But if this be believed, then we are living in a Roman Catholic, and not in a Protestant country, and are attending the ministrations of Roman Catholic, and not of Protestant preachers. This will scarcely be maintained. What confuses people here is, that their ministers have received a divine ordination—but then, so have we all, according to the Protestant theory; and therefore this title gives them no pre- eminence. What the minister holds, in addition to this, is a human appointment; and this, it is clear, can never give him a title superior to that of his fellow-men—to any species of legislation, either spiritual or temporal. The ministers of religion must be content with their share of spiritual legislation, and it may be proper and expedient that this share should be large; but they must always remember that it is accorded to them simply as Christian citizens, and not at all as office-bearers in the church—that is to say, it is accorded to them in virtue of their divine, and not of their human credentials.
It being understood, then, that the Romanist theory makes a distinction between church and state, and that the Protestant theory makes none, we are now in a position to return to the General Assembly, and to try its constitution by the conclusions we have reached. Has this body a supreme spiritual jurisdiction? Yes. We believe that even the Court of Session would admit that they possess this in all cases unmistakeably ecclesiastical. The question then arises: Whence did they obtain this supreme spiritual authority?
There are only three possible sources from whence this authority can have come to them: they may hold their supreme spiritual jurisdiction, either, 1st, from God—or, 2d, from the state—or, 3d, as the state. It may, perhaps, be not perfectly correct to call the latter alternative a source from which they may derive their power; but let that pass—our meaning is sufficiently obvious. Now, we undertake to prove that they cannot hold their authority either from God or from the state; whence it will follow that, if they hold it at all, they must hold it as the state.
I. In proof that the General Assembly cannot hold an exclusive spiritual supremacy from God.
If the Protestant theory of church and state be correct—that is to say, if there be no distinction at all between church and