Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

no time to prepare his speech. At all events he betrayed ignorance as to music, in supposing that buss in music had any connexion with base in the sense of being contemptible. Music had a foundation, viz. bass, and in the same way union must have a foundation, viz. purity. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

Great impatience at this time prevailed.

Dr Gibson— I rise to say that if a member of this House, in so important a matter as this, is not to get a fair hearing, that will not promote Christian union. The members of this House must be heard, and must not be put down. Here are gentlemen coming to complain that only members of the committee are heard ; and then, when parties not accustomed attempt to address this House they are ruffed down by mere noise. (Hear and laughter.)

Mr JAMES BALFOUR, elder-One word on the point of order. I quite agree with Dr Gibson that every member is entitled to a fair hearing in this House. But every member cannot get a fair hearing in this House if some members unduly occupy the time of the House.

I think our excellent friend Mr Burnside

A MEMBER on the right of the chair-It is impossible to hear a word said here.

Mr BALFOUR—I put it to our friend Mr Burnside whether it is not a little unreasonable, when so many gentlemen are in a similar position with himself, that he should occupy so large a portion of the time of the House.

Mr BURNSIDE—The wisdom that cometh from above is first pure, then peaceable. (Much laughter, during which Mr Burnside resumed his seat.)

Mr WATERS, Burghead -- With regard to this union question--the few words he had to say would principally be to the worthy leaders of our Church—he would take the liberty of reminding them that at the period of the Disruption, we and our congregations did most willingly and cheerfully follow them—not merely because we knew them to be men of great talent, and that had its influence, not because they were men of profound and extensive learning--of considerable eloquence and of undaunted piety,-all these had their influence—but we followed them because they were contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints—contending for the Christian privileges and rights of the Presbyterian people of Scotland, to choose their own pastors, and to prevent the intrusion of unsuitable ministers on reclaiming congregations.

We followed them then because we knew whither they were leading us; but did they suppose that we would follow them in this new direction, when we scarcely knew where they were to stop, or what our position would eventually be? They seemed to think that they might take any course they chose, and wave their hand to us to follow. That course of procedure will not do, we knew where we stood, as stanch Free Church people it will not be easy to move us.

We are well pleased with the principles of our Church. God could not have been better to any Church ; He had greatly blessed her ministers and people in things temporal and spiritual. For these advantages we ought to be thankful and not tempt God, for the sake of ministers, to join Churches whose principles were not in many important points the same.

If we

Our worthy leaders are now running too far and too fast without apprising us of what has been done or what is still doing in these committee negotiations, regarding this intended union. You must not surely think of choosing any bargain with these churches without making known to us what the terms are, neither we as ministers, office-bearers, or congregations, will follow you in the dark. Or should some min. isters do so, will their congregations follow, as they did at the Disruption, and what is the good of pastors without flocks ?

Remember, we did not come as Voluntaries, nor are we in theory so to this day, we are in that respect the same as we were in 1843. were in heart and mind Voluntaries, we had no occasion to wait till the Disruption, we had it in our power to have joined these much-respected Presbyterian Churches before as after that memorable period.

There are many points on which we widely differ--points which do not appear to bave been half settled by the joint-committee. This we learn from what we have read and heard to-day from the programme. Little progress appears to have been made in that joint-committee. The matter seems to stand much the same as it did four years ago. I have no doubt our highly-respected Free Church committee did all they could in these many meetings to effect an agreement, but they have failed as to the civil magistrate. The other Churches have made no concession at all.

The members of our committee have told us again and again to-day, that they admire the consistency and firmness with which these other Churches adhere to their principles. How is it, then, that you do not put it in their power to pay you the same compliment? How low must you sink in their estimation when you so easily make so many concessions, especially regarding the lawfulness of an Established Church-on Christian terms-for which you so faithfully fought against them during the Voluntary controversy.

But, Moderator, I perceive that my voice is not so strong as it once was, and that I am not heard by the noise, therefore I must close before finishing what I intended further to say. One word only before sitting down. Our Voluntary friends still hold that the gospel must be supported at home, and propagated through the world exclusively by free-will offerings, and if supported less or more by state pecuniary aid, would be sinful. Therefore they resist the annuity-tax in Edinburgh. Moderator, and Christian friends, you have all heard of this annuity-tax. Our country friends, especially the farmers, when the reform bill shall pass, and this union of these Churches be consummated, some paying £50, £100, £150 of rent, will probably, when settling with a factor, say, We are now Voluntaries, we will retain in our own hands the portion of the rent which pays the minister's stipend, and the parochial schoolmaster's salary. They may say you may distrain for that part—they may not inquire to whom the teinds legally belong.

