Voluntary Controversy

Voluntary Controversy is the name applied to an animated controversy which commenced in Scotland in.1829, and was carried on for several years between the supporters and the opponents of civil establishments of religion. The discussion originated from the publication of a sermon by Mr. Andrew Marshall, minister of the United Secession Church in Kirkintilloch, in which he attempted to prove that religious establishments are unscriptural, unjust, impolitic, secularizing in their tendency, inefficient, and unnecessary. This production awakened an unusual excitement in the public mind. It rapidly passed through, several editions, and, more especially in the Church to which the author belonged, it was regarded as a most vigorous and effective assault upon civil establishments of religion. A review of this sermon, however, appeared in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, which maintained with great ability the cause of national as against voluntary churches. The contest was carried on for some time with great energy between Dr. Marshall and his reviewer, until at length various men of ability on both sides entered the field, and the point in dispute underwent a most searching examination in all its bearings. The controversy finally took an organized form, and a society was formed, on the part of the dissenters, under the name of the Voluntary Church Association, whose committee issued a periodical bearing the title of the Voluntary Church Magazine. Another association was formed, on the part of the national Church, under the name of the Association for Promoting the Interests of the Church of Scotland, and a periodical was begun under the title of the Church of Scotland Magazine. A treatise was published in. 1833 by Dr. John Inglis, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, entitled A Vindication of Ecclesiastical Establishments. After a short interval, a volume in reply to the Vindication appeared from the pen of Dr. Marshall. See Gardner, Faiths of the World, 2, 921. SEE CHURCH AND STATE; SEE ESTABLISHMENT; see VOLUNTARYISM.

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