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and that the amount was invested in the manner and at the rates of interest specified in the states of fund hereto appended.
"With respect to the process mentioned in last year's Report as having been raised by the executors of the late Mr Burns, for the purpose of having the rights of the several legatees under his settlement legally ascertained, the Committee have the satisfaction to report, that there is reason to believe that a decision will shortly be pronounced, whereby the right of the Widows' Fund to the full legacy of £800 bequeathed to it will be recognised; and that, consequently, the full sum will be available on the death of Miss Burns, the liferent legatee, unless from depreciation in the value of investments, or otherwise, the funds left by Mr Burns shall have materially fallen short of their estimated value as at the date of his decease."
Professor MACDOUGALL said, that since the reception of last Report by the Assembly, the interests of the Fund have sustained a severe loss in the death of Mr Low, the actuary, to whose exertions they were indebted for the original Scheme, and the constitution of the Fund, and to whom the General Assembly formerly recorded their thanks for the ability and care which he had manifested in this matter, and also his disinterested and gratuitous services in watching over the progress of the Fund. Notwithstanding this occurrence, the Committee had not felt themselves called upon to proceed to the appointment of a successor to Mr Low. He had only to say, in conclusion, that during the last year they had not to report any legacies to the Fund, but the Committee trusted that as this important Scheme became more prominent, it would attract more attention, and that the people would not forget that the whole sum was paid out of the Sustentation Fund, and that it was just so much of a deduction from the incomes of the ministers. The incomes were just so much less, and he trusted the congregations would not suffer the ministers to be losers in such an important matter.
Mr CRAIG of Rothesay moved the adoption of the Report, and that the thanks of the Assembly should be recorded to Professor MacDougall.
The Clerk then read overtures from the Free Synod of Moray, and the Free Presbytery of Nairn, in regard to missionaries being permitted to join the Fund, and in regard to the widows of certain ministers who died before the Fund was originated.
No one appearing to support the overtures,
Dr CUNNINGHAM moved that the overtures be rejected. They spoke of matters, he said, which could only be disposed of in Committee, and involved calculations which it was impossible at that time to enter upon. He thought it the proper course
to dismiss the overtures.
Mr SINCLAIR argued that the missionaries should be included in the Fund; and suggested that the matters referred to in the overtures should be referred to Professor MacDougall's Committee, to consult with a professional gentleman as to how this could be done.
Dr CUNNINGHAM said, he believed it was impossible to do anything in the matter; but he had no objection to remit it to a Committee. With regard to overtures, it was the general rule to dismiss them when the parties who sent them up did not make their appearance.
Professor MACDOUGALL said, the Committee had no objection to take charge of any inquiries which the Assembly laid upon them; but this matter had already engaged them long ago, and the proposal of admitting missionaries into connection with the Fund was peremptorily rejected by Mr Low, as being calculated to subvert the basis of their whole scheme.
Mr MONTEITH of Kingarth suggested that the subject should be remitted to the Committee.
Dr J. BUCHANAN said, this matter had been under the consideration of the Committee on Foreign Missions; and with a view to the interests of the missionaries themselves, they had made up their mind that it was not expedient that the missionaries should be connected with Professor MacDougall's scheme at all.
Dr CANDLISH said, he wished to make a suggestion in regard to the outed ministers who were still connected with the Widows' Fund of the Establishment. He referred to a difficulty that might occur prospectively. He had observed that in one or two instances ministers connected with the Free Church had appeared at
Established Presbyteries to enter in separate records the names of their children. He was far from objecting to that procedure, but he thought it very desirable that some arrangement should be come to, if practicable, with the trustees of the scheme on that point, lest afterwards ministers of the Free Church of Scotland should be exposed to loss and inconvenience. If Professor MacDougall had no objection, he would move that this matter be remitted to his Committee to consider how the rights of the widows and children of ministers of the Free Church on the old Widows' Fund could be best protected from loss and inconvenience.
Professor MACDOUGALL said, he had already made inquiry at the Office of the Fund of the Established Church, when he was assured that the entering the births of children in the separate records kept by Established Presbyteries was a mere matter of convenience to facilitate the making up of the returns.
