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to Dr Candlish, as it is to us all, to know that the thinned and thinning ranks of those who had to take part in the struggles of that period have been strengthened by such men as Dr Rainy, who has shown by his appearance this day that he can wield the weapons of debate as skilfully and with as much power as the ablest amongst us. (Cheers.) When Dr Candlish and I were engaged in the long fight before the Disruption, that great triumph, as I would call it, which it issued, was attended with many sorrows and many disruptions ; but now we are seeking to accomplish an event which will unite us with other branches of the Presbyterian Church, and which, if successful, will bring about another mighty triumph that will be em bittered by no regrets at all, and be brightened by a glorious prospect for the future. (Applause.) I do not much regard the matter of sentiment referred to by Dr Rainy. I agree with him that sentiment must give way to duty ; but with me the sentimental feeling is all the other way, viz., that when we shall be united with the two other branches of the Presbyterian body, we shall really unite ourselves with the whole of the glorious associations of the Church of Scotland of all times, and with all those who ever formed the best part of that Church. The only portion that will be left out will be one which, I think, was alien to the proper Church of Scotland-alien, I mean, as the remnant of Episcopacy and the curates of that Church, at the time of the persecutions, who, after the Revolution, were admitted, reintroduced patronage and became Moderates—(laughter and applause)—and remain now as the Established Church of Scotland. I think that any feeling of national sentiment that we may have should rather lead us to look to one glorious ancestry in a union combining everything good and glorious in the Presbyterian Church. (Applause.) I never really had much difficulty in feeling that there was no bar to union. As soon as I was satisfied that our United Presbyterian friends held, as I some years ago learned, and believe now that they do, the doctrine of the Headship of Christ over the nations, and that they acknowledged the duty of kings and rulers to Christ as their head, and that it was their duty to exercise their functions as rulers according to the laws of God, and also to advance the kingdom of God, as they had opportunity within their own proper province-as soon as I learned this, I felt that there was no diffi. culty at all in the way. Every obstacle has been removed, so far as doctrine is concerned. (Applause.) As to the mere matter of the duty of setting up an Establishment, it always seemed to me to be a question solely of expediency. If you will admit the duty of the nations to advance in the truth, the matter of setting up an Establishment will depend entirely on the circumstances of the peculiar case; and I remember well, when I was a member of the Established Church, and while very red-hot in maintaining the principles of an Establishment, I used confidently to maintain the paradox that the Church of Ireland ought, on Established principles, to be put down-that it was the duty of the State, on the principle that we called the Establishment principle, to put down that Church, because in that way we would inore advance the progress of the Christian religion than we could do by keeping it up. (Applause.) I am still longing for that event, and I am sure that the friend whom I see before me, the representative of the Irish Presbyterian Church, will not, in looking forward to the distribution of the revenues of the Church of Ireland, seek to share in the spoil. I, there




fore, felt no difficulty at all on that subject; but still I think it was quite right to satisfy men's minds that we should have a long and searching inquiry as to what the opinions and principles of our brethren really were, and to probe it to the bottom; and having done so, I am just as ready as any one can be to go forward with this union—(applause) -in the full conviction that we are doing not only what is consistent with duty, but are fulfilling duty in getting rid of those mere cavils, as I take them to be, in order to carry out the union which Christ intended should be effected between His people who held by the same common standards. (Applause.) I think we are now called upon to do that. I cannot imagine how our friends should wish that the matter should still be postponed. All the subjects of importance, in point of principle, have been gone over. There may arise subjects of some little difficulty in regard to minor matters, such as the Sustentation Fund, which will make the union practically more difficult. That, however, is no reason why we should not look at and seek to overcome them, so as to remove all obstacles. But if there had been any question of principle against the union, it is quite clear that we ought to have refused to have entered into the negotiation ; but having done so, why should we hesitate as to the course we should adopt? If any of our friends do not see their way to this, and are, on principle, opposed to the union, they ought at once to come forward and say so. But the very fact of agreeing to reappoint

. the committee implies a declaration on our part that we see no obstacles in the way of union. I could not acquiesce in the reappointing of the committee if I did feel that there was any principle acting as a barrier to it. In that case I would hold that it is the duty of the Assembly not to reappoint the committee, but that the manly and honest course is to do so with a declaration that, so far as we see, there is no obstacle to its accomplishment. (Applause.)

