Imagens da página
[ocr errors]

Free Church of Scotland will prosecute her high , mised by Erastianism, or set aside by Moderation, calling all the more successfully, because she occu- She, therefore, came to the help of those who met pies a position in which her good cannot be spoken promoting that cause which she loved. She ti against by any but the mean; and where they who what thousands beside her had done-she madera watch for her halting shall be disappointed, be- gion of keeping the church unfettered by buses cause she stands in a better strength than man's. control. But while we rejoice over the disappearance of all Our next example of a kindred kind, is thate that even an enemy could construe into acrimony, “A few friends to the Crown-Rights of the Eral: we add that our joy would be damped if the return Redeemer, and to his rulers and his subjects beiz of peace were not to lead to the still more resolute completely free from foreign control.” The entire assertion, and still more vigorous defence of the dis- essence of the controversy is involved in these wore tinctive principles of the Free Church of Scotland. - First, the Crown-Rights of the Redeemer. Thes: If there be any tendency,—which, however, we do formed the basis of the whole; and had these part not perceive in any quarter,-to compromise or to been at stake, no religious mind would have car: lower our protest against Erastianism, and the vicious very much for a mere ecclesiastical commotion. Be: intromission of the civil power with spiritual func- when these were at stake, and most manifestive, the tions, then we would deplore that supineness as more religious the soul, the more earnest and protein symptomatic of declension. Rather would we have its interest became, and the Crown-Rights of the Rt our children taught the history and the principles of deemer thus became the watchword, or the ralyin

, the Disruption controversy, so that they may be per- cry of the controversy. And these rights branched D petuated through all generations. These are the toʻtwo—both of which are referred to by these centrs principles on which the church must eventually act, butors— First, the rulers under Christ; and secondi if her action is to tell with much saving effect upon his subjects, in his kingdom-his church. It is een the nation. Without them, we may have effective these that the King of Zion reigns. His will is te political institutions called churches. A large body exclusive rule; and unless they be kept “compreny of moral police, under what Sir Robert Peel defined free from foreign control," he is no longer kingas “the stringent control of the state,” may be maintained, usurper has taken his place. It was the resoluter but the church of Christ is fettered or impeded in its holding of these principles that founded the Fre action. Millions despise it,-millions more tolerate Church of Scotland with such marvellous sucten it as a civil institution ; but the glory of the church's and if they be as resolutely maintained, no wear Head is eclipsed where He alone should reign, unless formed against her will ever prosper. freedom be enjoyed, and employed in making men The next that comes under our notice is thus D free indeed.

nounced :-“ June 8, 1843.-A descendant of ares. These reflections have been suggested by some tors who were distinguished members and consisten

: souvenirs of the Disruption which have recently and friends of the Church of Scotland, and some of when incidentally come under our notice. The first decade suffered for its sake- £100.” That donor knee pre of the existence of the Church of Scotland in its dis- cisely the religious value or position of the prineipte established state is drawing to a close. In the which were then at stake. He could connect the course of that period some have grown up to man- lineally with the tenets for which martyrs died in size hood who were not then of age to enter with much Grassmarket-on the mountainside in the dange interest or intelligence into the memorable struggle. or at low-water mark on the shores of Wigton Ber The following memorials of it may refresh the memo- He perceived that it was just the old controver

: ries of some, and serve as specimens of the spirit under a new or slightly modified aspect_Shail za which then actuated hundreds of thousands in the Saviour reign on the throne, and in the kingder land. In sending contributions to the cause, con- over which he is anointed? or shall man inte tributors often accompanied their gifts with 'apbo- sede his laws, and substitute their own! Mind: risms, texts, or sentiments, which indicated the which the Saviour is only a name, and not a reigt depth and determination of their purpose; and the ever-present King, may look on the controversy i. first on which our eye alights is a contribution different light; but wherever his presence, and from " A poor brand mercifully delivered from soul- presidence in his church is fully recognised, destroying Moderatism,” (April 26, 1843). That ciples but those here announced can be regards was some one who had felt the deadening effects scriptural by the earnest mind. of an unconverted ministry-- who knew what the The next notice which comes before us is a comme doctrines were which were dealt out by the men tribution, accompanied with the words, “Why best whose fathers sought to abolish the Confession of thou upon thy face ?” And the next,a contrike:2x Faith-yoted down missions--tried to sweep away Sabbath-schools as nurseries of faction--and to a large to the children of Israel, that they go forward."