Mr GIBSON said, the returns connected with the Widows' Fund would be far better attended to by the Presbytery Clerks, if they were not subjected to any penalty, as at present, which he, as well as many others, would not submit to. deliverance of the Assembly was as follows:
“The Assembly approve of the Report, record their thanks to Professor MacDougall and the Committee, and remit to the Committee to consider in what way the rights and privileges of Ministers on the Fund connected with the Establishment may be preserved, in so far as respects the regulations connected with the separate record kept by the Presbyteries of the Established Church."
The Assembly took up the Overtures on the Widows' Fund from the Synod of Moray and Presbytery of Nairn, which having been read, the Assembly agree to dismiss.
Mr ARCHIBALD BONAR then gave in a Report from the Committee on the Treasurership, which stated that the Committee had appointed Mr John Macdonald Treasurer of the Sustentation and other Funds, with a salary of £420 a-year, and to find security to the extent of £2000.
The Report was approved of and Mr Macdonald's appointment confirmed.
Dr P. M'FARLAN reported that there had been no meeting of this Committee during the past year, but he thought it would be proper to continue the Committee. The Committee was accordingly re-appointed,-Dr M'Farlan, Convener.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATIONS.
Dr CANDLISH said,-My Report on this subject this year will be exceedingly brief. It consists substantially on simply laying on the table of the Assembly two volumes that had been published by the Committee this year, or rather under the Committee's superintendence. It will be remembered that an arrangement was made last year, in virtue of which the whole business and management of this scheme was handed over to a publisher, the Committee charging themselves simply with superintending the issue of the volumes. It will be remembered that the publisher was bound to produce a certain number of volumes according to the number of subscribers. I am sorry to say that the number of subscribers to this scheme, in consequence of the state of the times, have so much decreased during the past year, that the publisher has only been able to produce two volumes; but the Committee are satisfied they are all they can claim at his hands. A corresponding reduction has been made in the subscription. Instead of 4s. it is only 2s. 6d., for which sum the subscriber obtained these two volumes. When I state that these two volumes are "Willison's Afflicted Man's Companion," and " Biographical Sketches of the Life and Labours of the Rev. George Whitefield," I am sure the Assembly would think that those who have tendered their subscriptions this year have obtained valuable returns for their contributions. So much for the past. I have only to say for the future, that we request that the Assembly, in re-appointing the Committee, will lend their full discretion as to the mode of carrying out this object. The Committee are now very much come to the opinion, that we cannot any longer continue to carry on the scheme in the precise way in which it has been conducted hitherto. The
Assembly are aware that, generally speaking, those schemes which contemplate an annual subscription and publication of a certain number of volumes, such as the Parker Society, the Calvin Translation Society, and the Wodrow Society, must be carried on indefinitely. We are consequently not prepared to suggest the continuance of the scheme in its present form. But we are prepared to suggest that the Committee should be re-appointed, and should be authorised to make arrangements for the publication of such works as seem suitable from time to time, not at their own risk, but at the risk of such publishers as may be willing to undertake them, at their own terms, and under the superintendence of the Committee. In short, we would give the scheme a greater flexibility. Instead of stereotyping it, to the issue of three or four volumes like what I hold in my hand, to subscribers of 4s., or 2s. 6d. a-year, I would suggest that the Committee keep their eyes open, in the way of observing what books and tracts, of different sorts and sizes, may appear suitable to the times,-books and tracts suited to counteract the prevailing errors that are seducing the minds of the people at present,-Popery, Infidelity, Morrisonianism, and other forms of error of different kinds. Our idea would be this,-very likely donations might come in to some small extent to our fund, by means of which we might be enabled to remunerate the services of our editor, and might be enabled to obtain good editions of old works, and fresh works suited to the exigencies of the times. But, even although donations should not come in to any considerable amount, or not at all, we still as a Committee might be prepared to superintend the publication of useful works, whether republications or new works; and, by giving the countenance and sanction of the Committee, the booksellers might be induced, at their own risk, to undertake the publication. In conclusion, I trust the Assembly will be disposed to re-appoint the Committee with general powers of the sort I have ndicated.
Mr WATERS of Burghead said, he was very sorry the Publication Scheme was to be discontinued. It was the tantalizing way in which the works had been published which had prevented subscriptions from coming in. They were promised a new volume long before it came, and then two volumes came at once. The people required standard works, and he was exceedingly sorry the scheme was not to be persevered in.
