Imagini ale paginilor

deputed by that Assembly to represent it in this Assembly. Farther, a Commission was read from the Executive Committee of the Mission in behalf of Freedmen, from which it appeared that they had deputed Mr J. A. Thome, minister at Cleveland, Ohio, to represent this cause to this Assembly, as well as to other religious and ecclesiastical budies in Great Britain. These brethren were introduced by Dr Candlish, and addressed the Assembly in succession.

Dr HICKOK—Mr Moderator, fathers and brethren, it gives me great pleasure to bear to you the Christian salutations of my brethren and your brethren on the sun-setting shore of this great and wide sea. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, greeting. Personally I esteem it the highest honour of my life to be the bearer of a brotherly and confidential message from the great Free Old School Presbyterian Church in the United States to the great Free Church of Scotland. You can have but little sympathy with the feelings of a native American, as he stands, for the first time, on your historic svil. The scenes so familiar to you have blended with all the romance of his boy. brod, and shed their sober light upon all the studies of his riper years. We have not ceased to look to you as the mother country, and especially as the mother Church. Your experience has formed our precedents ; your ecclesiastical law is our highest authority. We can never approach you, therefore, without something of the veneration of a religious pilgrim for his Oriental shrine. We have scenery as grand, and a civilisation as remarkable as anything to be found in Europe ; but they are Decessarily new and raw. The golden sunsets of bygone centuries have not yet stained them with the hue of history, nor hallowed many memorable spots with its rosy coronal. But we are making progress. The tramp, tramp of two millions of armed men, as they have swept our broad States through the dark years that are past ; the shock of a hundred battles on some of the bloodiest fields that ever immortalised martial val ur and heroism, I think have published us to the world. We will become historic if you will give us time. Peace, too, bath her victories, which we more gladly celebrate. All these vast armies have melted to the simple condition of citizens—have been absorbed in the peaceful pursuits of industry. The mighty pageant has faded without a shock or disturbance. But these hundred thousand graves have not yet grown green again. Countless firesides are shadowed with mourning, wailing for the loved and lost who live only on the roll of honour. Our very heroism is new and common. We pay a willing homage to what is old and venerable, hoary with the wisdom of departed centuries. You will excuse us if we express our bigh gratification at all we have seen and heard. We could wish that the admiration might be mutual. We felt greatly honoured and stimulated last year as one of your distinguished sons occupied a seat on our platform. And while we are enjoying your abundant hospitality, we trust other worthy representatives of your Church are delighting our Assemblies with your suggestions of wisdom, and assurances of fellowsbip and fraternity. This interchange of Christian courtesy cavnot fail to be profitable to us, and, we hope, not hurtful to you. Separated from the older Protestant community by a thousand leagues of ocean, overshadowed still by primeval forests, interpenetrated by a thousand influences of border life, which you cannot understand, we

[ocr errors]

are in danger of drifting off to new experiments of religious activity, if not from the old landmarks of Protestant theology.

The Old School Presbyterian Church, which I have the honour to represent, adheres to the formulas, walks in the old ways wherein you and your fathers have delighted to go. Ours has been denominated “ Scotch Theology," and Scotch Presbyterianism, in distinction from some prized improvements called American Presbyterianism. We do not deny the allegation, but rather glory in it! Not so much because we admire John Knox and his glorious compeers and successors, but because we believe John Knox followed Paul and Paul's Master. We are willing to sit at your feet as our teachers, because we believe you have studied at the feet of the Great Teacher, and drank at

“Siloa's brook that flowed

Fast by the oracle of God."

We hold that all true improvement, whether personal, social, or religious, requires that every new acquisition should be engrafted upon the old stock, after the manuer of a living growth, and be made to partake of the root and fatness of all former acquisitions; that the Church, as she spreads her triumphs over the earth, should be living branches of the good old root, and not mere aggregations—dead as the shore sands, or the débris of an avalanche or an earthquake. We desire a living connexion with you, that the old stock may impart its root and fatuess to the swift growths three thousand miles away.

