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princes of the earth.” We cordially rejoice in the efforts you have put furth in this direction ; and I think I may venture to assure you, that you will meet with cordial sympathy from the people of Scotland and the people of the Free Church.
And now, my dear brethren, in my inmost heart and soul I stretch out to you the right hand of fellowship in the name of this General Assembly, in the name of the Free Church of Scotland; and although I am but the Moderator of the Free Church, I think I may venture to say in the name of the whole of Scotland. I accompany this act of mine with the earnest prayer that this blessed interchange of deputationswhich I trust will be observed from year to year—may bring us into closer alliance and relationship, and may establish between us a communion of heart and of Christian effort for the benefit of the world at large, of which that bond of intercourse and fellowship that reposes silently under the Atlantic wave, linking the shores of America and Great Britain, will be but a faint emblem.
Before I conclude, I would crave of the Assembly a few minutes, that I may mention a very pleasing circumstance which occurred to myself a few years ago, and which is in perfect harmony with the proceedings of this evening. From it the General Assembly will see that I have somewhat anticipated that agreeable intercourse which has now been establisbed between us. I have to mention that one forenoon, on entering my pulpit, and looking round my congregation, I saw in the body of the church a distinguished-looking stranger, and I may add, with reference to what followed, that he was in aspect more of the “ whiskered pandour or the fierce hussar,” than of the peaceful soldier of Christ. You may judge of my surprise when, immediately on going to the vestry, I was followed by this gentleman, who presented me with his card. I will not mention his name, but I may state he belonged to Albany ; and this eard I keep in retentis—in case some future General Assembly may do me the distinguished honour of appointing me upon a deputation-to call upon my friend at Albany. He told me he belonged to the Dutch Presbyterian Church ; that his church was one of the oldest in America ; that it had required repairs; and that his people, during the time the repairs were going on, wishing him to enjoy the opportunity of recreation, had put a very handsome sum into his pocket, and sent him to make the tour of Europe. He said he was a very great admirer of Dr Chalmers; and you see this is a prevailing feeling in America, from the terms in which Dr Chalmers' name has been referred to again and again by our dear brethren to-night. Being a great admirer of Dr Chalmers, he had, on reaching the Clyde only the evening before, made a great effort to get to Glasgow, in order that he might worship in the church of Dr Chalmers, and might hear the gospel preached from Dr Chalmers' pulpit. I told him my pulpit was not literally and actually the pulpit of Dr Chalmers, although he had officiated on the occasion when the church was opened, but that it was historically, hereditarily, and constitutionally the pulpit of Dr Chalmers, and that it was the pulpit that would have been occupied by him had he continued to be the minister of St John's, Glasgow. I said to him that if he had so much happiness in being my hearer, I was sure his satisfaction would be doubly increased if he would just occupy the pulpit himself in the afternoon. Well, on that he excused himself, on the score that, from the time he had come
over, he had left nature to take its course uncontrolled, and that he did not think the bushy development his face presented would comport with the sobriety of a Scotch pulpit. I told him he was quite under a mistakethat it would give a great zest to the occasion. Well, he complied; he left me to go to his hotel, and on returning he brought with him several letters to some of the most eminent ministers in the west of Scotland, and put them into my hand, evidently to satisfy me that in taking him on trust I had made no mistake. He entered the pulpit, and preached an admirable discourse upon the doctrine of justification by faith—just such a sermon as we could expect from one of the most accomplished of our own ministers. But this brings me to the point. He evidently wanted to satisfy the people who he was, and whence he came; for in the intercessory part of his first prayer he prayed with an emphasis which went to the heart of every one of us—"May the good Lord bless Queen Victoria and the President of the United States." (Great Applause.) I say there is a practical lesson in this. I endorse the sentiment with my whole heart; I do it in your name; and I re-echo, “May the Lord bless our beloved Queen Victoria and the President of the United States !” May the Lord bless America and Great Britain in all their relationships to one another. God forbid that discord and strife should ever arise between two nations so closely allied. God grant that they may be united everlastingly in the bonds of truth and love, and in great and glorious efforts for the spread of gospel light and liberty all over the world !
At the close of his address, the Moderator requested the delegates to come forward to the platform, that he might give them all the right hand of fellowship
TUESDAY, MAY 28.
CASE OF THE REV. WALTER O. SMITH.
The Moderator, as a member of the Presbytery of Glasgow, having vacated the chair, it was taken by Mr Wilson, ex-moderator.
