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derstood that the necessary interim appointments be made for carrying on the business of the Church.
The Report of Committee on, 1. Admission of Ministers and Probationers, and Students of other Churches, 2. Appointment of Colleagues, 3. Taking of Students on trials, was given in. The Assembly approved of the Report, and found in terms thereof; and in respect of the two cases of Colleagues and Successors, the Assembly remitted to the Widows' Fund Committee, to consider the relation which ministers occupying that position ought to bear to the Fund.
The Report of the Committee on the Sanctioning of Charges, was then given in and approved of. The Assembly then adjourned.
TUESDAY, MAY 30. 1848.
Overtures anent prevailing errors-Speeches of Mr Gibson, and Dr Cunningham-Universities and Parochial Schools-Speech of Dr Begg-Highland Destitution-Speech of Dr Mackay Meetings of Synods-Collections for the Schemes-Public Accounts Report-Deliverance on Report of Home Mission Committee-Deliverance on Report of Foreign Mission Committee -Continental Committee Accommodation Committee-Deliverance on Education ReportDeliverance on Report of Sustentation and Select Committees - State of Europe-Speeches of Mr Tweedie and Dr Candlish-Mr Moncreiff's reasons of dissent as to Constitution of Schools -Moderator's Address.
The Assembly met and was constituted with devotional exercises.
OVERTURES ANENT PREVAILING ERRORS.
The CLERK read the overture from the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr anent prevailing errors; and also the overture from the Synod of Aberdeen anent the spread of infidelity.
Mr GIBSON said, it was very clear that those several overtures embraced a very large field, both of what might be called speculative doctrine and practical effects. The Pantheism of Germany, with its accompanying materialism, the Communism of the Continent, or the Puseyism of England, which was now drawing so many within its vortex, or that diluted gospel which prevailed in such various forms in this country, and which had prevailed from the beginning, arose from the prevalence of the denial of the supreme authority of God. (Hear.) Another class of errors, which proceeded from the same root, was what were called the rights of conscience; the doctrine being, that though conscience was in the sight of God corrupted,—that men claimed for themselves rights of conscience in the sight of God as well as of man which disclaimed the authority of God. The parties holding such opinions seemed to have a fixed opinion, that there was something of an abstract claim in that thing called conscience to hold its own domain, independent of the authority of God, and a right to throw off that authority and to live as they listed; to walk where they would, and to do as they pleased. (Hear, hear.) He was firmly persuaded that from that notion a great many of the doctrinal errors of the present day had their, he would not say origin, but extended existence. They ought not to be blind to the fact, that strange things were uttered and said in some places in their land, and it was their duty to give a plain warning. They must not encourage the idea that their principles were so difficult of apprehension that would induce the people to say, "Why should we think of them?" What were they then to do? if they did not hold fast by the authority of God's Word, they would get into the rapids and breakers, and the punishment would be as severe as that of other nations.
Mr OGILVY supported the overture from the Synod of Aberdeen anent the spread of infidelity.
Dr CUNNINGHAM said, that this was a matter well worthy of the serious attention of the house; and thought that they ought forthwith to adopt measures for securing that the subject should be more extensively considered. It was necessary that the Church should issue a warning against doctrinal errors, and take measures for promoting a more general acquaintance with the evidences of Christianity. He would
suggest that the Assembly should approve generally of the overtures, and remit them to a Committee to take them into consideration, instructing it to report to next General Assembly as to what measures it would recommend, in order to carry out the object aimed at.
Dr CANDLISH suggested that they should, in the mean time, call the attention of the Education and Publication Committees to the practical suggestions contained in the overture.
The motion of Dr Cunningham, with the addition proposed by Dr Candlish, was agreed to.
UNIVERSITIES AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS.
