Page images
PDF
EPUB

decision of the Commission, ordering the Moderate despotism. The only remedy presbytery to proceed to the settlement of which presented itself in such a deplora. an unacceptable presentee, was disre- ble state of matters, was for every faithful garded, on the ground that the Com- minister to be doubly zealous in the dismission had not exceeded their powers ; charge of his own pastoral duties, by the presbytery were ordered to proceed which vital religion might be preserved without delay, on pain of being censured in at least some portions of the land, as contumacious ; and, in case of their re- during this period of general defection. fusal, the synod was empowered to take This was accordingly done, and the re. the necessary measures for having the sults very soon began to appear. sentence of the Commission executed. * [1742] The year 1742 will be for This, it will be observed, was in reality ever memorable, not only in the annals of equivalent to a resumption of the scheme the Church of Scotland, but in the history of effective intrusion settlements by means of Christianity, on account of the remarkof " riding committees," which had been able revivals of genuine religion which prohibited by the Assembly of 1735; took place at that time in various parts of and though the language of the prohibi- the country, particularly at Cambuslang tion was allowed to remain for a little and Kilsyth. It was at Cambuslang that longer in the instructions given to the this remarkable manifestation of spiritual Commission, yet in a very short time the power first appeared. The minister of tyrannical practice was again in full the parish, the Rev. Mr. Macculloch, had operation.

been peculiarly earnest in preaching the The sudden and complete reacquisition characteristic doctrines of the gospel, reof power by the Moderate party had arisen generation and justification by faith, durin a considerable degree from the coming the greater part of the year 1741; parative paralysis to active exertion in and a greater degree of quickened attenchurch courts, which seized upon their tion than usual began to appear in the opponents when the seceding ministers congregation in the course of that winter, not only refused to accede to the overtures and early in the year of 1742. At length,

peace which were offered to them, but on the 18th of February, the people who even repelled the advances of their former attended meetings for prayer, which had friends with reproaches, invectives, and been previously established, manifested expressions of distrust. In their dejection such a degree of intense anxiety for their they retired from the struggle, in which spiritual interests, and such deep convicto have secured complete success, would tions and supplicating earnestness to hear have demanded their most strenuous and of the Saviour, that Mr. Macculloch was united exertions for many years, especially constrained to preach to them almost as the moderate party enjoyed more of daily, and to request the assistance of his the countenance of politicians than can friends in the ministry from other quarever be expected by men who act solely ters. This naturally excited the attention on Christian principles. But though they of the kingdom; and ministers of the most in a great measure abandoned the contest undoubted piety, and the highest character in church courts, they did not sink into for theological attainments and soundness the lethargy of dejection in other matters. of judgment, hastened to the spot, to They saw well that the course of Moder- satisfy their minds by personal investigaate policy was both introducing into the tion, and returned not only convinced Church ministers who cared little for the of the reality of what they had seen, but spiritual welfare of the people, provided filled with gratitude to God that they had they could secure the emoluments of the enjoyed the privilege of beholding so charge ;ř and at the same time expelling glorious a proof of the convincing and men who were faithful and able ministers converting power of the Holy Spirit

. of the gospel, but could not submit to Among these may be mentioned Dr.

Webster of Edinburgh, Dr. Hamilton 1 " What must they think of a man that tells a re- and Messrs. M'Laurin and Gillies of claiming parish by word and deed, ' I'll be your minister in spite of your teeth ; P'U have the charge of your souls, Glasgow, Willison of Dundee, Bonar of whether we will or not; and if ye refuse ordinances and Torphichen, and Dr. Erskine of Edinmeans of salvation from me, ye shall have none !! " (Willison's Testimony, p. 54.)

burgh, at that time a young man pursuing

of

* Acts of Assembly.

ness.

his theological studies. The celebrated composed and coldly plausible moral esWhitefield, hearing of this remarkable says, would look upon the whole as the event, hastened to Cambuslang, and delusion of heated enthusiasts and fanapreached repeatedly with his usual clo- tics; but it could scarcely have been exquence, and more than usual impressive- pected that such truly pious men and ex

perienced ministers as were the fathers In the beginning of May a similar of the Secession should not merely have scene of religious awakening took place viewed these religious revivals with disat Kilsyth, under the ministry of the Rev. trust, but should have assailed them with James Robe, a man of considerable abili- excessive bitterness.* They even proceedties, who had been for some time an active ed to the extreme absurdity of appointing defender of the constitutional principles of a solemn fast to be held on account of the Church against the corrupt and secular the awful symptoms of the Lord's anger innovations of the Moderate party. The with this Church and land, in sending anxiety manifested by the people of Kilsyth them strong delusion that they should was not inferior to that of the people of believe a lie, particularly when a judicial Cambuslang; and several adjacent par- testimony for the Reformation principles ishes experienced a portion of the sacred of this Church was emitted, after all influence so graciously vouchsafed by the other means had proved ineffectual.” Divine Visitant