Sir H. W. MONCREIFF said, the Assembly would now take up the case of the Rev. Walter C. Smith, and would first call upon the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr to state the reference. There was no dissent or appeal against the reference.
Dr BEGG—It is right the Assembly should know that, though there is no complaint against the reference, the papers bear that there was a dissent; it was a very close vote.
Sir H. W. MONCREIFF— There was a dissent and no complaint; but we do not know that formally here at present.
Dr Gibson asked whether the members of Presbytery had anything to say at present?
Sir H. W. MONCREIFF said they had not in stating the reference.
Mr GORDON then read the reference by the Synod as follows :-“It was moved and seconded, " That, finding it impossible to take up this case without having the whole papers printed and in the hands of members, and considering the delay which this will necessarily occasion, the Synod resolve to refer the case to the General Assembly. It was moved
and seconded, “That the Synod, after discharging its ordinary business, do adjourn for a fortnight, in order that the papers in the case be printed, and put in the hands of members, with a view to the case being taken up when the Synod re-assembles. After reasoning, the Synod proceeded to vote. It was agreed that the state of the vote should be, 'refer' or not refer; and the roll having been called, and votes marked, it carried' refer' by 35 to 28 votes. Whereupon the Synod resolved in terms of the first motion. From this judgment Mr Alex. B. Bruce dissented, for himself and all who might adhere to him. Dr James Begg, Mr Badenoch, Mr R. Williamson, and Mr G. MacAulay, adhered to Mr Bruce's dissent. The Synod appoint Mr James M‘Gregor of Paisley, and Mr Walker of Carn wath, to state the reference at the bar of the General Assembly."
Mr WALKER—Moderator, I was appointed, along Mr M'Gregor of Paisley, to state the reference in this case to you to-day. My friend Mr M Gregor took in hand the opening of the question, at least, but now he has left me to bear the whole burden alone.* However, as Dr Candlish has said, one great thing is, that the parties at the tar in this case should be very brief. I would just say two or three words on the subject; first of all, upon the competency of such a reference being made ; and secondly, state in a word what were the views which led the Synod to think it was right that, the reference being competent, it should be made. In regard to the competency of making such a reference as this, it was very strongly argued at the Synod that in any case of protest and appeal which came from an inferior court to a superior court, there must always be a decision given, and that in such a case as that it was altogether incompetent to refer the case at all. Well, upon general principles, it is very difficult to see the reason of that. The idea of a reference is evidently this, that there are certain cases which, because of their peculiar difficulty or delicacy, or from some circumstances connected with them, it is not advisable that an inferior court should decide upon, but that they should transfer the decision to a court above them, and I cannot see why you may not have such a case as that in connexion with a protest and appeal as well as in any
way ; in fact, it seems to me that just in such cases you may very often find questions of the most peculiar difficulty and delicacy, and, upon general principles, I am not able to understand why there should be any such difference as some of our friends have attempted to make out. However, I know the difficulty of convincing people by general principles in regard to a question of this kind, and I have looked for some proof on the point from the previous actings of the Assembly to guide us, and I find that there is. I am not very great in Acts of Assembly, but I have been turning them over, and I find a case in point which bears directly upon the present one. I hold in my hand the Acts of Assembly for 1831. That was the year in which the famous Row case came before the Assembly. It came up before the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr. There were two appeals. First, there was an appeal in regard to the question of the relevancy of libel ; and secondly, an appeal in regard to a great number of findings of the Dumbarton Presbytery. The Dumbarton Presbytery found the libel relevant, and found a large
* It will be seen further on that Mr M'Gregor gave a satisfactory explanation of his absence.
number of the counts proven. The appeal was then taken to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr; which Court, after dealing with the question of relevancy, and deciding that the libel was relevant, referred, simpliciter, the whole question of the findings upon the various counts to the General Assembly. That one case proves unmistakably that it was considered competent to refer a case like the present one. This proves the general competency of such a reference; and, more than that, I think the case of Row was not so delicate or difficult as the case now before us, showing, a fortiori, that if the appeal in the case was sustained as valid in the case of Row, our reference in a much more difficult case should be sustained by the General Assembly to-day. In regard to the general reasons which weighed with the Synod, they were such as these. We came to the Synod, and found it was utterly impossible to deal with the case at the regular meeting of the Synod. There was a vast number of papers never printed, and it was out of the question that they should be read to us, and that we should go on at once into a full consideration of the case.
