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WITH NOTICES OF THE STATE AND PROSPECTS
AMERICAN UNITARIANISM, POPERY, AND
JOHN DUNMORE LANG, D.D.,
SENIOR MINISTER OF TH. PRRSBYTERIAN CHURCH IN NEW SOUTH WALES,
PRINCIPAL OF THE AUSTRALIAN COLLEGE, AND
“Ich bin ganz Ihrer Meinung. Die Kirche soll keine Schlavin, sondern eine freie
TO THE CHRISTIAN LAITY
THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
Fellow-COUNTRYMEN AND FELLOW.CHRISTIANS,
The following work was commenced on the 1st of June last, on board the steam-ship, British Queen, in the Bay of New York, and was written partly during my voyage across the Atlantic, and partly in the midst of numerous and sometimes harassing avocations since my return to England. There are deficiencies in its plan and arrangement, which you will easily perceive, and which a little leisure might probably have enabled me to obviate. There may be discrepancies also between some of its statements on minor points, which a word or two of explanation, if I had perceived them in time, would doubtless have enabled me to reconcile. But such as it is, I inscribe it to you ; because I am strongly of opinion that it is just such a work as is wanted in Scotland in the present important crisis of our National Church.
We have long been deluding ourselves with the idea that the Sovereign of Great Britain is not the Head of the Church of Scotland as she is of that of England, and that we enjoy great religious liberty in our beloved land. We have been awakened at length from this dream of self-delusion. The British Parliament, or at least the House of Lords, has told us through some of its most distinguished organs, that, as members of the Church of Scotland, we are merely the “ Hereditary Bondsmen" of the civil magistrate, and that it is the fixed determination of Parliament to keep us in this degrading condition while it has the power!
As members of the Church of Scotland, we all profess to venerate those Christian and apostolic men who built the wall of our Zion in troublous times and cemented it with their blood. We build their sepulchres, after a most respectable example in Jewish antiquity; we erect columns to their memory, and call our churches by their names. But do we cherish their spirit, or follow their example ? I trow not.
The inscription on the blue banner of the Presbyterians of the seventeenth century was,
“ For Christ's Crown and Covenant.” They would tolerate no other Headship of the Church than that of Christ himself : they would suffer no mortal to occupy the Redeemer's throne. True to their allegiance to the King of Zion, they were ever ready to sacrifice not only their property but their lives at his bidding ; to seal their testimony with their blood.
The present is a crisis of a somewhat similar kind; inasmuch as it calls loudly for the exercise of self
denial and for personal sacrifices, on the part of the officebearers of our National Church. The freedom and independence of the Church of Scotland can no longer be preserved along with its temporalities. The Lords of Parliament are determined that the holders of the latter shall not be the free servants of the Lord Christ, the only King of Zion, but the “ hereditary bondsmen” of the State. In such circumstances it becomes the bounden duty of all who value the freedom and independence of the Church, and who would maintain their allegiance to her only King and Head, to renounce the temporalities altogether, and to throw themselves at once upon the Christianity of the people. In short, it is not mere agitation and empty declamation about nonintrusion, but self-denial and sacrifice that the time calls for.
When the ancient Roman people were treated in a somewhat similar manner by their Parliament, they retired in a body from their city of Rome, and, encamping on the “Mons Sacer” or Holy Hill in the neighbourhood, left their Parliament to do with the city-property what they chose. Precisely the same course is open to the real friends of the Church of Scotland in the present crisis. They can retire in a body to the Holy Hill of Zion, and entrench themselves there where the wall of fire will still surround them, and God, even our God, will dwell in the midst of them as of old. In short, they can tell the Parliament that the Church of Scotland shall be free and independent from henceforth, and leave them to dispose of her State