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duce of the Associations and the church-door collections put together, but it recommends that this Fund shall be provided out of those offerings which, through the Associations, or otherwise, may be expressly and specifically devoted to this object. I took the liberty of stating in the conference this morning, the objections that occur to me as fatal in the plan proposed in the motion of Mr Hay. In the first place, that plan involves the entire abandonment of the method which the Church has been prosecuting for five years. It implies the introduction of a new system altogether; and when we consider that we have now for five years been steadily and systematically labouring to get our people to understand the method adopted, to get them to sympathize with it, to get them to promote and sustain it,-it is impossible for any man not to see how fatal the effect must be on the Fund if such a change as Mr Hay's motion proposes were to be effected. Our people would feel that they knew not what the Church would have them to do, and that they never could have any confidence in its plans and proceedings; and they would lose confidence in the direction under which such proceedings were taken, and would cease to support it. (Hear, hear.) But I object to that plan, in the next place, because, however some men may think of it, however, in the abstract, it may appear to some men expedient, -it is manifestly a plan in which you would have the concurrence of a very large proportion of our people. I do not enter at all into the question of the competency of legislation upon this subject. I can quite well understand how this Assembly might legislate upon the subject, in a way within the limit of which it would be a strong thing to say that that legislation was incompetent. It might legislate merely to the effect of saying, this is the channel through which we desire that the contributions to this Fund should flow; but of this I am confident, that were the Assembly to legislate to the effect of prescribing the channel proposed to be dug by Mr Hay of Whiterigg, we should find marvellously little in the way of income flowing through it. (Hear.) The effect would be to dry up, to a large extent, the stream of liberality through which the outward support of the Church is now maintained. But again, Sir,-and this last objection appears to me to be perhaps the strongest and the most conclusive of all,—my third objection to Mr Hay's motion is this, that in gaining the churchdoor collections as a great branch, an understood permanent branch, of the revenue of this Fund, we should acquire the advantage at the expense of very soon destroying the other branch of the revenue of this Fund altogether. It may seem that things would continue as they are, that after you have determined to combine these two streams, nevertheless the individual branches of which these united streams are to be made up would continue each of them as before. There could not by possibility be a greater fallacy. We know how difficult it is, even when acting on the present system, to keep up the machinery by which the Fund is maintained in operation. It is a complicated, a laborious work by which the Fund is supported. We have Deacons' Courts, Collectors, and Associations, and all their monthly movements among our congregations; we have all these to sustain, in order to support that branch of the revenue on which the Fund at present is dependent; and all these various parties might have then to say, we need no longer continue all this elaborate machinery,--we need no longer put ourselves to all this toil and trouble,-the plate at the churchdoor can now receive our offerings, we can now, without trouble to any one, give what we are disposed to contribute,-I say, if you present to the body of the Church such considerations as these, it is only needful to remember what human nature is, and how difficult it is to keep it up to the point of self-denying exertion in any cause; it is only necessary to remember what human nature is, to see how speedily you will be left to depend entirely upon what you may receive from the church-door collections. (Hear, hear.) Reference has been made to the opinion of the great founder of this Fund in regard to this question. Nothing, Sir, do I remember better than the intense feeling which Dr Chalmers had of the absolute necessity, in order to the safety of this Fund, that it should have only one source of support,- -one well-defined, prominent, outstanding source of support, and that all our people might be put in a position in which it might be said of them, and said to them, if you really wish to support the

Fund, and through it the Free Church of Scotland, on a national scale, here is the way in which it is to be done. That they should be brought into the position of not being able to evade this consideration, and the obligation connected with it, by seeing some other way, some loose and indefinite method of doing the same thing, Dr Chalmers referred, as the foundation of his argument, to two texts of Scripture, one of which bore on the supporting of the minister of a congregation; and the other on the supporting of the collective body of the Church. The one text is, "Let him that is taught in the Word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things." There, said he, is an appeal to the conscience of every Christian, an appeal to which every Christian conscience will respond; -leave that text to fall with its due effect, and to produce its proper result. The other text is this:-" Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Here is an appeal to the conscience of the Christian to turn his thoughts abroad on the collective body of the Church to which he belongs, and this is a text to remind him that there may be a lack