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the gross profanity and licentiousness of or refused to provide them, notwithstand the stage itself, and the still grosser im- ing the urgent entreaties and remonmoralities which haunt its precincts. strances of the society. In one point of The result was, that Home resigned his view this was not strange. The greater charge; and his play-going friends, the part of the Highland heritors were both most distinguished of whom was Dr. Papists and Jacobites, and consequently Carlyle of Inveresk, submitted to be re- had no love for the propagation of relibuked and admonished.*
gious knowledge, and as little for the ex[1758.] In the year 1758 Dr. Robert- tension of the Presbyterian system, which
was translated from Gladsmuir to paralyzed their rebellious tendencies, as Edinburgh; and from that time his as- they themselves had formerly owned in cendancy in church courts, which had their complaints against new churches already nearly superseded that of Dr. and schools. But it might have been Cuming, became altogether paramount, anticipated that under a Protestant goand remained unshaken till he voluntarily vernment, the law which declared that withdrew upwards of twenty years after- there should be a school in every parish wards. In the same year Boston of Ox- would have been put into execution, and
grieved with the proceedings of the that the supplementary exertions of this church courts, both in their utter disre- truly Christian society would not have gard of the feelings, wishes, and edifica- been pleaded as an excuse by the heritors tion of the people, and in the culpable leni- for their own neglect of duty. The disency shown to clerical delinquents, gave cussion of this subject was ultimately in to the presbytery of Jedburgh his de- attended with the most beneficial results, mission of the charge of Oxnam, and in the erection of about forty new churches ceased to be a minister of the Church of in the Highlands, with an ordained minScotland. The people of Jedburgh, find. ister in each, though the admission of ing all their endeavours to obtain him as these ministers into church courts did not minister of the parish ineffectual, built a take place till a very recent period, when church, and gave him a call to be their a more constitutional spirit had begun to pastor. This call was signed by the town prevail. council, the session, and all the heads of [1759.] The only thing which merits families except five. On the day of his attention in the year 1759 is the passing admission the magistrates attended in all of the act against Simony, which had their official dignity, and the new church been rendered necessary to prevent the was crowded by at least two thousand disgraceful pactions entered into between people. He was ordained by a Mr. patrons and presentees in many instances, Mackenzie, who had once been minister especially since the law of patronage had of Lochbroom, but was then minister of begun to be so steadily enforced. This a dissenting congregation in England, and kind of crime had been distinctly foreafterwards was called to be their pastor seen, as certain to arise out of patronage; by the injured people of Nigg. This and while this act condemns the sinful loss to the Church of a faithful minister consequences, it by implication condems and a warm-hearted congregation, was also the sinful cause. a fitting celebration of Dr. Robertson's [1760-65.] No new principles, either translation to Edinburgh, and accession of evil or of good, obtained developement to unliinited ecclesiastical power. during the years between 1760 and 1765,
A representation was laid before this and, therefore, they may be passed rapidly Assembly, by the Society for Propagating over, merely glancing at some events Christian Knowledge, respecting the de- which illustrate the topics already stated. ficiency of parish schools in the High- A deputation was sent to the Highlands, lands. From this document it appeared, to explore the state of religion in those that there were in the Highlands no less remote districts; and a full report having than one hundred and seventy-five par- been laid before the Assembly, that venerishes where there were no parochial able court strongly recommended the schools, and where the heritors neglected erection of new churches and parochial
districts, the ministers of which were to Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. pp. 112-129. 1 Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 154-159.
