« 上一頁繼續 »
charge in this Church without subscribing the formula, and declaring his adherence to the testimony of this Church without qualification.
" " That no minister of another denomination shall be admitted to a ministerial charge in this Church until the General Assembly has made inquiries into the course of study required, and the standards held and subscribed by the Church with which he has been connected.
6 • That ministers of those Churches with respect to whose standards and course of education the General Assembly shall have been satisfied, and who are prepared to subscribe the formula, and declare their adherence to the testimony, may not only officiate in the pulpits of this Church, but shall be eligible to ministerial charges on the call of these congregations, provided they produce the usual presbyterial testimonials from the Church with which they have been connected.
"• That the probationers or licentiates of those Churches whose ministers are, in accordance with the preceding provisions, eligible to ministerial charges, shall not be employed in supplying any pulpit of this Church until they produce from the Pres. bytery of the bounds their extract of license and presbyterial certificate, and subunit to such examination as the Presbytery may require ; but that when these documents have been produced, and the examination has been satisfactory, they shall be placed upon the same footing, and enjoy the same privileges, as the other licentiates of this Church.”'
This, continned Dr Cunningham, embodies, as I think, fairly enough, in the shape of an overture, the substance of the recommendations in the Report of the Special Commission. It will be observed, that while ministers are not to be examined with regard to their views, probationers are; and further, that grounds and provisions are made in which general principles are laid down for the guidance of such cases, but with the full knowledge and assurance that as regards the Presbyterian Churches in view, from what we know of them, we are satisfied with the standards they subscribe, and the views they hold. I think we are already in a condition to accom. pany it with a statement regarding certain churches wiih which we are satified ; the provisions, for example, taken in a scriptural sense, are applicable to the Irish Presbyterian Church, also the English Presbyterian Church, the Synod of Original Seceders, and the Synod of Reformed Presbyterians; and it might be de. sirable to accompany the overture with a statement to the effect, that, in accordance with its provisions the General Assembly is satisfied that those are Churches to whom this overture might be at once applied.
The suggestion was agreed to, and the overture adopted.
OFFICES OF ELDER AND DEACON,
Mr Gray of Perth presented the following Report from the Committee on the status of the deaconship :“OVERTURE and Interim Act on the Duties of Elders and Deacons, and the Man.
agement of the Property and Secular Affairs of the Congregations. “ Whereas it has become necessary, in consequence of the restoration of the scriptural order of deacons, and in consequence of the late change in the outward condition of the Church, to point out and regulate the duties of elders and deacons respectively, and to define and describe the powers and the meeting of congregational office-bearers for secular business, the General Assembly agree to transmit to Presbyteries the following rules and regulations, as an overture, for their opinion ; and the Assembly further pass the said rules and resolutions as an interim act, -viz.
“ I. Respecting the peculiar duties of elders :
“1. That they sit in session along with the minister, and assist in the administration of discipline, and in the spiritual government of the Church.
“2. That they take a careful oversight of the people's morals and religious prin. ciples, of the attendance upon public ordinances, and of the state of personal and fainily religion.
“3. That they visit the sick from time to time in their several districts. "4. That they superintend the religious instruction of the young, and assist the
minister in ascertaining the qualifications of applicants for admission to sealing ordi.
“ 5. That they superintend and promote the formation of meetings within their districts, for prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and Christian fellowship, among the members of the Church.
“ II. Respecting the peculiar duties of deacons :-
“2. That they attend to the gathering of the people's contributions to the general fund for the sustentation of the ministry; and that they receive the donations wbich may be made for other ecclesiastical purposes.
“ 3. That they attend to the congregational poor.
1. That both elders and deacons may receive the Sabbath collections of the people, according to such arrangements as shall be made by the Deacons' Court.
" 2. That, for the better discharge of their peculiar duties respectively, as well as with a view to increased opportunities of doing good, both elders and deacons visit periodically the districts assigned to them, and cultivate an acquaintance with the members of the church residing therein.
“ 3. That it is competent for elders to be employed as deacons, when a sufficient number of deacons cannot be bad.
“ That deacons may assist the elders with their advice, whether in Session or otherwise, when requested so to do.
“IV. Respecting the meeting of the minister, elders, and deacons for secular affairs, which meeting may be called the Deacons' Court :
- 1. That the minister preside in said meeting, when he is present; and, in his absence, any elder or deacon whom the meeting may fix upon.
“2. That the said meeting, or Deacons' Court, is convened by citation from the pulpit, or by personal notice to the members thereof, and is called by authority of the minister, or at the requisition of any three members,—said requisition being addressed to the minister, or, in time of a vacancy of the pastoral charge, to the clerk of the said Court; and the proceedings are opened and closed with prayer.
