Norman MacLeod, D.D
Evangelical Alliance, and
Tour in Prussia Poland and Silesia
THE excitement caused by
the Disruption had not yet calmed down, for the animosity of party spirit
still burned with a heat almost unparalleled even in the ecclesiastical
history of Scotland. Those who had once been intimate friends passed one
another without sign of recognition, and family life was embittered by
parents and children, brothers and sisters, taking adverse sides on the
Strathbogie case, or on the powers of the Civil Magistrate.
This reigning spirit of
intolerance stirred the keener feelings of Norman Macleod far more than
the questions which divided the rival Churches. However decided his views
may have been as to the merits of the controversy, he cared infinitely
more for the maintenance of just and kindly feelings between Christians,
than for anything in dispute between ecclesiastical parties. He did not
grudge the success of the Free Church, and he lamented the conduct of
those who refused sites for her churches. But he protested with utmost
vigour against the spirit of intolerance which was too often displayed by
the Church of the Disruption, and on some occasions he spoke and wrote in
strong terms against its bigotry. " I am not conscious of entertaining any
angry or hostile feeling towards the Free Church as ' a branch of Christ's
Catholic Church.' I desire that God may help all its labours, both at home
and abroad, for advancing that ' kingdom which is righteousness, peace,
and joy in the Holy Ghost.' I respect many of its ministers and I enjoy
the friendship of many of its members. I admire its zeal and energy. I
have no sympathy with the alleged attempts to embarrass any of its
ministers—or the ministers of any Church on earth—when seeking
accommodation for themselves or their adherents.. My remarks are directed
solely against that proud and intolerant spirit which says to the Church
of Scotland, 'Stand back, I am holier than thou,' and which has corroded
so many hearts formerly kind and loving. I detest Church controversy; it
is rarely profitable to writer or reader; it is apt to darken our minds
and injure our best affections. Let these men, in one word, love
Christians more than Churches, and the body of Christ more than their own,
and they will soon discover that separation from a Church, and protesting
against a Church, are quite compatible with union with that very Church,
on the ground of a common faith, and co-operation with it for the
advancement of a common Christianity."
He was, in truth, utterly
weary of ecclesiastical strife, and when, during his visit to America, he
heard of the proposed formation of the Evangelical Alliance, he hailed
with delight a project which not only harmonized with his own deepest
feelings, but promised to have a specially beneficial effect in healing
the divisions of Scotland.
The Alliance was then in
the freshness of its youth, and when he came home he threw himself with
his whole heart into the movement. The narrowness of spirit, which
afterwards repelled him from its ranks, had not, as yet, displayed its
presence [See Chapter XVI, May 25th, 1863.] He was profoundly touched by
the atmosphere of Christian brotherhood which prevailed at the preliminary
conference held in Birmingham, and he was still more impressed by the
imposing assembly of delegates from all parts of the world which met
afterwards in London. He had already seen much of the world, but he had
now the privilege of becoming acquainted with some of the most eminent
representatives of home and foreign Churches, and gained such an insight
into the vital principles and character of these Churches as only contact
with living men could give. By means also of the Evangelical Alliance he
established a friendly relation with many of the great missionary bodies
of England, and, on their invitation, went for several years to London to
attend the May meetings, or to preach the annual sermon in connection with
some of their societies. His influence increased as his power became
known, and his own faith and courage were mightily strengthened by the
enlarged sympathies he gained from co-operation with other Christians.
To his Mother:—
"Dalkeith, 6th March, 1845.
"I am not lazy or
careless—far less indifferent; but writing letters is uncongenial to me. I
fancy that when I say, 'we are all well, and love you, and are always
thinking of you and speaking of you,' that I have said all that is
required; and that the state of the weather, the health of dogs and cats,
and the jog-trot adventures of every day, cannot merit a record on paper.
There are a thousand things I would like to say—not to write—that
abominable scratch, scratch, scratch ! that heavy, lumbering
bread-and-butter style of conveying stories and facts which need the eye,
the voice, the grace, notes and touches which give them life! It is after
all but another edition of Laura Bridgman, a speaking from the tip of the
fingers, and giving glimpses of thought.
