ePub 版

“ Your committee have nothing to suggest on the matter of standing orders, biit that all overtures from Presbyteries and Synods be sent in to the clerks of Assem. bly, at least seven days before the meeting of Assembly, in order that they may be duly arranged and printed at the expense of the Assembly for the use of the members.

“ PATRICK CLASON, Convener."


The Assembly called for the report of the committee anent the duties and remu. neration of the clerks and other officers of the Church, which was given in by Mir Dunlop, the convener, and read.

The Assembly approved of the report, authorized in terms thereof, and re-appointed the committee for the purposes craved in the report. The Assembly furTher, in terms of the report, resolved to appoint a depute-clerk, and having made choice of Mr James Crawford, jun. W. S. this gentleman was called upon, when he promised and engaged to be faithful in the discharge of the duties of his office.


The Commission of Assembly was then appointed, -the Moderator adding the name of Dr Macfarlane of Greenock.

The Assembly then adjourned at a quarter to two o'clock.


The Assembly meet-the Moderator's Address to Dr Chalmers-Report on State of Religion --Speeches

of Dr Gordon, Dr Brown, R. Paul, Esq., A. E. Monteith, Esq., A. Dunlop, Esq., Dr Candlish -the Assembly closed-the Moderator's closing Address,

The Assembly met at eleven o'clock. After the usual devotional exercises, the minutes of last night were read, and several routine matters disposed of.

The MODERATOR then said, that the thanks of the Assembly having been voted to Dr Chalmers at a former sederunt, and when he was not present to receive them, he (the Moderator) would, with permission of the house, proceed to express their sense of obligation to Dr Chalmers, who was now present. (Hear, hear.)

The MODERATOR, addressing Dr Chalmers, spoke as follows :- It is my pleasing office, Sir, to return you our warm and most respectful thanks for the invaluable services you have rendered us as chairman of the Financial Committee, and particularly for the able and satisfactory report you transmitted, though prevented being present,—a report combining a clear and exact statement of complex facts, with the exposition of most important principles, discovering a far-seeing mind, that looks deep into the springs and motives of human actions. Yours, Sir, has been a most important, but most difficult department of duty. The necessity and the difficulty of providing the supplies has ever been felt by all, whatever their station and authority, who have had great ends to pursue, for which many means and many agents were required. Even in pursuing spiritual ends, wbere men are our subjects, physical and external means cannot be dispensed with. Hitherto we have held, and we still hold the principle, that it is the duty of the state to minister to the maintenance of the Church, by supplying outward protection and assistance; and we deemed it a privilege, with the aid thus ministered, to preach the gospel to all, even the poorest, « without money and without price." But when, as the condition of its support, the state demanded the surrender of our spiritual independence, and of the rights and privileges of the Christian people, what could faithful men do but resist the claim, and rather forfeit all outward advantages, than betray the cause of Christ and of those whom he had made free? And now, exiled from our churches, manses, and endowments, and thrown upon our own resources, we believe the Church will be found to have within itself means sufficient for its support; while the generous use of these means will greatly contribute to her spiritual as well as external prosperity. Still it is not easy to change even the habits of an intelligent people. The members of the Church are only begining to understand the new position in which they are placed in reference to their pastors. And the pastors themselves are slow to perceive, not merely that they may, with all simplicity, and even dignity, accept the free-will offerings of their flocks, but that it is now a part of ministerial faithfulness to inculcate on their hearers the of providing systematically and liberally for the sustenance of the gospel ministry. I well recollect that, at the Convocation held a year and a half ago, when you suggested the way and means by which supplies might be drawn for our support from our people independently of the state, many heard with indifference, and almost with incredulity, as if so bent upon making a total and absolute sacrifice of all they had, even “all their living,” that they were jealous of anything tbat might lessen or lighten the sacrifice; but the wisdom of your sugges. tions was better appreciated, when it was found that they were not only capable of being carried into effect, but were intimately, and indeed essentially, connected with the permanence of the Church itself. In you, Sir, we recognise the instrument employed by Divine Providence for our preservation, the eye that directed us, the hand that upheld us, the nursing father chat provided food for us in the infancy of our new existence, the Moses who, though he “ gave not that bread from heaven,” yet told the people beforehand of the supplies that awaited them, and gave instructions how to gather and secure the manna. We thank you for your frequent communications through the press, for your directions, and counsels, and exhortations, above all, Sir, for your rebukes,-for the honest dissatisfaction you on some occasions expressed, --for your lugubrious remonstrances,—the stinging words, as I have heard them called, with which you shamed our false modesty, our unreasonable backwardness in pleading our Church's cause, because of our own personal interest in it. And your severity has attained its end. The increased returns of the last few months have en ivened our hopes; and we rejoice in the persuasion that, when the heavy expenses attending the erection of so many hundred churches shall bave been got over, and a more perfect system of working the associations shall have been more extensively adopted, the Sustentation Fund will receive large accessions, so that your hopes, and even our wishes, may obtain a satisfactory accomplishment, And never was the esteem and admiration in which you were held by us awakened to more enthusiasm than by your noble generosity in surrendering a plan which your sagacity and experience had dictated as the most efficient for calling forth and en larging the liberality of our several congregations,-a plan which you had prepared, matured, and projected with anxious care, and yet consented to abandon, at least for the present year, in deference to the doubts, and objections, and difficulties, of some of the brethren, arising, we freely admit, from honourable and generous feelings. We accept this generosity on your part, as a new evidence of your disinterested devotion to our cause; while we regard the unanimity and cordiality with which the resolutions you finally proposed were adopted, as a token for good granted by the God of peace. Allow me to add, that we consider your labours for the prosperity of that fund which it is your immediate office to watch over, as most clearly and essentially subservient to the cause of pure and spiritual religion. Why all your care for a provision for our ministers, but that they may be set free from worldly cares, and so be at liberty to "give themselves wholly to prayer and to the ministry of the Word?” Why did David make such vast preparation of silver and gold? Why did Solomon cut the trees of the forest and hew the stones of the quarry? Was it not for the service of the sanctuary, for the glory of the God of Israel? Who among us ministers so effectually to the spirituality of the Church, as he who secures our freedom to serve God wit bout distraction? We are all aware of the important and directly spiritual duties which you fulfil in training up the future teachers of Israel, and in your manifold labours as a minister of Cbrist; but even in the de. partment of finance we feel that your services are invaluable, as clearly and directly subservient to the maintenance and extension of true religion in the land. Sir, we duly appreciate the self-denying, generous zeal, which makes you willing, at the present stage of your valuable and fruitful life, to continue to labour in the service of a Church wbich, if dear to you, holds you also most dear to her,-granted her by a gracious Providence as her ornament and guide. In the review of our noble controversy, the words of Milton, in a sonnet addressed to Sir Henry Vane the younger, occur to me as so applicable, that I trust you, Sir, and the Assembly, will excuse me if I conclude with them.

