صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

cases, especially in large towns, in which the fact-and that was the whole that was brought out by these returns-of ministers receiving from their congregations as much, or even more, in the way of supplement than was given by them to the General Sustentation Fund, afforded no proof or evidence whatever of any narrow-mindedness or selfishness on the part of either minister or people. There were circumstances which fully justified such cases. A considerable number of the cases referred to were those of ministers in this town. He did not pronounce an opinion upon any particular case, but there were circumstances which the Church ought to keep in view. Without referring to existing cases, as an illustration he might refer to his own case, or rather what would probably have been his own case, were it not that through the kindness of his brethren in the Church he had been placed in a situation in which he enjoyed an income certainly far superior to his deserts when compared to that of many of his brethren. Had it not been for that, his case as pastor of a congregation in this city would probably have been of this nature. He came out with his congregation at the Disruption, and sacrificed his income as a city minister. His congregation was not large, and was not wealthy. If he had continued to be pastor of it, he thought it would be very likely-it was a mere guess however, for it had never been tried-that they might have raised £300 altogether for the support of a gospel ministry. Now, he would just put it to the Church, supposing that were the case, would there be anything very unreasonable, very monstrous, or very atrocious, or that would indicate any very extraordinary amount of selfishness either on his part or that of the congregation, if, after remaining in Edinburgh as pastor of a congregation, and after having sacrificed his stipend, and if his congregation were able to raise only £300 a-year for the support of a gospel ministry, they were to give him £180 of this sum, to make up his income to £300, and then to hand over the remaining £120 to the Sustentation Fund, which was the sum he would receive from it? He did not think that there would; and there were many such analogous cases, especially in large towns. These considerations ought to be kept in view by the Assembly; and it ought also to be remembered that the general interests of the Free Church were involved in their ministers having comfortable incomes; and not merely, as some were too apt to suppose, the interests of individual ministers. (Hear, hear.) He hoped that the Church would see that the mere fact of a congregation giving as much, or more, to their minister than they gave to the Sustentation Fund, apart from the special circumstances of the case, did not necessarily involve anything offensive or discreditable on the part either of minister or congregation.

Mr DEWAR of Perth, hoped that his brother elders would withdraw their motion. The Church ought, however, to act more on the principle of shoulder to shoulder, and share and share alike,-not that the ministers living in rural districts ought to have as large incomes as those residing in the metropolis and in large towns, seeing that the expense of living was greater in the latter than in the former. He suggested that it would be desirable that the collectors for the Sustentation Fund were more recognised than they at present were, and thought that it was of essential importance that greater encouragement should be given to them. He had also another suggestion to make, namely, that if there was no legal impediment in the way, a very large annual saving might be made on the mode of insurance, if an understanding were come to that the Church should become the insurer of her own property. In reference to the distribution of the Sustentation Fund, he wished that the learned Principal had shown the same sympathy in regard to the outed ministers as he had done for the one-and-a-half class. Some of those who were parish ministers had sacrificed large stipends, and he knew of some, who, notwithstanding, received no supplement at all.

Dr CANDLISH rose to express his thorough agreement with the remarks which fell from Dr Cunningham. As a minister of a large town, he (Dr Candlish) spoke in reference to the extreme importance of having the congregations of their large towns, irrespective of the difference in their circumstances, somewhat equally supplied with ministers of high standing. Before the Disruption, by means of the endowments provided by the State, they were able to command the services in

Edinburgh of Christian ministers of high standing for a considerable number of congregations. They had now no such security from any State endowment, and, in these circumstances, it seemed to him to be very dangerous to interpose any obstacle in the way of what was absolutely necessary for attaining in Edinburgh, and other large towns, the same benefit that they formerly secured by means of the endowments of the State. (Hear, hear.) It was altogether a mistake to imagine that they could possibly do this in a large town like this if a minister's claim to be supplemented was to be anything like the proportion of what congregations might respectively raise for the Sustentation Fund. A congregation consisting of the poorer and humbler classes ought to have a minister nearly, if not equally, of the high standing of a congregation consisting of the better classes of the community, otherwise it would very soon come to pass that they would lose the benefit of having in large towns those men of standing and ability, as well as of spiritual gifts, who would be alone competent to face and grapple with the manifold evil tendencies of the age. (Hear, hear.) He made these remarks, because he thought that there was a danger in the Church allowing herself to be run away with by any such comparison as was instituted on the part of their friends from the south in the returns they contrasted.

