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sonable proof, that one of the effects of such a synodical union of our churches, is, that the weak are helped by the strong, and that when one member of the body suffers, all the other members suffer and sympathize with it.
especially in times like the present, when | what he had witnessed in all parts of that
ABSTRACT OF EDUCATIONAL RETURNS KE-
I. ABSTRACT OF COMPLETE Returns.
Number of Returns.
No. of Sabbath Schools.
without our Catechisms.
737 4 256 22 2 135 7 60 152
Cumberland.... 5 520 5 232 91 0 0
Newcastle... 4 374 4 191 394 2
9 713 9 156 528 1
37 5005 36 2004 1295 15 674 297
0 112 144
II. ABSTRACT OF INCOMPLETE RETURNS.
1 87 149
NOTES ON A RECENT VISIT TO
But the necessities of these schools do not constitute the whole of the case which the Committee have to press upon the attention of the Church. There is the most urgent need for the formation of additional schools in all the Presbyteries of the Synod. Out of seventy-five Churches and stations, only a few more than twenty are yet provided with them, and in many places, particularly in the northern Presbyteries, such schools will never be commenced without the prospect of assistance being given to support them when formed. Many of the congregations there are suffering severely, and are even in danger of utter extinction, from the want of such schools. At Wooler, Felton, Framlington, Widdrington, and North Sunderland, in the county of Northumberland; and at Brampton, Maryport, Workington, and Whitehaven, in the county of Cumberland, the speedy formation of day-schools is essential to preserve and extend our cause; and the strongest desire is expressed by our ministers in these localities for the accomplishment of this object. Northumberland 2 But to accomplish it, it will be quite indispensable that the Church should extend its aid, both in the erection of schoolhouses and in the payment of teachers. And while the Committee confidently hope that the School-building scheme which is immediately to be submitted to the Church will secure the attainment of the former of these objects, they would now earnestly plead for liberal contributions to the "School-sustentation Fund" for the attainment of the latter In not a few cases temporary accommodation could be obtained at a moderate rent, and schools could be immediately commenced with the best prospects of success, if the Committee were able to guarantee a small grant to meet the liabilities thus incurred; and thus classes would be made ready for the occupation of the school-houses afterwards to be erected. Surely these are all deeply interesting and important objects; surely every one must see that they affect very vitally the best interests of the young of our flocks, for whom we are bound to care with peculiar tenderness; and that they concern no less vitally the preservation and progress of our Church in England. A Presbyterian Church without schools is an anomaly in Presbyterianism, and a very imperfect exhibition of an ecclesiastical system whose historic honours have been ever associated with the school as well as with the pulpit. And a Presbyterian Church without its full complement of schools, will never strike its roots deep, or spread its branches wide, on the soil of England,
We do not here allude to the Revivals which have taken place in various parts of Scotland, and are still progressing-as at Knapdale, a part of the country we visited, and of the intensely interesting events which are taking place in which we can speak from personal knowledge, We allude to the general state of religion throughout the bounds of the Free Church, and repeat, that nothing struck us so much during our recent tour, as the extent and depth of vital active godliness which we witnessed wherever we went.
This is the true secret of the success that has attended the Free Church, the basis on which it rests, and the spring which impels it onwards. It is the measure by which to guage that Church's prosperity, the line to circumscribe her extension, and the term by which to date her continuance. Let her piety-fresh, warm, living-bloom, glow, operate, and no limit can be presented to her enlargement, no term to her prosperity. But let her vital godliness shrink, fade, languish, and however the glorious recollections of the past, the talents of her ministers, and the sectarian activity of her members may, for a time, preserve a hectic flush upon her countenance, and give a spasmodic activity to her movements, the living spirit is fled, and what remains will sink Totals 44 5005 44 2868 1743 21 858 604 415 1016 deeper and deeper into corruption. But why do we insist so much upon this matter? Is it for the sake of the Free Church alone? Assuredly not. Few of her members will read these lines. It is principally for the sake of our own beloved Zion. Had we but the depth and extent of piety that pervades the Free Church, and were the godliness which exists amongst us, and which to overlook or undervalue were to do dishonour to the Spirit of God-were that godliness as active and as devoted to the advancement of our own special interests as it is in the Free Church, we most verily believe that the success which has attended that Church would not be greater than the success with which God would crown our own. As the organ of the English Presbyterian Church-a Church inferior to no Church on earth in ancestral glories, in territorial position, in well-grounded pros pects-we shall not cease to press upon all our members the vital connexion be tween the godliness of Churches and their success. Established Churches may, for a time, stand upon the basis of State support; but a Church like ours, depending, under God, upon the character of its members, cannot exist without vital godliness.
