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now by new adhesions increased to seven, protested that, notwithstanding this sentence, their pastoral relation should be held and reputed firm and valid: and "that, notwithstanding our being cast out from ministerial communion with the established church of Scotland, we still hold communion with all and every one who desire, with us, to adhere to the principles of the true presbyterian covenanted Church of Scotland, in her doctrine, worship, government, and discipline: and particularly with every one who are groaning under the evils, and who are affected with the grievances we have been complaining of; who are, in their several spheres, wrestling against the same. But in regard that the prevailing party in this established church, who have now cast us out from ministerial communion with them, are now carrying on a course of defection from our reformed and covenanted principles; and, particularly, are suppressing ministerial freedom and faithfulness, in testifying against the present backslidings of the church, and inflicting censures on ministers for witnessing, by protestations and otherwise, against the same: Therefore we do, for these and many other weighty reasons, to be laid open in due time, protest that we are obliged to make a SECESSION from them; and that we can have no ministerial communion with them, till they see their sins and mistakes, and amend them. And in like manner we do protest, that it shall be lawful and warrantable for us to exercise the keys of doctrine, discipline, and government, according to the Word of God, and Confession of Faith, and the principles and constitutions of the covenanted Church of Scotland; as if no such censure had been passed upon us: upon all which we take instruments.* And we hereby appeal unto the first free, faithful, and reforming General Assembly of the Church of Scotland." Signed by the four brethren.

The conduct of the commission of Assembly seems to have been sufficiently arbitrary. The whole establishment appeared at this time to sympathise with the four brethren. The presbyteries generally sent up representatives to the Assembly of 1734, sufficiently willing to censure the party and despotic proceedings of their commission, and to restore the four brethren to their charges; but this was rendered impossible. On the 6th of December, 1733, the seven associated brethren met at a place called Gairney-bridge, near Kinross, and constituted themselves into a separate presbytery. They spent the preceding day in fasting and prayer. They assumed the name of the ASSOCIATE PRESBYTERY. Among other reasons, they assigned the following for this important step:-"That they might be in a condition and capacity to exercise all the parts of their pas

* Instrument is a technical term, signifying the payment of a fee (say one shilling) to the clerk of Assembly, for receiving a process and recording it, or any paper, protest, or dissent, with which it is accompanied.

toral office; that they might have a more special claim to the promise of the divine presence among them; that they might maintain proper order among themselves, distinguishing themselves from those of the sectarian and independent way; that they might be in a better capacity for affording help and relief to the oppressed heritage of God through the land; and that they might endeavour to lift up a judicial as well as a doctrinal testimony for Scotland's covenanted Reformation; and against the present declinings and backslidings from the same." In March, 1734, the associated brethren published a testimony, with a review of a narrative of the proceedings against them, published by the commission of Assembly. In reviewing this document, they say: "Our ordination vows and engagements oblige us to the several steps we have taken. We are indeed bound at our ordination, to subject ourselves unto the judicatories of the church; but it is not an absolute subjection that we engage unto; it is not a blind and implicit obedience that we bind ourselves unto, but a subjection in the Lord; a subjection qualified and limited by the word of God, and the received and known principles of this church. The obligation of our ordination vows, to maintain communion with the established church, is subordinate to their obligation, by these vows, for maintaining the Reformation principles; so that the same vows, which did formerly bind us to communion with the established church, do now bind us to secession from her. Our submission to judicatories is according to the Word of God ; and our received and approved standards of doctrine, worship, government, and discipline: these are the only terms of ministerial communion amongst us ; and we refuse that we have broken through any of them. We have continued in ministerial communion with what is reckoned the established church, till the prevailing party have declared that they will not allow us any longer ministerial communion with them. The prevailing party have now declared, that they will allow none to continue in ministerial communion with them, who shall testify, either doctrinally from the pulpit, or by protestation in the supreme judicatory, against their sinful and unwarrantable proceedings. We have made a secession from the prevailing party, who are carrying on the course of defection. Our secession is not from the Church of Scotland: we own her doctrine, contained in her Confession of Faith; we observe the received and approved uniformity of worship; we adhere unto her presbyterian government and discipline, according unto the word of God, and our solemn covenant engage. ments; and we have not been convicted of anything in doctrine or practice to the contrary."

The establishment now became alarmed at the effects of the General Assembly's arbitrary proceedings. The schism was evidently widening, and presented a very threatening aspect. The presbyteries therefore sent

up, says Willison, "pious and experienced ministers, with sincere intentions, to have matters settled upon a better footing if possible. Now it would have extremely strengthened their hands, in their good designs to redress grievances and advance reformation, if the four brethren had tabled (laid) their complaint before them, and represented what they would have the Assembly to do to satisfy them; but this they declined to do, though they were all in the town at the time."* The Assembly of 1734 repealed several obnoxious acts of Assembly, "because they were found hurtful to this church." They reversed the settlement of a minister who had been forcibly placed at Auchtermuchty by the commission. They declared the sentences of the commission to be reversible. They reviewed and contracted the powers of that court of delegates, and prohibited it from forcibly settling a presentee, where the local synod or presbytery opposed it. They empowered the commission to address the king and parliament for relief from patronage. They empowered the synod of Perth and Stirling to restore the four ejected brethren to their charges, and the communion of the church. And they enacted, "that due and regular ministerial freedom is still left entire to all ministers." In July of the same year, the synod "did take off the sentences pronounced by the commission of the General Assembly of 1733, against the foresaid four brethren, declaring the same of no force or effect for the future:" and so * did unite and restore them to ministerial communion with this church, to their several charges, and to the exercise of all parts of the ministerial function therein."