Mr OGILVIE again rose to say, that he had been engaged in writing out a motion substantially embodying Dr Cunningham's proposed modification of the Committee's plan of gradually abolishing the one-and-a-half regulation, just before Dr Cunningham had come to that part of his speech, not as being the best he could wish, but as being free from the principal objection which he felt to the Committee's plan, namely, the indefiniteness of the period at which the gradual abolition was to commence. His motion contained substantially the modification suggested by Mr Brodie, that the ministers who came under the one-and-a-half regulation in 1844-5 should this ensuing year be freed from its operation, those in 1845-6 freed the next year, and so on, whilst ministers ordained after this Assembly should come under its operations till 1852, when the last of those previously under it shall have been freed from it; and Mr O. stated, that if this modification be made, he would withdraw his opposition.

Mr HAY, in reply, said, that at one time he felt disposed to withdraw his motion, but that since he had heard the remarks made by Dr Cunningham, and his statement about what might have taken place in his own congregation of sending only £120 to the Sustentation Fund, and retaining £180 for supplementing their minister, he must press it. He begged to thank the reverend Principal for the kind way in which he had mentioned the Presbytery of Selkirk, and he also desired to thank the house for the manner in which they had received his statement.

Dr CUNNINGHAM certainly never intended that the observations which fell from him should have had the effect of making Mr Hay proceed to a division, but the very opposite. As his friend must have misunderstood him, he begged to state that he had no intention of representing the cases which had been referred to as a desirable state of things. He had merely referred to them to show that they could not be taken as evidence of extreme selfishness on the part of either ministers or congregations. He would fain hope that they would not be under the necessity of proceeding to a division.

Several members pressed Mr Hay to withdraw his motion; but the honourable gentleman declined to withdraw it.

Mr J. F. MACFARLAN said that he was rather inclined to proceed to a vote, in order to test the feeling of the house.

Mr HAY said, that as it seemed to be the strong feeling of the house that he should withdraw his motion, he was ready to do so.

Mr M. M. CRICHTON and another member objected to the withdrawal of the motion.

The roll was then called, when there voted, for Mr Hay's motion, 4; for Dr Euchanan's amendment, 176; majority for the amendment, 172.

A Committee was then named for the purpose mentioned in the amendment.



The Assembly resumed this evening at half-past seven o'clock, and was constituted as usual with devotional exercises.


Dr BEGG, Convener, said,—I shall endeavour to comprise the Report which, on the part of the Committee on the Home Mission or Church Extension Scheme, I have to give in, within as brief limits as possible. We are persuaded that the miscellaneous nature of what is comprised under the general name "Home Mission," prevents many of the brethren from fully understanding the existing arrangements of your Committee. We beg, therefore, at the very outset, to remind the brethren that there are four Committees which are all connected with the Home Missions, and which many imagine to be all combined under the general name, "Home Mission, or Church Extension Committee," but they are not so combined at present. These Committees are, in the first place, the Home Mission Committee proper, whose special business it is to support the licentiates and catechists that are employed in the different stations throughout the Church. Then there is what is called the Distributing Committee, whose special business it is to fix places in which these men that are supported shall labour. Then there is the Gaelic Committee, whose duty it is to bestow special attention on the state of the Highlands and Islands. Last of all, there is the Committee on Evangelistic Deputations, whose business it is to superintend the efforts which are made from summer to summer in the way of preaching the gospel amongst the masses of our countrymen in the more neglected districts. These four Committees are at present all separate, and have all separate Conveners. Our Home Mission Committee, properly so called, has only to do at present as to the support of, and correspondence with, the preachers and catechists employed throughout the Church. I may mention, that during the last year, we employed at one time as many as 110 probationers and 116 catechists. At present we have in our employment only 91 probationers and 93 catechists. In order to give the Church, and to give ourselves, a somewhat definite idea of the field already occupied by the Free Church, and of the field remaining to be occupied, I may mention, that, very soon after the rising of last Assembly, we employed means for getting up a complete set of statistics, regarding all the missionary stations. With that view we issued a circular, containing a variety of heads, under which we desired information from the persons connected with each of these stations. After some difficulty we obtained returns from almost the whole of them, and these returns I now hold in my hand. They are bound in a volume with a regular index, and will be deposited in the Office of the Free Church here, from which any of our brethren may at any time obtain complete information in regard to the origin, the state and prospects, of every one of the existing stations in which we employ labourers. Then, in order to know how many parishes are altogether untouched as yet by the Free Church, we issued a second circular, requesting information in regard to every parish within the different Presbyteries in which no Free Church or station at present existed. We also have bound these returns in a volume; and you will observe that these two volumes together contain pretty full information, first of all in regard to the land already occupied, and in the second place, although far more imperfectly, in regard to the tion of Scotland on which as yet we have made no impression. Perhaps it may be interesting to mention at the same time, that for the purpose of making these two books of statistics intelligible, we got a map made, by the kindness, in the first place, of one of the elders of the Church, who made a skeleton map of Scotland on the largest scale; and, in the second place, one of our ministers, who is peculiarly handy at making maps-(a laugh)—filled in the different returns to which I have alluded. (The reverend Doctor having produced the map, proceeded to say,)—This is the result. You have here a representation-a visible representation-of the Free Church of Scotland as it at present stands. (Applause.) You observe we have churches and stations throughout the whole kingdom; and I may mention, for the sake of explanation, that if you were nearer to examine, which I do not desire at present (a laugh)—you would find that these marks are of four kinds. We have


