Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

magnanimity and mercy--at this moment when the great English Government, ruling an empire on which the sun never sets, feels it necessary to send a miserable Irishman* to the scaffold, concerned in an insurrection that did not rise even to the dignity of a mob—and reflect, with satisfaction, that my country, after the most terrible civil war known in history, has not stained its triumph by one drop of blood. (Hisses from the gallery.-Dr Field, turning coolly to that part of the hall from which they came, said, Is this the city of John Knox, the intrepid Reformer, who feared not the face of man? I thought it was a city where they loved a little frankness of speech. During the last five years we have had to bear with a great deal of plain talk from this side of the ocean ; and I think that a single manly word may be borne from an American.—Applause.) Towards the people of the South there is no feeling of unkindness whatever. On the contrary, we would bind up their wounds. We have contributed freely in the Northern cities to send bread to them when famishing. But one thing we do desire—that the fruits of this long war shall not be lost. We do not wish to see slavery creeping back into the Union under another name. We wish to see the last vestige of it rooted out of American soil, that it may not spring up to curse our children. That accomplished, we hope to build up a great, free, and Christian commonwealth that shall endure to all generations. In the blessings of that government we wish our bretbren of the South to share. The war is ended : and they are no longer enemies, but countrymen and brothers, and our prayer is, that we may henceforth dwell together as brethren ; thus foreshadowing that final union of all the good, when “they shall come from the north and from the south, and sball sit down together in the kingdom of God.”

But I must not prolong the words of salutation. I bring you the greetings of your own kindred beyond the sea. And if the hearts of your absent children yearn towards the “auld countrie,” it is pleasant to know that they are not forgotten here. In your prosperity we too will rejoice. Some of our American writers, boasting of our country as in the freshness and vigour of youth, are apt to reflect upon other nations as in old age and decay; but I find that the heart of dear old Scotland is

Nations that feed upon knowledge and virtue, that cherish education and religion, do not die. They are like the goodly cedars of Lebanon, that flourish for thousands of years. So in Scotla I find all the elements of life. Her schools and universities are as flourishing as

And Jesus Christ dwells in the “hill country.” Said an ancient Roman, “Where liberty is, there is my country.” So wherever Christ dwells, there is my home, whether it be among the Highlands of Scotland, or the granite hills of New England. “ Whosoever doeth the will of God”—of whatever race or clime—“the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Rev. Mr THOME said that he was the son of a Scotch father and of a Scotch mother, and although he was born in America, he felt as if he were treading the soil of his fatherland. He was not commissioned to bring greetings from any American Church, but appeared as the representative of the poor and down-trodden freedmen of America, whose entreaties and cries would, he hoped, enter into their ears. He knew that the people of Scotland would love to hear about that people who

* The Fenian Burke was then lying in Dublin Jail under sentence of death.

still young

ever.

bad suffered so many wrongs when subjected to slavery, but whose chains were now broken off, and who, as freedmen, were beginning to be installed among the citizens of their free republic. He must express his indebtedness to his brethren who had preceded him for the help which they had rendered to the cause he represented by the remarks that had fallen from them. He had been sent by the American Missionary Association, which body was represented in the Assembly last year by Dr Patton and Rev. Sella Martin; and he had been commissioned to present their acknowledgments for the kind attention which the Assembly had been pleased to give to their case, and for the cordial manner in which they had commended it to the sympathy and liberality of their congregations. He might tell the Assembly that this body were expending amongst the freedmen about a third of a million of dollars. They formerly sent to the freedmen nearly 400 teachers, but during the present year their operations had increased so that now their teachers numbered nearly 500, and the pupils were about 40,000. At 150 points there were missions and education work being carried on.

But they could not raise the amount of money necessary to meet the expenditure. They were indebted to the churches and to many people in Great Britain for what they had already given ; and it was his commission to the Free Assembly of Scotland to express the great sense they had in America of the assistance they had given to this work, unprecedented in its greatness, of evangelisation in the South. They would readily perceive the great need there was for effort, when he told them that there were needed 20,000 teachers to meet the demands of their labours in educating these four millions of people who had been set free, and that of these 20,000 teachers not more than 2000 were as yet in the field. The American Missionary Association, for the purpose of promoting education among the black people, could not furnish a number of teachers sufficient to meet the great demand. The Government of the United States were perfectly willing, and were assisting in their work, and he called upon the Clerk (Sir Henry Moncreiff) to read a communication from MajorGeneral 0. 0. Howard, a Christian man, who had entered the war in the cause of liberty, where he had lost his arm, and who had now devoted the remnant of himself to this great work.

