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THE ENGLISH

PRESBYTERIAN MESSENGER

DECEMBER, 1866.

THE CANADA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

To the Editor of the English Fresbyterian Messenger.

Dear Sir,—Believing that a letter from Upper Canada may not be uninteresting to your readers, I have resolved not to suffer another mail to sail without conveying to yourself and them my very cordial greetings. After spending some weeks here, and conversing with many of our ministers, I am happy to report as favourably as will generally be expected of the state of the Presbyterian Church in this province. The union, of which I was a gratified witness five years ago at Montreal, when the Free Church and the United Presbyterians became one, has proved in effect what its most sanguine advocates predicted; and in almost all the Presbyteries an entire harmony prevails. If in one or perhaps two exceptional cases there is a less gratifying report to give, this is, I am told, to be traced to individual infirmity of temper, not in any respect to incongruity between the two elements of which the Canada Presbyterian Church is composed. Toronto being the place of my temporary residence, I am happy to assure you that the various congregations here are generally in a healthy condition. My excellent friend, the Rev. Mr. Topp, of Knox's Church, has lately returned from a voyage to the Mediterranean, made in search of health, and finds himself much recruited. His is the largest congregation in Toronto. Cook's Church, which is mainly composed of Irish Presbyterians, is greatly increased in its membership since my visit in 1861. Dr. Jennings's Church, formerly United Presbyterian, is also flourishing; and another, the Rev. Mr. King's, also originally United Presbyterian, is, I believe, fairly attended. In addition to these, the West Church has been lately opened, and its zealous minister, the Rev. Mr. Baikie, has, by arduous and faithful exertions, both in and out of the pulpit, already succeeded in gathering a lively and promising flock around him. Besides these, there is a preaching station at Yorkville, which is one of the suburbs, and several others are springing up in the immediate neighbourhood.

One of the great difficulties in spreading the Church in Canada arises from the sparse condition of the population in many country districts. A minister must undertake the supply, in many cases, of three, four, or five stations, dividing his labours among them as best he may. This involves a great deal of effort and expense, and renders the life of a pastor in some localities extremely arduous. At the same time, there are many country congregations as pleasantly situated as any at home. The Presbyterianism of Canada is quite of the Scottish type. The idea of organs is an abomination ; and even hymns have few, if any, advocates. One of the principal subjects of anxiety at present is the paucity of candidates for the ministry. The same causes which operate in lessening the number of them at home are acting here with greater force, and there is danger of a serious famine of the No. 228.—New Series.

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Word. This will first be felt in those districts where the people are widely dispersed ; and already it is extremely difficult to find suitable men to occupy those outfields. The subject must soon engage the anxious deliberation of the friends of truth in Canada.

In the meantime, it is interesting to be able to assure you that “Knox College” in this city is in full working order, and was never more efficient than it promises to be during the session of which this was the opening day. I was present on the occasion, and was much gratified by the proceedings.

There was a large attendance of ministers and adherents of the Canada Presbyterian Church; and conspicuous in the assemblage was a number of ladies, who graced the proceedings with their presence. The Rev. Dr. Willis, Principal of the College, occupied the chair, and among those present were the Revs. Dr. Ormiston and Dr. Burns; Messrs. Topp, Gregg, and King, of this city; Cochrane, of Brantford; Dick, Tavish, Inglis, of Woodstock; Inglis, of Hamilton; Middlemas, of Ellora, &c. The opening lecture

; was delivered by Professor Cavan, who had been elected at last Synod to fill the chair of Exegetics. Mr. Cavan is a man of academic aspect, and his lecture “ On the Need for an Educated Ministry” was the production of a clear and thoroughly disciplined mind. His remarks were listened to with attention throughout, and at their close the benediction was pronounced, and the meeting dispersed.

The attendance at the College will this year be equal to any preceding one; but as the students sent forward by the Montreal Board have not arrived, the exact number is not yet ascertained.

The position which the Canada Presbyterian Church holds numerically in Upper Cana la will be understood from the following figures. At the date of the last census (1861) there were :

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Total population in 1861

1,396,091 Parties would appear from this statement to be tolerably well balanced in Upper Canada; and as the Protestant community greatly preponderate, when united there is not much to fear from Popish combinations in this territory. Unfortunately, however, since the union of the two provinces, the influence of Lower Canada has in many cases been brought to bear with baneful effect on Western questions, and the Protestants hail the new constitution which the confederation of all the provinces will necessitate, as likely to emancipate them froin an influence which they have found to be extremely galling and hurtful. It is hoped that the Established Church Presbyterians will ere long be incorporated with the Canada Presbyterian Church, and thus add strength and numbers to the common cause.

