صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

of the deep responsibility that rests on this Church. When, indeed, we heard from the Convener in substance, that the flag of Britain waves over every sea, —that her navies frequent every harbour,-that her enterprising sons are found in every port, the merchants and the traffickers of the earth,—we might be disposed, in the spirit of national pride, to glory in that meteor standard which has braved the battle and the breeze for more than a thousand years; but when, as a Christian assembly, we think on that commercial enterprise and indomitable zeal as separating thousands of our fellow-countrymen from the means of grace and the ordinances of religion, and so exposing them to all the trials and the difficulties of a foreign shore, the thought to which we are led is this,-if their most precious and invaluable interests are neglected, how ruinous the result to them, how sad and deeply criminal the culpability attaching to us. There are circumstances in the aspect of our times and the condition of our population that invest this Colonial Scheme with more than common interest. No one can disguise it from himself that there is a spirit of emigration abroad in our land. Many, very many of our home-taught sons are looking to the colonies as their home. The difficulties of the times, the want of employment, the prospect of comforts in other lands, are urging multitudes to sever their ties to Scotland, and seek employment and subsistence abroad. Nor, Sir, are we ignorant of the circumstances in which they leave our shores. They are generally without the means of providing instruction for themselves and their families abroad. They leave behind, their sanctuaries and their public means of grace; and, unless followed by faithful ministers of Christ, what can we expect in their wilderness-abode, but that their associations with holy things will die out, and their families grow up in the habitual neglect of all that tends to sanctify and save? Sir, if we overlook our brethren scattered over the wilds of Australia and America, there are those who will seek them out, and endeavour to pervert them to a false and idolatrous faith. Popery has a large part of her mission army disengaged, and doubtless she will employ it in her work of perversion and proselytism in the British colonies. We are in the midst of mighty and most portentous events. Europe has been upheaved by one earthquake after another; and this effect has resulted amongst others,-that the Jesuit pastors have been cast off by Romish Europe; the sons of Loyola,-the most unwearied and untiring emissaries of a false faith,-have been driven out of every country on the Continent. Rome will not harbour them in her own bosom; and the only lands where they are allowed an asylum are the British dominions and Turkey in Europe. And who does not see that, thus thrown loose and unemployed, many of them will find their way to America and Australia? Sir, I am always somewhat ashamed even of this Free Church, when I compare her evangelistic labours with the deeds of apostate Rome. We congratulate ourselves when we have sent out in a year some three or four labourers to all Australia. Why, Rome in a single year sent thirty-four priests to one district of that thriving colony. We are satisfied if our annual income amounts to a few thousand pounds; while Rome, in her Propagandas at Rome and Lyons, commands about half a million. With us, verily, it is the day of small things. We must not overlook the fact of the vastness, the growing vastness, of the colonial field. I cannot think of Canada, Australia, Africa, the West Indies, just as so many localities requiring a given number of ministers-just so many vacancies to be supplied. They are infant kingdoms-empires in a state of rapid development, that will speedily exercise an incalculable influence on the policy, the moral destiny of the world. See what their position is, how commanding and influential! British America connects us with the lands of the far west, and the regions yet to be peopled, from the Atlantic to the South Pacific; Cape Town connects us with Africa, and with all its nomadic tribes; while Australia, and our stations in India and China, are doubtless intended as centres from whence the light of holy truth and heavenly practice should radiate on benighted Asia. This, Sir, is a tempting theme, but I forbear to enlarge upon it. I cannot, however, help saying, that we are already beginning to see the fruits of our labours in the colonial field. It is something to hear that in the College at Toronto we have already forty-five theological students, and in

Canada seventy ordained ministers-that their churches are beginning to contribute to our missionary funds; for I find that in the statement for this year we have upwards of £200 to our Foreign Missions-£130 to our Jewish Mission, and £177 to our Colonial Mission. But, Sir, we have a far richer reward than that. We have heard of the dews of the Spirit coming down on Glengarry, and of the religious awakenings there and at Salmasville; and I may add, that in a letter just received from Canada East, it is stated, that in that district alone, they can point to special cases of conversion, the fruit of the ministry of every deputy, without exception, who had visited these parts. That fact may well reconcile congregations to the loss of the services of their pastors, when engaged in such work, as it warrants this Church to continue her scheme of supply while the exigency remains. I trust, Moderator, I need not further occupy the time of the House in urging the claims of this mission. I might plead the destitute condition of our countrymen abroad, and how much their hearts are opened by their very distance from home, with all its hallowed associations, to the reception of the truth. I might plead that many of our countrymen eventually return to settle on this land, and, if not cared for by us, will return without interest in the Free Church or care for her ordinances. But, Sir, our duty must rest on far higher grounds than these: the love of Christ, the worth of souls, the command of heaven, the immortal interests at hazard,—these are the pleas we would urge in this blessed cause. I have further to add, that I was gladdened by the intimation yesterday, that we have, or might reckon, on having upwards of twenty preachers annually, for colonial and missionary work. I do not know where they conceal themselves, for certainly, in our Presbytery at least, the sight of a probationer is an exceeding rarity; but I trust our excellent Convener will ferret them out, and be successful in persuading them to devote their energies and their lives to this most promising,-most inviting field.

