صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

no force or effect for the future, unite and restore them to ministerial communion with this church, to their several charges, and to the exercise of all parts of the ministerial function therein, as fully and freely as there never had been act, sentence, obstacle, or impediment whatsoever in the way thereof in time past, all which are hereby declared sopite, and set aside' for the future. And the synod do recommend to these four reverend brethren, to carry towards the Lord's servants, their brethren, ministers of this church, and their respective flocks and charges, as ministers of Christ and his gospel ought to do in all time coming. And they do, in the like manner, recommend it to the respective presbyteries of Perth, Stirling, and Dunkeld, to receive them as members of their respective presbyteries, and behave to them as ministers of Christ in this church, and do enjoin not only the ministers of the said presbyteries, but also of all other presbyteries within their bounds, and the said four brethren, so to demean themselves towards each other, as may answer the obligations they came under by their ordination vows in the Lord. And the synod take this opportunity to warn all the people in this province to beware of every thing that may have a tendency to obstruct the good ends of this act, and what the General Assembly had so much at heart, viz. the peace and union of this church, by doing what may encourage division, or weaken the hands of the Lord's servants set over them. And further, the synod appoint the names of the said four brethren to be immediately enrolled in the records of this synod, and that Mr. Hamilton read this act from the pulpit of Stirling, Mr. Black, from the pulpit of Perth, Mr. Meek, from the pulpit of Abernethy, and Mr. Gow, from the pulpit of Kinclaven, on some Lord's day betwixt and the first of August. And the synod recommend it to Mr. Hamilton to acquaint Mr. Erskine, Mr. M'Intosh to acquaint Mr. Wilson, Mr. Palmer to acquaint Mr. Moncrief, and Mr. Gow to acquaint Mr. Fisher of this act and sentence with their first conveniency. And finally, they appoint this act to be insert in all the presbytery books within this province, and they leave it to every minister to intimate the same to their congregations as they see cause.

* Extract of the Proceedings of the Synod of Perth and Stirling, &c.

[ocr errors]

Though the seceders, as might easily have been foreseen, could not take the benefit of this act, it served to deter many from joining their standard, and was made a handle for raising a prodigious clamour against them, especially by those who had been most warmly interested in their behalf,* and through

" When the sentence of the commission in November, 1733, loosing the relation of the four brethren from their charges, was past, many protested against it, as did the four brethren themselves, who also appealed to the first free, faithful, and reforming General Assembly of the church of Scotland. Had they sisted here they had done well; but they went a great deal further, by making a secession from the judicatories of this church, and a short time after constituting themselves into a distinct judicatory for licensing preachers, and ordaining ministers, wherever they should find encouragement. At the same time they would still hold communion with all who were true presbyterians, and groaned under, and wrestled against the evils they had been complaining of. This was then their declared resolution, tho' alas! they soon departed from it. At first they seemed to be determined to continue in ministerial communion with many worthy ministers they had formerly been intimate with, tho' these had not freedom to sccede as they had done, nor go all their lengths; and Mr. Erskine in his answers to the synod, owned that there were still a body of faithful ministers in the church of Scotland, with whom he did not reckon himself worthy to be compared, which body had the truths contended for at heart, together with the peace of the church, as well as the four brethren. And seeing the case was such, the brethren ought in justice to have communicated counsels with that faithful body of ministers, who were willing to meet with them at the ensuing assembly, before they had taken two such strong steps as their secession and constitution; which uncommon steps, they might easily see, tended greatly to affect that whole body, yea, even to divide and rend them asunder, together with the people who should adhere to them respectively, in case that faithful body should not have light to go into all the measures of the four brethren. Whatever thoughts the brethren might have about the union of the church in general, it might have been expected they would have showed something of concern for the union of that faithful body of ministers, for whom they did then profess a great regard. Moreover, since they had appealed for redress to the first faithful General Assembly, they should have delayed any such extraordinary steps until the meeting of the next assembly, then approaching, and so have kept the matter entire until the whole case was laid before them; which the brethren themselves should have been ready to do. For, considering how sensibly touched the whole church was with their case, and what preparations were making for the approaching assembly, the brethren could not be sure but it might prove the reforming assembly they appealed unto. O, what dreadful calamities to the church might have been prevented, had the four brethren continued praying and deliberating on the foresaid two steps until the meeting of the assembly in May, 1734; and Dot have so precipitantly seceded from the national church, and constituted

whose exertions, aided by the general expression of popular feeling, it had been procured, and had it been followed up with a little more address, and a few more sacrifices to consistency and propriety, might have had a serious influence upon their future prospects. Even as it stood, it certainly had the effect of leading them to a more close examination of the grounds upon which they had stated their secession, and to a mode of procedure that was cautious and deliberate. Though they had seceded from the judicatories of the church, and constituted themselves into a presbytery, they had not proceeded to any act of jurisdiction, when the above act was made in their favour, their meetings having been only for prayer and conference with regard to the trying and peculiar circumstances in which they were placed. Seeing some little appearance of reformation on the part of the assembly, 1734, they forbore to proceed further for another year, and, as one of the brethren entertained scruples upon the subject, they continued their meetings only for prayer till after the assembly, 1736, when all hope of redress from the judicatories had entirely vanished. *