we think, from tlie same party, with the text, " Spesi extent ignored the Word of God in the place which who sent these saw reason at once for remonstrate they transınuted into something else than a sanctuary. and encouragement. He had, perhaps, beard in That delivered brand had seen that the end of such lamentations of some who were perplexed by bir things is death, and hastened to offer a tribute to Him who had delivered.

difficulties of the way, or terrified by its dange?, *

Moses was at the shores of the Red Sea. But what The next that meets us is a contribution from “ An ever suggested the quotations,

they conveyed aged woman from love to Christ's cause." She saw soundest counsel; and, by the grace of God gins what was involved in the controversy which was then agitating the country. She was one of those It was a moral contribution as well as a material 69°

unto them, mauy were not slow to act on the advice who most probably would never have felt any interest and helped to swell the power of that principle www in it had she not perceived that the Redeemer's refused to quail before any assailant. glory was involved that his right to rule without a challenge in his own house—his church was compro- to , ds

Our next notice is of a liumorous kind. A humbs



[ocr errors]

sent a

[ocr errors]

she gave it with good-will, and in the following way, neral Assembly did, and hereby do, adopt the following Act to the Church Building Fund :

and Declaration: has the honour

When it pleased Almighty God, in His great and undeOf enclosing a crown to Mr BONAR ;

served mercy, to reform this Church from Popery by presIts smallness need not make any one smirk, For many small sums may build a KIRK;

byters, it was given to the Reformers, amid many troubles, to And may MANY be given, larger, and quite

construct and model the constitution of the Church, in docAs heartily as this humble mite,

trine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the « May 1, 1843."


Word of God, and not according to the will of earthly rulers. Our last notice shall be of a somewhat different Our fathers, accordingly, in singleness of eye and simplicity of kind. The Hon. Mrs

gold snuff-box, heart, without regard to the favour or the fear of man, so apwhich belonged to the late Right Honourable Henry plied themselves to the work to which they were called, that Erskine of the Scottish bar.” It was sold for twenty they were enabled, with remarkable unanimity, to settle it guineas to J. M. Hog, Esq., and the proceeds applied upon the basis which, by the blessing of God, has continued as directed. We have not referred to the munificent

unaltered down to the present time. sums sent from all the corners of the earth, till they Of this settlement, besides that profession of the evangeliwere counted by millions sterling. We have not cal faith which is common to all the Churches of the Reforspoken, for instance, of the English gentleman who mation, the peculiar and essential features are:-1. The gocould not make up his mind amid the conflicting vernment of the Church by presbyters alone, or by that order statements which reached him, till he came, saw, of men which is indicated in the New Testament indiscrimi. and examined, and then gave one thousand pounds nately by the terms presbyters and bishops or overseersto the cause of the Free Church of Scotland. We T210@utages and inozc50s.--and, II. The subjection of the have not glanced at the endless donations of gold Church, in all things spiritual, to Christ as her only Head, rings, brooches, bracelets, and bijouterie ; but have and to His Word as her only rule. taken the first cases that came under our notice, and From the beginning, these principles have been held as funthey point us back to a period whose events are fast damental by the Reformed Church of Scotland; and as such becoming history, and over which the memories of they.were recognised in her earliest standards,—the First and many thousands still delight to linger. No doubt, Second Books of Discipline,-adopted by her own indepenthere is much to throw a shadow across the mind dent authority, before the full sanction either of the Crown or while glancing back at those eventful times. The of the Parliament was given to the Reformation which God fathers, where are they? Where are the men whose had accomplished on her behalf. For these principles, the resolute adherence to principle, because it connected ministers and members of this Church, as well as the nobles, them with Christ, threw an air of grandeur around gentlemen, and burgesses of the laud, from the first united in the movement, and roused millions in Asia, Africa, contending, and on more than one occasion, in the course of and America, as well as Europe, to rejoice that men

these early struggles,-as in 1580 when the National Cove, had been found steadfast and immovable at such

nant was signed, *

-our reforming ancestors bound themselves crisis? They have gone to their rest and their re

one to another, as in the sight of God, to maintain and defend ward—but they have handed down to us a precious them against all adversaries. legacy, to be transmitted to coming ages; and it were Farther: while this Church has ever held that she poswell did we habitually realise our responsibility, and

sesses an independent and exclusive jurisdiction or power in seek grace from on High to discharge it.

