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and jurisdiction of the General Assembly. They then withdrew from the bar, and the breach became irreconcilable. The Assembly then enacted, "that for their declinature, contempt, and schismatical courses, &c., they! deserve deposition." But to give them time for reflection, and to return to their duty, they forbore for one year; and accordingly cited them to the bar of the Assembly of 1740. This citation the brethren beld in due contempt. The Assembly of 1740 therefore deposed the whole eight brethren, in these words: They depose them from the office of the holy ministry, prohibiting them to exercise the same within this
The secession from the establishment had now become so considerable, that, before the year 1745, so many presbyteries had been constituted, in different parts of the country, that they were enabled to form a supreme court, or synod. The secession was now called the ASSOCIATE SYNOD. But with their success, "the leaven of prejudice and suspicion insinuated itself, soured their minds, and fomented any difference of sentiment which at first existed among them." The period was now arrived when the seceders were to be divided into burghers and antiburghers. In 1745, the question of the lawfulness of burgess oaths was debated in the synod. The clause under debate was: "Here I protest, before God and your lordships, that I profess, and allow with my heart, the true religion presently (at present) professed within this realm, and authorized by the laws thereof: I shall abide thereat, and defend the same to my life's end; renouncing the Roman religion called papistry." The two Erskines, Fisher, and others, contended that it was the religion itself, and not its maladministration, to which they were required to swear: that they had not set up a new religion, but clave closely to what they had previously professed: that since they had solemnly approved of the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government; since they had solemnly declared their adherence to the Westminster Confession: that by their ordination vows they had sworn to that very religion, doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, professed and established in the realm: that although they had objected to the manner in which the true religion is at present professed and settled: that though they had testified against the corruptions both in church and state: yet they had, but two years before, judicially declared the established religion to be the true religion itself. They had solemnly thanked God, "that our religion has such security by the present civil government as no nation on earth enjoys the like." Therefore "the synod could not, without the most glaring self-contradiction, prohibit the swearing of the above clause, as in itself sinful for a seceder." On the other hand, Messrs
* Willison's Testimony, pp. 91, 92.
Willison's Testimony, p. 58.
Moncrief, Mair, Gibb, and others, contended that this oath, being administered for the security of the establishment, was to be understood in the sense of the imposers. That the true religion, to which it referred, must mean the corruptions in its administration, from which they had seceded. That it not only contemplated the corruptions in the state religion, but in the state itself; which, by consequence, implied a departure from the whole of their testimony. In fact, it gave up the whole cause of their secession. And therefore the words "true religion, presently (at present) professed and authorized," might be applied indifferently to a true and a false religion. The synod of 1746 came to this decision: that "those of the secession cannot, with safety of conscience and without sin, swear any burgess oath with the said religious clause, while matters with reference to the profession and settlement of religion continue in such circumstances as the present." The minority on this question protested against this decision. The bitter waters of controversy were now let loose, and violently agitated the whole body. In the synod of 1747, it was proposed, that the condemnatory decision of the former synod should, neither then nor afterwards, be a term of ministerial and christian communion; and that this question be referred to presbyteries and kirk sessions. This question was considered disorderly. Members protested against it accordingly; but as the protesters did not vote, the motion was carried. Those members who supported the original decision subscribed a declaration and protest; in which they maintained, "that, as the meeting had materially dropped the whole testimony, the lawful authority and power of the associate synod is devolved on a constituted meeting of those ministers and elders who had protested against the late vote, and such as should join them." The synod was now divided into two separate and hostile bodies. Each division asserted that it was the majority; and each laid claim to the title and powers of the supreme court. The two divisions now constituted two distinct synodical courts. That which defended the burgess oath passed an act annulling their opponents' synod. Those who condemned the oath erected themselves into a synod, and excommunicated their antagonists. The two parties were denominated BURGHERS and ANTIBURGHERS. The latter were the most numerous. The former again split into two parties, in the year 1799, and were denominated the OLD LIGHT and the NEW LIGHT BURGHERS. These, however, effected an union together in the year 1819. This union was not effected with unanimity. Nine ministers protested against the Basis of Union, and formed a separate synod, under the denomination of the ASSOCIATE SYNOD.