. Mr. Robe appears to These good but narrow-minded and prehave acted with consummate prudence, judiced men seem to have come to the exercising the most vigilant care over conclusion, that the Church of Scotland those who came to him in deep distress was so thoroughly corrupt that it would be of mind under conviction of sin, giving to derogatory to the character of the Holy them the most judicious instruction in God to suppose that he could deign to spiritual truth, and keeping a private re- visit her in mercy, and to revive his own cord of all cases of religious awakening, work in a Church so fearfully polluted. that he might deal with each according to Their deplorable conduct at this time its own peculiarities, mark the progress ought to be a warning to every Christian of the feelings and the knowledge of the Church, and to every body of professing people, and be able to discriminate be- Christians, not to think of themselves tween what was mere excitement, and more highly than they ought, lest they what by its fruits proved itself to be true come to despise those whom God hath conversion. The subsequent publication not despised. of his Narrative gave to the religious Many serious Christians, in that eventcommunity the means of judging as to ful time, were led into speculations of a the nature and extent of the remarkable different character,—as to what might be work of the Holy Spirit in Scotland at the probable object to be effected by these that period ; and it may be safely said, remarkable manifestations of convincing that the strength of prejudice must be and converting grace, t-whether they very great in any man who knows what might not be preparatory for some great vital religion is, who can peruse that ju- advancement of religion throughout the dicious production, without being con- world, such as sacred prophecy so emstrained to glorify God, who had so gra- phatically foretells. It is at all times ciously visited his people. *

hazardous to attempt to explain the meanYet it is not easy to estimate the force ing of any peculiar dispensations of proof prejudice. It was to be expected that vidence or grace, in a prospective point irreligious men would calumniate and of view, and not surprising that men deride the proceedings at Cambuslang should err when they make the attempt

. and Kilsyth, and that the Moderate min- Nor is it easy to connect peculiar dispenisters, the greater part of whom regarded sations with subsequent events, so as to Christianity as merely an improved sys- perceive what has been produced by tem of morality, and whose sermons them, even at the lapse of a century: Yet were generally little more than carefully one or two remarks may be offered of a historical character, not perhaps unwor- | communicated to then the highesi amount thy of consideration. It will be remem- of instruction which circumstances woula bered, that in different periods of the permit

* To their writings on this crieff's Life of Erskine, pp. 112-123; Gillies' Collec. into oblivion.

See Robe's Narrative; and the testimonies of many eminent minişters of the period; also Sir Henry Mon- to refer more specifically, wiary.bject we do not choose tions; and Life of Whitefield.

† Dr. Erskine's Signs of the Times, &c.

, it repeatedly happened in subseChurch of Scotland's history, God was quent times, that the people remained pleased to send her a time of refreshing sound and faithful in the possession of from His presence; and that these were true religious principles, long after a invariably before a time of searching large proportion of the ministers had trial, as if to give her a principle of sa- fallen into error. This was strikingly cred life sufficiently strong to survive the the case during the time of the persecuperiod of suffering. Such was the gene tion, when so many of the ministers acral revival in 1596, immediately before cepted the indulgence, while the people her protracted struggle with Prelacy un- maintained their integrity, although exder James. Such were the revivals of posed to at least equal perils from the Stewarton, Shotts, and other places, a vengeance of prelatic informers and the short while before her second great con- licentious and cruel soldiery. This was test with Prelacy in the time of Charles the case after the Revolution, when the I., and the wasting persecution of the tortuous expediencies of worldly policy two following reigns. And though no corrupted the church courts, and a false direct persecution followed the revivals system of theology became prevalent of Cambuslang and Kilsyth, yet the long among the ministers, long before the and dreary domination of Moderatism people were tainted by such low secular which immediately followed was more views, or imbibed such erroneous doctricalculated to destroy vital religion in the nal tenets. And it may be added that it land than could have been the most re- was for this very purpose that the law of lentless persecution ; and it seems no patronage was brought forward by the very strained conjecture, that these gra- Jacobites, who saw clearly that its operacious influences were vouchsafed to the tion would prevent the church courts and Church at that period, to sustain her the people from acting together; and out during her lengthened sojourn in a mo- of the alienation which it so soon and ral and religious wilderness. Certain it so fatally caused, arose in a great meais that the deep and earnest spirit and sure the baneful policy of the moderate feeling of vital and personal religion party, who regarded with dislike the passed not away like a temporary excite- warm interest taken by the people in rement. Not only did many hundreds of ligious matters, and the decided preferthe converts of that period continue to ence which they showed to evangelical exhibit the beauty of holiness throughout doctrine. It was perfectly manifest, that the remainder of their lives, proving the if the popular mind were to be consulted reality of the great change which they in any other way than as a mere matter had experienced, but also the very know- of form, few except evangelical ministers ledge that such events had taken place would ever obtain admission to the continued to operate, silent and unseen, Church; and, as has been already but with mighty efficacy, in the hearts proved, having little knowledge of, and of thousands, constraining them to be- no love for, evangelical doctrine, they lieve that there was more in true spiritual had no other way of securing their own Christianity than could be expressed in admission to the Church as a profession, a cold moral harangue, and rendering than by exerting themselves to the utthem quick to mark and eager to re- most in weakening popular influence ceive instruction of a more evangelical by the rigid enforcement of patronage. and living character.