all ecclesiastical matters, “ which flows directly from God, and the Mediator, Jesus Christ, and is spiritual, not having a

temporal head on earth, but only Christ, the only King and OFFICIAL TESTIMONY OF THE FREE

Governor of His Church;" she has, at the same time, always CHURCH.

strenuously advocated the doctrine taught in Holy Scripture,

-that nations and their rulers are bound to own the truth of Tue following important document was agreed to be God, and to advance the kingdom of His Son. And accordissued by last General Assembly, as a preface to a ingly, with unfeigned thankfulness, did she acknowledge the new edition of the Subordinate Standards of our

good hand of the Lord, when, after prolonged contests with Church, and in compliance with a general desire that

the enemies of the Reformation,-and, in particular, with cersome such official testimony should be published for

tain parties who sought not only to uphold a form of Prelatic

government in the Church, but to establish the supremacy of the guidance of our own conduct and that of others.

the Crown in all causes, spiritual and ecclesiastical, as well as We are glad to be able to give it the benefit of our civil and temporal,-a national recognition and solemn sanccirculation, and to preserve it in our pages for future tion of her constitution, as it had been settled by her own reference.

authority, according to the Word of God, was at last obtain

ed;- first, in the Act of Parliament 1567, and again, more At Edinburgh, the 31st day of May 1851 years. Sess. 19. completely, in the Act of Parliament 1592,—then and since Which day the GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FREE CHURCH regarded by her as the great constitutional charter of her

or SCOTLAND being met and duly constituted, Presbyterian government and freedom. Inter alia,

Thus the first Reformation was accomplished. The General Assembly, on considering the Report of the

But before a generation had elapsed, a sad change for the Committee to which this matter was referred at a previous worse took place. Through defection in the Chureh, and tydiet, unauimously agreed to sanction, as they hereby sanction, rannical invasion of her independence by the civil power, the the publication of a volume, containing the subordinate Presbyterian polity and government were overturned, and standards, and other authoritative documents of this church. manifold abuses and corruptions in discipline and worship, And with the view of directing attention to “ all the way by were insidiously introduced. A second Reformation accordwhich the Lord has led us," as well as to the testimony which

ingly became necessary. He has honoured this Church to bear for the whole truth of And here, again, it pleased Almighty God, as in that forGod regarding His Church, and His glory therein, the Ge

* Subordinate Standards, &c., p. 337.

[ocr errors]


mer Reformation of the Church from Popery by presbyters, Nor is it to be overlooked here, in connectian with these to give to our fathers light and grace; so that, taking his proceedings, but, on the contrary, it is to be owued as a signal Word as their only rule, and owning His Son as their

only instance of the Divine favour, that when the civil dissensions King in Zion, they were enabled not only to restore the con- and wars-all of which this Church unfeignedly deprecated stitution of the Church as it had stood when her first Refor- and deplored-issued in a brief interval of quiet, and when mation seemed to be completed, but to aim, also, at carrying the Parliament of Scotland was at last moved to own the Reout more fully the great essential principles of that constitu- formation work of God in the land, this Church obtained a tion, and securing more effectually than before the prevalence ratification of her spiritual liberties much more full and ample of these principles over all the land, as well as their perma- than had ever previously been granted. This appeared, as in nency through all coming ages.

other things, so especially in the matter of presentation to In seeking this noble end, our fathers were again led, for benefices, with appointment to the oversight of souls. In their mutual security, as well as for the commending of so that matter, this Reformed Church had from the beginning righteous a cause to Him by whom it was committed to them, maintained a testimony and contest against the right of ps. to have recourse to the solemnity of a holy confederation, tronage, as inconsistent with “the order which God's Word The National Covenant was renewed at the beginning of