a full circle for a full charge; we have a half-moon to represent a station, making it possible for us, when the station is elevated into a charge, to represent it by filling up the moon, and to make it into the condition of a Church. (Laughter.) We have a peculiar mark to indicate the quoad sacra churches; and another mark to represent the Parliamentary churches. I may mention that these documents will remain in the Office of the Church; and I have no doubt but that they will be regarded as very curious in another generation. I may say, in passing, it has always occurred to me that it would be of great importance, not only to have such a map as this for the whole kingdom, but similar maps representing every city and district in the kingdom, and to have smaller maps connected with the Colonial and other Committees. Now, I will give you an idea of the result of these investigations. In the first place, in regard to those districts of the country in which we have already stations and churches, I may mention that our stations at present are 96 in number, and that our sanctioned charges under the Home Mission Committee are 28. Of these stations there were opened in 1843, 44; in 1844, 11; in 1845, 12; in 1846, 10; and in 1847, 14; making together, 96 stations in all. In regard to our adherents at these stations, so far as appears from the returns, they amount to nearly 70,000; at the same time, the statistics under this head are not very distinct, inasmuch as sometimes old and young are counted irrespectively, and at other times only sitters. Then, in regard to the geographical surface of Scotland occupied by stations in connection with the Home Mission, I may mention that it would appear that upwards of 400,000 square miles of territory are at present under the superintendence of our Home Mission agents. The statements made in regard to the actual state of the population, so superintended, are very various. Generally speaking, our agents state that the people are in a very low moral and religious condition; that great masses of them seem to attend no places of worship; and that intemperance, Sabbathbreaking, and great deadness in spiritual things, are complained of in many of these districts. At the same time, it is not my intention to enter very fully into those statistics here. Then, in regard to the second class of statistics, I may mention that there are a number of parishes in Scotland in which the Free Church have neither churches nor stations. The number of such parishes is 232. I do not mean to say it was our determination or purpose in getting up those statistics to aim at the establishment of a Free Church in every individual parish in Scotland. There may be reasons why, in some small parishes, it might not be expedient to plant a Free Church. At the same time, we wish to know the facts of the case; and, I trust, wherever the necessity exists, or wherever it is practicable, the Free Church will never rest satisfied until she has attained to the establishment of a church in every district of Scotland, and completely re-established, by the voluntary contributions of the people, what was recently the Established Church of Scotland. (Hear, and applause.) It is interesting to know that, in some districts, in some of the Presbyteries, every parish has been supplied with a Free Church. The following are the Presbyteries, so far as we can see, in which every one of the old parishes has now been supplied with a Free Church. They are eighteen in all, namely,-Aberlour, Abertarff, Caithness, Chanonry, Banff, Dornoch, Dumbarton, Forres, Greenock, Inverness, Irvine, Islay, Kintyre, Lewis, Nairn, Strathbogie; Tain, and Tongue. So far as we can understand, in those different Presbyteries every old original parish has a counterpart in a Free Church or station. Now, without dwelling further on this view of the subject, I wish to spend the very short time which I will occupy, in directing the attention of the brethren to the various overtures which refer to alterations upon the existing arrangements of the Home Mission and Church Extension Committee. There is at least one overture from our own Presbytery indicating a wish that the General Assembly should consider the propriety and necessity of a complete change; on the other hand, there is an overture, which you have just heard, indicating that whatever change takes place, that arrangements should be still maintained at Edinburgh for distributing the preachers of the Church. Now, this subject is undoubtedly one of very considerable difficulty. I will very shortly lay before the house, so far as we can understand it, wherein the difficulties on both sides consist. On the one hand, it is in my mind plain that we have arrived at a stage at which some very thorough and radical change must be made, and made, not only in the organization of the Home Mission Committee, but made on the plan pursued till now in

