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Mr CARMENT submitted that there was only one motion before the house, and that the discussion need not be prolonged.
Dr CANDLISH said that he was not at all satisfied that Gaelic was needed at Braemar, and there could be no doubt that it was needed at Saltcoats. But what weighed with him was, the information they had received of Mr M'Rae's own feeling in the matter, and he would therefore not offer any counter motion.
It was then agreed to dismiss the appeal, affirm the judgment of the Synod of Aberdeen appealed against, and continue Mr M‘Rae in his present charge.
RFPORT OF COMMITTEE ON APPLICATIONS FOR SANCTIONING CHARGES.
Mr JOHNSTON, Convener of the Committee for receiving applications for the Sanctioning of Charges, reported that applications had been made on the part of the following fifteen stations to be sanctioned as ministerial charges, viz. :-Irvine, Chryston, Culross, Kennoway, Carnbee, Newtyle, Echt, Rayne, Methlic, Foveran, Dunrossness, Kilberry and South Knapdale, Alvie, Rothiemurchus, South Uist.
The applications were remitted to a numerous Committee to consider and report to a future diet of Assembly. The Assembly remitted to the same Committee the following cases, transmitted through the Committee of Bills, in reference to the subject of the sanctioning of charges. Reference from the Presbytery of Dundee relative to Abernyte. Reference by Glasgow Presbytery in the case of the application on behalf of Chryston station.
The Assembly likewise referred to this Committee-Reference from the Presbytery of Strathbogie anent union of the two congregations at Huntly. Reference from the Presbytery of St Andrews relative to the uncollegiating of Martyrs' Church. Reference from the Presbytery of Kinross respecting the appointment of a Colleague to Mr Thornton at Milnathort. Reference from the Presbytery of Lorn and Mull relative to the appointment of a Colleague to Mr Fraser of Ardchattan. The General Assembly farther remitted to this Committee the following cases relative to the admission of ministers and probationers of other churches, also transmitted through the Committee of Bills:-Presbytery of Dundee, in the case of Mr Joseph Wilson, minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Presbytery of Dundee, relative to Mr Honeyman, probationer of the United Presbyterian Church. Petition of Mr Alexander Lindsay of the Relief Church. Presbytery of Glasgow, in reference to Mr John Clark of the United Original Secession Church.
To the same Committee the General Assembly also remitted the following cases, transmitted to the Committee of Bills, relative to the taking students on trial:Presbytery of Brechin, in the case of Mr George Mackie. Colonial Committee, in the case of Mr Daniel Gordon. Presbytery of Paisley, in the case of Mr George Charles Douglas. Presbytery of Glasgow, in the case of Mr William Burnet. Presbytery of Abertarff, relative to Mr Patrick Cameron. The Assembly remitted to this Committee the application by the Presbytery of Kelso and Lauder in the case of Mr James Johnston. The Assembly adjourned at half-past five o'clock, till Monday at one.
MONDAY, MAY 22. 1848.
Report from Business Committee received-Case of Greenock Gaelic Congregation-Speeches of Mr Ferguson, Mr Cameron, Mr Maccall, Dr P. M'Farlan, Mr Smith, Mr M'Leod, Mr Carment, Mr Crichton, and Dr Candlish-Report of New College Committee-Report of Continental Committee-Deputation from Foreign Churches-Speeches of M. Anet, M. Audebez, M. Scholl, M. La Harpe, Dr Candlish, and Mr Dunlop-Reference from Presbytery of Cupar.
The Assembly met again to-day at one o'clock. After the usual devotional exercises, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved of.
Bona fide certificates produced by Mr William Thomson, one of the Representative Elders of the Presbytery of Dunoon and Inverary, and his name added to the Roll of Assembly.
Synod Books called for, and the following produced, viz :—Argyle, Stirling, Fife, Angus and Mearns, Lothian and Tweeddale, Aberdeen, Moray, Ross, Sutherland
and Caithness, Orkney, Galloway, Glasgow and Ayr, Perth. A Committee was then appointed to visit these Records and report.
Dr P. M'FARLAN then gave in a Report from the Business Committee to the following effect:
On Tuesday forenoon it was proposed, 1st, To receive the Report of the Building Committee; 2d, To hear the Deputations from the Presbyterian Churches in England and Ireland; and 3d, To take up the remaining cases. In the evening to receive the Report of the Committee on the Sustentation Fund.
On Wednesday, that the whole day, forenoon and evening, should be devoted to the consideration of the Report of the College Committees,-1st, The Report by Dr Cunningham; and then, 2dly, To take up certain returns given in to that Committee, and the Overtures from Presbyteries connected with the subject of College Education.
CASE OF THE GREENOCK GAELIC CONGREGATION.
