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have produced a very different effect. Every one seemed to pretend to know his neighbour's mind and his neighbour's affairs better than himself; much misrepresentation followed; and, in consequence, erroneous impressions have been made on parties who had no opportunity of knowing the facts of the case. For the information of the House, I shall state, as briefly and as plainly as I can, how my name came to be connected with this case, and how I acted in regard to it, confining myself to bare unvarnished facts. Perhaps you are aware, Sir, that in 1845, at the special request of the Colonial Committee, I visited the British provinces in North America. I returned early in December. After so long an absence from home, you may be sure, on my return, I had much to do among my own people. Some weeks thereafter, when busily engaged in visiting and catechising my congregation, I received a letter, written and signed by a Mr Hugh Bain, in name and by appointment of the elders of the Gaelic Church, requesting as a particular favour, that in February following I would go and preside at the administration of the Lord's Supper; and urging compliance on the ground that the time was now so near, that, in the event of my refusal, they could not look for another, and also on the ground that the congregation had recently sustained a very severe loss in the death of their minister. It was extremely inconvenient for me to go at the time, but, considering the circumstances of my countrymen in Greenock, and deeply sympathising with them in their recent bereavement, I promised to go. I went accordingly; and I must say that, although I had frequent opportunities of addressing interesting and deeply affected audiences both in this country and in America, it was seldom my lot to address a more interesting or a more deeply affected congregation than that of the Gaelic Church in Greenock. I believe of a truth the Lord was in the midst of us. My own soul was refreshed; and before leaving the place I had grounds to hope that some were under deep and serious concern. I am most unwilling to say anything which may tend to reflect on any party; but I am bound to state that I was not long there when I observed what convinced me that, unless that congregation were speedily attended to, they were in great danger of being mismanaged. At the same time, I am candid enough to confess, that unconsciously I may have given offence to the elders. The very first day I preached, some poor person belonging to the congregation, who was said to have been long confined and in great distress, was remembered in prayer. After the service the elders were kind enough to meet me, when I took the opportunity of asking about the poor person. They could tell me nothing at all about him. I am well aware, Moderator, that in populous towns it is difficult to know all such cases; but I remember, when minister of the Gaelic Church in Edinburgh, my dear elders there at the time, whose worth and excellency I shall never forget, had a most minute knowledge of all such cases. I remained at Greenock two Sabbaths. During the summer and autumn months I was a good deal engaged in deputation work, and in assisting at communions. In November, on my return home, after an absence of some weeks, I learned by the newspapers, and also by a letter from a private gentleman in Greenock, not at all connected with the Gaelic Church, that I was elected by a considerable majority, and that a numerously signed call was made out in my favour. This was the first intimation I had of the matter. I was a good deal surprised, as I never expected such a thing, nor gave the least countenance to it in any one shape or another. A few days thereafter, when sitting in Presbytery, having been Moderator for the time, I learned that a call, signed by about eight hundred communicants and hearers in the Gaelic Church, together with the relative documents, had been sent by the clerk of the Presbytery of Greenock to a co-presbyter of my own, with a request that he would have the goodness to take the usual preliminary steps in the matter, as the commissioners deemed it unnecessary to appear personally until the call should fall to be taken up. All this was quite in order. But no sooner was the call presented than I learned that a letter (written by the same Mr Bain, who a twelvemonth previously had written me to assist at the communion), signed by a few elders and deacons, and addressed to the members of the Presbytery of Tain, had been sent to the same co-presbyter, and arrived the same morning with the call,- -a letter which I considered as containing reflections on the Presbytery of Greenock, and on the subscribers of the call. This letter not having been a formal document, although coming from so respectable a quarter, was ordered to be returned to the parties
without comment, in the hope that in their cooler moments they would repent of their conduct. I felt disposed to make every allowance for them, but the letter in question made a most unfavourable impression on the mind of the Presbytery of Tain. This letter, now, coupled with the policy of keeping the congregation a whole twelvemonth without an opportunity of electing a minister, although often desired, may be said to have been the source from which all the subsequent troubles of that congregation emanated, and served too clearly to shew me that my early fears in regard to their mismanagement were but too well founded. To save further trouble to all parties, and thinking that were I at once to withdraw my name from the field, parties would unite in giving a call to some other minister; under this impression, without assigning any reasons, deeming it more prudent to keep these to myself, I stated to my Presbytery at the earliest stage of the proceedings, that, under all the circumstances of the case, I considered it my duty to remain with my present congregation, and decline the call from Greenock. My Presbytery thought no more necessary; but at the request of the agent for the Commissioners, the case was not closed until the Commissioners should be communicated with. Mr Bonar, who was both Moderator of the Presbytery and of the Gaelic Session, and one of the Commissioners, opened a correspondence with me. He expressed deep concern and regret at the conduct of the office-bearers, and a hope that I would not allow their conduct to influence my mind in the least, promising that at least one Commissioner from the Presbytery, and