Mr BURNS, after referring to some information which he had recently received from China, seconded Mr Macnaughtan's motion, whereupon,—

"The Assembly approve of the Report, reserving a fuller deliverance on the subject till a future diet. The Assembly record their thanks to Mr Bonar and the Committee, who are hereby re-appointed; and farther, they express their satisfaction in listening to the addresses of Dr Willis and Mr Monteith, and return their thanks to these respected brethren."

REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON POPERY.

Mr TWEEDIE, in presenting this Report, said,-Had there been time to go into this subject, I would perhaps have taken the liberty of doing so at considerable length. The Assembly has had various important matters before it, but none more so than that now to be taken up,-I mean the Report in regard to Popery. Had I been free to say all I would have liked to say on the subject, I might have taken the liberty of referring to the pretensions of Popery, and to the reports put out by its friends regarding its progress in this country, I might have spoken also regarding the alarm that is felt in some quarters in reference to the spread of Popery, as if it were really making converts at a rapid rate,-I might have spoken of the various means which are adopted in this country and elsewhere for counteracting Popery, for meeting it as the mystery of iniquity, and for doing what is right to defend the truth, and prevent the spread of error,I might have spoken of the lectures which are being delivered; and I might have spoken of the increase of Popish publications, and of the various plans for extending those publications. I pass, however, from these details, to the mention of what has been done by this Committee. I think, in the facts I am now going to submit, we have at least got some encouragement. We thought it was best, in the first place, to be informed as to the facts of the case. A circular was sent to the Presbyteries of the Church to ascertain how far the errors of Popery were really spreading. Now, from seventy-one Presbyteries, we regret to have to say, we have only got forty-nine returns. There are consequently, in this way, a good many defaulters; and we have yet to learn the state of Popery in a large portion of the kingdom. But from forty-nine Presbyteries we have got answers to the queries sent out; and I have now to state, as the genera

result, that there is no doubt but that there has been a very considerable increase of Popery in this country, but it is so far satisfactory to be able to add, that this is not in consequence of conversions from Protestantism, but from the importation and influx of Irish labourers. Over the country generally the answers bear us out in saying that the conversions are few indeed, and that the increase has been occasioned by the cause we have now mentioned. Another cause of increase is very partial, but still it exists to some extent, namely, the intermarriages of Roman Catholics with Protestants, when it very commonly happens that the Protestant is carried to the Roman Catholics, rather than the Catholic to the Protestants. These returns mention individual instances of parties having turned to Popery in that way, while, on the other hand, some cases are mentioned in which the Romanist has been brought to the Protestant Church; but I am not sure that I can attach any numerical value to the increase from that quarter. The object to which our attention has been anxiously turned is the increase arising from the importation of the Irish, which has gone to a very large extent. It is said, for instance, that in and about Edinburgh, there are at present somewhere about 20,000 people from Ireland, and a large proportion of these belonging to the Popish persuasion. The means which this Committee have been enabled to adopt have been very limited, but I am glad to be able to say that in this city a society has been formed-or rather an old society has been revived, having for its object the doing of good to the Roman Catholics amongst us. This is not an institution connected with the Free Church, and I speak of it merely as an agency employed in this city against Popery. It has at the head of its operations a gentleman who was formerly a Roman Catholic priest, and was for some time stationed in the Glens of Antrim, from which he was driven by persecution, and found an asylum here, and is now engaged by the Society as superintendent of the measures they have adopted. Under him there are five Scripture-readers, who itinerate through the city, read the Scriptures, and communicate religious knowledge to the Catholic population. This, I think, is a sphere of labour from which, with the blessing of God, we may expect good; and it is exceedingly desirable that something of this kind was adopted in connection with the churches not merely in Edinburgh, where there are 20,000 Roman Catholics, or in Dundee, where there are 10,000, but also in Glasgow, where there are I do not know how many, inasmuch as we have got no return of the number. In looking at the historical aspects of the case, it is instructive to notice how this insinuating heresy has spread within our border. In a publication which emanated from a priest at Rome, in the year 1844, giving an account of our Disruption, suited for the latitude of Italy, and adapting things, as much as possible, to the principles which prevailed there, an account is given of Presbyterianism, which shows that Rome despairs of making inroads against sound Presbyterianism. On the other hand, when I have to say that, in the year 1611, it was found there was only one old priest in Scotland, and, now, instead of one we have a good number of hundreds, who are watching most assiduously the movements of Protestant Churches, and doing all they can to weaken our position and strengthen their own, the time is fully come when some active energetic measures should be devised, and amongst many blessings our Church has conferred on Scotland, and, I may say, on Christendom, this would not rank among the least, were some energetic and Christian measures adopted for enlightening the country in regard to the real nature of the heresy-for a heresy I call it, and not the truth as it is in Jesus. I promised to be brief, but as I have spoken of Popery historically, I may also refer to it geographically. Scotland, in reference to Popery, may be divided into three districts. The thoroughly reformed district of Scotland is in the west country, where until the influx of the Irish, the heresy was unknown. In those districts which were partially reformed, instead of getting clear out of the errors of Popery, they fell into Prelacy, and stuck fast in that error. That section does not lie in Aberdeen, but about Aberdeen, and included with that, is Dumfries. Then there is the thoroughly Papistical district, into which the Reformation never penetrated. There is one valley, for instance, in which there are 1200 Romanists, nearly the entire population. Therefore in that way we have three sections of the country in which Popery exists in different degrees. It would be well that the

