Imagens das páginas

Anil whv 1—Because that then he would be entitled to another half-years' stipend. His delicate conscience would not permit him to do the duty of the parish, but it could permit him to pocket the stipend.

After someobservations as to what should be the sentence of the court, he proceeded thus:—I abhor all persecution in the church or state. The civil magistrate is ordained of God for the protecting of the persons, the characters, and the property of the subject. He has no right to interfere with the creed or the conscience of any man. I hold that no Established Church has a right to persecute those who dissent from her. The church is bound to contend Cor the faith once delivered to the saints; but her weapons are not carnal, but spiritual;—her weapons are the word, and reason, and holiness. Some have contended that a national Established Chinch ought to be abolished—that it is hostile to the civil and religious liberties of mankind. I think otherwise.—Men may congregate in society not only for their temporal, but their immortal interests. I deeply venerate the Church of Scotland. I believe, and God is my witness, that her doctrines, discipline and worship, are agreeable to the word of God ; that the word of God is her sole; her only guide. She has long held a distinguished rank among the reformed churches of Europe. She has long been instrumental in diffusing pure and undented religion over the nation. And it will be her crown of joy, in the day of the Lord, that she has added her thousands and tens of thousands to the innumerable multitude that surround the throne of the Lamb. The subversion of the Church of Scotland, I should consider as a serious disaster in the church of Christ. But I augur no such effect from the present puny .abortive attempt. No, the most nauseous reptile may crawl on the surface of the noblest edifice, and leave its slime behind it; but the proportion, the bedy, the strength, the grandeur of the edifice remain unsullied, untarnished, undiminished.

Mr. Shnreff has from caprice or conscience, (for I will not cry plavdite till I have seen the end of the drama)—from caprice or conscience, he has left the Church of Scotland;—from the same motives, at a future period, he may wish to return. What is to be done? is the church instantly to open her arms to receive every unstable mind, blown about by every wind of doctrine.—No, surely: she must be convinced of the sound judgment of the aspirant; of the purity of fiis faith. If, upon trial, she is convinced of these, then, in the spirit of fneekne's, she is bound to restore a fallen brother.

The Reverend Gentleman having in the course of his speech submitted what he considered should be the sentence of the Presbytery, afterwards embodied the same in a motion to the following purport: —That en account of the sentiments contained in the letter of resignation given in by Mr. Shirreff, he is considered no longer a member of the Church of Scotland, nor as

having a right to perform-any of the tactions of a minister of that church, nor to receive a call to any church in connexion with the Church of Scotland, until he he reponcd by an act of the General Assembly of the said church. Mr. Caw seconded Dr. Knox's motion. Mr. M'Guhen, of Airth, spoke at considerable length in reply. He acknowledged himself one of those who w.dely dirtered from the Rev. Dr. as to the importance of this question. Mr. Shirreff, they were to keep in view, lad been for many years a member of their church—had gone hand in hand with them in the zealous discharge of the duties imposed upon him; and surely at a time when conscience called upon him to withdraw, it became them to inquire whether he might not be got to think better of those resolutions which he had formed: and whether his services might not still be continued to his charge. They bore for him the deepest affection; and surely the wishes and spiritual wants of a parish containing 8600 souls was a matter of importance. 'He even considered it a matter not unworthy of consideration, that a man so eminent at a preacher, so ardent aud unwearied as a pastor, should retire from his duties. We have all our peculiarities; and we are bound in charity to draw the mildest conclusions regarding our brother. In the next place the Rev. Dr. seemed to conceive the delay too long. He (Mr. G.) was also at one time of the same opinion. But the considerations urged were sufficient to remove his scruples. The Rev. Gentleman concluded by requesting that Dr. Knox would permit an addition to be made to his motion, rendering the sentiments of the Presbytery somewhat milder. Dr. Knox intimated his fixed determination to make no amendment to the purport required.

Dr. Mylne was not altogether satisfied with the procedure which it seemed was to be adopted by his brethren, as he considered the resignation of Mr. Shirreff as calling for the opinion of a higher court. If they were to be regulated by precedents, the subject should not be finally determined by them. He would mention one precedent, and that was the case of Mr. times. He. admitted there was a difference, but it amounted to l:?tle. Mr. Innes left his charge, and that to follow schismatical opinions; but he did not add to the offence by making unbecoming or improper statements against the church of Scotland. Mr. Shirreff lias resigned his charge; and in doing so, has committed what may he considered a libel on the church. He continues to preach and perform some parts of his duty, whilst another important one is neglected. From the language used in his resignation, it is not on the question of baptism alone that he differs. Had it been so, there would have been some excuse ; for he must be candid enough to say, that the most clear and accurate among them might have his scruples—nor of such would he say that he