another from the congregation, would appear at our next meeting to prosecute the call. Accordingly Mr Stark from the Presbytery, and Mr Cameron from the congregation, appeared at our meeting in January 1847. Their addresses made a powerful impression on the mind of the Presbytery of Tain. The further consideration of the case was put off until the first Wednesday of March, when the congregation at Logie were ordered to be cited to appear for their interest. Matters now appeared to be in a favourable train. But, as if to spoil the whole, the very identical letter which had been formerly sent to Tain and returned to the parties, was sent to Tain a second time, not as formerly to a private member of the Presbytery, but to the clerk, with a postscript written in the handwriting of the person whose name was first attached to it, to the effect that all the statements contained in it are correct, and whatever would be said to the contrary was false. This letter coming a second time, made a still more unfavourable impression, in regard to the eldership, on the minds of all. The Clerk presented the letter. The Presbytery unanimously condemned it, and, after expressing deep sympathy with the congregation, resolved to transmit it to the Clerk of the Presbytery of Greenock, to be dealt with as they should see cause. At their meeting in February 1847, the Presbytery of Greenock had the letter in question before them; they unanimously condemned it, and pronounced the following deliverance, viz.: "That the transmission of the aforesaid document was an act of interference subversive of all Presbyterian order, hurtful to the feelings and usefulness of a respectable minister, and fatal to the peace and prosperity of the congregation." On the first Wednesday of March 1847, Messrs Bonar and Stark from the Presbytery, and Mr Ferguson from the congregation, appeared to prosecute the call. Mr Bonar presented a memorial, signed by between 200 and 300 additional members and sitters in the Gaelic Church, stating that as they had not an opportunity of subscribing the call when others subscribed it, they begged their names might be added, thus making the call in my favour a call from between 1000 and 1100 members and sitters. Without occupying the time of the Assembly, suffice it to say, that under all the circumstances of the case, I stated that I deemed it my duty to adhere to my declination of the call. The Presbytery of Tain allowed that a very strong case had been made out; but as I adhered to my declinature, they found accordingly. The Commissioners, after consulting together for some time, acquiesced in the finding with considerable reluctance, stating, at the same time, that they did not know how their constituents would act, on hearing that there was no appeal taken. A few weeks thereafter, Mr Ferguson, the commissioner from the congregation in this process, wrote me a letter stating that the congregation were highly displeased with him for not having appealed, and were determined to renew the call. I answered that I was much indebted to them for their continued attachment to me; but that, as the case, in so far as I was concerned, was disposed of al
ready in a manner quite satisfactory to me, I hoped they would desist, and unite in calling some other minister. Mr Bonar, the Moderator of Presbytery, wrote me to the same effect. I answered this letter much in the same terms. The day appointed for the second election now came, and the congregation assembled for the purpose. Mr Bonar, the Moderator, very properly read my letter to them, and exhorted the congregation not to vote for me, announcing, at the same time, that whosoever voted for me would just cast away his vote. In consequence of this announcement, several of them left the house, others did not answer their names at all, some (and, amongst others, Mr Ferguson, who is now an appellant at your bar) proposed another minister, and several (and amongst the rest Mr Macall, another appellant at your bar) voted for my friend Mr Noble. But, Sir, after all, I was allowed to be nominated that day, but under the disadvantage of the aforesaid announcement, viz., that whosoever voted for me cast away his vote; and the consequence was, that my name then was in a minority of twelve. Now, Sir, will the respected members of the Presbytery of Greenock pardon me, if I remark this was the point at which they seemed to err, in allowing my name at all to be put up, in the face of my lettter; or, since they did allow it to be put up for the sake of peace, in allowing it to be put up under the disadvantage of the foresaid announcement, for the announcement should have been as publicly withdrawn as it was made, and thus every ground taken away for saying that it was not a bona fide constitutional election. The congregation did not protest certainly, being taken by surprise, and being ignorant of form, but the impression remained. This circumstance, now, in conjunction with what went before, was the fruitful source of all the disagreeable proceedings which followed. I was quite delighted, Sir, when I heard that Mr Noble was elected. Mr Noble is a man whose praise is in all the Churches. Any congregation might consider themselves happy in having him for their minister. But I cannot trust myself to speak of the proceedings which took place in connection with this part of the subject. I am not acquainted with them. I mentioned that statements were made from time to time which were unwarranted, and that in quarters where I had not an opportunity of meeting them; but as these were not reiterated here to-day, I do not consider myself entitled to advert to them. I can, however, well afford to give the parties who use them the benefit of these unwarranted statements, provided thereby they can promote the object which we have all so much at heart, the peace and harmony of our congregations, and of this congregation in particular. But, Sir, the tendency, I am persuaded, goes in the opposite direction. With reference to the case itself, I may observe, in one word, that I am placed in a very difficult and delicate position. Had it come before the Assembly in the shape in which it left the Presbytery of Tain, I would feel no difficulty. The parties then in the field were a very large majority on the one hand, and a very small minority on the other; but the parties now in the field are that large majority, the same as ever, on the one hand, and the Presbytery on the other; so that the Presbytery have virtually taken up the ground