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meekly answered, “ I rejoice that to me is in the Christian Church no principle it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only different from those natural principles to believe on Him, but also to suffer for which form and regulate society His sake."* This tyrannical deed gave contains no recognition of the scriptural rise to the Secession which is known by basis of ecclesiastical authority. the name of the Relief, and marks the leads inevitably to the conclusion, that commencement of the new Moderate dy- superior ecclesiastical authority ought to nasty.
supersede the conviction of conscience to Before the ultimate decision of this case such an extent as to warrant the comhad been pronounced, the two contend- mission of what an individual regarded ing parties had publicly emitted what may as positively sinful. But every truly rebe termed the manifesto of each, the ligious man, who makes the Bible his manifesto of the Moderate party being the rule
, must see that this analogy is false, production of Dr. Robertson. As this the argument founded on it vicious, and able paper contained the principles of the conclusion inept and wrong. Can ecclesiastical polity which guided Robert- men, without any higher aid, make a son's administration, has been referred to church and frame laws for it as they with strong approbation by his successor can make a monarchy or a republic ? in church power, Principal Hill, and Such a low secular view of the nahas continued ever since to be regarded, ture of a true Church was never enteras in a great degree, the standard of Mo- tained by the great men of the First and derate church policy, it deserves some Second Scottish Reformations, such con. attention. It begins by a clear and clusions are utterly and irreconcilably at forcible statement of what Robertson re- variance with the principles and the spigarded as the first principle of society, rit of the Presbyterian Church. On the regulated subordination, in which private contrary, one of the fundamental prinjudgment is so far superseded by the ciples of Presbyterian polity is, " That authority of the ruling power, that no all church power is ministerial, and not member of society can avoid executing magisterial or lordly." Whence it folthe orders of the supreme authority in lows, that the duty of the office-bearers any other way than by withdrawing from in a Christian Church, met together in it. This principle he immediately ap- the name of their only and Divine Head plies to what he terms “ecclesiastical and King, to deliberate and act for the society," and proceeds to reason to the edification of his body the Church, is to same conclusion, asserting boldly that the endeavour, by prayer and by searching conscience of subordinate members is so the Scriptures with earnest faith and far superseded by the orders of their su- singleness of heart, to ascertain what is periors, whom they are bound to obey, the mind and will of Christ in the matthat they are either not entitled to plead ter, and then to act according to the judgit, or are bound to withdraw; declaring ment of conscience thus enlightened by strenuously, that " if the decisions of the the Word of God, in all gentleness and General Assernbly may be disputed and brotherly love. This is the first prindisobeyed by inferior courts with im-ciple of Presbyterian Church governpunity, the Presbyterian constitution is ment, flowing from the great doctrine of entirely overturned.” This forms the very the Headship of Christ; and every peressence of his argument; and every intel- son capable of understanding the Bible, ligent person, especially every thought- and acquainted with the Presbyterian ful Christian, will at once perceive, that constitution, must see that the opposite the analogy on which his argument is view is equally unscriptural and unpresfounded commences with a false principle, byterian. And it may be very safely and consequently that the argument is affirmed, that no church court, actnated vicious throughout, and the conclusion by this principle, and proceeding in this false. This analogy assumes, that there manner, could ever have arrived at the • Annals of the Assembly, vol i. pp. 222-230, 262-271; laws of the gospel required of them to
conclusion, that their obedience to the Assembly, vol. i. pp. 231-260.
perpetrate that grievous violence to the
Patronage Report, Appendix.
See these two Papers in Morien's Annals of the
FROM THE PERIOD OF THE SECOND SECES
SION TILL THE ASSEMBLY OF 1841.
Hume and Kames-Assessment for the Poor-Cases
conscience of the Christian people, the science of individuals free both to protest members of Christ's body, which is in- against, and to abstain from, actively asvolved in forcing them to listen to the sisting to carry into effect what they think instructions of a false teacher, or of one sinful, provided they offer no actual opwho, instead of feeding and protecting the position, having always this resource, flock as a shepherd, acts towards them as that it can appoint others to execute its a ravening wolf
, regardless of their spi- orders when that is still held necessary. ritual welfare, provided he can secure the fruits of the benefice.