After mentioning other high qualities and attainments, he adds,“ Both spiritual power, and civil

, what each means,
What severs each, thou hast learned, which few have done,-
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe.
Therefore on thy firm hand religion leans

In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son." At the close of the Moderator's address there was a universal burst of acclama. tion from the house, in the midst of which Dr Chalmers proceeded to express his acknowledgınents, when the cheering was renewed with increased enthusiasm.

Dr CHalmers said, I have a very few observations to make, but I cannot proceed to them without an effort to reduce somewhat the estimation in which our excellent Moderator seems to hold the humble services which I have been enabled to render to the Church. I can only ascribe these high eulogiums to my having long held a principle which I should like to see carried into effect throughout the whole of the Church's business, - I mean the principle of division of employment. I should like to see that principle made permanently applicable to the management of our whole ecclesiastical affairs. So sacred is my respect for this principle, and, I trust, also my observance of it, that all the time and strength which I have been able to spare has been given to the labour of but one department of the Church's service ; and I trust, from experience, and am in some measure confident, that the little, or rather no part I have taken in other, and perhaps more important duties of the Church, has been of more avail than if I had meddled with them all. I knew that these were in other hands, and I wished to allow them to get the full benefit of the same prin. ciple. Even although I was at the head of the academical department of the Free Church, I have not attended a single meeting of the Educational Committee. This may seem odd, and incongruous with my situation, as at the head of our Theological faculty ; but it is because I would infinitely rather be satisfied with doing single task well, with being an efficient doer in one thing, than being a dabbler universal in every thing. (Laughter and cheers.) It is inconceivable bow a man's reputation, earned in one particular department, misleads and bewilders the public mind when he obtains credit for universal sagacity in every department of human truth. It has been productive of incalculable mischief in general society. The infidelity of La Place was accompanied with the most dangerous fascinations of scientific fame.

