網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

on the minister's fairhfulness only, but on the humility, simplicity of heart, and prayerfulness of the hearers. This he wished to be solemnly impressed upon the audience, that they might feel how they were interested in this transaction.

Dr Candlish then rose and said,- Moderator, I rise, not to speak at any length on the deeply interesting topics which have been engaging our attention, but rather with the view of endeavouring to express what I think will be the mind of the fathers and brethren in this Assembly at the close of this day's peculiarly solemn services. One feels,- I speak with all frankness,-after what we have heard, as if till this day we had scarce known or realized our position as ministers of the everlasting gospel, and the weight of our responsibility, as wielding an instrument of tremendous efficacy, whether for weal or for woe. Sir, under the very striking views which have just been presented to us of the sovereignty of Almighty God, the absolute impotency of fallen man, and the sufficiency of the means which God employs for his deliverance, and the promotion of his own glory, one cannot but feel as if till this night we have scarce felt either the full importance or the high honour of our position as " fellow-workers with God.” Sir, I do not purpose to enter into details as to the very important suggestions which have this night been made. Several of them are very deserving of immediate and prayerful consideration. The proposal which fell from one brother, as to the employment of men of fitting gifts in the work of itinerating, either altogether, or during a certain period of each year, under right regulations and restrictions, will, I trust, not be allowed to fall to the ground. The other important topics which have been brought before us will receive, I doubt not, im. mediate attention. The subject of discipline is an all-important one, especially in the circumstances in which we are now placed, with temptations, it may be, to une faithfulness more than we had before, and certainly with facilities for the purifying of our communion which we did not possess before. It is not, of course, my intention to state any particular views with regard to the exercise of discipline. The principles on which this Church has hitherto proceeded in the exercise of discipline, I hold to be, in the main, sound and scriptural. Her practice may have deviated from these principles; but I cannot doubt that she possesses the means, if she but work out her own principles, of timely amelioration. And I would fain hope, that partly by a more faithful discharge of their own duty on the part of ministers and elders, and partly, also, by more faithful dealing with the consciences of the people, the responsibility which God has laid upon them in this matter may be duly re. alized, and that we may attain to a higher standard of Christian practice among those who are admitted to sealing ordinances. For, Sir, however we may be entitled to repel ungenerous insinuations and assertions, made for purposes of hostility, or at least made in no friendly mood, and however we may be entitled to take our stand, and say, as regards the outward character of our communicants, that we may challenge comparison with any Church which professes greater strictness,-yet, Sir, we would be unfaithful to our God, did we suffer any feelings of resentment because of such calumnies to interfere with the searching of ourselves as in the sight of God, with our humbling of ourselves before Him, and with our solemnly resolving to give ourselves earnestly to the discharge of our duty in keeping pure the house and table of our God. (Hear, hear.) There was another subject touched upon, namely, that of doctrine, and this suggests another topic, to which I trust the General Assembly will give earnest heed, -I mean the subject of the education and training of candidates for the ministry. I do not speak merely of their theological training, though I believe, that when we look back on the past, many of us have reason to mourn over the inadequacy of the theological instruction we received, -I mean inadequacy as to practical training; how best to communicate and bring to bear upon others the truths which we ourselves were taught,- how to use and wield the sword of the Spirit which was put into our hands. I refer far more immediately to the duty of the Church in reference to spiritual dealing with the consciences and hearts of those who are looking forward to the ministry. (Hear, hear.) Why, Sir, it has often struck me as a very solemn thing, looking back upon my own experience, or upon what I believe has been the experience of students generally, that we were allow. ed to pass through the Theological Hall, and even received our commissions to preach the everlasting gospel, literally with less of solemn dealing with our consecinces and hearts than is gone through with young communicants when they

ate.

first come to the table of the Lord. (Hear, hear.) These things ought not to be so. Most certainly it is the duty of this Church to aim at the use of all legitimate means for the possession of a converted ministry. God alone can search the heart, and no precautions that we can take will effectually secure against the entering of “wolves in sheep's clothing.” Hypocrites will be found everywhere. In the very college of apostles there was a Judas. But a heavy guilt lies on that Church which does not use all the means which she possesses for the purpose of securing the inestimable blessing of a converted ministry. All these topics we ought to bear upon our mind as the results of this day's deliberations. And now, without detaining the Assembly longer with these details, suffer me to propose a resolution which seems to me to furnish a fitting close to the proceedings of this day. Of course it is not the intention of the Assembly abruptly to dismiss the overtures which have given rise to these proceedings to-night-nor yet, I presume, is it the pleasure of the Assembly to take them up in detailto-night, and come to a practical deliverance regarding them. But I presume it will be the mind of the Assembly, that the momentous subject of which they treat should again be brought before it, ere we separ