Yet such unpresbyterian, unscriptural, unchristian principles, were promulgated by Robertson as the manifesto of the Moderate party,
CHAPTER X. formed the rule of his long and vigorous administration, were lauded and followed by Hill, and have ever been regarded, by subsequent Moderate leaders, as the very struggle against the new Moderate Policy - Defence of standards of their policy, till the present time, when, finding that their own prin
of Nigg and Jedburgh-Overtures respecting the El
ders-Home and the Theatre-Schools in the Highciples would lead to the direct condem- lands--Simony--The Relief Secessian formed-Char.
acter of the Moderate Party in Preaching, Discipline, nation of some of their own party, they Secularity, &c.--The Schism Overtures-Intrusion have discovered that supreme ecclesiasti
Settlement at St Ninians-Increase of the Secession,
and the Consequences viewed statiscally-Repeal of cal authority resides in the Court of Ses- Popish Disabilities--Debate on Pluralities-Retire
ment of Principal Robertson from the General Assion, and that they are bound in con- sembly-Causes of his Retirement-Proposal of the science to render implicit obedience to its
Moderates to abolish Subscription to the Confession
of Faith-Dr. Hill-Proposal to abandon the Modera. dictates in matters of ordination. Even
tion of a Call-Dr. Cook's Theory of the Settlement this is natural: men who hold a false
of Ministers---Dr. Hardy's views concerning Patron
age-Discussion on the Subject of Patronage-Opinprinciple are inevitably led from bad to ions of Dr. Hill and Dr. Cook-Declining State of Re
ligion in Scotland-A settlement without Subscribing worse, far, very far, beyond what they at the Confession of Faith--The New-Light Controversy first would have conceived possible. It
in Ayrshire-Robert Burns the Poet-Socinianism may be added, as pointing out the ulti- Revival of a Religious Spirit generally-Christian
Missions-Opposed by the Moderate Party-Chapels mate bearing of these brief remarks, that of Ease-Rowland Hill-Refusal of Ministerial Comwhile the Moderate party would readily
munion with all other Churches, which completes the
Moderate System-Rapid Growth of Evangelismdepose a minister for mere contumacy, or Contest between Dr. Hill and the Edinburgh Doctors
-Dr. Andrew Thomson Dr. M'Crie--Debates on disobedience to the commands of his su- Pluralities-Dr Chalmers-Decline of Moderatismperiors, however sinful these commands Mission to India--Apocrypha Controversy-The Vol.
untary Controversy--Ascendancy of the Evangelical might be in themselves, although they Party-Admission of Chapels of Ease–Subsequent very generally screened immorality and
Contentions and Struggles-Present Position-Con
cluding Remarks and Reflections. heresy; the Evangelical or truly constitutional party could not depose except
The decision of the Assembly of 1752, for some deed in itself sinful, either as in the case of Inverkeithing and the presimmoral or heretical. No man who bytery of Dunfermline, followed by the can estimate aright the true nature of severe and despotic measure of Mr. Gilecclesiastical jurisdiction, will hesitate a lespie's deposition, gave rise to feelings moment to say which of these two modes of strong indignation and alarm throughof procedure is that which ought to be out the kingdom. A general apprehenfollowed by a true Christian Church. sion prevailed among the friends of reli
It is not denied that the constitution of gious liberty, that the reign of absolute the Presbyterian Church requires the and spiritual despotism was now indeed submission of the inferior to the superior began in Scotland, since the General courts; for were that not the case, the Assembly had committed a deed distinctly Church of Scotland must sink into the subversive of the first principles of the Independent system; and in some of Presbyterian constitution, which had altheir arguments the minority of that ways hitherto been the very citadel of period were not sufficiently guarded freedom, civil and religious. The subagainst that extreme. But while sound ject was discussed with great anxiety in Presbyterian polity requires this due sub- many of the synods and presbyteries; ordination of courts, it leaves the con- l overtures were framed for the purpose of
Excitement at the Period of the French Revolution
obtaining a repeal of the Assembly's de- / had the possession of power, and they cision, and the restoration of Mr. Gilles- could therefore the more easily set aside pie to his charge; and numerous pam-right and disregard reason. Besides, phlets were written both against and in since the laws of civil society demand defence of the new developement of complete subordination, therefore, accordModerate ecclesiastical polity. Great ing to the fundamental maxim of the new exertions were also made by the orthodox | Moderate dynasty, “ecclesiastical society'' party to procure a return to next Assem- must be governed in the same manner. bly of a sufficient number of true Presby- Had the supporters of this principle folterians to reverse the recent despotic and lowed it to its legitimate conclusions, they unconstitutional measure; and not less would have found themselves the advostrenuous were the Moderates on their vates of the hideous doctrines of entire part to retain their ascendancy and con- slavish obedience to tyranny in the State firm their new position.