And now, both the Parliament and the Church the contendings for this second Reformation, with an exten- being free to act according to the will of God, and professing sion of its weighty protests and censures, to meet whatever to be guided by His Word, it was enacted by the Parliament new fruit the old stock of Prelatic and Erastian usurpation in 1619, that ministers should be settled “ upon the suit and had been bearing. And this Solemn League and Covenant calling, or with the consent of the congregation;" and the was afterwards entered into, in concert with England and Ire- Assembly, in the same year, laid down wholesome rules and land, " for the reformation and defence of religion, the ho- regulations for securing the orderly calling of pastors by the nour and happiness of the king, and the peace and safety of congregations of the Church, with due regard at once to the the three kingdoms; " and, in particular, for “ endeavouring spiritual privileges of the people, and the spiritual jurisdiction to bring the Churches of God in the three kingdoms to the of those appointed to bear office among them in the Lord. nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of Thus, by God's grace, in this second Reformation, wrougbt faith, form of church government, directory for worship, and out by our fathers amid many perils and persecutions, this catechising."

Church was honoured of God to vindicate and carry out the Thus religiously bound and pledged to God and to one an- great fundamental principles of her constitution, the govertother, our fathers were enabled to effect the reformation of ment of the Church by presbyters alone ; her inherent spirithis Church from Prelacy, even as their fathers in like man

tual jurisdiction, derived from her great and only Head; and ner effected its reformation from Popery. In the ever-me- the right of cougregations to call their own pastors. morable Assembly held at Glasgow in 1638, as well as in

And thus the second Reformation seemed to be happily sesubsequent Assemblies, it was declared that "all Episcopacy, complished and secured; and the Church and nation of Scotdifferent from that of a pastor over a particular flock, was ab- land abjured Prelacy, as they had formerly abjured Popery. jured in this Kirk;" and provision was made, accordingly, for That the men whom God raised up for this great work its complete removal, and for the settlement of Church go- proved themselves to be fallible in several of their proceedvernment and order upon the former Presbyterian footing. ings, does not detract from our conviction that the work itself

In all this work of pulling down and building up, the inde- was the work of God. The principles of religious liberty not pendent spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, flowing immedi- being so thoroughly understood in that age as they are not, ately from Christ her only Head, was not only earnestly it is not surprising, however much it is to be lamented, that asserted, but practically exercised. For the whole work was our fathers should have given some occasion to the charge of begun and carried on without warrant of the civil power. And intolerance in the laws enacted, though seldom enforced, with it was only after much contending, and with not a little hesi- a view to inflict civil penalties for offences partly, if not entation, that the civil power began to interpose its authority in tirely, religious. It is to be confessed, also, that in prosecutthe years 1639 and 1641, to support and sanction what the ing their great work in circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, Church had, by the exercise of her own inherent jurisdiction, instances were not wanting of an undue commingling of relialready done,

gion with the passing politics of the day, and an undue reliance Thereafter, for the better prosecution of the work on band, on an arm of flesh for the furtherance of the cause of God. and in the face of the manifest purpose of the king and his

These defects some of the worthiest and ablest of the actors adherents to crush it altogether, this Church, by commission- in that great crisis lived to deplore; and to such causes may ers duly named by the General Assembly, took part in the be traced, in a great measure, the bitter animosities that too Assenibly of Divines which met at Westminster in 1643. And speedily ensued between the parties of the Resolutioners and having in view the uniformity contemplated in the Solemn the Protesters-in consequence of which the Church of ScotLeague and Covenant, she consented to adopt the Confession land was found divided against herself at the very time when of Faith, Catechisms, Directory for Public Worship and Form union was most essential, and at the restoration of Charles II. of Church Government agreed upon by the said Assembly of was thrown helpless and fettered into the furnace of a bitter Divines.