Could they have contrived at once to And here, also, it may be fittingly have reduced the people to such a state stated, that although the First Reforma- of comparative ignorance of sound doction began, as it necessarily must have trine as to have felt little interest in one done, by the conversion of Romish kind of preaching more than in another, priests, who thus became reformed minis- there would have been no necessity for ters, and then taught the people, yet, as such strenuous exertions for the represthe Scottish Reformers gave to the peo- sion of popular rights and popular feelple schools as well as churches, and ing; but as this could not be accomplished with the intelligent and religious peo- | acter. Nor is there a single instance on ple of Scotland, there was no resource record, till those of recent occurrence, in but to reduce the popular consent to a which the ciyil courts presumed to intermere empty form, and to crush the popu- fere with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction lar resistance by the strong arm of of the Church, to the extent of offering an unconstitutional law, surreptitiously an opinion whether ordination should be thrust into the statute-book by infidels given or withheld, even when patrons and traitors. Taking all these things attempted to induce them to overstep their into consideration, it will not be denied, legitimate boundaries. When the Church that true Christianity as existing among ordained a person who was found not to the orthodox ministers and people of have a legal claim to the fruits of the Scotland, was indeed entering into a long benefice, according to the law of patronand dreary period of trial, and greatly age, the civil court decided that he could needed an extraordinary infusion of not receive it, but refused to order the spiritual life, that it might not become ut- Church to annul the pastoral tie of orditerly extinct before the dawning of a nation, or to ordain the person to whom brighter and a happier day.

the legal presentation had been given. [1743-49.] It does not appear neces. Of this, the case of Lanark is a remarksary to occupy space in detailing the pro-able instance, in which Dr. Dick receedings of the Assemblies year by year mained minister of the parish, dischargfrom this time forward, occupied, as they ing all the pastoral duties for upwards chiefly were, with discussions arising out of four years, while the patron was found of disputed settlements, and terminating to be entitled to retain the stipend.* generally in the same manner, the oppo- [1750.] In the year 1750, a subject sition of the people being disregarded, came before the Assembly which seems and the presentee appointed with or with- to have exercised great influence upon its out the assistance of a military force, ac- spirit and the whole course of its proceedcording to the amount of the opposition ings for many years. This was an overwhich had to be overcome. Some of ture respecting the small livings in the these cases, however, involved the ques- Church, many of which were not suffition respecting the jurisdiction of the civil cient to yield a respectable maintenance. courts, with regard to the settlement of It was decided that a committee should ministers. In the case of Dunse, for in- be appointed to draw up a report to be stance, in 1749, one of the applications laid before next Assembly. The Assemmade to the civil court was, that they bly of 1750 directed Dr. Cuming, the would arrest the proceedings of the moderator, to proceed to London at the church court, by forbidding them to mo- head of a deputation, to lay the report derate a call at large, or settle any other before government, and to apply for an man than the presentee. “ This con- augmentation. The nobility, gentry, and clusion the Lords would not meddle with, landed proprietors in general, took the because that was interfering with the alarm, and made preparations for the power of ordination, or internal policy most strenuous opposition, although they of the Church, with which the Lords were in possession of the teinds, which had nothing to do."* Several decisions were always regarded as the patriof a precisely similar character were mony of the Church, and subject to such made by the Court of Session, indicating augmentations from time to time as might clearly the opinion of that court, that be required. One of the methods emwhile it fell within their province to deployed by the heritors to defeat this righttermine whether a settlement should carry ful claim of the Church, was a threat with it the civil emoluments attached to that the law of patronage should be more the ministerial office, they were not en-stringently applied than it had bitherto titled to interfere with the spiritual pro- been, and that presbyteries should not be ceedings of the Church, either in confer- allowed to evade it, by showing any deferring or withholding the ministerial char-ence to the people, as they had occasion

