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ant Churches of Switzerland shall be regarded by us with indifference ; let our right hand forget its cunning, if our hearts cease to beat in sympathy for the wrongs of the Free Church in the Canton de Vaud. Distant be the day when we shall have no title to name the Church of England within these walls, or when we shall cease to pray that she may be purified, and henceforth prosper.” We are Presbyterians, not Prelatists; but we are not, therefore, sectarian. When the ministers of the Church of England preach Christ we do rejoice, and will rejoice the more that it is so. When sinners are converted within her pale, we magnify the grace of God in them; and there has been heard among us the voice of joy and thanksgiving because men of God and of enlightened faith have been recently called to occupy some of her highest places. And because these are our feelings, we deem it all the more our duty, in the discharge of a brotherly debt, to say how far she is wrong in suffer. ing the Divine prerogatives of the Redeemer to be tampered with and trampled upon by those who are bound to foster and protect them. We are aware that our testimony of the kingly authority of Christ over his Church is feeble when compared with the forces that are mustered against us ; if heard at all, it will sound uncouthly in the ears of the men of might, and will only serve to provoke the smile of dignified self-complacency, or it may waken the echoes of that cry of rebellion against the law of the land, which the wise and learned among us have so strangely allowed to slumber, since we left to them the emoluments of the Establishment to be henceforth in all respects under their sole and indisputable control. But if we know that the doctrine we maintain is indeed the truth of God, let us be stout-hearted,-let us keep in mind that He sets a mark on the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done in the land,—that He often works his own ends by the feeblest instruments, and to silence the gainsayer, and stay the hand of the oppressor,—let this be inscribed on the banner we display, “Loyalty to our Queen, and loyalty to Christ our Lord.”
But it becomes us also to keep before the Church and the world the kindred truth, that as God is the governor among the nations, it is the duty of the rulers and mighty of the earth to do Him homage by seeking to promote the gospel of his Son, and to secure the Church of Christ in the full possession of her privileges. And it is the more needful that we should speak plainly and intelligibly on this head, because the neglect of this fundamental principle is working such fearful havoc in our own day. The spirit of persecution against the Church again stalks abroad, borrowing, as in former days, the garb of an angel of light, and seeking to screen its wickedness and to palliate the enormity of its deeds by fixing the mask of political disaffection on the victims of its fury. The ministers of the Free Church in the Canton de Vaud, who have been seeking to model themselves and their Church according to the Divine Word, have, in treading in the steps of the Apostles, been called, like them, to “make up that which is behind in the sufferings of Christ for his body's sake;" and it is well for us to know that they have taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods. We have been called during the sitting of this Assembly to give a sad welcome to one of these,ấa man of whom I forbear to speak, because he is still among us, and because the privilege is mine to call him my friend; but enough it is that he is here, because he has been banished from the sweets of home, and from the flock over which the Holy Ghost appointed him as overseer. And why is it, you may again ask, that this country, the ancient patron of the persecuted Vaudois, has not already startled and scared the oppressor from his mad career ? Let this question be answered by others that bring us nearer home. Why is it that we have among us the indiscriminate patronage of truth and error by those in high places? Why is it that that is given to clamorous urgency that is withheld from the cause of justice and truth? And, in fine, why is it that so many of our own congregations and our own pastors are treated as if they were the pests of society and the enemies of their country? Let the fact that we are suffering from the neglect of what we hold to be a sacred truth only make us the more earnest in maintaining that truth, that those invested with power are bound to support the Church of God. Man's extremity is God's opportunity; and the day may not be far distant when the voice of Jehovah shall be heard, in accents too loud to be disregarded, uttering the words, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted on the earth.”
