CHURCH UNION IN SCOTLAND
[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."]
Sin,—Your correspondent " X " in the Spectator of May 31st writes ostensibly to explain to the English mind the " mystery " of the religious differences of Scotland, but it is to be feared that his interesting generalities tend only to further mystification. For instance, why ask your English readers to accept the statement that " Establishment has different meanings north and south of the Border" without the obvious and all-important qualification that, as a matter of fact, the House of Lords has authoritatively declared the Scottish meaning to be inadmissible, and imposed upon the constitution of the Church of Scotland the Erastian English meaning P There runs through your correspondent's whole letter, indeed, the misleading suggestion that the ideal of inherent autonomy and spiritual freedom which immemorially characterized the Church of Scotland is exemplified and secured in that Church's present constitution. If this could with justice be said, then cadit quaestio, the main cause of separation between the two great Scottish churches would have already disappeared. How wide of the mark such suggestions are plainly appears in the very friendly but frank reports recently drawn up by the conferring committees of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland respec- tively. Perhaps you will be good enough to make room for a couple of sentences more, summarizing the situation as disclosed in these Reports :— 1. The United Free Church, adhering to its well-known view as to the vitiating effect of the decisions of the Civil Courts and of Parliament on the old Scottish Church ideal of spiritual freedom, has now put on record that, while desirous to see all causes of separation removed, it " cannot unite with the Church of Scotland on the basis of that Church's existing constitution."
2. The Church of Scotland has nowresponded by intimating its intention to frame for itself a constitution "which would be a practical satisfaction of the conception of spiritual freedom entertained by the United Free Church," and to procure the repeal of all statutory enactments inconsistent therewith ; the new constitution, when adopted, to be trans- mitted to the United Free Church "as a basis of union."
The spirit in which the negotiations, necessarily difficult and delicate, are being conducted on both sides is the best guarantee for the eventual success with which all patriotic Scotsmen hope they will be crowned.-1 am, Sir, &c., N.