"Now here I am with yards
of paper before me and 6,000 people round me—a romance in every close, a
tale in every family requiring volumes and lot pages. Jane will tell you
what a coach-horse life I lead, and how difficult it is for me to get time
to pour out my heart, though full to the brim, into yours, which I verily
believe would never be so full as to make you call 'stop,' though all your
children were to write to you by the steam press.
"But what news can I give
you?' 'Can I not tell what is doing in the house?' Yes; but are you
serious in saying you wish to hear? 'Yes, quite serious.' Then, if so, you
have little to think about. But, as far as I know, the following is the
state of the house:—
"As to the attics, one is
locked up, and in the other your youngest son slept last night under the
influence of a lesson in Latin and a plate of porridge. In the next floor,
one bedroom is cold and empty. Another room was occupied last night by
your firstborn. As you may like to know how he passed the night, I'll tell
you. Having resolved to be abstemious in his eating—'Why now are you
that?' My dear mother, a man's liver is the better of it. It keeps him
cool, makes him sleep well, and wake light and hearty. Well, having
resolved to be abstemious, I took one and a half Welsh rabbits to my
supper—the cheese (being next to milk) was laid on thick. I was soon
asleep. 'Did you dream?' No. 'No nightmare]' No. 'What did you do?' Sleep,
according to an old habit.
"Lower floor—study occupied
by your son, one pipe, a dog and cat, books, &c. Other rooms empty.
Cellars—rubbish, broken glass and starved rats.
"Are you wiser now] 'And
what is doing outside]' My dear, that outside is a big word. The sky is
blue; the birds are singing; carts are passing on the road; men and women
are drinking; some crying; some starving; some dying. The word has tolled
me back to being! I can be merry no longer. I was laughing beside you, but
now I am in real life. I see sad scenes, and hear sad things, and my heart
is not light. So I shall not write anything more to-day—but my sermon."
To his Mother:—
"Dalkeith, June 3rd, 1846.
"I cannot let my birthday
pass without saying God bless thee—for my birth and up-bringing—and the
unceasing love and goodness which has beamed upon me from your heart and
which has gladdened my life on earth, and next to the grace of God has
helped to prepare me for the life in Heaven which I hope, through the
mercy of God in Christ, to share with yourself, and perhaps with all who
have shared our domestic joys."
To his Sister Jane:—
Conference at Birmingham, 4 o'clock, Wednesday, April.
"I have been in two
'Sessions' of the Conference, and take half an hour's breathing time to
write to you my first impressions. You ask how I liked it ] I reply that
it was one of the happiest evenings I ever spent on earth. Never in any
company had I the same deep peace and joy, and the same broken-heartedness
for sin. Oh! what a prayer was that of Octavius Wins-low's ! It stirred my
deepest feelings, and made the tears pour down my cheeks. How I wished
that you could have been there! And to see so many on their knees—and to
hear the 'Amens' of acquiescing, sympathising, and feeling spirits! I
would have gone ten times the distance to have enjoyed all I did.
"About 120 are present to
day. Candlish, Guthrie, Hamilton, are there, but I have not yet spoken to
any. I am more afraid to-day. I fear that they are growing too fast
outwards. As long as we deal with God, we seem omnipotent in Him and
through Him, but our attempts at work professedly for Him seem to me
highly dangerous as yet. I pray God that all may go on well. The prayer
and praise are glorious. It has developed in me an affection which
hitherto I have only manifested but partially—very partially - and that
only in words—because of a lack of opportunity,—I mean, love to
ministerial brethren. I feel like a man who had brothers—but they had been
abroad—and he had never seen them before. I feel too, how much knowing the
brethren comes from seeing them; 'the brother whom he hath seen' increases
love to Him who is unseen."
To his Sister Jane:—
"Conference at London,
Wednesday, May 25th.