“3. That this Court has the management and charge of the wbole property belonging to the congregation, including church, session-house, manse, school-buildings, &c. and of all its secular affairs,—including, of course, the appropriation of seats, with the determination of all questions relating thereto ; and it is the province and duty of said court to transmit, from time to time, to the treasurer appointed by the General Assembly, or their committee, the funds raised for the general sustentation of the ministry ; also to apply the remaining congregational funds, in ficting proportions, to the support of the ministry, the payment of the salaries of the various subordinate functionaries, and the defraying of all necessary charges connected with the property, or with the dispensation of Christian ordinances; to apply, moreover, any surplus which may thereafter arise to religious, ecclesiastical, educational, or benevolent objects ; likewise to make special collections at the church door; as often as may appear to them to be necessary, for the temporal relief of poor members of the congregation, and for the education of the children of the poor; and, finally, to receive the deacons' reports of their proceedings, to give them such advice and instructions as may be required, and to decide as to the payments to be made by them for the relief of the poor and the education of youth.
" 4. That while the Church is solely at the disposal of the minister, for all religious purposes, the consent of the deacons' court, as well as of the minister, is necessary, before any meeting, not strictly of a religious, ecclesiastical, or charitable nature can be held in it.
“5. That the said court shall have one or more treasurers, and clerk, and a separate record for the minutes of its proceedings.
* 6. That the record of the court, with the treasurer's account of receipt and expenditure, after said account sball bave been duly audited by appointment of the court, shall be annually exhibited to the Presbytery of the bounds, at the first ordi.
nary meeting thereof, after the 15th of March, for the purpose of being examined and attested by the Presbytery at said meeting.
“7. That on the first Monday after said attestation of the record and treasurer's account, or on some convenient day of the first or second week following the attestation by the Presbytery, a congregational meeting shall be held, when the deacons' court shall present a report of its proceedings for the preceding year, give such infor. mation and explanations as may be asked for, and receive any suggestions which may be offered by the members of the congregation for the consideration of the court, with reference to the future distribution of the funds. The congregational meeting sball be convened by intimation from the pulpit, and the minister, if present, shall preside in it.
“8. That to the said Court shall belong the appointment and dismissal of the church officer and door-keepers."
The Committee, said Mr Gray, were far from thinking that the proposed arrangements were perfect; but if sent down to Presbyteries, and they sustain them, they might be able, in the course of their deliberations, to suggest many valuable improvements. There was only one point in the overture on which he would say a single word. It referred to the circumstances in the constitution of the deacons' court, that all the office-bearers of the congregation were members of it.
That was in accordance with the constitution of the Church, as described in the books of dis. cipline; and be believed it was the unanimous opinion of the house, that the best way was to act on the plan universally adopted since the disruption, wherever deacons bave been appointed. The services of the elders in assisting in the admini. stration of affairs were indispensable, from their experience and high influence in their respective congregations; and considering the important functions and weighty responsibility devolving on the deacons' court, it was clear that the best way to discharge the duties, was for all to be united in one administrative body.-Agreed to.
The Assembly then called for the
REPORT OF THE HOME MISSION COMMITTEE.
Mr JOHNSTON, W.S., in absence of the Rev. C. J. Brown, the convener, brought up and read the following :
“On entering on a brief detail of their labours, your committee would first of all give thanks to God, for the liberality of the congregations connected with the Free Church. They cannot but regard the large sum of L.2987 which has been contri. buted during the past year, ending 30th March last, as a proof not only of the liberality of the people, but of their confidence that their contributions would be carefully and judiciously applied ; and your committee trust that this confidence has not been misplaced. They have been enabled to meet all those claims which they thought should be borne by the Church. But they have felt throughout that they would best accomplish the ends for which this scheme was instituted by a very cau. tious administration of the funds; there is thus a large balance now at the disposal of the Church. It seemed better, however, that this balance should be left to be available for carrying out any more extended plan within the original design of the Home Mission, which the Assembly might devise, besides meeting any additional claims for aiding young men that may arise before the next collection takes place.
“ The whole payments and grants made to young men amount to L.1130, 3s, The number aided in the different stages of their progress in study, with a view to the ministry, has been 119, making an average of about 15 for each of the eight years of study. The sum of aids to 8 students receiving preliminary instruction before entering college, is
L.51 3 6 The sum of aids to 65 students at literary classes, is
639 4 6 The sum of aids to 44 students at the ball, is
439 15 0
Total aids, L.1130 30 “ The expenses of the office of the Record, and miscellaneous payments, up to the 30th March last, have amounted to L.85, Is. “Of the students aided, probably more than 32 are Gaelic.
“ Your committee, except in a very limited number of special cases, bave declined granting aid during the period betwixt the college sessions ; and they are happy to state, that very few applications bave been made for such grants.
“ Of the students attending the literary classes, aided by your committee, there bave been attending the University at Edinburgh,
14 St Andrews,
“ In regard to the number, especially of Divinity students, it is right to keep several circumstances in view. Of the 44 aided, nine had been schoolmasters, who bad nearly finished their studies, and who, being ejected from their situations, were deprived of the means of prosecuting their studies without the support of the Church. Another portion had either been in the enjoyment of large bursaries, or would have received tbem had they attended the University Halls; and they had in these circumstances a peculiar claim on the Free Church. Others were most anxious to have carried on their studies by means of private teaching, but, from various causes, there bas been of late much less employment in this way. and comparatively only a small number have been enabled to prosecute their studies by this means.