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A door was now opened for the seceders to have returned to communion with their established brethren. They debated the subject accordingly. The result was, 66 that though they owned some parts of grounds of their secession to be removed, by the repeal of the foresaid acts, 1730 and 1732, yet they found the principal ground of it remaining, unremoved, yea rather aggravated by the Assembly, 1734. So that they could not accede to the judicatories in a consistency with, or without falling from, the testimony they had given." In their "Reasons of Non-accession," published in May, 1735, they say: "When matters were come to such a pass that we were excluded from keeping up a proper testimony against the defections and backslidings of the prevailing party, in a way of ministerial communion with them; we judged it our necessary duty, for this and other reasons, to make a secession from the judicatories of the established church and since the Lord, in his adorable providence, permitted the judicatories to thrust us out at a time when a course of defection was carried on with a high hand; it will therefore be necessary, for the vindication of our present conduct, to inquire if the Assembly, 1734, have at

:

* Willison's Testimony, &c., P 81.

+ Reasons of Non-accession.

least so far removed the grounds of our secession, that we may, in a consistency with the testimony we have emitted, accede unto the judicatories of the church, and join in ministerial communion with them."

At same time with their reasons for non-accession, the seceders made some proposals for the removal of some of those difficulties which stood in the way of their reunion. Not, however, as being all that they wanted, but "if they were done, we might have the comfortable prospect of a pleasant and desirable unity and harmony with our brethren; in concurring with them, according to our weak measure, in all other necessary steps towards a further reformation." The substance of their proposals was as follows:-"That there should be a seasonable warning against the infidelity and gross errors prevailing; a proper assertion of the truth, in opposition to Mr Simson's Arian heresy; and express condemnation of his other gross and dangerous errors; an inflicting of the highest censure of the church upon William Nimmo, for the bold and daring attack upon the whole of divine revelation, if found proven against him; and an inflicting of the same censure on Mr Campbell, and Mr Wallace, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, for gross and pernicious errors vented by them, upon these errors being found proven against them; that the act of Assembly, 1733, concerning Mr Erskine and his three brethren, should be declared rescinded;—and all that had followed thereupon declared null and void in itself; and the ministers enjoined to give faithful warning against the prevailing corruptions of the times: that the act of Assembly, 1733, concerning some brethren in the presbytery of Dunfermline, should be also rescinded; and ministers declared at freedom to dispense sealing ordinances to such as could not submit to the ministry of intruders; that the acceptance of presentations should be declared contrary to the principles of this church; probationers accepting of them to be deprived of their license; ministers, for such a transgression, to be suspended, and, if tenaciously adhering, deposed; and an act passed against any settlement, in time coming, without the call and consent of the majority of the congregation, who are admitted to full communion with the church in all her sealing ordinances: that all presbyteries should be strictly enjoined to use due caution and tenderness in the licensing of young men; and an act be passed against the dangerous innovation both in the method and strain of preaching; and that, in the grounds of a national fast, there should be an acknowledgment of the great guilt of this land; and in having gone on into such a course of backsliding, contrary to the word of God, and to the obligations those lands are under to promote reformation, by our cove nants, national and solemn league; with a full and particular enumeration of the steps of defection made in our day."*

* Reasons of Non-accession, p. 50.

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The seceders thought, at the end of two years, that they had still grounds of complaint. Forcible settlements still continued. Mr Campbell was dismissed from the bar of Assembly without censure, although his published opinions were erroneous. They therefore resolved to act in a judicial capacity. They determined to administer divine ordinances to such as should apply for them. They agreed to settle their terms of fellowship, and assert the genuine principles and attainments of the Church of Scotland. For which purpose, in 1736, they published a judicial testimony; likewise an enlargement of their former testimony on the doctrine of grace, in which they explained and vindicated the difference between the law and the gospel, and the motives and grounds of evangelical obedience. This was in opposition to the acts of the General Assembly respecting the Marrow of Modern Divinity, and the legal strain of preaching that had become common. They also renewed and swore to the solemn league and covenant. They, at same time, emitted a declaration of their principles respecting the civil government. Many of those who recognised the covenant as a fundamental principle, had not only refused to communicate with the establishment, but to acknowledge the civil government, or to obey the magistrates. These people continued some time without ministers. They were at last joined by Mr Macmillan, a minister of the establishment. The associate presbytery accordingly condemned their principles. Mr Nairn, one of the seceders, dissented from this position, and defended the principles of the covenanters, because the magistrates were deficient of those qualities required by the covenant. He asserted that none but a covenanted presbyterian could be the lawful sovereign of this realm. He accordingly separated from the seceders; and, joining Mr Macmillan, these two constituted the REFORMED PRESBYTERY.

The seceding brethren were much displeased at the transactions of the General Assembly, respecting some professors who had taught and published doctrines inconsistent with the Confession of Faith. 86 They took occasion," says Willison, "to carry their secession and separation to very great heights by licensing preachers, invading parishes, and preaching up separation everywhere, not sparing their best friends, nor those who dissented from the evils of the time, but charging the whole ministry with very black things." For these causes, and also the testimony so often cited, the Assembly cited the seceding brethren to appear at their bar, in 1739. Accordingly, the whole eight brethren appeared in the capacity of a constituted court, headed by their moderator. But instead of answering to their indictment, the associate synod, by the ministry of their moderator, read an act of their own court. This act condemned the courts of the establishment, as not being lawful courts of Christ. Their moderator then, in the name of the secession presbytery, declined the authority

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