'Everything goes on
pleasantly and well. The Frees, honest fellows, are not here. They are a
loss, for they have good heads for business.
"Bickersteth, dear man, is
in the chair, and Bunting, noble man, is now speaking. Angel James is
about to follow, and Dr. Baffles has finished. It is mere chat, like a
nice family circle, and I hope that our Elder Brother is in the midst of
To Elizabeth Patterson.
[Among the many members of
his flock in Dalkeith who encouraged him in his work, there was one who,
unable herself to take an active share of duty, yet perhaps really
strengthened him more than any other. Elizabeth Patterson had been an
invalid and a sufferer for several years before he came to the parish, and
during the eight years of his ministry there, she was only once or twice
out of bed. She required the constant care of her widowed mother and her
loving sisters. She was frequently so weak when he visited her, that she
could not speak but in a whisper ; yet that always expressed kindness
towards others, or meek resignation to the will of God. She seemed to
forget herself in the interest she took in Christ's kingdom, caring for
the good of the poorest child in Dalkeith as well as for the advance of
religion over the earth. It was no wonder that such a character drew forth
his sympathies. He often spoke of the comfort and strength he got from
witnessing her faith and courage, and from knowing that she and her
family, and her good friend Mrs. Porteous, were "instant in prayer" on his
behalf. Often, after a weary day's work in filthy closes, he would find
refreshment and gain new hope-fulness at the bedside of this holy
sufferer. She and her family afterwards went to St. Andrew's, but until
the time of her death in 1863. he kept up his friendship with her, and
sometimes went from Glasgow to visit her on her weary sick-bed.]
"At Sea, on his way to
London, 6 p.m., Wednesday, August.
"How rich is that grace
which can not only give peace to ourselves, but also make us share His own
joy in giving good and happiness to others ! None but He could make you, a
weak creature, without hands or feet or tongue, stretched on a bed of
pain—able not only to be an example to us of faith and patience, but an
inexpressible strength to us, as you have many a day been to me. Well,
dear, His own work, whatever it be, will be perfected in you, and by you;
and then, but not till then, He will perfect you in Himself. But as long
as you can please and glorify Him more on earth than in Heaven, you will,
I am sure, be content to stay; and I hope we shall all be taught by your
meek compliance with His will to comply with it too, when He takes you
hence or takes us. He Who has hitherto so wonderfully helped you, is able
surely to help you to the end. The Hand which holds all the ocean I sec
around me, which sustains this blue sky over my head, can uphold and
sustain your weak body, for it is more precious than all this big world.
It is a redeemed body. The mountains may depart; His love never ! Every
drop of the ocean will be exhausted; His love never! The Heavens will
depart like a scroll, but they who do His will shall abide for ever ! Let
us praise Him! May He be with you day and night! "
To his Sister Jane:—
"The Alliance has been
formed. Such a scene of prayer, shaking of hands, and many weeping!
"I met a man this morning
with a towering forehead, having ' the harvest of a quiet eye,' and 'a
most noble carriage.' I was introduced to him, and he said, 'I know your
name, and I am glad to have seen your face.' I replied, 'Sir, I have long
revered you, and now rejoice to grasp your hand.' Then we for a short time
discoursed about our Church, and when, in explanation of our position, I
said, 'I fear I must call the Free Church the party of Presbyterian
Puseyism,' he seized my arm, and said, 'You have taken the words out of my
mouth. I wrote to the King stating the same thing. I think they are making
the Church an idol.' Who was this?—Bunsen."
"London, August 4th, 1815.
"I have just time to say
that our Alliance goes on nobly. There are 1,000 members met from all the
world, and the prayers and praises would melt your heart. Wardlaw,
Bickersteth, Tholuck, say that in their whole experience they never beheld
anything like it. I assure you many a tear of joy is shed. It is more like
Heaven than anything I ever experienced on earth. The work is done, a work
in our spirits which can never be undone. The Americans have behaved
nobly. I am appointed chairman of one of the future meetings for devotion,
an honour to which I am not entitled except as representing my Church. I
would the whole world were with us! No report can give you any idea of it.