formerly occupied by the minority. It is natural for parties thus opposed to justify their respective positions by every means in their power. Personally considered,-and I do not wish to be misunderstood,-personally considered, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me how the case may be disposed of; but if a principle, if the peace and harmony of a congregation,-if the character and usefulness of a minister of the gospel be involved, I cannot look upon your finding with indifference. All these interests are, under God, under the protection of the Assembly; and I have every confidence that in your deliverance this day they shall all be strictly guarded. In this confidence I throw myself into your hands; and, rather than that any of these great interests should suffer injury, I am disposed to sacrifice any amount of comfort, or convenience, or feeling. When the call was put into my hand, I declined accepting it on my own responsibility, and from the purest and most disinterested motives, in the hope that all parties would unite in calling another; but in this hope I was miserably disappointed, and had many misgivings. I assigned no reasons for my declinature, as I was asked none; and deeming it more prudent to keep them to myself; but since I am now pressed to mention reasons, I have no hesitation in stating, that the interferences which had taken place from time to time to stay the course of justice in the matter, were the sole cause of that declinature. Without saying another word, I leave myself in the hands of the Assembly.
Parties having been removed,
Mr CARMENT of Rosskeen said,-Moderator, I do not see my way very clearly through this matter; but, so far as I can judge of it from what I have heard, I perceive only one way of bringing it to a proper conclusion. When parties once get heated, and when they begin to contend strongly for any length of time against each other, their minds naturally become irritated, and they will oppose each other, generally whether they are in the right or in the wrong; and I am afraid that, although there may be many things right in their conduct on the one hand, there is also very much wrong on both sides. Now, Sir, whatever the opinion of the General Assembly may be, I hold by the old plan, that you never will bring these parties together; and therefore I would be just for allowing the majority to choose their own man, or to adhere to their own man, whoever he may be, and that the minority should just separate themselves. This I think the best course, for I am sure they will ultimately do it; for if Mr M'Leod be elected by the majority, most certainly he will be opposed. Let the majority then, I would say, have the Church, and choose their own minister, as they have done so already. I would allow them to have him, or any other man that they prefer, supposing he still continued his declinature, which I am not sure about. And I would just say, that the other party are bound on the other hand, in conscience and justice, although not in law,-for I am not lawyer enough to say that; but I consider they are bound to give to the minority, out of the funds of the Church, or out of their own pockets, such a sum as will enable them, or what may be likely to enable them, to build another church for themselves. As to numbers, I know that there are enough of Highlanders there to fill three Gaelic churches, if they would put their hands in their pockets as they ought to do. I believe, at all events, they might easily have two congregations, if not three; and if they had popular men they would all be filled. I knew in my own day a case in point. When I was a minister in Glasgow, it became a petty quarrel between the west and north country Highlanders as to which of them should have the man of their choice. They opposed each other; and at that time my advice to them was, that instead of fighting and quarrelling about their men, they ought just to separate and build another chapel, and have another congregation. They took my advice, and a large body separated and formed a congregation, without injuring materially the congregation to which I belonged; and the General Assembly of that day instead of discouraging, applauded the proceeding. I carried that chapel in the face of all the great Doctors and learned Professors, because I knew it to be a matter of policy and a matter of consequence. A man of influence connected with the West Highlands took an interest in the proceedings; and as to the building of the church, one word from him settled the question. And in the present case, I can assure you that you will never settle it unless you take the course I have pointed out. You may send down a commission, with all the wise men of the Assembly, and with Mr Dunlop at its head; but it will be of no avail. I would not, therefore, have the Assembly to send down a deputation, or any thing of that kind, as I believe it will have no effect whatever. But if you make the experiment, you will find I am a true prophet in this instance; and if Mr M'Leod will choose to cast in his lot with a majority of the congregation, I would just bid him God speed. I may explain that I have no particular interest in that congregation, any more than any other. The time was when I used to go there twice a-year; and I have always held that, next to Glasgow, it was, in point of numbers, in point of piety, and in point of respectability, the most important Gaelic congregation in Scotland. When the worthy Mr Bain was pastor,—and he had a large and most influential congregation,—it was one of the most pious and well-regulated in Scotland; and I can only now regret that the members should now have fallen out amongst themselves. I would have them, looking to the circumstances in which they are placed, to separate in peace, and divide the funds. Mr M'FIE of Langhouse considered, with all deference to Mr Carment, that it was the duty of the Assembly to appoint a Commission of neutral gentlemen to hear parties, and then to get the matter decided. Mr Carment thought that the differences of these Highland gentlemen were not likely to be easily adjudicated; but in this he (Mr M'Fie) hoped he would be found in the wrong. For his own part, he would rejoice if the Assembly appointed a Committee by whom the mat
ter might be settled. As for the appellants at the bar to whom reference had been made in connection with the disturbances in the Church, he could vouch that they were three of the most peaceful and well-disposed citizens. (Hear, hear.)
