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done. It was easy to feel a strong impression and then forget it, like a man seeing himself in a glass and then going away and forgetting what sort of man he was; but as he was sure all had been deeply impressed with the proceedings of the Assembly, and with none more than those of this the last day of the Assembly, be thought that the work should be immediately embarked upon. He knew, too, there was a desire among the pious women of the flock to co-operare. But the question might be asked, how they were to begin, and when? As to the how, he would mention a simple mode. The congregation to which he belonged was divided into sections, each section being entrusted to the care of an elder and deacon, and the average in each section was 40 or 50 families. Now, he would suggest—he merely threw it out for consideration—that all their congregations being divided in the same manner, each elder and deacon should set about taking under ibeir charge a small portion of the population of the parish with which they had formerly been connected, and they might procure four or five hundred individuals of their own division to assist them in doing so. He had no doubt whatever, that in this way much might be done, and the territorial principle, in its spirit, at the same time maintained. Let the district in the congregation be left in charge with the corresponding district in the parish. And he was confident, if the elders and deacons would set about the work, they would find very many members of the congregations able and willing to aid them. They would receive assistance from many of ihe pious females in their congregations, and their assistance would be invaluable, as he was quite certain of this, that the female character could, in many ways, get access to the hearts of the lower classes of the population, — ways which were beyond the reach of even the most devoted of the other sex. They would find female agency of wonderful power in operating upon the masses. There were also district prayer meetings now very generally established by our elders, wbich might be made of use to stimulate each other to love and good works. If they would just set themselves to work in Edinburgh, according to some such plan as this
, an incalculable amount of good might be done. And the same principle might be extended to all their large towns. The great thing was, not to make the districts too large, and to begin immediately.
Dr CHALMERS thought the suggestion thrown out by Mr Monteith an admirable one, whether as precursory or contemporaneous. When two plans were started, the one was often made to wait for the other ; but he thought that all delay should be avoided, and all possible appliances used which were selt to be necessary, not as conflicting but as conspiring forces. Suppose he fastened on the West Port, and 400 families there, he would rejoice, if, without waiting, and before he had entered it, there should be an entry by others in some other locality. He would not stop short of any thing short of a district church, with a minister whose peculiar office it will be not to fill it any how, but, after making a survey of the locality, should have it filled from that district. He was not so much impressed as Mr Monteith was with the difficulty of carrying out the territorial plan. 'One thing bad created a great prejudice in regard to the application of the territorial plan, and it was this, that in carrying it out they would require to dismiss all those of their congregations who did not belong to the district. But this was an entire mistake. He wanted nothing of the kind. He would proceed to work in this way. --Suppose a church filled to overflowing by general hearers. Say that in the district in which this church was situated, there was a population of 2000. He would address himself to the congregation to get up a Christian agency out of the congregation, and tell them be wished them to concentrate their attention to this one district, so as not to distract the attention of the minister or elders from attending to the regular congregation. Now, he did not ask the congregation to be dismissed, to make room in the church for such of the inhabitants of this district as would, by means of this agency, be brought out to hear the gospel. What he would ask would be this. Vacancies by death, or removals, or in some other way, occur every year. Say they occur to the number of fifty or a hundred yearly. Now, the rule he would make would be, to give the preference to these vacant'seats to parties residing in the district; and he had no doubt the preference would be made use of. By proceeding in this manner, in the course of twenty years you would have a local, territorial, parochial congregation, in place
of the former general congregation, and thus carry out the parochial system in a manner much more effectual than has ever been done, even in connection with the Establishment.
