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posed to deprecate the idea that this is not still an open question, or that we are precluded from entering upon it by the previous decisions of the General Assembly. No doubt the Geueral Assembly of 1845 did express its mind or opinion that there should be a full Theological Faculty at Aberdeen, and did make some provision for ultimately effecting that, and agreed to the scheme of appointing one professor and several tutors until the Church was able to erect a full theological hall at Aberdeen. No doubt this was done on the recommendations of the Committee, but I do not think that such decisions are binding on the Assembly, so that they cannot be cancelled. I think, on the other hand, it will be admitted that the only decisions of the Supreme Courts, which cannot be cancelled or reversed, are such as are based directly on the Word of God, or such as are pronounced on judicial questions, and which by the fact of their being so pronounced, give distinct specific rights to those who insist upon them. But no one will imagine that the mere declaration of the Assembly in 1845, that it was desirable that a divinity hall should ultimately be established in Aberdeen, and the making of certain provisions towards that object, settles that question so as to preclude the Church from again seriously entertaining it, and, if not, upon the grounds of the general principle, there is nothing in the particular case to commend this to the respect and deference of the General Assembly. It was carried first of all in the Committee, not having been subjected to the consideration of the Church, and passed without much discussion on the last day of the General Assembly; and I am sure that three-fourths of the members of the Assembly knew nothing whatever about it, and never had given it any serious attention. I do not mean to insinuate that there was anything unfair in the matter on the part of our Aberdeen friends, I just refer to the notorious fact that such things do occasionally occur in the hurry and bustle of our proceedings. I am free to confess that I was myself a member of the Committee. I opposed the project at the time. I might have opposed it in the Assembly; indeed, I believe a few words did pass on the subject, but I did not think it of such importance as to require me to give in a dissent against it. there had been anything to expose in the matter I would have done it; but I had nothing to complain of in reference to our Aberdeen friends,-I have not the slightest ground for blaming them; I had none then, and I have none now. I just refer to the circumstance that, in point of fact, it was never subjected, then or since, to the full consideration of the General Assembly. It has whatever weight may be attached to the opinion of the General Assembly; but it cannot have anything like the moral weight and influence which it would have had if subjected to the full consideration of the Church at large; and really my not protesting against, or dissenting from it at the time was no great matter, as its not possessing any moral weight, in my estimation, did not impose upon me any moral responsibility to dissent or protest. I never considered for a moment that the approbation of a report, brought up under these circumstances, was to be applied as an argument to bar a full discussion of the question on its merits whenever it should be raised; and the reasons that prevented me at the time were just the same reasons that prevented me, as a member of the College Committee, from insisting that any great attention should be paid in our observations to the arguments of our Aberdeen friends upon this point. I do not regard their views as possessing any real weight in preventing the Church from entertaining the question now,-from considering the whole question, considering what is practicable for her to do in that matter, and what, in the circumstances in which she is placed, is best for promoting the strength and stability of the Church. There is some provision existing in Aberdeen for theological education, and that is a fact on which they found largely, and some of them say they would rather that the existing provision were swept away, than continue on its present form and footing. Now, in regard to the existing provisions in Aberdeen, I must be excused if I refer to it in a sentence or two, for the purpose of explaining what I wish my brethren to understand, the peculiar position I occupy in regard to it. The position is somewhat awkward, and liable to be misconstrued. On a former occasion I opposed any provision being made, and I have not changed my opinion on that point. I entertain now the same


opinion I entertained then. I have abstained from stating my opinion on these topics, because it might be unpleasant to the feelings of some who are connected with that institution, especially to my esteemed friend Mr M'Laggan, who had nothing to do with the arrangements whatever, and whose talents and capabilities we have all reason to admire-(hear, hear)—than whom there is not a man in the Free Church whose feelings, without cause, I would more anxiously refrain from wounding. I regret being obliged to refer to the matter at all; but, being forced to express my opinion, I must just say that my opinion is not changed as to the non-necessity for that arrangement. On the other hand, I have never held the view that the Church, on the ground of that being an erroneous arrangement, has the power to sweep it away. I have no desire whatever to meddle with it. I think, when such an arrangement is made, some regard should be paid to the fact that it is made, that certain expectations have been cherished,-that certain views have been entertained,-and that certain arrangements have been made on the faith of it, and these are not lightly to be interfered with. While I cannot say that my opinion is