صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The con

very material improvement. Under the presently existing arrangements, no leisure is afforded to the NewCharges Committee thoroughly to investigate the circumstances of each case as it comes before them. sequence is, that not a few have been sanctioned which, in the opinion of this Committee, ought to have been continued as preaching stations. We therefore recom

mend that greater caution ought to be exercised in this matter; and suggest that the New-Charges Committee should give in annually to the Commission of Assembly, at its meeting in March, a Report, containing a list of the congregations proposed to be sanctioned as pastoral charges, and a particular statement of the whole circumstances of each case; and that the said Report shall be transmitted, with the least possible delay, to the Home Mission and Central Fund Committees, who shall report to the next General Assembly their opinion as to the expediency of sanctioning as pastoral charges or not, the congregations so reported.

In the same spirit, this Committee recommend, with regard to vacant charges, and charges which have been sanctioned, but in which the Presbyteries have not proceeded to moderate in a call, that, before taking this step, the Presbyteries should be enjoined to inquire into the then existing number of the congregation, the completeness of its organization, the number of contributors to the Central Fund, and the amount contributed, the average amount of supplement, &c. &c., and to transmit to the Central Fund Committee written reports on all these points, with the opinion of the Presbyteries thereon; and that, in the event of the said Committee being of opinion, all things considered, that it is not expedient to proceed to the moderation of a Call in the mean time, the Presbyteries be enjoined to sist farther procedure, until they have obtained permission to proceed, from the General Assembly or its Commission, to one of which all such cases shall be reported.

We are convinced that no more powerful stimulus can be applied to Congregations deficient in their contributions to the support of the ministry. Let them be plied, and plied continually, with higher and nobler motives. to the discharge of this Christian duty; but let them

also be reminded that their existence as Congregations in connection with the Free Church of Scotland depends on its performance-let them be made to see the reasonableness, yea, the necessity of this arrangement; and we do not despair of witnessing a considerable rise in the amount of contribution from all, even the poorest Congregations of the Church, and the means provided for paying a sufficient stipend to the ministers of sanctioned Congregations, and for extending to the utmost limits of Scotland the ministrations of the Gospel by our

means.

III. On the third subject of inquiry, namely, that of "retiring allowances to aged and infirm ministers," the Committee are of opinion that an effort should be made to relieve both the Central Fund and Congregations from this burden, by inviting the friends of the Free Church to contribute by donation or bequest to a fund to be accumulated for that purpose, to be called The Fund for Aged and Infirm Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, and that the form of a bequest should be prepared and circulated, preceded by an explanation of the plan proposed, and an earnest recommendation of its object by the General Assembly. Meanwhile, and until the interest on the proposed fund shall be sufficient for the payment of all the retiring allowances, the Committee are of opinion, that, except in cases where adequate provision is made by Congregations, ministers disqualified by age or infirmity for the discharge of pastoral duties, should receive their wonted stipend from the Central Fund, their proportion of supplement, if any, being left to a mutual arrangement between the minister retiring, and his Congregation.

IV. On the fourth subject of inquiry, namely, "Seatrents and the disposal of the funds arising therefrom," the Committee has not come to any definite conclusion. We regret this the less, because, with the other funds administered by the Deacons' Courts, they will continue under the watchful supervision of the Church; and their misappropriation, if it should occur, will be instantly checked.