But, my reverend Fathers and Brethren, there are unquestionably duties of a more private and personal kind, to which it becomes us to give earnest heed. Our witness-bearing for the Headship of Christ over his Church will not avail us, unless we give evidence that we are truly his disciples and subjects. Our testimony before men will be as the sounding brass and
as the tinkling cymbal, if we are deficient in those varied pastoral duties which, as office-bearers and rulers in the house of God, we are bound fulfil. The fearful charge would, in that case, rest on us that we have been made keepers of the vineyard, and yet our own vineyard have we not kept. Much need have we to strive and pray that we may be diligent and faithful in the work of our great Master, and in tenderly watching for the souls of our fellow-men. If our Church is truly to grow in the right sense, it will not, and cannot be by the increase of numerical strength, but by the assiduity and fidelity with which we that are ministers of the Word of God prepare for the manifestation of Divine truth. The ardour with which we are embracing the manifold opportunities of doing good in this which is specially the day of Scotland's visitation, and the zeal with which our ruling elders seek for the fruits of the preaching of the gospel among the people. This is an age of bustle aud activity. Whatever men undertake they must needs be in earnest, if they would wish to succeed;
and surely, when we consider the end and aim of our high calling, the Master we serve, and what we owe to Him, and the account we must soon give to Him of our stewardship, it well becomes us to vie with the men of this world's business, in doing with all our might whatever we are called to perform. The growing intelligence of the age, and the very efforts that our own Church is making to afford to the people of this land a higher style of education than they have over yet had, and our dark uncertainty as to coming events, all concur in rendering it needful that we should maintain a high tone of pulpit preparation, and that we should do our utmost in the service of that Master who sends no man on a warfare on his own charges. Again, as those who have been called to bear witness for the honour of Christ in this day and age, we are bound to maintain the purity of that house over which He has called us to rule and watch, for to act otherwise were to belie all that we have hitherto professed and done. If the ignorant, the ungodly, and the profane are freely admitted to sealing ordinances among us, then the eye of Him who looks upon us records much against us, and we shall cease to be the Free Church of Scotland, bearing witness to the kingly glory of Christ our Lord.
Permit me, in conclusion, to say one parting word of the various matters that have been brought under the notice of this General Assembly. Most, if not all of these have been interesting and important; but it seems to me that the time has now come when we are loudly called on to seek to consolidate and strengthen our Church at home to provide for the more ample support of our ministers, and the extension and enlargement of the means of education for our people. No one can accuse us of selfishness if we do so, for, should we prosper in these departments, we are prepared, under God, for prosecuting with increased success all our schemes of enlarged philanthrophy. It was little to be wondered at that, when the tidings of the Disruption reached our countrymen in other lands, they should have eagerly sought for the visits of our ministers, and for aid to help them in kindling the fire on their altars, and it would have ill become us to be regardless of such calls. But the sufferings of our own ministers, too long disregarded, must now gain our attention, and to our countrymen the appeal will not be made in vain. The great cause of the sustentation of our ministers, the bequest of that illustrious man, now no more, has been entrusted to one who, by the eloquence and power with which he has pleaded in its behalf at one of our recent meetings, has appropriately followed up his exertions in this good work during the preceding year. Let us fervently hope that nothing will be wanting on the part of any one of the office-bearers of our Church to crown his labours with still greater success during the year on which we have now entered.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Let us watch and pray, that, when our Master comes to reckon with us, as his servants, we may receive the approval and the reward of those who have been good and faithful.
Reverend Fathers and Brethren,-- As this Assembly was constituted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sole King and Head of His Church, I now dissolve it in the same great name, appointing the next General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland to meet at Edinburgh on Thursday the 24th day of May 1849. lie The Assembly was then closed by the offering up of prayer, singing of the two lastverses of the 122d Psalm, and pronouncing of the blessing.
AN ADDRESS to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND,
delivered on Friday, 19th May 1848, by appointment of the Assembly.
At Edinburgh, the 18th day of May 1848. Sess. l. Which day the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland being met and duly constituted. Inter alia,
It was agreed that, at the first diet of to-morrow, the Assembly engage in devotional exercises; and the Assembly appoint Mr ANDREW GRAY, Minister at Perth, to address the House, on the present position and duties of the Church, some time in the course of that diet.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, by
THOMAS PITCAIRN, Cl. Eccl. Scot. Lib.
At Edinburgh, the 19th day of May 1848. Sess. 2. Which day the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland being met and duly constituted. Inter alia,
The General Assembly was addressed by Mr ANDREW GRAY, Minister at Perth, on God's dealings towards the Church, and on these as calling the Church to a consideration of her sins, dangers, and duties.
The Assembly express their thanks to Mr Gray for the address which he has delivered, and they resolve that the same be printed and published without delay.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, by
THOMAS PITCAIRN, CI. Eccl. Scot. Lib.