Dr D. MACFARLAN read a Report from the Tract department of the Publication Scheme, which stated that the circulation of the monthly tracts during the last year had been upwards of thirty thousand, thus yielding an amount during the year of more than three hundred and sixty thousand; that the scheme had not cost the Church a single sixpence from the commencement; that during the past year, instead of more ancient worthies in the biographical series, sketches of some of the most eminent fathers in the Free Church had been introduced; and that parcels, when ordered, were sent carriage free to all the principal towns in Scotland at the rate of half-a-crown an hundred.
Dr BEGG said, on the part of the Catechism branch of this Committee he had nothing to report, but perhaps he might be allowed to make an observation on the subject of the Publication Committee Report. He suspected they had rather mistaken, in the original management of the Publication Committee, the choice of books to be circulated amongst the people. He was afraid they dwelt too much in black letter, if not in old spelling, and that they had suffered from not contenting themselves with publishing standard works of their principal theologian authors. (Hear, hear). He was sure the works which Dr Candlish had now laid on the table, were works which we should endeavour to have circulated amongst all their congregations; they were most admirably got up by Mr Johnstone, and they would not find two cheaper volumes in the world. It was of the greatest importance to have such a book as "Willison's Afflicted Man's Companion" circulating amongst the people, and he would like also to see a good edition of the Confession of Faith, and of the other Standards of the Church, published at such a price as would bring them within the means of the poorest members of their congregations. (Applause.) It was unaccountable to what an extent, in consequence of the long reign of moderatism, their excellent theology had been systematically driven from the cottages of the labouring classes of Scotland; and they must endeavour to restore such works not only to their shelves, but to their understandings and to their hearts. He rejoiced in the
change proposed; and he hoped, in their future publications, they would not be limited in their choice to the works merely of Scotch theologians, but that the whole field of theology should be gleaned from.
Mr CARMENT thought the suggestion thrown out by Dr Begg a good one in reference to the Confession of Faith: and he would also desire very much to see an edition of that work published in Gaelic, as well as a Gaelic edition of Gray's Larger Catechism.
Dr CUNNINGHAM said, he found in the Acts of Assembly for last year that the Publication Committee were instructed to issue a new and improved edition of the admirable Catechism of Mr Gray, and he believed that the Committee had discharged this duty as they were enjoined, although they had not reported the fact to the Assembly. He expressed his approbation of the Catechism; and suggested that, instead of approving of it generally, as had been done by last Assembly, that they should not limit their approval of it by that term, which implied, he was sure, more than was meant.
Dr Begg, Mr Gibson, and Mr Ogilvie, expressed their disapproval of the proposed change on several grounds; and Dr Cunningham did not press his proposal. The following was the deliverance of the Assembly:-"The Assembly approve of the Reports which have been given in, re-appoint the Publication Committee, Dr Candlish, Convener, and grant power in terms of the Committee's recommendation. The Assembly further express their satisfaction, that a new and enlarged edition of the Catechism on the Principles and Constitution of the Church, has been published since last Assembly; and satisfied with its soundness as well as its suitableness for the purpose intended, approve generally of the same, as containing a valuable summary of this Church's history, and exhibition of her distinctive principles from the beginning of the Reformation to the present time, and earnestly recommend its general use. The Assembly further express their satisfaction at the publication of a more brief Catechism, entitled First Constitutional Catechism,' and they earnestly recommend this Catechism to general use."
MEMORIALS OF THE DISRUPTION.
Dr CANDLISH said that, in the absence of Mr Lorimer of Glasgow, Convener of the Committee on this subject, he begged to state that there was no report to be given in. This matter, he feared, had not been taken up by the ministers of the Church so readily as Mr Lorimer had at first anticipated. The Committee have been in existence since last Assembly, but he was not aware there had been any progress made in the preparation of any memorials of the Disruption. He begged, therefore, simply to move that the Committee be re-appointed, with its former Convener. ("Agreed, agreed.')
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON QUOAD SACRA CHURCHES.