I am half asleep, as it is past midnight. I have to meet Czersky at
breakfast at eight."
To his Mother:—
"My mind and heart are
almost wearied with the excitement of this time. Meetings every
day—conversing, smoking with Germans, French, Americans, &c.—all in love
and harmony. Tholuck, Rheinthaler, Barth, Cramer, from Germany; Monod,
Fisch, Vernet, from France; Cox, Kirk, Skinner, Paton, Emery, De Witt,
Baird, from America. It would take hours to tell you my news."
From his Journal:—
"What an eventful year this
has been to me ! In June, 1845, I crossed the great Atlantic, and returned
home in safety in November. Since then I have had much to do with colonial
matters. I have received, with my colleagues, the thanks of the Assembly.
I have visited Birmingham as a member of the Evangelical Alliance. I have
been thrice in London—once address five meetings on our Missions, and once
as a Member of the Select Committee of the Alliance, and the third time
attending the Alliance itself. I have, besides, written four articles for
a Magazine, spoken at four public meetings in Scotland, and I have not
neglected my own parish. I trust I may now have some time to devote my
whole energies to this home work, and to publishing religious tracts. I
have gained more than I can express by intercourse with the world. In
America, and at the Alliance, I have mingled more with other minds—got
hold of more—than during my whole lifetime.
"What has been done by the
"1. Brethren have met and
prayed together; they have become acquainted and learned to love one
another. Is this not much? If the tree must grow from within—if Love is to
be the fountain of all good to the Church and the world—is this not much 1
Is it not almost all ? Was not every one at the Alliance melted by the
harmony and love that prevailed? What holy and happy hours were these !
Often was that room in Birmingham and London felt to be the house of God,
the gate of Heaven!,
"2. Was it not much to have
agreed upon a basis, and to have presented to the Papist so much harmony
upon cardinal doctrines? All who had any dealings with the Popish Church
" 3. May not a louder voice
now speak to the world than has spoken for a time?
"The happiest and proudest
day I ever spent was the day I presided in London over the Evangelical
To Principal Campbell, of
"Dalkeith, September, 1846.
"I received your brochure
yesterday. I do not quite agree with you in some points. I think there may
be all the one-ness which Christ ever intended to exist in the Church,
without that kind of visible unity which you seem to contend for. The
grand problem is how to obtain the greatest amount of one-ness in
essential doctrine—in affection—in work—with the greatest amount of
personal and congregational freedom as to government and worship. We may
begin by assuming that denominations must exist. Let us try to give the
disjecta membra unity. Find the unknown quantity x, which is to be the
bond of union. Here they are:—legs, arms, heads, eyes, ears, scattered
about. What form of body will unite them, leaving to each his
individuality? Heaven alone knows; I don't. In the meantime we must do
what we can.
"I preached the anniversary
sermon for the Wesleyans in their large chapel in Edinburgh. Such a crowd!
Long before the hour every crevice was choked. Up the pulpit stairs, and
filling all the passages. As Southey says of the rats,
"And in at the windows, and
in at the door,
And through the walls in hundreds they pour,
From within and without, from above and below,
And all at once to the Bishop they go."
"I am the first established
minister who has preached in their church." The death of his old teacher,
Dr. Chalmers, deeply moved him, and, when addressing the Lay Association
of the Church of Scotland, he took the opportunity of paying a tribute to
the memory of this great and good man—"whose noble character, lofty
enthusiasm, and patriotic views will rear themselves before the eyes of
posterity like Alpine peaks, long after the narrow valleys which for a
brief period divided us are lost in the far distance of past history."
To his Mother:—
"Another third of June! and
another, and another—it may be—until there is no son to write and no
mother to write to, and the passing birthdays of time are lost in the new
birth of an endless day.