The communication having been read, Mr Thome said that it referred, in the first place, to what the Government had already done and was still doing; of course, what the Government could do was limited by the nature of its functions. But the communication from General Howard set forth what humane and benevolent institutions were ready to do, and were at present doing in America ; and also what the American Freedmen's Association were doing. He might add, besides General Howard, the names of Chief-Justice Chase and of Senator Sumner from Massachusetts, and other members of the Government, who were all of one opinion, that it was not possible for America alone to meet the great demands of this work; but that, if they would carry it on, they must receive assistance from friends from abroad. They might possibly say, "We heard this case a year ago, and commended it to our churches, and we do not think we can do any more than we have done." He boped that such would not be the view of the case they would take, but that they would commend it again to the liberality of the Church. Europe, and England and Scotland especially, had contributed largely by their moral power to the removal of slavery and to the liberation of the slave from his bonds, and he now only asked them that they should aid the American Society in this last work. Mr Thome concluded by invoking the blessing of God upon the deliberations of the Assembly.

Dr CANDLISH said, I should be sorry to detain the House with any lengthened statement. I do not propose any formal deliverance at this stage. I believe the better plan would be to frame a minute or a formal deliverance at a future diet in answer to these addresses, and that in the meantime we should content ourselves by asking the Moderator to express, in a general way, the extreme satisfaction with which we have received the deputation from America. We may now take for granted that the Old and New School Presbyterians sail in the same boat, and we would welcome and acknowledge them in the same terms. We had last year a deputation from the Old School Presbyterians, and we do rejoice most heartily in hearing this important deputation from the New School, and to be informed already that these two bodies have framed a satisfactory basis of union. I think we must rejoice in this, as healing the breach we have lamented for many years, and as opening up the prospect of a large and generous effort throughout the whole continent of North America. There is only one of the brethren we expected to have heard who has not appeared-Mr A. R. Van Nest, as representing the Reformed Dutch Churcb. It appears that he cannot be in town till the end of this week, if at all; but I hope that if he does appear we may find some corner-some quarter of an hour, for him—though it may be with great difficulty, in which we might hear him before the Assembly closes. We have heard all the brethren who have commissions from the two Presbyterian Churches, and the brother who last addressed us, who is representing the Society for Promoting the Spiritual Interests of the Freedmen in America.

I cannot but express the exceeding delight with which we now resume intimate relations with the American Churches. It was a deep grief to me when, some years ago, that friendly intercourse was interrupted, in 80 far as one branch of the Presbyterian Church in America was concerned, all the more because I was instrumental in the writing of those letters which caused the correspondence to be discontinued. The point turned upon slavery, that curse which, wherever it exists, destroys all human feelings, and almost all Christian sympathies. We have reason now to bless God that there is now no such obstacle to the continuance of the most intimate relations with that branch of the Presbyterian Church with which our intercourse was thus interrupted, and that we now seo our way to a large and friendly intercourse with the other branch of the Christian Church there.

I was most deeply impressed with the addresses of the brethren who this night spoke to us. They have brought to my mind a much deeper feeling than I ever entertained of the responsibility laid upon them and laid upon us.

I think they have made out a case, which shows that they are there in America not only doing the work of the Lord, but are called to face a vast problem—a problem far greater than ever was submitted to a Christian Church—the problem of overtaking a population rapidly increasing at a rate altogether unprecedented—and I feel confident that the more the Christiau Churches in this country are brought to consider this matter, the more they will feel that this is a problem which the American Churches ought not to be left to solve alone. I feel confident, therefore, that the more the state of matters is brought before us, and known and considered and weighed by Christians, the more they will give the American Churches their prayers, their efforts, and their liberalities on their behalf. I suppose that the position in which the American Churches are now placed is unprecedented in the history of Christianity. They have a work set before them never set before any branch of the Church, and have, therefore, a strong claim upon the sympathies, aid, and prayers of the Church of Christ, to meet the unprecedented emergency.