[merged small][ocr errors]

himself was entirely divested. For it did too frequently happen, that parents came forward to claim this rite for their children, whose excessive ignorance shewed they knew nothing of its sacred importance. If a member in the vigour ot his days, continues to discharge his duties among them, to support and maintain the doctrines of the church and gain himself a reputation—what shall we think of him if, at the moment he has secured the good opinion of the world, he turns round upon us and declares the whole constitution of the church to be without foundation; that the grounds of our faith are false—our hopes a shadow—and that he will have no more to do with us. It is not fair—it is not manly—when verging to the close of his days, thus to desert the church that has cherished him, and the people that have blessed him.

The Rev. Gentleman afterwards entered more fully into his reasons for resolving that- this affair should be carried before the' Synod. The difficulties which at present shewed themselves with regard to the accepting of the resignation, were felt at the beginning. He said it was a case of the highest importance, and deeply connected^ with the interest of the church that it should not be finished off, or smuggled through in a corner, but meet a full and cool discussion in a higher court. That , here he felt the influence of the admirable constitution of our church, which allowed any individual, though he stood alone in his views and opinions, to carry the ground of his dissent before a superior tribunal.

Dr. Wright would not enter into any dispute about the case of Mr. Innes, though it appeared to him that there had been irregularities, he believed, in that case. But if the Rev. Gentleman were to found his proceedings upon that letter which contained the resignation of Mr. Shirreff, he did not sec that there was any propriety in making a reference to the Synod. The matter had been long under their own consideration, they must have maturely weighed every part of it, and consequently, it was much more likely that he, (Dr. M.) would get an impartial judgment here, than in the Synod. The reference to a -higher court could only lead to delay, and must deprive the parish of St. Ninians of the dispensation of ordinances, perhaps for the next six months. He concluded by expressing a hope that the Presbytery might be unanimous in making the business final.

Dr. Moodie rose to explain what appeared to him to be matter of fact, which he wished to state for the information of the Rev. Gentleman opposite, (Dr. Mylne). There were three several instances of resignation. There was that of a simple resignation, in consequence of a minister's state of health, or on his coming to the possession of an independent fortune. There was that of Mr. Innes, and now that of Mr. Shirreff. which latter case seemed to him to be sui generis. As to that of Mr. Innes, there was in it a great and striking

difference from the present case. There were many acts of irregularity and of schism. Mr. Innes had left his church, preached in tents, went from place to place dispensing the ordinances of religion; lie had associated himself with men who were prepared to subvert their dearest privileges:—to overturn the Church of Scotland, and to stab her to the heart. These overt acts made a great distinction between his case and the present. Himself, and the other persons who then moved that case into a higher court, proceeded regularly upon the statute, and had received the thanks of both sides of the church as they appear in the Assembly, and which is to be found in their own record. From these overt acts, and acts of notoriety; they asked the advice of the General Assembly. And, even in that case, the meeting of Presbytery took place before the meeting of the Assembly. The facts were statea then, and, in consequence, they were directed to proceed by libel, and to call upon Mr. Innes to answer . to these charges. The libel was regularly served, and as he never appeared, the Presbytery proceeded to degrade him. The Presbytery were prevented from accepting his resignation,.from the overt and notour acts of schism committed. But, in the case of Mr. Shirreff, there were no overt acts, no irregularities, and he hoped that he (Mr. Shirreff) would commit no overt act, until this matter had reached the General Assembly, if it should be carried so far. But yet lie could not comsent to accept it simpliciter. Some line of distinction should be drawn by gentlemen, and though he wished the terms to be couched as mildly as was consistent with their duty, yet he did not object to their being as strong as possible.

Dr. Knox's motion was then put and adopted by the whole Presbytery with the exception of Dr. Mylne, who'dissented and complained to the Synod.

Mr. Shirreff then rose, and stated that this proceeding caused delay, and put the Presbytery and him in a new situation. As to the objections to the proceeding of the Presbytery, he had nothing to do with them, but if delay was insisted upon, he must in justice to himself, take a different ground from what he had hitherto done. He must say, however, that could Dr. Mylne consent to withdraw his dissent, he would consider it an obligation, in so far as it would relieve him from a disagreeable situation.

Dr. Mylne then rose, and agreed to forbear taking any farther steps, as Mr. Shirreff stated it would be agreeable to him to do so; an acknowledgment which seemed to give general satisfaction.

Mr. M'Gachan was then appointed to preSch on the 19th of October, and to declare the church vacant.

