صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

byteries, to the Educational Committee, that the Assembly's Committee may on an early day return an amended overture for the Assembly's consideration." This motion was unanimously agreed to.

A Report from the Committee on Bills was next read, after which the Assembly proceeded to take up

RESIGNATION BY DR CANDLISH OF THE OFFICE OF PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY.

The CLERK read the following documents: 1st, Letter from Dr Candlish; and, 2d, Memorial from the Kirk-Session and Congregation of Free St George's, Edinburgh; as follows, viz. :

"Edinburgh, 18th May 1848.

1. "REVEREND AND DEAR SIR,-Having been appointed by the Commission in August last to the office of Professor of Theology in the New College, I beg leave, very respectfully, to resign the said office into the hands of the General Assembly, and to intimate my desire to be relieved from the duties of the Chair, with a view, if it shall please God, to the continuance of my pastoral labours among the people who first called me to minister to them in holy things, and who have expressed their wish still to retain my services,-I have the honour to be, reverend and dear Sir, yours very truly, ROB. S. CANDLISH."

"To the Reverend the Moderator of the General

Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland."

2. "Unto the Venerable the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, the Memorial of the Kirk-Session and Congregation of Free St George's, Edinburgh;

"Humbly Sheweth,-That, on the 17th day of January last, your memorialists, at a meeting of the congregation specially convened for the purpose, unanimously adopted, and directed to be laid before the Presbytery of Edinburgh, the following memorial:

"That to the determinatiou of the Commission of Assembly in August to remove their pastor to the chair of Theology in the New College, the memorialists, though reluctantly, gave their submission. They felt that, whatever might be their own wishes or views, it was their duty to acquiesce in what appeared, at the time, to be the mind of the Church, and to have the concurrence of Dr Candlish. The issue of the unanimous call to be his successor given by the congregation to the deeply lamented Mr Stewart of Cromarty, is known to the Presbytery; and the memorialists have ever readily acknowledged the considerate kindness of the arrangement sanctioned by the Presbytery, under which, without being pressed too hastily to a decision, in a matter so important as the calling of one to minister over them in the Lord, the congregation have enjoyed the continuance of Dr Candlish's pastoral services for a season.

"These services, however, the congregation contemplated must come to a speedy close, and their efforts were not relaxed to secure a suitable successor. It was their anxious and constant prayer to the Head of the Church, that they should be wisely directed on this great matter; and they give thanks to God that, in his wise and gracious providence, the recent movement within the Church, with which, neither collectively nor individually, have the memorialists had any concern, and the public declaration of Dr Candlish himself, at your recent meeting, open to them the prospect of again enjoying the inestimable privilege and blessing of having him reunited to his affectionate and attached people as their permanent pastor.

"The memorialists consider that, in the circumstances in which the matter now stands, they are called on, alike from regard to their beloved pastor, to the spiritual interests of the congregation, and to what they believe to be for the good of the Church at large, and the glory of God, to entreat of the Presbytery, as they now do, to listen to the unanimous voice of the congregation, and take such measures, by moderating a call or otherwise, as shall appear right and fitting, for the purpose of restoring the pastoral relationship between Dr Candlish and his people.'

"That the reverend the Presbytery, impressed, as your memorialists understand, by certain difficulties in point of form, did not take any steps to bring the memorial before your venerable house by reference or otherwise, and therefore your memori

alists are under the necessity of now applying to the General Assembly to take this memorial into consideration.

"Your memorialists are deeply sensible of the importance of adhering to the rules and principles in the constitution of the pastoral relation, which the Free Church recognises and maintains. But they respectfully state, that this is a very peculiar case, that the tie between pastor and people had not, in the singular circumstances that occurred, been practically severed, and that now that the congregation unanimously and earnestly desire to have restored to them the pastor to whom they are affectionately attached, and in whose faithful and fervent ministry they have been so long privileged, it is humbly hoped that no difficulties in point of form will be permitted to frustrate or postpone the arrangement by which the Rev. Dr Candlish may again become, with the sanction of your venerable house, the settled minister of the congregation of Free St George's.

[ocr errors]

Signed in name and authority of the Kirk-session and Congregation of Free St George's, by A. MAKELLAR, Chairman of Meeting of Congregation held on 1st May 1848."

After the reading of the above, there appeared for the memorialists, Dr Makellar, Sir James Forrest, Dr Smyttan, Dr Morrison, Dr Omond, Colonel Caddel, Mr Paul, Mr William Cowan; Dr Candlish for himself.