"You would be grieved for
dear old Chalmers. I am sure you will sympathize with what I said about
him at our public meeting on Tuesday. I was grieved that later differences
prevented, I think foolishly, any notice being taken of his death in our
Assembly. The motives for our doing so might have been, perhaps,
misunderstood. There is a great power at work, called Dignity, which
sometimes appears to me to be like General Tom Thumb, the dwarf, acting
Napoleon. I may be misinterpreted, too—I don't care. A man's head—at least
mine—may deceive a hundred times a day—a man's heart never! I never felt
the lightness or the wrongness of any thing strongly, without its really
turning out to be the right or the wrong I thought it was. Dear old man !
He is among congenial minds for the first time—he never breathed his own
native air till now—never felt at home till now. I intend going to his
funeral. I hope the Free Church will have the taste not to attempt to make
it sectarian—Chalmers belonged to Scotland. I am just going to write a
funeral sermon on him. I feel he is a father and brother a thousand times
more than men whom I address as 'Fathers and Brethren.'
"This is a glorious day.
The hawthorn is bursting into wreaths of snow; 'the birds are busy in the
woods;' the butterflies are glinting among the bushes; and everything is
"Is my father with you? I
need not say that he is inseparably connected with you in my thoughts
to-day, for I am sure a kinder father no children ever had. I am thankful
that he fixed upon the Ministry for me. I declare I do not remember a day
when I thought it possible that I could be anything else than a
Minister—nor do I remember any other profession which for a moment I ever
wished to adopt—unless in school, when I once desired to be a bandmaster;
at another time, a Ducrow galloper on horses; and, lastly, and more
especially, a Captain of a man-of-war!
"My dear, I remember long
ago, when there was a minister of the name of Macleod in Dalkeith."
To Mr. James M'Pherson,
"Dalkeith, June 30th, 1847.
"I do not feel that I am
separated from my beloved, tenderly, deeply beloved flock, who have either
left Loudoun for Heaven, or left the Establishment for another branch of
Christ's visible Church. I feel we are united by bonds far closer than we
understand ; bonds which Christ has cast around us, which He will lovingly
keep around us, and which He will not let the world or ourselves sever.
And oh ! how I long for His coming ; when we shall be together again; when
we shall know even as we are known, and be for ever with Himself!"
From his Journal:—
"July 4, '47.—I never felt
more overwhelmed by work than during the five weeks which preceded my
Communion. I was concerned for the Assembly, that it should do God's will.
I was convener of the committee appointed to select and send off a
deputation to the Colonies, which are ever present to me. I had public
sermons to preach in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I had to speak the truth, and
fitting truth, at the Lay Association and Female Education Meetings. The
Evangelical Alliance was coming. I was to speak there. Then there were
preparations for the Communion, and a great deal of sickness in the
parish. At home, my own dear brother, George, was ill, and my mother and I
going, in thought, to the graves at Campsie. In short, I never had such a
pressure upon me, I could have wished to bury my head in the grave.
"To add to this, on the
Wednesday before my Communion, ten minutes after leaving our Session
meeting, good Mr. Bertram, my elder, fell down dead ! It was, indeed, a
very trying time; yet I had much inward peace. I felt as if outside of the
house there were wind and storm, which beat into the ante-chambers; but
that there was within a sanctuary which they did not and could not reach.
I experienced a strange combination of great trouble and perfect peace.
And how graciously has God brought me through all! The Assembly was very
good; its debates calm and truthful, its decisions, as far as I can see,
just and righteous. The deputation to America was selected after much
correspondence. I am since vindicated for having proposed and carried
their appointment. They have received an enthusiastic welcome, and they
themselves acknowledge that their mission was needed. My public sermons
were well received, and I hope did good. I spoke as I wished, i.e. the
truth which I desired to communicate to the Lay Association, and at the
meetings for Female Education in India, and of the Evangelical Alliance. I
was, at home, able to strengthen and comfort dear Mrs. Bertram. I never
had a more peaceful and delightful Communion. My dear George is
recovering. Oh, how my prayers have been answered Thou, God, knowest! I
have passed through all this in peace. I thank God. For I do feel that His
supporting grace can alone enable one to meet the sorrowing burden of
humanity. The flesh would say, fly, hide thyself, partake not of those
cares and troubles. But this is not the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit of
Jesus would have us carry the care, and the anxiety, and the sorrow of the
world, all the while giving us His peace— that peace which He had even
when He wept at Bethany and over Jerusalem, and went about doing good, and
mourned for unbelief.