Mr. Shirreff being thus freed of his charge, his former brethren shook hands with him, and wished him happiness whereever Providence might direct his steps; and he immediately left the meeting.


Mr. Shirreff having been convinced that Christian baptism ought always to be connected with a persona! profession of the faith, attended to this ordinance in the morning of Oct. 25th. In the evening, Mr. Watson, Pastor of the Baptist Church at Cnpar Fife, preached from Eph. ii. 1C—22. After a few preliminary observations, Mr. W. considered, 1. The foundation on which the church is built. 2. The temple reared on this foundation. 3. The design of its erection.

I. The church is said to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The apostles wherever they went preached Christ; and it is said, to him too gave all (he prophets witness. So that both lay the foundation of the Christian church in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, he himself being the chief corner stone. This is denpminated in Scripture an elect foundation—a tried foundation—a precious foundation.

II. The temple reared on this foundation is denominated a living temple. It is built of lively stones.—It is a holy temple.—ft is an encreasing temple.—It is continually receiving fresh additions.—It is a beautiful temple: adorned by the beauties of holiness.—Lastly, it is an imperishable temple.

III. In speaking of the design ot its erection, Mr. W. observed—It is designed for the habitation of God through the Spirit.—In one sense every saint is a temple of God; but it is of believers in their associated capacity that this is especially true: as it is written, " I will dwell amon;r them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."

Having illustrated these topics at some length, Mr. Wr. concluded with the following reflections :—1. With how much wisdom is this edifice constructed. 2. How wisely ought we to conduct ourselves in this temple. We ought to tremble at the thought of defiling it by erroneous doctrines or unholy lives. 3. How feelingly alive should we be to Zion's misfortunes on the one hand, and her prosperity on the other. 4. Let us recollect the foundation of the church and of the salvation of the individual, is the same. If this be the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let every one see that he is resting on this foundation for eternity.

On Thursday the 18th, the service having been introduced by praise, appropriate Scriptures were read, and prayer offered by Professor Chase, of Columbian College, America. Mr. Edwards, of Greenock, then delivered an Introductory discourse from Ps. cii. 16, "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory." In discoursing from this passage, Sir. E. noticed, I. The building here mentioned.— II. Wherein God appears in his glory when he builds up Zion. The building he observed was the church of the living God. In contemplating a building we think— 1, of the foundation. This building rests on the foundation of the apostles and pro

phets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone. 2. The materials! Those of which this building ought to be composed are living stones, that is, spiritual characters. In another passage these are denominated, gold, silver, and precious stones, as contrasted with the base and improper materials of wood, hay, and stubble. 3. This building is carried on, by additions to the church from the world, and by the edification of believers. The 2nd general head was designed to shew—Wherein God appears in his gloiy when he builds up Zion. He docs so, 1. In the instruments he employs. These were at first the apostles, and in the presentday pastors and teachers. W hatever instruments are employed, (i od's great design is to glorify his own name. The Gospel treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may appear to be of God. 2. God appears in his glory in separating believers from the worid and every corrupt society, and building them up together in the fellowship of the Gospel. 3. By imparting a divine blessing to all the ordinances he has appointed for the spiritual edification of his people.

A short statement of the more immediate object of the meeting was then given. The church being asked if they adhered to the call they had presented to Mr. Shirreff to be theirpastor, they unanimously expressed that adherence. Mr. Shirreff too being asked if he accepted the call, he replied that he did so in the fear of God. He was then solemnly set apart to the pastoral office over this church by prayer and imposition of hands.

Mr. Inncs, of Edinburgh, being appointed to address Mr. Shirreff, he began in nearly the following terms:—

My Dear Brother,

I cannot but feel this to be an interesting period, both in your history and my own. It is now above twenty years since you and I were able to hold intercourse as ministers of the Gospel, in consequence of my having seen it my duty to leave the communion of the Established Chnrch. I know, indeed, it has been often alleged, and by many of my friends with the kindest intentions, that 1 have resetted taking that step. I trust I am not insensible to those expressions of personal regard, with which such an allegation has frequently been accompanied. But Ihave no hesitation in taking this opportunity of publicly asserting, that the allegation itself is totally unfounded, and that I have never felt a moment's hesitation respecting the propriety of the step I then took. 1 certainly feel a most unfeigned regard for many individuals, both in public office and in private life in the Establishment, and see much in them, to love, to esteem, and to imitate. But the more T have considered the subject, the more I am satisfied of the evil of the promiscuous acknowledgment of the mass of the people as Christians.-"-' am more and more convinced that it tends to deceive the souls *of men; and I am



thankful that I am not in a situation where I am compelled to make such an acknowledgment. Let it not be said that we invade the province of the Almighty by pretending to judge the heart. Many, who for the sake of argument alledge this, know that we do not. We never pretend to judge the heart; but we wish to obey the command of Jesus Christ, who requires us to judge men by their fruits. AVe refuse to treat those as believers in Christ, who give decisive evidence by their fruits that they are strangers to this character.