and Popery in the Church, that is, to [1753.) When the Assembly met in absolute despotism, civil and religious. 1753, it speedily appeared that the strug- For whatever takes away the right of gle was to be of a very arduous and private judgment, commanding implicit doubtful character. A comparative trial obedience, especially in matters of reliof strength arose on the question respect- gion, to use the language of the Confesing the election of a legal agent for the sion of Faith, "destroys liberty of conChurch, and in this Dr. Cuming, the re- science, and reason also,” reducing men, cognised Moderate leader, was defeated. as far as it is possible, to the condition of But this defeat seems to have had the irresponsible and unreasoning slavery. effect of leading to a greater degree of " But you are not compelled to obey, if union in that party, and a more deter- your conscience forbid you: it is in your mined effort to secure their predominance. power to withdraw.” Such was the lanThe case of Mr. Gillespie came next guage of the manifesto, and still is the under consideration; and the question language of those who hold the same proposed for the vote was, whether he principles. To that the ready answer should be restored to the exercise of his was given: “Who empowered you to office as a minister of this Church or not. \frame laws contrary to the constitution It was decided in the negative by a ma of the Presbyterian Church, which you jority of three. Next day an attempt was have sworn to obey and maintain, and made to procure the remission of the sub-contrary to the laws of the Christian ject to the Commission, with power to Church, given by Him who alone is that court to restore Mr. Gillespie
, if he Lord of the conscience, and then to punish should make application ; but this also men because they adhere to the constituwas resisted, and again lost by the nar- tion of the Church of their fathers, and, row majority of three.* A considerable when charged with disobeying your number of ministers and elders dissented laws, answered, with the apostles, whefrom these decisions of the Assembly, and ther it is right to obey God or man, gave in their reasons of dissent, which judge ye ?!" Such were the opinions the ruling party prudently abstained from entertained, and arguments used, by the attempting to answer. By these reasons evangelical ministers of the Church of it was made clearly to appear that the Scotland, in that time of struggle against sentence of deposition had been pro- a party who did not scruple to subject nounced on account of an alleged offence, every spiritual consideration to the arbiagainst which there existed no law de- trary rules of secular policy. It was not, claring it to deserve deposition ; while perhaps, to be expected that secular polithe whole practice of the Church, in ticians would perceive the fallacy which similar
cases, had not gone beyond cen- lay at the source of the Moderate system; sure, so that the sentence of itself was un- but it might surely be hoped that they constitutional if tested by the laws of the would be able to mark the pernicious reChurch, and unchristian by those of the sults that have followed, and to arrive at Scriptures.f But the Moderate party the very simple and obvious conclusion, It will not be difficult to trace the main nance of the poor, without any regular lines of the historical demonstration.
that the cause must be essentially bad Annals of the Assembly vol. i. p. 278. + Ibid., I which has produced such consequences.
rol. ii, p. 21.
assessment, till the year 1755, when the Among the pamphlets which this con- increase of the Secession, withdrawing test between the two parties drew forth, numbers of people from the pale of the by far the most remarkable was “Wither- Established Church, and to the same exspoon's Ecclesiastical Characteristics." tent dimtnishing the collections, rendered This was published in September 1753, it necessary to resort, in some instances, and immediately acquired great celebrity, to regular assessments to supply the both in Scotland and England. The growing deficiency.* This was one of wrath of the Moderate party, whose the fruits of patronage on which its admaxims of ecclesiastical policy is so keen- mirers had not probably calculated, when ly satirized, was excessive; but they wise- they planted that deadly upas tree in the ly abstained from attempting to answer it. vineyard of the Scottish Church. By And it may be safely said, that if any enforcing patronage they first caused a impartial person would také Dr. Robert- Secession ; and by continuing their inson's Manifesto, and Witherson's Char- fatuated procedure they nourished its acteristics, and peruse them both candidly, growth, till the effects began to appear in looking also into the records of the the form of diminished resources for the Church courts under Robertson's admin- maintenance of the poor, which they were istration, he would find himself constrain- compelled themselves to supply. Still, as ed to admit that the Moderate policy had if smitten with judicial blindness, they been fairly and justly characterised. continued, and till this day continue, to
[1754-55.] The transactions of the enforce a system which, if persevered in, years
1754 and 1755 present little deserv- can end in nothing but the overthrow of ing to be recorded. In the former the the Presbyterian Church, and the imposicase of Biggar was terminated by a com- tion of a national poor-rate, vastly more promise. In the latter there arose a dis- expensive to the community, and, at the cussion, respecting the infidel writings of same time, a fertile nursery of immorality David Hume, which the Assembly con- and crime. demned, without however, naming the [1727.] The assembly of 1756 sig. author, which would not have been con- nalized itself by its decision of the case venient, as he was living in terms of of Nigg in Ross-shire. That parish had friendly iramacy with several of the enjoyed the blessing of a faithful evangeModerate leaders. A short time after the lical minister, Mr. John Balfour; and rising of the Assembly, Hume was de- upon his death the next, presentee was not fended by Dr. Blair, in a pamphlet pub- only of a totally opposite character with lished anonymously, to avoid the un- regard to doctrine, but was also accused seemliness of a teacher of religion being of drunkenness, which accusation was the avowed defender of one who made no only not proved against him. Great opsecret of his infidelity. The speculations position was made to the settlement by of Lord Kames were at the same time the pious parishioners, and equal relucbrought under consideration, and were tance was manifested by the majority of virtually included in the same censure; the presbytery to perpetuate the outrage although it seems to have been felt that commanded by the superior courts. But they might be regarded as little more the fate of Gillespie was before their eyes; than the idle mental discussions of an ec- and under a strong feeling of sorrow and centric man of genius, and not likely to regret, four of the presbytery repaired to be productive of serious injury to the the church of Nigg, to discharge the cause of truth.* One apparently slight painful duty. The church was empty; circumstance incidentally stated by Sir not a single member of the congregation Henry Moncreiff, deserves to be men
was to be seen. While in a state of pertioned as connected with this year; it is, plexity what to do in such a strange conthat the resources of the kirk-sessions dition, one man appeared, who had it in continued to be sufficient for the mainte- charge to tell them, “ That the blood of
the parish of Nigg would be required of Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. pp. 54-60. See also, Life of Kames, by Lord Woodhouselee.