"Faith in an eternal life
with God, must, I think, arise necessarily out of love to Him here. Did I
only know that David loved God, I would, without further evidence, believe
that he had full assurance of life beyond the grave.
"To me the greatest mystery
next to the mystery of God's will is my own! It is of all truths the most
solemn to recognize the possession of a responsible will—which because it
is a will can choose, and because of sin does choose, what is opposed to
the will of God.
"The existence and
influence of Satan are not more mysterious than the existence and
influence of bad men. Evil is the mystery—not evil agents and evil
influence. Considering all things, perhaps, a Demoniac in the synagogue, a
wicked Judas in the Church, is a greater mystery than Satan.
"The great difference
between the law and the gospel is, that the latter brings a power into
operation for producing that right state of mind—love to God—which the law
commands but cannot effect.
"Christ is the living way,
the eternal life, as He gives to us His own life and Spirit. To be as He
was is the only way to the Father.
"God is surely revealing
Himself to all His creatures. I cannot think that there is even a Bushman
in Africa with whose spirit the living God is not dealing. The voice of
God is speaking though they may not hear it; yet they may hear it, and so
hear it as to know the living and true God.
"St. Paul said that God had
appointed the bounds of men's habitations that they might seek after Him.
This implies that to find Him was possible.
"I will never agree to the
sensuous philosophy which insists on all teaching coming through
materialism. Education is to lead out, to draw out, what I may already
"God has made us for joy!
Joy is the normal state of the universe. This only makes Christ's sorrow
more terrible. Man's joy and God's joy must be one. 'Ye shall be as gods.'
Yes; but not by the Devil's teaching.
"What dreadful suffering
must Christ have endured from want of human sympathy! How alienated is man
from God, when Peter and the apostles were so alienated from Christ. 'I am
not alone, for the Father is with me,' but none else!"
The movement in favour of a
reformed Church, inaugurated in Poland by Ronge and Czersky, was at this
time awakening much interest among Protestants. Both Ronge and Czersky had
been present at a meeting of the Alliance, and as some members of that
body were anxious to obtain reliable information on the subject, Norman
Mac-leod was asked to accompany the late Dr. Herschell of London on a
visit to the principal congregations of the new communion.
To his Father:—
"During my short stay
abroad I intend to address all my letters to you, in the hope that they
may contain something interesting, which may, perhaps, induce you to bear
with that peculiar hieroglyphical character which I generally use in
writing, and which, through your excellent example, I have studied from my
earliest infancy. I must begin at the beginning— whether or not I shall
continue to the end is another question.
"At York we visited the
Castle and all its horrors—saw old and young confined in stone courts,
hard stone under foot, hard stone on every side, stone and iron
surrounding them during day and night, and we in sunshine and breeze, with
joy above and around us. Saw the condemned cell, with its iron bed and
cold walls, the only view being through thick bars, upon a small green
spot with rank grass, surrounded by walls, where the wretched occupant
must be laid on the day of his execution, along with those who have gone
before him to the same sad spot. A burying-place which contains the bodies
of those only who have been executed is a sad and solemn sight.
"From this we passed to the
Minster once more. And what a change from the cell and the graveyard, and
the cut-throat Museum, to that gorgeous pile of pinnacle and tower, with
its long-drawn aisles and stained windows, 'red with the blood of kings
and queens,' and quaint device and carved imagery, and full of glorious
anthems and chanted prayers ! A very shadow, I thought, of that state of
grandeur and glory into which the gospel brings us - out of the horrid
prison and condemned cell, and graveyard without hope."
* * * *
"I pass over the many
interesting conversations held in Berlin with Neander, Uhden, Kautze.
