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Midholm, ordination at, 45.
Reviews of Books,-
Atonement of the Lamb: its nature, neces-
sity, and extent, 89.
The Christian Sabbath, &c., by ministers of
different denominations, 621.
The Home School ; or Hints on Home Edu-
The People's Day, 408.
The Theology of Inventions, 429.
(See also Critical Notices.)
of Shotts, 254.
Ritchie, Rev. Ebenezer, Jun., ordination of, 283.
Kivet, Dr Andrew, the life of, abridged, 495.
Robertson, Rev. Wm., ordination o1, 388.
Romans, the 8th Chapter of, in question and
Sabbath, the, in New England, 335.
Sabbath, Christian, review of, 621.
Sabbath School, Main Street Church, Glasgow,
report on, 575.
Sanctification, on, 130.
Saturday evening concerts and Dr Guthrie, 699.
1, 317, 361, 487, 585. See also Original se-
Sermon by late Rev. James Aitken, 49, 97-by
Moderator of Synod on 1st May 1855, 265.
Servant and master, 69-duties of servants,
Shotts, revival of religion at Kirk of, 254.
Shottsburn, ordination at, 240—intelligence
respecting congregation at, 191.
Sketches of foreign Mission Fields, 186of
Solemn League, remarks on, 351.
Statement and reply in reference to Toberdony
Property Case, 624.
by the Rev. Dr M'Crie, 81-and on a speech
delivered by him at meeting of English Pres-
dress to Free Assembly of 1856, 613.
Sturrock's Remembrancer, extract from, 253.
Synod, reports of meetings of, 283, 433, 577.
Toberdony Property Case, judgment of Lord
Chancellor of Ireland in, 337-statement, and
reply, in reference to, 624.
189, 282 Property Case, speech of Wm.
Penney, Esq., in, 416.
as it was and is, 370.
maintenance of Covenanted Reformation, union of Presbyterians in England, 187.
United Presbyterian Synod and the new views
Organ question, 609.
Vows, on social and public, 199.
Young, chapters for the, 6, 543, 550, 598.
REMINISCENCES OF THE EARLY TIMES OF THE
SECESSION HISTORICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, AND
THE SECESSION IN ORKNEY.
In our number for the month of September 1853, we gave an account of the introduction of the Secession into the Orkney Islands. These islands were then (1795) in a truly deplorable condition as regarded the state of education, public morals, and spiritual instruction. The withering spirit of Moderatism and semi-Arminianism had obtained a supremacy over the Presbyterian constitution and evangelical doctrines of the Church of Scotland, and they would seem to have inflicted a double blight on true religion and morality in these remote parts of the kingdom. The prospects of the first Secession Mission to Orkney were far from being encouraging. The people, in general, were exceedingly poor; the climate was severe and inhospitable; to which was added the virulent opposition of the higher classes, including the established clergy, to whose slothfulness and irregular lives may mainly be attributed that movement which they now sought to suppress. The Bible declaration has ever been found painfully true, that not many rich men, not many noble, are called, but that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are wise ; for by the foolishness of preaching he has been pleased to save them that believe. It was at the invitation of a few humble but pious persons, who were thirsting for the pure preaching of the Gospel
, that the Seceders were first led to visit the Orkney Islands, but it soon became evident that the call was from the Lord. Though countenanced neither by the rich nor the great, many
" the common people heard them gladly;" and the outward change which was effected on not a few, gave abundant evidence that the Holy Spirit had effectually blessed the seed which had been sown in the heart.
It was in Kirkwall, the capital of the island, that the Secession banner was first displayed. Large crowds assembled to hear the No. I., VOL. II.
Seceders preach, and while some mocked and went their way, others believed, and were added unto the Church of Christ. In no other part of Scotland, perhaps, since the Reformation, were the effects of the preaching of the Gospel so manifest as in Orkney. Many of the crying evils, such as intemperance, Sabbath desecration, and profane swearing, in a great measure disappeared ; many of the people became members of the Church, who had previously lived in the greatest indifference to everything good ; prayer meetings were well attended ; and in many a family was the worship of God set up, where the voice of prayer had never before been heard.
A variety of circumstances connected with the Secession movement in Kirkwall, contributed to give rapid publicity to it throughout the Mainland and the adjacent islands. The Lord had preserved a goodly number of his own people amid the general ignorance and irreligion that prevailed; and the distances which many of these pious persons travelled, and the privations they endured, both by sea and land, in order to wait on ordinances at Kirkwall
, is a sufficient evidence of their deep concern for divine things. The adherents of the Secession cause rapidly increased ; and in the course of a few years from its introduction into Orkney, congregations were formed, and ordinances dispensed, in various parts of the country.
The congregation of Birsay, though not the first in order, was the next in point of importance to that of Kirkwall. A few persons belonging to the parishes of Birsay and Evie, distant from Kirkwall about twenty miles, for several years regularly travelled thither to enjoy ordinances under the Secession ministers. Their number gradually increased ; and it was ascertained that others were friendly to the cause, though unable, from circumstances, to undertake the journey to and from Kirkwall. Not being in a position to call a minister, the Kirkwall congregation resolved to send one of their elders to act as missionary or catechist among their brethren at Birsay. Magnus Anderson was the party chosen for this important mission ; and his labours in that capacity were attended with the happiest results. Being a man of undoubted piety, extensively acquainted with the Scriptures, and gifted in no ordinary degree with an aptitude to teach, with an amiable and winning disposition, he soon attracted the attention, and won the affections of both old and young. His practice was to hold meetings in various parts of the country both on the Sabbath and week days—intimating at the close of each meeting where the next would be convened. His common text-book was Fisher's Catechism”-an admirable body of divinity -by which he was enabled at once to impart instruction, and ascertain what impression he was making on the minds of his hearers, without in the least degree trenching on the office of the ministry, His labours in this way were eminently successful. Many of the people were awakened under his instructions, and brought to feel the power and the value of religious ordinances, and the duty of seeking a more full dispensation of them in their own place.