be supported out of the royal bounty. The violent settlement of Kilconquhar, land in Galloway. But when charges of on the decision of the Assembly in 1760,* heresy against any minister were brought caused the secession of a large body of before the Assembly, they were invariathe people of that parish, and gave occa- bly discouraged, and the charge repelled; sion to the completed form which the and on one occasion, the faithful minister second Secession assumed in the course who had brought forward the charge was of the following year. A new church actually reproved for his conduct, and was built by the aggrieved people, and warned“ not to be over ready to fish out on the 22d of October 1761, the Rev. heresies."* Several very glaring cases Thomas Gillespie, formerly of Carnock, of violent intrusion occurred: such as and the Rev. Thomas Boston, formerly that of Kilmarnock, in 1764; and that of Oxnam, together with a Mr. Collier, of Shotts, in 1765, where the presbytery met at Colinsburgh in Fife, and constituted had rejected Mr. Wells on his trials, as themselves into the Presbytery of Relief, being, if not wholly deficient, yet so low the reason of assuming that designation and mean in the knowledge of divinity, being, that they took this method of ob- that he did not come up to the character taining relief from the intolerable despot- of a minister of the gospel. Yet the ism of patronage. The course of defec. Assembly reversed this judgment, and tion, meanwhile, continued to proceed ordered him to be ordained ; and when rapidly, deepening, expanding, and pour- the opposition of the people was so great ing on like an inundation. The doctrines that it could not be accomplished in the of the gospel were superseded by cold parish, he was ordained in the sessionand formal harangues respecting the house at Hamilton. Many cases occured, “ beauty of morality," and the “good of also, of such atrocious immorality, that the whole," couched in as much elegance it is not fitting to stain these pages with of style as these reverend essayists could their recital ;† and yet all these cases achieve. The greater part of the pulpit were defended, and the delinquents productions of those times which have screened, by the Moderates, till, in some been preserved from oblivion are certainly of them, the strong indignation of innot such as to do much honour to the ta- sulted public decency compelled the senlents, judgment, or even taste of that class tence of deposition to be passed. Such of men by whom they were elaborated. were some of the glories of Principal Even Blair's Sermons, which reached the Robertson's administration, so lauded in highest pitch of excellence that Moderate his own day, so closely followed by his pulpit oratory could aspire to, have long immediate successors, and held in such since lost their factitious popularity, and high honour still by many who warmly sunk to that dead level of monotonous applaud and eagerly emulate what they lethargy in which must for ever slumber painfully feel and deeply deplore that they all that is destitute of true spiritual life. cannot rival. But while the vital principles of the gos- It may seem a very pertinent question to pel were in general very carefully ex- ask, how such criminal conduct could be cluded from the sermons of the Moderate permitted to pass unpunished, much more, clergy, an infusion of a different nature how it could be sheltered by church was
readily admitted. Heresy of various courts under the management of Principal kinds sprang up, chiefly derived from the Robertson, a high-minded, honorable strong taint of Arminianism which the man, whose own moral character was alPrelatic incumbents introduced into the together unimpeachable. Simply because Church. Pelagianism naturally followed; his views of church government were and the downward progress continuing, directly anti-scriptural, founded upon a many began to entertain views very worldly principle, and pervaded throughclosely bordering upon Socinianism. To out by worldly considerations. In his this the writings of Taylor of Norwich mind ihe idea of an Established Church very greatly contributed, which about | was exceedingly simple, and exceedingly this time had become extremely popular among a certain class of the Moderate
† See annals of Assembly-cases of Professor Brown, ministers, especially in the west of Scot- Dalrymple of Dallas, Carson of Anwoth, Park of old
Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. p. 182.
Monkland, Lyell of Lady Parish, and Nisbet of Firth
Annals of the Assembly, vol. ii. p. 201.
false. He regarded it as merely a subor- piety expelled, conscience outraged, heredinate court, created by the State, and sy protected, immorality permitted to prepossessed of no authority but what was vail almost uncensured, and the Christian derived from human laws. Wherever, community injured and despised. * therefore, he found a human law, there he we turn from the ungracious task, and formed an imperative rule; and all argu- hasten forward, purposing to touch only ments brought from the direct language the prominent points, that arrest the attenof Scripture, the principles of the gospel, tion, and demand remark and explanation. or the recoiling of a tender and enlight- [1766.] The Assembly of 1766 was ened conscience, were by him entirely memorable on account of the overtures disregarded. His administration certainly respecting schism which came before it, deserves the praise of consistency, but as and occasioned a long and animated discertainly it was a terrible consistency of cussion. The rapid increase of the Sedirect opposition to the fundamental prin- cession had excited alarm in the minds ciples of Christianity, and of the Presby- of many who saw the pernicious conseterian Church, to whose standards he had quences likely to ensue from the abansubscribed his name, with all the grave donment of the National Church by so deliberateness required in him who in the large a proportion of the people. The sight of heaven takes a solemn oath. overture states, that there were already no How he reconciled his own conscience to fewer than one hundred and twenty meetsuch awful principles and conduct cannot ing-houses erected; and, viewing this as be known; and it is not for man to judge a just cause of anxiety, and contrary to his fellow-man. Yet the cold and scarce- the very nature of a national establishapproving account he gave of the Refor- ment, which is of necessity intended for mation,--his more than ambiguous views the religious instruction of the whole of the Mosaic record,--the scornful terms community, it was proposed to inquire in which Hume dared to write to him re- into the truth of this fact; and assuming specting John Knox and the Scottish that the abuse of the right of patronage reformers,--and his own published letters had been one chief occasion of the proto Gibbon, not to mention other letters gress of the Secession, it was overtured similar, but worse, which have never that the General Assembly would be seen the light,-all concur in rendering it pleased to consider what methods may be sadly dubious whether he did himself fully employed to remedy so great an evil; comprehend and believe the gospel.* and it was submitted whether it might Even in the judgment of charity such a not be expedient to appoint a committee doubt may find admission, rather than to correspond with Presbyteries, and with the unutterably more fearful surmise, gentlemen of property and influence, and that he and his party knew the gospel, and to report.” | After a very long deand intentionally trampled on its holy and bate, the Assembly agreed to abandon merciful laws,—felt the full meaning and the proposed inquiry into the number of power of the apostle's command, “Be not meeting-houses. The remaining part of lords over God's heritage," yet chastised the overture was then discussed and rethe Christian congregation with scor: jected by a vote of ninety-nine to eightypions,-knew what the true bread of life five. Thus the supreme ascendancy was, yet gave to the people stones and of the Moderate party was again secured, serpents.