WE have been lately in Scotland, for the
The first thing that struck us was the
Another thing that struck us in connexion with the Free Church, is the pervading spirit of liberality which characterizes her members. The amount of funds towards the support of all the schemes of the Church, which have been contributed, is very extraordinary.
Instead of giving a report of our own, which might be charged with partiality, we prefer to give here the statement of perhaps the best financier in Scotland, who certainly cannot be accused of undue partiality towards the Free Church. The following extract is taken from the Scotsman newspaper, and gives a very good condensed statement of the financial affairs of the Free Church :"In the short space of two years, 530 churches have been erected, at an expense of £335,000, of which £285,000 is already paid. There are 70 other churches in progress, which will be completed in the present year; and it is assumed that 140, in addition to these, will ultimately be wanted, raising the whole number of congregations, in connexion with the Free Church, to 740. This is exclusive of 42 quoad sacra churches, possession of which is disputed by the Establishment. The whole sum collected for church building is £320,000. Last year the Sustentation Fund produced £52,500, yielding the ministers then employed about £100 a-year each. In the present year, the produce of the fund is £75,500, yielding each clergyman £122. This allowance from the Central Fund is a guarantee to the ministers of the weaker congregations
against extreme poverty; but each congregation is expected to add to, or 'supplement' the allowance in proportion to its means, and the duty is rarely neglected. Indeed, we believe that most of the clergymen in towns are as well paid in the Free Church as they were in the Establishment, though their brethren in thinly-peopled districts are of course less fortunate. In addition to the sums mentioned, about £100,000 has been raised for missions in the two years, and £120,000 more for what is called the Congregational Fund. Altogether the sum raised and expended amounts to £725,000, exclusive of £60,000 subscribed for schools, and a new college, which will be forthcoming when required. These astonishing pecuniary efforts have been made by a small part of the population of Scotland (probably not exceeding one-fourth), consisting partly of the working, but chiefly of the middle classes. Very few of the landed proprietors, or what are called the gentry, or persons combining fashionable habits with independent means, adhere to the Free Church. Its strength lies among the serious, thoughtful, and busy classes, including, no doubt, some men of considerable wealth. The disruption was a bold experiment, and the success with which it has been carried through exhibits a most gratifying proof of the vast resources which an intelligent people, acting in union, can find within themselves for the accomplishment of any object which stirs the depths of their moral feelings."
Such have been the financial contributions of the Free Church towards the support and extension of the cause of Christ at home and abroad. Now, what prevents our own Church from making similar efforts, and raising sums proportionably large? Various answers can be given to this question. Some will say, We have not had the excitement of a disruption, with the impulse arising from the pressing and felt necessities which that disruption communicated to all the parts of the financial machinery of the Free Church. But then that excitement has very much diminished, while the funds contributed have increased. In the
nature of things that excitement cannot | knows the grace of God and feels the
But, secondly, our congregations are
But we are bound to acknowledge, in the third place, that a portion of the blame, which rests upon us in connexion with our pecuniary contributions, must be laid to the charge of the circumstances in which we are placed. For years many of our ministers did not regard England as their home, nor was the English Presbyterian Church the Church of their affections. In these circumstances it could not be expected that they would labour with devoted, self-sacrificing zeal to extend her pale, or consolidate her interests. The crippling, paralysing influence of this state of things, and of which our new ministers can form no conception, has now, we trust, passed altogether away. Now we are a distinct Church. Our ministers feel her to be
their own chosen Church, the Church of their warmest affections, which has the principal, the first, the last, (and if it were not that they are too Catholic to be sectarian, the exclusive) claim upon their love and their services. This altered state of feeling has already shown what it can accomplish, and we are assured, that the present healthful, hopeful interest and activity in our own proper sphere will increase and flourish.
