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dated 26th February, 1830, stating that he is paid £1000 further on his return to London. It requires a further sum, of about £1000, to pay the purse-bearer, clerks, pages, and other expenses incident to the respectability and efficiency of this ancient court. Besides these expenses, his majesty is pleased to place £1000, from the privy purse, at the disposal of the Assembly, for promoting education in the highlands and islands.


AT the Revolution, the presbyterian religion was established in Scotland, on the basis of the "inclinations of the people." Patronage was abolished in 1649, and again revived in 1662. In 1688 it was again abolished, and continued in abeyance till the year 1712, when the act of queen Anne, already given, was passed, which restored patronage. When this bill was before parliament, the commission of Assembly declared patronage to be "contrary to the presbyterian constitution solemnly ratified by acts of parliament of both kingdoms, and calculated inevitably to obstruct the work of the gospel, and create great disorder and disquiet in this church and land." "In fact, the large share of patronage possessed by the crown in Scotland, serves for the same purpose as the supremacy which it enjoys in England does."* Patronage and toleration were loudly complained of as being "the floodgates of error and corruption." Strong remonstrances were accordingly made both to parliament and the General Assembly. By a tacit compromise, the people and the patron united their claims for a number of years, but it gradually became common to accept of a presentation. The General Assembly also showed an inclination to support the patron. In consequence, violent settlements were made sometimes by the presbyteries, and at others, by committees appointed by the commission of Assembly.

Ever since the Revolution, it has been the fruitful parent of schism and division in Scotland. Mr Glass, minister of Tealing, contended, in 1727, not only against patronage, but also against all civil establishments. The presbytery of Dundee cited him to answer for his heterodoxy, in April, 1728. In his defence, he maintained, "that a church might be persecuted or tolerated according to the will of princes, and that all those bearing the name of christian ministers, who accepted of civil emoluments from the state, were unacquainted with the gospel, and enemies to Christ's kingdom." Were such doctrines to be established, the presbytery feared the crown might sequestrate their livings. The presbytery deposed Mr

*Test. Associate Synod of Original Seceders.

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Glass from the ministry. From this sentence, Mr Glass appealed to the synod. He defended his opinions in that court with great ability. The synod confirmed the sentence of the presbytery, "deposed him from the ministry, prohibited and discharged him from exercising the same, or any part thereof, in all time coming, under pain of the highest censures of the church." Mr Glass disregarded the primary deposition by the presbytery. He continued to exercise his functions as formerly; and, as might be expected from the nature of presbyterian government, from this last sentence he appealed to the General Assembly. In the interim, he was compelled to vacate his parish. Yet he continued to exercise his ministerial office, to those who adhered to him. His popularity was great. The reputation of persecution engaged the sympathies of the people in his favour. In the course of a few years, his followers increasing, he erected a chapel in Dundee. On the 12th March, 1730, the commission of the General Assembly confirmed the synod's sentence of deposition. In the Assembly of 1731, an attempt was made to restore Mr Glass. They annexed a condition, however, which no doubt influenced Mr Glass in rejecting the offer. The Assembly "did take off the sentence of deposition, passed by the commission, 12th March, 1730, against Mr John Glass, then minister at Tealing, for independent principles, and did restore him to the character and exercise of a minister of the gospel of Christ; but declared, notwithstanding, that he is not to be esteemed a minister of the established church of Scotland, or capable to be called or settled therein, until he shall renounce the principles embraced and avowed by him, that are inconsistent with the constitution of this church." This condition merely served as a salvo for the Assembly's intolerance. Mr Glass paid no attention to it, but continued his separation. He made frequent tours through the kingdom, preaching in all the principal towns. He erected meeting-houses wherever he found a competent number of persons who adopted his peculiar tenets. Dundee continued to be the principal scene of his labours. He was joined by several ministers; and as their acknowledged chief, he drew up a system for their regulation.

In 1731, an overture was transmitted to the presbyteries, in terms of the Barrier Act, "concerning the method of planting vacant churches :" a kind of supplement to the law of patronage. This act lodged the sole power of election in a meeting of protestant elders and heritors. This act made no exception of the episcopalian heritors, so that when they were most numerous in a parish, they had it in their power to present. This was naturally considered a grievance. To enforce these settlements, the Assembly had recourse to very despotic measures. That court denied dissenters the right of exercising the ordinary methods of expressing their dissent. In consequence, the only method left for complaint was from the

pulpit. When the Assembly met in May, 1732, it was found that eighteen presbyteries had made no return: twelve were in favour of the act, with some amendments; six were absolutely favourable; and thirty-one were decidedly opposed to it. At the same time, two remonstrances were presented against the overture. These the Assembly refused to receive, and, notwithstanding that the returns from the presbyteries were unfavourable, enacted the above as a standing law.