changed as to its original view of the non-necessity of such an arrangement, I do not hesitate, on the part of the Committee, to recommend, on the assumption that these arrangements are to continue, that no change is to be made, but just occupying the original position into which, our brethren must see, we are shut up by the convictions we entertain, if there is not to be a full hall at Aberdeen, the Assembly must make some arrangement to connect the courses of study there with the existing courses in Edinburgh. I may here explain, in connection with this matter, that the Church sent down this Report to Presbyteries that it might be favoured with the general mind, or rather in order to collect the general sough of the mind of the Church, rather than that the Church was called upon formally to adjudicate on the subject. This is the first time that the matter, in its length and breadth, has been subjected to the full and deliberate examination of the whole Church, and the result of this day's discussion will be the first full indication of the mind of the Church with respect to a matter of so much importance, and so deeply affecting her future stability and prosperity. I have said already, I do not understand what our extension friends mean to propose just now; but I must say, that I would be rather surprised if they proposed that this General Assembly shall sanction any new appointment in this matter whatOf course, I do not comprehend in this statement the filling up of the existing vacancies. That is a totally different question. I hope the Church will do so, but I shall be very much surprised if the General Assembly shall make any new appointment-shall establish any new office. I cannot see how, in the existing state of the Church, anything of the kind, in consequence of the state of the funds, can be entertained by the General Assembly; for it certainly seems to me very extraordinary, that, in the existing state of the funds, any such proposal should be made. Why, the College Committee, not from any fault of their own, are at present £2060 in debt, and that requires to be provided for. The income last year fell short of the expenditure £625, and that forms a portion of the debt of the £2060 to which I have referred. This was in the face of the fact, that we saved altogether the salary of one of the professors, so that it may be said the expenditure for the year exceeded the income by about £1000. The sum necessary for annual expenses as explained, is £3800, without the students' fees, and that is a larger sum than has ever been raised by annual contribution by £700. The Church, of course, will be called on to consider what they are to do to pay this debt, and to defray the annual expense. The College Committee, on this occasion, have abstained from making any suggestion on the subject. We thought it best to exhibit to the Assembly the state of the case, and rather to abstain from making suggestions as to the way in which the existing state of the case was to be met. And in making this statement, you are to recollect, that by far the largest portion of this sum goes for salaries to professors and tutors appointed by the General Assembly, and these salaries are not regarded by the Church as at all extravagant. This is the case, and this reminds the Church of what is really involved in the appointment of new professors, and the establishment of new halls of divinity. What is involved in this? Why,


that in every such case, when done by the sanction of the General Assembly, you impose a positive obligation in honour, or rather in common honesty, upon the Church, that it shall provide that those men shall be paid a respectable remuneration while they are doing the duty of the office to which they have been appointed. That is implied in the appointment of professors, and the establishment of new divinity halls. I should like, then, that the Church would consider her existing obligations in this matter, and the difficulties in which she is involved in order to discharge these, that the inexpediency of making new appointments, and establishing new institutions, may be apparent. I don't like to dwell upon this subject, but I think the facts are too plain and palpable; and I cannot understand how, in accordance with right principle in the regulation of the affairs of the Church, it should be proposed that new professors should be appointed, and new establishments erected. But I do not like to plead the matter solely upon that ground, for my convictions are formed irrespective of existing difficulties and difficiencies, that, so far as we see at present, the existing condition of the Church renders the establishment of another divinity hall unnecessary and uncalled for,-that is my decided conviction. Of course, the discussion will turn largely upon that question,--there will be a difference of opinion upon that point, and various grounds upon which the question might be settled will be pressed on the Assembly. I cannot at present enter minutely into details, and would merely advert to a few considerations by which it must be decided. First of all, there is this general consideration, which is deserving of the serious and deliberate attention of the House, namely, the great general principle that it is not right, it is not practicable, nay, I have doubts if it be consistent with honesty, that the Church should at present be establishing new institutions, involving a permanent annual expenditure, without the clearest and most urgent necessity, a necessity which can not only be proved in speculation or argument, but which can be made out, plainly and palpably to the sense, and understanding, and conscience of the Church, and of the community at large. (Hear, hear.) I most confidently appeal to the Church, whether or not there be any such clear and urgent necessity, any possibility of proving the existence of such necessity