網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

claims: but my answer is, let them judge for themselves. By not offering the people an opportunity to contribute for these objects, you prevent many wbo would willingly throw their mite into the treasury, from an anxious desire to adFance the kingdom of our Lord. The ministers are thus judging for those who ought to be permitted to judge for themselves, they come between the people, interfere and say, "you shall not have an opportunity of contributing to these Schemes, lest you dry up the channel which provides for our own." Now I venture to urge upon my reverend fathers and brethren, that they are not entitled, they are not warranted to do so. (Hear.) Their duty is to lay the claims before the people and leave open the channels the Church has appointed to be provided for the people's liberality, in contributing to all the Schemes; and it will be found tbat these claims do not compete with each other, but that they rather mutually strengthen each other. I therefore hope tbat the next report of my reverend father's will be one in which he can state that every congregation in the Church has contributed something to every scheme, were it only a farthing. (Hear, hear.) I do not know that there is any other matter to be noticed, but I think that the result of the whole is this, that our people should be stirred up, just to look back to the past year, and to consider whether they are any poorer, after all that they have done. No doubt they have done great things. They have contributed most largely to the building of churches, to the sustentation fund, and to our missionary schemes,altogether not less perhaps than twenty times more than they contributed the years before. (Hear.) But just let them look back and consider how much poorer they are, what sacrifices they have made, and whether they have lost any thing at all. Let them consider if they could not continue this contribution year after year without sacrificing any thing worthy of being named; and if they could not do the same thing in ordinary circumstances wbich they have done in the extraordinary circuin. stances in wbich they have been placed. Only let them conceive what we could do towards the extension of the gospel of the blessed God to all the quarters of tbe earth--let them think of the blessings which they might be able to carry to the poor at their own door, and to the beathen abroad, -and they would feel that they had purchased a joy which no earthly possession could give. I have now to propose, that the thanks of this Assembly be given to my reverend father, whose statement this day must bave convinced us that I was not wrong in proposing him as a proper person to take the charge of the schemes of our Church.

Dr Brown of Glasgow seconded the motion.— The statements that have this day been laid before us, so very affecting in their nature, have affected my own heart very deeply, and I am sure they have affected the heart of every individual who bas listened io them; it is for us to give God the glory and the praise, and to go to our knees and thank him for what he has done for us, saying, “ The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” I am persuaded that every one of my fathers and brethren will go back to their respective fields of operation cheered and gladdened by wbat be has beard, and led to cherish a stronger zeal for the cause of Christ and the interests of religion in the world. We are now a missionary Church. We are not asking “Who is my brother, and my neighbour?" but we are a missionary Church, asking where do necessities exist, and how can we be useful in our day and generation—" What would the Lord have us to do ?" I trust we shall go forward in this good work, trusting in the Lord, that he will enable us by bis grace to stir up our people to greater things still in promoting his own cause. I trust those individuals who, placed in peculiar circumstances during the painful events that have occurred, have not seen it their duty to come forward with contributions—to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty-will be duly impressed by what has been brought under their notice this day, and will give an opportunity to their people, according to their means and circuinstances, to aid in the great work. It is by little rills that the river is swollen; and it is by small contributions that our funds are to be increased. It is not always by the shekel, but by the widow's mite that the proper means are supplied; and í would rather have the mite, accompanied with the prayer from the bumble widow, than the shekel from the most opulent, where there is nothing of the spirit of prayer for God's blessing upon it. (Hear.) I would take this opportunity of recominending to my brethren, tbat since the Missionary Record has been attended with so much success, and done so much in contributing to the support of our schemes, they should do all in their power to circulate it more and more. It will bring before our people a knowledge of what is doing in our missionary fields, and while it will be the means of improving our resources, will strengthen the hands and rejoice the hearts of our people in promoting our missionary cause. Without saying more, and much more might be said,-in reference to the excellent report brought under your notice, I may say, I rejoice that while we have lost the valuable services of our excellent lay brother, who laboured so faithfully and so successfully in this work, that it has fallen into such bands as those of my reverend brother, who, I know, will devote all the energies of his mind to its success, and while he works will pray that bis labours may be attended with success. (Hear.)

