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tive forms which it was proper to pre- from the grievance of patronage, and in serve as decent and characteristic, but this too he was successful. The omisbased upon secular maxims, governed sion of this clause in the instructions anby secular regulations, and pervaded nually given to the Commission is the throughout by a secular spirit. The nearest approach the Church of Scotland early and lamented death of Dr. Hardy has ever made towards even a recogniprevented the developement of his tion of the patronage law, and it amounts scheme; but the sacred element of evan- to nothing more than ceasing openly to gelism which had begun to spread was condemn what she has never avowedly destined to work with a disruptive might approved. It will be remembered, that among the secular principles of Modera: this clause was first inserted in the tism, disturbing repeatedly the cold con- instructions given to the Commission tinuity of their mortiferous operation, and by the Assembly of 1712, immediately betokening the approaching dissolution after the passing of the perfidious and unof the whole unconstitutional and un- constitutional patronage act, and had been scriptural system. Even Dr. Hill, repeated annually ever since. Many thoroughly as he had imbibed Principal years had elapsed since it had been atRobertson's views of ecclesiastical polity, tended to, the last decided public effort to began ere long to exhibit symptoms of a procure redress having been that of tendency to evangelical doctrine; this in- 1735--36; but the retaining of the creased with his increasing knowledge clause formed a standing testimony by of sound theology, in the course of his the Church against the law of patronstudies as professor of divinity at St. An- age, and so far served to exculpate her drews: and before the close of his career from participation in its guilt
. Dr. his mind had acquired so full a percep- Robertson, with his usual sagacious totion of the truth as it is in Jesus, that leration of dead forms, permitted it to rethough he still co-operated with the Mo- main ; but the greater rashness, or the derate party generally, he had in a great higher degree of conscientious honesty measure lost their confidence as may be of mind, in Dr. Hill, which had formerly learned even from the cautious language led him to attempt abolishing the call of Dr. Cook, in his life of that dis- induced him now to strike out a clause to tinguished man.
which he and his party never meant [1783-84.] During the years 1783 and that any attention should be paid. This 1784, the chief subject which engaged was a very natural step for the Moderate the attention of the General Assembly party to take, but, thoroughly irrational was that of patronage. Dr. Hardy's and unconstitutional. Before rescinding pamphlet seems to have excited afresh a clause which required application to be the hopes of all sound Presbyterians, that made for the redress of what was termed a redress of that great grievance might a grievance, Dr. Hill ought to have peryet be obtained ; and a number of over- suaded the Church to declare that she tures were laid before the Assembly on had ceased to regard it as a grievance, the subject. A regular discussion at and viewed it rather as a matter of which length took place respecting these she now approved, and was desirous of overtures in the Assembly of 1784. its permanent continuation. This howDr. Hill moved that they be "rejected ever, would have been too perilous an as inexpedient, ill founded, and danger-attempt even for Dr. Robertson in all his ous to the peace and welfare of the plentitude of power, as it would have Church.” It is not necessary to state caused the Secession of nearly half of even an outline of the arguments used on the ministers and at least three-fourths of both sides, in the debate which followed, the population in the kingdom, a junc. after the remarks which have been made tion with the already existing Seceders, in the preceding pages. Suffice it to and the formation of a new Church, truly say, that Dr. Hill's motion was carried, Presbyterian and national, whether estaband that following up the victory, he pro- lished by law or not. Are men of that posed to omit the clause in the instruc- party prepared to brave a similar peril in tions annually given to the Commission, the present day !--nay, a peril incalcuwhich required them to apply for redress | lably more formidable to the empire at large, and fraught with certain and irre- ticism. The Church of Scotland, whercoverable ruin to themselves and their ever thorough Moderatism prevailed, unscriptural cause, which would and seemed spiritually dead, and all living must utterly perish in the hour of an in- Christians withdrew from its polluting jured nation's strong consuming ven- touch. Yet there were many truly pious geance.* 66 Go