and unrelenting persecution. These several formularies, as ratified, with certain explana- But notwithstanding these evidences of the hand of man in tions, by divers acts of Assembly in the years 1645, 1646, the transactions connected with the second Reformation, Fe and particularly in 1647, this Church continues till this day would grievously err and sin were we not to recognise, in the to acknowledge as her subordinate standards of doctrine, wor- substance of what was then done, the hand and Spirit of God; ship, and government;- with this difference, however, as re- and were we not to discern in it such an adaptation to the gards the authority ascribed to them, that while the Confes- exigencies of the times, and such an amount of conformity to sion of Faith t contains the creed to which, as to a confession the Divine mind and will, as must ever be held to give to the of his own faith, every office-bearer in the Church must testify attainments then made by this Church and nation a peculiar in solemn form his personal adherence ;—and while the force of obligation, and to aggravate not a little the guilt of Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, I are sanctioned as directories subsequent shortcomings and defections. for catechising ;-the Directory for Public Worship, the Form Passing over the dark period of the closing years of the of Church Government, and the Directory for Family Wor- Stuart dynasty, and descending along the line of history to the ship,s are of the nature of regulations, rather than of tests,-- era of the glorious Revolution, we find the Church, which had to be enforced by the Church like her other laws, but not to

been twice before brought out of great troubles in her conbe imposed by subscription upon her ministers and elders. tendings against Popery and Prelacy, once again rescued from These documents, then, together with a practical application the oppression of arbitrary power, and lifting her head as the of the doctrine of the Confession, in the Sum of Saving know- free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The bloody acts of ledge,ll--a valuable treatise, which, though without any ex- the preceding time were repealed; on the petition of the press Act of Assembly, has for ages had its place among them, ministers and professors of the Church of Scotland, the civil --have, ever since the era of the second Reformation, con- sanction was given to the Confession of Faith; Presbyterial stituted the authorized and authoritative symbolic books of Church government was re-established in the hands of those the Church of Scotland.

who had been ejected by Prelacy in 1661; and to the wonder

of * Subordinate Standards, &c., p. 385.

many, and the confusion of her enemies, this Church rose Ibid, p. 15. # Ibid. pp. 125, 283.

from her ashes, and was recognised as the same Church which, Ibid. p. 361. | Ibid. p. 317,

whether in freedom or in bondage-whether under the shade of royal favour, or hunted as a partridge on the mountains, to speak of the leaven of unsound principle transmitted from could trace its unbroken identity downwards from the very the too easy admission at the Revolution of the Prelatic beginning of the Reformation.

curates into the Presbyterian Church, without any evidence That the “ Revolution Settlement," by which the liberties of their sincere attachment to its doctrines;-these things led of the Church were secured, under the reign of William and to abuses in the administration of the Church's discipline and Mary, was in all respects satisfactory, has never been main- government,-such as, to a large extent, prevented the Revotained by this Church. On the contrary, various circumstances lution Settlement from obtaining a full and fair trial. may be pointed out as hindering the Church from realising The abuses to which we refer regarded matters of vital imfully the attainments that had been reached during the port, such as the toleration of heresy and immorality; the second Reformation. Not only were the three kingdoms of tyrannical exercise of Church power over brethren, with the England, Scotland, and Ireland unprepared for prosecuting unjust denial of the right of protest for the exoneration of inthe work of “reformation and uniformity in religion,” to dividual consciences; the arbitrary enforcing of the law of which they had pledged themselves; but even in Scotland it- patronage by corrupt Presbyteries and Assemblies, acting upon self the reluctant concessions of statesmen were limited to what their own discretion, and with no compulsion from any civil a people, worn out by long and heavy tribulation, were barely authority; the grievous oppression of congregations, by the willing to accept as a relief, and did not thoroughly undo the forcible intrusion of ministers into parishes against the will mischief of an age of misrule.

of the people, and other proceedings of a similar kind; in conThus, for instance, in the civil sanction then given to Pres- sequence of which, not only were multitudes of godly ministers bytery, the Parliament of 1690, overlooking altogether the and people compelled, for conscience' sake, to withdraw from higher attainments of the second Reformation, went back at her communion, and to form themselves into separate ecclesionce to the Act 1592, and based its legislation upon that Act astical societies, but the Church itself from which they seceded alone, as being the original charter of the Presbyterian Estab- was found willing-though always, blessed be God! with a lishment. Accordingly, it left unrepealed the infamous " Act protesting minority in her courts--to make a practical surRecissory" of King Charles, by which all that the Church had