It was quite clear that if the Synod were to enter into the merits of the case, the papers would have to be printed. That would take at least a week, which period would have to be extended to at least a fortnight for an examination of the papers and some general consultation. There would thus require to be another meeting of Synod within a very brief space of the meeting of Assembly. It was thought not desirable that, in the circumstances, we should enter into the case at all. Very likely, at least quite possibly, we should not get a good meeting of Synod. It was very doubtful whether a large number of the members, who were shortly to be at the Assembly for a fortnight, would be able, immediately before it, to give a week to this matter; and, if we had a small meeting, the result might have been disastrous to the case, unfair to Mr Smith himself, or unfair to the interests of the Church. We had no security that we would get a good meeting of Synod to deal with such a case as this. We thought this a very strong reason for putting the matter before the Assembly. Moreover, the Synod had the conviction that the matter had been discussed and rediscussed in the committee of the Presbytery and in the Presbytery of Glasgow. Committees sat on it, and brought before the Presbytery elaborate reports. What was needed was not so much a discussion in the Synod as a decision. What was wanted really to quiet the agitation in the public mind upon it was a decision of the Supreme Court. We did not think that, in reference to the discussion of the merits, we could contribute very much ; and we were not perhaps without some regard also to this, that if the matter were taken up in the Synod, one of the largest and greatest Synods in the Church would be disfranchised in the Assembly. Perhaps we did not lay much stress upon that, but I am told that this was a very common ground upon which references were sustained in the Assemblies of other days. At any rate, I think we are more likely to contribute to the right decision of this case by sitting here upon it in the Assembly than we would have been by discussing it in Glasgow. Upon these and other grounds, which I don't think it necessary to trouble the Assembly with, the Synod thought that the reference was good. I beg just to say this : the Assembly must dismiss from its thoughts the idea that the Synod was shirking discussion. We have not, Sir, as a Synod, been wont to shrink from the discussion of difficult subjects. It was from a sense of the gravity of the case-looked at in all its aspects——that many of us who would have liked a discussion there, thought it best to hand it over at once to the General Assembly, I now close, hoping that the Assembly will sustain the reference; and may I also in closing hope that the Great Pastor will be with us to-day, guiding us in our deliberations upon what I feel to be a most solemn and momentous occasion. (Applause.)
Mr THORBURN, Leith, asked whether any statements had been made in the case of the Synod, or any papers read to the Synod ?
Mr WALKER replied in the affirmative, adding that the papers bringing up the appeal were brought before the Synod. The reasons of dissent and the answers to them were submitted, and the report of the Presbytery, and relative papers, calling for a retractation of certain statements made by Mr Smith, had been circulated throughout the Synod the week before.
Dr GIBSON—I have just to state, as a matter of fact, that neither the large Report of the Presbytery nor
Šir HENRY MONCREIFF-I do not see how a member of the Presbytery of Glasgow has any right to say anything. (Hear, hear.)
Dr BEGG said he was present, though not a member of Synod, and that his recollection differed entirely from that of Mr Walker. No statement of the case was heard, and the papers were never read. The moment that the matter was introduced, the proposal as to a reference was taken up.
Mr WALKER—The reasons of appeal and the answers to them were read.
Sir HENRY MONCREIFF— Parties are removed. (Laughter and applause.)
Sir H. W. MONCREIFF said that there could have been no doubt as to the competency of the Synod referring their case, if they had first heard the parties at the bar. (Some one here said that the parties were heard as to the reference.) They were heard, I know, (said Sir H. W. M.,) as to the reference, but not on the merits. If they had been heard on the merits the reference would be clearly competent. The competency was more doubtful when they were not so heard. For, in ordinary circumstances, the case ought to have been heard at the bar of the Synod in order that the whole case might be before the Court previous to the reference. But the reference is made on the ground of the difficulty of the case being done justice to either by hearing parties at the bar, or as to the judgment. (Hear.) The difficulty, as stated in the reasons given by the Synod, was, that the case was of such a character, manifestly, that all the papers must be printed in order to enable the Synod to judge of it, and that could not be done conveniently or for the interests of the case previously to the Assembly. That is the ground of the reference. And, he thought, when a Synod finds itself in a difficulty in a case at any stage, it is entitled to refer the case to the Superior Court. He would go farther, and say that even if he disapproved, on the whole, of the Synod having made the reference, this being the Supreme Court, they were entitled to sustain the reference in the circumstances. If they think it would be more for the interests of the Church to do so, it was in the power of this Assembly, on that ground alone, to sustain the reference; and he thought it was for the interests of the Church in the case that they should go into the merits, in order to prevent an injurious delay. ("Hear," and applause.) They