« السابقةمتابعة »
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FREE CHURCH
THURSDAY, MAY 18. 1848.
Sermon by the Rev. Dr Sieveright, Moderator of last Assembly-Assembly constituted-Names of Commissioners read-Dr Patrick Clason of Buccleuch Church, Edinburgh, chosen Moderator - His Address-Rev. J. J. Wood appointed Clerk, ad interim-Committees named.
THE General Assembly, having met in their Hall at Canonmills, the Rev. Dr SIEVERIGHT of Markinch, late Moderator, delivered a discourse from Lamentations II. 14. After sermon the Assembly was constituted by prayer, and the Roll of Commissioners having been read by the Clerk,—
Dr SIEVERIGHT said, The General Assembly has been now constituted in the name of the great Head of the Church. The roll of members has been read over, and now it only remains,-after returning most hearty thanks for the honour conferred upon myself, and for the lenient judgment exercised by the Assembly during my occupancy of the Chair, it only remains that I now propose and recommend to your suffrages a successor; and I beg to name Dr Clason, one of the ministers of Edinburgh,- -one known to the whole Church,-one who has done good service in past time at the table of the Assembly,-and one who will do good service when called up to occupy a higher post,-a man as amiable in his manners as he is decided and zealous in his doctrinal and ministerial character. Without enlarging further, I beg leave to propose and recommend to the suffrages of the Assembly Dr Patrick Clason. (Hear, hear.)
The nomination having been unanimously agreed to, Dr CLASON was introduced, and his appointment having been intimated to him by Dr Sieveright, he took the Chair, and spoke as follows:
Reverend Fathers and Brethren,-I thank you for the honour you have conferred on me by calling on me to preside over this Assembly, and crave your indulgence, should there be any lacking on my part in the fulfilment of the various duties devolving on him who occupies the place to which your partiality has raised me. And if to these heartfelt acknowledgments I add a few remarks, I do so more in deference to the example of the illustrious men who have recently filled this Chair, than from any conviction of the urgent importance of what I am about to say.
Reverend Fathers and Brethren,-This day five years the General Assembly of our Church first met within these walls, and it may not be unuseful to recal to mind the circumstances in which we were then placed, and the various feelings that affected us. On that day we took the step, the solemn step, which we had for some time previously anticipated as necessary, by renouncing all ecclesiastical connection with the State; and to that course we were shut up, not so much by any pledges we had given, as by the strong and decided conviction that to act otherwise would involve on our part a sinful abandonment of sacred truth; that it would be a re
This Sermon has been printed under the title of " An Ancient Complaint applied to Modern Exigencies."
nunciation of that noble testimony which our forefathers had borne in times of sore and heavy affliction, and a dishonour to Christ, who is alone King over his holy hill of Zion. But while our path was indeed so plain, yet we cannot forget those feelings of awe with which we entered upon it,—an awe deepened to some of us by the consciousness that we knew not the full consequences of that which we were compelled to do, or where we might hereafter find a shelter and a home. We sorrowed to see that ecclesiastical Establishment, to which we were in former times attached by ties more or less strong, and which, in its better and brighter days, we desired to see so extended and beautified as to become the glory of the whole land, trodden under foot, and degraded and desecrated by the rude hand of secular power. We sorrowed to leave behind us friends and companions, who hitherto had been like-minded with us, and with whom we had often taken counsel regarding the affairs of the house of God. But, most of all, we sorrowed on account of those portions of our flocks who forsook us, and joined not with us in the work of the Lord. The excitement of that day has passed away, but it has left behind impressions and recollections that can never be effaced. But what cause have we to bless God, for the light he made to arise upon us when we were in the midst of darkness,—for the help He afforded us, when that on which we had hitherto leant became a broken reed, for the larger door of utterance He opened to us,-for the opportunities of doing good to the souls of men we have enjoyed, and for the evidence He has already given to some of us that our labours have not been altogether in vain. He has taught us why he so dealt with us in the days that are past. He has rebuked our fears, and we have learned by all his gracious dealings to be henceforward more entirely guided by a regard to his law and authority, unscared by the scowl of men in power and the frown of the mighty. How greatly does it concern us to reduce to practice the lessons we have received, and to embrace with ardour those opportunities of doing good to the souls of our fellow-sinners in this the time of our visitation.