And I would now propose, accordingly, that with a suitable acknowledgment of the Divine goodness toward is in the whole proceedings, and of our sense of the many sins and shortcomings with which we are chargeable, and with an expression of our resolution to devote ourselves anew to the cause of our great Master, we should appoint a committee to consider and report on these overtures, and on the whole subject:—the report to be given in at a future diet of this Assembly. I have referred to the call for an expression of new devotedness to the Lord's cause. If any of us in this Assembly feel, as I confess I feel myself, as if now, more than ever, we shrunk from undertaking the vast and weighty task of preaching the everlasting gospel, yet we have heard enough this day, by the blessing of Almighty God, to teach us where our real strength lies, and to encourage us, with all humility, to make a new surrender and dedication of ourselves to the Lord our Maker. Sir, the peniten. tial exercises of this day will indeed end in vanity, if they do not lead us, washed anew in that blood which cleanseth from all sin, to cry out in the spirit of the prophet of old “ Lord, here am I, send me !" I trust that every one of us whom God has honoured to be put in trust with the ministry of his Son, is this night prepared, -as it were, beginning his course of duty anew, and forgetting all the past, as if it had never been, save only for the purpose of deep humiliation,-io come anew before the Lord

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?" It is not that I wish to make any profession of my own feelings, but that I think I am but giving an utterance to the feelings of my fathers and brethren in this Assembly, when I venture to say, that this night we are called on, in the providence of God, and by the outpouring, as I trust and believe, of his Holy Spirit, io a new dedication of ourselves, soul, and body, and spirit, as in a solemn covenant, to God; declaring our purpose, by His grace and strength, to be His servants.--to spend and be spent in His cause. Oh, let it not be any rash resolution—let it not be a resolution flowing from the impulse of transitory excitement. Once and again have these words burst from the lips of God's servants this day," the place whereon we stand is holy ground;" and if it so be, and if in any measure, standing on that holy ground, we have been enabled to put our shoes from off our feet, and to behold the Angel of the Covenant in the bush burning but not consumed, may we not, Sir, led by the Spirit, and constrained by the mercies of God, present ourselves anew to Him, and say, “ Lord we are thine,-thine, for thou hast made us,-thine, for thou hast redeemed us,-thine (shall we say ?) thine, we trust, because thou hast revived us? And now, Lord, take us, and make us instruments in thy band; Lord enable us to enter into thy mind." We have heard much to-day of the duty of ministers to desire and expect success, if we wield the instrument in the strength God has promis. ed, then woe unto us if we do not: I propose nothing formal, I do not wish to enter on any formal engagement, any thing formal would not meet the aspiration of our hearts. I propose, that, as God has been calling on us to acknowledge our sins, and pledge ourselves to renewed diligence in our work, and renewed earnestness in prayer at the throne of grace,

The General Assembly being deeply impressed, as in the sight of God, with a sense of the sins and shortcoming of the members and elders of the Church in their

and say,

[ocr errors]

holy callings; and recognising the voice of the Great Head of the Church in His providential dealings with her, and in the spirit which he has been pouring out upon her, whereby he has been pleased to awaken some measure of concern as regards the past and present fruits of the ministry, as well as longing prayers for the revival of vital godliness in the Church and land; do desire, with profound humiliation, and in reliance on the great strength of Almighty God, solemnly to devote, dedicate, and consecrate anew, themselves and their fellow-labourers to the service of God, and his holy purpose of glorifying his great name in saving souls through the preaching of the truth and the operation of the Holy Ghost. And farther, in reference to the important suggestions which have been made in the course of this day's conference, the Assembly appoint a committee to consider the same, and report to a future diet of the Assembly."

Robert Paul, Esq. seconded the motion, which was unanimously agreed to. Dr HENDERSON of Glasgow, while he rejoiced with all his soul in the proceedings of this day, and approved generally of this motion, thought it would be better to omit the last clause of it. It gave a pledge which all might not be able or willing, and some might be afraid, to give, and he thought it would be better without it. In some cases it might prove a snare.