• The committee would express their confident hope, in regard to the young men generally, in all stages of progress, tbat, with the Lord's continued favour, they will prove a band of highly efficient labourers in the harvest of the gospel.
“ Your committee bave observed that the number who have been aided in the earlier years of their studies is larger in proportion; and while the committee have been gratified to observe that, in the present exigencies of the Church, a considerable number of young men, of high promise, are coming forward with a view to the ministry, they are also satisfied that more caution is required in aiding young men in the earlier years of their studies than even afterwards. With a view to the encouragement of young men, not merely of talent, but of energy and fitness for the holy work of the ministry, your committee have had under their anxious consideration various plans which might even better secure to the Church the full benefit of the funds devoted to this department. No plan has yet been matured; but they are disposed to regard with favour the idea of confining ultimately their aids to bursaries, to be given by competition according to certain regulations, leaving other cases to be provided for by Presbyteries, congregations, or individuals. In the event of this plan being adopted, your committee would, however, deem it their duty to consider favourably the cases of young men who have already received aid, but who might not obtain a bursary under this plan. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that all the grants made by the committee are for the year only, and that in no case any engagement to continued support is undertaken by your committee."
To a query from Mr Simpson of Aberdeen, whether support would be extended for more than a year to young men encouraged to come forward for the ministry, Dr Candlish replied, that the committee would consider themselves in some measure as under a moral pledge to those young men so long as it was right; but should any new system come into operation, it would apply prospectively only, not retrospectively.
Dr Canduish proposed, for the sake of facilitating the business of the house, before giving any final deliverance on the report, to take up the report of the Gaelic committee, and ihat of the committee on the plantation of charges, before disposing of the Home Mission report. The Assembly accordingly called for the
REPORT OF THE GAELIC COMMITTEE “ As a branch of the Committee for the Plantation of Charges,' the Gaelic Committee has been intrusted with the important duty of endeavouring to provide the means of grace for the destitute districts in the Highlands and Islands. In presenting to the General Assembly a Report of their operations, they feel it impossible adequately to describe the difficulties connected with this extensive field of labour. They are anxious, however, to press these upon the notice of the Church, and also to fix the mind of the Church on the vast importance of this portion of the vineyard, and on the precious tokens of encouragement which the Lord in His mercy is giving ber to continue and extend her labours in it.
“ The Committee, in their Report to last Assembly, endeavoured to state the existing destitution in the Highland districts. It was mentioned in that Report, that the total number of ministers connected with these districts who had quitted the Establishment was 101, while those remaining within the Establishment amount. ed to 105. It was also stated in that Report, that the number of available proba. tioners having the Gaelic language amounted to thirty-one; while, in so far as the Committee had then ascertained, fifty-eight would be required to supply, on the lowest possible computation, the existing deficiency.
“1. The Committee has been engaged during the last six months in enquiring further into the actual wants of the Highlands and Islands, and they would now state to the Assembly the result of their inquiries, that the Assembly may be fully aware of the nature and extent of the sphere to which their efforts have been directed, and may judge of the inadequacy of the means which they bave bitherto been able to employ.
Organized Congregations Stations in course of having no Pastor.
being organized Argyle,
5 Ross, Sutherland,
2 Perth and Stirling, Aberdeen,
26 " It thus appears that forty-one regularly organized congregations baving no pastors, and twenty-six in course of formation, have required to be supplied with the means of grace during the currency of the last six months. The Committee would at the same time entreat the Assembly to consider that no bare statement of this kind can convey an adequate idea of the wants of these districts. Multitudes flock to bear the ministers and preachers of our Church wherever they appear, who cannot in the mean time be ranged under either of the classes mentioned. Indeed, it is the testimony not only of the friends of the Free Church, but of many who are not connected with us, that the Highland population are all but entirely on our side, and that at present the only limit to the number of our congregations arises from the scanty supply of labourers. When we add to this the peculiar difficulties connected with many of the districts, arising from the wide extent of the parishes, frequently intersected by dangerous arms of the sea, and from the want of facilities for safe and easy travelling, the Committee have no hesitation in stating, that many more labourers are required than the above calculation indicates.
“ II. The Committee would now briefly direct the attention of the Assembly to the means which have been used during the last half year for supplying the wants of these extensive districts.
“ They have endeavoured to distribute the scanty supply of probationers in as just a proportion among the several Synods as circumstances permitted. Some of the probationers were prevented from fulfilling these appointments; and even when they did proceed to labour in the districts assigned to them, the Committee ure deeply sensible, from the many painful communications received, that the supply was utterly inadequate.
" In these circumstances the Committee felt themselves called to apply to the Special Commission for the appointment of some gifted and experienced ministers, who might be loosed for a time from their particular charges, and to whom might be committed the work of the ministry, or rather that of evangelists, in an extensive range of destitute parishes. Two excellent and able ministers willingly gave them. selves to tbis arduous work, viz., Mr John Macrae of Knockbain and Mr George