Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Memoir of Norman MacLeod, D.D
The Disruption Controversy

THE Disruption of 1843 forms an interesting and curious page in modern ecclesiastical history. The enthusiasm and stern devotion to duty which led hundreds of good men to leave the Church of their fathers, and peril their all for conscience sake, formed a startling spectacle in the midst of the materialism of the nineteenth century. It was no wonder that the appeal made to the generous sympathies of the nation—when the people saw so many of their most revered ministers sacrificing manse and glebe and stipend for what they believed to be their duty—received a generous response. And if the commencement of the Free Church was a remarkable illustration of the undying "perfervidum ingenium Scotorum"—no less has her subsequent history been characterized by rare wisdom and energy. Every Christian man must ungrudgingly recognise the great good which she has accomplished. The benefits which have attended her devoted labours are too palpable to require enumeration. Her rapid multiplication of the means of grace at home and abroad, the wisdom of her organization, the boldness of her enterprise, the splendid liberality of her members, and the worth and ability of many of her ministers, have conferred untold blessings, direct and indirect, on the cause of religion. She has not only been a distinguished missionary agent, but she has powerfully stimulated the zeal of other Churches.

Yet it would be untruthful not to recognize the evils which, we believe, accompanied the Disruption. Ecclesiastical strife, which introduced discord into every parish and into thousands of families, not only greatly destroyed the frank cordiality of social life in Scotland, but converted every community into a set of mutually suspicious factions, and thus did grievous damage to the Christian spirit of the country. For the zeal with which the claims of Church and party were advanced was too often characterized by a bitterness of temper, a violence of language, and a virulence of sectarian animosity, which promoted anything but Christian life as exemplified by humility, justice, and charity. When there was such denunciation of ecclesiastical opponents that their loyalty to the will of Christ was questioned; and when there was added to such presumption of judgment, the frequent refusal, in word and practice, to recognise the Establishment as a true branch of Christ's Church, an acerbity was imparted to the controversy which was far from being edifying to the public. This rivalry of the sects also tended to weaken the authority and impair the discipline of all Churches, and diminish the feelings of reverence with which the sacred office of the ministry used to be regarded. Those, moreover, who value a national testimony to religion not as a mere theory, but as exemplified in practical legislation, must regret the perilous issues which have ensued from the jealousy and division of the Churches in Scotland. Although there is, perhaps, no free country really so united in its creed, yet there are few where it has been more difficult to settle even such matters as education without risking every guarantee for religion.

It is certainly from no desire to re-open controversies, which, thank God, have in a great measure lost their bitterness, that these things are referred to here. Most of those who took a leading part in the warfare have entered into their rest, and "seeing eye to eye" have learned to love one another in the fellowship of the Church glorified. It is therefore peculiarly painful to recall a time of misunderstanding and bitterness. But in describing the part taken by Norman Macleod during years of keen and important debate, historical truthfulness, as well as the duty imposed on his biographer of throwing as much light as possible on the motives which then actuated him, and which led to the strong expressions of opinion sometimes to be found in his journals and letters, make it necessary to re-create, to a certain extent, the atmosphere which then surrounded him. If there are hard words sometimes uttered by him, it can be asserted, with all truth, that they owe their character chiefly to his intense desire for tolerance and love between Christian men and Christian Churches, and from detestation of that party-spirit which is ever so destructive of right Christian feeling.

For the sake of clearness, therefore, as well as of illustrating the position taken by Norman Macleod during this discussion, we shall state, as briefly and impartially as possible, the points at issue in a controversy which agitated Scotland to its centre, drove into hostile camps those who had been previously united by the most sacred tics, and is still affecting the public and private life of the kingdom.

The tide of fresh intellectual life which passed over Europe in the early part of the nineteenth century, causing in France the Revolution of 1830, and in Britain the Reform Bill of 1832, manifested its effects in almost every sphere in which the voice of the populace could be heard. It told with power upon all religions and all Churches, and as might have been expected, had a marked influence on the Church of Scotland, whose government from the first had been democratic. With the quickening of political and intellectual life, there was also a revival, in the best sense, of spiritual religion. The earlier movements of this new life were towards objects of missionary enterprise, in which both parties in the Church vied with each other. The India Mission, the Education and Colonial Schemes, inaugurated by the leaders of the "Moderates," were heartily supported by the "Evangelicals," who, at the same time, led by Dr. Chalmers, were urging on Church extension with splendid tokens of success. The spirit of party was at this time chiefly manifested in the defence of Church Establishments against the Voluntaries and the war, carried on mainly by the future Non-Intrusionists, was characterized by great argumentative ability, and by no little intolerance of spirit towards dissent. This campaign against the Voluntaries was closely connected with the events which followed within the Church, and which led to its dismemberment. For the desire to popularise the Establishment as much as possible, and to show that her constitution ensured the same freedom and independence of government which belonged to dissenting communities, gradually led to a series of legislative enactments, on the part of the General Assembly, which raised the fatal questiones vexatæ that produced the secession.

Divested of the entanglements into which they fell, and viewed apart from the strict chronological order of events, the questions which ultimately divided the Church may be thus stated:—

I. They had reference to the constitutional power of the Church.

II. To practical legislation.

I. The two parties into which the Church was divided had divergent beliefs as to the nature of the spiritual independence which of right belonged to the Church.