render of the most important and distinctive principles of her done, and all that the State bad done for her, in the interval ancient Presbyterian polity. between 1638 and the Restoration, had been stigmatized as Hence it happened, that when, in the good providence of treasonable and rebellious. Thus the Revolution Settlement God, and through the gracious working of His good Spirit, failed in adequately acknowledging the Lord's work done this Church once more, for the third time, was led to take up formerly in the land; and it was, besides, in several matters the work of the Reformation --entering, though, alas! with of practical legislation, very generally considered by our much shortcoming, into the labours of our fathers, by whom fathers at the time to be defective and unsatisfactory. Some, she had been reformed from Popery and Prelacy-she enand these not the least worthy, even went so far as to resuse countered, as was most natural, no sma!l measure of the same all submission to it. But for the most part, our fathers, smart- opposition with which they had been obliged to contend, from ing from the fresh wounds of anti-Christian oppression, weary a formidable body of her own ministers and members, as well of strife, and anxious for rest and peace, either thankfully as from the civil power; whose aid was called in to coerce accepted, or at least acquiesced in it; in the hope of being able and control the Church courts in the exercise of their spiritual practically to effect under it the great ends which the Church functions, and, through them, to crush the liberties of congrehad all along, in all her former contendings, regarded as in-gations in the calling of ministers to be over them in the dispensable.

Lord. For it would be in a high degree ungrateful to overlook the For it ought to be on record, to coming ages, that this signal and seasonable benefits which the Revolution Settle- Church began the work of reformation, on this third great ment really did confer upon the Church, as well as upon the occasion in her history, in 1834, by refusing to allow any pasnation. Not only did it put an end to the cruel persecution tor to be intruded upon a reclaiming congregation. by which the best blood of Scotland had been shed in the At the same time, also, while thus securing such a protecfield, on the hill-side, and on the scaffold; not only did it re- tion to her cougregations, this Church resolved to give pracinstate in their several parishes the pastors who had been un. tical effect to another fundamental principle of her Presbyterian righteously cast out in the reign of the second Charles, and polity which had been grievously violated,--the principle, set up again the platform of the Presbyterian government; but namely, that "the pastor, as such, hath a ruling power over by reviving and re-enacting the Statute of 1592, the original | the flock;" or, in other words, that all ordained pastors are charter and foundation of Presbytery, it recognised as an in- equally entitled to rule, as well as to teach and minister, in alienable part of the constitution of this country the establish- Christ's house. This, accordingly, the Church did, in an Act ment of the Presbyterian Church. It secured also effectually, of Assembly, 1834, recognising all pastors of congregations as as was then universally believed, the exclusive spiritual juris, members of her Church judicatories, and assigning to each, diction of the Church, and her independence in spiritual along with the elders of his congregation, the administration matters of all civil control. And by the arrargements which of discipline among his own flock, and the oversight of souls, it sanctioned for the filling up of vacant charges, it abolished in whatever local or territorial district the Church might be those rights of patronage which had been reserved in 1592,* pleased to place under his spiritual care. and made provision for enforcing the fundamental principle of It was in carrying out these measures of indispensable practhis Church, that “no pastor shall be intruded into a congre- tical reform, adopted in 1834, that the Church was visited gation contrary to the will of the people.” On all these with the interference of the courts of civil law, in those varigrounds, the Church was well entitled to rejoice in the de- ous forms of unconstitutional aggression upon, and invasion liverance wrought out for her in 1688 and 1690; to thank God of, her sacred functions as a church of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it, and take courage; and to cherish the warm and sanguine owning no head on earth but only Christ, which are set forth expectation of reaping now the fruit of her struggles and her at large in the Claim, Declaration, and Protest, adopted by the trials, in a career of undisturbed, united, and successful exer- General Assembly in 1842, and laid before her Majesty, and tion for the glory of her great Head, the good of the land, and before the Parliament of Great Britain, in the course of the saving of many souls.