In this state of general dissatisfaction and excitement, the synod of Perth and Stirling met at Stirling, in October, 1732, and Mr Ebenezer Erskine, minister of that town, was appointed to preach. In his sermon, he inveighed against the defections of the times; and, in particular, animadverted severely on the late act of Assembly, and on the violent settlements of ministers. For these freedoms, the synod adjudged him to be rebuked, from which sentence Mr Erskine protested and appealed to the General Assembly. Twelve of the ministers of this synod adhered to Mr Erskine's protest. The Assembly which met in 1733 approved of the sentence of the synod, and ordered the rebuke and admonition to be pronounced. Against this Mr Erskine again protested, asserting his liberty to preach the same truths, and to testify against the same or the like defections, upon all proper occasions. Three of his brethren, Messrs Moncrief, minister of Abernethy, Wilson of Perth, and Fisher of Kinclaven, united with him in his refusal of submitting to be rebuked, as an undue restraint on ministerial freedom. These presented a protest to the Assembly, but which that court refused to receive. The brethren then laid it on the table, and retired, where it lay unobserved for some time. A minister accidentally took up the paper, read it, and called the attention of the court to its contents. It was declared to be an insult to the court, and the offenders were cited to appear at the bar the following day. On their attendance at the bar, a committee was appointed to communicate with them. The committee reported: that the four brethren continued fully resolved to adhere to their paper and protest. When placed at the bar, the Assembly passed the following sentence, without permitting the brethren to speak:

"The General Assembly ordains, that the four brethren, aforesaid, appear before the commission in August next, and there show their sorrow for their conduct and misbehaviour in offering to protest, and in giving in to this Assembly the paper by them subscribed; and that they then retract the same. And in case they do not appear before the said commission in August, and there show their sorrow, and retract, as said is: the commission is hereby empowered and appointed to suspend the said brethren, or such of them as shall not obey, from the exercise of their ministry. And further, in case the said brethren shall be suspended by

the said commission, and that they shall act contrary to the said sentence of suspension, the commission is hereby empowered and appointed, at their meeting in November, or any subsequent meeting, to proceed to a higher censure against the said four brethren, or such of them as shall continue to offend by transgressing this act. And the General Assembly do appoint the several presbyteries of which the said brethren are members, to report to the commission in August, and subsequent meetings of it, their conduct and behaviour with respect to this act."

Against this sentence, the four brethren requested leave to read the following complaint and declaration, but which the Assembly peremptorily refusing, they laid it on the table, and left the bar.

"In regard the venerable Assembly have come to a positive sentence, without hearing our defences; and have appointed the commission to execute their sentence in August, in case we do not retract what we have done: we cannot but complain of this uncommon procedure; and declare that we are not at liberty to take this affair to an avisandum.”*

No change having taken place in the resolution of the four brethren, the commission suspended them in August. Representations from several presbyteries, kirk sessions, and town councils, were offered to the commission, praying them to delay sentence. The commission would not suffer any of these representations to be read. The moderator read the sentence, not in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, but in that of the Assembly: that the commission did suspend the four protesting brethren from the exercise of the ministerial function, and all the parts thereof. Against this sentence, the brethren protested by a written document, as follows :- "We hereby adhere to the protestations taken by us before this court, for ourselves; and in name of all the ministers, elders, and members of the Church of Scotland, and of all and every one of our respective congregations, adhering to us: Bearing that this sentence is in itself null and void; and that it shall be lawful and warrantable for us to exercise our ministry as hitherto we have done, and as if no such censure had been inflicted and that if, in consequence of this sentence, any minister or probationer shall exercise any part of our pastoral work, the same shall be held and reputed as a violent intrusion upon our ministerial labours."


When the commission met again, in November, 1773, the four brethren appeared at the bar, and protested that they still adhered to their former declarations. A committee appointed to interrogate them reported, that the brethren "had exercised all the parts of their ministerial office, as if they had been under no such censure," and that "they had declared their resolution to continue of the same mind as formerly." At this period

* Under consideration.

the four brethren were joined by Mr Ralph Erskine. The commission determined to proceed to the higher censure. This was only carried by the casting vote of Mr Gowdie, the moderator. Many synods, presbyteries, kirk sessions, and magistrates, petitioned for delay, at least till the following March, as authorized by the Assembly, but without effect. The commission pronounced the following sentence: that they "did and hereby do loose the relation of Mr Ebenezer Erskine, minister at Stirling, Mr William Wilson, of Perth, Mr Alexander Moncrief, of Abernethy, and Mr James Fisher, at Kinclaven, to their respective charges; and do declare them no longer ministers of this church and do hereby prohibit all ministers of this church to employ them, or any of them, in any ministerial function. And the commission do declare their churches vacant from and after this sentence."


"As the judicatories," says Willison, "at this time seemed to act with much heat and severity, in order to support and screw up their authority; so we must own, that the four brethren seemed to show no little humour and stiffness in opposing their authority and despising their sentences: for they would give no ear to their friends, who dealt with them to show some subjection to the judicatories, as to their fathers and superiors; and although they were just now abusing their church power, and unwarrantably provoking their children, yet some regard is to be shown to their authority, even when so doing, as we do to our natural parents, though correcting us in an arbitrary way. As to Mr Erskine, though he was contending for the truth, many of his friends wished that he had not used such asperity and tartness of expression about the ministers and judicatories of the church as he did; and many of the leading men in the judicatories said, this was the only thing they quarrelled in his sermon; but Mr Erskine would make no acknowledgment or submission of any sort, though even Mr Wilson and Mr Moncrief said, in their reasons of dissent, that they did not pretend to justify his modes of expression in that sermon. We do not see that it would have been any loss to the truth the four brethren appeared for, that they had all showed more respect to the supreme authority of the church in their conduct than they did; particularly, though they had forborn to protest, as they did in express words, against the sentence of the Assembly as UNJUST, and against any censure they should inflict on them as null and void in itself: and if, upon their being suspended, any minister or probationer should preach in their parishes, the same should be held as an intrusion upon their charges. And as they protested, so they submitted not to the sentence for one day."


On the sentence being pronounced, the associated brethren, who were

* Willison's Testimony, pp. 78, 79.

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