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Mr SOMERVILLE said Dr Begy's objection did not apply to his proposal after all.
Dr BEGG.-I understood you to mean that the committee should bring up a report on the general subject.
Mr SOMERVILLE. —Yes.
Dr BEGG.– That is what I object to. Sufficient unto the day will be the difficulty thereof. (Laughter.)
Mr Davidson said a mistaken impression seemed to have been taken up as to the actings of the Presbytery. The papers showed that they confined themselves entirely to the residents, and the division brought out was irrespective of summer visitors altogether, although that element, no doubt, had to do with the bringing about of the existing state of matters. And this consulting committee of summer visitors was proposed not at a meeting of Presbytery, but at a meeting of kirk-session, their sole duty, too, being to prepare a list of candidates. It should be clearly understood that the Presbytery had no wish whatever to override the rights of the people of Innellan.
After some remarks from Mr Walker, Carnwath, and Mr Ferguson, North Knapdale, the motion to appoint assessors to act with the Presbytery of Dunoon and Inverary in the case of Innellan was agreed to.
CASE OF TOBERMORY. The Assembly took up the case of reference from the Presbytery of Lorn and Mull, with respect to Tobermory. Parties were called, when there appeared to state the reference, Mr Cameron, Oban ; Mr Graham, Kilbrandon ; Mr Mackenzie, Muckairn; and Mr Sutherland, Ardchattan. It appeared there were peculiar difficulties as to the filling up of the vacant pastoral charge at Tobermory. The following is the resolution of the Presbytery resolving to refer the case : "That, seeing the length of time to which the vacancy has already extended, the injurious effect which the vacancy and the state of strife and irritation accompanying it has upon the interests of the congregation; and considering, farther, the number of vacancies around Tobermory; considering, in short, that (with the exception of the Ross of Muli, which is connected with Iona) the whole island of Mull, with a population of from eight to nine thousand, is at present without the benefit of any settled Free Church minister, the case of Tobermory vacancy be referred for advice to the Free General Assembly.” Dr Candlish said this was a case of very great importance as affecting the interests of the Church, and it was very sad that for so many years the spiritual interests of so large an island should have been put in jeopardy by the prolonged vacancy. It was, therefore, of tbe last consequence that the hands of the Presbytery should be strengthened.
The General Assembly sustained the reference, and appointed the following ministers to act as assessors to tbe Presbytery of Lorn and Mull in the case of Tobermory, viz., Dr M‘Lauchlan, Mr Elder of Rothesay, Mr Wilson of Dundee, and Professor Gibson,
CASE OF HILLHEAD.
The next case was an application by the Hillhead congregation, Presbytery of Glasgow, to be placed on the equal dividend platform. Dr
Gibson, Mr Ralph Smith, and Mr M‘Naught appeared as commissioners from the Presbytery of Glasgow. Mr M Naught stated that in 1859, four years after the station at Hillhead was sanctioned as a ministerial charge, Mr M'Lachlan was ordained. The congregation, previous to his settlement, was in a disorganised state ; and when he entered on his labours there were few sittings let, only forty-eight members on the communion-roll, and a debt of five hundred pounds on the church. The attendance on Sabbath was forty, and at the prayer meeting six. Since that time not fewer than one hundred and ninety-two persons had passed through his hands to the communion ; and though the mining population was essentially migratory, the membership was one hundred and forty. One hundred and forty sittings were now let, and the large debt was entirely removed. The attendance on the Lord's-day averaged one hundred and sixty, at the congregational prayer meeting forty, at mothers' meetings in private houses, twelve, and at the Bible-class fully sixty. The sum remitted to the Sustentation Fund last year was seventyfive pounds three shillings and two pence, being a larger sum than nine of the eighteen extension charges admitted to the platform of the equal dividend transmitted to that fund; and that sum would be considerably increased this year. Other charges, sanctioned by the General Assembly, on more stringent terms than Hillhead, had been put on the platform of the equal dividend of the Sustentation Fund. When the church was sanctioned, a provision was made that no claim should be inade on behalf of it on the Church Extension Fund, but that it should be entitled to receive back its own contributions up to the full amount of the equal dividend. Yet, in 1865, when twelve extension charges were admitted to the platform of the equal dividend, and in 1866, when six were admitted, the charge of Hillhead was passed over, and left entirely to depend on its own resources. The conditions on which Hillhead was sanctioned, while excluded from being a burden on the Church Extension Fund, did not exclude it from the benefit of the Sustentation Fund. The income of the minister had not been one hundred pounds a year since the settlement of the church.