It is then with, peculiar satisfaction that I meet with you in'your present circumstances, when 1 recollect the very pleasing intercourse 1 had with you in former times. I rejoice that when you saw what appeared to you to be the path of duty, you were enabled steadily to pursue it; and I cannot but mark a speciar providence in opening to you so desirable a sphere of usefulness, as that which your union with ,the Church that meets in this place presents. I have been requested in the course of these services to address you on entering on your new charge; I could not have accepted of this request on the supposition that I could suggest to you any incitements to fidelity, with which you are not previously acquainted, as you have been longer engaged in the ministry than any of us, though in a different situation from that in which you are now placed. But I did uot think on this account of declining this service.. If I *an recal to your recollection and my own, as well as that of our brethren in the ministry who are with us, some considerations calculated to excite us all to greater zeal and activity in the service of our Divine Master, our meeting on this occasion will not be in vain.

Mr. Innes then proceeded to notice the following topics :—

1. The importance of ministers of the Gospel keeping their eyes steadily fixed on the state of their own souls, and of seeing that they were prospering before God., It was remarked, that it ought to be the object of their constant solicitude, not only to believe in a general way the truths thev preach, but deeply to feel them, and to live under their lively, experimental, and practical influence. Here he adverted as illustrations of this part of his subject to the late Mr. Whiteheld, and also to one who will be long remembered with gratitude and affection in Glasgow, the late Dr. Balfour of that city.

2. The great importance of selecting in general preaching the most useful topics; pr in other words the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity. ■ These subjects, it was observed, were not only most necessary for the careless, but were generally found most fitted to edify Christians themselves. With regard to the mode of illustrating these subjects, it was stated, that that preacher most effectually attains the end of preaching, who most completely conceals himself behind that blaze of {Uvine;truth which he presents to the view of an arrested and attentive auditory.

3. The necessity of ministers preaching by their lives was next pointed out.

4. The apostolic method of preaching not only publicly, but from house to house was noticed, and some of the peculiar advantages of this last mode of teaching mentioned. This it was proposed should be followed up by private conversation,

not only with the members of the church, but with the stated hearers where it could be obtained." The probable good effects of this, especially with the young, were particularly stited.

5. Mr. I. adverted to the high responsibility of watching for souls; and to the very inadequate conceptions which even good men seem to entertain of this duty. Thenecessity ot,guarding againstasetturian spirit was next pointed out; or in other words, a spirit whicli would lead us to lay inordinate stress onthe points on which we differ from other Christians,'which would prevent us from cordially rejoicing in all the.good that is done by them: or dispose us to look with a jaundiced eye on the excellencies to be found in their character.

The necessity of living superior to the opinion of the world, while engaged in the discharge of duty was then alluded to. The encouragement derived from the promise of divine aid; and the reasonable hope of, at least, a certain measure of success were also noticed. And in the conclusion, an appeal was made to all present, respecting the infinite importance of every one occupying with fidelity every talent of usefulness" they possessed, in the prospect of the second coming of the Lord. i

The members of the church were then addressed bv Mr. Anderson, from Phillip, i. 27. On which passage three observations were raised :—■

I. In the scheme of redemption by Christ Jesus, there is to be found all that is requisite for the constant regulation of Christian behaviour.

The whole conduct, as embraced by the term Conversation, including not only our disposition and behaviour towards "God, but man, and especially in the church; acting, on all occasions, worthy of a citizen, introduced to all the privileges and immunities of Mount Zion, was merely glanced at; and, ftteTime being limited, the term Conversation was fixed on, especially in its. more limited sense, as embracing the use and government of speech. Several advantages, arising out of this restriction, were then pointed out.

II. A conversation thus regulated is sure to qualify for consistent, and active, and harmonious behaviour in the church of God.

"This is the jnore worthy of regard when you reflect, that it is most difficult to behave well in the church. Think of the danger of acting in a manner unbecoming there! All Christians are to act, it is true, but is there not an activity which is mischievous, and dishonourable to God—to Christ—to his people.? Is there not an activity whicli is injurious to the peace, and

the growth of a Christian society? Why is every man to be swift to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to wrath? How much also of unbecoming conduct iu the church is mysteriously permitted, to serve as a touchstone to genuine Christianity! 'According to Paul's account, in 1 Cor. xiii. see how much there is to be borne, how much to be suffered, how much to be endured, and endured too in the spirit of love! See what danger there is of being envious ■—vain-glorious—of being pufted up, of being easily provoked, and of behaving unseemly!.