Dr Candlisi said-he should do little more than read the formal motion. He rejoiced at the suggestions made, and believed that those who were ministers of congregations now saw their way as pioneers to the doing of a great deal more than they had ever yet attempted towards the great end which could only be accomplished in some such way as that which their venerable father has long directed his mind to. The motion, said Dr C., I have to submit is,-" That ibe General Assembly approve of the report, and direct it to be sent down to all the Presbyteries of the Church, earnestly and affectionately commending this great theme to the prayers and diligence of their brethren; and enjoining them to take every opportunity which God in his providence may afford for devout consultation, whereby they may edify one another, as well as solemnly appealing to the people in regard to their responsibilities in this matter. In particular, the General Assembly, in terms of the suggestion in the report, that a particular day should be fixed, on which ministers may hold special meetings for prayer among their congre. gations, in order that, by God's blessing, the solemn impressions which this Assembly desire most devoutly and gratefully to acknowledge as having been made upon themselves, may be communicated to all under their charge, appoint the third Tuesday of June next as the day on which the religious exercises sugested in the report may be observed; and farther, re-appoint the committee, and appoint them to carry into effect the practical measures contained in the report. And, finally, the General Assembly, humbly recognising in the Lord's dealings with them, at this time, the presence of that Holy Spirit which of old descended upon the Church in days of suffering and trial, when once and again, yea oftentimes, the Lord returned to visit the vine which his own right hand had planted of old, desire to thank God and take courage, while they continue to wait patiently on him, that He having given grace to the Church, once more to be faithful in witness-bearing, may show what great work he may still do by her means, and what way he would lead her as he had our fathers in the day's of old."* There is one suggestion in this motion to which I attach very great importance; it is, that a day be fixed on which ministers may convene their congregations, and hold special meetings for prayer, and bringing before them this whole subject. Itis not proposed to make this an entire day, but it is desirable that there should be a simultaneous call to congregations for prayer. It is impossible for me, I believe, after what has passed this day, to attempt now to take up this subject ; but this much I cannot help saying, that, all of us are impressed with some such feeling as ibis,
-“ Oh that every one who is accustomed to wait on us in our ordinary ministry had been present with us on this solemnity.” (Hear, hear.) And if in any measure God shall give us grace to bear home to our congregations the spirit he has been pouring out here, and our congregations should receive somewhat of that spirit, we cannot doubt that something may be done, by the blessing of God, to bring the solemnimpressions to bear on our people. If God has been opening the windows of heaven upon us here, O that he would enable each of us to go forth from the Assembly filled with the same gracious influence,-full of the same Spirit, and cherishing it not merely for our own improvement, but to be poured out on all the congregations to whom we minister. It is proposed, that on a stated day all the congregations of this Church should be convened for prayer; then shall we go down to tell our people what we have seen and felt here, and to remind them of their duties and responsibilities in connection with the revival of religion. Let us, Sir, go down telling them that we lean on no arm of flesh,--that we are resting on no human expedients, but are look. ing up to him who alone can make effectual the sword of the Spirit. Let us tell them that we have no new doctrine to teach, -1
-110 new gospel to proclaim,-no other method of salvation than what he has set forth in his own most blessed word to make known,-10 means beyond what he has given to recommend. Let us tell them that we have no more glorious Saviour to testify of than before, -110 freer or fuller
See Appendix, No. 3.
gospel than we have before preached to announce to them. What then sball we tell thein ?- That we come to preach the same Christ, -the same free and full salvation,
- the same glorious gospel of the kingdom,- but to do it under a sense we never before felt, - that the excellence of the power is of God and not of us. We are to tell them that we need their sympathies, and to urge upon them with new earnestness and tenderness the apostle's prayer, “ Brethren pray for us." We have ventured in this motion to refer to the former dealings of God with this Church ; for we are not a new Church,—we are not new as a Christian community. If ever we wanted any tokens by which to recognise our identity with that noble vine planted days of old, these must be seen in the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of ber. It is no new thing in this Church to experience in the hour of trial the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,- to receive in return to her prayers, and fastings, and bumiliations, sbowers of blessing. Let us not then think that any thing strange bas befallen us or will befall us though the scenes of this Assembly be re-enacted in every congregation. It is but what our God has done for his people in days before, and, Sir, it is our coldness, our prayerlessness, our wretched unbelief that would limit and straiten the grace of our Heavenly Father, our Saviour God.
The motion was unanimously agreed to, and on the call of the Moderator, the Rev. Dr Makellar concluded the conversation by imploring the blessing of Almighty God on all that they had done, and his guidance in all that they might do, in con tion with this subject.
ADDRESSES FROM OTHER CHURCHES.
Dr Brown laid on the table a number of addresses received from various churches, expressive of their sympathy, and offering up of prayers for the prosperity of the Free Church in the peculiar situation in which she was honoured io stand. These addresses he presumed would be referred to the standing committee, and he should just mention the bodies from whom they came ; they were from the Synod of Bala, from Nova Scotia, New Jersey, Jamaica, the Baptist Association, North Carolina, the missionaries in Caffre land.