MODERATOR, AND FATHERS, AND BRETHREN,--Five years are now completed since our Disruption from the State. They have been notable years. The first of them saw us busy with church-building as never men were busy with it before,—busy with organization,-- busy with the gathering of the flocks that owned us for their shepherds. In the second, we were called to deep searchings into our spiritual state, and to extended labours of an evangelistic nature among our people; and the voice of God spoke solemnly to us in the providence which removed Dr Welsh. The third was the year of the great Manse-subscription, of the Inverness meeting of Assembly, and of the commencement of more special and systematic efforts on behalf of the congregations that were suffering from the refusal of Sites in the Highland and rural districts. That was the year with which the floating manse of Eigg and the floating church of Strontian were more peculiarly associated; it was the year when the Church became more acutely sensible of the hand of man lying upon her. The fourth was a year of work, as its predecessors had been. A new and powerful influence was given to the Education Scheme, and a sustentation fund for schoolmasters was set on foot. But, besides this, it was the year when the hand of God began to touch us, and we had to mourn the departure of Brown, and Brewster, and M‘Bride. The fifth,—the year which has now expired, -what shall we say of it? It is a year which must always be sadly remembered in our annals, -a year of much affliction to us, when stroke after stroke fell upon the Church, and the anger of the Lord was not turned away, but His hand was stretched out still. It had scarcely begun its course when Chalmers—the Luther, the Knox, and the Henderson of our day, all in one-was taken from us, and we had to cry,“ My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof!" Hamilton, Macdonald, Stewart, Speirs, and youthful Innes of Canobie,--standard-bearers all of them,--followed in stunning succession,--of more than one of whom not a few of us could exclaim, “ I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan : very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”
Meeting here, then, as the General Assembly of a Church so sorely stricken,-as an Assembly bereaved of men who would have been present this day among its brightest ornaments, -it becomes us to try to improve the divine dispensation. Can we doubt that a call has come to us to consider our ways, and to humble ourselves for our sins before the Lord? Is it too much to suppose, my fathers and brethren, that evil has been seen in us which the Lord is reproving? Is it too much to say, that we ourselves should endeavour to see that evil, and to put it away?
What if we have sometimes forgotten who it is by whom the wonders of our recent career have been done, and if we have robbed the Lord of a portion of bis glory? A great sacrifice was laid on the altar of principle in 1843. The world was astonished; and Christendom hastened to pay the tribute of its admiration. Immense efforts were subsequently made; vast sums came into our treasury; almost in a day the house of the Lord was built again, and the headstone brought forth with shoutings; and the anticipations of those who predicted failure and ruin to our cause were utterly confounded. “ Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” But the tempter was at our ear, to suggest that we ourselves had done it all. The wicked spirit—that taught the king of Babylon to exclaim, “ Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ?”—cannot have been idle in our case. Are we sure we have always resisted him? Has his lying testimony, so catching to the flesh, always been scouted and abhorred by us as it ought? And, while thinking of our successes and our progress, and talking with each other about them, have we been careful at all times to remember the Lord's word to Zerubbabel, which is his word also to us, “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts?"
There is another Éstablishment besides our own in these kingdoms, and in it a goodly band who are witnessing, with more or less fidelity, for evangelical truth, although it has not been given them to attain to our full Scottish testimony for the royal prerogatives of Christ. What if we have occasionally allowed ourselves to forget the peculiar difficulties by which these brethren are encircled,—their unhappy isolation from one another, their dependence on a powerful hierarchy, and their hereditary connection with a Church whose constitution is most defective and unsound,-and, elated with the sacrifice by which our evangelical struggle was signalised, have slid into invidious comparisons in our thoughts, as if we were much better than they?
It is a remarkable circumstance, and unspeakably encouraging, that the contributions of our people for the missionary cause, and our various church schemes, have far exceeded what was raised for the same objects throughout the Establishment before the Disruption. Have the exercises of our minds on this blessed fact been uniformly of a suitable character ? Have we run into no vain-glorious contrasts between the givings of our own and of other denominations? Have we always been just to those who now possess the Establishment, and who —whatever the motives may be, (and with the motives we have little, if anything, to do,)—are certainly making larger contributions than they were wont, when they and we were associated together?
What a noble band of leaders and champions was at our head in the exodus of 1843 ! One of them, of more than European fame for his eloquence, his genius, his philanthropy, and the moral grandeur of his character; and many of them, whose praise for gifts and graces was in all the Churches ! Perhaps we grew proud of our heroes. Perhaps we gloried in them, when we should have gloried only in the Lord. It may be that we regarded our visible captains more, and the invisible Commander less, than we ought to have done,--that our eye was too much upon Moses, and too little upon the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire !
Yet again, my Fathers and Brethren. We have suffered much wrong, and to this day we suffer it.
