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wbo complied with such a call, and, therefore, Mr Macnaughtan's suggestion ought to be specially considered. The Assembly next called for the
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PLANTATION OF CHARGES. Dr CANDLISH said—I do not intend to enter at any length into the proceedings during the last year of the Comunittee on the Plantation of Charges. The object of the Committee is rather to give an account of the existing state of the Church, and the proposed arrangements for the future management of the business which this Committee bas bad to transact. But before doing so, I have to give in a report on certain special cases wbich have been given in to the Committee since the meeting of the Assembly :
1. The Committee agreed to recommend to the General Assembly to give power and authority to the Presbytery of Glasgow to take on trials for license, Messrs Jeffray and Cunningham, students of divinity who bave attended two years at the Divinity Hall. 2. It was also recommended that the Presbytery of Dunse and Chirnside should be empowered to take on trials and license Mr Adam Spence, on bis attending one session more at the theological ball, with concurrence of the theological professors, and that in the mean time he be employed as a catechist with. in the bounds of the same Presbytery. 3. The convener having brought under the notice of the committee the case of Mr Robertson, Newcastle, wbo had been bighly recommended by some of the brethren, they agreed to recommend to the General Assembly that the matter should be remitted to the Presbytery of Edinburgh to inquire more particularly into the circumstances of Mr Robertson's case, and apply to the commission of Assembly in August next, if they see cause, to give authority to the said Presbytery to take him on trials for license.
“ The committee having held a lengthened conference with the commissioners from the Presbytery of Orkney, and having taken into consideration the peculiar necessities and urgent claims of ihat portion of the country on the care and attention of tbe Free Church, unanimously resolve to transmit a strong recommendation, that the Assembly may be pleased to consider and devise such measures as may to them seem most expedient and suitable for strengt bening the bands of the present ministers in their efforts to provide for the spiritual destitution of these localities; and also, in consideration of local and topographical difficulties to which few other districts are exposed, to take care that the ordinances of religion be placed within the reach of all the adherents in that country.
“ The Committee also resolved to transmit a similar recommendation, in equally impressive terms, in favour of Shetland, where the population generally have shown the utmost readiness to attend the ministry of the Free Church, and where there is every reason to believe that large accessions might be made, and much spiritual good done, were there a suitable supply of preachers and proper facilities afforded for the extension of the Free Church in proportion to the wants of the population.
“ John Miller, Secretary.". Now, Moderator, I have here a schedule setting forth the existing state of the Church; and I shall just give an abstract of it, after reminding the Assembly of what has been the duty of this committee during the past year. It will be remembered that the acting committee of the Special Commission by the Assembly at Glasgow was changed into a committee for the plantation of charges. It will be remembered that the committee has had to discharge a very important duty in reference to making available the existing supply of probationers, and the means for giving religious instruction to the whole people of Scotland who would receive it at our hands, -to our whole adhering population. It will be remembered also, that this committee was not properly a committee on church extension, or having the functions which the church extension committee, properly so called, had to discharge. At this time 1 st year, it was impossible to draw the line between what should beheld to be the existing state of the Church, and the duty of extending the Church beyond what were then its limits. This will appear obvious if the Assembly will bear in mind, that while there was only a limited number of ministers of the Church who saw it to be their duty to come out of the Establishment, a much greater number of con. gregations, more or less numerous, left the Establishment; und that last year we set out on the principle of holding as integral parts of the Free Church, those congregations which left the Establishment, when their ministers remained in connection with it. Thus, eren although the ministers did not go along with them, we started upon the principle of giving supply to all who adhered to the Free Church, whether the ministers went out with the people or not. Now, in these circumstances, the duty devolved upon the committee, was a duty very different from merely consider. ing in what manner the Church might be best extended among the outfield population, I mean the portion of the population living beyond the reach of the means of grace. This was a very different duty, and a very difficult duty, I may say, and one which the committee set themselves to discharge with very inadequate means; inas, much as the population throughout all parts of Scotland adhered to the Free Church in a sar larger proportion than did the ministers or probationers. It is but right to remind the Assembly of this circumstance, that at the disruption we put forward a claim to be the real national Church of Scotland,—we put forward a claim to be the real Church of our fathers; and in this character and capacity we acknowledged ourselves bound to hold as part and parcel of the Church as it then existed, all the congregations, or portions of congregations, who saw it to be their duty to leave the Establishment, whether their ministers left it along with them or