Besides, it ought to be acknowledged that hitherto we have had no proper organization,―no properly adjusted machinery by which the various schemes of our Church could be maturely planned, or actively worked. This defect has been in part supplied. We now possess the necessary Committees, and will soon have congregational associations. All, therefore, we now want is, that this machinery should be properly worked. But this is essential. The best machinery on earth can do nothing, except it be plied by judicious and active hands. As soon as our associations are formed, we shall, from time to time, supply them with rules and precepts and stimulants for the more efficient discharge of their important functions. At present, in prospect of hearing that such associations are forming, or speedily to be formed, throughout the country, all we will say is, let no one
decline the appointment to be a member of these bodies under the plea that too large a demand will be made upon their time. This is a great mistake. A short experience will convince them that a few hours a week, or month, is all that will be required. Neither let any one say that the work is unpleasant. No one who has tried it has found it so. Indeed, the experience of all the collectors of the Free Church we have conversed with went to testify that it is not only a labour of love, but a joyous recreation. Let the districts allotted to individuals be small,let the collectors be numerous and animated with the proper spirit,-let ministers and elders and deacons countenance and counsel them,-let prayer meetings be formed, consisting of the collectors with some of the office bearers in the Church, and let all feel that they are engaged in the service of Jesus, and are thus honoured to be fellow-workers with God; and thus animated, counselled, and supported, the time spent will be amply rewarded. We verily believe, that many who mourn comfortless, while musing alone, would be relieved and comforted if they engaged in some of the active duties of Christ's kingdom.
There is one remark more that has been forced upon us by what we witnessed in the North. Now that the required number of churches have nearly been erected, we perceive that the Sustentation Fund engages, as it ought, the primary place in the schemes of the Free Church. With us, there are three schemes which require constant and strenuous attention, the Home Mission, the College, and the Schools. Everything else is subordinate to these, and must be kept so. Upon these great schemes of our own Church we must concentrate all our efforts, to these we must devote in the most special systematic manner our prayers, our labours, our funds. Our own Church has the first claim upon us. "Begin at Jerusalem." Whatever sum any individual contributes to any exterior object, let twice that sum be contributed to the corresponding object at home. No one surely can grudge this. No one ought to act otherwise, and the "Messenger" shall not fail to make the maxim sufficiently familiar to the ears of all our members.
We have exceeded the limits we had at the outset prescribed to ourselves, and must for the present close. We shall however return to the subject.
attacking our neighbours. At present, we purpose to give a sketch of some parts of that mechanism of Presbyterianism which are essential to the system, by which it is distinguished from other forms of polity, and through whose vigorous agency it is that Presbyterianism has accomplished so much of spiritual and temporal good, wherever it has been fairly worked. Our object, at present, is merely to give a simple sketch of the mechanism of the Presbyterian Church without citing any proofs, without adducing any arguments in favour of the system.
The Presbyterian Church possesses three orders of officers, the minister, the elder, the deacon, all different in office, rank, and power; and, so far as this goes, viz., in maintaining that there are three orders in the Church, Presbyterianism coincides with Prelacy.