as applicable to the establishment of another divinity hall, in the circumstances in which the Church is at present placed. (Applause.) I know quite well that a large portion of the community have an idea that there is no call for any such extension as that proposed, and that they look upon the steps which have been taken in this direction very much as a mere minister's notion (a laugh)—very much as a mere clerical project. I know that feeling prevails; and I think it is a matter well worthy the serious consideration of the Church, whether, unless upon the clearest and strongest grounds, they should come into collision with such general and wide-spread conviction. I don't mean to dwell upon this point; I know it is delicate ground,-I am aware of that; and I fear that our extension friends may presume somewhat upon this, and we may be taunted with putting evil into people's heads. (Laughter.) It is right that we take care not to ascribe to the community what we cannot prove, but only what we know they generally believe, only what is openly asserted by the community, taking good care that we do not go beyond that. We are not to be deterred, however, merely by the fear of being taunted with putting evil into the people's heads, from stating plainly and distinctly what we know to be undoubted facts and unquestionable realities. (Hear, hear.) I do not intend to dwell upon this, but I conceive it to be proper to bring out the real mind and feeling of many friends of the Church on this point; and if any member of Assembly thinks it proper to refer to this more fully than I choose to do, I have here to enter my caveat against their being taunted with putting evil into people's heads. (Applause.) I feel that already by what has been said and done in this matter the confidence of the community in the wisdom and good sense of some of the schemes projected by Free Churchmen has been shaken. (Hear, hear.) The only thing of any importance which has been alleged as giving the appearance of urgency to the demand for the establishment of another divinity hall is the number of students, and the necessity and importance of increasing them. That is the only consideration which seems


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to amount to any thing like the appearance of urgency in the matter. Now, of course, that is always a consideration which requires and demands the serious attention of the Church. The Church is bound to provide, if it can, a sufficient number of well-qualified candidates for the ministry, and to multiply these if it can be reasonably expected that they shall be fully occupied. The Church is not bound, however, to provide a larger number of candidates for the ministry than there is a reasonable prospect of having employed in that work. And I believe that there is no urgency whatever, in the existing state of matters, calling for any very extraordinary effort in that direction,-calling for the erection of a new divinity hall. We have at present students enough to produce annually nearly fifty preachers. The average number of vacancies which have occurred annually during the last five years has been only twelve. According to ordinary calculations they should be more; but, in point of fact, during the past five years they have not averaged so many as twelve. I believe only thirty-eight Disruption ministers have died, and there cannot have been more than twelve, or perhaps ten others, so that during the past five years the deaths amongst the ministers of the Free Church have not been more than fifty. I believe, at the same time, however, according to ordinary calculations, that the number of vacancies annually ought to be estimated at about twenty. It has been less than that, but still we ought to lay our account for that average number. But even with this provision we have remaining nearly thirty preachers for the supply of the colonies and missionary work. We have at present nearly as many probationers as we had at the time of the Disruption, although the vast proportion of them were absorbed in the two years which succeeded it. And for the last two years, when we have been much more chary of extending the Church, the number of preachers has been largely increasing; and manifestly we have been producing more preachers, and adding more to the list, than the Church at the time had occasion for,-than the Church at the time could provide the means for employing. In these circumstances, it is surely a hopeless task to attempt to make out a case of extreme urgency. Assuredly there is no case of urgency,-no reason for haste, no call for any great hurry, no reason why we should not look carefully about us, before we take such an important step as has been proposed, a step which is irrevocable, cannot be recalled, and which involves the Church in a very considerable amount of annual permanent expense. Besides, by acceding to the proposal of the Extensionists, you would introduce an element which would tend very materially to lower your standard of qualification, -render it difficult to get good laws made, and still more difficult to get these good laws enforced, even if they were made. (Hear, hear.) I would much rather, considering the course which has been taken, see the number of the students diminished,-in the first place, diminished by a more stringent examination (hear, hear),-by a more thorough examination,-for the purpose of testing their character and qualifications. I mean testing, not only their mere scholastic acquirements, but testing their Christian character, and testing their judgment and good sense. (Laughter and applause.) All these things should be tested, and the students should be subjected, all of them, to a much more thorough testing than has hitherto been employed in these matters. (Hear, hear.) I think it would be well to see the students, by such testing, first of all reduced; and