Reverend Fathers and Brethren,-Many of those who joined with us in our witness bearing for the sovereign authority of Christ have been snatched away from the midst of us,-some of these the foremost in our ranks, and justly honoured as Captains of our bands. The Church has been bereft of their counsels, and their voices are no more heard in our halls, for they have been called to a nobler Company, and a holier Assembly. But let not our hearts fail. The Lord, who is "the Wonderful, the Counsellor," is our King for evermore, and to Him let us henceforth look up with greater singleness of eye, with greater stedfastness of faith; and in his strength let us go forward, making mention of his righteousness, and treading in the footsteps of those who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises. Reverend Fathers and Brethren,-We are now met in the name of Christ, and in the presence of God, to deliberate about the affairs of his Church; and He before whom we now are requires both inward reverence and outward respect. I would not speak in this case as one invested with any authority over you; but would rather give utterance to those convictions that are deeply seated in the breast of every one here present. The matters to which our attention is to be directed are the most important that can occupy any council of men. Surely it is meet that in such a case our minds should be seriously exercised, and our hearts often raised to God for direction; and that our whole spirit and demeanour should be grave as becomes an assembly of Christian men. We meet at a time when there are many among us hungering for bread, and many more perishing for lack of knowledge. We meet at a time when the nations around are shaking, and the counsels of the wise have been brought to nothing, and God has made bare his holy arm before the kings and rulers of the earth. Earnestly do I pray that we may be enabled so to conduct ourselves as become men engaged in a great work in which the Lord is upholding us; so that those who are admitted to be spectators of our proceedings may see that He is with us, and we may be enabled to speak with those enemies who have risen up against us, unashamed, in the gate.
Mr A. DUNLOP proposed that the vacant chair of Dr Clason, as one of the clerks, be filled ad interim by the Rev. J. Julius Wood, which was agreed to, and Mr Wood accordingly took his seat at the table.
The usual Committees on Bills, Overtures, &c., were then appointed.
Dr CANDLISH proposed, and the Assembly agreed, that instead of taking up tomorrow (Friday), as had been hitherto done, in the interval of the devotional exercises, with the reports on the Jewish scheme and the schemes of the Church, the whole of the forenoon sederunt should be spent in devotional exercises, the Assembly taking up the reports referred to, along with any other suitable business, in the evening; and that, instead of the reports, the Assembly should call upon Mr Gray of Perth to address them, on their present position and duty. The Assembly adjourned at three o'clock.
FRIDAY, MAY 19.
Devotional Exercises-Address by Rev. A. Gray of Perth - Assembly order the Address to be printed-Report of Committee on revising Commissions-Report of Business CommitteeMinisters to preach during sittings of Assembly Report of Board of Missions and Education -Speeches of Dr Makellar, Mr Jaffray, and Dr R. Buchanan-Report on Conversion of the Jews-Speeches of Mr Davidson and Mr Macnaughtan-Arrangement of the Schemes of the Church-Speeches of Dr Candlish and Mr Tweedie.
The Assembly met to-day at twelve o'clock, and in accordance with the arrangements made yesterday, the forenoon sederunt was spent in devotional exercises. These were led by the Moderator, and the Rev. Mr Burns of Kilsyth. The Rev. Mr Gray of Perth then delivered an Address on our Sins, Dangers, and Duties.
Mr CARMENT of Rosskeen rose to express his high sense of the admirable address which had been delivered by Mr Gray, and begged to move that the reverend gentleman be requested to place his manuscript at the disposal of the Assembly, in order that it might be printed by them; which motion was unanimously agreed to, and the Moderator having stated to Mr Gray what was the wish of the Assembly, Mr Gray placed the manuscript in the hands of the Clerk.*
The Assembly again engaged in devotional exercises, which were led by the Rev. Mr Laird of Montrose, and then adjourned till the evening.
The Assembly met at seven o'clock, and after devotional evercises, the Minutes of the two last diets were read and approved of.
The Committee on Revising Commissions gave in a Report, from which it appeared, that in some cases irregularities had been committed in attesting Commissions and that in others bona fide Certificates had not been produced.
The Assembly, after hearing the above Report, sustained the Commissions, notwithstanding various objections in regard to them brought under the notice of the House in the Report.
In respect that Sir James Forrest had been elected by the Presbytery of Chanonry and also by the Presbytery of Dingwall, and it being necessary that an election be made by Sir James, he made choice of the Presbytery of Chanonry.
From the Report of the Committee on Overtures, which was also read, it appeared that the entire number of overtures to come before the Assembly on various subjects was seventy-four.
BUSINESS OF THE ASSEMBLY.
Dr P. M'FARLAN gave in a Report from the Committee for Arranging Business. On Saturday the Assembly will first take up letter of Dr Candlish resigning the Professorship of Theology in the New College, with the memorial of the Kirk-Session and Congregation of St George's, Edinburgh, on the same subject. Second, will receive the deputation from the Irish Presbyterian Church; after which, a Committee will be appointed for receiving applications for the erection of charges, &c. ; and the Assembly will, if time permit, then take up the case of Mr Anderson from the Presbytery of Dunoon, and the case of Mr Hendrie and others from the Presbytery
For this Address (which has been printed separately) see Appendix.
of Kintyre. On Monday forenoon the Assembly will take up the case of the Gaelic Church of Greenock, and Mr Walker's case; and in the evening, a Report on the New College will be read and laid on the table, preparatory to its being discussed on a subsequent day. The Report of the Continental Committee will be also given in; and the Assembly will receive deputations from Foreign Churches.
SERVICES IN THE ASSEMBLY HALL.
The CLERK announced the following arrangements for public worship on the two following Sabbaths, viz. :
On Sabbath the 21st,
Mr WALLACE of Hawick to preach in the forenoon.
Mr FAIRBAIRN of Salton in the afternoon.
Mr MELLIS of Tealing in the evening,
On Sabbath the 28th,
Mr TOPP of Elgin to preach in the forenoon.