Dr Candlish immediately agreed to the suggestion, and the motion was unanimously approved of. Dr Henderson then engaged in prayer, and after singing a psalm, the Assembly separated.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22.

Assembly constituted—India Missions-Report and Speeches of Dr Wilson, Dr Cunninghain, and Dr

Duncan-Report as to Deputations to England-Speeches of Dr Patterson, Sir James Forrest, and Dr Candlish.

The whole of the furenoon sederunt was of a private nature, the Assembly hav. ing resolved itself into a committee of the house in regard to the sustentation fund.

EVENING SEDERUNT.

The Assembly met in the evening at seven o'clock, and was opened with praise and prayer, and reading of the Scriptures. After the minutes had been read,

Alex. EARLE MONTEITH, Esq., rose and said, he had a motion to propose to the house about which he believed there would be but one opinion. In consequence of the peculiar nature of the services in which they were engaged on Tuesday, it was thought that this motion should not be made then, but proposed at another time. It would bave ill become bim to offer any praise or opinion on the admirable discourse to which the members of that court listened on that day,—a discourse that, under the blessing of the Great Head of the Church, would, he trusted, be calculated to produce the most advantageous results in this Church for ages. He had therefore to move, that the Moderator be requested to ask the Rev. Charles J. Brown to consent that that discourse should be published. (Applause.)

The motion being adopted by acclamation, the Moderator, in name of the Assembly, made the request of Mr Brown that he would consent to the publication of his sermon, when Mr Brown stated that he would feel honoured by complying with the request of the house.

The Assembly then called for the Report on

INDIA MISSIONS.

DR GORDON read the following Report:" Your Committee cannot proceed to report what they have attempted, during the last seven months, in the way of carrying into effect the instructions which you gave them, without recording, at the outset, the deep, and, they trust, the devout, sense which they entertain of the many tokens of the Divine favour which have been vouchsafed to your Foreign Mission Scheme. The reasons they have for doing so will be sufficiently evident from a brief review of the transactions which have taken place since the last meeting of the Assembly in Glasgow. At that period your Committee bad very little to communicate in the form of missionary intelligence, having received only a few days before, the first direct communications from India. Their Report, accordingly, was very brief, consisting mainly of two facts; first, that the whole thirteen missionaries had given in their unhesitating and cordial adherence to the Free Protesting Church of Scotland; and, second, that the funds in your treasurer's hands, to provide for their support, amounted at that date to L.372. From the manner in which the Assembly received this intelligence, and from the re. solutions which they adopted in reference to missionary operations, your Committee were convinced that the Church would regard that intelligence as a call to exertion which she dared not to disregard, and that, even in the midst of all her struggles, and nothing discouraged by the disproportion between the demand made upon her, and the scanty means for meeting it then at her disposal, she would be enabled to give that proof of her zeal for the glory of God wbich He was so plainly and solemn. ly requiring at their hand. Accordingly, under this conviction, they lost no time in communicating to the missionaries the satisfaction and gratitude with which the Assembly had received their resolution of adhering to the Free Church, and expressing at the same time a confident hope that the same grace which had enabled them to follow a course in which they might naturally look for much privation, would give to the congregations of the Church a liberality and a largeness of heart sufficient to provide the means of carrying on their great enterprise with undiminished vigour. In a few weeks this hope was fully realized by the result of the first general collection throughout the Church, aided by many liberal contributions from individuals, so that your committee soon felt themselves warranted to intimate to the missionaries that their agency would be maintained in all respects as heretofore.

“But the result of this your first appeal to the Christian liberality of the friends of missions on behalf of your Scheme was not merely sufficient to reinove any doubt that might have been entertained about the means of carrying on former operations; it was such as to encourage your Committee to entertain favourably proposals for the extension of the mission. The first of these proposals came from a gentleman in the Company's service, a warm friend of the missionary cause, who had set apart the sum of 1.2500 for the establishment of a mission at Nagpur, a populous district in central India, nearly equidistant from the three presidencies of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay. This sum the gentleman referred to offered to place at the disposal of your Committee, on condition that they appointed a missionary to the station which he specified. The proposal came through Dr Wilson, by whom, as well as by others of your missionaries, it was recommended in the strongest possible terms; and the result of repeated and serious deliberations, in which your Committee had the benefit of Dr Wilson's information and counsel, was an unanimous resolution, that considering the munificent offer which had been made by the individual referred to, the manifold advantages which might be derived from having a mission station in so central a situation as Nagpur, and the lively interest in the missionary cause which had been manifested by the congregations and friends of the Free Church, they were not warranted to decline the offer, and would have painfully disappointed the Christian public if they had. They accordingly intimated to their friend in India, through Dr Wilson, that they accepted his munificent donation on the terms on which he had offered it, and that they would with the least possible delay nominate a missionary to be placed, agreeably to his proposal, at the head of the new mission institution. And this they were, in the good providence of God, soon enabled to accomplish. Their attention was directed to Mr Stephen Hislop, as a gentleman eminently qualified for that important and responsible situation, and after the most careful and satisfactory inquiries, they unanimously nominated him missionary of the Free Church at Nagpur, in the hope that, by the grace of God, he will prove a fitting fellow-labourer to those who have gone before him. Mr Hislop, it is hoped, will be able to take his departure for India in the course of the autumn.