The CLERK read the papers in this case, from which it appeared, that at a meeting of the Presbytery of Greenock on April 26. 1848, Messrs John Ferguson, Patrick Cameron, and Archibald Maccall, came forward and laid on the table a minute of a congregational meeting, held in the Free Gaelic Church two days previous, setting forth, that at that meeting it had been agreed to apply to the Free Presbytery of Greenock to name an early day for moderating in a call from this congregation in favour of Mr Hugh M'Leod of Logie-Easter; and that a motion to petition the General Assembly to appoint a Special Commission to visit Greenock, to call parties before them, and after full inquiry into the history and circumstances of this vacancy, and the different attempts made to fill it up, to report to the Commission in August, or at one of its subsequent diets, which should be empowered to give a final deliverance on the case, had been negatived by 195 to 112. It appeared likewise that the Presbytery had unanimously resolved to refuse the prayer of the petition, and to refer the whole matter to the General Assembly for instructions as to ulterior measures in the case, against which judgment Mr John Ferguson, Mr Patrick Cameron, and Mr Archibald Maccall, protested and appealed to the General Assembly. The Clerk read the reasons of protest and appeal against the deliverance of the Presbytery.
Parties were then called, when there appeared for the appellants, Mr John Ferguson, Mr Patrick Cameron, and Mr Archibald Maccall; and for the Presbytery of Greenock, Dr P. M'Farlan, Mr James Smith, Mr John James Bonar, and Mr James Morrison.
Mr FERGUSON said,-I am not accustomed to speak in public, and, with the permission of the Assembly, I will read a few observations. As has been stated in the printed papers, the document addressed by our opponents in the Session to the Presbytery of Tain contained gross misrepresentations. The communion-roll contained names of persons who have been dead for years, and also of persons who were out of town, and have no connection with us. As to the assertion that they have on their side three out of every four contributors in the congregation to the Sustentation Fund -witness the falling off in the amount, and it will shew how unfounded is the assertion. They, by having recourse to such unconstitutional and unworthy means, deprived the congregation for the last two years of having a stated pastor, well qualified to have the oversight, as Mr M'Leod assuredly is. We have also to regret other circumstances which occurred, placing the congregation in a trying position. In the month of September last our Presbytery appointed, for the second time, an election of a minister. Previous to, and at said election, a member of Presbytery used his influence in dissuading Mr M'Leod's adherents from voting for him, by which means Mr M'Leod was placed in a minority; whereas, had no such interference taken place, he would have carried the election by a large majority. The scale being turned against us so unexpectedly, and at a time when we knew we had an overwhelming majority favourable to Mr M'Leod, prompted some of the congregation to the much-to-be-regretted irruption which took place at our church on the 30th September. On hearing of such irregularities, your venerable Assembly may be ready to form a low estimate of our conduct. Being one of those who took no part in such, but in other respects had the best opportunities of knowing the forbearance
observed by the people for a considerable time towards our refractory elders, experiencing from them a total disregard to our wishes, and having recourse to every evasive means, if possible, to disappoint us in obtaining the minister of our choice, I beg to say that it cannot at all be wondered at that we had fallen into a blunder, being inexperienced ourselves in the forms of church courts, and not being able at all times to command the best advice of the Presbytery to guide us. I shall here remark, that while certain members of our Presbytery condemn the act of the Session already referred to, they seem to be disposed to attach more importance to the minority in the congregation than their number entitle them to,-they often reminding us, in the event of our getting Mr M'Leod, of the probability of many of the minority leaving our Church; while, should we be disappointed in obtaining our wish, we hear of no tender anxiety being felt by them in our behalf. From such difficulties and obstructions, we would desire to place ourselves under the protection of your venerable Assembly, believing you will judge of our case in an impartial and satisfactory way, carrying out in practice that the claims of the majority are not to be sacrificed for the stubborn will of the minority.