ally done." The result was, that the

* Brown's supplement, vol. v. p. 768; Annals of the Assembly, vol. i. p. 147. See also a remarkable paper by Lord Kames in his Law Tracts.

* Annals of the Assembly, vol. i. pp. 169-180.

* Ibid. pp. 190.95, 197.

nian.

scheme was defeated, and the Moderates the Church of Scotland had previously were made to feel that the heritors were known, and this time with complete success. well contented to make use of them in [1752.] This opportunity arose out of taking away the rights of the people by the disputed settlement of Inverkeithing. the violation of the Revolution Settlement Mr. Andrew Richardson, minister at and the Treaty of Union, but were not Broughton, had been presented to the disposed to refund any portion of their parish of Inverkeithing, but was not acillegal pillage, which they possessed in ceptable to the parishioners. The presconsequence of that violation. This dis- bytery of Dunfermline hesitated to proappointment seems to have paralyzed the ceed with his settlement, but were ordered energies of Dr. Cuming, who had been to admit him, with certification, that the the chief leader of the Moderate party for Commission would proceed to very high many years, and to have been the cause censure in case of their disobedience. of a new developement of Moderate policy, They still declined compliance; and the which soon afterwards appeared, under Commission which met in March 1752 the management of an abler and a bolder issued a new command to them to pro

ceed, the sentence of censure not being [1751.] The first appearance of this carried, though lost by a narrow majority. new aspect of Moderate policy was in the When the case came before the Assemcase of Torpichen, which was decided in bly, it gave occasion to a full developethe year 1751. It had arisen three years ment of the principles of the new Moderate before, when, after the death of Mr. Bonar, policy, which Robertson was determined the last of the Marrow-men, a Mr. Wat- to introduce. The form which the disson was presented to the parish by the cussion assumed turned upon the proposipatron, to whose settlement the parish- tion, “ How far the members of inferior ioners could not be persuaded to consent judicatories are bound to give effect to Twice was the case brought before the the sentences of superior courts, in oppoAssembly, in the years 1749 and 1750, sition to the dictates of their own private -and the presbytery of Linlithgow were judgment and conscience." This had each time enjoined to admit Mr. Watson. been evaded by the device of the "riding But as the opposition continued, they de- committees;" but the pregnant hint reclined to obey the ungracious injunction. cently given by the heritors

, that the law They were rebuked by the Assembly of of patronage would be more strictly en1751, and again ordered to proceed; but forced, and presbyteries not permitted to in case they should still delay, a “ riding evade it as formerly, seems to have led committee

was empowered to effect the Principal Robertson to the idea, that it settlement, which was done on the 30th would be more expedient for the superior of May 1751, by the aid of a military church courts to govern their own suborforce.* This was the last instance of a dinate judicatories, and thereby to gratify settlement effected by means of a “riding the heritors and regain their favour, than committee." That device, it will be re- to leave the matter to the civil courts, and membered, had been adopted in order to lose all hope of propitiating the heritors, accomplish the settlement of an unaccept- without the possibility of acquiring popuable presentee, without doing violence to lar support. The result may be briefly the feelings and conscientious scruples stated. Robertson's policy prevailed. of presbyteries. But in this case a very The presbytery were commanded to prostrenuous attempt was made by William ceed to the ordination of Mr. Richardson; Robertson, minister of Gladsmuir, better and, as if to make the deed more glarknown by his subsequent designation, ingly despotic, it was commanded that Principal Robertson, to compel the pres- not less than five members should be rebytery to proceed to the settlement, on garded as a quorum,—the usual number pain of suspension or deposition. In this being three. Six of the presbytery dehe failed; but a new opportunity soon clined even then to comply; and one of occurred for renewing his attempt to these, the Rev. Thomas Gillespie of Carestablish a more pure despotism than nock, was deposed from the office of the

ministry for contumacy. The venerable • Ibid. pp. 156, 181, 198-212; Patronage Report, Ap

nan, when the sentence was pronounced,

pendix.

ma

« EelmineJätka »