The Deacon is the lowest officer in the Presbyterian Church. He is elected by the male members, or by the seat-holders, and is ordained or set apart to his office by a religious ceremony performed by the Session (of which we shall immediately treat). The distinctive functions of the deacon are to attend to the maintenance of the poor, the collection and distribution of the congregational funds, and generally to superintend and administer the pecuniary interests and temporal possessions of the congregation. The number of deacons in a congregation depends upon its magnitude, and the extent of its resources and necessities. The deacons constitute a board, or consistory, called the deacon's court, which assembles as often as business requires. We have often thought, and we hope to see the idea realized, that the trustees and managers of a Church, all, in short, who have any power in its pecuniary affairs, ought to be ordained deacons. We throw out the idea at present, and will be glad to receive the suggestions of our brethren regarding it.
The Ruling Elder, as he is called to distinguish him from the minister who is the preaching elder, or presbyter, is elected by the male communicants of mature years, and is ordained to his office by a religious ceremony performed by the Session where one exists, and by the Presbytery where a Session has not been formed. The number of elders in a congregation depends upon the amount of labour required, and the number of fit persons that the congregation presents,
A communicant is a member in full communion with the Church; that is, one who having been examined as to his faith and morals by the Session, has been approved of as entitled been admitted accordingly. In the Presbyterian Church, no person is admitted to the Lord's Table who has not thus been examined and approved of, nor allowed to remain a commubear witness to the orthodoxy of his faith and nicant longer than his profession and practice the purity of his morals.
to be admitted o the Lord's and has
but there must be at least two to form a Session. The distinctive functions of the elders are to assist the minister in superintending and administering the affairs of the Church. To each elder is assigned a district of the parish or a portion of the congregation, and it is his duty to visit at stated hours the members committed to his charge, to make himself acquainted with their spiritual condition, to instruct, comfort, counsel, and pray with them, and if necessary to bring their case under the notice of the minister. It is further, the duty of the elder to accompany the minister when he visits that portion of the congregation placed under his inspection, to assist the minister in the administration of the Lord's Supper, and in the exercise of discipline, in the admission, exclusion, suspension, or censure of members; and, finally, to sit in, when appointed, and act as a member of the superior Courts of the Church. The elder continues in office for life, or till deprived of his powers by competent authority. This most important officer receives no remuneration for his most arduous services. The experience of every Presbyterian minister will gratefully acknowledge that much of the superiority of Presbyterianism and of the good it is calculated to confer upon the Church and the world, is owing to the eldership. We have only further to add, that the elder is not a layman, and that the title, lay-elder, is abhorrent to the principles of Presbyterianism.
Of the minister we need not here treat particularly, both because his functions are much the same with those of ministers in other denominations, and because the points of difference will appear under one or other of the heads that follow. All that it is here necessary to state is, that he is elected by the male communicants of matured years, examined as to his knowledge of the classical and oriental languages, science, philosophy, and theology in all its departments, and having been found qualified in these, and possessed of personal piety, is ordained by the Presbytery.
We next treat of the Church Courts, by which Presbyterianism is particularly distinguished from all other forms of Church government. In a Presbyterian Church, fully organized, and embracing many congregations scattered over an extensive territory, there are four orders of courts, graduating the one above the other, viz., the Church Session, the Presbytery, the Provincial Synod, and the General Assembly. We treat of them in order.