Dr BEGG, in introducing the overtures on the present state of the universities and parish schools, said, that he had always been of opinion that it was the duty of the Free Church to take up a decided ground in reference to these institutions. He did not sympathise at all with the idea that their taking up this ground would interfere in the slightest degree with their efforts, as a Church, to educate the children of their own people, in so far as they were able to do it. He did not desire that they should rest from their own educational efforts; but when they saw the unsatisfactory condition of public education at this moment, he thought they were bound to give effect to the principle which they had already embodied in the act of Assembly, in reference to the universities and the parochial schools. The Act of Security had been destroyed in so far as the Church Establishment was concerned; and the result of the violation of that act which had taken place was, that they had been driven out of the Established Church. The only thing that remained of that act was the requirement that all professors, and teachers in public and parish schools, should subscribe a formula declaring their adherence to the Established Church, and that they would in practice conform to that institution. The act itself, in every other respect, had been violated and trampled in the dust; and this fragment of it was kept in existence as a means of persecuting,-for he could not designate it by any other name, and excluding Free Churchmen and other Dissenters from the parish schools and colleges of Scotland. They knew what had already been the effect of its operation in reference to the parochial schools. The men who adhered to the Free Church had been driven forth from them; and in regard to the colleges, they were aware that an attempt had also been made to drive forth from them those connected with them. He however rejoiced to say that in this they had not succeeded. They had still their excellent friend Dr Brown in one of the universities; and they had Sir David Brewster at the head of another. (Hear, hear.) Still, however, they saw that if matters were left to stand on their present footing, while the respected brethren whom he had named would be allowed to remain, no one else would be allowed to be inducted. They had lately seen a member of the Free Church (Mr Macdouall) elected by public competition, as the best qualified candidate, to the Hebrew Chair, and yet he was at that moment excluded from the chair and deprived of his rights, because of the existence of this remanent portion of the Act of Security. (Hear.) In these circumstances, he held that it was the duty of the Free Church to give forth their views on the subject, and to do what in them lay to remedy this state of the law. With respect to schools, they knew that in the poorer districts of the country, where the people were unable to build an additional school, the utmost possible hardship resulted from the operation of this law. He knew of one case at least where the people had been able to build a Free Church school; and what was the consequence? Why, the parish school was empty-(a laugh) so that the money expended on it was thrown away for the purpose of upholding a functionary who was altogether useless, but who might be rendered useful if the law was changed, as he proposed it should be. There might be, and he believed there were, different opinions among them in regard to the general subject of tests; but upon this subject there was no difference of opinion, namely, that they held it to be criminal on the part of the nation, and unjust towards all out of the Established Church, regarded in every point of view, to compel public teachers to adhere to an institution which this Assembly believed to be thoroughly corrupt, to be entirely changed from what it originally was, and placed in a position subversive of the original constitution of a Church Establishment. The Assembly would be prepared to take, at least, the step of affirming the principles contained in their
judgments in 1845, in so far as applicable to existing circumstances, and to appoint a Committee to consider the means that ought to be taken for the purpose of carrying them into practical effect at the earliest possible period, authorising them to report to the Commission at any of its stated diets should they see cause, and grant power to the Commission to do in the matter as to them may seem best. He concluded by moving accordingly.
Professor FLEMING seconded the motion.
Mr M. M. CRICHTON, in supporting the motion, said that the great duty of the Free Church was to press forward her own educational scheme. He regarded the opening of the parochial schools as but a secondary and collateral, although an important object.
Dr CANDLISH took the same view of the question as Mr Crichton. He suggested that the motion to be adopted should also embrace a reference to the resolutions of the Assembly in 1847 as well as in 1845.
The motion, with the suggestion made by Dr Candlish, was then agreed to.
Dr MACKAY of Dunoon, Convener of the Highland Destitution Committee, after adverting to the Committee having merged itself in the Relief Board, said, that in consequence of their having ceased to administer relief, some of the people in the Highlands and Islands had been led to suppose that the Free Church was indifferent to their sufferings. In these circumstances, it appeared to the Committee that it would tend to comfort and encourage the hearts of their Highland brethren, if a deputation of Lowland ministers were sent in the course of the ensuing summer and autumn to inquire into their state, and to show that the Free Church continued to take an interest in their temporal as well as in their spiritual interests.
After some conversation, it was agreed that instructions should be given to the Gaelic Committee, as in former years, to name certain Lowland ministers to proceed, in conjunction with an equal number of Highland ministers, to certain districts, to take steps for manifesting their interest in the temporal as well as in the spiritual interests of the people.
