mentation and modification passed since 1808. There are cases in which the ipsissima corpora are still received; but these have not come under the operation of the Act, the tiends having been previously exhausted, and no

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fund remaining from which any augmentation, by appealing to the court since then, could be derived and modified as therein appointed. In these cases many disagreeable things take place, which show that, were all the parts of the Act fairly executed, it would be much better to receive by the fiars than in kind. But when they are not so executed—when the highest fiars are not allowed—the preventing of the clergy from receiving the ipsissima corpora becomes a disadvantage to them, and a corresponding advantage to all those who pay them stipend, by single fiars. All clergymen so situated lose the benefit they would otherwise receive, either from the highest fiars, or from being able to sell the ipsissima corpora in the highest market.

No parties interested in fiar prices are so injuriously affected by the want of a highest fiar rate. The landed proprietors, who pay stipend, as just hinted, have a decided gain, by that mode. Such proprietors as receive rent by it, if no minimum be fixed, below which their rents cannot fall, and if no other condition be added, for their security, may sustain some loss. But, not being fettered by others as the clergy are, they have it in their own power, to make their bargains with their tenants as they please, and, in letting their lands, by the fiars, they can add such qualifications as they think necessary to prevent loss, and protect their interests.

Tenants, who take leases by that mode, have also a decided gain, and by their liberty of action, can make such conditions with their landlords, and in a variety of ways, secure such advantages as, even when things seem most unfavourable to them, render them less liable than the clergy to be injuriously affected.

Outgoing and incoming tenants, too, agreeing to give and receive the crop for the year, by the fars, can regulate their transactions by adding to, or deducting from, the single rate, such a sum as they may deem best-most fair and equitable--for the parties concerned.

Those paying, and those receiving fou-duties, likewise have it in their power to make their own conditions; and when, on either side, they think it is not for their interest to continue their compact, they can bring it to an end, or sell their interest in it, at the fair value at which such subjects are estimated in the market.

None of these advantages is reserved for the clergy, who receive stipend by that mode. Unless their Sheriff' alter it, and give them a highest rate, they must, while they hold their charges, where it exists, submit to the hardship of receiving less for their labours than the statute intended for them. The answer sometimes given to this complaint, viz., that they took office with the full knowledge of this state of things, and that, if they are not satisfied, they are at liberty to resign, is both heartless in feeling, and pitiful in reasoning. How can men, encumbered with families, and having nothing to depend on, but their stipends, however scanty and unfairly measurod out to them, resign ? and how could resignation, either remedy the abuso, or make the hardship the less to others coming into the place of the resigned ?

But the hardship of the case is still more evident, when it is kept in view that, in many of the parishes, where the clergy are thus scantily provided for, there is a great amount of unexhausted tiends, which go to the advantage of the titulars or lay proprietors of tithes, who cannot, in the nature of things, have so good a right to that fund, as those who do the duties, for the performance of which, that fund was created and set aside. It seems as if a portion of the same spirit, which held fast the church property, in the days of Mary, and James, and Charles, were still existing and binding to itself in adamantine bonds, what the successors of Knox believed should

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