At the period of these secessions, the General Assembly seems to have been strongly influenced by the lust of power. It had screwed up its authority to a pitch of despotism which drove many from the established
communion. Ever since the ordinance of parliament which gave the right, popular election has always been a favourite measure in Scotland. To enforce the legal presentations of patrons, the General Assembly had exercised its executive powers with considerable energy. Presentees were usually denominated "intruders." One of those violent settlements, in the year 1752, occasioned another secession from the establishment. A Mr Andrew Richardson was presented to the church and parish of Inverkeithing, in the presbytery of Dunfermline. The parishioners objected vehemently, and appealed to the General Assembly then sitting. That court ordered the presbytery peremptorily to induct Mr Richardson. Every minister within the presbytery was ordered to attend and witness the execution of their sentence. Mr Thomas Gillespie, minister of Carnock, and five other ministers, refused to obey the Assembly's mandate. They sympathised with the parishioners in their desire to elect a minister more agreeable "to the inclinations of the people" than Mr Richardson appears to have been. The Assembly summoned the whole presbytery of Dunfermline to their bar. At the bar, Mr Gillespie and his five associates acknowledged their disobedience to the Assembly's mandate. In vindication, they stated their objections to intrusions and violent settlements. They reminded the Assembly, that that court itself, in 1736, had declared: "that it is, and has been ever since the Reformation, the principles of this church, that no minister shall be intruded into any parish, contrary to the will of the congregation; and therefore it is seriously recommended to all judicatories of this church, to have a due regard to the said principles, in planting vacant congregations, so as none be intruded into such parishes, as they regard the glory of God and the edification of the body of Christ." This appeal to their own decisions only inflamed the already irritable feelings of the Assembly. They deposed Mr Gillespie from his office of the ministry, and loosed his connexion with his parishioners. Willing, as they said, to mix mercy with judgment, the Assembly only suspended the other five from the exercise of the judicial part of their office. Mr Gillespie was alone violently thrust out of his parish, and degraded from his office. The manner and indecent haste of their proceedings were very remarkable. The Assembly issued their mandate for the ordination and induction of Mr Richardson, on Monday. The day for his induction was Thursday, at eleven o'clock. On Friday, every member of the presbytery was summoned to appear at the bar of the Assembly; and, on Saturday, Mr Gillespie was deposed. These energetic measures only occupied the short space of one week. This indecent haste in so solemn an affair, gave offence to many, and occasioned the establishment of the RELIEF SYNOD. Such wanton despotism is inseparable from collective bodies of men. Professor Hill says, that the government of the
Church of Scotland is republican. The tyranny and injustice which were practised against Mr Gillespie is inseparable from republican governments. It cannot be otherwise. The odium of a guilty deed is divided among many. Every individual member shifts it off his own shoulders, and thinks, because others were concerned, that therefore he is less guilty. Bodies of men are incapable of mercy. They never pardon. A sentence once passed is irreversible. Therefore governments, where there is only judgment without mercy, cannot be from God. He is essentially merciful; and his representative, and individual judge or governor, has the principle of mercy within his own breast. Mr Gillespie would never have sustained such a severe and unjust sentence from an individual judge, as a republican court inflicted. That judgment, which was never reversed, occasioned a schism from their body which in a few years mightily increased. Although deprived of the temporalities, Mr Gillespie considered that his spiritual relation still continued. He accordingly preached in the open air to his late parishioners. Persecution added a sanctity to his name, and a popularity to his cause, which he had never before enjoyed. He was considered the champion of the people's rights. In a short time his followers built a chapel in Dunfermline. In the course of a few years he was joined by Mr Thomas Boston, late minister of Oxnam, in Roxburghshire. The General Assembly declared Mr Boston incapable of being again received into the establishment, or even of preaching in a parish church; and discharged all ministers under their jurisdiction from holding ministerial communion with him. These two original pillars were soon after joined by a Mr Collier, an English dissenter. These three, with some lay elders, constituted themselves a presbytery at Colinsburgh, in the county of Fife. A trifling circumstance gave rise to their name. Some inhabitants of Colinsburgh solicited them for relief from the burden of patronage. They therefore denominated themselves the Presbytery of Relief; which, when their numbers increased, was afterwards changed into the Relief Synod.
Independency has never flourished much in Scotland. This system was first introduced in England, about the year 1580. Robert Brown has the equivocal honour of being its founder. Hence his followers were first called Brownists. They have had various names: Brownists, Barrowists, Congregationalists; but they are now generally known by the name of Independents. They became very numerous in England. Neale says, that in their articles of faith they did not differ much from the Church of England, but were very rigid and narrow in points of discipline. They were the most tolerant in their principles of all the sects. Cromwell introduced their system into Scotland. Their number was greatly increased some years, by a Mr Haldane sending out itinerant lay preachers. These erected tabernacles in different parts of the country, which settled down
into independent congregations. They have since split into several independent denominations, at variance with the parent stock. In the time of Oliver Cromwell, a Baptist meeting was established in Edinburgh. But with that exception there are no traces of them in Scotland till the year 1765. In that year, Mr Carmichael and Mr Maclean formed a congregation, and there are now several Baptist congregations. Neale says, that the first Baptist congregation which assembled in England, was in 1640; when a few individuals, dissatisfied with the lawfulness of infant baptism, assembled in London. They chose a Mr Jesse for their minister, who founded that denomination. There are many other minor seceders and dissenters in Scotland, but we have only mentioned the most prominent.
The seceders are not dissenters from the Scottish establishment. They allege, that they maintain the doctrine, discipline, and mode of worship, in greater purity. They seceded from it, on account of the maladministration of all these; and they object especially to the system of patronage. When the maladministration is corrected, they are ready to unite with the establishment. They avow the necessity of popular election in the choice of a minister. On this point, however, there is a division among them; some contending that only heads of families, who are communicants, are privileged to vote; others, again, that all of full age, both men and women, are entitled.*
THE law of England recognises three descriptions of poor. 1. Poor by impotency and defect. These consist of the aged or decrepid, fatherless or motherless; poor under sickness, idiots, lunatics, lame, blind, &c. 2. Poor by casualty. Housekeepers, decayed or ruined by unavoidable misfortunes; poor persons, overcharged with children; disabled labourers. -These are to be set to work, if they be able; if they are unable to work, they are to be relieved with money.-3. Poor by prodigality and debauchery, commonly called thriftless poor. These are idle, slothful persons, pilferers, vagabonds, strumpets, &c. These are to be sent to the house of correction, and to be put to hard labour, to maintain themselves; or work is to be provided for them, that they do not perish for want. If these become impotent by sickness, or if their work will not maintain them, there must be an allowance by the overseers of the poor for their support.
The law not only regards life and member, and protects every man in
The Present Truth, a Display of the Secession Testimony, in the three periods of the Rise, State, and Maintenance of that Testimony-Testimony of the Associate Synod of Original Seceders.- Willison's Testimony.-Neale's History of the Puritans.—Adams' Religious World Display