Mr M'GREGOR, Paisley, moved that the church of Hillhead be recommended to the committee to be put on the equal dividend platform. He alluded to the difficulties under which Mr M‘Lachlan had laboured, and said that an influential faction of the Free Church people had given their influence against Mr M‘Lachlan, who had enjoyed nothing like the advantages a minister required in such a charge. He argued that this was one of the most suitable charges that could be selected for the equal dividend platform.
The General Assembly hereby recalled the restriction under which the congregation of Hillhead was placed in 1855, viz., " That no claim shall be made on behalf of it on the Church Extension Fund.”
Dr Berg said it was evident two distinct things were asked—first, that the disability which at present existed should be removed ; and secondly, that the church should be admitted to the equal dividend platform. It was only the first that the Assembly could deal with at present, the other might be proposed when the report of the committee on the platform of the equal dividend was given in. He thought undoubtedly the disability ought to be removed. He moved that the restriction should be recalled which provided that no claim should be made on the Church Extension Fund by the church at Hillhead.
Mr Cowan, Troon, seconded the motion, which was unanimously agreed to.
CASE OF MARSHALL CHURCH, KIRKINTILLOCH. The Assembly took up the consideration of an application by the congregation of Marshall Church, Kirkintilloch, to have the congregation admitted to the platform of the equal dividend. It was stated in the application that for the past twenty years or more the congregation has paid as a minimum stipend to their minister £150, exclusive of an occasional grant from the Ferguson Bequest ; that it has been contributing all the time to all the other schemes of the Church, and that with an amount of liberality, considering their number and means, equal to that of any other congregation in the Presbytery; and that therefore they are not likely to become a burden on the funds. It was further stated that the object of the kirk-session and deacons' court in making the application was ** because of the moral support which the fact will confer on the congregation in the community ; " " that the trials to which the congregation has been subjected, the harmonious feeling pervading the congregation, and the efficiency of its staff of office-bearers, together with the approaching settlement of Mr Brown, render this application peculiarly urgent, and would render success peculiarly welcome.” The Assembly, without hearing parties, removed the restriction by which this charge Fas originally prevented from having any claim on the funds of the Church.
MONDAY, MAY 27.
ADDRESS TO HER MAJESTY. Mr Wilson, Dundee, read the following address to Her Majesty, drawn up by a committee appointed on Thursday :
“ To the Queen's most Excellent Majesty. "May it please your Majesty, * We, the ministers and elders of the Free Church of Scotland, met in General Assembly, embrace this opportunity of congratulating your Majesty on the happy return of the anniversary of your Majesty's birth, and of renewing the expression of our ardent attachment to your Majesty's person, and loyalty to your Majesty's throne.
“ Attached as we are to those principles of civil and religious liberty for which our forefathers contended, and succeeded in establishing, we are very thankful to Almighty God, the ruler among the nations, that it has pleased Him to place your Majesty on the throne of this great realm, a sovereign whose personal qualities and eminent domestic virtues have contributed so much, not only to bless the country, but to secure a place for your Majesty in the hearts of all your subjects.
“We venture to assure your Majesty that it is our constant endeavour to encourage in our people a loyal and affectionate attachment to your Majesty's person and family and government, and that now, as always, it is our earnest and affectionate prayer to the God of all grace, that he would bless your Majesty with all temporal mercies, and all spiritual blessings, in all heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.
“ May it please your Majesty, we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects," &c., &c.
The address was adopted.