The parishes of Birsay and Evie, at the period of which we write, were noted for almost every kind of vice, but particularly for intem
perance on the Lord's Day, and the revelry of promiscuous dancing. Such a state of public morals, however, will not cause surprise, when we mention that the people were next to being totally neglected both as regarded secular education and religious instruction. As an evidence of the state of matters in the Established Churches, it will be sufficient to mention that the ordinance of the Lord's Supper had not been dispensed in either of these parishes for a period of about twenty years.
The inhabitants of Orkney at that period were, in general, exceedingly poor. From their isolated position, and the want of an enterprising middle class, they were almost total strangers to commerce ; and, consequently, money, an element so necessary in every good work, was hardly known to them. The leaders of the little band of Seceders in Birsay felt the immense disadvantage they were put to on this account. They were anxious to apply for occasional sermon, but they knew well that the labourer is worthy of his hire—that their preachers required to be paid. In these perplexing circumstances a consultation was held, and a resolution come to, to make an attempt to collect money for this purpose. A modest youth was prevailed on, from a sense of duty, to undertake the delicate task, and although this was the first occasion on which the people of Birsay had been called upon to pay for the support of Gospel ordinances, his labours of love were not in vain. To his great joy, they cheerfully responded to his solicitations, and out of their penury contributed far beyond his expectations. After a few calls, five pounds were collected a large sum at that time among the poor Orcadians, and which may be said to have laid the foundation-stone of the Birsay congregation. Sermon was speedily applied for, and granted; their numbers rapidly increased ; and by 1801, within six years from the time that the Seceders first crossed the Pentland Firth on their mission to Orkney, they obtained a formal disjunction from Kirkwall, and were constituted into a distinct congregation.
The first preacher sent to Birsay was Mr Andrew Ogilvie ; he was followed by Mr M'Ewen of Dundee, and others.
The Seceders of Birsay, however, were not content with having secured for themselves the regular dispensation of divine ordinances. They felt they had also a duty to perform to God and to posterity. Their next concern, therefore, was to build a house for the worship of God, and another for the accommodation and comfort of their minister, which would also be an external mean of consolidating them as a congregation. Through the kindness of a landed proprietor, they obtained ground in a central part of the parish, sufficient for a site for a church and manse, with the liberty of quarrying stones from the adjoining ground, for the erection of both. Providence, in this way, seemed to smile on their labours ; but wherever the Lord's work is carried on, the evil one is ever ready to oppose it. They had already suffered no small measure of reproach both from the irreligious and from those who were attached to the Established Church, for their adherence to the Secession cause ; but this they bore with patience, knowing that all who live godly in the world will in some way suffer persecution. But now they had to encounter more serious opposition than mere reproach. A complaint was raised against them by a neighbouring proprietor for having opened a quarry on ground which was considered a public common," although no one could show any right he had to it. They at once obeyed his prohibition, and opened another quarry on the ground of their own superior ; but, to their dismay, they bad not well commenced, when their operations were again stopped by a legal interdict (probably at the instance of the same party), on the ground that the pits they were making would endanger the lives of cattle grazing in the neighbourhood. When the officers of the law came from Kirkwall to stop the quarrymen, the proprietor of the ground was present, and set them at defiance. “ He told them the men were working on his ground, that they were in the Lord's work, and that all the rabble of Kirkwall, with all the devils in hell, would not be able to stop it.” The case was tried and decided in favour of the Seceders, yet they paid the expense of the unrighteous interdict under which they had been laid. These barriers to the work having been overcome, the men resumed their labours with doubled zeal; and the females of the congregation, too, contributed to the advancement of the building in a manner deserving the highest praise. The site granted for the church being on the face of a rising ground, a large quantity of earth had to be excavated in order to bring the foundation to a level. “ The whole of this earth the women carried in baskets slung over their shoulders, a distance of more than one hundred and fifty yards. In the same way did they carry all the stones from the quarry, which was situated at nearly double that distance; and what is more, the most of this work was performed during the night, and gratuitously; and the same persons wonld have been found on the following day busily platting straw for the support of themselves and families. The tradesmen sometimes would have had all their material wrought up at night, but they were sure to find a plentiful supply by the morning. The stones, wood, and slates, were all carried in this manner, so that neither horse nor cart was employed at the building. These extra- . ordinary exertions were at last crowned with success; and in a remarkably short time, the congregation had the satisfaction of seeing both church and manse completed.
The congregation, however, were not permitted long to enjoy that settled and peaceful reward of their labours which they had a right to expect. About this time the question anent the power of the civil magistrate in religious matters was raised in the Antiburgher Synod to which they belonged. A controversy on this subject was carried on in the Synod, and throughout the body, up to the year 1806, when the Synod divided into what was afterwards known as the Old Light and New Light parties.
When this question was agitated in the Synod, Mr Willison, an ordained minister, who had been loosed from his charge, supplied the congregation at Birsay; and being there when those ministers who protested against the enactment of the Narrative and Testimony left the Synod, and formed themselves into a Presbytery, and took the