MELTING OF NEXT ASSEMBLY.
Mr Dunlop stated, that there being no necessity for a half-yearly meeting this year, he should propose that the next meeting of the Assembly be beld at Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 2:20 May next.
The business of the Assembly being now closed, they engaged for a short time in devotional exercises, after which the Moderator addressed the Assembly as follows
Reverend Fathers and Brethren, and Elders of the Church— The business of our present session of the General Assembly of 1844 bas now come to a close, and I feel that I shall be expressing the sentiment of all who have shared in it, when I say that its proceedings have filled our hearts with joy and praise. It is not necessary for me to take a review of these proceedings, so fresh in every one's mind. I need not tell you of our fair prospects—of our more than hoped for success in almost every department of our affairs-of the nearly settled state of our churches the encouraging produce of our financial scheine-the arrangements for the support of ministers and supply of congregations the magical provision made for planting schools in every district of the land, through the genius and enthusiasm of our Mr Macdonald, and of the steps already taken for adding college literature to elementary education. You have beard, as I have, of the manifest blessing and the hopeful circumstances that have attended our missions in the East and to che Jews, and the very pleasing communications with foreign and neighbouring churches, ani. mated and confirmed by the gratifying appearance among us of our esteemed friend M. Monod of Paris, ard of our brethren from England and Ireland. The only point in our affairs that mingles sorrow and regret with our feelings of satisfaction, arises from the suffering condition of some of our brethren in tbe northern parts of the country, without the accommodations necessary to comfort, while distressed by the unkindness and persecution which extends to the labouring poor and dependent population of their parishes, as well as to themselves. For these things I trust all our efforts will be engaged to find a remedy.
In reviewing all we bave experienced, we should indeed be incredulous and unbelieving were we to doubt that God bas been among us—that he has given us, in part, the "token for good" that we sought of Him, the earnest and first-fruits of blessings yet to come. For “ the consolation in Christ” which we have tasted, “ the comfort of love, the fellowship of the Spirit,” the longing desires after God, and the fulfilment of his will in us and by us, that have been experienced, are I doubt not, the work and evidence of his grace to ourselves, given to endow us for bis service and to strengthen us to engage in it. As to many events and circumstances that have fallen out of late years, have we not asked doubtingly, as Joshua of the Captain of the Lord's host, "Art thou for us or for our adversaries. But here there is no room for uncertainty; for we know that “every good and every perfect gift descendeth from above," and that holy desires, good counsels, and just works, come from God, and are the fruits of his Spirit. The crosses and aftlictions with which he visits his children appear evil at the time-we cannot tell whether they are to issue in sorrow or in joy; and such insecurity we felt at times, when the success of our measures seemed to depend on human discretion, and on the views and dispositions of men, not influenced by our opinions, who had the settlement of our affairs. When events go counter to our endeavours, it is not easy for us to discern that God is answering our prayers according to their real scope and meaning, though not according to our expectations, or in the way most gratifying to our wishes. We learn by degrees wbat are his purposes, and come to adore his wisdom, after we have acquiesced in his will. But when he meets us, as at this time, with the consolations of his Spirit, answers when we call, and bears while we are yet speaking, "we know” and are fully persuaded, “ that we have the petitions that we asked of him"—that what we desire is according to His will--that the blessing was withheld only till it was importunately sought, and comes upon us at last in measure and extent far beyond the might of our feeble supplications.
We bave lived, my friends and fellow-labourers, to see a good day in our Church's history-a day we bardly hoped should arrive in our time-brought on us by surprise, by no master stroke of human policy-by no skill or effort of ours—but by the grace of Him who is “wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Wbat would we have given, seven years ago, to be thus circumstanced as to our Church's spiritual condition" of one heart and one mind," in the best things, with all our brethren-a General Assembly without a dissentient feeling or discordant voice, as we trust, in wishing only God's glory, and the subordination of every view, thought, and plan of ours, to the promotion of His will and the advancement of his kingdom? In ignorance of the means by which this result has been attained, should we not have exclaimed, had it been foretold to us, “ If the Lord would make windows in beaven, might this thing be ?" “ God bath done reat things for us, whereof we are glad," and by means we never should have devised, or had courage, if the way bad been left to our choice, to call into operation. We bave been cleared at once of numberless embarrassments in our spiritual course, which no sagacity or wis. dom of ours could have belped us out of. . Our difficulties have been reduced to those of a temporal kind; and the readiness and extent to which these have been already mastered, show us still more strongly how safe we are in trusting God with the disposal of our concerns, bow favourably he looks on our present position, and how certainly, in taking these minor charges upon himself, he indicates to us that be has higher and better work for us to engage in.