But in proportion to the intensity of his labours in the perfecting and extending of astronomical science, was he not only, not the more qualified, but the less qualified, for pronouncing on questions of theology? But because he excels in one department, the public are not to ascribe to him universal talent and authority in all other depart. ments. In this instance it was productive of a most tremendous amount of mischief, froin the effects of which ordinary minds are not excepted. It required a high mind, such as that of Horsley, in dealing with the imperfect religious views of Newton, to protect itself from the intluence of authority in another department of human knowledge; and, aceordingly, he said, " (bat Sir Isaac Newton was a giant in philosophy, but he came forth in theology as an ordinary man." It is not necessary for me to press home the lesson as to the mighty advantage arising from the division of em. ployment in the Church. I believe it is a lesson you are already in process of learn. ing. It is a lesson that will be forced upon you by experience. It was the violation of this principle that gave rise to our disruption ; for had the civil and the ecclesiasrical bound themselves to the respective departments,—had they proceeded on the maxim of Ne sutor ultra crepidam, no disruption would have taken place—(Laughter and cheers)—and now that the disruption has taken place, we should not forget the iinportance of that maxiin, Ne sutor ultra spida which I once took occasion to translate.—mind your own business, and leave other people to mind theirs. (Cheers and laughter.) Now, I have just one other remark to make here, and it has been suggested to me by the friendly, indulgent, and over-partial address made to me by the Moderator. Speaking of complimenting ine upon my generosity in regard to

[ocr errors]

the abandonment of the plan which I brought before the committee, I have only to say, that my experience during the last week has been but a repetition of the experience I have often realized during the course of my life, that the dealings of Provi. dence often work better for a man than the devices of human wisdom-(hear, bear) —reminding one of the text, There are many devices of a man's heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand;" and I honestly declare, that I look upon the question of our future financial economy as at this moment in an infinitely better state than if the plan had been acquiesced in by the General Assembly. (Loud cries of Hear, hear.) Suppose, for example, that in virtue of the differences of opinion that were expressed upon that occasion, I had been so intent on the car. rying of the plan, and suppose I had carried it, with the trifling minority of ten against me, I declare that I could not have worked out the plan with half the satisfaction, under the feeling that ten country ministers had gone away fearful, and dis. satisfied with the result. And now, when we have begun another round of annual experience, and the plan will be submitted to the general intelligence of the Church, I have not the slightest doubt that, after the experimental finding of another year, if we meet together at next Assembly, and God is pleased to spare us till then, you will adopt the plan as that which is most conducive to the stability, endurance, and progressive elevation of our ecclesiastical system-(Cheers)--and that you will not abide by that plan which, if persisted in, will reduce the whole to the level of a common and most ruinous degradation. I now make my escape from this part of the subject, and come to a topic in perfect barınony with the proceedings of this day. Our venerable Moderator has referred to the mighty importunce of the Spirit's influence to the success and fulfilment of any views of ours respecting the ecclesiastical interests of the Church. Now, there is not a more delightful experience than to find that just in proportion to the religiousness of our congregations,—just in proportion to the spiritual and evangelical style of the ministrations addressed to them,in that proportion will we obtain liberal and ample aid at their hands for the objects we have in view ; and, therefore, I would say, that it is not the best mode of proceeding, to come forth with the urgency of gross and commonplace solicitation for money. What we want is, that you Christianize our congregations ; and when our cause is presented to the consciences and religious feelings of our people, apart from urgency and solicitation altogether, out of their own spontaneous movement we shall obtain a sufficiency at their hands. I don't know whether the author of a particular tract on this subject is present. He does not wish his name to be mentioned, but I have forgotten the title of the tract, and do not know how I can otherwise describe it. (Laughter.) But it is, in my opinion, the very best tract that has been written on the subject, and places the duty of giving on an altogether Christian and evangelical basis : and I do not know any thing that would serve the cause more effectually, than the circulation of this tract through all the congregations of the Free Church. It is published by one, who exemplifies, in an eminent degree the spiritual and the economical in bis own con egation,,I hope he will excuse me if I mention his name,-I mean, my young friend Mr Bain, minister of Cupar Angus. (Cheers.) I am quite sure there is nothing more calculated than bis tract to recommend our cause to the friends of spiritual and experimental religion. But there is another remark suggested to me in reference to the Monthly Statement. It is cir. culated in a great many thousands,-between twenty and thirty thousand, I believe, -and it has been complained of, that it is chiefly occupied with secularities. Now, there is not room; we must have secular articles; and we cannot come forward with figures and statements without baving the aspect and character of secularity. It is mixed up, no doubt, with spiritual articles, or articles exclusively religious, although not just in the proportion we could wish; but we cannot jostle and displace one thing by another. And, accordingly, the same thing has happened to us as happened in the first age of the Church, when the apostles found themselves saddled with secularities which were by no means unimportant in themselves, but which the apostles transferred to other office-bearers, and so they got deacons appointed. Now, ours is quite the statement for the deacons to distribute in their districts; but we desiderate a spiritual as well as a secular Monthly Statement. (Hear, bear, hear ) And what