The MODERATOR having asked Dr Candlish if he wished to make any statement to the Assembly,

Dr CANDLISH rose and said,-I do not intend to detain the Assembly above a few minutes, and for various reasons. I do not wish to intrude any personal matter upon the notice of the Assembly beyond what is absolutely necessary. The facts of the case have been so long before the whole Church, and are so thoroughly known to all the brethren, that I feel confident that it is needless for me to enter at all into any explanation at present. Of course, if the Assembly desire it, I am ready to give any explanation of the apparent change in my views. Another reason prevents me from wishing to dwell on this matter,-and it is this, that the apparent vacillation in my conduct, and the apparent hesitation in my views, which may be regarded by many as having been injurious, both to myself personally, and to the Church to which I belong, stand so closely connected with two of the most solemn visitations of Divine Providence over which this Church has been called to mourn during the past year, that I do not feel at liberty to dwell on it. I think it just right to say, upon the general principles on which I in August last acted in consenting to be loosed from the congregation over which I have now been for a long time pastor, and to be appointed to the Chair of Theology,-upon these general principles, on the paramount claims of a theological chair, and the right of the Church to call upon any minister she chooses to leave any charge to serve in that Chair, my mind remains unchanged. I have only further to explain the reason why, when doubts and hesitations were suggested to me from various quarters by fathers and brethren, in whose opinion I could not but have the highest confidence,-when doubts and hesitations were suggested to my mind, after the lamentable events referred to in the memorial from the congregation,—I took on myself the responsibility of announcing the intention which I have now carried into effect; and I did so because I felt extremely desirous that there should not be any embarrassment to the Church by any new discussion, or consideration in regard to myself personally. I was quite willing to bear all the risk and all the responsibility of an apparent change of mind. That change in my plan did not originate in any movement on the part of my congregation. I think it right to say so. They honestly discharged the duty that lay on them, after the decision of the Commission in August. They were most faithfully proceeding in the discharge of the duty that was again laid on them by the decease of the minister whom they unanimously called; but brethren and fathers in the Church having suggested to me again the consideration of the solemn question, whether my line of duty was not more towards the pulpit than towards the Chair? -after entertaining the question once more, I thought it right to assume the whole responsibility of announcing my change of purpose; and I do so that the Church may not be further embarrassed in the matter. I have nothing further to add. Dr MAKELLAR, on the part of the memorialists, said,-The memorial that has been read, and the explanation now given by Dr Candlish, must have put this house into complete possession of the knowledge why so many members of the Kirk-ses

D

sion of Free St George's Church are here now before this venerable Assembly. It will be observed, that our application proceeds upon the assumption that Dr Candlish is not only willing, but desirous to continue his pastoral labours among the people who first called him to minister to them in holy things. This gives to the application an inestimable value,-it proclaims anew his unconquerable attachment to his people, and must greatly facilitate the determination of this house and brethren. We venture to entertain the confident expectation, that this decision will be according to our views. (Applause.) We are impressed with the conviction that a due regard to the glory of God and the good of the Church will dispose the house to decide in this way; aud while we would carefully guard against thinking of ourselves as a congregation more highly than we ought to think, we would, at the same time, venture to say, that we regard it as a token of good from God that we have been enabled to maintain a suitable, a dutiful, a Christian course of conduct in reference to this matter; and that while the visitation of Providence, which threatened us with the loss of our pastor, to whom, as a congregation, we were so ardently and enthusiastically attached, while that prospect came upon us, we were enabled submissively and dutifully to bow before the authority of this Church, believing that we were at the same time doing what was in accordance with the will of the great Head of the Church. These were the feelings, and motives, and views that animated the congregation of Free St George's Church. The whole of this matter has been in the face of the Church and of the world; and I think that we, without attaching any importance to our own conduct, or desiring any particular notice as to what is due to it, may assume that it has been such as to give to us a claim to the kindest consideration of this house. We feel that it is not going beyond what we are entitled to, and we believe that it would be most consistent with the character of the Free Church to look upon our case with dignity, and to decide in our favour. We commit this case to the General Assembly, having the fullest confidence that they will determine the case according to the most proper view of what should regulate their duty, and what they believe should be for the glory of God. (Hear, hear.)