after they are so reduced, I think the Church would then be in a right condition for taking into consideration what ought to be done for increasing the number, without lowering, and without diminishing, the standards for testing their qualifications. (Hear, hear.) By this means there would seem to be some chance of the examinations being done well,-of their being done on right and sound principles,—and some likelihood of their being done in a way which would really promote the strength and stability of the Church. I anticipate no evil from a diminution of the students in the manner to which I have referred; and I am far from believing that there is anything like urgency upon the Church, in present circumstances, to precipitate itself in such a matter as the establishment of a divinity hall, the necessity of which never can, and never will be, commended to the minds of the great mass of the community, and which is fitted to operate most injuriously upon our whole arrange

ments. (Hear, hear.) If there be anything connected with theological education tha really is possessed of any urgency, I think they are just these two things--in orde to promote the internal arrangements, the internal efficiency of the institutionnamely, provision for the students being taught Hebrew before they enter the theological hall. I think that is urgent, and I think the Church ought to do something for securing that object. There is also another thing, and that is, some provision for affording to young men from the Highlands an opportunity for securing a classical and mathematical education, of the means of which they are at present to a large extent destitute. That is another most urgent object. We know well that there are many parts of the Highlands in a state of extreme destitution as regards a gospel ministry; and we must lay our account with providing these districts with ministers from amongst themselves. But we must superintend the process. We must overlook the work. And the first grand difficulty which presents itself is, that when young men are brought under serious impressions, and indicate natural capacities, such as may seem to hold out a good prospect of their being useful in the Church, the first great difficulty is the want of an opportunity of their getting a classical and mathematical education. That is a grand difficulty; and I believe it prevents many a young man of Christian principle and mental vigour from coming forward, who, but for this difficulty, would soon come forward and supply the destitution of the means of grace which exist. The Church, if it could afford it, should provide for these things. I believe that these two things ought to be attended to; and I am disposed to press upon the Church that the College Committee should be instructed to do something in reference thereto. (Hear, hear.) The one seems to me to be most urgent, in so far as concerns the internal arrangements; and the other seems most urgent also for the training up of candidates for the holy ministry. Although, as I said before, the main and leading object we have in view is a full theological curriculum, I am convinced that we will have difficulty enough in getting a law passed for carrying out this object, notwithstanding that a very large portion of the intelligence of the Church is in favour of it. Experience has abundantly proved that there is a great desire to relax existing laws, and to diminish the stringency of examinations; and while the whole tendency is in that direction, I believe there is no great likelihood of a full and efficient system being kept up, unless good laws are enacted and carefully put in force, and the institution be superintended by the Church through a board of visitation, who shall examine every year, and report to the General Assembly. I believe, without some such provision as that, there is no great likelihood of our succeeding in getting any arrangement for communicating an efficient theological education to the great body of our students. It is proposed that the students should stand a preliminary examination before entering the theological hall, and if this is to be done at all, it must be done by one Board of Examinators throughout the whole students. Now, if that be admitted to be a desirable thing, take a specimen of the difficulty of carrying out a good law. How long would we able to get that law enforced if we had a divinity hall at Aberdeen? We would not get it done for three years to come. difficulties in the way. We must first get the students brought up to the point of qualification; and, without looking to the notorious tendencies of human nature, we would meet constantly with insuperable difficulties in carrying out the best laws that could be devised. We have found from experience the great difficulty of getting good laws made; and I do feel that if the Church were to establish another divinity hall, it would scarcely be worth any man's while to give himself farther trouble about the formation of a curriculum or the improvement of theological education. It appears to me that the establishment of a divinity hall at Aberdeen, in existing circumstances, cannot be looked upon in any other light than just as setting a seal upon the face of any attempt to improve and extend theological education. I have not the least doubt that our Aberdeen friends, and those who support them, are just as anxious to promote this object as I am, and are as ready and willing to do it; I mean many of them. (Laughter.) Because, really, if I might take the liberty of expressing an opinion upon that point, I cannot help thinking that some of my brethren over the Church have a very defective and inadequate idea of what an adequate and efficient theological institution is or should be. fear there is a tendency, upon the part of some of the brethren, to regard a theo

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