The material prosperity of this country has been greatly affected this by the restlessness and the aggressive spirit of their neighbours. The Fenians, however, have now confessed their inherent weakness, and the alarm caused by their threats has nearly subsided. Still there is a lurking suspicion that

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mischief is brooding in the United States, and some even predict a new rebellion which will embrace far more disruptive elements than the last, and the results of which it is impossible to foresee. Canada would not be directly involved in any such movement, but when the fierce passions of a people like the Americans are once let loose, it is difficult to calculate in what direction a blow may be struck, and Canada is more likely to become its aim than any other foreign people. All this tends to scare away capital, and to retard material prosperity. Still, I hear no complaints. The harvest has been, on the whole, above the average. The agricultural exhibitions this autumn have been very successful. Trade has been fairly supported, and a spirit of greater buoyancy than has for some years existed manifests itself in the community. Continued peace and a few niore good harvests would place Canada in a very desirable position as regards material prosperity. The mineral wealth of the soil is becoming more and more developed, and manufactures are springing into importance.

The state of religion generally does not seem to call for much remark. Christians lament here as elsewhere a prevailing coldness and indifference. Meetings for prayer are held weekly in most of the congregations, but the attendance is scanty, and the general interest not great. Missionary efforts are in a great measure limited to the province, where the demands are pressing; and, on the whole, we see reason in Canada, as there is at home, for earnest prayer that God would please to send times of revival and refreshment to his “

weary heritage.
Ever, my dear sir,
Yours most sincerely,

Geo. J. C. DUNCAN. Toronto, Canada West, October 3, 1866.

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WHAT BECAME OF THOSE JEWISH PRIESTS WHO, IN

THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES, WERE CONVERTED TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH ?

BY THE REV. JAMES MÁGILL, M.A., BOURNEMOUTH.

WE learn from the sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles that, as the Gospel spread, and the converts became more numerous, the cares of the apostles were increased. The community of goods, although proceeding from the most excellent of motives, led to some practical inconveniences, which are inseparable from every work of Christian benevolence. The Greeks, or Hellenists, who were Jewish proselytes, but not Jews by birth, began to suspect that there was some partiality in distributing the common fund, which was provided by the sale of so many properties. They thought that the apostles, or those whom the apostles employed to distribute the fund, were more attentive to the poor of the Jews than to the poor of the Greeks.

Whether or not there was any real ground for this murmuring, we are not informed. At any rate, the apostles did not interfere with the dispute ; but they proceeded, doubtless under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to make a new arrangement. They directed the brethren to chose out men who should be appointed to take care of the temporalities. This was done. Seven deacons were appointed, and the apostles were left at liberty to pr -ceed with their proper work. And now their labours were signally blessed. “ The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

The submission of Jewish priests to the doctrines taught by the apostles of Jesus is a very remarkable fact. It is a fact totally inexplicable on any other supposition than that of Christianity being true.

There was every earthly motive to prevent these men from becoming Christians. It was at their instigation that Jesus had been apprehended, condemned, and crucified. Their interests, their feelings, their prejudices, their habits, their position in society, the influence of their friends and associates, were all entirely opposed to their conversion to the faith of the crucified Jesus. In those days the profession of Christianity very commonly implied the greatest hardships. This was the usual lot of men in every station who resolved to take up the Cross. But of all men, none had so much to fear in doing this as had the Jewish priests. They must have had to encounter every possible vpposition, and to make every possible sacrifice. Their position as members of a long-established hierarchy, and the whole of their own previous history, had raised in their way the most formidable barriers. To confess him as the Messiah whom they had so often called a deceiver, and whose crucifixion they had so vehemently demanded, was to subject themselves to every kind of reproach, and literally to suffer the loss of all things. But this they willingly did. Nothing but a thorough conviction of truth, after the most searching examination, could have led them to follow the course they adopted.

