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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FREE CHURCH
The Second General Assembly of the Free Protesting Church of Scotland met at Glasgow on Tuesday the 17th October, at eleven o'clock forenoon.
At five minutes past eleven, Dr Chalmers ascended the platform, and took his seat in the Moderator's chair, Dr M'Farlan of Greenock, and Dr Brown of Glasgow, being seated on his right, and Dr Makellar of Pencaitland on the left. Sheriff Monteath, Sheriff Speirs, Sir David Brewster, Sir Andrew Agnew, J. M. Nairne, Esq., of Dunsinnane, and a number of other members, subsequently took their seats on the platform.
Dr Chalmers commenced the services by reading the four first verses of the 46th Psalm, which were sung by the congregation, the largest, it may safely be affirmed, that ever participated in the worship of a General Assembly in Scotland.
The Rev. Doctor then offered up an impressive prayer, after which the first and second verses of the eighty-fourth Psalm were sung. Dr Chalmers took his text from Nehemiah xi. 16, "And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the House of God."
At the close of the discourse, the audience joined in singing a portion of the 147th Psalm.
Dr CHALMERS intimated that, after the benediction had been pronounced, the Assembly would be convened and constituted, which was accordingly done by solemn prayer.
The roll of the Assembly was then called over, and a number of new commissions were given in.
Dr CHALMERS then said-Reverend Fathers and Brethren, it is now time that the Assembly should proceed to the election of a new Moderator; but before quitting the chair, I beg to return the most grateful acknowledgments to you all for the amount of indulgence I have gotten at your hands. And I have now, as the last act appertaining to the office to which your kindness had preferred me, to propose for your acceptance, as my successor, one of whom I am confident that not only his high standing in the Church, but his mild, and paternal, and apostolical virtues, will recommend to the cordial and unanimous suffrages of this venerable Court-Dr Thomas Brown of Glasgow-(cheers)-one to whom belongs in no common degree the characteristics of that "wisdom which cometh down from above;" for while, along with four hundred and seventy of his associates in the ministry, he, by giving up his former all, rather than do violence to his principles, has thus afforded the best guarantee of being "first pure," I could not fix upon any individual of this whole number who better exemplifies all the remaining attributes of this heavenly wisdom" First pure, then peacable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy
and of good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (Hear, hear, hear.) His is not only the wisdom which qualifies him for such a charge; but his is pre-eminently and distinctively the "meekness of wisdom." It is, therefore, with singular pleasure that I recommend him as the fitting head and representative of this body of ministers and elders, who have come together not for fierce and fiery debate, but for free yet friendly deliberation on such subjects as are alike dear to philanthropy and piety, and actuated by the single principles of glory to God and good-will to men. (Hear, hear.) I beg to propose for your acceptance Dr Thomas Brown. (Cheers.) Dr M'FARLAN of Greenock.-Moderator, I have been requested to do that which, after what you have uttered, and after the cheers with which your proposal has been received, I think is altogether unnecessary—that is, to second the motion which you have now made for the election of Dr Brown. I shall not add one word to what Dr Chalmers has said on this subject, but only express the unmingled delight and satisfaction with which I second the motion for the election of my much loved and universally respected friend. (Cheers.)
Dr Brown was then conducted from the Committee-room to the Chair. re-appearing on the platform, the whole of the members rose and received him standing, and the audience expressed their satisfaction by cheers.
The MODERATOR, with great solemnity of manner, addressed the Assembly as follows:-Reverend Fathers and Brethren, I thank you most sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart, for the honour that you have done me in placing me in this chair to preside over you. I am undeserving of the honour that you have conferred upon me, and I am very unfit for the performance of the duties to which, in the providence of God, I am now called. No man is more conscious of this than I myself am; and there are not merely five, but fifties connected with the Free Church of Scotland that merited better to be placed in the situation which I now hold, and much more capable of performing the duties which attach to that situation. But since it is your will and your pleasure, I shall enter on these duties, trusting to your indulgence and your forbearance, which I am sure I shall meet with, and looking unto Him whose grace is promised to be made sufficient for us, and whose strength is perfect in our weakness. Rev. fathers and brethren, we are not honoured this day with the presence of the representative of Majesty; but I trust that the presence of our Lord and Master is with us, and that the shout of Zion's king will be among us. We meet not at this time for the purpose of framing a new constitution for the Church of Scotland. (Hear, hear.) That constitution, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, has been framed by the skill and the wisdom of our forefathers-the men of eminence and the men of God of former times-our Protestant Reformers; and it existed before it was brought into connection with the State at all. (Hear, and cheers.) By that constitution we abide stedfastly. (Hear, hear.) Our Standards, our Books of Discipline, our Creed, our Confession of Faith, we retain in all their original integrity. To them we have adhered to them we have appealed-by them we have sought to be tested in all our recent contendings; but we were derided as men of extravagant views, of presumptuous ideas. We therefore, this being the case, maintain that we are the Church of Scotland. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) Deprived of her civil privileges, and denuded as she is of her State countenance, we have protested, and we do protest, and we will be borne out in the estimation of all men that are unprejudiced and capable of judging, that in our doctrine, and our polity, and our discipline, and our worship, we represent the Church of our fathers. (Loud cheers.) We are the true Church that was originally recognised by the State-(renewed cheers)—the Church that could exist and did exist independent of the State-the Church that was assumed by the State, never to be tampered with in her righteous domain, and never to be trammelled in the exercise of her spiritual functions. (Cheers.) We We are the Church that has passed through great tribulations-through fire and through water-the Church that has passed through the hottest persecutions, and yet remains unscathed, like the bush that was burning and was not consumed. (Hear, hear.) Such is the Free Church of Scotland; and this is its second holy convocation-this is its second General Assembly. We have met, reverend fathers and brethren, for very important pur