Dr Berg said—I require, on many grounds, the indulgence of this House, and in particular, because I am unwell, and, but for the great importance of this matter, should not have been here to-day. I never rose in an Assembly with a deeper conviction of the great importance of the issues to which we are brought by the motions now under debate ; and I verily believe the future of the Church will be determined by the result of the vote to which we must come. Perhaps it may be right, before I utter another word, that I should clear away a little mist that has been attempted to be thrown about myself in connexion with this movement. I have always been a friend of union, and, in fact, was a friend of union in connexion with the movement of Sir George Sinclair, before some of those who are now so zealous had taken up the question at all-nay, at the time that they were opposed to this union. But, at the same time, I have always said, and took particular care to say in the first Assembly in which this question was broached, and at every occasion in which the debate had been renewed, that, anxious as I was for union, I have always been still more anxious for the maintenance of the truth. I believe that no aggregation of numbers will be of the slightest advantage if we do not maintain in substance at least—I do not say always in particular outward form—but in substance what we hold to be in accordance with the Word of God. An allegation has been made that I left the union committee, and I wish the House to understand the circumstances in which that event took place, and the true meaning


and import of that event. At the end of the union report you will find in the minutes of the Free Church committee, at the bottom of the first page of these minutes, that a discussion took place immediately after the meeting of the last General Assembly. My clear understanding was, that the Assembly had sent down that report to the Presbyteries, and had fixed a time by which these Presbyteries should make their returns, and that we as a committee ought not to meddle with these articles of agreement, as they have been called, until we received the suggestions from our several Presbyteries. That was my undoubted opinion, and is my opinion still, and accordingly it was moved—“That the committee are of opinion that the joint-committee should take no further action in the way of any alteration of the document sent down to Presbyteries till the returns from Presbyteries be received." It was also moved and seconded, that the committee are not of this opinion. And the votes having been taken, it appeared that the second motion was carried by a considerable majority. From this deliverance Dr Gibson dissented, and protested for leave to complain to the General Assembly, if he should see

To this dissent Mr Main and I adhered. Every one must see that in the circumstances we could take no part in meddling with these articles of agreement until the returns of the various Presbyteries were received, and therefore we instantly intimated that we would not continue on the committee until that took place ; but that as soon as the returns were obtained, and as soon as the committee had resumed its labours, we would attend again.

[At this stage of Dr Begg's speech Dr Candlish entered the House, and was received with loud and repeated cheers.)

Dr Begg continued—We are exceedingly glad to see Dr Candlish in this place again. I say that we resigned our place in the committee, and I just put it to this House to say whether the course which we thus pursued was not the only course which we could have pursued in the circumstances, and whether any fair inference could be drawn from that course of general hostility to the operations of the committee. No doubt we thought the alterations which were proposed to be of a most decidedly serious and dangerous kind. I am still of that opinion, although the matter after a struggle was subsequently improved. It might at this stage be right to say a word or two on the general question of prosecuting union with the other Churches. There are three classes of persons in the community, I have no doubt, holding respectively different opinions on that subject. There may be some who are decidedly opposed to union altogether, and have declined even to entertain the question. I believe they are a comparatively small number. There may be those, on the other hand, who are so decidedly set upon union that they are prepared to pay any price for it, and to subordinate truth and consistency to obtain that object. (Loud cries of “No, no," and some hisses.) 1 say it is quite conceivable that there may be some of that class, but I believe it is a small class. My impression is, that the large body of our ministers and people are in favour of union, and are only desirous to see how that union could be accomplished in consistency with the principles upon which we have hitherto maintained it as a Church. (Hear, hear, and applause.) That is my own position, and I think it is a right and reasonable one, and I am prepared to maintain it in the face of the world, and though I stood alone on these grounds which I am prepared to



occupy. (Cheers.) We have had reference to Rutherford and Gillespie by my excellent friend Dr Rainy, but no quotation from them. It may be right that you should hear one or two worthy of being listened to, on the subject of union before proceeding further. Dr M Crie says—“ Peace is always desirable in itself, and the peace of the Church ought to be earnestly pursued. But the cry of peace is often employed by those who are engaged in courses of defection in order to drown all opposition to their measures, and not unfrequently those are loudest in proclaiming the evils of division and schism, who are themselves chargeable with them, and who are pushing new schemes destructive of peace and unity as already settled in societies, or which sow the seeds of future dissensions and endless separation. These, instead of laying a solid foundation for peace will foment discord and breed confusions, as the Romans built a temple to Concord in the spot where the seditions of the Gracchi had been committed, which in future times, instead of restraining was the means of exciting to tumults and bloodshed. Let none be moved by confident assertions that the matters now in dispute are of small moment. Although they were allowed to be so, this would be no reason for tamely relinquishing them; and Christ puts His servants to a more eminent test of fidelity in requiring them to adhere to these when they are opposed. The fact is, that every truth, during the time that it was controverted, has been uniformly represented by its opponents as inconsiderable and minute, and very frequently, through the artful management of the erroneous, and by the permission of God for the trial of His Church, the controversy has been made to turn upon a point apparently