Mr ANDREW GRAY, in introducing this subject, said, that in the Report of Committee to last General Assembly, they had addressed themselves in the first instance to bring information from all parts of the Church, as to the number of quoad sacra Churches before the Disruption. They had issued schedules embracing a great number of points to all Presbytery clerks; and certainly the Committee owed to Presbyteries an expression of their sense of the exertions that were made by their brethren in obtaining information, which must have cost them no small amount of labour to collect. The Committee had received answers to their circular from those quarters where there were quoad sacra Churches, and from all the Presbyteries of the Church, with the exception of one or two at the very utmost. Of course it cost the Committee some trouble as well as Presbytery clerks; and after a considerable time spent in collecting the information for which a fair, full, and accurate statement of this matter in regard to the quoad sacra Churches, they found that there was in the hands of the Establishment at present 146 of them, and of these not used as places of worship at all, generally speaking, there was locked up 25. Of the 146, there were 17 preaching stations at the time of Disruption, and 33 were now preaching stations. They found also that there were 82 quoad sacra churches in the hands of the Free Church, and of these 45 were not presently secured to the Free Church. (Hear, hear.) The next thing that the Committee felt it to be their duty to engage in,
was to endeavour to bring the claims of this Church and its members under the consideration of Parliament; and accordingly they appointed a Deputation to proceed to London, which Deputation was there in the month of March last. They had, while in London, communications with various parties, and amongst others they had an interview with Sir George Grey, Secretary of State for the Home Department. He (Mr Gray) was sorry to say that no prospect was held out to them of any success attending the introduction of the measure into Parliament for doing what the Committee felt that justice required in the matter. It was admitted on the part of all that they had intercourse with, that their case was one of great hardship. That was admitted in the interview with Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary, and it was not denied that essential justice and equity was on their side. Still it was alleged that there was no prospect of a measure for taking this question out of the hands of the Civil Courts. The Deputation urged that there were precedents for such a course on the part of Government, and referred to the Dissenters' Chapels Act, where a measure was passed through Parliament to stop certain processes going forward in regard to places of worship, and, in fact, to make good titles in favour of parties to prevent them losing them in the civil courts, which would have been the case if the action had been brought to a conclusion. Notwithstanding this, the deputation found no favour in almost any quarter. In making this Report, he was anxious that the case should come before the public in the way that it was put before Parliament, and with that view he thought he could not do better than read. the form of petition which they had drawn up, embodying their view in the matter. It was as follows:
"That many churches were built by voluntary subscription, in connection with the Established Church of Scotland, subsequently to the year 1834, and that a large part of the funds was contributed in consequence of the satisfaction and enthusiasm created by the passing of the veto and chapel acts in the General Assembly of that year, and under the full conviction and reasonable belief that the Church had power to pass these acts without violating the law of the land.
"That many of the subscribers to these churches were constrained by feelings of conscience to leave the Establishment in 1843, when the Veto and Chapel Acts referred to were finally disallowed and set aside by the civil authorities, and the Established Church was declared incompetent to pass them.
"That the Established Church itself, the Government of the country through the law officers of the Crown, and the Lord Chancellor for the time, gave countenance and encouragement to the above-mentioned conviction and belief, which many of the subscribers entertained when they contributed their money, and without which they could not possibly have had anything to do with the erection of places of worship in connection with the Establishment.
"That it is contrary to justice, and inconsistent with the honour of the nation, that any portion of the property of a public institution, as the Church Establishment is, acquired under the circumstances of misconception and error which have been described, should be retained by it, without at least restoring to the subscribers, above referred to, their respective contributions.
"May it therefore please your Honourable House to take the premises into consideration, and to pass an act by which an equitable adjustment, in regard to such places of worship by voluntary contribution since 1834, may be accomplished between the Establishmeut and those who withdrew from it at the Disruption in 1843."
They put their case in that shape, and he was anxious to embrace that brief statement of it in the present Report; and therefore he had read the petition, because they did feel that they had a claim, on the ground that the honour of the nation was concerned in this matter. There could be no doubt that the money subscribed by them, and by the members of the Free Church, to build these edifices, was subscribed under circumstances which the Government and the Civil Courts must hold to be a misconception in regard to the Church Establishment; for there could be no doubt that they would not have subscribed a single farthing of their money if they had understood the terms which were now attempted to be forced on them, and consequently these places of worship would not have been erected at all.