"We obtained, however,
little information from them regarding the present state of the Reform
movement. All parties seemed indifferent to it. All parties rejected Ronge.
Sydow called him 'ein ausgeblasener Narr' and despised both the man and
his opinions, and considered them only a little better than Popery.
"Saturday morning we posted
sixty-two miles, to Schneidemuhl, where we arrived the same evening about
eight o'clock. We found Czersky waiting for us.
"Upon Sabbath morning, at
ten, we went to his church. As we entered the people were singing one of
Luther's hymns, with—as is usual in German churches—loud and harmonious
voices, led by an organ and a tolerably good choir. About 120 were
present. The passages and all round the altar, were strewed with flowers,
which we learned afterwards, was a token of gladness at seeing us amongst
"When the psalm was nearly
concluded Czersky entered. He was dressed in priest's garments; in a long
black cloth gown, which came down to his toes and was buttoned in front,
and over this a jacket of white muslin beautifully worked, with wide
sleeves, and coming down to his waist. He knelt and prayed in silence
before the crucifix, and then preached.
"We held a conference with
the elders at Czersky's house, in the morning. About twelve were present.
The chief objects of the meeting were to ascertain their state of mind
towards Czersky, and above all to exhort them upon certain points which,
we believed, required the advice of neutral parties in whose good-will
perfect confidence could be placed. Mr. Herschell and I spoke our minds
"Though our conference
lasted nearly two hours, we were listened to throughout with the utmost
patience. Not a word was spoken unless we asked a reply. When these
replies were given, Czersky seemed anxious that we should hear the
opinions of his elders as well as his own. These opinions were most
satisfactory. From this meeting, and from a private conversation which I
had with Czersky during a short walk in the fields on Sabbath, as well as
from familiar intercourse with him on the following days, I am convinced
that there is perfect confidence placed in him by his people, and that he
is a most simple-hearted, sincere man. Though he will never be a great
leader, he will prove a true witness; and if he cannot attack, he
certainly will resist error. After the meeting we remained and took tea
with himself and his wife. We were much struck with the humble and poor
house in which ha lives. Everything indicated a man who had not at least
made money by his change.
"Our Sabbath evening's work
was closed by a call upon the old Lutheran minister, who was just retiring
to rest. He received us very kindly, was frank and full of good humour;
and while he deplored the number of churches in the town instead of one
(his own), he bore the strongest testi-mony to Czersky, declaring him to
be, in his opinion, a simple, honourable, upright, pious man. This was
"Having determined to take
Czersky with us to Posen, we all met next morning in the hotel, and were
early on our way, by courier post with four horses. We had a journey of
sixty miles before us. The day was scorching. Our road lay along flat
plains or through forests, and poor Polish villages. It was so sandy and
rough that we could not make sometimes more than six miles an hour. The
whole of this day's journey reminded me of America, more especially when
our road lay through the forest.
"Post is, in many respects,
an abler man than Czersky. He is an able speaker, has read and thought
much, and is as firm a believer in positive Christianity as Czersky.
Family worship is common among his people. His congregation numbers about
740, old and young.
"The results of our
inquiries into this movement in Poland may thus be summed up:—
"1. Numbers: There are
fifteen Christian Catholic congregations in Poland, each numbering upon an
average 300 souls, old and young. The numbers in four principal stations
are, respectively, Posen 745, Schneidemuhl 400, Bromberg 600, Thorn 400.
Post has sometimes 1,000 in summer.
"2. All the clergy in
Poland are for positive Christianity, and will have nothing to do with
"3. They are not yet
united, but wish to form a Presbytery.
"4. This movement should be
helped and strengthened. The people and ministers are poor. They could get
on better by joining the Established Church; but they desire church
freedom, and they think that they are in a better position to act as a
Mission, having reference to the Church of Rome, than if they were to
become absorbed in the State Church.
"We left Posen on Thursday
morning, and slept that night at Lissa, half way to Breslau. We reached
Breslau in the evening of Friday.