It is quite clear that in these circumstances it was altogether impossible to draw the line accurately between the Church, regarded as it was then existing, and what was more properly the work of church extension. That difficulty does not now exist, at least to the same extent; and accordingly it is proposed that the business of this Committee shall be conducted in a somewhat different manner. The committee are now prepared to give an abstract to the Assembly, which may be regarded as showing the existing state of the Church, and in one view it may be regarded as the beginning of our church extension. The total number of ministers who left the Establishinent, including those who have since adhered, is 479. This number includes professors of Divinity. Of these 479, there fell to be deducted forty-two ministers who have retired, from time to time, from their charges, besides professors of theology who have no pastoral charges, and ministers who have since been translated, and whose charges are not yet supplied. Since the time of the dis. ruption till now, the new charges which have received the sanction of the Church, are 213, so that the existing extent of the Church amounts to about 650, fully sanctioned charges or congregations. Now, of these 650 charges, 550 are supplied with ministers, and 100 are vacant. This is the report, of course, of the charges wbich are now fully sanctioned ; 550 of these are full, that is, have ordained ministers settled in them; and 100 are vacant, or not yet supplied with ministers. The whole number is 650, and this may be regarded as the existing extent of the Church. It consists of 650 congregations, 100 of these congregations being not yet supplied with ministers. Of course, it must at once to this Assembly that these 100 vacant charges are not all in the same state of ripeness or readi. ness for giving calls; and consequently some delay may occur before it is necessary to plant ministers in all of these charges; but still the report we have to make is, that 550 congregations are supplied with ministers, and 100 others are sanctioned, though not supplied. In addition to this it has been reported to us that there are 145 preaching stations. Of course, these preaching sta. tions are many of them as yet in embryo ; they have made a mere beginning, and many of them are supplied by ministers of adjoining charges with extra services ; but, on the whole, there are 550 charges fully supplied with ministers, 100 still destitute of ministers, and 145 preaching stations. Such is the existing extent of the Church, as far as regards the number of charges. I have also to report that 118 probationers have been ordained since the disruption, and that at present, so far as can be ascertained, 84 are still unordained; but from these 84 we must deduct so large a num. ber as 20 who are probationers, only able to give occasional supply, being otherwise occupied ; so that we have about 64 probationers who may be regarded as ready to receive calls. The counmittee were very anxious to be able to report to the Assem.
bly the number of students ready to receive licences at the close of this session of college ; but they have not been able to obtain an accurate return on this head. So far as I can gather, we may say that probably about 40 students of divinity have either received license, or are in the course of receiving license, in the different pres. byteries of the Church. Excepting from the Highlands, the return regarding cate. chists is not complete. The Assembly has heard to-day that there are 30 catechists employed in the Highland districts. There are not many catechists employed in the Lowland districts, but still there are a few, although not perhaps amounting to more than ten or twelve. The committee have had two distinct branches of duty to discharge,--the one consisting of the sanctioning of charges, and the other consisting of the distributing and the employing of probationers. In regard to the sanctioning of charges, this committee have endeavoured to proceed with proper caution,-all the caution that could be consistent with the spiritual interests of the country at large. The committee sent down, in the case of every application for planting a new charge, a schedule, to be filled by the presbytery of the bounds, and without the recommen. dation of the Presbytery of the bounds, no charge has been sanctioned. At the same time it is right to state, that in some few instances Presbyteries have proceeded to the calling of ministers without waiting for the formal sanction of the committee. Of this, however, there has been no great necessity to complain, for the instances have been few, and in all of them, I doubt not, the sanction of the committee would have been at once given. The other department of labour consisted in the payment of proba. tioners, their distribution among the different Presbyteries of the Church, with a view to giving supply to vacant congregations, and assisting Presbyteries in supplying preaching stations. This was by far the most complicated and difficult part of the committee's duty. The correspondence it involved was very voluminous, and in the discharge of it the committee felt themselves deeply indebted to those ministers who acted as conveners in the several Synods of the Church. They have lent the utmost assistance in order to prevent the lack of supply; and the committee are called particularly to mention, in connection with this subject, the indefatigable labours in this department, of one minister who discharged the duty of Synod convener in Aberdeen,-l refer to