after having encountered a more severe There would be no difficulty in giving assault than had been made upon it since a still more appalling exposure of the 1752 The arguments on both sides principles and the practice of that party, turned chiefly upon the subject of patronthen and still known by the designation age, and were almost identical with those of the Moderate party, who, after a long which are employed for and against it in struggle, had succeeded in usurping the the present day. Indeed, there can be government of the Church of Scotland, little difference in the modes by which and under whose baleful domination that violation of Christian principle and truth was stifled, faithfulness punished,
Should this view be disputed, it shall, however re. See the opinion of Wilberforce in his Practical luctantly, be amply proved. View, p. 304, fifth edition.
† Annals of Assembly, vol. ii. p. 311. # Irid., p. 329.
of the constitution of the Presbyterian was producing. In the ineantime the Church is assailed, and its defence at- Moderates continued their reckless career. tempted. "Is patronage the law of the One instance may be briefly mentioned. gospel ?
“ It is at least the law of the Mr. Thomson, minister of Gargunnock, land." "Is it consistent with the funda- was presented to the parish of St. Nimental principles of the Reformed Pres- nians; but the whole parish was opposed byterian Church of Scotland ?" “ The to his settlement, some Episcopalians, civil magistrate has at least always at- who cared nothing about the matter, and tempted to introduce and enforce it, in a few non-resident heritors, being all that spite of the opposition made by the could be prevailed upon to concur in his Church.” “Was it the law of the Revo- call. The presbytery remonstrated with lution Settlement and the Union ?" "No the patron, the presentee, and the Genmatter; it was made by the law since, eral Assembly, but all in vain. Seven and it is the law. now." “Has it not years of useless and evasive litigation in alienated the affections of the people, church courts passed over ; and at length, driven them to a large and increasing in 1773, the Assembly issued a perempSecession, and thereby frustrated so far tory order to the presbytery to proceed to the very object of an Established national the ordination, and every member to be Church ?!?“ No matter how many leave present. The presbytery met at St. Niit; they are perfectly at liberty to do so; nians; an immense crowd had assembled; and there will be the more ease and peace and Mr. Findlay of Dollar began the refor those that remain." These were the ligious duties which precede ordination main lines of argument employed by and induction. He then paused, and those who wished to remedy the evil, called upon Mr. Thomson, who stood up and those who refused to admit that it to listen to the moderator's address. Inwas an evil, and wished its permanent stead of proceeding to put the usual quescontinuation; and though it was perfectly tions, he made one of the most solemn clear that Scripture, reason, constitutional and pointed appeals to the unhappy inlaw, and Christian feeling, all alike con- truder that ever was addressed to a hudemned it, yet the vote of a Moderate man being :-“We are met here this day majority could set them all aside. to admit you minister of St. Ninians.
The same year witnessed the demission There has been a formidable opposition of another minister, the Rev. Mr. Baine made against you by six hundred heads of Paisley, who joined the Relief Seces- of families, sixty heritors, and all the elsion, and became minister of one of their ders of the parish except one. churches newly erected in Edinburgh. position has continued for seven years by It may be mentioned, that the Seceders your own obstinacy; and if you should were by no means pleased with what this day be admitted, you can have no was termed the schism overture, having pastoral relation to the souls of this parish; no desire to be regarded as schismatics, you will never be regarded as the shepand still retaining the principles of the herd to go before the sheep; they know fathers of the Secession, who earnestly you not, and they will never follow you. declared that they did not withdraw from You will draw misery and contempt the Church of Scotland, but from a pre- upon yourself--you will be despised vailing party, by whom its government you will be hated-you will be insulted was usurped, and all its principles vio- and maltreated. One of the most elolaied. *
quent and learned ministers of this [1767-73.] The agitation caused by Church told me lately that he would go this keen contest did not soon pass away. twenty miles to see you deposed; and I Numerous pamphlets appeared on the do assure you that I and twenty thousand subject from time to time, some written by more friends to our Church would do ministers of the Church, some by Sece- the same. What happiness can you proders, and some by laymen, who saw and pose to yourself in this mad, this despelamented the injurious effects which the rate attempt of yours, without the concurunmitigated exercise of patronage, under rence of the people, and without the least. the management of the Moderate party, prospect of usefulness in this parish ?
