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sible existing or imaginable ill to which our present system is liable, at once decries it, and declares with oracular voice that it is nought.”
On the motion of Mr Wilson, the Assembly adopted the following deliverance :-“ The Assembly approve of the suggestions contained in the report, in so far as to find that the number of members of standing committees shall be in proportion to the importance of the work they have to perform, and shall, generally speaking, be fewer than at present, and that one-fifth of the members of each committee shall retire annually in order of rotation, and members who shall have been absent withoat cause shown from three-fourths of the meetings of the committee on which they are appointed to serve, shall, ipso facto, cease to be members. Those members who retire by rotation may be re-elected by the General Assembly. Further, the General Assembly invite Presbyteries, not later than the month of March next year, to send to conveners of standing committees the names of such persons, ministers or elders, as they wish to recommend for the service of such committees. The Assembly reappoint the committee for further consideration of the matter, and instruct them to report to next Assembly.”
THE CHURCH MANUAL. An overture from the Synod of Moray, requesting the Assembly to see that the Manual of Church Procedure be completed, and published without further delay, having been read,
Sir Henry MONCREIFF stated that a proof of the “ Manual” was now in the hands of members of Assembly, which was a sufficient reply to the overture, (No. XXXVIII.) He regretted that the committee had not been able to send out a proof of chapter V., as of the others. They had found no time for attending to the suggestions sent, and, at the same time, completing chapter V. They had succeeded in getting the whole text completed. And now a thorough revisal was needed, with the addition of marginal titles and appendices. He asked the Assembly to comply with the recommendation of the report.
Dr CANDLisremarked that the amount of labour Sir Henry had had with the “ Manual” had been very great, and he moved that the Assembly agree to his proposal. (Applause.)
The motion was agreed to, and this deliverance adopted :—“The Assembly approve of the report, record their thanks to the committee, especially to the convener, reappoint the committee, with Sir H. W. Moncreiff as convener, enjoin upon them to transmit chapter V. in proof to ministers, previously to the meeting of commission in August, to have the whole work, with the appendices, completed and thoroughly revised, previously to the meeting of commission in March 1868, and instruct the commission, at that meeting, if they find this requirement complied with, to direct the committee, if they see cause, as to the steps to be taken for enabling the General Assembly of 1868 to authorise its publication, if they see cause.”
FORMS OF PROCESS. Sir Henry MONCREIFF stated that so much time and attention had been requisite in the preparation of the “Manual” that little had yet been done in regard to the “ Forms of Process.” He asked the Assembly to reappoint the committee.-Agreed.
GAELIC SCRIPTURES. Dr MʻLAUCALAN gave in the report of the committee on the Gaelic Scriptures, which gave a satisfactory account of the progress which had been made during the past year.
Rev. Mr CAMPBELL, Petty, would take this opportunity to bring before the Assembly, in connexion with the report just laid on the table, the desirableness of having marginal references in the forthcoming edition of the Gaelic Scriptures. The difficulty which lay in the way of the Gaelicspeaking population in their desire to search the Scriptures, could not well be estimated by their more favoured neighbours of the south. Of his two hundred thousand fellow-countrymen he would venture to say that not one in a hundred had ever seen a concordance. We have our Scotts, our Bagsters, and our Crudens, but they have no aid whatever, they must depend solely on their memory. He did not propose to in
. troduce such voluminous references as the Bibles just named contained, but some aid in that direction, which could be easily supplied by taking one of our own ordinary reference Bibles as the model. The only objection which he had heard against this proposal was on the ground of expense. Now it could not be denied that the adoption of this proposal would be attended with some expense-perhaps, however, not so much as some thought. But, he would ask, did not this objection lie against giving the Scriptures at all as well as in the way of what he was just saying, and if the design of the committee be, as it manifestig was, to give the word of life to Gaelic-speaking populations in the most accurate manner they could, surely this small but valuable aid to its intelligent perusal ought not, on the ground of expense, to be denied.
Dr CandLisH said he had no doubt the object contemplated would be gained by the matter being thus brought before the Assembly. He moved that the Assembly approve of the report, and reappoint the committee-which was agreed to.
DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE OF PRESBYTERIAN PRINCIPLES. Dr Gibson, in the absence of Dr Begg, convener, submitted the report of the committee in regard to the diffusion of a knowledge of the principles of Presbyterian Church government, (No. XXIII.)
An overture from the Presbytery of Edinburgh suggested that special attention should be drawn to the subject when the collection for preDisruption ministers was made. Dr CANDLISH moved the following deliverance :-" The Assembly ap
. prove of the report, record their thanks to the committee, especially to the convener, reappoint the committee, and adopt the suggestion contained in the overture, viz., That on the occasion of the collection to be made for ante-Disruption Fund, ministers sball direct the special attention of their people to the scriptural authority of Presbyterian government; and the General Assembly hereby instruct ministers accordingly. Further, the General Assembly remit to the committee for their consideration the suggestions contained in the appendix to the present report."
Dr Wood, Dumfries, seconded the motion—which was agreed to.
REFUSAL OF SITES.
Mr Brown DOUGLAS gave in the report of the committee on the refusal of sites. “Among the cases which, although now diminishing, still
unfortunately remain to be dealt with by the committee, the principal one as regards hardship and intolerance is that of Shieldag, in the Presbytery of Lochcarron, now a sanctioned charge. Vice-chancellor Sir John Stuart persistently disregards the request and the right of his tenants and neighbours to acquire a piece of ground for the erecting of a church. They continue faithful to their principles, and worship in large numbers Sabbath after Sabbath, when the weather is fine, in the open air, and when unable to do so, as many as the school can contain go to it for worship.
“Public opinion, which exercised a beneficial influence in so many other places where at one time sites were refused, has had no perceptible effect on the mind of Vice-Chancellor Sir John Stuart, though it is believed he will not be justified or defended by a single person who is acquainted with the circumstances of the case.
“There are other cases which have less the appearance of persecution than that of Shieldag. In these the congregations have not so many miles to travel in order to get to some place of worship; still by the refusal of sites, by the barsh stipulations attached when sites are granted, the committee see that the great work of the Free Church, in se-king to provide gospel ordinances for her own people, and to carry on its mission among the outlying population, is sadly hindered.
“For example, Kemnay is a sanctioned charge; the mass of the congregation resides from two to three miles from any Free Church place of worship ; and the proprietor of the ground in the neighbourhood, though himself a Dissenter, and taking advantage of the toleration permitted to him, yet refuses the unanimous request of the Presbytery of Garioch for ground whereon to build a church for the people over whom they are placed. In Aboyne, again, the Presbytery of KincardineO'Neil have approved of the Free Church being renioved from the south side of the Dee, where there are scarcely any inhabitants, to the vicinity of the village, which is the centre of the population. But they report to this committee that in consequence of conditions attached to the kind of buildings to be erected, by the proprietor, who reserves the right of veto, they have not yet been able to secure an available site, although there is ample ground to be feued for other purposes.
“ There are one or two other causes which it seems necessary to specify; in these, as well as in the last mentioned case, Aboyne, the committee have not bad the opportunity of conferring with the proprietors referred to in the representations which have been brought before the committee; and they cannot but hope that, as in other cases, a little explanation may have the effect of removing difficulties and objections which proprietors of ground applied for may entertain. The committee, however, deeply regret with the whole Church the evil and inconvenience which congregations so much feel from the refusal of sites—in the few cases of such refusal that still remain. The opportunity has not seemed favourable for bringing this subject under the consideration of Parliament, by petition or otherwise ; but possibly when the minds of politicians are less occupied than at present by the great changes in the constitution which are now being discussed, there may be a more fitting occasion for asking the attention of Parliament, and, through Parliament, of the country, to an acknowledged grievance for which some remedy should be provided.”