the year thereafter.* How far that expectation might have been fulfilled, if faith These manifold invasions of her spiritual jurisdiction by had been kept with the Church and people of Scotland by the the courts of civil law, this Church received grace steadfastly British Parliament, according to the terms of the Revolution to resist, at the expense of much loss, obloquy, and suffering, Settlement, subsequently ratified by the Treaty of Union be- borne by her faithful ministers and people. tween Scotland and England and if the Church had received But this was not all; for she was enabled also, during all grace to continue faithful to her principles,-is a question her harassing and painful contendings, to carry forward still which can now be little more than matter of speculation and farther the work of revival throughout her borders, as well conjecture. For the breach made upon her constitution by as to lift up a still more decided testimony for the purity and the restoration of patronage in 1711,-a measure passed against liberty of Christ's house-His church on earth--especially her own earnest remonstrance and protest,-concurring with in the explicit condemnation which the General Assembly in that unhappy declension from sound doctrine and spiritual 1842 passed of the entire system of patronage, as a grievance life which began to visit this as well as other Churches of the to be utterly abolished. And, through the blessing of God, Reformation during the early period of the last century,—not she was not left without manifest tokens of the Divine counte* Subordinate Standards, p. 11.

* Subordinate Standards, &c., p. 427.


nance and favour-such as, in like circumstances, had been vows and obligations, their final purpose, at all hazards, to vouchsafed in former times—in the remarkable pouring out maintain uncompromised the spiritual liberty and jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit on not a few portions of the chosen vine- of this Church. And this they resolved to do, not by proyard of the Lord.

longed resistance to the civil courts, should the Crown and Among other tokens for good, as the Church humbly con- Parliament of Great Britain refuse the redress craved in the sidered them, it may be mentioned as one of the most grati- above mentioned Claim of Rights, but by publicly renouncing fying, that a beginning was made, during this reforming

the benefits of the National Establishment-under protest period, of the work of re-union among the true-hearted that it is her being Free, and not her being Established, that branches of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. Over

constitutes the real historical and hereditary identity of the tures towards a junction with the Church of Scotland having Reformed National Church of Scotland. been made by a highly esteemed body of those whose fathers The Claim of Rights adopted by the General Assembly in had seceded from it, and ample deliberation having taken 1812, having been denied and disallowed, first by Her Maplace on both sides, the end in view was happily and har- jesty's Government, in a letter addressed to the Moderator moniously attained in the year 1839, when the General As- by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and sembly, with the consent of the Presbyteries of the Church, thereafter by the Commons' House of Parliament, in a vote passed an Act to the following effect:

taken on the 7th March 1843, and carried against a large ma"Whereas proposals have been made by the Associate jority of the members representing Scotland; it became appaSynod for a re-union with the Church of Scotland, and a con- rent that the system of patronage, -to which this Church, siderable number of overtures have been sent at the same although viewing it as a grievance, had submitted, under the time to the General Assembly from the Synods and Presby- impression that the right was restricted to the disposal of the teries of the Church favourable to that object; and it has benefice, while the Church was left free in the matter of adbeen ascertained by a committee of the General Assembly, mission to the cure of souls,-must be held, as now interthat the course of study required for a long time past of stu- preted and maintained by the supreme power of the State, to dents in divinity in connection with said Synod is quite be altogether contrary to the Word of God and the liberties satisfactory, and that their ministers and elders do firmly ad- of the people of Christ ; and that this Church, therefore, in here to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and that as well as in other departments of her administration, Shorter Catechisms, and other standards of our Church: and had no choice or alternative but submission in things spiritual, whereas the members of the Associate Synod do heartily con- to civil control, or separation from the State and from the cur with us in holding the great principle of an ecclesiastical benefits of the Establishment. Holding firmly to the last, as establishment, and the duty of acknowledging God in our