Dr Wilson said- I beg to express my hearty concurrence in the motion which has now been made. We are very grateful to you and to the Christian people for all the liberality that has been displayed. We did not calculate on that liberality when we declared our adherence to the Free Church of Scotland. We declared that adherence on simple Christian principle. We could never, as missionaries, have beld up our heads in India, bad we not declared that it is not the business of the civil government to interfere with the government of the Christian Church. There are many systems of gross superstition in the East, and these systems of superstition manifest an inconceivable alienation from God. In this respect, however, they recognize a sacred principle, that inasmuch as religion Hows from God, its concerns must be managed by the dictates of God bimself. I have no hesitation in saying, that the British government, powerful as it is in the East, powerful in the opinion formed of it by the people of India, and powerful in mijitary resources, could not form the determination to interfere with the appointment to offices in any of the diversified priesthoods of India. Now, if this be the case, how could we, as ministers of Jesus Christ, refuse to come forward and say to all the world that the blood-bought privileges of the Christian Church and people should be preserved. Our reverend father who has given to us the interesting report we have heard this day, has intimated the gratifying fact, that all the converts, and all the students, and all the pnpils, connected with our great missions on the banks of the Ganges, have adhered to the Free Church of Scotland. I am able to make a simi. lar statement in behalf of our friends in the western part of India. All the agents at Bombay and Poonah have adhered to the Free Church. (Applause.) The gra. tifying fact is communicated to me in a letter from one of the converts, from wbich I shall read a single sentence,—“ Yes, all our converts have adhered to the Free Church, whose character here, as well as everywhere, more and more shines forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." I had no fears for the converts. I knew that they would be among the first adherents to our Church in India, and the result bas proved that my anticipations were not incorrect.

The Assembly having heard the above report, requested the Moderator to return thanks to Dr Makellar.

The Moderator then addressed Dr Makellar. He said, I have much pleasure in conveying to you the thanks of the Assembly, for your diligence and zeal in the important office assigned you, in reference to the Schemes of our Church; and particularly for the encouraging report you have now given, as chairman of the Board of Missions. Among the many tokens fur good afforded us, none has been more gratifying than the generous alacrity with which our people have upbeld these noble enterprises of Christian philantbropy-so that more has been done since the disruption by the Free Church alone, than was done before by the whole Established Church. Diminished numbers have supplied increased contributions. If we be the smaller and poorer party, as our opponents say, in a census of the population, it appears so much the more clearly that we are the greater and preponderating party, when weighed in the scales of Christian liberality. The Church of Christ is essentially a diffusive and distributing body. Freely have ye received," saith the great Master, "freely give;" yea, “go to all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Jewish Church was an enclosed garden; the Christian Church is a nursery, for the very purpose of disseminating the truth, and planting the world with trees of righteousness. And while the Churcb retained this character, and continued zealous and active in extending the gospel, it prospered; but when it contracted its care to its own preservation, it decayed and died; seltishness proving the means of self-destruction. Still, in all times, it is the mark of a thriving church to be "ready to distribute, willing to communicate ;” of a decaying and lifeless church, to be indifferent to the spread of the gospel. And " prayers and alms” must go together ; wbile these "come up before God for a memorial,” even as the incense ascending from the altar, his blessing will descend as dew from beaven upon the parched earth. Since your induction into your present office, you must have been much gratified by the prosperity of the fund under your care; and if, in any quarter, your expectations have been disappointed, I trust your counsels and admonitions to-day will communicate new zeal, as well as secure greater regularity, in promoting collections for these important objects. To your predecessor in that oflice the Church owes a debt of gratitude we can never repay. I trust you will establish a similar claim, and you will find us not ungrateful. Nor must I forget those wbo labour with you, though they stand not forib prominently to the public eye. I mean our invaluable coadjutors who ply their work in the busy office in North St Andrew Street, like the bees ibat labour in the retirement of their cells, constructing or filling the honey-comb, wbile tbeir fellows have the apparently pleasanter task of visiting and rifling the flowery meads. Our gratitude is especially due to our friend Mr Jaffray. He may be assured that bis labours are not unappreciated. We esteem them highly, and willingly include him in our vote of thanks.

The Clerk then read a report from the Committee on Bills and Overtures, announcing the cases, and the business which would occupy the attention of the Assembly.