Mr CAMERON said, there was a principle involved in this case, which he thought was settled amongst them thirty years ago, namely, that the majority of a congregation should have the choice of the minister, and not the minority. He recollected joining himself with an association at that period, got up for the purpose of buying up patronages to the congregations to prevent a patron or a minority from putting in a minister upon the majority. He was one of a deputation, after the election of Mr M'Leod of Logie Easter, who was sent to Tain. Mr M'Leod was elected by a large majority, although the Presbytery called it a small majority. After the election the people were called upon to come forward and sign the call to Mr M'Leod. They came forward very cheerfully, but they were obstructed as much as possible by the knot of elders who had the charge of the call. Still the people came forward, and out of 1136 members and sitters at that time, 1004 signed the call. They proceeded to Tain without knowing anything of the intentions of the elders. They reached Tain, and Mr M'Leod received them very kindly. They had some conversation with him, but could not get anything of his mind. They could not elicit anything from him, while he was eliciting all things from them. Mr M'Leod asked him a number of questions, and he was astonished at what he meant. He said he had received a call which was numerously signed, but he asked at the same time, if he (Mr Cameron) knew nothing about a letter? He said ho did not. Mr M'Leod said, he was quite surprised at that, and took and read the letter to which he had referred. When the call was transmitted to Mr M'Leod, Mr Taylor of Tain was called upon to represent the congregation at Greenock, as there was no person there from them, and it was him to whom this letter had been addressed. He had accordingly requested that the matter should be delayed till such time as he could communicate with the congregation. Mr M'Leod, although he had declined the call, said the case was still open, and that he was in the hands of the church courts to do with him as seemed fit to them. They returned home then full of comfort that they would open up the case again. They got a commissioner sent to open up the case. The Rev. Mr Stark and himself were sent, and everything seemed to be going right, when that infamous letter was sent a second time with an addition. The case came on before the Presbytery; the congregation was summoned, Mr M'Leod was summoned, and the Commissioners from Greenock appeared to prosecute the call. They had some conversation with Mr M'Leod, and urged him to throw himself upon the church courts, as they understood he at first agreed to. They separated from him for two hours; the case came on for discussion before the Presbytery, and Mr M'Leod adhered to his former declinature. Mr Stark and he retired, and they offered to protest and carry the case before the Synod, but they were advised not to do it, but to go home and try to get the congregation to unite upon some other minister. He was easily prevailed upon to do so. They afterwards went to Mr M'Leod's house, and he charged him with changing his mind. Mr M'Leod was not willing to admit he had done so, but at length he said he had a reason for it, and that he had seen a letter to Mr Gordon containing a note from one of the elders of the Greenock congregation which had influenced his mind, so that in every stage of their progress a stumbling-block had been thrown
in the way of Mr M'Leod accepting the call. Seeing that was the case, he was prevailed upon to relinquish Mr M'Leod altogether, and to use his influence with the congregation to induce them to fix upon another. He tried to do so with the view of bringing peace. Mr McLauchlan of Calder had presided at their sacrament shortly before then. He thought a great deal of Mr M'Lauchlan, and that he was a very competent and a very fit person to fill their pulpit. He told Mr Bonar he was well pleased with Mr M'Lauchlan, that he was very popular in the congregagation, and that there was very little fear but they would carry a majority for that gentleman, if they could not get Mr M'Leod. Mr Bonar told him that Mr M'Leod was not eligible to be called, and that the Presbytery would not sustain him. He then said, that he would use his influence with his countrymen to get them to unite with him upon Mr M'Lauchlan. A meeting of the congregation was accordingly called, at which Mr M'Lauchlan was brought forward, Mr Noble of Glasgow was brought forward, and latterly Mr M'Leod. A show of hands was taken, when Mr Bonar, who was in the chair, declared that Mr M'Lauchlan was in a minority. Mr Bonar had previously intimated that, if they voted for Mr M'Leod, they would be throwing away their votes. After the first vote, consequently, a number of the members went away, he himself sat silent; and on the second vote being taken, Mr Noble got a majority of twelve. He was satisfied with that decision, and thought that Mr Noble would succeed in being inducted; but unfortunately some few of the congregation had threatened to prevent the induction; and the Presbytery resolved to go on with it, whether they would or not. By this time he (Mr C.) had become perfectly obnoxious to his own party; he was called a traitor and a deceiver; but he did not mind that, provided Mr Noble got in; and he used his influence with those who threatened to prevent Mr Noble's induction. When Mr Noble resigned, however, he saw no better for the congregation than to resume their application for Mr M'Leod, and to give him his support. They were then deprived of holding any congregational meeting. They got up a memorial to the Presbytery, which was refused, and they appealed to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, but they were cast there on account of an irregularity. There were 800 signed that memorial, amongst whom were 350 members. Some time afterwards they urged upon Mr Bonar to get a congregational meeting, which, after consulting with his brethren, was called. That was the first thing which was done by the congregation after the attempt to induct Mr Noble failed, and the papers which had been read to the Assembly shewed the result. He trusted the Assembly would see the propriety of recommending that the Presbytery should sustain their call to Mr M'Leod, as there was no other person who would unite nearly the same number of the congregation as Mr McLeod.