Brethren, the circumstances of our field and work are so different from yours that it is difficult to bring them into any comparison, so as to make you understand them. I

the United States is at once the most difficult and most hopeful missionary field on the face of the earth. In the first place, we are overwhelmed with the vast increase of numbers. There is no more prophetic fact in all our modern civilisation than the rapidity with which our country is filling with people. All your ships that cross the Atlantic are glutted with emigrants. From the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Baltic, they are coming in every kind of craft that will float over the great seas. And then our vast virgin soil, capable of supporting an immense population, has given a spring to reproduction not exampled in modern times. As we open our eyes upon the great future bearing down upon us, we are astonished, sometimes discouraged. The steady increase of population for the last half century affords reliable data on which to base our calculations for the future. During that period our population has steadily doubled in a little less than twenty-five years. According to this ratio, our country will contain, in the year 1900, near one hundred millions of souls, and before the end of the next century more than fifteen hundred millions—considerably more than the entire population of the globe. But we do not expect such rapid increase when the whole country shall become densely populated. But look at it from another point of view. Our country contains more than three millions of square miles. Leaving out that broad belt lying east of the Rocky Mountains, called the “Great American Desert," though its recently developed mineral resources will probably fast fill it with adventurous people—we have yet remaining an area of more than two million square miles adapted to the highest agricultural improvement. When our whole territory shall become as densely settled as some of the older


states, say Massachusetts, the country will contain nearly three hundred millions. But a large part of the soil is much better than Massachusetts. Its average excellence is fully equal to that of France or Belgium. The same density of population as in Belgium would give us more than six hundred millions as the number which our country is capable of sustaining with entire comfort. And, unless things change, this limit will be reached in one hundred years from this day. You see our difficulty on the score of pumbers.

Then the character of this rushing mass of emigrants presents another desperate difficulty. They are ignorant and degraded many of them, the representatives of every creed in religion and crotchet in politics. Their new-found freedom chafes under any restraint, ignores all authority, inspires defiance against God and the government, and sometimes brings them into hostile conflict with both. To mould and Christianise this mighty mass of excited mind is the hardest problem ever imposed upon any Christian Church.

We bave another difficulty unknown to you. A large portion of our people live constantly an emigrant life. The streams which people our great West—where mighty states, away beyond the sunset, annually start into life with the vigorous destiny of empires—do not all have their headsprings on this side the Atlantic. Our own people migrate, many of them many times. A gentleman was once introduced upon the platform at one of our anniversaries in New York as “from the far West.” He lived on the western border of Missouri, three hundred miles west of the Mississippi. He began his address by saying that “ he did not live in the Fest, but where they started to go west.” Undoubtedly, there is more emigration from Missouri than from New York. Of course, a large body of our people are constantly living under the rude, unsettled conditions of border life. This state of things is immensely demoralising. The supports of society are removed, the roots of history and tradition are all cut; and most men become loose and coarse by removal. You know bow the old Castilian character suffered by being transplanted to Central and South America. The Dutch Protestants who emigrated to South Africa bave sunk almost to a level with the Bushmen : even our Pilgrim Fathers, with all the sympathy and aid which they received from the mother country, degenerated for a century. How to save our wide border settlements is our profoundest problem. We are sending missionaries after them-men who are doing the most self-denying and heroic work which the Church anywhere demands of her sons. They mount the utmost wave of emigration; and share the rough hardships of border life ; but they are silently laying the foundations of social and religious institutions which will last for aïl time.

We have another evil, in common with yourselves, which works much greater mischief there than here. We enter this great and difficult missionary field with divided front and divided forces. Besides the different denominations of Christians, of which the great West is the common "stamping ground,” we have six or eight different sections of Presbyterians, planting two or three churches where one would serve the community better than all ; maintaining, with sacred funds, as many sets of agents and offices, and in various ways counteracting each other's influence. I take the liberty to think, as I have often said to both branches of our Church, “ It is high time this monstrous spectacle was put out of the light of the sun.” Brethren, we ask your help. Your action will have much influence over us. We must come together. Can we mistake the earuest heart-cry of Christianity on all sides of the globe for union and fellowship? The prayer of true piety, as it was of our Lord, must be, “ that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” You inberit with us the grand old ductrines of the Reformers, and grander old Church system-older than all creeds, yea, than Christianity itself! Both are adapted to the highest uses of evangelism ; both have developed a transformivg power, in wbich are bidden the dearest hopes of this falleu world. We have no need to modify our venerable structures of doctrine or discipline, but fill them with the quickeping power of a divine life. The holy fire of hotter zeal will burn up the "wood, hay, stubble” of indifference, formality, aud prejudice. Though we must yet for a time wear different uniforms, and march in separate battalions, we can tread to the same drum-beat, and bear down in solid column upon the hosts of our Lord's enemies ! While our minds, like our watches, will not go just alike—while each believes bis ownwe may yet rally round a common standard bearing the charmed words, " Jesus only,” and charge the ramparts of sin and Satan more effi-ctually than we have ever done before! I think the glow of a higher Christian devotedness would melt into one our main diversities, and though it might uot regulate our ecclesiastical watches, it will tell us when the noon has struck, after which there will be no more sunset.