in other congregations which his abundance may help to supply. On these grounds, and without further detaining the Assembly on this point, I was never more clear on any question I have been called to consider than I am on this, that it is the duty, aye, I will say the safety, of the Free Church of Scotland to maintain the existing, to go on as we have been doing, leaving congregations in the exercise of their full Christian liberty to discharge their duty towards their own individual pastors; but in regard to the Central Fund, proceeding, as we now do, upon one well-defined, well-understood system of support. (Hear, hear.) But the next point in the Report is in regard to the distribution of this Fund. Allowing that we are to continue the collecting of the Fund, the constituting of the Fund, according to the method now in use, how is it to be distributed? Is it on the principle of an equal dividend to all ordained ministers? or on the principle upon which those ministers are paid who have been settled under the regulations of the act of Assembly 1844? I believe there is no one who will think it advisable to keep up both of these plans, namely, to have some of the ministers of the Church paid on the principle of an equal dividend, and some paid on the one-and-a-half more. I believe none will think it desirable to perpetuate a system that will perpetuate a distinction of this kind amongst our ministers. (Hear.) When this one-and-half more system was introduced, as is well known, by the lamented founder of the Fund, Dr Chalmers, it was with the intention of ultimately putting all the ministers of the Church on this system, and of paying them according to this plan. Now I think it is hardly needful to argue against this alteration,-against putting all ministers on the footing of those settled under act of 1844. To do so would just be, it humbly appears to me, to lower the character of the Fund altogether. It would present our appeal made in behalf of it, under the aspect of selfishness; for the minister would be virtually coming to his people on the footing that, whatever they gave, he was to profit in a corresponding degree by their exertions. (Hear, hear.) It is not necessary, I believe, to argue against this alternative; and the only question is, Ought we to continue the two-fold system, leaving the bulk and body of the ministers on the equal dividend; and a certain number of them on the principle of one-and-a-half more, The Special Committee are of opinion, that the same consideration that would condemn the bringing of the whole ministry into that position, condemns the retaining of any portion of the ministry in that position. (Hear, hear.) If it would be a bad arrangement for the whole body of the ministry, it must be also a bad arrangement for any section of the ministry; indeed, it is in some sense worse for a section than for the whole, because it puts that section in an invidious position. (Hear, hear.) And this brings me a step farther on in the question. Are we, on the supposition that we should be of opinion that the plan of the equal dividend from the Central Fund is the right one, the plan to be adopted and followed,-are we to transfer the ministers on the one-and-half system to the equal dividend summarily and all at once? That is an important practical question. Allow me to say, that I should have rejoiced with my whole heart if the Fund had been in a position this day in which we could have safely made that arrangement,-blotted out, as it were, that anomaly

from our financial system. I should have rejoiced from the bottom of my heart if the Fund had been in a position to make this safe and prudent. I do not think that, in present circumstances, it would be safe and prudent to take such a step. There are just now seventy-two such ministers upon the Fund. There are sixty-seven of them who have been at least for one year on that Fund. It was explained in the conference what their position at this moment, financially considered, is. It was explained, that, according to that system, ten of them are actually drawing a greater income from the Central Fund than those ministers who are on the equal dividend,-that ten of them derive, according to the present plan, an income of £150 a year; that forty receive an income, according to this plan, of upwards of £100 a year; that fifty-three receive, according this plan, of upwards of £80; and that only the remainder are below that sum. Of course, the stipends of that remainder are made up to £80 from the Home Mission Fund. Now, I rejoice in this state of matters. So far as appears to me, it furnishes a reason why we should not, or at least need not, be in great haste to make a change. The circumstances in which these esteemed brethren are now placed under that system, appear to me to be such that we may with greater comfort proceed deliberately in bringing about the arrangement at which we should wish the Church ultimately to arrive. What would be the effect of our at once transferring the seventy-two ministers on to the equal dividend? The effect of course, would be to reduce the equal dividend considerably; and, in estimating how far that reduction would go, you are not to consider merely the difference between the amount derived from the congregations of the seventytwo ministers and the amount that would be necessary to pay them the equal dividend, the merely arithmetical difference is not the criterion by which to determine the effect which their being put on the equal dividend would produce. We know that, under the artificial system upon which these ministers are placed, there is at this moment sent up to the Sustentation Fund a sum of money constituting a large proportion of the whole, which is not to be derived from the Associations of their congregations,-not derived from what might be called