Sir HENRY MONCREIFF then said, I think in one sense it may appear that there is truth in what has been said about progress by Mr Waters. There is one sense in which it may fairly be said that there has not much progress been made in this question, because at the very beginning a great number of us saw that the question probably would just be tbisCan we allow the known differences between us and the United Presbyterian Church to be treated in such a way as would enable us to unite ? Before we can judge of the question, we need to make careful inquiry about it. You have the result of the inquiry. I don't believe you can get further on in ascertaining what the difference amounts to than you have actually got, and therefore we unquestionably are just at the same point now as that at which we started, only with the benefit of the information which makes us sure of what the difference is. We are called upon now to look in the face the position of things at the time this committee was appointed, and to say whether the result of the inquiry is to prove what many imagined at the time, that the difference now about this first head of the programme may be stated to be such as need not be a bar to union. Now, let us look at what the main question really is as between the two motions. The main question refers to two points. First of all, with regard to the main question, I say you have to consider—Is there any good reason why, in existing circumstances, for the interests of this Church and the cause of Christ, you should not say that upon the first head of the programme there is no bar to union, viewed in itself? (Applause.) That is one question. The other question is, Is there any good reason to make us feel that an obligation lies upon us to say, if we can, whether under this first head of the programme there be a bar to union or not? That is the state of the question. I have great consideration for the views of persons who may not have looked at all the parts of this question as closely as some others have done, when they feel, in the first instance, some doubt as to wbat kind of answer should be given to either of the queries I have now been suggesting. Let us look at this subject as it has been discussed to-night in that point of view. There is one reason that seems to weigh with some people. They think that by agreeing to Dr Candlish's motion you are hurrying on the union itself beyond the possibility of recall—that you are hurrying it on so that there will be no right opportunity for a fair judgment of the whole matter by the Church. Now, of course, there may be a little difficulty in some people's mind about that. Some people may have the conception, as it has been expressed to-night, that somehow or other, if you agree to this resolution about there being no bar to union under the first head of the programme, you will not be able to give attention to the important questions that remain under the other heads of the progamme. But this is a view of the matter I utterly deprecate, and it is of great consequence that those who are in favour of Dr Candlish's motion should, in the strongest manner, state tbat if we thought that by agreeing to the motion we are doing anything that will have a tendency to slur over other questions, we should not agree to it. (Applause.) A good deal of argument has been expended upon points connected with these other questions——the subject of worship, for example, and the question of instrumental music and hymns, and questions as to the Sustentation Fund, and other points, have been alluded to. Now, I will not yield to any one in the strong feeling that I have that that question of the right adjustment of all that concerns the Sustentation Fund, and the support of the ministry, should be looked at very closely and very carefully before the union can be allowed to take place. (Hear, and applause.) I feel that we must not sacrifice anything that we feel as a Church to be essential to the continuance of the position which we have occupied by means of that Sustentation Fund, and I feel that the subject is one that requires the undivided attention of all who are thinking about this union, before it can be rightly adjusted. Notwithstanding the ideas which some people have, that the effect of agreeing to Dr Candlish’s motion will be to prevent these questions being rightly considered, I have the strongest persuasion, from what I have seen from the discussions in the union committee, that the best way, if not the only way, to have every consideration given to the claims of the Sustentation Fund, and that which is essential in it, by our United Presbyterian brethren, and by all parties, is that we shall be enabled, first of all, to see what the effect or result of the inquiries about the first head of the programme is. It is needful we should have our minds cleared up upon that subject before we can look rightly and thoroughly at the others. (Hear, hear.) I feel we may never need to look at any question on the subject of the Sustentation Fund, if we are compelled to say there is a bar to union under the first head of the programme, or under the second, but I feel, on the other hand, that if we are able to say there is no bar to union, so far as we can see, under the first and second heads of the programme, viewed by themselves, and apart from all other questions, then I am persuaded we shall get the other parties to these negotiations to consider them more calmly, and to enter into the ideas we may suggest to them in a better manner. I may as well say something here about the second head of the programme. The deliverance of Dr Candlish's motion does not, in my view of it, preclude the committee from looking at the second head of the programme again, in the same way that it may seem to some to preclude us from looking at the first head. In one view it implies that the first head of the programme, so far as viewed in itself, being disposed of, and having come to the best result we can in our inquiries about it, we are to pass on from it to the other heads. The same thing is not said as to the second head. We have, however, expressed an opinion that there is substantial harmony on the second head of the programme. That is expressed in the motion, and therefore those who support it are undoubtedly willing to maintain that there is that substantial harmony. But it should be borne in mind that Dr Wood, to-day, says he has at other times, and elsewhere, maintained that there is no such substantial harmony under the second head of the programme. (Cries of “Entire.”) Well, I do not care what the word is—(a laugb)no such entire harmony as is represented in the report and deliverance of the committee. Now, for my part, I do not wish to dwell on this portion of the subject at present. I think it would be more fitting to leave that in the hands of Dr Rainy, who shall reply as the proposer of the motion, but, at the same time, I must advert to what was stated by Dr Wood. He spoke in regard to this solemn subject about the danger of “paltering in a double sense." He spoke as if the meaning of the committee must be that we were endeavouring to make out that two things were the same which were not. But, really that is not what I understand to be anything like the case. I think nobody believes that the statement made by these United Presbyterian brethren about Christ having satisfied justice for all men—nobody maintains that that is the same statement with the other one which Dr Wood referred to; but what is maintained is, that when you thoroughly examine into what they mean by that assertion, you discover that after all they do not mean what some of you might think at first sight it was fitted to convey; but they mean something else, whicb, as Dr Rainy has already pointed out, cannot be held to be at