Yet, after all, there is a pattern, and in the Gospel more 'than a pattern, for our behaviourj on all occasions; for in the rich scheme ot recovery by our blessed Lord, there can never be wanting either a guide or an impulse. In a complex subject, or one of great difficulty, it is consoling, yea delightful, to meet with our sovereign remedy and guide, and so it is here.

III. When the members of a Christian church are thus regulated in their, conversation by the Gospel, if present, we may expect to see, and if absent, we may expect to hear, of their spirit, that it, and of their mind, that it is one; and that this unity is displayed in an ardent and well-directed struggle for the defence and the propagation ot Christianity.

"The spirit and mind of Christianity, minutely, I need not describe, as time admits of little more than your remarking the order of these terms. First, spirit— then, mind. Spirit, is the display of disposition. Mind, is the exercise of wisdom. Spirit, includes the disposition of the heart towards God and each other. Mind, includes the action and operations of the whole body, and the whole in a body."

In the evening of the day, and in conclusion of these services, Mr. Anderson preached from Rom. xiv. 17. in which the nature of the kingdom of God was illustrated and enforced, as consisting in " an individual possession and a united display of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." But our limits will not admit of our giving any account of this sermon.

ORDINATIONS. September 17,1823, Mr. N. T. BurNett, late of Street, near Glastonbury, Somersetshire, was set apart to the Pastoral Office over the Baptist Church at Lockerly, Hants. Mr. Yarnold, of Romsey, began the pleasing Service by reading the 3rd chapter of the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, and Prayer. Mr. Clare, of Downton, gave a judicious description of a Gospel Church. Mr..Russell, of Broughton, affectionately addressed the Minister from 1 Tim. iv. 16. Mr. Draper, of Southampton, preached a most pathetic Discourse from Psalm ciii.; and Mr. Mitchell concluded by Prayer. The opportunity was a very profitable one to most present.

The cause of Christ at Lockerly, has for many years beeu in a very low and declining state ; but we sincerely trust, that the time to favour this part of Zion is come. It is truly pleasing to see, that from a few individuals, who used to attend the preaching of the word, that now the Chapel is so completely thronged, that accommodation can hardly be found for the hearers; and, added to this, what must please every one who wishes well to immorlal souls, there seems to be a great cry after the salvation of Jesus. May it continue till the whole, neighbourhood be tilled with praying souls!

Mr. S. R. Aixom having accepted the unanimous invitation of the Baptist Church and Congregation of Great Missenden, Bucks, to the Pastoral Office (vacant by the removal of Mr. Godwin, to the Tutorship of Bradford Academy,) this union was publicly recognized on Thursday the 18th of December.

The church assembled at an early hour in the morning for prayer and praise. Mr. Tyso, of Wallingford, preached in the forenoon, and Mr. Clarabut, of New Mill, Triug, in the evening. The devotional services were conducted by the brethren, Tyler of Haddenhara, Tomlin of Cheshara, Skeene of Wendover, Cooper and May of Amersham, and Copley of Watford. The sermons were excellent and appropriate, and the engagements of the day highly interesting.


hn the Press,

Poptism not Baptism, and Washing not Burial; being a Critical Examination and Reply to the Rev. Greville Ewing's Essay on Baptism. Containing also, an Address to the numerous Members of Pado-baptist Churches, who hold Anti-pcedobaptist Sentiments. By F. A. Cox, A.M. of Hackney.

The Doctrines of General Redemption, as held by the Church of England, and by the early Dutch Arminians, exhibited in their scriptural Evidence, and in their connection with the Civil and Religious Liberberties of Mankind. By James Nichols. In 1 vol. 8vo. pr. 16s. bds.

Just Published.

Antinomianism Dissected; being a Reply to Mr. Gadsby's Pamphlet, entitled, "Sandemanianism weighed in the balance and found wanting:" in which the false weights of that Author are detected and exposed. By Henry Hart. Price 1*.

Nearly ready for publication, in 2 vol?, post 8vo. with fine Portrait by Warren, from an original Picture, the Life of Jeremy Tavlor; and a Critical Examination of his Writings. By Dr. Heber, Bishop of Calcutta.

Aureus, or the Adventures of a Sovereign. Written by Himself. In 2 vols. 12mo.

« AnteriorContinuar »