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The Long Glen
Chapter XXXII - His Coadjutors


The communion was to take place at one sitting. Three long tables, formed of rough deals laid upon trestles, and covered with snow-white linen, lent by farmers' wives, stood on the level in front of the tent. The communion cups and plates were sent by people in the south, who subscribed liberally for supplying the passing needs of country congregations, by several sets of these necessaries, which circulated from place to place. The benches which ran by the sides of the tables were occupied from the beginning of the service by intending communicants. The general order and solemnity not only were impressive, but seemed almost to be oppressive. To Mr Logie, as the representative of the newly-formed Free Kirk Presbytery of the bounds, the duty of "fencing" and "serving" was assigned.

Mention has already been made of Mr Logie's weakness for comparisons. This occasion afforded stimulus and scope for his peculiar talent, and before speaking for many minutes he took the opportunity of comparing the Free Church to a supernatural pipe stretching up to Heaven, through which the waters of the fountain of everlasting life copiously flowed down to faithful people; and he likened the Old Kirk to a sink pipe, through which earth's polluted water percolated to a horrible cesspool in the region below. It is not to be supposed that Mr Logie ever read Sweden-borg's "Heaven and Hell"—the very name of that visionary heresiarch would have put him in a rage—but yet, in his best moods, that is when he was not worrying his soul about his own and other people's salvation, he would say, like Swedenborg—" Let us always keep our fa.es to the light, and turn our backs upon the darkness. God is the light, and as long as we look to Him His grace will be sufficient for us, and change us into his likeness." In his weakness for comparisons he also appeared to be groping darkly aftertheSwedenborgeandoctrineof Correspondences; but he certainly knew it not. Sometimes, too, in his best moods, his devotional spirit appeared to be saturated with the longings and ideas of " De Imitatione Christi," although it is very unlikely that he had read it, or any other book which belonged to what he would call " Papistical times." He was always dreadfully in earnest to be sincere towards God and man, and always mortally afraid of unwatchfulness of his conscience and the weakness of his nature. He counted his personal sacrifice at the Disruption—which was a very real one—a thing of small account. He was ready to burn or to be burned for the truth's sake; but sometimes he did not seem to feel quite sure as to any absolute perception of truth, beyond a dreadful implicit faith in the doctrine of reprobatory predestination. Duncan Ban used to say that "Mr Logie was a good man, who, in trying to be too good, would make earth a groaning place, and Heaven itself little better than a Black Hole of Calcutta." Mr Logie was a square-set man, with a sunless elongated face, which looked almost always duskily eclipsed by the woes of unsatisfactory introspection. He was full of compassion for human woe and suffering, and kinder to the worst of sinners than to himself. His nature—the poor unregenerated part of it—was a great deal more charitable than his creed. He cut up and pounded a text without the slightest regard for its simple meaning ; but, except when he followed a comparison to absurdity, he was always impressive, sometimes awfully so. He came from the far North, and belonged to the good, but intolerantly fanatical, small sect there, of whom Cook of Daviot, and Rory of Snizorc, were noted representatives. Professedly, these men were extreme Protestants, as well as mystics who believed in signs and warnings, and words of prophecies. But their ultra-Protestant view of communion—they called it "the sacrament," par excellence—closely approached the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass, and in some respects went beyond it. If the bread and wine were not transubstantiated or consubstantiated, still, for Mr Logie and his sect, the final effect was much the same. The Lord Jesus was present, not as the loving Redeemer, but as the terrible Judge. Communion was not a fellowship commemorative of Christ's passion, of which all who humbly believed in Him as their Saviour were entitled to participate. On the contrary, it was a test of separation, by which the wheat and the tares were divided before the harvest—a little effective ordeal by which the great ordeal of the Day of Judgment was anticipated. Every "fencing," or driving away warning, at the burnside—of which there was a long crescendo series, like an auctioneer's catalogue—was clenched with St Paul's words in an exaggerated sense, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." The warnings themselves, however, were not St Paul's, but Mr Logie's, and the upshot of the whole "fencing," as done by him, amounted to this, that nobody who had not gone through a particular process, which by many comharran and signs he minutely specified, and received a supernatural assurance of personal redemption and justification, could be a true Christian; and that all others who called themselves Christians, and lived as such, trusting in the Lord, could only approach the Lord's Table with the certainty, in the strictest or widest sense, of eating and drinking damnation to themselves.