Not to dwell upon the wrong we suffered by the Disruption itself, and by the events and proceedings which led to it, a war of proscription has been waged against our principles by many who have influence and power. In numerous instances, toleration is practically refused to us,-toleration for our worship, and toleration even for ourselves. Such treatment is hard to bear,-hard to bear indeed, as Christians ought to bear it. I do not know that we have always succeeded in bearing it aright. Of course, it is not meant that we should be insensible to oppression. It is not meant that we should not complain of it, or do what we can that it may be brought to an end. But who will deny that feelings of bitterness, which are not pleasing to God, are very apt to be produced in the breasts of the injured,-feelings of bitterness and unholy resentment against those who rob us of the liberty of religion? It is possible that we have yielded to such feelings more than we are aware of, and cloaked them with the name of a just indignation. It is a difficult duty, but a duty most incumbent notwithstanding, to love our enemies. That is not to say that we should love them as we love our friends and benefactors; but it binds us to seek their good, and wish them well, and to have no vindictive spirit.
Trials are a test of faith, and of Christian patience, and submission to the will of God. How have we stood the test ? Has our faith been always firm ? Has our reliance on
the promise, the love, and the power of Him in whose cause we are embarked, never wavered? Has our patience been unbroken? Have we never repined because the deliverance seemed to tarry too long? Our trials have been, and in many cases are, considerable; but they might have been still more severe. They might have been as fiery and terrible as those of our witnessing ancestors. They might have equalled those of our brethren in the Canton of Vaud, whom cruel laws now doom to banishment and temporal ruin, if they do their duty to God. Have we been mindful of this? Have we sung of the mercy that has been joined to the judgment? Have we praised the God, whom Daniel praised in the den, for shutting the lions' mouths ? Trials have often proved a blessing to the Church. It is seldom, indeed, that the Lord does not make them fruitful of benefit. There is ground for believing that they have been of service to us. Surely they have not quenched the zeal of God's people, nor made the principles of the Church less dear to them. They have helped our sense of the preciousness of the gospel, and sent us to the throne of grace, when we might not otherwise have approached it. Have we always remembered these things, and the consequent duty of glorying in tribulations ? knowing that tribulation worketh, and ought to work, patience; that patience worketh experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not asliamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us?
Since we came to occupy our present position as the Free Church of Scotland, apart from the Establishment, we have been much engaged with the outward business of the house of our God. It was necessary to give special and continued attention to it. We should have erred, had we held back; and those brethren in the ministry, who allow the indispensable secularities of the Church to fall into disorder, misinterpret the will of the Lord. But then, on the other hand,“ the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The kingdom of God is spiritual ; the prime business of the kingdom is spiritual. What if we have occasionally concerned ourselves for the means, as if they were the end ? If we have had more regard to that which is external, than to that which is internal ? If we have sometimes exalted the lower interest above the higher, and given that which is supreme the subordinate place? It is natural to man thus to err. And who will say that, amid our manifold activities and toils, we have always watched, and prayed, and laboured sufliciently, for the conversion of souls, and the edification of the body of Christ? O if the Lord has at any time found us more anxious for the outward equipment of the Church than for its hidden life, or more eager to add members to our congregations than to bring sinners into vital connection with himself, what wonder need there be that he has a controversy with us, and that He has laid us low by His afllictive dispensations ?
We have hinted at some of the sins which the Lord may have seen in us, and which he may be calling us to repent of and forsake. Perhaps there is a farther design in the recent dealings of his providence. Every state of the Church has dangers that are peculiar to it. After any great change in the condition of the Church has occurred, the Church has need to arise, and look forward, and around, that it may know what the dangers are against which it has to guard. May we not believe that we have had a summons to keep our eyes about us, and to watch lest we fall into temptation? If the summons is loud, the peril may be great.
An eminent writer has said, that“ it is after the most painful fatigues, and the most strenuous exertion, that sleep generally overcomes a man; and even so, after the most laborious struggles, does the Church lie most exposed to the danger of slumber. A revival is generally followed by a lethargy, and a great elevation by a great fall.” Thus it was in the times of early Christianity. The fire and water of centuries of trouble once fairly passed, and a wealthy place arrived at, religion languished, and the Church fell asleep. The same thing happened at the Reformation. When Protestantism made its way from under the imperial ban and the interdicts of the powers of the world, how soon did it lose the spirit of a holy propagandism, and sink into apathy and sloth! A result not dissimilar, as we all well know, followed our own Revolution of 1688. When the darkness and death that had pressed round the Church, and aillicted it for twenty-eight years, were gone, how soon did darkness and death of another kind, but more disastrous, take up their abode within its pale! My fathers and brethren, Shall future historians find another example of the same mournful sequence in the case of this Free Church of Scotland ? May God forbid it! But surely there is danger. We peruse the records of the past in vain, if they do not teach us this. Compared with the period of excitement and distracting warfare which preceded the summer of 1843, we have had, since then, though with many sore exceptions, comparative rest and peace