Mr MACCALL said, he wished to say a few words on the subject of this appeal. That in the first instance there was only a small majority in favour of Mr M'Leod, and that in the second instance he was in a minority, when his name was brought before meetings of the congregation, did not prove that he was not acceptable. At the time the call was given, 1104 persons paid seats in the Greenock Gaelic Church, and out of that number 1000 signed the call. It was not possible, therefore, that there could be above 104 individuals at the utmost, male and female, connected with the congregation, who did not sign the call. The whole congregation concurred in the call to Mr M'Leod until the letter was penned, a copy of which was before the Assembly. At the second election, as had been said, Mr Bonar interfered to prevent his election, and that accounted for his being in a minority then. Again, it was assumed by the Presbytery that every member of the congregation who preferred some one else to Mr M'Leod was opposed to him. That could not be the case, for about 400 members signed the call, and 600 sitters, and on the occasion of the second election, four more voted for Mr M'Leod than at the first election; and if the people came forward in the same proportion, another call would be more numerously signed than the first. He knew a number of individuals who voted for the special commission, who did not understand Gaelic, and who never heard Mr M'Leod preach, and yet these people were set down as opposed to him. They were giving a mere preference to another minister, while they were set down by the Presbytery as being "personally and bitterly opposed to him." To prefer another minister, and to be "personally and bitterly opposed to him," as the Presby
tery termed it, were very different things. With regard to what took place on the 30th of September last, when some parties acted violently to prevent the induction of Mr Noble, all he had to say was, that it was not the act of the congregation, or of any large body of it. There were only twelve individuals belonging to the congregation who took any part in it; and were the 400 members favourable to Mr M'Leod to be deprived of their privileges on their account? He did not see why they should be punished along with those who had committed the offence, and had been punished for it in another manner. If there was such a large party opposed to Mr M'Leod, why did they not appear on their own behalf? He regretted that they had not done so, as it would have shewn the Assembly what their number really was. It had been said that the Presbytery of Tain would not translate Mr M'Leod, but from the speech of Mr Stark on his returning from Ross-shire, it was quite evident that that was not the case. Here, then, was the congregation which formerly called Mr M'Leod, and nine-tenths of whom would do so again; and he defied them to shew a single individual who would accept him before, and who was not ready to do so now. If their opponents were silent, therefore, as they undoubtedly were, their numbers could not be so large as to entitle them to oppose themselves to the voice of an almost unanimous congregation.
Dr P. M'FARLAN said,-The Assembly would observe that this case came before them both in the form of a protest and appeal against a judgment of the Presbytery of Greenock, and in the form of a reference from the Presbytery to the Assembly for advice as to ulterior measures in regard to this matter. He found it necessary, in these circumstances, to go back to the commencement of the history of this unhappy affair, and he would go over the main facts with as much brevity as possible. Mr M'Bean, the late minister of the Gaelic Church in Greenock, died in December 1845, so that there had now been a vacancy of two years and a half in that congregation. Immediately on the vacancy taking place, steps were taken for providing the congregation with preaching. The Session was empowered to employ ministers to preach, and two of the members of Presbytery were appointed to co-operate and advise with them. They had no other power but that of taking steps in the supplying of the pulpit, in the exercise of discipline, and in the administration of ordinances. After hearing a number of ministers, it appeared that a number of the congregation were in favour of Mr M'Leod of Logie-Easter, but from some cause or other, the elders, with one exception, and a great majority of the deacons, were decidedly opposed to him. In these circumstances, the Presbytery did not feel disposed to proceed immediately in the matter. They allowed a little time to elapse, in the expectation that a change would take place in the mind of the congregation. At length, however, they considered it expedient to have a meeting of the congregation called, in order to ascertain, if possible, whether it was a very large majority which was in favour of Mr M'Leod, and in which case that they should proceed immediately to moderate in a call. The meeting took place, and a show of hands was taken between Mr M'Leod of Logie-Easter and Mr M'Leod of Lochbroom; and there was such a majority for the former, that the Presbytery considered themselves justified in coming to the conclusion that a call should be moderated in to Mr M'Leod of Logie-Easter. Upon this, every step was taken that was usual in such cases. Commissioners were appointed to go to the Presbytery of Tain. The case was heard there, and there occurred the circumstances which had given rise to all that had since taken place. The elders, it appeared, took upon themselves, notwithstanding the unanimous deliverance of the Presbytery sustaining the call, to write a letter or memorial to some member of the Presbytery of Tain, interfering very improperly in regard to Mr M'Leod accepting the call to Greenock. MrM'Leod in these circumstances did not feel it to be his duty to accept of the call; and he said, and it did great credit to him, that if there were fifty opposed to him he would not go to Greenock. The Presbytery of Tain consequently resolved not to proceed with the translation of Mr M'Leod. Parties acquiesced, and there the process appeared to be stayed. Again the Presbytery delayed for a considerable time, and they took what he trusted the Assembly would consider a prudent step to produce unanimity, they appointed a Committee out of all parties in the congregation to look after individuals whom they might consider eligible for filling the vacant charge. At the same time that this was done, an agreement was entered into on the part of