66

variance with the Confession of Faith. Observe, the idea suggested by the two statements to my mind would be in the first instance-Did these friends mean to qualify in any measure the doctrine that Christ died as the substitute for His people, that He died actually as a substitute in their room, and that, in the eternal counsel of God the Father, this substitution was designed for His own chosen people. Now, it was most solemnly declared by these brethren, and by those who spoke most decidedly, that they hold the doctrine of the substitution as strongly and as fully as we do. (Hear, hear, and applause.) They declared that they held as strongly as we the doctrine of Christ being a substitute according to the eternal counsel of God for a chosen people. And when they spoke of Christ satisfying divine justice for all men, I understood them to mean nothing contrary to this, but simply that the atonement was designed in the eternal counsel of God to be sufficient for all men, so that a free offer might be made to all on the ground of it. I understood them to mean that such passages as God so loved the world,” &c., must be interpreted in as free a sense as if there were no eternal election, and that no attempt should be made to reconcile these things by the theories or logic of man. I shall say no more on that point, but I would advert here to some things said by Dr Begg. He made a threefold classification of persons, according to the views which he supposed them to be influenced by on the subject of union. I do not see that this classification has the least degree of relevancy in our present discussion. It is just a specimen of a mode of argument or suggestion in a question of this kind, which may produce an effect, but which possesses no manner of substance in it. Dr Begg speaks of those who object to union altogether. What have we to do with them in this discussion ? He speaks also of a few persons who are ready for union at any price. What have we to do with them in this discussion ? The allusion to them is fitted to suggest some of those unreasonable insinuations, wbich by dint of mere repetition, without one particle of proof, have obtained a lodgment in the minds of some people. Dr Begg refers to those who wish for union, but only provided it can be established consistently with the maintenance of principle. Now, I maintain that there is no reason whatever for supposing that any of us take any view different from this one. I say we are endeavouring, by means of Dr Candlish's motion, to carry out union in harmony with right principles, in harmony with the principles of the Word of God, in harmony with the principles of this Church. If it be thought that there is a principle here connected with our Church's testimony that cannot be compromised, if it be thought that there is a compromise of the distinctive principles of the United Presbyterian Church in the articles of agreement as now set before us- if it be thought there is a principle connected with our testimony that is plainly violated by an endeavour to come to union in this state of the question, then I say it is the duty of those who think it to say it not only in their speeches but in their motions, and to say that we cannot go further. (Hear, hear, and applause.) I cannot comprehend those ideas that lead men to say that they will go into a motion like Dr Begg's, when the whole argument in favour of the motion, almost from beginning to end, has been an argument that implies, upon the face of the document before us, that there is a bar to union. (Applause.) I say if the motion does not say so, it is time it should say 80. (Renewed applause.) Let us observe, Moderator, that, in the view

а

« ÎnapoiContinuați »