« AnteriorContinuar »
however, that the system of appointing clerical magistrates was, at length, discontinued by order of the Right Honourable
Earl Bathurst, during the government of His Excellency General Darling, in consequence, I believe, of certain representations on the subject which had found their way into the House of Commons.'
· But the greatest calamity that has hitherto befallen the Australian colonies, in regard to their moral and religious welfare, is the prevalence of a jealous, exclusive, and intolerant system of Episcopal domination. In what
the idea has arisen I cannot tell, but it has hitherto been taken for granted, as a thing which admitted of no question, by the Episcopal clergy and the military Governors of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land, that the Episcopal Church, or Church of England, is the Established Church of these colonies, or the only Church (for that is the meaning of the phrase) which has 'a right to expect any thing from the Government, or which the Government ought in any way to patronize or encourage. So long as the Australian colonies were a mere jail for the reception of felons, it was doubtless just and right that the chaplains of that jail should be Epis= . copal chaplains exclusively; for upwards of nine-tenths of the convict-inhabitants of the jail were natives either of England or of Ireland, where Episcopacy reigns in all the pomp of her power and in much of the loneliness of moral desolation. But when these colonies were at length thrown open to free emigrants, and when numerous respectable families and individuals settled in their fertile and extensive territories, it was speedily found that at least one half of the free emigrant Australian colonists were Scotsmen and Presbyterians.
So entire a change in the character and composition of the Australian population argued a necessity for some corresponding change in the colonial ecclesiastical system. The Scottish nation, it is well known, rejected the yoke of Episcopacy, even after it had been violently forced upon it by the military executions and the autos-da-fe of Charles the Second ; and if the moral and spiritual health of the Scottish people continued to improve in succeeding generations, they are still persuaded it was owing chiefly to that happy event. Was it just or right, therefore, that Scotsmen and Presbyterians, emigrating to recently established British colonies, in which the natives of any one of the three united kingdoms had an equal right with the natives of either of the other two to the same civil and religious immunities as they respectively enjoyed at home, should be subjected to a yoke which their forefathers had cast off and broken? Was it just or right, after the Government had held forth the same advantages to the Scottish emigrant in these colonies as were enjoyed by the English or the Irish, that the Scotsman alone should find himself deceived, in a matter which most intimately concerned his real welfare, after having traversed half the circumference of the globe ?--that he alone (unfortunate, unconsecrated heretic !) should be held to belong to a proscribed church and a proscribed religion? Was it just or right that the Scotsman alone should receive no benefit from the liberal
provision which the Government professed to make for the religious instruction of the colonists and for the education of their youth, unless he renounced the faith of his forefathers, and suffered his child to be
taught this downright absurdity in the shape of Episcopalian prose. lytizing theology,-- What is your name?”—“ Andrew Galloway.” “Who gave you that name?”-“My godfathers and godmothers! I say downright absurdity; for the said Andrew Galloway has no such relations.
• Sucb, however, has been the hard measure which - has hitherto been dealt out to Scotsmen and Presbyterians by the military governors, acting agreeably to the instigation and advice of the Episcopal authorities, of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land. For if some provision has been obtained from the colonial revenue for a few Presbyterian ministers of the Scottish Church in these colonies, it has been obtained solely in consequence of express orders from homeafter many hardships and humiliations, much suffering and sorrow. In almost every instance it has been won, as it were, like the portion of Jacob from the Amorite, with the sword and with the bow.'