Mr M. MAKGILL CRICHTON.-Moderator, I really feel very reluctant to make any motion on the subject before the House, and regret that the Rev. Mr Carment did not conclude with a motion. I think it very probable that the expedient that Mr Carment has proposed might have the result it contemplates; but it is not for us as an Assembly to originate any such procedure. If that congregation chooses to swarm off in the month of June, it may practically settle the matter; but all that the Assembly can do is to deal with the discordant materials which have been laid before them. There appears to be no such preponderating majority that any of the parties called should be settled in this congregation; and the question, in my opinion, should you coincide with the Presbytery, or take a part with the opposition, will be equally difficult to determine. A Commission would not be expedient; to appoint one would be to enter into negociations which would embrace that part of the Synod refusing to sustain the call. Under all the circumstances, I am afraid that all that we can do is to place this congregation in a state of suspension. Let them be placed in a situation in which they can obtain supply and the administration of the ordinances of the Church as favourable as possible; but in the mean time, until the parties either cool down, or coalesce, or hive off, I hold that the only way in which to deal with this questio vexata, is to place the congregation in a state of indefinite suspension of a stated minister.
Mr MONTEITH of Ascog suggested to the Assembly an idea which had been conveyed to him by a gentleman who had consulted him on the matter before coming to the meeting, viz., that if they could get some good ministers of weight and standing to supply the pulpit for some months, all would go on well; and, for his part, he thought that, as a Church of Christ, such would be a much more spiritual and useful piece of machinery for them to put in operation than had yet been suggested. Dr CANDLISH said,-Moderator, I think that the disposal of this case is not exceedingly difficult, although at one time it seemed to assume a somewhat important and painful aspect. In connection with it, I would deprecate, with all humility, the counsel given by our excellent friend Mr Carment, as to his view of settling the question, and promoting the interest of the Church. I trust that the extension of the Free Church is not to be carried out in the polypus sort of fashion which he has suggested. If there are too many Highlanders in Greenock for one church, why, by all means, let them have another; but do not let it arise out of a schism, a split, or a division, for thoroughly am I convinced that it is not the kind of division that will extend the Church. I would really take the liberty of advising our friends in Greenock to be very cautious how they make a new congregation out of this schism. In the present scarcity of our Gaelic ministers, and looking to the immense tracts of country abounding in the Highlands, with sheep without shepherds, I cannot reconcile with expediency or common sense the idea that we should aim at multiplying Gaelic churches in the Lowlands. It would appear that we have too many Gaelic congregations in the Lowlands; at least we find that they give us enough of trouble. I would not be in favour of multiplying Gaelic charges in the Lowlands, and more especially without the strongest possible reason or necessity; and certainly I am not in favour of that multiplication when it arose from whim, or caprice, or division, or schisms. I state this, in order that there may be no more apparent countenance given to the view, that the way to promote the interest of the Church is by multiplying the number of churches in this way. We have had enough of warning from the example of other bodies of the evil which has resulted from such procedure; and I trust that in this case we may anticipate, what Mr Monteith anticipates, a far more Christian issue, a far more charitable issue,—a far more sound issue,-from the counsel which he has given. I thoroughly agree with him, and I think the commission is altogether out of the question for various reasons. No doubt we have once or twice, in the unsettled state of our affairs, had recourse to the expedient of sending down a commission to adjudicate a particular case; but that course of sending commissions is not a strictly constitutional one,-I mean by that, that it would not be constitutional if this were to become a common mode, and therefore I would deprecate such a manner of proceeding. But for my own part I do not think there is any parti