Church should turn her attention to this matter, and devise some means for introducing light into those places which are still more or less in darkness. I have brought two or three returns only, as specimens. In the returns from the Presbytery of Ayr, in answer to the 8th question, "Any other particulars?" it is stated, "The only additional point to which reference should be made here, is the point concerning the increase of Popery. As a general remark, that increase during late years has not been such as to arrest particular attention. That Popery, however, is on the increase within our bounds, there can be little doubt; but the source of this increase is always to be borne in mind. It arises not from among the native population of Ayrshire, but from the emigrant population from Ireland. The increase of Popery in this district of Scotland is satisfactorily explained by the increase of the floating Irish population, who are seeking a shelter in its small towns and villages. Romanism, therefore, may be expected to increase in Ayrshire, just in the same ratio as that portion of the population increases which is drawn from the south and other Popish districts of the sister kingdom." That is a statement of the fact, and an explanation of it. I hold in my hand another extract from the Presbytery of Dunkeld, which states, that when "the priests became aware of the children of Popish parents being sent to the parish school and learned to read the Bible, though they had a house and garden, with a good glebe, all rent free, yet they chose to remove from this parish and to take up their residence in Perth and Dundee, and the chapel is now turned into a barn." The Presbytery of Fordyce, in reply to the question, " Do nominal Protestants in any case allow their children to attend Popish schools?" says, Generally without scruple." (Hear, hear.) Now, that is a very strange statement; I have no doubt it is true, however, for it is given on the authority of the Clerk of the Presbytery of Fordyce. It announces the very startling fact, that men called Protestants, and professing to hold the principles of the truth as it is in Jesus, without scruple allow their children to attend Popish schools. In answer to the question, "Can you mention any facts as to conversions from Protestantism to Popery, or the reverse?" it is stated by the Presbytery of Inverness, that "any conversions that have taken place on principle seem to be in favour of Protestantism,-of these are three or four hoped well of by members of Presbytery. There are several instances of conversion, through intermarriages, to Popery." From these facts, and others I could mention, I think we are justified in believing that the alleged increase of Popery is not an actual increase. At the same time, while it is not an actual increase, still there is sufficient ground for alarm. Who knows not the ability of Popery to corrupt human nature? Who that has regarded it in that light may not be permitted greatly to fear that at every opening it will walk in; and we all know that wherever it walks into, it blights and destroys the soul of man. (Applause.) These are the facts which I have to submit to the Assembly. As I wished to be short, perhaps the exposition has been imperfect, but I now leave the matter in the Assembly's hands.