Life of Erskine, Appendix, p. 409
them, if they should settle a man to the justly regarding personal religion as the walls of the kirk.* Having delivered first qualification for an office-bearer in solemnly this appalling message, he de- the Church, and concluding that no man parted, leaving the presbytery astonished could be personally religious who negand paralyzed. They proceeded no fur- lected public and family worship. But ther at the time, but reported the case to it would not have suited Moderate policy the Assembly of 1756. They were re- to have held the possession of personal buked for having failed in that implicit religion as an indispensable qualification obedience which was now the rule of of an office-bearer in the Church. The duty under the Moderate government of only qualifications which they regarded the Church; and the minister who was as absolutely indispensable were,- for a most opposed to the settlement was the minister, that he had received a presentavery one appointed to carry it into effect. tion from a patron,---and for an elder, that He yielded. Mr. Patrick Grant was he possessed political influence, or was 6 settled to the walls of kirk;" and the connected with those who did. And the putraged people of Nigg built a meeting- practice was about that time introduced, house for themselves, leaving to the which soon became the settled custom, of wretched intruder his benefice, on which ordaining young lawyers to the eldership, to batten, without a flock to tend. that they might sit in Assemblies, exercise
The case of Jedburg came before this their oratorical powers, and swell the Assembly, though its final decision did Moderate majorities
. It was evident that not take place till two years afterwards. they might discharge all these functions The parishioners of Jedburgh had almost without any personal religion; and thereunanimously petitioned that the Rev. Mr. fore the Moderate party strenuously reBoston of Oxnam, son of the celebrated sisted the attempt to have an attestation of Boston of Etterick, might be their minis- their possessing that qualification declared
The presentation, however, was to be indispensable. The Moderates were given to Bonar, grandson of Bonar of successful by a considerable majority; Torphichen; but when he found the in- and thus another glaring violation of reclinations of the people so decidedly fixed ligious principle and the constitution of on Mr. Boston, he resigned the presenta- the Presbyterian Church was perpetrated. tion. The patron might now have con- The evil consequences of this irreligious sulted the wishes of the people; but that decision were clearly pointed out by would have been contrary to the princi- Witherspoon, in a dissent which he laid on ples of the mild government of Modera- the table of the Assembly; and they have tism, and therefore a new presentation been completely realized, as the sufferings was given to another person, not likely to of the Church even yet too clearly prove. commit the fault of which Mr. Bonar had The next matter which came before been guilty
the Assembly, after having occupied the [1757.] The first subject which en- attention of a number of the subordinate gaged the attention of the Assembly in church courts in different parts of the the year 1757, arose out of objections country, was one which had its origin in against the commissions of the elders the elegant studies and amusements of the from six or seven different Presbyteries. Moderate clergymen. The Rev. John The defect urged against these commis- Home, minister of Athelstanefore, the sions was, that they did not bear that the eager supporter of Robertson in procurelders were qualified according to the acting the deposition of the pious and con1722, in which specific mention is made scientious Gillespie, had composed the that elders should be 6 strict in their ob- tragedy of Douglas; and when it was servation of the Lord's day, and in regu- represented in the Edinburgh Theatre, larly keeping up the worship of God in both the author and many of his clerical their families." The orthodox and con- friends were present at the representation. stitutional ministers argued that these This gave great offence to a large procommissions ought to be rejected as in- portion of the Church, both ministers valid, on account of this serious defect, and people, who very justly regarded
such conduct as giving countenance to Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. pp.'77-80; Patronage
Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. pp. 102-108