The Assembly having called for the Report of the Committee on Poor Laws, Mr Dunlop stated that he had none to give in, and recommended that the Committee be discharged. The Assembly discharge the Committee accordingly.
The Assembly having called for the Report of the Committee on Original Seceders, Dr Cunningham stated that there was no Report to give in, and recommended that, in respect of the existence of a Committee on Christian Union, the Committee should be discharged. The Assembly resolve in terms of this recommendation.
The Assembly called for the Report of the Committee on the Change of Day of Meeting of Synods, when Dr Begg reported as follows:-(1.) In regard to the Synod of Sutherland and Caithness, that no change should take place in regard to the time of their meeting, but that they should be permitted to meet at Tongue, as often as they shall see cause, in addition to the present place at which they meet. (2.) In regard to the Synod of Glenelg,—that, instead of meeting at Portree and Broadford, as at present, they meet at Portree and Lochcarron alternately, but that no change should take place at present in regard to the time of their meetings. The Assembly approve of the Report, and appoint in terms thereof.
It having been stated, that the Presbytery of Lochcarron had not been able to meet on the day to which they had last adjourned, the Assembly appoint that Presbytery to meet at their annual place of meeting, on the third Wednesday of June, with continuation of days.
A similar statement having been made in regard to the Presbytery of Lewis, the Presbytery was authorised to meet at Stornoway, on the second Wednesday of July, with continuation of days.
The Assembly having called for the Report of the Committee appointed to consider the matter of bona fide certificates, Mr Gray reported that the Committee were of opinion that, at present, there should be no legislation on the subject. The Assembly approve of the Report, and find accordingly.
Mr Gray, on the part of the same Committee, reported that they were not prepared with any suggestions in reference to the other matter submitted to them,— the admission of Ministers of other Churches. The Assembly re-appoint this Committee, with instructions to bring up a report to next Assembly.
The Assembly having resumed consideration of the Overture anent Translations, and called for a Report from the Committee appointed to bring up an amended Overture, Mr Gray submitted the draft of an Overture, which having been read, was approved of, and ordered to be transmitted to Presbyteries; and the Assembly pass the same into an Interim Act.
The Assembly called for the Report of the Committee appointed to prepare an Act on Collections for the Schemes, when Mr Gray submitted a draft, which was approved of and adopted; and the Assembly appoint accordingly.
The Assembly having resumed consideration of the Public Accounts' Report, approve of the Report, and remit to the Committee to complete the auditing, and authorise them to print and circulate the Report, and append it to the Acts of Assembly, for which purposes alone the Committee are continued; the business formerly belonging to this Committee being among the matters remitted to the Committee on Arrangements respecting the Schemes to report to the Commission in August. The Committee are also instructed to prepare and print a statement of Minister's Supplements.
The Assembly appoint a Commission, consisting of the Members of this Assembly; and, at the suggestion of the Moderator, the name of Dr Robert Gordon of Edinburgh was added.
HOME MISSION SCHEME.
The Assembly having resumed consideration of the Report of the Committee on the Home Mission Scheme, approved of the same, and re-appointed the Committee with Mr Sym as Convener. And farther, they resolve as follows:
(1.) That the Home Mission Committee, instead of paying, as at present, the whole salaries of preachers and catechists, shall hereafter only give grants of money to the different stations according to the necessities of each case, and the means at the disposal of the Committee. That from this rule, however, shall be excepted the preachers who left the Established Church at the period of the Disruption, and are still unordained, and also all other preachers during the one year's probation appointed by the Assembly. In the case of this latter class, the Committee is instructed to endeavour to make such arrangements, if possible, as shall give them the benefit of labouring, during that year of probation, under the charge and advice of some minister of experience.