Sir JAMES FORREST said-Moderator, as one of the congregation of Free St George's Church, I feel very deeply the responsibility which attaches to me in endeavouring to plead their cause in connection with the solemn and important matter now before this Assembly. Inadequate as I am, however, will you permit me to say, that I trust the Assembly will receive with every favourable regard the memorial which has been placed before them, and will be guided, under the direction of God, so as to accede to the prayer which the memorial contains, and thereby restore to the church of Free St George's, in the most simple manner consistent with the rules of the Church, our beloved and revered pastor. I need not remind the Assembly, that when the Commission were pleased to remove Dr Candlish, and to elect him one of the professors of the College, we felt very deeply and sincerely the great loss which we had then the prospect of sustaining. We felt that a minister had been removed from us to whom we were attached by many and endearing ties, -a man whom we looked on as peculiarly fitted to fulfil the great ends of the Church in preaching the gospel,-and one who for so many years had laboured amongst us; but we felt it at the same time our duty to bow in silent resignation to the will of the Church, and while many of us entertained our doubts as to the expediency and as to the wisdom of that removal, still we turned our views in a most careful and business-like way to procure the service of one to be the successor of Dr Candlish, and in so doing, we were led most harmoniously and unanimously to give a call to the Rev. Mr Stewart of Cromarty. Standing in this Assembly, as I do to-day, as one of the representative elders of the Church, and having been appointed by the Kirk-session of St George's to go and lay the call to Mr Stewart before the Presbytery of Chanonry, I cannot forget that we received from that Presbytery, and our lamented friend Mr Stewart, the warmest sympathy and expressions of kindliest feeling. The Presbytery, if the good of the Church required it, were willing to part with a brother whom they loved and esteemed, and Mr Stewart, at the same time, seemed willing to take into his most serious consideration the expediency of leaving a church where he had long laboured, and where his services had been highly honoured, and most eminently useful; and we left our lamented friend with expectation that in a very short time we would have him placed amongst us as Dr Candlish's successor. Alas! we all know in how lamentable a way our hopes were frustrated,

on that day when two congregations were deprived of the services of one so faithful and remarkable as a minister. By the kindness of the Presbytery we had the services of Dr Candlish continued for a time, and we then again turned our attention to procure a pastor as a worthy successor of Dr Candlish. Difficulties interposed, however; and I believe there did not seem to be any one in whom the congregation could be unanimous; but in the midst of all our gloom and all our anxiety, a light seemed to strike up in the bosom of the Church, and to hold out the prospect of Dr Candlish being continued our pastor. I cannot but think that the finger of Providence, from first to last, in this matter has been most remarkable. It seems to have been His design by disappointing our expectations, to point out to us the result that we now see. We anticipate that it is the will of the Head of the Church that Dr Candlish should continue to labour in the position which he has hitherto occupied so much to our advantage, and in accordance with the will and service of the Most High. I trust that the Assembly will see the matter in this light, and that they will retain him in St George's.

Parties were then removed.

Dr BUCHANAN then rose and said,-Moderator, I am disposed to think it will be the mind of the Assembly that, in all the circumstances of the case, Dr Candlish's resignation of the professorship ought to be accepted, and that the prayer of the memorialists, to have him restored to his former place as minister of St George's, ought to be granted. My impression and belief is, that the Assembly will think that, in order to arrive at this conclusion, nothing more is necessary than the statement which Dr Candlish has made, coupled with the application on the part of the memorialists at the bar; and under this impression it is not my intention to go into any argument or discussion on the subject. I would merely say, what I am sure the Assembly will think is no more than due, that the conduct of the congregation of St George's in this whole matter, from the beginning to the end, has been most honourable to themselves and most exemplary to the congregations of the Free Church of Scotland; and I will only say farther, that, having been directly and personally conversant with all the circumstances which have taken place in this matter, and all the steps by which Dr Candlish has been led to the conclusion which he has stated from the bar, I feel warranted in saying, that in this, as in all other affairs, he has been influenced by the same unselfish motives, the same single-hearted desire for the welfare of the Free Church of Scotland, and for the glory of God, which have always characterised his private and public conduct. (Hear, hear.) Still, Moderator, there is a question as to the mode in which the thing is to be done, granting that the Assembly shall be of opinion that the thing ought to be done. Assuming that they shall be of opinion that the resignation is to be accepted, and that the prayer of the memorialists is to be granted, how shall this resolution be carried into effect? The memorialists very properly advert to the importance of as far as possible observing the rules of this Church in regard to the constitution of the pastoral tie. In all ordinary cases these rules ought to be, and I have no doubt always will be, most rigidly observed and most stringently insisted on; but I cannot help thinking that, in a case like this, in which the memorialists state-and most truly state the pastoral tie has never been practically dissevered at all, it would not be honouring the rules of the Church, but rather exposing them to serious damage, were we to go through the forms of reconstituting that pastoral tie. I believe it would not be honouring those solemn services were we to do so, and therefore I will conclude with the following motion :