ministers sprinkled over the land, shining [1785--89.] The effects of this defeat in their own spheres apart, amid the prewere most disastrous. The true Presby- vailing moral darkness, like the few scatterian ministers, seeing all their hopes tered stars that faintly break the gloom again blasted, and trampled under the of a chill and misty night. * feet of their triumphant antagonist, sunk Although the sagacious opposition of into a state of comparatively torpid dis- Dr. Robertson, and the intimated danger couragement, and ceased to strive against to their pecuniary interests, had deterred what now seemed to bear the aspect of the extreme Moderates from openly exstern invincible necessity. On the other pressing their desire to be released from hand, the Moderate party assumed once the necessity of subscribing the C: nfesmore the haughty port of uncontrolled sion of Faith, yet the intention was by no dominion, enforcing the law of patronage means abandoned; only it was judged with steady and immitigable rigor. The expedient to bring in the change graoppressed and insulted people not only dually, by a series of precedents. In the ceased to expect redress, they ceased even year 1789, the presbytery of Arbroath to ask it. They felt that opposition to presumed to ordain Mr. George Gleig to patronage was of no avail. Be the pre- be minister in the church of that burgh, sentee what he might, - a heretic, a without requiring him to sign either the grossly immoral person, miserably defi- Confession of Faith or Formula.† This cient in learning, or destitute of the neces- strange and daring conduct was brought sary mental abilities and moral qualifica- before the Assembly; and although it tions,-if he had obtained a presentation, deserved a very high censure, the Assemall other objections were disregarded, and bly deemed it expedient to exercise he was made the stipend-lifter" in the leniency in the first offence of the kind. parish. But he could not be made the Mr. Gleig was allowed to retain the pastor of the people. They looked on church, upon signing the Confession of indignantly and mournfully, till the dese- Faith in presence of the Assembly; and crating deed was done; then withdrew, the presbytery was rebuked at the bar, built a meeting-house, and chose a pastor and admonished to be more careful for for themselves. In this manner the most the future, on pain of a higher censure. religious part of the community was This decided expression of the mind of driven out of the Church, and those that the Church, though accompanying a very remained sunk into a state of careless- lenient censure, had the effect of preventness, till they ceased to feel and to regret ing that or any other presbytery from a their own calamitous condition. The repetition of the offence. rising generation grew up accustomed to (1790.) Mention has been already made such a state of matters, regardless, com- of the strong tendency to Socinianism paratively, of the sacredness of that day prevalent in many districts of the country which God hallowed to himself
, neglect- where Moderatism chiefly reigned, and ful of public worship, and utterly destitute particularly in the west of Scotland, of personal religion, which too often the During above ten years the west country example, and even the language, of their was fiercely agitated with polemical con half-infidel ministers taught them to des- troversy between these Socinians and pise and deride as hypocrisy and fana- their sounder brethren. The Socinian
* It may be noted, as proving the consistency of Mod party were termed New Light men, and eratism in its unconstitutional career, that Dr. Cook goes even beyond Dr. Hill, and defends absolute and Such men as Dr. Erskine, Dr. Hunter, Dr. Davidson, unlimited patronage. "The idea of a discretionary
"The idea of a discretionary | Dr. Kemp, Dr. Balfour of Glasgow, Mr. Freebairn of power to set aside a presentation, in particular cases, Dunbarton, Dr Bryce Johnson of Holy wood, his nephew is decidedly rejected by the Moderate party." Thé of Crossmichael, Nisbet of Montrose, Mitchell of Kem. “want of a sufficient call is no ground of rejection." nay, and many others who might be named, remaining “ The law of patronage admits of no limitation but the within the pale of the Church, kept her alive, during defined qualifications of a presentee not existing in a this long and dreary period; and she perished not, for particular individual." (Cook's Life of Hill, pp. 161, a blessing was in her.
† Acts of Assembly, year 1789; Scots Magazine
their opponents were called the defenders protracted litigation before the subordinate of the Old Light. In this controversy, as church judicatories followed. But at last was to be expected, every person of irre- the matter came before the synod of Glasligious and immoral character espoused gow and Ayr, and assumed an aspect so the cause of the New Light or Socinian serious, that he and his friends considered party; and what they wanted in argu- it expedient for him to evade the danger ment they endeavoured to supply by the of deposition, by offering to explain his employment of ridicule, slander, and pro- meaning, acknowledge his error in what fane mockery of their antagonists. In could not be explained away, and supplian evil hour for his country and himself, cate forgiveness. There were too many the New Light party induced Robert in the synod scarcely less heretical than Burns to join them, and to prostitute his he, for it to pursue a more faithful course. high poetical genius in a cause so worth. His explanation and apology, though less as the defence of such unprincipled very lame and impotent indeed, were susand depraved men,---nay, initiated him tained as satisfactory. The Synod pubin depths of iniquity to which till then he lished an account of their proceedings in had been a stranger,—nay, still more the case; the condemned book sunk into fearful,--destroyed what may be termed that oblivion which was its natural the natural devotional tendency of the destiny; and the worthless man was perpoetical temperament, and impelled him mitted to return to the perishing flock to aim the shafts of his satire against the whom he could not lead to Christ, as he most sacred rites of the Church and the himself knew not the