she holds still, and, through God's grace, will ever hold, that national as well as our individual capacity; and we, on the it is the duty of civil rulers to recognise the truth of God, other hand, do heartily concur with the members of the As- according to His Word, and to promote and support the kingsociate Synod in confessing the great obligation under which dom of Christ, without assuming any jurisdiction in it, or any we lie to our forefathers in the year 1638, and several years of power over it ; and deeply sensible, moreover, of the advaz. that century immediately following, and the duty, in particu- tages resulting to the community at large, and especially to lar circumstances, of uniting together in public solemn en- its more destitute portions, from the public endowment of gagement in defence of the Church, and its doctrine, discipline, pastoral charges among them : this Church could not contemand form of worship and government: and whereas our breth- plate without anxiety and alarm the prospect of losing, for ren of the Associate Synod have declared their willingness, herself, important means of general usefulness, leaving the in the event of a re-union, to submit to all the laws and judi- whole machinery of the Establishment in the hands of parties catories of this Church, reserving only to themselves the right who could retain it only by the sacrifice of her fundamental which the members of the Established Church enjoy of en- principles, -and seeing large masses of the people deprived of deavouring to correct in a lawful manner, what may appear

the advantage of having the services of a gospel ministry proto them to be faulty in its constitution and government-the vided for them independently of their own resources.

But General Assembly, with the consent of the Presbyteries of her path was made plain before her. For the system of civil this Church, enact and ordain, that all the ministers of the interference in matters spiritual being still persevered in, so Associate Synod, and their congregations in Scotland, desir- as to affect materially the very constitution of the General ous of being admitted into connection and full communion Assembly, in the election of commissioners from the Presbywith the Church of Scotland, be received accordingly."

teries to that supreme court, it became the duty of those of This step was hailed with lively satisfaction by the sup

the said commissioners who were faithful to the crown of porters of the old hereditary principles of the Scottish Refor- Christ, -and who formed decidedly the major part of the mation, as not only a testimony to the returning faithfulness members chosen according to the laws of the Church,-to with which these principles were now maintained, but a protest, in presence of Her Majesty's representative, on the pledge and presage also of other movements of a similar kind 18th of May 1843, against the meeting then convened being which might be to follow, as the work of reformation and re- held to be a free and lawful Assembly of the Church of Seotvival went on: thus holding out the hope of this Church being

land. honoured to be successful in expected healing the breaches of

Under which protest, and in the terms thereof, the said Zion as well as rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

commissioners withdrew to another place of meeting, where, Thus, with much cause to sing of mercy as well as of judg- on the same day, and with concurrence of all the ministers ment, the Church for ten years continued to testify, to con

and elders adhering to them, they proceeded to constitute, in tend, and to labour, in the great and good cause.

the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only King and time rolled on, and the causes of collision between the eccle- Head of the Church on earth, the General Assembly of the siastical and the civil courts became more embarrassing, it

Free Church of Scotland, and to take measures for the estabwas apparent to all that an emergency was at hand, such as lishment of the Church apart from the State in the land. would call for the utmost wisdom of counsel as well as the How signally God opened for her, in her new position, both firmest energy of action.

a door of utterance and a door of entrance, not only in this, All along, indeed, while the contendings of this third Re

but in other countries also-how mercifully He disappointed formation period were going forward, not only did “they

all her fears, and procured for her acceptance among the people that feared the Lord speak often one to another," but inost

-how wonderfully He disposed all hearts so as to continue solemn consultations of the brethren were held at every step, to her the means of missionary enterprise, both at home and with much earnest prayer, and many affecting pledges of

abroad-how graciously He cheered her, by giving to her the mutual fidelity to one another, and to God. And as the crisis signal privilege of finding all her missionaries, to the Jews manifestly drew near, the whole body of those ministers of this

and the Gentiles, true to herself and to her principles, in the Church by whom the contest was maintained met together in hour of trial ; and in general, how large a measure of proconvocation, in November 1842, being convened by a large sperity and peace He was pleased to grant to her,-though with number of the fathers of the Church, and, after å sermon some severe persecution and oppression in certain quarters, preached by the late lamented Dr Chalmers, continued in de

this Church cannot but most devoutly acknowledge: mournliberation for several successive days, spending

a large portion ing bitterly, as she must at the same time do, over many of the time in united supplication for the guidance and grace shortcomings and sips, and lamenting the little spiritual fruit of God; and did not separate till, with one mind and one of awakening and revival that has accompanied the Lord's heart, they were enabled to announce, in resolutions having, bountiful and wonderful dealing with her. "In deep humiliain the circumstances, all the force of the most impressive

* Subordinate Standards, &c., p. 443.

But as

« AnteriorContinuar »