"That the General Assembly accept the resignation of Dr Candlish; and farther, in respect of the memorial from the Kirk-session and Congregation, wherein they state that the tie between pastor and people has not, in the singular circumstances that occurred, been practically severed; and that now the congregation unanimously and earnestly desire to have restored to them the pastor to whom they are affectionately attached, and in whose faithful and fervent ministry they have been so long privileged ;' and wherein, also, they express their hope that no difficulties, in point of form, will be permitted to frustrate or postpone the arrangements by which the Rev. Dr Candlish may again become, with the sanction of your venerable house, the settled minister of the congregation of Free St George's;' in respect, moreover, of the letter of Dr Candlish, wherein he intimates his desire to be relieved from the

[ocr errors]

*The Rev. Alexander Stewart of Cromarty died upon the 5th November 1817.

duties of the Chair, with a view, if it shall please God, to the continuance of his pastoral labours among the people who first called him to minister to them in holy things, and who have expressed their wish still to retain his services,' the General Assembly, considering the very peculiar circumstances of this case, agree to comply with the prayer of the said memorial from the Kirk-session and Congregation of Free St George's, and to repone, as they hereby do repone, the Rev. Dr Robert Smith Candlish as minister of Free St George's, Edinburgh; declaring, as they hereby do declare, that the pastoral relation between the said Dr Robert Smith Candlish and the said congregation shall be held to subsist henceforth in all respects as if the deliverance of the Commission in August had not been pronounced; and the Assembly appoint an extract of this judgment to be transmitted to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, with instructions to them to cause intimation thereof to be made to the congregation of St George's."

Dr P. M'FARLAN said-Moderator, I beg to second the motion of my friend, Dr Buchanan. In the mean time, I will abstain from entering upon the grounds on which I support the motion, reserving to myself the privilege of speaking, should there be any discussion, at a subsequent part of the debate. I may just observe, that I have no doubt of the propriety-I had almost said the necessity-of Dr Candlish being reponed to the pastoral charge of St George's congregation. With regard to the other point, as to the necessary forms of inducting a minister being gone through on this occasion, I have had my difficulties. I dislike at any time breaking through established precedents; but the present case is so very peculiar, and not likely to occur again, that I do not see that these forms require to be again repeated. If ever this case is referred to at all as a precedent, of this I am sure, it can never be diverted to a bad purpose.

Dr FLEMING.-Moderator, I regret that I cannot, without some further explanation, approve of the motion that has now been laid before the House. The General Assembly last year took up the consideration of this case, and took it up very deliberately. You are aware that they appointed, in addition to the ordinary College Committee, a very large number of representatives, constituting a very extended Committee, for the purpose of looking out for a Professor of Divinity for the New College. That Committee met after the rising of the last General Assembly, the subject of the appointment was mooted, and the individual to be appointed to the office pointed out; and, when the same Committee met in August, they were unanimous in selecting Dr Candlish for the chair, and Dr Candlish was willing to accept of it, as he held it to be a more responsible office than the pulpit of St George's. It is well known that the pastoral tie was severed by the Committee empowered for that purpose, and the Church thereupon was declared vacant, and not theoretical, but practical steps were taken for the purpose. The congregation deliberated upon their position, and gave a unanimous call to the Rev. Mr Stewart, whose lamented demise has already been referred to; and here I cannot but refer with pain to the position in which the congregation of St George's has been placed by these events; and once for all would say, that in all the circumstances connected with the severing of Dr Candlish from them, the conduct of the congregation of St George's commands my unmingled approbation and admiration. (Hear, hear.) But, in connection with the subject before us, there comes another question.-Dr Candlish came to this conclusion, that the accepting of the appointment and the duties of the Professor's chair was of more importance than the supply of the pulpit of St George's; but it turned out, on the melancholy event to which I have referred, that Dr Candlish felt the very peculiar circumstances in which the congregation of St George's has been placed, and, from the interest which he took in it, I imagined at the time that, with impulsive feeling, he had returned to his first love, and had become much more occupied with supplying the pulpit of St George's than his chair in the College. He asked leave to return to the pulpit; and at the time when the College Committee proposed to grant him this leave, I took the liberty of objecting, on the ground that they had not the power, as I considered the College Committee had nothing whatever to do with the supply of the pulpit of St George's, but their duty was to attend to the supply of the chair of the College. That objection was overruled; and the College Committee, along with the Commission of the Assembly, withdrew him from his Professorial duties. When we had an interview with Dr Candlish on the subject, his mind seemed to have undergone no change whatever. The first time I had

« السابقةمتابعة »