Mr Logie's particular spiritual fathers and brethren in the North, in trying to make the younger people among their parishioners Christians above measure, simply turned them into heathens, who were not only frightened away from communion but from holding their children to be baptised. Mr Logie was on the wrong side of the hills for doing all that. The baptising of children in his own parish went on as regularly as before, but he certainly caused a good many of his younger people from becoming communicants till a different man succeeded. The burnside communicants, especially the elderly ones—whom Ealag called the Grey Egyptians — were not frightened by Mr Logie. They remembered how in days gone by they were themselves trained by ministers who faithfully performed the work allotted to them, and who died in assured hope ; and how those old trusted teachers of their youth, after careful instruction in Catechism and Bible knowledge, gathered them into full Church membership, telling them it was their duty thus openly to profess their faith in the Lord and their reliance on his grace. So Mr Logie's "fencing" sounded like a buzz of emptiness in the porches of their ears, and in spite of all creeds, confessions, and screeds of doctrines, they calm!}- continued in the belief that the Lord spread a table which was longer and wider than could be measured by Mr Logie's tape or that of any other man.

Although a poor scholar, Mr Logie very graphically described the military organisation of the Roman Empire, and showed how the soldiers swore a sacred oath to be true to their colours, and how the breaking of this Sacramentum involved the greatest possible disgrace and the worst punishment. In itself this explanation was nothing new to the Old Egyptians. They had heard it many a time before. They were well aware that it was their bounden duty to be always as faithful soldiers of the Lord, as poor human nature, mercifully helped, would permit. They confessed in their hearts that they were poor soldiers and unprofitable servants, and prayed that they might be guided and helped more and more even to the end of the battle, which for most of them could not now, in the course of nature, be far off. But Mr Logie on this occasion closed in upon them with a new Sacramental Vow, or a new reading of the old one, which made many of them look across the burn to the deserted church with a sigh of regret. Mr Logie used language they had never heard before. It was his business to swear them in as Secessionists to be ever faithful to their new banner. He consecrated the new Church by banning the old.

But if Mr Logie imposed a new vow on the burnside communicants, he was now willing to absolve them from all the anathema of the "fencing." On imposing the new vow he spoke in almost direct contradiction to all he had said before. Now, all who abandoned the "Residuary Kirk " seemed to be, in his opinion, ipso facto redeemed— conversion or no—and he was doubly sure those who did not come out were hanging by threads over the abyss of Hell. In regard to the Kirk of his baptism and ordination vows—the mother Kirk of all present—an angel from heaven, according to Mr Logie, cried mightily with a strong voice on the 18th of May :—"Babylon the great is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." Necessarily, therefore, those that remain in the ruined city, ministering to and associating with foul spirits and hateful birds—"shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture in the cup of his indignation, and they shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angel, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever."

As soon as the communion part of the services were over, the old people and servants who had to look after animals, left the field. But after a short break-up interval, the great majority of the audience resettled on the mounds to hear the concluding sermon.

They had already heard two men, who were both of them deeply religious and earnest, but of extremely different types. Mr Macphadrig represented the Universal Church perhaps more truly, if with less ability, than even Dr Chalmers himself. The Highland minister quietly sacrificed his comfortable position by going out of the Church, but he never became a sectarian, because it was not in his nature to get by any means a narrow idea of the All-Father's love and care for all His creatures. Mr Logie represented the holy fanaticism and mystical longings of the Protestant Ultramontanism of the North. The Disruption disturbed his mental equilibrium, which was never particularly strong. His mystical tendencies hardened into fierce intolerance, assuming airs of prophecy and inspiration. Had he been left to his quiet meditations, and to his revival efforts, Mr Logie would have been in his proper vocation, and his life would have been as happy as his gloomy views of it possibly permitted. The Disruption swept him from his moorings, and he never afterwards settled down, nor soared aloft, but was a voice crying from tents and pulpits—"Woe! woe! woe and wrath to black Moderates and all the children of the Devil !" Before his death he became convinced that only a remnant of his own communion could be saved, and that the Free Kirk, as a body, was on the broad, easy way to perdition.