"We determined to drive out
next day to Hunen, to see Dr. Theiner, whom all parties acknowledge to be
the most learned and able man connected with this movement. He was out
walking when we arrived. His old servant, however, went for him, while we
sat beneath the shade of some orange-trees in the little flower-garden.
"By-and-by we saw
approaching, with quick steps, a man of the ordinary size, upwards of
fifty, with a long German surtout, a cap with large scoop, spectacles, and
his long hair, sprinkled with grey, flowing behind. He ushered us into a
large room, which, in its thorough confusion, reminded us of Neander's—chairs
and tables, covered with books, and the whole room as if it was the
temporary receptacle for a library hastily carried into it, along with
some furniture, during a fire. The first look of Theiner filled me with
confidence and affection; the large manly brow, the twinkling black eyes
and gentle smile, every feature expressive of eagerness, thought,
tenderness, and simplicity. He gave us his opinion fully and frankly. He
spoke of Ronge with unmeasured terms of contempt as 'ein nichlwurdiges,
elendes Geschopf.' He spoke of Czersky and Post with the greatest respect,
declaring his conviction that they were honest men. His own position now
was one of literary activity.
"'In the evening of Sabbath
I heard Ronge. After reading a few cold, formal prayers, he commenced his
sermon. His delivery is lifeless, without fire in eye or action;
hesitating, uninteresting. One was puzzled more and more to discover what
the elements were in this man which could rouse the populace.
"I expected to have met
Ronge according to appointment in the evening, but he sent an apology by
his Mend, Dr. Beusch, with whom we had a very long conversation and
dispute. His opinions, like those of Ronge, are ultra-rationalistic—or
rather, pantheistic; and it was hardly possible to get a common standing
ground. The whole system seemed to be a mixture of socialism and Deism
gilded with the morality of the Bible, and having a strong political
tendency towards communism.
"Such is Ronge-ism. It is
bad, but who is to blame? Popery first. It is evident that the whole of
this false system is a reaction from Popery; that it has been moulded into
its present form in the conscious presence of Popery. The materialism of
the one has given birth to the anti-symbolical and attempted spiritualism
of the other. What the result is to be, no one can tell. It cannot stand
as it is. It must advance to Quakerism and Spiritual Pietism, and end in
Socialism, or its serious people be absorbed in a deeper and more
evangelical movement. There does not appear to bo connected with this part
of the movement one man capable of giving it a good direction. One has
only to hope that the Bible and hymn-book may help to save some of the
poor people, who, I doubt not, are better than their ministers.
"I have now, within two
years, seen the practical working of various Churches, and come into
contact with the clergy of various denominations. I have seen the war of
weak sects in the backwoods and lonely settlements of the Colonies, and
Voluntaryism in its poverty and in its grandeur in the United States. I
have watched well the temper and the tendency of the Free Church in
Scotland, especially in the Highlands. I have met in the freest and most
friendly communion, for days together, the Dissenters of England at the
Evangelical Alliance. I have examined the workings of Episcopacy during a
year's residence in England. I have seen Popery in every part of Germany
from Vienna to Berlin, in France and Belgium, Ireland and America. I have
examined into the German Church, and the result of all has been to deepen
my attachment to my own Church—to fill me with unfeigned gratitude to God
for the Protestant Evangelical Presbyterian Established Church of
Scotland. It is Protestant, without any toleration of Popish error within
its bosom. It is Evangelical, and equally removed from formal orthodoxy,
or canting methodism, or icy rationalism. It is Presbyterian, and in
possession of a free and vigorous government which occupies a middle point
between the power of one bishop or of one congregation. It is Established,
and so not dependent for its support on the people, while, for the
discharge of all the functions of a Christian Church, independent of civil
government by virtue of her constitution. What want we then? Nothing but
the power of the living Spirit of God to enable ministers, elders, and
people to use the high talents God has given us for the good of Scotland,
of the Christian Church, and all to the glory of God. ' If I forget thee,
Oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her cunning!'"
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