Dr CANDLISH, in moving the adoption of the report, said they must be all sorry to hear of the continued persecution for so long a time of the congregation of Shieldag. It was, at the same time, most gratifying to know of their continued adherence to the principles of the Free Church. With reference to the other cases mentioned, Mr Burnett of Kemnay is a gentleman who seems to glory in being a persecutor, a fact which is all the more extraordinary, he himself being, as the convener remarked, a Dissenter, and availing himself of the law of toleration. It is very desirable to get public opinion to tell upon such men as these, though he thought the convener was quite right when he suggested that it would not be wise, and this was not exactly the time to bring the matter before Parliament and the public. He hoped, however, that the time would soon come when they should have these cases thoroughly ventilated in the House of Commons; and he thought that even Sir John Stuart could scarcely stand a full exposition of the case in which he is concerned without feeling ashamed. (Hear, hear.)-The report
, was unanimously adopted.
No report from this committee was given in. An overture from the Synod of Moray was read, but no one appeared to support it. The Assembly passed from the overture and discharged the committee.
COLLEGE COMMITTEE. The report of the College Committee was submitted to the Assembly by Dr HENDERSON, (No. V.)
On the motion of Professor Douglas, this deliverance was adopted :“ The General Assembly approve of the report, and record their thanks to the committee, especially to the convener. The Assembly learn with regret that there is still a serious burden of debt upon the college buildings both at Edinburgh and at Glasgow, and they commend this subject to the consideration of the liberal members and friends of the Church."
The report of the Board of Examiners was given in by Dr CANDLISH. The Assembly approved generally of the proposal submitted by the Board, that so much of the exit examination as embraces the studies of the first three years of the Theological Course be taken at the beginning of the fourth session, and the remainder at the close of that session; and authorised the Board, with consent of the principals and professors of the three colleges, to make arrangements, if possible, before next session, for carrying the proposal into effect in the session ensuing. Further, the Assembly authorised the Senatus of the New College, Edinburgh, to make such changes in the order of curriculum as may be needful for bringing the studies of the three first sessions to be the same in all the three colleges.
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1867.
REPLY TO THE ASSEMBLY'S LOYAL ADDRESS. The MODERATOR—Before the Assembly proceed to the business of the day, I have to read the following communication from Mr Gathorne Hardy, Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department:
“ Whitehall, 1st June 1867. “SIR,- I have had the honour to lay before the Queen the loyal and dutiful address which accompanied your letter of the 27th ultimo, from the ministers and elders of the Free Church, on the occasion of the return of Her Majesty's Birthday; and I beg to inform you that Her Majesty was pleased to receive the address very graciously.
“I am, your obedient servant,
“ GATHORNE HARDY, “ Rev. John Roxburgh, " Moderator of the Free Church."
THE UNION DIVISION AGAIN. Dr Gibson—I do not know whether I am quite in order in referring to the minutes now, but I did not care to interrupt the reading of that document. I wish to call attention to the fact as to what was stated on Saturday and freely admitted—that Dr Duff did not vote on Friday—that not the slightest notice has been taken of that, or my own resignation as a member of committee, among other resignations, in the public newspaper that is ordinarily supposed to report our proceedings. Of course this is not the place to find fault with newspapers, but I wish to make the remark that no notice has been taken of this in the minutes. In the Assembly of 1841, in the case of Mr Macdonald Swan, a similar omission occurred, and on Mr Macgill Crichton bringing it before the Assembly, it was corrected in the minutes.
Sir H. W. MONCREIFF—I wish to say something on this point. The names of parties voting are not put in the minute or record. They are merely published in the Proceedings for the information of members, but we do not in any case put in the names of parties voting in the minute. I do not know what was done in the Assembly of 1841; but it would be very awkward to put in the minute a correction of what you did not authenticate at all. The only remedy is a statement made publicly ; and then it might be stated in a note at the end of the Daily Proceedings, but you cannot put it in the minute.
Dr CANDLISH-It was understood that this would be done on Saturday, but it was omitted per incuriam. Of course it can be done to-day.
Dr GIBSON—That quite answers my purpose, if it be inserted in the Proceedings. I may be allowed to say that there was a material difference in the two cases. Sir Henry Moncreiff has mentioned that these names were not entered in the record, neither were they in the Assembly of 1841. But in that Assembly there was not any formal document issued by the House. Here there is a formal document with the names. What has been stated, however, meets altogether what I wished, except that there are other grave omissions in the report that is understood to form the foundation of our Blue-Book. But this is not the time to say anything about that.