" There was never a trial yet in the Church,' says Mr Livingstone, but in the time of it, it was brought to a seemingly small thing. Satan can put the trial on such a frame, he can draw it to such a point, and set it, as they say, like a razor's edge. Yet still, though there seems but little between the two, the one side is a denying of Christ, and the other a confessing Him."" There is a very remarkable passage in the sermons of Alexander Henderson, just published by Mr Martin. Being, of course, the great leader of the second Reformation, he is as worthy of being listened to as Rutherford and Gillespie on such a subject as this, and his principle is thus stated :-“Neither let us for any care or fear of this kind depart from the smallest thing that is in our Covenant, for if ye lose but one dram-weight of God's glory and honour ye shall not miss to lose a whole stone-weight of your own with it. . . . . And so men by their policies and devices that they use contrary to the commandment they are aye twining and twisting so many ropes to hang themselves.” I shall not quote a very remarkable passage from Ralph Erskine, but it is to be found in M Crie's statement. I shall go on right to the motion and expound it, after which I shall look at the other motion, and give my reasons why I cannot support it. The motion I have to propose is,—“The Assembly, in receiving the report laid on the table by the committee on union with other Churches, approve of the diligence of the committee, and re-appoint it with its former instructions. The Assembly at the same time, considering the immature state of the question, the overtures now on the table, and the fact that whilst only one third of the ministers of this Church are entitled to be present in the Assembly, the people of the Church at large have never been consulted in regard to this matter at all—reserve their judgment on any part of the programme till the union committee shall have completed its work by bringing up a report on all the heads of the programme, with definite proposals, and the grounds on which they rest, so that the General Assembly and the Church may have the whole subject before them.” Now, I agree with Dr Rainy that the great question before us is, in the first place, the question under the first head of the programme, namely, the relation of the civil magistrate to religion and to the Church. I have not one word to say in opposition to the articles of agreement. In fact, I believe-though, perhaps, I should not say it, I have had something to do in resisting attempts to lower these articles of agreement below the standard to which they have attained. I rejoice in them, and cordially approve of them ; but, at the same time, I am not so sure as some of our friends that they have as yet received a formal sanction from the United Presbyterian Church. Of course, that is a matter of opinion, but I do not see, on reading the decision—though it seems to intimate as much—that it necessarily implies as much. I know there are ministers-I know at least one minister—a man of decided intelligence, who voted in the majority on that occasion, and who does not think he is committed to the approbation of these articles of agreement: while if you read the suggestions that are made by the Presbyteries of the United Presbyterian Church, you will see that their impression—at least previous to the meeting of Synod—was, that there ought to be more of an open question in regard to this whole matter than what is implied in sustaining the articles of agreement, and making all beyond that open. I do not intend to dwell upon that, however, because I am prepared to close with our friends upon the question whether we shall now, in this Assembly, make what still remains an open question, and shall come to the conclusion that no further conference ought to be desired by us from our United Presbyterian and other friends upon that head of the programme. I say other friends, because the peculiar views of the Reformed Presbyterians have, in my mind, a very serious bearing upon the position of the civil magistrate if they are to be introduced into a Church as large as ours. The question is—What has our Church hitherto maintained, and what is she at the present moment, by her standards, bound to maintain upon the subject of the duty of the civil magistrate to the Church of Christ? I throw out of view altogether the idea of the mere fact of endowments, and, for one, I am quite prepared, if I thought any good would spring from it, and that it would not simply result in stripping Churches that are sound, and leaving unsound Churches to reap the whole spoil—(hear, hear, and applause)—for that is the shape the matter has now taken, I am quite prepared to consider the question of the universal disestablishment of the Churches over the entire United Kingdom. (Cheers.) But even suppose all this is done, the question still remains—What is the duty of the civil magistrate, as laid down in the Word of God, in regard to the maintenance and support of the Church of Christ, and what is it the duty of our Church, in particular, to maintain upon the subject? It is unnecessary to enter upon any lengthened proof in regard to our past history. No one will deny that during the days of Knox, when the Church was first of all recognised, secondly endowed, it has always been maintained, not only in practice but in theory, to be the duty of the civil magistrate

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