The young man with freckled face and sandy hair who preached the concluding sermon at the burnside communion represented the effective partisanship party, which were destined to be the future masters of the Free Kirk. Already this young man's enthusiasm was not religious,. but political and personal. His name was—let us say—Mr Macbeth, and he had been brought up at the feet of "Ten Years' Conflict" Gamaliels. He could appeal to the bigotry of others, and make use of it, while anything but a bigot himself.

In her foundation deeds, the Free Church, fresh from the bitter Voluntary controversy, abjured the Voluntary principle and reaffirmed the principle of the union of Church and State—circumstances permitting. But it soon became manifest that the younger men of the 18th of May would not to the end of their days abide by the principles on which the Free Church was founded. There were many among them who loved to figure on public platforms and to win the applause of political meetings. Mr Macbeth was one of this sort. He possessed immense talking power,. but if he ever possessed good preaching gifts, he lost them almost entirely when working as perambulating agitator before and after the Disruption. So diligently had he studied the political history of Presbyterianism that it rubbed off all the divinity varnish with which he first courted notice. His mind was too shallow for the strong convictions which only grow where the roots can strike far down. His boundless ambition stood for him in the place of genius and inspiration. In the pulpit his eloquence was much like unto wind-bag gusts driven out of high-pressure bellows ; but on the platform, when tinselled with prepared jokes, it passed very well, and elicited rounds of applause. The narrow bounds of the Highlands did not suffice for the wing-spreading of Mr Macbeth's ambition. He ardently wished to be at the centre of Free Church gravity, and to have a hand in developing and directing the political capabilities of the best organised Protestant Dissenting body in the United Kingdom. He had already connected his angling lines with the leaders by whom the Free Church was governed, and his desire to be translated southward was about to be gratified.

Mr Macbeth took for his text the 15th verse of the 15th chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles:—"And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their hearts, and sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about." Mr Macbeth explained, in his political-lecture manner, how Azariah the prophet was sent to Asa, and how king and people, awakening from spiritual lethargy, and seeing that Israel had for a long time been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law, gathered together at Jerusalem, and entered into a covenant to seek the God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul. Why did he not read the chapter, and let it speak for itself? Probably because, as a politician, he recoiled from the dreadful earnestness of the whole affair, and particularly from the punitive clause of the covenant, in which Judah and Benjamin and the strangers from the dispersed tribes, swore that, "Whosoever should not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman." Mr Macbeth was not, like Mr Logie, ready to burn or be burned for what he held to be God's cause. He chose his text with an eye to effect, and the then state of feeling in the Free Church, and not for the extreme doctrine of persecution which the foresaid clause seemed to justify. His sermon, in truth, was a somewhat inflammatory political address, which hanged very loosely to the selected text. He had dexterously slipped long, neatly-written notes between the leaves of the Bible, which he ever and anon surreptitiously consulted. He was loud and emphatic enough, but he probably felt he was not so eloquent as could be wished, because his lecture was written in English, and he was not, like his two older colleagues, so completely master of the mountain tongue that he could off-hand, without hitches and constructional collapses, change his high-flown English into high-flown Gaelic. The gist of his discourse was that Scotland for a long time was forgetful of its covenant obligations—of the oath sworn by the fathers—and that at last the "Ten Years' Conflict" awoke it to a sense of duty. He maintained that, on the 18th of May, the true representatives of the Scotch Kirk and nation did at Edinburgh what the people of Judah and Benjamin, with the strangers from the dispersed tribes, did at Jerusalem 2790 years before. They cast off the yoke of sinful oppression, recovered spiritual freedom, and established a pure Church. He reminded the Glen people that they entered that day into a new covenant with the Lord, and became the sworn upholders of the Free Church. Let them ever strive faithfully to fulfil their covenant obligations, for what said the Lord in regard to the covenant-breakers?—"Therefore, saith the Lord God, as I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and My covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his head."


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