• The prevalence of Episcopal domination in the British colonies has had this unfortunate and evil effect; it has, in great measure, weaned the higher classes of Scotsmen in the colonies, and especially Scotsmen holding appointments under the Government, from the hallowed institutions of their mother-church and their father-land. If the question, which this state of things suggests, were merely a question as to whether men ought to use forms of prayer, or to pray extempore, or whether there ought to be any other species of precedence among the ministers of religion, than what is uniformly and willingly conceded, even by Presbyterians, to eminent services and eminent talents, I should esteem it a matter of comparatively little moment which side of the question individuals of my own countrymen were pleased to take; for though a Presbyterian, I trust, in the highest sense of the word, I am not so in that sense of it which holds either moderate Episcopacy or Independency sinful or unlawful. But the question is one of a far different description. It is, whether it is the part of a Christian man at all to renounce the faith of his forefathers, (I use the phrase in its wider acceptation,) without being able to assign a better reason for such renunciation, than that the thing called religion, which is taken up instead of it, is the religion of the dominant and influential party, the religion of all whose incomes are upwards of five hundred a year? Is this, I ask, to be esteemed a valid or sufficient reason for renouncing a faith which a thousand martyrs died to defend and to perpetuate, and the devoted attachment of whose children to which has raised their nation to a higher pitch of intellectual and moral and religious eminence, than, perhaps, any other European nation has ever attained ? Are the men, who thus sell their birthright for a mess of pottage, to be esteemed the worthy descendants of those patriotic men who purchased the civil and religious liberties of Scotland with the best blood in their veins ? The Presbyterian who becomes an Episcopalian from conscientious motives, and who lives and dies a worthy and pious Episcopalian, I honour, because I see he possesses a conscience, though, it may be, an ill-informed one; but can Charity herself suppose that such men as I allude to have a conscience at all ? What indeed can be expected, either worthy or honourable, of the men who, when their mother Church-with whose milk they were nursed as babes, and with whose strong meat they were fed till they reached the vigour of manhood—follows them in the warmth of her maternal affection to the distant land of their sojourning, cast upon her a cold and withering look, saying, “ Begone, you old, poverty-struck beldame; don't you see we have taken to live with this strange woman from Babylon?” What, I say, can be expected of such men, but that they will approve themselves unworthy sons of their mother-degenerate scions of a noble vine? It has accordingly been observed, again and again, that of all the possible personifications of absolute servility, the Episcopalianized Scots Presbyterian gentleman is, in general, the most complete in all his members. Indeed, I have reason to believe that if His Majesty were to haul down the cross, and to hoist the crescent, provided the absolute disgrace of the thing could only be got over in the eyes of the public, the majority of Episcopalianized Scots Presbyterians, holding appointments under the Government in the colonies, would be the first to shout with the Grand Mufti of St. James's, “ There is no God but ah, and Mahomet is his Prophet !"
· But although Scots churches may not be required in the colonies for the majority of Scotch gentlemen of the class I have just mentioned, or for Scotch merchants and merchants' clerks of the firm of Whalebone and Co., I have no hesitation in stating it as my fixed opinion—and I beg to add that that opinion is the result of ten years' experience and observation--that the preservation of a comparatively high state of morals and religion among the remainder, that is the great majority, of the Presbyterian population of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land - the landholders, the small farmers, the mechanics, and the other persons and families of the industrious classes, belonging to that communion—will depend in great measure, under the blessing of Almighty God, on their being retained within the pale of the Presbyterian Church, and on the preservation of their rational attachment to its simple institutions entire and unbroken ; and that consequently if the system of proselytizing to Episcopacy, which has hitherto prevailed in the Australian colonies, and which is now pursued with greater offensiveness than ever in the colony of Van Dieman's Land, is allowed to be persevered in, and the Presbyterian people to be virtually, though perhaps not ostensibly, prevented from obtaining ministers of their own communion, His Majesty's Government will just be doing every thing in their power to render the prea sent Presbyterians of both colonies an irreligious, and of consequence an immoral and worthless, portion of the colonial population.'
« Monopolies in religion, as well as in any thing else, are uniformly productive of intolerance and oppression on the one hand, and of heartburnings and jealousies on the other. The intolerant spirit of colonial episcopacy was exhibited, however, long before the appointment of an archdeacon, or the arrival of ministers of the Church of Scotland in the territory. During the government of Major-General Macquarie, the Rev. Mr. Crook, formerly missionary from the London Missionary Society to the Marquesas Íslands, resided several years in the colony; and frequently performed divine service according to the forms of the
Independents, both in Sydney and throughout the territory. He even proceeded on one occasion to dispense the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in Sydney. This, however, was regarded as an intolerable usurpation by the colonial episcopal clergy of the period, who accordingly preferred a complaint against Mr. Crook to His Excellency the Governor, by whom they were forthwith authorized, agreeably I presume to the provisions of the “ Act for the suppression of rogues and vagabonds," to sit in convocation on the reverend offender, for bringing the ordi-, nances of religion into contempt by dispensing the sacrament of the Eucharist in an unconsecrated place, and with unconsecrated vessels. Mr. Crook defended himself on the occasion with some firmness, but I believe he did not venture to repeat the grievance.