On the recommendation of the committee- The following ministers were appointed to preach in the Assembly Hall on Sabbath first, viz. :

The Rev. Mr Gray of Perth in the forenoon.
The Rev. Dr Paterson of Glasgow in the afternoon.
The Rev. Mr Bonar of Kelso in the evening.

The Assembly again engaged in devotional exercises, conducted by the Rev. Mr Bonar of Kelso; after which it adjourned about half-past three o'clock till seven o'clock, when it was arranged that the house should take up the overtures on the state of religion, and receive the report of the Sabbath Observance Committee.

EVENING SEDERUNT. The Assembly met at seven o'clock, and was constituted in the usual manner. The ball was exceedingly crowded. Shortly after the commencement of the proceedings, Dr Cunningham entered the hall, and was received with the most enthusiastic welcome,-the applause being often and again repeated.

After the minutes had been read,

Mr Dunlop rose and said, I have to suggest to the house the arrangement of business for to-morrow and Monday, this being my first act of service as the cona vener of that Committee; and at the same time rejoice to think that it is likely to be the last. I did not notice my appointment yesterday, otherwise I might have declined it ; but I am happy that I will now have an opportunity of banding it over to one who formerly bad charge of it ; and I am sure the Assembly will rejoice with great joy in finding that he is now amongst them, having returned safely from the other side of the Atlantic. [This allusion to Dr Cunningham was received with the greatest applause.)

Tbe clerk then read the note of business which had been banded in, and wbich is as follows:

Saturday, 18th May. 1. Report of the Law Committee. 2. Overture on Cheap Publications. 3. Do. on preparing a Catechism on Presbyterianism. 4. Do, on the status of Deacons. 5. Do. on the Dissenters' Chapels Bill.

6. Irish Presbyterian Marriage Question.
7. Deputation from Irish Presbyterian Church.

Monday, 20th May.
1. Report of Committee on Jews' Conversion.
2. Translation of Mr Thomson of Yester to Catrine.
3. Translation of Mr Fairbairn of Saltoun to Dunfermline.
4. Translation of Mr M.Leod of Logie Easter to Kenmore.

The Assembly then called for the Report on

SABBATH OBSERVANCE.

men.

MR Fairbairy of Saltoun then gave in the following report :

“ The Committee on Sabbath Observance, instead of occupying their report, as usual, with notices regarding the open and public desecration of the Sabbath, would ruther, but very briefly, draw the attention of the Assembly on this occasion to one or two leading points which they conceive it of importance for the Free Church to keep in view, especially at the present time, in reference to the Sabbath.

"]. The Committee are persuaded that the way most likely to promote the sanctity of the Lord's day, and also most accordant with the situation occupied by the Free Church, is not so much by taking up in detail the several forms of Sabbath desecration, as by holding prominently up the great principle of the Sabbath, as an ordinance appointed by God from the very beginning of the world, for the spiritual and temporal well-being of mankind, and as such requiring that the whole day be kept as one of holy rest to bimself. It accords with experience generally, that the most effective mode of meeting and supplanting error, is by the direct promulgation and enforcement of truth ; and the only effectual way of rooting out the prevailing forms of Sabbath desecration must be the diffusion of a deeper sense of religion, and obtaining for the principle of the Sabbath a place in the hearts and consciences of

Now, therefore, that the Free Church has her eye turned on the spiritual improvement of the people, as her great calling, the Committee trust that, among the means for securing this high end, she will give the place which is due to the proper observance of that day, which in point of time, was the first, and in its use is unquestionably one of the most important institutions of heaven, for preserving the knowledge of God, and promoting his glory in the world. In no way could the Free Church be more directly instrumental in reviving the work of God in the land, tban by raising among all ber members the standard of Sabbath observance, and leading them to regard their devout hallowing of the Lord's day as "a sign between them and him that they know the Lord.”