The Church Session is composed of the minister and all the ruling elders of a particular congregation. The minister is exofficio moderator or president; summons the meetings as often as there is occasion, possesses a casting vote, and without his meetings are opened and closed with presence no meeting can be held. The prayer by the moderator; the acts are re
and in all matters is recognised as primus is incomparably the most important court
The duties of the Presbytery are to
corded by the clerk, who is also an elder,
The Presbytery has unlimited power, in all matters spiritual, over its own members, and all matters pertaining to the religious interests of the congregations within its bounds; only there lies an appeal, from all its decisions, to a superior court. It can reverse, suspend, or cancel all the acts of the session. It is the proper court to receive charges or originate judicial proceedings against its ministerial members, and on conviction, after full and orderly process, can censure, suspend, depose, and deprive them of their benefices, and all official powers. During a vacancy in a congregation the Presbytery supplies the place, and exercises the function of its minister. The election of a minister to be valid must be in the presence, and with the approbation of the Presbytery. The minister elected, if unordained, is examined in literature, science, personal piety, and general fitness, and if approved of, ordained, and inducted by the Presbytery, or if disapproved of, rejected, and another election ordered to be made. A minister cannot have his charge temporarily, or permanently, without the consent of the Presbytery. On receiving a call from another congregation, the Presbytery, after hearing all parties having interest in the case, decide peremptorily whether a minister is to remain or may remove, and the decision, unless reversed on appeal to a higher court, is binding and conclusive. The Presbytery has no legislative power, it is only an executive court. It can, however, by overture, submit to the supreme court any new laws or rules it desires to introduce into the statute book of the Church, and no law can be finally enacted without its consent formally given. From this very meagre sketch it can be easily seen how large is the jurisdiction, and how important the functions of the Presbytery. It
The Synod in Scotland is composed of all the ministers of a county or other convenient territory, with an elder from each session, and is simply a court of review to superintend presbyteries, decide appeals, and prevent business from accumulating on the table of the General Assembly. In a large Church, consisting of numerous congregations scattered over a large kingdom, the provincial Synod is a very useful court, but with us in England, it has not yet been deemed necessary to institute it. Our Synod is general, possesses the powers, and exercises the functions which, in Scotland, are vested in the General Assembly. Instead, therefore, of describing the provincial Synod as it exists in Scotland, we confine ourselves to a sketch of a general Synod, as it exists among us, which will be found also to be sufficiently descriptive of the Scotch General Assembly.
In the Presbyterian Church in England the Synod is the supreme court. It consists of all the ministers and an elder from each session with the professors of theology in the Church's theological College. It meets once a year,-is opened by a sermon preached by the moderator of the preceding meeting of Synod. It possesses both judicial and legislative powers. In the exercise of the former it disposes of all appeals from the inferior courts, and in the latter, repeals old laws and enacts new ones; and, as in the former, its judgments are final, so in the latter its edicts are binding upon all the members of the Church. It examines presbytery records; if satisfied, approves of them, but if dissatisfied, admonishes, censures, erases, reverses, as the case may require. It takes a general survey of, and exercises a supreme superintendence over, the condition and proceedings of the whole Church. Like the Imperial Parliament, to which, in many respects, it bears a striking analogy, its power is felt throughout the whole body,
adjusting,-regulating, - prescribing, and (in which it differs from Parliament) superintending the execution of its own orders. The Synod is the centre of unity, the bond of connexion of the whole Church. It is the mind that devises the heart that sends the life's blood through every part of the system, and the arm of authority and power that performs all the functions required for the well being of the whole body. Removed from local influences and prejudices it has no temptation to confirm an erroneous judgment. Composed of members vested with equal authority, individual dictatorship is precluded. Consisting of representatives of all the interests and congregations of the Church, no local
interest can be overlooked, no sectional | GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE might be permitted to say for himself, that, aggrandizement tolerated. Animated by PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN one spirit, actuated by one desire, and IRELAND. that
the good of the whole, it is distracted by no factions. Sound in doctrine by the blessing of God, and possessed of authority to condemn and expel error from its borders, it affords a warrant strong as any institution worked by human instrumentality, that it will continue to profess the truth in love, and preserve the body in vital activity, and render it the means of incalculable advantage to this great kingdom.