• In regard, however, to the alleged profanation of a religious observance on the part of the Rev. Mr. Crook, I cannot imagine how the clergy of the Church of England in the Australian colonies could have managed to come into court to prefer such a charge with clean hands; for appearances are certainly against themselves in that very particular. When, for instance, Mr.
James Frost of Sydney, bachelor, and his concubine, Mrs. Rebecca Tinman-whose loving husband, John Tinman, is still alive in London, and writes her by every ship, “ hopping she is in good elth, as this leives him in the saim, Thank god for it”-bring their children to church to be christened, along with Mr. Joseph Green and his concubine, Mrs. Mary Black, who have consented to stand godfather and godmother to the children, the requisite act of profanation is performed forth with, and the said children are baptized, or “ made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven," at a dump* or quarter-dollar a head, exclusive of the fee for the churching of the woman; Mr. Joseph Green and Mrs. Mary Black promising at the same time, or rather swearing in a very solemn manner, to renounce on behalf of the said children the devil, the world, and the flesh, and to bring them up in a Christian manner. And, when the said Mr. James Frost, after being deaddrunk for a fortnight during the hot weather in December, blows his own brains out in a fit of delirium tremens, and has been duly certified to have died by the visitation of God, i. e. not by any fault or mismanagement of his own, his worthless carcase is committed to the dust, “ in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life,” for a certain regular and accustomed fee; the by-standers being left to conclude, when the customary service is performed and the customary fee paid, that the said Mr. Joseph Green is happy now. Such instances of real profanation are of daily occurrence in the Australian colonies; and their influence is withering and blasting as the hot pestilential wind that sweeps over the deserts of Arabia. The despicable practice, moreover, of demanding a fee for every act of clerical duty over and above what the state considers a sufficient salary for the clergyman--a practice which the Apostolic Church of England has borrowed from the Apostolic Church of Rome, but which I am happy
* The name of a colonial piece of money struck out from the centre of a dollar
to state the Church of Scotland, whose title to the epithet Apostolic is somewhat differently formed, has uniformly disallowed—always reminds me of that Apostolic personage who kept the bag and that which was put therein, but betrayed his master.
• But the greatest evil that has hitherto resulted from the prevalence of Episcopal domination in New South Wales is that, in conformity to that principle of action and reaction which is so frequently exemplified in the present age, it has roused a spirit in the colony which it will never be able to lay, and has been the means of saddling the country, for all time coming, with a powerful Roman Catholic establishment. Till very lately, there were only two priests of the Romish communion in New South Wales, each of whom had a salary from the Government of £150 per annum, the great majority of the members of that communion in the colony being either convicts or emancipated-convicts. Within the last two or three years, however, two or three civil officers of the Roman Catholic persuasion have arrived in the colony, and one of their number-Roger Therry, Esq., barrister-at-law, the learned editor of the speeches of Canning, and Commissioner of the Courts of Requests in New South Wales -has distinguished himself by zealously and successfully endeavouring to procure for the Roman Catholics of the territory a more extended provision for the support of ministers of that communion. A Roman Catholic vicar has accordingly arrived in the colony within the last few months, having a salary of £200 per annum from the Government; and so lately as the month of June last (1833) salaries of £150 each were voted by the legislative Council to six Roman Catholic chaplains, besides £800 per annum for Roman Catholic schools,— making in all £1900 a year,-in addition to various sums allowed for the erection of chapels.
- I should be sorry to blame the Roman Catholics of the colony, whether clergymen or laymen, for endeavouring to obtain every thing from the Government they can; but as a consistent Protestant, I cannot help regarding as a great evil the formation and consolidation of a strong Roman Catholic establishment in the Australian territory. At the same time, I have no hesitation in expressing it' as my fixed opinion, that the existence of that establishment, in its present prominence and strength, has been owing in great measure to the jealousy and the envy which were naturally, and I will add justly, excited among the Roman Catholics of the colony, at the overgrown dimensions and the lordly demeanour of colonial Episcopacy, during the government of General Darling. I should like to be informed, however, why the principle of supporting the religious establishments of the mother country alone has been abandoned in that colony, in favour of the Roman Catholics exclusively? Are not the Methodists and the Independents equally good subjects, and equally deserving of Government support ? * The Presbyterians of the colony originally preferred their claim for support from the Government on the ground of their being members of one of the established churches of the mother country; but if a different principle is to be acted on in one instance, I ask why not in all? Let us either have the system of the Netherlands and of France, where the clergy of all denominations are supported,