The Committee cannot close this Report without expressing the deep conviction which has been produced in their minds by an anxious consideration of the whole subject, that it is vain to look for any considerable addition to the incomes of the ministers of the Church by any new plan of distribution which may be proposed. If a plan could be devised which would secure the approbation and concurrence of all concerned, the support given to the Central Fund scheme, liberal though it has been, might be yet more cordial and effective. But we firmly believe this to be impossible. No new plan of distribution can create a greater amount of money than the liberality of our people places at our command. We depend entirely on their ability and their willingness to give. And it appears to us that there is but one way of increasing their liberality, and that is, by enlightening their understanding more perfectly on the immense magnitude of the enterprise on which they have entered, and by pressing on their conscience those Christian motives and principles, without which we cannot expect that their liberality will be either progressive or permanent. Every congregation of the Free Church of Scotland needs to be reminded, and reminded without ceasing, that it is its high and honourable calling to uphold the ministry of the gospel in 800 congregations-nay more, to impart that invaluable blessing to the inhabitants of every corner of our land-many of whom are perishing for lack of knowledge, and some are earnestly longing to see their teachers. The experience of the last year has clearly shewn that there is a tendency to relax in this great and good work; and that, but for the vigorous and successful efforts of Dr Buchanan and the Central Fund Committee, the revenue of that Committee would certainly have been diminished. It is evident, therefore, that the thing wanted is not so much a new mode of distribution, as funds to be distributed. The habit is not yet formed-the conviction is not yet sufficiently wrought into the minds of our people that on the constancy and growing liberality of their contributions to the Central Fund depends, under God, the continuance and extension of our Church in a large portion of our land.

The Committee will not presume to anticipate the judgment of the Assembly on this Report, much less would they presume to urge them to the adoption of any hasty and ill-matured plan for the administration of the Central Fund. But they do most earnestly and respectfully press on their fathers and brethren the importance of coming as early as possible to a final decision on this subject. So long as the minds of men are distracted by a variety of complaints, and schemes, and proposals, their zeal and their energy in the prosecution of the grand object must be more or less injuriously affected; whereas, if they were once brought to a final agreement or acquiescence in some fixed plan of administration, it may be hoped that the united efforts of all the congregations in the Church may be productive of results more honourable to us as the followers of Christ, and more worthy of the Master whom we profess to serve, than any thing we have yet seen.

Signed in name and by appointment of the
Committee,

24th May 1848.

PATRICK M'FARLAN, Convener.

APPENDIX.

Extract MINUTE of Assembly, 8th May 1846.

At Edinburgh, the 28th day of May 1846. Session 18. Which day the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland being met and duly constituted. Inter alia,

In reference to that clause of the Report of the Sustentation Committee, which suggests the propriety of appointing a Select Committee to devise a plan for distributing the Central Fund for the support of the Ministry, on principles that may meet with the general approbation of the Church, the Assembly hereby appoint the following Committee to carry out that object as described in the Report, and to lay the result of their inquiries before the next General Assembly, as therein recommended :—

Rev. Dr M'Farlan, Greenock.
Rev. Mr Tweedie, Edinburgh.
Mr Hugh Cogan, Glasgow.
Dr Rainy, Glasgow.

Mr J. C. Brodie, W.S., Edinb.

Sheriff Speirs.

Dr M'Kenzie, Inverness.
Mr Hog, of Newliston.
Mr Francis Edmond, Aberdeen.
Dr M'Farlan, Convener.

To the Select Committee, the General Assembly also refer the subject of retiring allowances to aged and infirm ministers, in terms of the suggestion contained in the Report; and seeing that there is still a considerable diversity of practice as to the supplementing of stipends from the local funds by the Deacons' Courts, the Assembly hereby call the special attention of these Courts to the subject, and the recommendation regarding it contained in the Report. At the same time, considering the importance of this matter, the Assembly instruct the Select Committee to take this subject into consideration, and to lay before next Assembly, along with their Report, what appears to them the best and wisest system for regulating the payment of supplements to Ministers throughout the Church.

29th May 1846. Session 20. The General Assembly took up the Overtures from the Presbyteries of Glasgow and Perth on Seat-rents, and the disposal of the funds arising therefrom.

After reasoning on the subject of the Overtures, the General Assembly remit them to the Special Committee appointed to consider the whole matter of the Sustentation Fund.

Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the
Free Church of Scotland, by

THOMAS PITCAIRN, Cl. Eccl. Scot. Lib.

« السابقةمتابعة »