I would say one word in reference to the address of our brother who represents the Freedmen; that is to say, those who were but yesterday slaves. I do not go back—as one of the brethren was disposed to do who addressed us,—I do not enter into the merits and demerits of the Far—I do not undertake to defend the position which was taken up by our country and by the Churches in our country during the war. I would just beg liberty to say, that at the commencement, there appeared to be about as much misunderstanding as to the real object of the war across the Atlantic as there was on this side. I beg to assure our brethren that the sympathies of our churches in this country, and of the country generally, were warmly with the prospects of the issue of the war, when it went to the entire extinction of slavery. I thoroughly agree with our brother who said that some responsibility lies upon us in connection with the previous existence of that curse which has been swept away; I thoroughly agree with him in the opinion, that an obligation lies upon us to assist our American friends in every effort they make to ameliorate the condition of the slaves who have been emancipated, and to bring them into a position to prepare them to take the place of free citizens in a free republic. I feel that, as regards the Southern States of America, the churches and societies in the North cannot look for much assistance from them. I fancy that I am right in saying that the responsibility of educating the black people of the South depends to a large extent upon the North, and therefore I am quite willing that the General Assembly should make the strongest recommendation in connection with this Society, reserving at present the framing of a formal deliverance and resolution, such as we should like to be read across the Atlantic, which certainly my speech is not likely to be. I beg, therefore, to move that the Moderator be requested to express our thanks to the brethren who have addressed us.

Colonel DAVIDSON said that when Dr Candlish was speaking on the vast problem which the Churches in America had to solve, he was reminded of the vast problem which this country had to solve in regard to the millions of heathen who form our fellow-subjects in India. There was a vast problem which we had to solve, a problem which belonged to the Church of Christ throughout the world, and when they looked to the Churches of America to give assistance in solving this problem, what was their response, they sent to our British possessions in India a band of noble missionaries. They had sent forth these missionaries, and he had lived among them and had witnessed their labours, and he could testify to the exertions of these noble men in our mission-field of India, and to the success of their labours.

Mr WALKER, Carnwath, expressed the very warm interest he had taken in the great conflict in which the American people had been recently engaged, and heartily rejoiced in the issue of the war. He referred to the state of the black people in the Southern States, and to the thirst for knowledge they had shown, and concluded by seconding the motion proposed by Dr Candlish.

The MODERATOR (addressing the deputation) said,-Dear brethrenIn expressing to you the interest and the pleasure with which we have listened to your addresses, I take the opportunity of saying that, when I heard the other day that we were to be favoured with a deputation from the American Churches, it occurred to me that it might not have been an unwise thing on the part of the General Assembly, in the exercise of its nobile oficium, to have appointed Dr Guthrie as my substitute for the occasion, in order that he might have addressed to you one of those heartstirring orations, those “ unspoken speeches," with which, no doubt, he was prepared to carry captive the hearts of the people of America ; but I comfort myself with this, that neither Dr Guthrie nor any other man could exceed me in the I entertain for the American people, and more especially in the affectionate regard which I cherish for the ministers and members of the American Churches. Allow me to say, that I do sincerely hope that the people of America do not form their estimate of the opinions and feelings that are entertained towards them in this country from a certain portion of the British press. I will venture to say there are no truer exponents of the feelings that are cherished in the two countries towards each other than the churches of these countries; and I will add that, if the voice of the Churches is listened to, certain I am of this, that the only feeling, at least the supreme feeling subsisting between the two countries, will be one of the most affectionate confidence and regard, and that the only rivalry that will ever be between them will be that which shall outdo the other in works of benevolence and the advancement of the cause of truth and righteousness.

And now, brethren, with all deference for what fell from my friend Dr Candlish, allow me to say that at least we followed with the most intense interest and concern the progress and the issues of the tremendous conflict in which you were so recently engaged—a conflict that, like everything American, bore the stamp of vast resources and of indomitable energy. We have sympathised with you, and do sympathise, under the great difficulties connected with the vast work of your reconstruction ; and now we rejoice, above all, in the great efforts that have been put forth by the American Churches, and in the weighty influence exercised by you. With respect to the freedmen, we hold as a Church, in common with yourselves, that God has made of one blood all vations of men to dwell on the face of the earth ; and we hold this, that when any class or race have for centuries and generations been singularly oppressed and trodden down-as the slaves in America bave been, and slaves everywhere have been—and, in consequence of such treatment, have sunk into a state of debasement, it is the peculiar duty of Christians and of Christian Churches, in the exercise of that generous spirit which the gospel of Christ inspires, to seek by all means in their power to raise them to the same social, moral, and religious platform with themselves, and thus, in the words of Scripture, to take the poor out of the dust, and the needy from the dunghill, and to set them with princes, even the

« ÎnapoiContinuați »