regard to the maintenance of our agents. There is one thing which appears to me axiomatic, namely, that every Committee must be, if 1 may so speak, self-contained; that is to say, that no co-ordinate Committees ought to exist, taking money from our funds without the express sanction and control of our Committee; or in other words, that all the other Committees which it is thought necessary to continue in connection with the field of home missions should be Sub-Committees of the general Home Mission Committee. If a Committee is to exist, for example, for the distributing of preachers, it seems to me essential that that Committee should be a Sub-Committee of the Home Mission, and that the Home Mission Committee should be finally consulted in making all their arrangements. I will just give one reason for that, and I could give a number. Unless this is the case, we have the mere function,-the very humble function,—of paying men, in regard to whose fields of labour we have no influence whatever, and no right to interfere. And the result is evil,—evil in a pecuniary point of view, and evil also inasmuch as the preachers are taught to imagine, that, although we pay them, we have no control over them. Not only so, but as there may be a reason, I am disposed to think there is a reason, why there should be a Gaelic Committee devoting its exclusive attention to the affairs of the Highlands, because the Highlands form a world, I may say, in themselves, different and distinct altogether from the Lowlands of Scotland; and, on that ground, I am disposed to admit it will be a better thing for the Highlands and Islands, and probably at last a better thing for us, to have a Committee devoting the whole of its attention to the affairs of the Gaelic population. But then it seems quite essential, that, instead of being supported from, or drawing funds from our exchequer,—nor even consulting us in regard to the amount,-it seems essential that the Assembly should arrange, what I know our Gaelic Committee is quite willing they should arrange, namely, that they should do nothing, at least in a financial way, without consulting with and obtaining the sanction of those from whose funds their means of usefulness are drawn. Then, again, there will be no difficulty at all with regard to the evangelistic Committee. But I come now to a point really difficult, and that is in regard to the maintenance of our agents. It is plain, that whilst the plan of paying all men who are licensed to preach, and all catechists, from the general fund at Edinburgh, might be necessary at the beginning and hurry of our enterprise, and was a good enough plan so long as our purse lasted, there is a point beyond which such a mode of management becomes impossible, and I think we have reached that point. I do not think that the plan in itself is a good one, on a variety of grounds. I do not think it is a good one for the agents themselves. I think it better, that instead of being entirely supported from one fund, and looking to us exclusively for support, that they should be left to a great extent, if not entirely, to their own resources,-left to manage their own affairs,—left to a great extent to feel their own weight. I do not think it will do either to organize labour in France, or to organize preaching in Scotland. I believe the result of such a system would be that you would soon be overwhelmed with labourers or loiterers, as it might happen, and that it is essentially necessary you should make the preachers feel their own weight,— with the exception, perhaps, of those who have a claim on us,-the preachers of the Disruption. I think the time has now come when, for their own sakes, you should leave them to a great extent to depend on themselves, and their own energies. But, if it is useful for the preachers themselves to be left to feel their own weight, it seems at the same time to be vital, for the sake of the stations. What are the results of the present arrangements in regard to vacant congregations and stations, for these are the two classes of cases to which the present arrangements apply? In the first place, in regard to vacant charges looking out for ministers, the result of sending them down a preacher from Edinburgh, and allowing him to remain for three months, to be succeeded by another preacher, and another, has a great many disadvantages. For instance, in the first place, these congregations are anxious to have, not a man for three months, but they are anxious to have a succession of men, that they may as soon as possible find one who will be suitable as their minister. Now, what is the result of continuing them for three months, and then removing them? I think one of the great causes of the divisions which have begun in our churches, in regard to the choosing of ministers, has just been this very process; for how does it work? A man is settled three months in a congregation. If he is a man of any

« السابقةمتابعة »