Had any men ever done so much as had been done by those priests to shut the door of mercy against themselves ? Had they not bribed Judas with the thirty pieces of silver to act the traitor, and betray his Lord into the hands of the officers ? Had they not persuaded the niultitude to ask that Barabbas might be released, in order that Jesus might be crucified ? Had they not denounced upon themselves the terrible curse, “ His blood be upon us and upon our children”? Yet, even among them, there were chosen vessels of mercy—and these not one or two, but many. “A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

What a mighty triumph it was for the truth, when the hard hearts and seared consciences of these men were subdued ! It was greatly more remarkable than the conversion of the thief upon the cross. Hardened ruffian as he had been, he was, at least, not a hypocrite, and he was a stranger to that special induration of heart which is produced by familiarity with holy things. But this was the very kind of moral insensibility which characturized those priests who had long worn a form of godliness, whilst they denied its power. Yet even they are subdued. The truth to them becomes living and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword.

Aud what a mighty encouragement must their conversion have been to the apostles ! To them it had just been a time of trial. There had been murinuring among the Hellenists, brethren had been offended, unkind things had been said, the progress of the word had been hindered. But now deacons are appointed, the Divine blessing rests on this arrangement, the word of God increases, the number of converts is greatly multiplied, and

the converts are found a great company of priests. The priests had lately charged the apostles not to teach at all, nor to preach in the name of Jesus. The priests were men of learning, the apostles were unlearned and ignorant. The priests were men of influence, the apostles were Galilean fishermen, and unknown to polished society. But the foolish things of the world confourd

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the wise, and the weak things of the world confound the things that are mighty. Although poor, the apostles have been listened to by comparatively wealthy priests. Although illiterate, they have been enabled to instruct the members of a proud and learned hierarchy. Under every disadvantage, they have, hy the blessing of God, brought conviction to the hearts of many of that bigoted sacerdotal class by whom, till now, they had been utterly despised.

And a way must have been hereby prepared for the greatly extended spread of the Gospel. Such a remarkable circumstance could not fail to attract attention. During the life of Jesus on earth it was asked, any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him ? ” implying that none but the ignorant and vulgar paid any attention to him. But this objection receives now a most emphatic answer in the conversion of a great company of the priests. Not only would this event command great attention, it could not fail to furnish a much-needed and most valuable supply of labourers. These priests would doubtless, many of them, become Christian ministers. Their acquaintance with the Scriptures, their familiarity with Divine worship, their office as teachers of the law, and their experience in conducting religious services, must, now that they have become believers in Jesus, have eminently fitted them for the ministry of the Gospel. The marvellous story of their own conversion, in the face of so much opposition, must have furnished them with the materials of many striking and graphic illustrations, in preaching pardon and peace, self-denial, and holiness, through the Cross of Jesus. We cannot believe that our Lord, who does nothing in vainwho loses nothing, and wastes nothing—who said, after feeding the multitude, " Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost"—would permit the early Church to reject, or to lose, the mighty advantages that could not but arise from such an accession to the Christian ministry.

But if so, the question arises, Why is this circumstance not mentioned ? Why is there no mention made in any part of the New Testament of the names of any one who had been a Jewish priest, and who became a Christian minister? We hear the names of the apostles, and the names of many of their fellow-labourers. Frequent mention is made of Peter and John, of Paul and Barnabas, of Apollos and Silvanus, of Timothy, Titus, and others. But not one of these had ever been a Jewish priest. Even if it were denied that any Jewish priest ever became a Christian minister, the fact remains undoubted that a great company of priests became Christians ; and it is very remarkable that not one of this great company has had his name recorded. Every one of their names passed into early oblivion. But why should it have been so ? Perhaps for two reasons.

In the first place, it was the intention of God that the dispensation of types and shadows should quite pass away. The great Antitype, the great Substance, having come, there was no more need for the type and the shadow. The one High Priest having appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself, the Jewish priesthood were for ever superseded. So, although we have the names of some unbelieving priests, as of Annas and Caiaphas, we have not the names of any who were converted. And

may there not have been another, and a yet weightier reason, for the providential oblivion into which the names of all this great company were permitted to fall? Had their names been preserved, this would have furnished the semblance of a foundation for identifying the Jewish priesthood with the Christian ministry. Then those Christian ministers who, in our day, put forth sacerdotal pretensions, might have laid claim, not only to apostolical succession, but to a far more illustrious origin. It would then

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