(2.) That in order to carry into effect this change in existing arrangements, due time and warning be given to all parties interested by the Home Mission Committee; and that, in the mean time, the existing distribution of preachers and catechists shall continue for another quarter after the 15th of June next: That during this time the Committee shall correspond with the different Presbyteries, preachers, catechists, and stations, with a view to facilitate the proposed change: That all the funds of stations, till sanctioned as regular charges, shall be remitted, as at present, to Edinburgh; but that such funds shall be held as at the disposal of the stations themselves, in the first instance, for the supply of their own spiritual wants, in addition to such grants as they may receive from the Home Mission Committee: That each station shall be hereafter allowed to choose its own agent, under the direction and control of the Presbytery of the bounds; and that, with a view to this, a register shall be kept at Edinburgh by the Home Mission Committee, of the names and addresses of all available preachers and catechists: That a copy of this register shall be sent to every Presbytery, and that the Committee shall facilitate, in every possible way, the arrangements which the local parties may wish to make. The local parties shall also fix the annual salaries of preachers and catechists, when regularly employed in stations. That in regard to occasional supplies of sermon, a rate of payment shall be fixed by the Home Mission Committee, according to which all preachers shall be paid by congregations receiving their services, and Presbyteries shall see that this regulation is understood and enforced in behalf of preachers.
That this whole subject be again remitted to the Special Committee for arranging the Schemes of the Church, and that Committee is hereby instructed to report on the subject to the August meeting of Commission.
The Assembly appoint the following Ministers to go forth during the present summer for a period of three or four weeks, to preach the gospel in those parts of the Lowlands where large masses of the population are living in a state of spiritual destitution :
Dr D. Macfarlan, Renfrew.
Mr Macnaughtan, Paisley.
Mr Moody Stuart, Edinburgh.
Mr Bonar, Kelso.
Mr Grant, Ayr.
Mr Bonar, Collace.
Mr Burns, Dundee.
Mr Waters, Lauder.
And further, they re-appoint Mr Somerville of Glasgow, with the powers formerly committed to him for carrying out this Resolution of the Assembly.
The Assembly having resumed consideration of the Report of the Committee on Foreign Missions, pronounced the following deliverance: The Assembly approve of the Report, and re-appoint the Committee. They at the same time record their thankfulness to Almighty God for the numerous tokens for good that appear among the heathen in the conversion of not a few, in the indications of the decay of superstition that abound, and in the gradual progress of the truth amid the most determined opposition.
"But, considering that the revenue of this Committee is by no means adequate to the vastness of the work which it carries on, and which is every year increasing more and more, considering also, that from year to year the Committee have been embarrassed in this respect, and the work, to a great extent, hindered, the General Assembly hereby enjoin the Presbyteries of this Church to take into consideration, at their meeting previous to the period fixed for the annual collection for the Foreign Mission Scheme, what shall appear to be the best means for increasing its amount, for presenting to the people right views of the magnitude of the Church's undertaking among the heathen, and the need of liberality in that cause, that so the numerous openings which now occur in heathen countries for preaching the gospel and spreading the truth may, be embraced by the Church and her missionaries, and the day hastened on when at the Saviour's name every knee shall bow.
"And farther, in reference to the statements made in the Report regarding the mission at the Cape of Good Hope, the Assembly hereby declare that part at least of the operations there carried on belongs more properly to the Colonial Committee's department, and accordingly appoint the business of the two Committees in this respect to be arranged as speedily as possible, in terms of the Report.
"Finally, in reference to the statements contained in the Report regarding the necessity of augmenting the Fund, and that without delay, and to prevent debt from being of new incurred, the Committee is hereby instructed to report specially to the Commission in March the result of the general collection in December, with power to the Commission to give such directions as may seem to be necessary in the way of curtailing the field of operations, for bringing the expenditure of the Committee within what may then appear likely to be the annual income for the year then ensuing. The Assembly empower the Committee to take such measures as may seem best, with the view of procuring such a change in the act of Parliament regulating marriages in India, as may relieve the ministers of the Church from a grievance to which that act gives rise."
The Assembly having resumed consideration of the Report of the Continental Committee, discharge said Committee; and in terms of the Report of the Committee on arrangements regarding the Schemes, remit to the Colonial Committee to consider applications for aid in spreading the gospel on the Continent, and to meet these by pecuniary grants as far as circumstances may allow or require.
The Assembly re-appoint the Accommodation and General Expenses Committee, Mr Pitcairn, Convener, referring all matters connected with the expenses of this