Such is Presbyterianism. Viewed in the light of reason (although we would prefer to present it in the light of Scripture), tested by experience and compared with other forms of polity civil or ecclesiastial, Presbyterianism, we hesitate not to say, is, as might be expected from its Divine origin, the most perfect system of government the world has ever seen. It possesses all the excellencies which exist in other systems while it is free from their errors and weaknesses. It is equally remote from democratic anarchy and hierarchical domination. Among the the civil governments of the earth it has no parallel. It is neither a monarchy mixed or absolute, an oligarchy elective or hereditary, nor a democracy republican or representative. It is a mixed government checked and counterchecked; an aristocracy for life, popularly elected, with a popular tribunate of co-ordinate powers, composing a species of commonwealth never paralleled on earth, in which the clerical influence which might tend to hierarchical domination is counterbalanced by the eldership whose tendencies are naturally laical, thus producing in morals the effect which in mechanics re
sults from the composition of the gridiron pendulum where the expansion or contraction of one part in one direction is counterbalanced by the equal expansion of a corresponding part in the opposite direction, all leading in the end to that steady, regulated, equable operation, which neither in heat nor in cold, in tempest nor in calm, can ever falter, vary,
Such is Presbyterianism, such is the form of Church government under which we have the happiness to live, for the development and display of which, God has placed us in this land. It has never hitherto in this country possessed a fair field for the manifestation of its Divine principles, or the exercise of its beneficent powers. The time, however, is now in the good Providence of God, we trust, arrived for the full display of its capabilities of doing good. Let this thought animate our hopes, stimulate our labours, and sustain our efforts, and the prayers of our Puritan fathers will be answered, their aspirations realized, and England shall yet behold our glorious constitution diffusing its benign influences over its institutions and fami
THE General Assembly of the
their late Moderator.
although no longer a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, he once had the honour of being a member of that body, and had shared sister-in her trials, although he had had little part in bers, the Presbyterian Church in England was her triumphs; and although, in point of numweak, yet he did not regret having transferred to it his talents and his energies, such as they were; he knew not that there was any Church more deserving of the sympathy of the House than the Church of Owen and Baxter, now that it the Assembly regarded the revival of an was quickening into fresh energy; and, whether ancient name, or the loud calls of duty, or the wide and unbounded prospects of usefulness, or the uplifting of the banner in the face of many difficulties and dangers, he might be allowed to say that he could scarcely conceive minister and master-builder in the Presbyterian any post more honourable than that of a Church in England. (Hear, hear.) He had been deputed specially, by the Church to which he belonged, to request sympathy and assistance in the efforts which his brethren and himself were making to infuse, by the blessing of God, new life into a Church that had almost ceased to have a being, except in name. The fields in England were whitening to the harvest, and there was all but an utter destitution of labourers. There were thousands of professed Presbyterians, and descendants of Presbyterian fathers, perishing for lack of knowledge in England-many Scottish and Irish youths sinking step by step into an that of those around them, who had grown up extreme of irreligion and profligacy lower than in utter ignorance of the truths of the Gospel. In this extremity the Church in England looked to this Assembly and the other sister Presbyterian communities for sympathy and support-for assistance in their toils, and for the prayers of their brethren that the Lord would crown their toils with success, and make His light to shine more brightly on the dark places in England. Mr. F. proceeded to say, that when he first entered that house, the Assembly was occupied in discussions regarding the revival of religion in their own Church; that, on the morning of that very day, the house had been occupied in listening to most interesting details regarding their Church's missionary operations at home and abroad; and that both these discussions indicated a state of healthiness, and also proved that they had a heart for those who were less advantageously situated than themselves. England had already had good proof of the kindly disposition of the Irish brethren, and he felt it a pleasant duty to express the acknowledgments of the Presbyterian Church in England for the aid she had received from the Irish Assembly. Many of the proba tioners of the Irish Presbyterian Church had accepted charges in England, and he (Mr. F.) had pleasure in testifying to the zeal and efficiency with which they gave themselves to the work of the ministry, and to the success which has almost uniformly attended their labours. But, in addition to this, England had got men of more experience, for whom he could not sufficiently thank the Irish Presbyhis friend and fellow-labourer beside him terian Church. He could not say much as to (Rev. Mr. White), because he was present; he might say this, however, that they (in England) were willing to do every thing to him or with him, except to allow him to get back to Ireland again. ("Hear, hear," and a laugh.) He was not restrained, however, by Rev. J. S. Dickson, who had not only given the same delicacy in speaking of his friend, them his untiring labours in Manchester, but
The Rev. A. P. Goudy introduced the Depu-
Rev. D. FERGUSSON, of Liverpool, then said