66

Mr DAVIDSON said, he never heard so much interesting matter contained in a Report of such small dimensions, and he had much pleasure in proposing that the Assembly approve of the Report, that the Committee be re-appointed, and that the Assembly promise to give all encouragement to the efforts which were making to meet this great and increasing evil.

Mr BURNS seconded the motion, which, after some conversation in reference to the answers from the Presbytery of Fordyce, was agreed to in the following form. "The Assembly appprove of the diligence of the Committee; re-appoint them, Mr Tweedie, Convener, with instructions to use all prudent methods for keeping this subject before the Church, and to adopt such measures as they may judge fit for furthering the great object which the Church ought to have in view as protesting against all antichristian errors. The Assembly instruct them to direct their special attention to those districts of the country where large portions of the native population belong to the Roman Catholic persuasion; and further, they add to the Committee the name of Dr M'Kay."

Leave was granted to the Presbytery of Edinburgh to meet in this place at the rising of this diet, with a view of appointing one of their number to intimate to St George's Congregation the deliverance of the General Assembly on Saturday last, in reference to Dr Candlish. The Assembly then adjourned till the evening.

EVENING SEDERUNT.

The Assembly resumed this evening at seven o'clock. After the reading of the minutes, it was agreed, on the motion of Mr Dunlop, advocate, to appoint a small Committee to answer Dr Brown's reasons of dissent from Dr Cunningham's motion on the subject of the extension of Divinity Halls, if they saw necessary.

CERTIFICATE OF BONA FIDE ELDERSHIP.

The Assembly then took up an overture from the Presbytery of Perth anent bona fide certificates of representative elders.

The Rev. Mr THOMSON of Pitcairngreen moved its adoption, and explained that the object in view was to produce greater strictness and regularity in the matter of granting certificates by Presbyteries, and to do this the overture proposed that each of these commissioned elders should be bona fide acting elders, and should be so ratified. He moved that the matter be remitted to a small Committee to see it carried into effect.

Mr CARMENT urged in reference to the overture, that it was impracticable on all occasions to carry out the regulations proposed. It was all very well for Presbyteries to certify parties as bona fide acting elders, whom they were acquainted with in their own districts, but in all cases it was impossible that they could say that the individuals were acting elders. For example, he could not for his own part certify their worthy legal adviser Mr Dunlop as an acting elder. (Hear, heur.)

Mr DUNLOP did not wish to oppose the overture, but he could not help remarking, that he saw difficulties in the way of carrying it practically out. He did not see that there was the same stringency necessary now, as formerly existed, when they were connected with another Assembly, a large number of the elders to which pretended to be acting elders. It was to check the admission of these elders, that the Act of Assembly was deemed necessary, knowing how readily Presbyterial certificates were granted. He was free to confess, however, that in the Free Church Assembly the evil had scarcely extended at all, and while he did not oppose the overture, he rather apprehended that the practical difficulties in the way would not by it be removed. The motion was agreed to.

The Assembly thereupon appointed a Committee to consider the subject of the Overture, and to report to the Assembly at a future diet.

OVERTURE ANENT TRANSLATIONS OF MINISTERS.

Dr BROWN introduced an overture on this subject from Aberdeen Presbytery. He said the impression was strong on his mind that there was, particularly since the Free Church had come forth from the Establishment, a very great evil attending the frequent breaking of the pastoral tie, and that frequent translations were attended with evil consequences. There was nothing more solemn than the act by which the pastoral tie was established,-nothing more solemn and binding on the minister and on the people,-nothing that spoke more directly to their consciences than this most important and great act,—and if it was to be frequently repeated,if men were made sensible that when it was gone through by a Presbytery with all the solemnity which accompanies it, that the probability was that it would not be of long duration, it was perfectly obvious that it must appear in a very different light to them from that in which the Church of our fathers intended it to appear. Under these circumstances, the connection as between the people and their minister must be regarded as a very mean connection indeed, and the duties thereby imposed as in reality of very little importance. The very consideration that this tie might soon be broken, and a man socn removed to another charge, must tend to represent it to their minds as something very like a solemn farce through which they have been going. It must, on the one hand, be most painful to a man who takes upon him those vows and obligations with no intention of permanently carrying them out in the providence of God; and, on the other hand, it must suggest to the people the idea that the tie between them and their pastor is not so solemn and binding as hitherto they have been disposed to regard it. Hence, then, it might suggest to the people, if the minister might so easily rid himself of those obligations, they were not to consider themselves as so bound up by them, and thus the minister's influence for good become weakened, the people would not take the same interest in his minis

« السابقةمتابعة »