“ 2. Nearly connected with this view of the subject is the maintenance of a proper discipline in our congregations in connection with the Sabbath ; and which, when prudently and firmly administered, will ever be found of eminent service in com. mending to men's consciences the principles of the Sabbath, and promoting its due observance in the community. The soundness of our creed in this respect, and the vigour of our exertions, will carry little weight, if they are accompanied by a lax and careless discipline. How far our discipline should proceed, or to what special kinds of worldly employment it should be applied, the Committee cannot be expected particularly to notice—the employments which are, especially in some of the manufac. turing districts, carried on during the Lord's day, being in themselves so various, and differing so widely as to the greater or less degree in which they may be properly regarded as works of necessity and mercy-tbat, to attempt to lay down any general directions might only lead to mistake and error. Though application has been made to the Committee for advice in regard to the lawfulness of such employments, they deem it beyond their province to give any deliberate judgment upon them; and, leaving all questions of this nature to the proper judicatories of the Church, they wonld simply express it as their earnest desire and hope, that in no case the Church will allow her decisions in such matters to be determined by the mere practice of the neighbourhood, but will take care to have them regulated by a solemn regard to the law and the testimony of God, as admirably set forth in the standards of the Church.

* 3. While the Committee have declared their unwillingness to enter much on the detail of Sabbath desecration, they cannot refrain from pointing the attention of the Assembly to the peculiar danger now threatening the cause of the Sabbath, from the vast extension wbich is soon to take place in railway communication throughout Scotland. The new lines which are contemplated will not only connect this country with England, where almost every railway has its Sabbath trains, but will also connect together the most important and populous districts of the country; and should these all become so many scenes and channels of Sabbath desecration, it is scarcely to be calculated wbat an amount of injury they would soon inflict on the religious feelings and habits of the community. The greater the evil, however, should it actually come, and the greater the danger may be of its coming, the more unquestionably should the people of God bestir themselves to provide against it-to use every lawful aud competent means for averting the evil-and, if these should unbappily for a time be unsuccessful, still to maintain the conflict for God's truth, and have no participation in the guilt of those who may set themselves against it.

• 4. The Committee would only further notice, which the do with much satisfaction, that most of the Synods have now appointed Sabbath committees. And they would suggest, that it might materially conduce to the efficiency of the labours of the Assembly's Committee, were the conveners of each of these synodical committees instructed to send an annual communication regarding the state of Sabbath observance within their bounds. The Committee would thus obtain a more accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the state of the country at large in reference to the Sabbath, and would be enabled to report in a more satisfactory manner concerning it to the Assembly, than they are in the condition of doing now. They would take the liberty also of suggesting, that the synodical committees might be recommended to raise in their respective districts a small sum, to be placed at the disposal of the Assembly's Committee, for enabling them to obtain, and publish, from time to time, information bearing on the object of their appointment, and conducting generally their operations, wbich cannot possibly be done efficiently without a certain amount of funds.

PATRICK E JEBAIRN, } Joint Conveners.” MR FAIRBAIRN then read a memorial to the Assembly from members of differ.ent congregations in Edinburgh, praying it to use its influence in suppressing Sunday travelling on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and to take measures to promote the better observance of the Sabbath. Mr Fairbairn enforced on the As. sembly the necessity of supplying the committee with a small amount of funds, for without it their efforts were much circumscribed. He had also to request the leave of the Assembly to withdraw from the office of being the convener of this committee. They would not suffer by his withdrawal; and as he was resident in a distant part of the country, he was not able to attend all the meetings. lle would therefore recommend that they should appoint some gentleman resident in Edinburgh.

Rev. Mr MACFARLANE of Renfrew said, — As no member seems about to rise, I beg to do so for the purpose of moving the adoption of the report. I think we are placed in very special circumstances at the present moment in reference to Sabbath observance, as well as the other operations in which the Free Church is engaged. I would especially notice the change which has taken place in our ceasing to be parochial ministers and sessions, and in our having become congregational ministers and sessions. We formerly felt it binding on us, and then we had some legal right for it, to watch over every form of Sabbath desecration, and adopt all the means in our power for suppressing them. We have ceased to occupy this place ; but I trust we will be able, in the position we now occupy, to assume a higher place in point of moral principle, and a higher place also in point of moral intiuence. (Hear, bear.) -I feel happy that in assuming, or rather retaining the character of watching over the Sabbath-or indeed in assuming the positive character of promoting the observance of the Lord's Day to the fullest extent to which it is enjoined in Scripture, we have, in the providence of God, a distinct recognition of Christ as our Lord and Master in every thing. There is, it must be remembered, a marked notice in Scrip

« 上一頁繼續 »