way. essential truths of the everlasting gospel. [1791-96.] It is not necessary, nor even The future dark career and melancholy proper in a work devoted to ecclesiastical end of this unhappy son of genius is matters, to do more than glance at those mainly to be ascribed to the fatal taint great political movements which agitate which his mind received from his inter- and mould the structure of society,-especourse with the Moderate, Socinian, New cially movements so vast as to shake the Light ministers of Ayrshire and their whole of Europe, and so recent that their adherents. These guilty men have been vibrations have not yet settled into repose. already named ; and their misled victim's For this reason we shall merely allude to poems will, when rightly understood, in- that terrific event the French Revolution, flict upon them the retributive justice of which was on the eve of bursting forth in branding their unhonoured memory with 1790, and which for several successive the impress of perpetual infamy.* years
startled and appalled the world, by At length Dr. M’Gill of Ayr had the the sudden changes of aspect, each more temerity to publish a work entitled, “ A hideous and wild than the last, which it Practical Essay on the Death of Jesus assumed, the fierce infidelity which it Christ," in which the most glaring Soci- avowed, and the scenes of atrocious carnianism was openly. taught and main- nage which marked its dreadful progress. tained. This could not be overlooked. Even the most unreflecting were comA prosecution was instituted against the pelled to perceive what man is when withauthor of a work so manifestly heretical. Out religion,-how fearful a thing the deHis friends, cherishing, many of them, praved, deceitful, and desperately wicked the same sentiments, but not exposed to human heart can be, when left to fol equal danger, because they had not given low its native tendency, without God, and their opinions to the public in any palpa- without hope in the world. The moralist ble form, made every exertion in their recoiled in horror; the tongue of the phi power to shelter him from justice. A losophical divine clave to the roof of his
mouth; but the evangelical preacher of It can be proved beyond the power of doubt, by the gospel rushed forward, and took his selt, within the last fortnight of his life, expressed the stand betwixt the living and the dead. write, and an anxious wish that he might live a little
mighty revival of genuine spiritual had done. And Gilbert Buris, in his latter years, tree and great exertions were made by the longer, to make some attempt to repair the injury he Christianity took place all over Britain, the chief subverters of all regard for religion in his brother's mind, and that he himself had not escaped unwounded, and long retained the aching scar.
utepest remorse for what these men had led him to
• Proceedings of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, April, 1790.
friends of religious truth to communicate general collection throughout the Church, to all around them the knowledge of the to aid the several societies for propagating gospel of
and holiness. Numerous the gospel among the heathen nations." religious societies sprung almost simulta. In this manner the great object of the neously into being, and reviving Chris. Church general of Christ was brought tianity began to put forth vital and expan- before the notice of the Church of Scotsive energies, which had lain dormant land, assembled in its supreme court; since the Reformation. With returning and a fair and complete opportunity was spiritual life returned that spiritual intelli- given to both parties, into which that gence which enables a man to know for court is divided, to emit a public demonwhat object spiritual life is given. The stration and testimony how much, or how Christian community was startled and little, of the true spirit of Christianity they alarmed at perceiving, that for centuries respectively possessed. it had neglected to attempt the discharge This most important discussion began of that very duty, the accomplishment of with a piece of very disingenuous policy which is the chief end of the Christian on the part of the Moderates, who conChurch Universal. It had neglected the trived to have both the overtures consirisen Redeemer's imperative command, dered in one discussion. Dr. Hill had
ye into all the world, and preach the managed to exclude from the Fife overgospel to every creature under heaven.” | ture the specific approbation of missionary Immediately the idea of instituting Chris. exertions which it at first contained, leavtian missions, for the purpose of fulfilling ing in it nothing more than a vague exthe Saviour's injunction, extending his pression of the propriety that the Church kingdom, and promoting the salvation of of Scotland should in some way or other perishing souls, became a leading impulse contribute to the diffusion of the gospel in the heart and soul ofevery truly spiritual. over the world, which any Moderate ly-minded Christian, whether he belonged could complacently affirm, and remain to a Dissenting, Seceding, or Established inactive, as pledged to no specific object. Christian Church. And in the warm On the other hand, the Moray overture fervour of renewed Christian life and love, recommended a general collection, against many of the distinctions which had kept which plausible objections might be urged, men asunder like brazen walls, melted on the ground of this having a tendency like wax in the fire, and free scope was to diminish the resources of the session readily given to an amount of Christian for the support of the poor. The Evanintercourse which had for ages been un-gelical party wished the overtures to be known.
