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1. The right of suffrage is the first element of a popular government, in the church.

The right to elect our rulers and teachers, involves the right to adopt our own form of government, to frame our constitution, to enact our laws; to exercise the prerogatives and enjoy the privileges of a free and independent body. The enjoyment of this right, is freedom; the loss of it, slavery.

2. The right to elect their own pastors and teachers is the inherent right of every church.

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If it be true, that all men are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," then much more is liberty of conscience, and the pursuit of future blessedness, the inherent, unalienable right of man. What is the life that now is, to that which is to come; or the happiness of earth, to the bliss of heaven? Such are the religious to the civil rights of any people, all of which are involved in the enjoyment of the elective franchise, and lost to a disfranchised laity. This consideration was lately urged in the hearing of the writer, with great pertinency and force, by a speaker in the House of Lords, on a motion relating to the religious liberty of the church of Scotland. “The choice of a pastor," the noble marquis proceeded to say, "was really a measure of more importance, and, by the members of that church, was regarded as an event more interesting than the election of a member of Parliament; for it affected their religious interests,-interests, to them and to their children, high as heaven, and lasting as eternity."

3. The right of suffrage preserves a just balance of power between the church and clerical order, the laity and the clergy. The sacred office of the clergy, coupled with

learning and talents, gives them, under any form of government, a controlling influence. If to all this be added the exclusive right of making and executing the laws, and of electing the officers, the balance of power between the clergy and the people is destroyed. The restraints and checks which the clergy ought to feel against the exercise of arbitrary power are removed. The history of the church sufficiently shows that the dangerous prerogatives of prelatical power cannot, with safety, be entrusted to any body of men, however great or good. Accordingly, as in all free governments, the sovereign power is vested in the people, so in the primitive church, this great law of religious as well as of civil liberty was carefully observed. The people were made the depositaries of the sovereign power. The enactment of the laws and the appointment of their officers belonged to them.91

4. The loss of this right is the extinction of religious liberty.

The free Church of Scotland, by their late secession, have had the magnanimity to resign the heritage of their fathers, and to go out from the sanctuary where their fathers worshipped, taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods, rather than submit to the loss of their religious rights. In the manifesto, which they have published, as their declaration of independence, they complain that their religious liberty has been invaded by the civil courts; whereas the church of Christ is, and of right ought to be, free, and independent of all spiritual jurisdiction from the state. We subjoin an extract from this manifesto, which clearly sets. forth the wrongs that they must suffer under this spiritual bondage to which they have nobly refused to bow down themselves. The specification of their grievances is made in the following terms:

91 Riddle, Eccl. Chr., p. 13. Euseb., Eccl. Hist., Lib. 5, 24.

1. That the courts of the church as now established, and members thereof, are liable to be coerced by the civil courts in the exercise of their spiritual functions; and in particular, in their admission to the office of the holy ministry, and the constitution of the pastoral relation, and that they are subject to be compelled to intrude ministers on reclaiming congregations in opposition to the fundamental principles of the church, and their views of the word of God, and to the liberties of Christ's people.

2. That the said civil courts have power to interfere with and interdict the preaching of the gospel, and administration of ordinances as authorized and enjoined by the church courts of the establishment.

3. That the said civil courts have power to suspend spiritual censures pronounced by the church courts of the establishment against ministers and probationers of the church, and to interdict their execution as to spiritual effects, functions, and privileges.

4. That the said civil courts have power to reduce and set aside the sentences of the church courts of the establishment, deposing ministers from the office of the holy ministry, and depriving probationers of their license to preach the gospel, with reference to the spiritual status, functions, and privileges of such ministers and probationers, restoring them to the spiritual office and status of which the church courts had deprived them.

5. That the said civil courts have power to determine on the right to sit as members of the supreme and other judicatories of the church by law established, and to issue, interdicts against sitting and voting therein, irrespective of the judgment and determination of the said judicatories.

6. That the said civil courts have power to supersede the majority of a church court of the establishment, in regard to the exercise of its spiritual functions as a church

court, and to authorize the minority to exercise the said functions, in opposition to the court itself and to the superior judicatories of the establishment.

7. That the said civil courts have power to stay processes of discipline pending before courts of the church by law established, and to interdict such courts from proceeding therein.

8. That no pastor of a congregation can be admitted into the church courts of the establishment and allowed to rule, as well as to teach, agreeably to the institution of the office by the Head of the church, nor to sit in any of the judicatories of the church, inferior or supreme, and that no additional provision can be made for the exercise of spiritual discipline among members of the church, though not affecting any patrimonial interests, and no alteration introduced in the state of pastoral superintendence and spiritual discipline in any parish without the coercion of a civil court.

All which jurisdiction and power on the part of the said civil courts severally above specified, whatever proceedings may have given occasion to its exercise, is, in our opinion, in itself inconsistent with Christian liberty,-with the authority which the Head of the church hath conferred on the church alone.

5. The free exercise of the elective franchise is one of the most effectual means of guarding against the introduction of unworthy men into the ministry.

The common people best know the private character of the minister. They have a deep interest in it. They seek the spiritual welfare of themselves and their children, in the selection of their pastor. These are precisely the considerations assigned for continuing to the people the right of election in the ancient church, after the rise of Episco

pacy.92

On the contrary, he who has a living at his disposal, is often ignorant of the true character of him who seeks a preferment. A thousand sinister motives may bias his judgment. He may be the most unsuitable man possible for such a trust.93 In a word, who does not know that the curse of a graceless ministry has ever rested upon the church, to a greater or less extent, wherever they have not enjoyed the right of electing their own pastors? The rich and quiet livings of an establishment, especially if coupled with the authority, the distinction and emoluments of the Episcopal office, will ever be an object of ambition to worldly men. "Make me a bishop," said an ancient idolater, “make me a bishop, and I will surely be a Christian.”

6. The free enjoyment of the elective franchise is one of the best means of guarding the church against the inroads of error.

The Puseyism of the day is a delusion of the priesthood. The writer has often been assured in England that few, comparatively, of the common people are led away by it. And in this country we have lately seen the laity nobly struggling against diocesan despotism, to resist it. So it has ever been; the delusions and heresies that have over

92 It was, according to Cyprian, a divine tradition and apostolical custom, observed by the African church, and throughout almost all the provinces, that the election is to be performed in the presence of the people of the place, who fully know every man's life, and, in their very intimate acquaintance, have carefully observed his habitual conversation. Episcopus deligatur, plebe præsente, quae singulorum vitam plenissime novit, et uniuscujusque actum de ejus conversatione perspexerit---Coram omni synagoga jubet Deus constitui sacerdotem, id est, instruit atque ostendit ordinationes sacerdotales nonnisi, sub populi assistentis conscientia fieri opportere ut, plebe praesente, vel detegantur malorum crimina, vel bonorum merita praedicentur,---Quod utique idcireo tam diligenter et caute, convocata plebe, tota gerebatur, ne quis ad altaris ministerium, vel ad sacerdotalem locum indignus obreperet---Cyprian, Ep. 68.

93 Tracts for the Times, No. 59, p. 413.

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