I would like exceedingly to see, would be a corresponding Statement for the elders to circulate montbly in their districts, so that, without confining themselves exclusively to either, the elders might take the special charge of the one, and the deacons of the other. (Cheers.) I would entitle the one the Elders', and the other the Deacons' Monthly Statement. (Hear, bear.). I am sure if my friend the Rev. Charles Brown would assent to a recommendation which, I doubt not, would be joined in by all the Assembly, to become the editor of the “ Elders' Monthly,"(Loud cheers)—and if he would draw around bim, from all parts of the Church, spirits kindred with his own, I am sure be would prepare every month a rich spiritual feast. The two Statements would be admirable contemporaries. They would grow with each other's growth, and strengthen with each other's strength. (Cheers.) The next subject is one altogether in keeping with the business of this day. It is a call, upon religious grounds, to those young men in the Church who are ambitious of devoting tbemselves to the service of the Free Church. I am afraid that the Free Church is not adequately impressed with the great deficiency of workmen in proportion to the work to be done. In the existence of one hundred and eighty-eight Associations which are yet without ministers, and are not connected with any regular erection,--in the very existence of these Associations, we have 188 calls for distinct and additional congregations; and not only that, but I do hope that, in good earnest, we shall yet begin—for we have not yet begun-our Home Missionary work. I would not call it Home Missionary work to meet the demands of these 188 Associations. They have come by their own spontaneous self-originating movement to

We did not go to them. We have not yet gone to that part of the popula. tion who have no spiritual provision made for them, and who, if we were now to repeat the ecclesiastical survey of the Commissioners who were sent down seven or eight years ago, would be found not to have diminished, but progressively to have increased, by tens of thousands, who, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and other large towns, are utter strangers to the decencies of a Christian land.

And, therefore, I trust it is not these 188 Associations merely which we shall be concerned about forming into congregations, but that we sball make an aggressive movement upon our neglected population. For these new churches we will require a greater additional supply of labourers than we can provide in present circumstances. At tbe rate of attendance in the Theological Seminary just now, we can send out to the Church about fifty licentiates a-year; but at this rate these 188 congregations which are gradually under settlement will not all be overtaken in four years, and many of them must wait so long without obtaining any thing like a regular service. What we de. siderate much is, that the prayer which the Saviour recommended to his disciples may not only be lifted up by one and all of the ministers and members of the Free Church, but that it may be followed out and pursued in every possible way,—" The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers to his harvest.” I have just therefore

epeat the call to young men, and not always to young men either, for we have had some very cheering instances,- I could name about twenty or thirty,—of men abandoning secular employments and professions, giving up the prospect of a large and liberal competency in the walks of business, to devote themselves to the Chris. tian ministry, and who are in actual attendance at the Theological Seminary, or are engaged, some of them in learning Greek and studying the very elements of a collegiate education in the University of Edinburgh; and that, in the hope that at the end of six years, we having curtailed our course about two years, in order, if possible, to augment the supply of preachers,—they may fulfil the object upon which their hearts are set, that is, to labour in the service of the gospel of Jesus Christ during the remainder of their lives. In reference to the aid proposed to be given to young men, I am anxious tbat we should not present any sordid or mercenary inducement to such individuals; at the same time that I hope you will continue your assistance to young men of promise, and, if possible also, as bas been proposed, form a few metropolitan bursaries for deserving individuals. You are much better fitted to discover such inindividuals in your own districts than we are in Edinburgh. If you know young men who do not require such aid, better not bestow it upon them; but


« 上一頁繼續 »