considered separately, in the hope of carIn Scotland the reviving power of this rying the general proposition in behalf truly Christian spirit was early and of the missionary enterprise, even though strongly felt. A missionary society was the proposed method of promoting it formed in Glasgow, and another in Edin- might be rejected. Moderate tactics preburgh, which held its first meeting in vailed, and the discussion was made to inMarch, 1796, the venerable Dr. Erskine clude both overtures. The debate which acting as its president. Circular letters ensued exhibited the character of Mowere sent to every part of the country, ex- deratism in a manner which cannot be plaining and advocating the object for the misunderstood. One of the leading speakpromotion of which this central missioners on the Moderate side, Mr. George ary society was formed. These circulars Hamilton, minister of Gladsmuir, began gave rise to much discussion throughout by some general admissions of the prothe Church; and the synods of Fife and priety of diffusing the gospel. “To difMoray transmitted overtures to the Gen- fuse," said he,
among mankind the eral Assembly, the general tenor of knowledge of a religion which we profess which was, that the General Assembly to believe and to revere, is doubtless a should take into consideration by what good and important work; as to pray for means the Church of Scotland might its diffusion, and to expect it, is taught us most effectually contribute to the diffusion in the sacred volume of Scripture."-" To of the gospel over the world;" and that spread abroad the knowledge of the gos
an act might be passed recommending a pel among barbarous and heathen nations,
seems to be highly preposterous, in as farsit the worst time.” H: therefore seas it anticipates, nay it even reverses, the conded Mr. Hamilton's motion, “ that the order of nature. Men must be polished overtures be immediately dismissed." and refined in their manners before they Dr. Hill made a cautious, plausible can be properly enlightened in religious speech, evading the main topic, animadtruths. Philosophy and learning must, verting sharply on the peculiarities of in the nature of things take the prece- missionary societies, and concluding with dence." Then followed a glowing eulo- ja more guarded motion, admitting gegium upon the “simple virtues" of the nerally the propriety of aiding in the prountutored Indian." "But go,-engraft .pagation of the gospel--disapproving of on his simple manners the customs, re- collections-recommending the promofinements, and, may I not add, some of tion of Christianity at home--praying for the vices, of civilized society, and the the fulfilment of prophecy, and resolving influence of that religion which you give to embrace any future opportunity of conas a compensation for the disadvantages tributing to the propagation of the gospel. attending such a communication will not David Boyle, Esq., advocate, indulged in refine his morals nor ensure his happi- a furious philippic against missionary soness." “When they shall be told that cieties, as all of a political character, and man is saved not by good works, but by dangerous to the peace of the community. faith, what will be the consequence? We Finally, the motions of Mr. Hamilton and have too much experience of the difficulty Dr. Hill were combined, and carried by of guarding our own people against the la majority of fourteen, the vote being most deplorable misapplication of this fifty-eight io forty-four. * So well satisfied principle, to entertain a rational doubt, were the Moderates with the conduct of that the wild inhabitants of uncivilized re- Mr. Hamilton, and with his brilliant oragions would use it as a handle for the tory, that they soon afterwards honoured most flagrant violation of justice and him with the title of doctor in divinity, morality: -“ But even suppose such a and elevated him to the moderator's chair, nation (one already civilized,] could be as a reward for his anti-missionary exerfound, I should still have weighty objections tions against sending missionaries thither Such was the obedience rendered by Why should we scatter our forces and Moderatism to the risen Redeemer's spend our strength in foreign service, direct command, "Go ye and make disciwhen our utmost vigilance, our unbroken ples of all nations, ---preach the gospel to strength is required at home? While every creature under heaven;" and thus there remains at home a single individual did it prove itself to be, as a system, essenwithout the means of religious knowledge, tially anti-christian. This may seem a to propagate it abroad would be improper harsh saying, and it is with pain and sorand absurd.” And at length directing row that it is said. But attachment to his attention to the idea of collections for genuine and vital Christianity requires its the aid of missions, he exclaimed-“For dead counterfeit to be detected and desuch improper conduct censure is too nounced; the love of country and of mansmall a mark of disapprobation; it would, kind demands, that whatever obstructs I doubt not, be a legal subject of penal the true welfare of Britian and the world prosecution,' - Upon the whole, while should be pointed out and removed ; and we pray for the propagation of the gospel, true compassion for erring fellow-creaand patiently await its period, let us unite tures, especially for erring Christian in resolutely rejecting these overtures." brethren, forbids the use of injudicious Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk, who had been and criminal tenderness of language in quite ready to spend time and money in the statement of their grievous errors
, theatrical amusements, rose and said which might soothe an uneradicated evil, “ I have, on various occasions, during a and leave a deadly hurt unprobed, unperiod of almost half a century, had the healed, deeply and silently festering to honor of being a member of the General death. Assembly, yet this is the first time I re- [1797.] While religious and moral member to have ever heard such a propo- desolation overspread the districts of the sal made, and I cannot help also thinking
* See an account of the Debate published in 1796.