Dr Brown. (Hear, bear.) But, with all our efforts, Sir, the Assembly will easily understand that, having so very limited a number of probationers and so large a number of unsupplied charges and preaching stations, there was constant room for complaint; and, in point of fact, while the committee sat from week to week, and even more frequently, we had from day to day the most pressing applications—“Send us preachers, send us preachers ;” and in our endeavours to distribute the preachers at our disposal, we may have sometimes failed to give an equal proportion to all the Presbyteries of the Church. We endeavoured, as far as possible, to ensure this, although our attempts were not always successful; but upon the whole, I believe we did as much as could well be done in the circumstances to secure that all the Presbyteries of the Church should have, as far as possible, the same share; and the proof that there could be no very great partiality in the matter, is to be found in the fact, that we hold in our possession complaints, I think, without exception, from all the Presbyteries. (Laughter.) Such were the duties intrusted to the Committee during the past year. As to the future, it will at once appear that, so far as regards the supply of probationers, there is still a sad deficiency. But I entertain the hope, that this will partly be supplied by the assistance that may now be derived from our sister Church in Ireland, and from the students now receiving license. I hope this will be found in some degree making up the sad deficiency of labourers; but it is right to intimate to the Presbyteries of the Church, that they must still do the best they can to economize the labours of their brethren. Very early in the course of our proceedings, we addressed a circular to Presbyteries, strongly pressing upon them the necessity of their economizing their supply of preachers, and recommending them to join, when practicable, two stations, 60 íhat the same individual might be able to serve both, with the aid he might occasionally receive from elders, and other godly men, and thus to make the scanty supply go as far as it could. They will still be obliged to learn a lesson of economy, and, I believe, they will still require to lay their account with the inconvenience of excessive labour. During the past year, noiwithstanding all the efforts to furnish labour, two or three stations often fell to be supplied by the same man every Sabbath; and it is a distressing circumstance not to be able as yet to bold out to our brethren the prospect of any considerable diminution of their labour. Before adverting to the arrangements for the ensuing year, I have only to add, in conclusion, that this committee, as regards the Lowlands, is very deeply impressed with the importance of some such system being adopted there as has been recommended for the Highlands, I mean, that for a portion, at least, of the ensuing summer, and under such regulations as shall not interfere with the due authority of Presbyteries within their own bounds, there should be a system of well. organized itinerancy; and that ministers should be set free for some weeks from their charges in order to visit some parts of the Lowlands as well as the Highlands, so that we may keep up the hearts of our adherents, and do them good to the utmost of our power. It is of the greatest importance that this be well attended to ; for cir. cumstances have come under the notice of the committee, which it is right that I should mention ; and that is, that in not a few parts of the country where the supplies of preaching have been scanty, the people, in some degree have been carried
ay with those novel doetrines, or rather the old heresy has been revived, which we know to be preached by certain persons in some parts of Scotland. It is a most melancholy circumstance, that from various distriets of Scotland, as the Assembly has heard from the pleadings at the bar on a previous day, we have accounts of the prevalence and progress of what are termed the Morrisonian views. It is not difficult, however, to some extent to account for this. It is not difficult to see that the people in various parts of the country, who have been to some degree awakened to an interest in spiritual things, and who are destitute of the proper teaching of the gospel, by ministers whose views are sound and scriptural,- it is not difficult to see that, under these circumstances, the people may be disposed to listen to the preaching of those whose views are erroneous or lax. The committee, therefore, in laying their report before you, have thought it proper to bring this matter under the notice of the Assembly, as it is of vast impor. tance that the people should be kept away from the shallow heresy; and, even be. fore we can afford to the people stated supplies of ordinances, it is the duty of this Church, claiming to be, as we understand it to be, the Church of Scotland, and the Church of our fathers,—it is the duty of the Church to send among the people, though it were only for a time, ministers who will fully and freely preach to them the truth as it is in Jesus. (Hear, hear.)
It now, Sir, only remains that I should submit to the Assembly the regulations wbich have been proposed for the conducting of our business during the next year ; and I have to say, that this arrangement has been made in accordance with the views which are benceforth to regulate the procedure of the Sustentation Committee. The arrangements then proposed are the following:
" That the ordinary procedure in the erection of new charges be conformed, mutatis mutandis, to the usage of the Church before her separation from the State, as follows:
“1. Every application for the sanction of a new charge to be made, in the first instance, to the Presbytery of the bounds.