The Assembly then called for the Report of the
BOARD OF MISSIONS AND EDUCATION.
Dr MAKELLAR, the Convener, spoke as follows:-As we are now about to enter on what may be regarded as the proper business of this Assembly, it is of great importance that we should apprehend aright the true character of the duties that are before us, and the solemnity of the circumstances in which we are placed. Ours is a task of no ordinary kind. We have been called to labour in building up the Lord's house in troublous times-exposed from the very beginning to great oppositions and hindrances-now surrounded with distress of nations and tumults of the people, and experiencing within our own communion many visitations of affliction which should have pierced through our hearts with lasting sorrow. When met together as we now are, we look in vain for countenances that used to beam upon us with the lustre of brotherly kindness and Christian affection-and we hear not any more the precious counsels of wisdom and love that dropped from their lips. These trials are heavy to bear, but they give us a salutary warning, that our life "is even as a vapour, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away;" and they press upon us, and urge the admonition, that we should be "followers of those who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises." When reviewing our short but eventful history as a Church, we may well exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" In our own characters and condition we find such tokens of the Lord's mercy as should fill our hearts with wonder and gratitude; and in the course of His adorable providence we are furnished with most favourable opportunities of multiplying our services and of consecrating our substance to the advancement of His cause. The year that is now past is one of the most remarkable that we have yet experienced. We all know something of the hardships and difficulties which have belonged to it. These have pervaded every class of society, and they have been found in a greater or less degree in every dwelling-place of Mount Zion. From such a state of things, where depression and distress greatly prevailed, it might have been expected that deficient resources would occasion diminished supplies. And so it has been almost universally with those associations whose supplies depend on the free-will offerings of the people. But through the good hand of the Lord our God upon us, we have not only reached an amount of contribution equal to the former year, but we have even surpassed it. It is true, that this cannot be said of each one of our Schemes taken by itself; but in putting the whole together, we find a larger sum than that we had reached in any previous year. This fact may well surprise, and assuredly it ought to encourage and delight our hearts. It may be regarded as a signal token of the Lord's condescension and kindness, that while he calls us to the service of dispensing his blessings to others, he is pleased to provide opportunities of doing so according to the riches of his own grace. In regard to the sources of supply, it is natural for us to look first of all to our con
gregational contributions. Through the unusual pressure of the times, and the manifold derangement of industry and commerce, there is a falling off in these ; and yet it is not so much, upon the whole, as might have been looked for. The supplies, no doubt, are less, but the arrangements connected with them are now more complete, and the attention more steady, and the conviction of duty more strong, than at any previous time; and therefore we may hope that brighter days will soon come In the case of the young, it is pleasing to find that the ardour and energy of their first love is not abated. We may, therefore, expect that the small deficiency of this year's contribution will be more than made up in better times. In the course of this year we have renewed our visits to England, and revived our confidence in the sympathy and liberality of our friends in the south. They, too, have shared in the difficulties which came upon us, and were not in a condition to indulge the impulse of their generous hearts in the desire to help us; but the meetings held in London, and Manchester, and Liverpool, and Brighton, and other places, give us ground to hope for greater success in time to come. Churches of various denominations in our own country have lent us a helping hand; and while the amount of their contributions was not great, yet it was valuable as an evidence of their friendship. It is a pleasing duty to acknowledge these offices of kindness; but still we must go on to state that, at an advanced period of the year, the state of our finances was far from satisfactory. So late as the beginning of March, it came to be known that the needful supplies of our Home and Foreign Missions were deficient to the amount of nearly £5000. This discovery occasioned, as well it might, serious apprehension and alarm. Our time of ingathering was near a close-our ordinary channels of supply were dried up--we looked to the right hand and to the left, but no help was found. In this strait we cried unto the Lord, who was pleased to send us deliverance. He was pleased to put it into the hearts of some of our Christian ladies to exert themselves for the purpose of supplying any want of funds. By their strenuous and successful efforts we are now enabled to come before you with the gratifying statement, that notwithstanding the unusual difficulties of this year, the amount of contributions to our Missionary Schemes proper is greater than at any former time. Last year the sum total was £43,327: 9: 13, while it has reached this year to £47,424 : 15:11. It will be interesting to the General Assembly to receive a more particular account of the different ways in which this large sum has been supplied, and of the special objects to which it has been appropriated. With the permission of this House, Mr Jaffray will perform this duty in the business-like way for which he is so well qualified.
Mr JAFFRAY said-The simple duty devolves upon me of reading over the list of contributions to the Schemes of the Church during the last year. It turns out, as has been stated by Dr Makellar, that there is a considerable increase in the funds of the Schemes proper of the Church, and that increase will be observed by my reading over the particulars of this table :
Congregational Collections, including Schoolmasters' Sustentation Fund and
Collection for Mission Buildings in India,
Individual and Miscellaneous Donations,
Special Contributions from the Ladies of Scotland, per the
Ladies Agnew and Foulis,
Colonial and Foreign,
New College Building Fund,
Interest of Money,
£30,440 14 4 6
318 19 3,927 12 4