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ANDREW SMITH, Treafurer.
And the remanent members of the Town-Council of PAISLEY,
The following Sermon is humbly infcribed, by their
Р U BLI C.
HE publication of the following fermon, is not owing to choice, but neceffity. A process of scandal was carried on against the perfons who gave occafion to its being preached; and they, inftead of any fubmiffion or penitence, thought proper to make heavy complaints against the author of the fermon; and to give an account of what was faid in it, very imperfect and unjust, as may well be fuppofed. In answer to this, he found it neceflary to declare his willingness and refolution to publifh the fermon, and to prefix a distinct narration of the proceedings, fo far as they had come to light, of that impious affembly, held within the bounds of his charge, that the public might judge whether there was not more than fufficient caufe given for what was then faid. By the following narrative and fermon he now propofes to acquit himself of both parts of this promife.
On Saturday the 6th of February, 1762, being the day before the celebration of the facrament of the Lord's fupper in Paisley, fome young men, who it is generally believed had all been at church, dined immediately after fermon in James Chambers's room. After dinner, Robert Hunter, who never was a communicant, produced one of the church tokens, well knowing what use it was intended to serve. Being afked where he got it, said he got it from Judas Iscariot; and, as one of the company declares, offered to play odds or evens with him which of them fhould use it. They were then invited all to a glass in William Wilfon's room, which he chofe that night to Jake poffeffion of; and indeed to give it a very dreadful VOL. II.
confecration. In the interval of their meeting, Robert Hunter fent the token to a young woman in the place, inclosed in a letter. What were the contents of the letter cannot be known. Common fame faid it was inviting her to their facrament: he himself pretended it was very innocent, but took care, as foon as the rumour broke out, to get the letter and burn it. The reader will immediately reflect what could be the intention, and what might have been the effects of this conduct: it was eafy in this way, to fend the moft notorious profligate to the table of the Lord, to the unspeakable fcandal of the congregation, as well as mifchief to his own foul.
About fix of the clock the fame evening, or foon after, there met according to appointment in William Wilfon's room, the faid Robert Hunter, and William Wilson, manufacturers in Paifley, John Snodgrafs, writer there, William M'Crotchet, enfign or ferjeant in the army, James and David Chalmers, and Robert Crofs junior, merchants in Paifley. By their own confeffion, and the depofition of feveral witneffes, they employed a good part of the time in mock-preaching, and that not merely imitating the tones or geftures of miniflers in indifferent words, but the only expreffions that were diftinguished by the witnesses who heard them on the fireet, were the words of fcripture. Two witnesses depone, that to the best of their judg. ment, they heard them praying in mockery; and when afked if they were fure it was praying and not preaching, perfifted in affirming it was praying. The only uncertainty this evidence labors under, is, that not hearing the particular words ufed, the only way by which they diftinguifhed it, was by the found; but it is to be obferved, that both witnesses were pofitive; that they agreed together as to the time when this happened, and that it was not the fame time that the other witnefies depone they were preaching, but at a very confiderable diftance; fo that there is little probability of the one being mistaken for the other. By their own confeffions, and the depofitions of witnesses, they were guilty of profane fwearing. The noise of their meeting was fuch, as alarmed the whole neighborhood; but what is molt tremendous of all, by the declaration of
Robert Hunter, one of themselves, William M'Crotchet, ufed fome of the words of the inftitution. The fame thing is declared by William Wilson, of John Snodgrafs ; and upon the ftricteft re-examination he perfifted in declaring that he was certain it was done in the company, and he thought it was by that person.
When these facts are laid together, and all the circumftances of the tranfaction are weighed, is it poffible in words to paint the atrociousness of their crime? Is there any ground to wonder at the greatnefs of the fcandal? Is there reafon to complain that the minifter in whofe bounds the offence was committed, and under whose charge almost all the offenders live, fhould think of preaching on such a subject as it appears he did; and now with concern finds himself obliged to publish? The very choice of fuch a night for such a merry meeting, and the difturbance given to the place almost to the hour of midnight, though there had been no more in it, were furely highly indecent. But when we add to this the loud profanation of the Almighty's name, and spending the moft part, if not the whole of the time, in mocking the exercises of piety, how deep and aggravated is the guilt! Above all, when it is confidered that this feems to have been without bounds, not fparing even the moft folemn and facred rite of our holy religion! It is true, fome of them obftinately deny this laft, and heaviest part of the charge. It doth not indeed appear, and we hope it is not true, that there was a formal celebration, and general or common participation in mockery, of the facrament of the Lord's fupper; but if there had been no profane allufion to it in the performances of the acting mimics, it is not to be fuppofed or imagined, that it would have been confeffed by two of the perfons prefent. Though this fhould not militate against the rest, it certainly muft militate against themfelves. The time of the meeting; the token produced before it; the letter with the token fent; the other things which they certainly did; and the unfufpected declaration of two of the guilty; who feemed at first penitent, though afterwards they altered their conduct, and joined with the reft in a common defence; are fo ftrong, that it is
impoffible to destroy the belief of it in an impartial mind; the rather when we add, that afterwards David Chalmers confeffed it ftill more fully than any of the other two. This, though it was too late to be in the procefs, or rather by great art and influence kept out of it, may be fafely affirmed, because it was in the prefence of three perfons. But to cut the matter fhort, the ufe of fome of the words of the inftitution with a folemn air as of a minifler, and alfo fome of the other words of fcripture, is affirmed by William Wilfon, of John Snodgrafs, in a voluntary declaration, when he was not adduced as an evidence. John Snodgrafs therefore, who confiders this as fo injurious to him, profecute William Wilson for flander, and get him punished in the manner he justly defèrves, if it be falfe; and if this is not done, he muft forgive many, and particularly the author of the following fermon, for believ ing it to be true.