“ 2. The Presbytery to institute all necessary inquiries regarding statistics, finan. cial matters, and oiber circumstances, to hear parties, and to make up a full statement of particulars according to such schedules as may be prepared for that purpose.
"3. If the Presbytery decide in favour of the erection, they are to report their opinion, with the grounds of it, and the statement above referred to, to the General Assembly; but, with a view to order and despatch of business, reports of applications are to be sent in, as before the disruption, to a standing committee, on or before the 15th of April, which committee is to prepare a proper digest of the cases for the Assembly, who alone are to give the final sanction.
« 4. In the event of the Presbytery refusing to sanction the erection of a charge, parties to have the right of appeal.”
These are the ordinary regulations for the procedure in reference to the sanction. ing of charges. These refer to all such cases as have not as yet been reported to
the Assembly for its sanction. But lest, in the transition from the practice which has been observed during the past year, there should be any inconvenience or difficulty to new charges now in progress-seeing that there are some applications for the sanction of the Assembly to these charges, which could not stand over for a whole year without great detriment, it is also necessary to make some transition arrangement which shall be applicable to these extreme cases. The following bas therefore been proposed :
“5. That in the event of special difficulty arising in any case in which an appli. cation may have been already made for the sanctioning of a charge, and not yet disposed of, it may be competent to the Presbytery of the bounds to refer the matter for advice to a stated meeting of the Commission, who sball bave power to dispose of it as they see meet.”
Now, Sir, the Assembly will, I hope, acquiesce in these regulations, more especially when they consider the fact that the existing number of charges, leaving out of view the preaching stations,-is more than equal to the number of labourers, and probably no great barm, but good, may arise from the efforts of the Church being di. rected to the supply of charges already sanctioned, and fostering new charges, which in due time will come up for the sanction of the Assembly. There must be some arrangement also to make in reference to the supply of charges already in existence without the services of a stated pastor. This must be left to the care of the Pres. byteries of the bounds; and it might be well for them to consider whether there might not be, with propriety, a uniting of charges. This might be adopted in cases of translation ; but it could not occur in many cases ; still there are some cases in wbich it might be done with advantage. At the beginning of our progress it will be remembered that every outed minister had his charge sanctioned at once as a matter of course ; thongh it might have been wise and expedient that some of these should have been united with other charges. But of course we do not go back upon thum
The regulation, then, which we propose is as follows :“6. Tbat propositions for the uniting of charges be transmitted to the Assembly, in the same way as proposals for the erection of new charges."
So much for that branch of duty which belongs to the Plantation committee. And now, Sir, one word of explanation as to the functions of the Home Mission committee, as it is now proposed to be arranged. It will be seen that the arrangement as to the sanctioning of charges which has been proposed, and which, I presume, it will be the mind of the Assembly to confirm, will enable us to dispense with any provision on this head, beyond naming the merely formal committee, wbich is to receive applications for sanction, some ten days or a month before the meetings of Assembly, and make them ripe for reporting the same to the bouse. But the other branch of the duty hitherto discharged by the acting or plantation committee,—that which has reference to the employment and payment of probationers and catechists, -is proposed to be managed by the Home Mission Committee, and the Sustentation Committee, or such sub-committees as they may appoint for the discharge of these duties. Now, this revives the Home Mission Committee with nearly all the functions which it formerly possessed, saving and excepting only the functions pertaining to Church Extension, which it is proposed shall now be discharged by the Sustentation Committee; and this forms the explanation wby these two committees are to be instructed to act together. Before the disruption, the Home Mission Committee embraced in its duties the extension of the Church, the aiding of weak congregations, the employment of probationers and catechists, and the aiding or assisting of students for the ministry. These are the four branches of duty which were assigned to that committee. During the past year, the Home Mission Committee has existed in rather a lame state,-that is to say, it was devoted to the accomplishment of only one of these objects. This was the preparing and forwarding of young men. This was the function which it discharged last year. It is proposed that the Home Mission Committee shall now resume the discharge of the most of these duties which I bave named, such as the aiding of weak congregations, the employment of catechists and probationers, and the assisting of students. The Sustentation Committee bas, of course, the charge of cbärch extension, proper