MISSION PUBLICATIONS. Dr Rainy gave in the report of the Committee on Mission Publications, (No. XIII.) In connexion with the Record, Dr Rainy said they had this year made some improvement with respect to which suggestions had been made repeatedly from various quarters—improvements in the appearance and usefulness of the Record in the publishing department. But he should be misleading the House if he led them to suppose any very essential or substantial change had been made in the Record in this department, or that such change was likely to prove practicable, so long as the House abides by the conviction it has hitherto maintained, that they ought not to have less printed matter, and so long as the price did not exceed a penny. Comparisons had been made between the Record and publications subsidised by other bodies; but he did not see that in the publishing department much could be done, unless they were prepared to contemplate changes of a more extensive kind, and changes which it would be difficult to adjust to the interests of the various schemes. The conveners of the schemes had always made it manifest that they deprecated the reduction of the size of the paper and the amount of printed matter; and so long as they had to provide the amount of printed matter at the price, they must conform to the circumstances in which they were placed. He thought a good deal might be done in the way of improving the circulation of the Record. Sometimes figures had been named beyond what could reasonably be expected, but he did not think it would be an unreasonable thing—even having regard to the peculiarities of the Gaelic-speaking population—to expect the circulation to reach 40,000. He wished to take the opportunity of renewing the suggestion thrown out formerly-whether congregations might not see their way to take a sufficient number of the Record, to circulate them among the adherents of their Church, and rely upon collections to meet the expense. He believed that had been found a very successful way of promoting the interests of the Church, and of giving a tangible expression of the interest of the Church in their schemes. If the information in the Record were brought systematically before the Church, even the facing of a little expense at first would be found to be productive of very large and beneficial fruit. He could not conclude without expressing the obligations of the committee to one distinguished convener who had taken a very lively interest in the Record, and had done a great deal to make practical such improvements as had been carried through. He referred to the convener of the Indian Mission Committee, Dr Duff
, and he trusted that in reappointing the committee the Assembly would add to it the name of Dr Duff.
Principal LUMSDEN, Aberdeen, said they could not over-estimate the importance of the Record as a means of indicating to the Church the progress of their various missionary schemes. He could not help thinking very much might be done to increase the circulation were ministers to take frequent opportunities of commending the Record to the perusal of the members. With regard to the Gaelic-speaking population, he thought it might be worthy of consideration whether some means could not be devised for translating, periodically at least, portions of the Record into the language with which that population was familiar. (Applause.) By this a great deal of good might be done in the way of binding together very firmly and intelligently their Gaelic-speaking brethren with themselves. He was sure they were all sensible of the improvement in the Record, and they could not be too thankful to the wisdom and generosity of the publisher for the care he bestowed upon all matters connected with the advancement of its circulation. He begged to move the approval of the report, and that the committee be reappointed—the name of Dr Duff being added to it.
Mr A. MÓDOUGALL, Glasgow, thought that if the Assembly were at the expense of circulating the Record in English to a larger extent, it would save the expense of translating it into Gaelic, and do more good.
Mr Rose, Minard, wished to state that translations of the Record, and of the other general intelligence of the Church, were greatly required in the Highland parishes. He would bail with much satisfaction some means by which the missionary intelligence of the Church could be given to the Gaelic-speaking population.
Dr Gibson was of opinion that there were large districts which could not be benefited by the English Record, and which could not be really interested in the schemes of the Church, unless means were found to have the information conveyed to them in their own language.
Dr BUCHANAN believed that the greater proportion of those who could read Gaelic could also read English, while those who could read neither language could only understand Gaelic. It was very important that the latter class should bave the opportunity of hearing the information read to them in their own language.
Dr Begg thought Dr Buchanan's suggestion was really the practical solution of the difficulty. He did not believe a separate Gaelic periodical would, in a financial point of view, serve the purpose ; and the Church would probably pause before it entered upon a speculation of that sort; but he did not see why their ministers, both in the Highlands and in the Lowlands, might not do something in bringing the matter in the Record before the public. There was no reason why their Gaelic ministers should not take a little pains in translating into Gaelic such information as was important for the public to know. That would involve no financial loss, and would be a very obvious way of bringing the information before the minds of their Gaelic people.
Mr MACKENZIE, Kilmorack, said that, as a Gaelic-speaking minister, he found great difficulty in getting his English-speaking members to take the Record, and the few who would take it in Gaelic would not compensate for the expense of translation. He would be glad, however, if a cbeap abstract of the contents of the Record could be furnished which they could communicate to their people.
Dr Rainy observed that the matter of a Gaelic translation of the Record had been under the consideration of the committee, but they never saw through the financial part of it.