Mr PARKE.—I take it as a privilege to be able to address you for a few moments. I have felt personally an interest in the success of the Free Church of Scotland since its distinct organisation. In the first place, I was educated in an old Scotch Presbyterian Church, to which my father ministered for forty years. In that church I learnt to love the great principles for which not a few of those who sleep in your Old Greyfriars' Churchyard died; and I have understood this Church as embracing and defending the same great principles. Then it bappened that I was a student in the Princeton Seminary at the time of the Disruption. I was there when the delegatiou from the Free Church visited that institution, They spent the Sabbath there, and I learnt the history of your struggles here, and I heard enounced the great principles for which you were con

; tending from the lips-lips that are now sealed in death-of your lamented and beloved Principal Cunningham, and Drs Alexander, Miller, and Hodge all taught us to love you as a Church, and believed that you did right. I felt so then ; I feel so now. Witbin my heart I have not unfrequently wished that the evangelical, truth-loving, devoted men who are connected with an Establishment south of the Tweed would take the same course that you took.

Then tbere is another fact. It happens that the congregation to which I preach is largely composed of Scotch. Forty or fifty families have been to a large extent educated here. There is a colony that came from a town in what I would call the Alps of southern Scotland, and which is known as Wanlockhead. They have told me that on many a Sabbath they have listened to their old pastor, having no covering over them but the sky, and when the sound of his voice was drowned by the wind and storm around them. Indeed, since I have been here I have been told of Dr Guthrie preaching there in snow almost up to his knees ; Chalmers preached there, and also the sainted M'Cheyne. I bave reason, therefore, to know something about you, and to be interested in your position.

But I believe that the ministers of America and the people generally know a good deal more about you, your bistury, your struggles, your trials, than you know about us. We have religious or ecclesiastical papers, which I do not see here, that give us all the information in regard to your Church. We read them, and our people generally are informed in regard to what is going on here. I think it is very unfortunate that you

do not know as much about us. I believe in my beart that if you

had understood the relations fully in which we stood as a Church to the Government of our country and the institutions of our country, that there would bave been less bitterness in the controversy between our churches that resulted in a temporary breaking off of our friendly relations. And I say this the more confidently, because my sympathies in all that controversy were with the Free Church. I believe that our Church was excessively Conservative. Personally I so believed then, and I believe now tbat if we had beeu less Conservative at that time, there would have been less occasion for our present Radical position.

But I pass from that. Since I bave been here I have been asked a good many questions with reference to the Presbyterian Church of the United States. I bave heard our Presbyteriavism criticised—that is to say, I bave been asked why it is that we are not more intensely Presbyterian. I confess that I see among you many things that I like better than what I see at home. But I wish you simply to keep in view why and how it is that we differ from you. I believe the great doctrines of the Westminster Confession are taught in our churches as fully as they are with you. But the Presbyterianism there does differ to some extent from what it is here. There is not that permanency of the pastoral relation with us that there is with you, for one thing—there is not that kind of provision made for our ministers that there is with you. Then, as Dr Hickok bas said, you are small comparatively, and we are a vast country, covering almost a continent. Now, Presbyterianism is not like an iron armour tbat cannot be stretched, yet it possibly does not suit us in all respects as it would suit you ; it is not so easily worked with us as in a small community. The Great Eastern takts more men and more money to sail her than a small craft. That is one thing

Anotber thing that deserves to have some importance attached to it is, that the growth of your country has been a normal growth-you have been able to provide the means necessary for it in schools and seminaries of a higher kind. We have a vast population pouring in upon us continuously; they are not a homogeneous body, but people from all parts of the world—Irish, Scotch, English, Welsh, Germans, some Spaniards, and Italians ; also some from China : we have, too, our Indians. I asked and have been told that the population of Scotland is three millions ; but we bave more coloured people, freedmen, from whom the shackles of slavery have just been struck off, than you have of people in all Scotland. This is the character of our people ; and it is not easy to work such a body even under the Presbyterian system, which in itself is an admirable one. You are as fully supplied with the means of grace and institutes of learning as any country in Europe. We are differently placed, al

« ÎnapoiContinuați »