The hopeful beginnings of the assembly, 1734, were indeed soon at an end, and even the warmest of its admirers found that little had been accomplished. Attempting to follow up what they supposed they had gained in this assembly, and still farther to conciliate the seceders, and to soothe the people in general, the commission sent an embassy to London to solicit king and parliament for a repeal of the act restoring patronages. This embassy was highly respectable. It consisted of the Rev. Messrs. Gordon of Alford, Willison of Dundee, and M'Intosh of Errol, but they met with no success.t The assembly which met at Edinburgh, May the eighth, 1735,

themselves into an antipresbytery, by which means, alas ! they became too, much engaged in honour to persist in their separation, whatever steps the assembly should take to redress their grievances; and we know not if there was an assembly since the revolution, more willing to do it than the assembly 1734, had the brethren applied to them for it, as they were urged by many to do."-Willison's Fair and Impartial Testimony, pp. 74–76.

* Wilson's Defence of the Reformation Principles of the Church of Scotland, pp. 141, 182.

+ Account of the Life and Writings of Dr. John Erskine, by the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff, Wellwood, p. 448.

took the affair of patronage into their own hands, and appointed the Rev. Messrs. Alexander Anderson at St. Andrews, and James Gordon at Alford, with colonel John Erskine of Carnock, to proceed to London, and by every proper and legal method, endeavour to procure the redress of that grievance. In compliance with these injunctions, this deputation proceeded to London, when they presented the following address to his majesty :-“ May it please your majesty. The church of Scotland, after great sufferings, was at the late happy revolution restored by the gracious providence of Almighty God, to the possession of her former rights and privileges, so long contended for. His majesty, king William, of immortal memory, was then the glorious instrument of her deliverance, and, at the same time, of delivering Great Britain from popery and slavery,

Among other great and worthy things done at that memorable juncture for the church and people of Scotland, the power of patrons to present ministers to churches, was abolished by an act of parliament, in consequence of the Scots CLAIM OF RIGHT in the year 1690, for which the patrons obtained a recompense, and were also allowed to retain all the temporal benefits of patronage which they had formerly enjoyed.

" By the same act of parliament, another method of settling ministers in churches was established, in the exercise of which, that point in the constitution of a church, to wit, the establishing of a just relation between pastor and people, was managed with much coolness, decency, and order, and the ministers thus established, by the divine blessing on their labours, were successful in the work of the gospel, and religion and loyalty daily gained ground against profane principles and practices, and against disaffection to the civil government.

By the act of Union, which passed by the parliaments of both the British nations, and was made the fundamental constitution of the kingdom of Great Britain, this freedom from the presentation of patrons, and the said method appointed for settling ministers in churches, did, with the other rights and privileges of the church and people of Scotland, become an essential and fundamental part of the foresaid constitution of Great Britain.

1 1

“ Notwithstanding whereof, certain disaffected persons, at a time when the most valuable rights and interests of Britain were thought to be in imminent danger, had the address to procure an act of parliament in the tenth year of the late queen Anne, rescinding the foresaid act of parliament, 1690, that abolished the power of patrons to present ministers, and established the method of their settlement in churches. And that this was done in resentment against the church of Scotland, and that further threatenings were by these persons breathed out against her, for her firm and loyal adherence to the revolution interest, and especially to the succession of the crown in your majesty's royal protestant family, was not then denied but boasted of, and is still remembered by all who observed these times.

“ The bad effects which have thence proceeded to the interests of religion and loyalty, none but an utter stranger to Scotland can be unacquainted with, nor with the grounds of fear that these evils may mightily increase, till the cause be removed.

“ The church of Scotland having long waited for redress of this heavy grievance, and not having as yet obtained the same, did humbly believe it her duty now again to lay the case with the utmost dutifulness before your majesty, and implore your most gracious and royal favour and justice, for relieving her from these hardships, which are the more affecting, because of the lamentable consequences thereof, that seem to multiply and increase. Discontents and division appear to be growing upon the one hand, as does disaffection upon the other, whereby irreligion and licentiousness are like to prevail.

“ As no act of parliament can be made or repealed but by your majesty and parliament, we, as commissioned by your majesty's subjects of the church of Scotland, whose unshaken loyalty is testified, even by her enemies, do, with hearts zealous for your royal person, family, and government, and zealous also, we hope for the glory of God, and the success of the gospel, presume most dutifully to approach your sacred person as the nursing father of the church of Christ, and the

« السابقةمتابعة »