We bave grown, I trust, my beloved friends, in humility and self-knowledge by the discipline we have undergone. If I may judge by my own experience and observation, we were behind in these lessons in time past. Possessing considerable vigour within our own community, and trusting that the Lord's work was prospering and to prosper among us, we took but too much complacency in our Establishment position, and were willing to think that God viewed us with a preference, and exercised bis patronage in accordance with our arrangements. Having advantages above others to start with, we appraised them beyond their worth, looking with too little indulgence or brotherly kindness on those whom accident or conscience had placed in different communions from our own. Had our Veto Law stood its ground, and realised all the good effects it promised to produce, should we have had grace to have rightly improved our prosperity ? Would none of the humbler brethren, in or out of our community, who gave themselves, as we now desire to do, wholly and purely to the spiritual objects of the ministry, bave been de. spised in our eyes ? Were ibere no indications among us that our parochial dis. tribution of labour, with its compact machinery and ready adaptation to our purpose, was becoming an object of our idolatry, taking place, in our esteem, of divinely appointed ordinances,-our parocbial system, illiberally held, not on the generous and truly Christian principles of our venerable Dr Chalmers,-so that servants of our own Master, who might have ventured to supplement our deficiencies, even wbere unconverted men were our agents for carrying on his work, would have been viewed but as meddlers and interloppers ? There was, my brethren, as we now begin to acknowledge, more than a danger of such consequences as I bave referred to. We were actually suffering from them-standing aloof, in cold alienation, from many who laboured in the same eause with ourselves, -and indulging ignorant prejudices against the Christians of other countries, who were Christ's scholars, though naturally and necessarily of a different school from ours. We were too ready to suppose that a German must be a neologian, a Frenchman an infidel, a Church-of- England man a Puseyite, or bigot to apostolic succession. How tenderly has our heavenly Father broken the snare for us, preserving and purifying what was good, maintaining even our honour and good name, where he might bave exposed us to reproach, set us aside, or promoted others over our heads as ministers for performing his work! We have learned, like Joseph's brethren, in the day of our adversity, to bow with respect to some who were lightly esteemed by us, to covet sympathy and approbation in quarters where they were once despised. To God be the praise of all the lessons he graciously teaches us ; “his rod and his staff they comfort us.” Truly he has blessed us, and given us cause to trust him, and bim supremely, over all the great ones of the earth.
The time will come, we know, when kings will be nursing fathers and queens nursing mothers of the Church; but we need beware, in all times, of confiding the Church's affairs to those who are not of the household of faith ; and of supposing, because they have the means, and are engaged by duty to be devoted to God's ser. vice, that they have the heart and the will to discharge their obligations. Rulers and magistrates owe allegiance to God, and the Bible furnishes to them, as to others, a directory for their conduct; but we must not hastily presume, because they ought to rule in God's name and for his honour and the support of his cause, that they have the will or the qualifications for doing so. We must give them due obedience, “not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake;" but we must not make them lords of our conscience, or think ourselves dispensed, by any authority they can exercise over us, from true obedience to God in any thing wherein we have his express com. mand.
Christianity, to the extent to which it leavens society with its influence, lays us under deep obligations ; for is it not to it that we owe the personal security and li. berty we enjoy—the full scope for the exercise of our opinions and of our ministry, in withdrawing from the Established Church? It is not, and has not been so, where the Roman Beast, either pagan or papistical, has held uncontrolled sway. These, that we call our rights and liberties as British subjects—and long, long may they continue such !--come to us only through the influence of Christianity; but we have no statute in the written record to ensure their continuance.
God's purposes may be accomplished in a present interval of tranquillity by the gathering in of his sheep, strengthening other churches by our example for similar trials, and ripening the true hearted among us for yet sharper conflict. We can hardly count, by the experience of former times, on enjoying for a long season our present unmolested quietude and liberty. A more searching ordeal may be appointed us, promoting some of these latter times to rank with those who were “slain for the word of God,