Your admission into it can only be re
* Letter by Adam Gib.
garded as a sinecure, and you yourself the year 1773, with a calculation founded as stipend-lifter of St. Ninians, for you on it, showing the expense which such an can have no further relation to this pa- extensive Secession entailed on the kingrish. Now, Sir, I conjure you by the dom, falling ultimately upon the posses mercies of God, give up this presentation; sors of fixed property, the land holders, I conjure you, for the sake of the great and mercantile and commercial capitalnumber of souls of St. Ninians, who are işts. The author of this paper first states, like sheep going astray without a shep- that there were in 1773 at least one hunherd to lead them, and who will never dred and ninety congregations of Secehear
you, will never submit to you, give ders; and by a calculation which shows it up; I conjure you, by that peace of him to have been well acquainted with mind which you would wish in a dying the principles of political economy, he hour, and that awful and impartial ac- proves
, that the sum of money expended count which in a little you must give in the maintenance of this large Secession to God, of your own soul, and of the could not amount to less than twelve hunsouls of this parish, at the tribunal of the dred thousand pounds, ultimately falling Lord Jesus Christ, GIVE IT UP !” There upon the possessors of fixed property, and was silence, breathless, profound, awe- all caused by the destructive patronage struck silence, for a space. At length law, and the tyrannical conduct of the the heartless man made answer, “I for- Moderate party in the Church.* If the give you, Sir, for what you have now correctness of that calculation be admitsaid-may God forgive you ; proceed to ted, and the numbers of seceding congreobey your superiors." Again there was gations to be taken now at five hundred, silence; then in a low melancholy tone which appears to be near the reality, the of voice, Mr. Findlay, omitting all usual amount thereby drained from the capital forms, slowly said, “I, as moderator of of the country cannot be less than three the presbytery of Stirling, admit you, Mr. times the sum already stated. And this David Thomson, to be minister of the enormous public burden is borne that parish of St. Ninians, in the true sense patronage may be maintained, and eccleand spirit of the late sentence of the Gen- siastical power secured to a
a party whose eral Assembly, and you are hereby ad- whole history is one wild tissue of heresy, mitted accordingly."* And thus once error, or suppression of the truth in docmore absolute patronage triumphed over trine, violation of the Presbyterian conthe principles and laws of Christianity, stitution, ministerial unfaithfulness, sinful and another victory increased the glories conniving at immorality, and the most of Principal Robertson's Moderate ad- wanton and cruel exercise of spiritual ministration.
despotism, which seemed even to exult in That this was a direct and legitimate the infliction of wrong and outrage upon consequence of the law of patronage, as a grave, intelligent, and religious people. administered by the Moderate party, Surely the nation will ere long awake, headed by Principal Robertson, may be burst the yoke of patronage, and shake very easily demonstrated; but he would off the incubus of Moderatism, beneath be å rash and daring casuist who should which it has so long groaned. attempt to prove, that it was a direct and The stream of corruption rolled on, egitimate consequence of the laws of widening and deepening as it swept Christ
, and reconcilable with the princi- along, for several successive years. Durple of his sole Headship and Sovereignty ing that time repeated instances occurred over the Church.
in which accusations of heresy were [1774–78.] In the year 1774 there quashed or explained away, and charges appeared a republication of the celebrated of immorality mitigated, smoothed over, Professor Hutcheson's "Considerations and dismissed. Some cases, however, on Patronage, addressed to the Gentle- occurred, too public and enormous to be men of Scotland," which had been first thus passed by. To meet such painful published in 1736 To this was added cases the Moderate leaders resorted to‘a à curious appendix, containing a view of new device. They entered into a private the state of the Secession in Scotland in arrangement with the delinquent, accord
Considerations on Patronage; reprinted 1774.
Scots Magazine, vol. XXXV. pp. 614, 615.