** As Dr Wilson has kindly favoured the Assembly and Church with a detailed account of the importance of Nagpur as a station, and the peculiar facilities which it affords for missionary operations, it is unnecessary to enter at greater length upon the subject in this Report.

* Another proposal for the extension of your operations has been made by the Glasgow Missionary Society, which has been labouring for thirty years in Africa, where it now occupies various important stations. The Directors of that Society, as well as its contributors, holding the principles of the Free Church, are of opinion that, on many grounds, it were desirable that their mission should form part of the great missionary undertaking of the Church, and have accordingly proposed that such an arrangement should take place. The Assembly which met in May 1843 gave special authority to your Committee to receive and consider any such proposal. But as it was only very lately that the subject was submitted to them, they do not find themselves in a condition to give any definite opinion at present. They would suggest that the new Committee now to be appointed be not only instructed to receive, but authorised to decide upon the proposal, on such terms as may be found satisfactory to all parties, as the delay in coming to a final settlement of the question till another Assembly may prove both inconvenient and injurious.

“ In regard to home operations, there is still another point to which it is necessary to advert. Your Committee were of opinion, in common, they believe, with the Church at large, that in consequence of the whole of the missionaries of India having withdrawn from the Established Church, and placed themselves at your disposal, you had a fair claim, on the principles of equity, to a share of the funds and property which belonged to the mission at the time of the disruption, and of which a very large portion had been contributed by those who are now members of the Free Churcb. Your Committee were especially anxious to retain possession of the Mission Build. ings at Calcutta and Bombay, and for that purpose would gladly bave purchased them at a fair price. They accordingly put themselves in communication with the Foreign Mission Committee of the Established Church, preferring the claim, and uiging it on grounds which appeared to them fair and reasonable. The result of the negoti. ation is already known, the correspondence between the Committees having been published at the time in the Missionary Record, a copy of which, with some remarks by Dr Duff, received a few days ago, is laid on your table with this report. It is sufficient bere to state, that your claim was disallowed, chiefly on legal grounds, and that the whole of the mission funds and property, of every description, at least in Calcutta, remain in the possession of the Established Chureb.

“ The failure of this negotiation was much to be regretted, in reference to your mission generally; but it was by Dr Duff and bis colleagues that it was immediately and most severely felt. At Madras there were no buildings connected with the mis. sion but wbat are held on an annual rent; and at Bombay the new premises are not finished, and consequently have never been occupied by the missionaries. But it was very different at Calcutta. There the missionaries bad for years been in pos. session of premises planned and erected expressly with a view to their operations, and consequently affording facilities for carrying on their work which could not be expected in a building originally desigued for other purposes. These the missionaries have been compelled to abandon, leaving behind them, moreover, an extensive library, and a most valuable assortment of apparatus, procured mainly by the personal exertions of Dr Duff, and by funds placed exclusively at his disposal. The severity of the trial to wbich the missionaries were thus exposed, and the perplexity in which they were for a time involved, are placed in a very affecting light, in a communication from Dr Duff, which was published in the last number of the Record, and with which the members of Assembly must be familiar. But the same communication furnishes an equally affecting example of the precious truth, that it is in times of perplexity and trouble tbat God does especially manifest his grace and power to them wbo confide in him. By a train of circumstances, in wbich it is impossible to overlook the immediate operation of a gracious Providence, the missionaries have obtained on lease for five years the possession of a bouse amply suficient for their accommodation, and, at the same time, have secured by purchase a piece of ground on which may be erected any extent of building that may be found necessary or thought

« 上一頁繼續 »