Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

church would not willingly be led into prosecutions for heresy. After this, however, there was a revival on the part of some of Questions of heresy. the clergy of High Church and orthodox sentiment. The Scottish Church Society was founded in 1892 with Dr John Macleod of Govan as president, “to defend and advance catholic doctrine as set forth in the ancient creeds and embodied in the standards of the Church of Scotland.” In 1897, however, Alexander Robinson of Kilmun was deposed by the presbytery of Dunoon acting under the orders of the Assembly on account of the views contained in his book The Saviour in the Newer Light, in which the results of modern criticism of the Gospels were set forth with some ability. The National Church Union, of which Professor A. Menzies was president, was formed after this event by ministers and elders who feared that the cause of free theological inquiry was in peril in the church. This body at once raised the question of the relaxation of subscription, which was in a few years seriously taken up by the church, and the National Church Union, feeling that in this, as well as in the growth of liberal opinion in the church its object had been attained, discontinued its operations. The Scottish Church Society still carries on its work.

The question of subscription has been more or less before the church for many years. The formula adopted by the assembly of 1711 had still to be signed by ministers, and was felt to be much too strict. After debates extending over many years, the assembly of 1889 fell back on the words of the act of parliament 1693, passed to enable the Episcopalian clergy to join the establishment, in which the candidate declared the Confession of Faith to be the confession of his faith, owned the doctrine therein contained to be the true doctrine and promised faithfully to adhere to it. This was accompanied by a Declaratory Act in which the church expressed its desire to enlarge rather than curtail the liberty hitherto enjoyed. Ten years later the assembly was again debating the question of subscription. A committee appointed in 1899 to inquire into the powers of the church in the matter reported that the power of the church was merely administrative—it was in her power as cases arose to prosecute or to refrain from prosecuting, but that she had no power to modify the confession in any way. Here the matter might have remained, but that the approach to parliament of the United and the Free Churches after the decision of the House of Lords in 1904 (see Free Church and United Free Church) offered an opportunity for asking parliament to remove a grievance the church herself had no power to deal with. The Scottish Churches Bill of 1905 afforded relief to all the Presbyterian churches. It did not do what the Church of Scotland asked, viz. allow the words of the act of 1690 to be used as the formula; but it removed that of 1693 and left it to the church to frame a new formula for her ministers and professors, an undertaking to which she is seriously addressing herself.

The agitation for disestablishment sprang up afresh after the passing of the Church Patronage Act (Scotland); each Attacks on the establishment. assembly of the Free Church passed a resolution in favour of it, and the United Free Church continued this testimony. In 1890 Mr Gladstone declared for disestablishment, and under his government of 1892 a Disestablishment Bill was introduced in the House of Commons by Sir Charles Cameron, in two successive sessions, 1893-1894. After the defeat of the Liberal government in 1895, the church was for ten years relieved from this anxiety, nor had the attack been renewed up to 1911. A counter-movement was represented by a bill introduced into parliament in 1886 in order to declare the spiritual independence of the Church of Scotland, in the hope that the way might be opened to a reunion of the Presbyterian bodies. The act of 1905 has altered the circumstances of the churches in this regard. During the agitation the church was much occupied with the question of her own defence, and after it died down, various schemes were entertained for the improvement of her position without and within. She more than once expressed her willingness to confer with the daughter Presbyterian churches, with a view to their sharing with her the benefits of her position.

Since 1908 the subject of the union of the churches has been much spoken of. The quarter-centenary of the birth of Calvin occurring at the time of the Church assemblies of 1909 brought the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church assembly together for a memorial service in St Giles's; and a committee on union, consisting of 105 representatives from each assembly, was appointed.

The Church of Scotland has made few contributions of importance to the movement of Biblical Criticism which has entered so deeply Scottish theologians. into the religious life of Scotland, but she has had distinguished writers on theology. Robert Lee (1804-1868), minister of Old Greyfriars and professor of Biblical criticism in Edinburgh University, fought a long battle for the liberty and the improvement of worship, of which the churches generally now reap the advantage. He held clear views as to the necessity of reform in the doctrine of the church as well; but these he died without publishing. Norman Macleod (q.v.), minister of the Barony Parish, Glasgow, a man of great natural eloquence and an ardent philanthropist, enjoyed the warm friendship of Queen Victoria and was beloved by his nation. John Caird (q.v.), professor of divinity and then principal of Glasgow University, wrote An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, exercised a deep influence as a teacher on Scottish thought, and was the most distinguished British preacher, of the intellectual order, of his day. John Tulloch (q.v.), principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews, wrote Theism, Leaders of the Reformation, Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the 17th century, and many other works, and was an effective champion of doctrinal liberty. He was succeeded at St Andrews and as Liberal leader in the assembly by John Cunningham (1819-1893), who wrote a very successful History of the Church of Scotland. Robert Herbert Story (1835-1906), principal after Caird of Glasgow University, stood by the side of Lee and Tulloch in their assembly contendings and was an outspoken defender of the National Church against her spoliators from without. Of his works may be mentioned lives of his father Dr Story, of Carstairs, and of Robert Lee. His life was written by his daughters. Andrew K. H. Boyd (1825-1899), minister of St Andrews, was widely known by the numerous volumes of essays, especially the “Recreations of a Country Parson.” His “Twenty-five Years of St Andrews” contains a good deal of information. Robert Flint (q.v.) published The Philosophy of History in Europe, Historical Philosophy in France; his volumes on Theism and Antitheistic Theories have passed through many editions.

The Church of Scotland in 1909 had 1437 parishes and 251 chapels and preaching stations. The General Assembly consisted of 741 Statistics. members. The professors of divinity at the four Scottish universities must be ministers of the church, but a proposal has been made to throw the chairs open to ministers of any of the Presbyterian bodies. The foreign mission employs fifty-two ordained and about as many unordained, medical, industrial and other missionaries, with a large number of native agents, in India, East Africa and China. Jewish missions are kept up at five stations in the East, and the colonial committee supplies ordinances to emigrants from Scotland in many of the dependencies of the empire. The small-livings fund aims at bringing up to £200 a year all stipends which fall short of that sum, of which there are nearly 400. About £4000 a year was still required in 1910 to carry out the object of this scheme.

The parliamentary return of 1888 showed the value of the teinds of 876 parishes to be £375,678 and the stipends paid to amount (exclusive of manses and glebes) to £242,330. The value of augmentations obtained since that date is more than balanced by the decline of fiars prices, so that the total revenue of the church from this source is about £220,000. The unexhausted teinds, according to the return in 1907, amounted to about £133,000. The exchequer pays to 190 poor parishes and 42 Highland churches, from church property in the hands of the crown, £17,040. From burgh and other local funds the church derives a revenue of £23,501. The church has herself added to her endowments, for the equipment of 453 new parishes, £1,681,330, yielding over £54,000 a year. The entire endowments of the church, including manses and glebes but not church buildings, is about £300,000.

For detailed accounts of the separate bodies—the United Presbyterian Church, the Free Church and the United Free Church—see the articles on each of these. The table on the following page shows the material progress of the respective organizations in recent years.

In the absence of a religious census it is not possible to deduce from statistics supplied by the churches themselves any trustworthy conclusion as to the percentage of the population adhering to each church. The Communion rolls of the parish churches require to be kept with care, as in vacancies they form the register of those entitled to vote for the new minister. In the able statistical discussions in the reports of the United Free Church it is pointed out that in the figures furnished by the Churches the numbers of members and the numbers of deaths are not in the same proportion as the population of the country and the general death-rate, and the conclusion is drawn that the number of members is in each case too great.