a steady, regular source of income,--but is made up of seat-rents, special collections, or in some other adventitious way. Now, it is impossible not to see, that if you remove these congregations which have been showing this earnest and laudable desire to see their ministers enjoying something of a decent maintenance, by bringing them at once on the equal dividend, the amount sent up from these people may suddenly, or at least temporarily, fall, so that the income derived from them next year may be very considerably inferior to that of the year which has just run its course. Now, how would this operate on the general interests of the Fund? I believe the best friends of the Fund throughout the Church feel that much is due to the ministers of the Disruption, and especially to those of them who occupy country charges; and I believe it would be offensive to the great body of the most liberal of our people, if we were to make any arrangement in this Assembly which would either postpone or obstruct the efforts they are making to raise the incomes of the ministers of the Disruption to the point at which they ought to be supported; and it might prove discouraging also to others who are struggling to get the Sustentation Fund advanced, were the Assembly to adopt a measure by which their efforts would be neutralised, and the income they are seeking to raise would be in point of fact depressed. These are considerations, partly moral and partly financial, which appear to me to press materially in favour of the regulation which the Report embodies, that the transferring of these seventy-two ministers to the equal dividend should be not per saltum, but by a gradual process. (Hear, hear.) This is the ultimate landing-place; but we must arrive at it not by a leap taken without respect to the damage that may be done in the mean time to the interests of the Sustentation Fund, but by a cautious and well-considered system. The next point in the Report refers to the question of supplements. It is to this subject the motion of Mr Hay almost exclusively refers. I have already indicated my opinion that this is a matter in regard to which the less legislation that this Assembly employs the better. But I am free, at the same time, to confess that something in the way of legislation is necessary, and necessary, not merely in one direction,

but in two directions,-necessary not merely for the purpose of restraining some congregations from giving too large a supplement to their ministers, but necessary in the way of stimulating other congregations to give supplements larger than they are now doing. (Hear, hear.) I believe that if legislation is needful in the one way, it is needful also in the other. Now, in regard to legislation in the direction of correcting the disproportion betwixt the supplements and the contributions to the Central Fund, the Report recommends substantially this, that the Sustentation Fund Committee shall be authorised or instructed by the Assembly to call the attention of Presbyteries to every case in which it appears to the Committee that there is a manifest and unbecoming disproportion between the largeness of the supplements and the smallness of the contributions to the Sustentation Fund; and, further, that the Committee be empowered, if the result of the inquiry instituted by the Presbytery renders it necessary, to bring the case under the immediate eye of the Assembly. I greatly approve of this method of dealing with the case individually, and according to its individual merits, in preference to passing any sweeping general law. I believe there is no general regulation that could be adopted bearing on all the cases, that would not be found to operate as a grievance and oppression in individual instances; because I am free to confess that there are cases of congregations whose ministers at the Disruption may have sacrificed large stipends, or the minister, it may be, has a large family depending on him; and I for one confess that I would consider as proper and laudable the liberality of the people to a minister in these circumstances, even although they were not able to make a very large contribution to the Sustentation Fund, and I would dislike anything that would come in the way of their duty to their minister. It appears to me that this matter can be better dealt with just according to the merits of individual cases, the Sustentation Fund Committee keeping a vigilant eye on the returns of each congregation; and when anything wrong seems to exist, calling the attention of the Presbytery of the bounds to that wrong, and, if necessary, bringing the parties doing the wrong under the eye and under the consideration of the General Assembly. If such a method be faithfully followed, --if it be followed in the spirit of Christian kindness, dealing faithfully with the consciences of the parties concerned,-instances of this kind will become fewer and fewer every year, till they at length, by God's blessing, are found entirely to disappear. (Hear.) But I have said that legislation is necessary in another direction, on the subject of supplements. Many Deacons' Courts have a very inadequate impression of their duty in regard to supplementing the stipends of their ministers. It appears to me that many Deacons' Courts seem to have considered the church-door collections to be the Fund from which they might draw the resources necessary for a great variety of objects; and that if, after all these were met, there remained anything over, then the question came to be, whether that should be given to the minister. In a word, they made the consideration of the minister's supplement the last question, whereas, in my judgment, it ought to be the first question. (Hear, hear.) In the language of the Report, I would have a declaratory act framed and adopted by the Assembly, by which it might be made known," that the main and primary object of churchdoor collections is the supplementing of the minister's stipend ;" this being, of course, done in harmony with the meeting of the current expenses of the congregation. There is another question which is most material, and that is, that steps should be taken in regard to the sanctioning of new charges, and the filling up of vacant charges. In regard to the sanctioning of new charges, I think the Assembly will be of opinion that it is of the utmost consequence we should proceed with caution. Sir, it is all very well to talk of the importance of extending the Church; but if we extend the Church at the expense of weakening the Church, are we really serving the cause which the Church has been set up to advance? I will just put a case. We are in receipt at this moment from Dr Duff of information to the effect, that along the banks of the Hooghly there are twelve, fifteen, or twenty stations ripe for a mission, had we the men and the money. These stations are so many open doors awaiting those who shall enter in. Now, if we were to adopt the plan of extending our mission, which we have


been following in extending our Church at home, we might no doubt enter a great many of these doors at this moment; but as we would require just to start with the funds presently at our command, we would send forth more missionaries, just at the expense of starving the men who are already employed in the missionary field. We would be thus doing an act of great injustice, on which we could not expect the blessing of God, and which would, ere long, destroy the missionary enterprise altogether. Now, if that argument is good and conclusive in regard to our foreign missions, is it not equally good and conclusive in regard to the Church, as our home mission? (Hear, hear.) If we would not fall into the danger I have now described, we must take care and not proceed rashly with the sanctioning of new charges. What I would like to see the Church do on this subject would be, the laying down of the principle that £150 a-year is necessary as the minimum provision for her ordained ministers, and that the Church should be extended in harmony with this principle. When we have, through the grace of God and the liberality of our people, the means of supporting more pastors in this very limited and moderate way, we shall extend our Church; but we should not grasp at this extension of the Church at the expense of impoverishing and weakening our existing institution. Now, what the Report recommends is to provide that all applications for the sanctioning of new charges shall in future be brought before the Commission of Assembly in March, -that the Commission shall lay these applications before the Home Mission Committee and the Sustentation Fund Committee, that these two Committees may have an opportunity, in the interval betwixt the months of March and May, of calmly and intelligently considering the fitness of these applications, and giving to the Assembly, when it convenes, an enlightened opinion on the subject. (Hear.) I believe that for the want of such a preparatory process, the Assembly has been led to sanction charges which, if it were to do again, I am well persuaded would not be done. In regard to the filling up of vacant charges, it appears to me indispensable, as the Report signifies, that whenever a charge becomes vacant, either by death, or by removal of the incumbent to another charge, at the same time the question ought to be held an open question as to the charge being continued or no. Many circumstances may occur in the course of a minister's incumbency, to render it highly inexpedient to continue a particular charge. The population may to a large extent have withdrawn from the district, and other circumstances may arise to render that inexpedient at one time which might be highly expedient at another. But, more than that, it is well known that at the time of the Disruption the mere circumstance that the minister of a parish left the Establishment, and a certain number of people left along with him, was considered a full and sufficient reason for constituting in that parish a ministerial charge. It was right and necessary at the time that this should be done; but we are not bound to maintain all these charges. The time, I believe, has already come when it will be wise and prudent to consider, whether some of the charges sanctioned in these circumstances ought not to be either suppressed or amalgamated. I believe that one or other of these two things, in a number of instances, might be done with great advantage to the Church, and no disadvantage to the spiritual interests of the people concerned. (Hear.) On such grounds as these, the Sustentation Committee is of opinion, that whenever a charge becomes vacant, the question should be held an open question, Is that charge to be perpetuated on the footing of having a settled and ordained pastor? No doubt, in most cases such a question would be raised only in point of form, and not in point of fact; but it is important that it should be well understood, that it is a competent question to be entertained and settled at the occurrence of every vacancy. (Hear.) So much in regard to the sanctioning of new charges. There is one other point in regard to an allowance for the retirement of ministers, which has already been brought under the attention of the Assembly by Dr M'Farlan. I am sure that the whole Assembly and the whole Church will approve of the recommendations on this subject which the Report contains. It is well known that there are in the bounds of the Free Church Christian-minded individuals desirous of leaving some memorial of their affection for the Free Church of Scotland. We do not think it advisable that

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