The Non-Intrusion party maintained that in all questions, the subject-matter of which involved what was spiritual, the jurisdiction of the Church courts was exclusive, and that their sentences were unchallengeable, even when it was asserted by a party complaining, that the laws and constitution of the Church itself were being violated. The Church had also, according to them, the right to declare what was spiritual, and was in such cases quite free, not only to decide on the merits, but to change the forms of law regulating her procedure. They denied, moreover, that the civil courts had power to pronounce any decision which could touch the spiritual sentence, even in cases where a civil right was so involved that it could not easily be separated from the spiritual. The Ecclesiastical Courts were to stand to the Civil very much as the Court of Arches stands to Chancery.

They, claimed, in short, for the Church constitutional powers coordinate-not with the Civil Courts only, but with the State—a right not only to make new laws, but to be the interpreter of her own laws in every case where the question involved that which was spiritual, although civil rights were affected by it.

In all such things she was to be responsible to Jesus Christ alone as the Head of the Church.

The position of the other party was equally clear. They believed as firmly as their brethren in the duty of accepting no law which inferred disloyalty to the revealed will of the Great Head. They also claimed for the Church undisputed liberty in the exercise of her judicial functions. But they further asserted that when the Church, after due deliberation, had settled her own constitution, and had come to terms with the State as to the conditions on which she should accept establishment, and had satisfied herself that there was nothing in the statutes so establishing her which inferred disloyalty to conscience and the Word of God, she had then become bound by contract, and had no right proprio motu to legislate in such a manner as to nullify her own constitution and the statutes to which she had agreed. These laws had become her laws, and held her in a certain fixed relationship, not only with the State, but with her own members and every individual who had a locus standi before her courts, whether minister, communicant, patron, or heritor. All these, the constitutional party maintained, had a right to see that they had the privileges of law, that they were tried by properly constituted courts, and with the observance of such forms of process as statute law and the practice of the Church herself prescribed. They also maintained that any one who deemed himself aggrieved by an infringement of law, was entitled to the protection of the Civil Courts. When disputes arose not respecting what the law ought to be, but as to what was the existing law by which the Church Courts and the members of the Church were equally bound, they held, that this being a purely legal question, fell of necessity to be determined by a court of law. It was but the law of contract applied to matters ecclesiastical, and the tribunal which could alone definitely settle what the terms of contract were, must, in their view, be the courts of the country charged with the authoritative interpretation of law. While they yielded nothing to their opponents in claiming spiritual independence for the Church, they were of opinion that that independence, and the allegiance due to the great Head, were best secured by maintaining intact the constitution which the Church had adopted and which the State had, at the suit of the Church, confirmed. They held that no change could be made without the consent of all parties interested, and that to concede to any majority, which happened to obtain ascendancy in the General Assembly, power to alter the constitution of the Church, either as to doctrine or discipline, was not legitimate independence, but licence which, if carried to its logical consequences, might ultimately destroy the Church.

Such were the different ideas of jurisdiction and of spiritual independence which were held by the two parties. They soon found an ample field for discussion in the questions which arose" during the "Ten Years' Conflict."

II. The Assembly of 1834 was the first in which the " High party" gained a majority over the "Moderates," and their victory was signalised -by the passing of two Acts, which laid the train for all the disastrous consequences that ensued.

(a) The first was the Veto A.

Although lay patronage had always been distasteful to a section of the clergy, and unpopular with the vast majority of the people, yet, with the exception of a comparatively short period, it had been in some form or other enforced by statute, and recognised in the practice of the Church ever since her establishment. The Act of Queen Anne, at all events, had been in force for more than one hundred and twenty years. The forms to be observed in the settlement of ministers were also of express enactment. It was the duty of Presbyteries to take all presentees on trial, and, if found qualified, to induct them, unless such objections were tendered by the parishioners as should approve themselves valid to the Court. The liberty of judgment was to lie with the Church courts alone, without right of appeal.

But in 1834 the party which had become dominant in the General Assembly, professing to give greater effect to the will of the people, and to prevent the recurrence of such scandals in the working of the law of patronage as had occurred during the cold period of the eighteenth century, passed an Act which practically got quit of patronage by a side-wind. This was the Veto Act, by which power was given to a majority of the male communicants, being heads of families, to veto the settlement of a particular minister without assigning any reason, Presbyteries being at the same time enjoined to accept this Veto as an absolute bar to all further proceedings. In this manner they hoped to secure non-intrusion, and nullify the evil effects of patronage. The power of judgment was thus transferred from the Church courts to the male communicants, being heads of families; and the quality of the judgment was altered from one supported by reasons, to that of a Veto pronounced without any grounds being assigned. The majority in the Assembly which passed this law certainly believed they had constitutional power so to legislate. But not only did a large and influential minority—no less than one hundred and thirty-nine against a majority of one hundred and eighty-four—protest against it as ultra vires, but Chalmers himself had doubts of its legality, while he supported its adoption. After the passing of the Act, the constitutional party offered no factious opposition; they allowed it a fair trial, and in several instances it was acted upon without question. But at last, in the Auchterarder case, its competency was challenged by a patron and presentee, and the question was brought to an issue by a declaratory action in the Civil Court. The patron asserted that his civil right, secured by statute, had been infringed, and the presentee that his privilege as a licentiate of the Church to be taken on trial by the Presbytery had been denied. On the question of law thus submitted to them, the Civil Courts—first the Court of Session and then the House of Lords—decided that the Veto Act was ultra vires. The ecclesiastical majority then professed themselves willing to give up the. temporalities, but refused to take the presentee on trial, or to proceed in any way with his settlement. In all this, however, the State never interfered, and the Courts of Law pronounced their decision only because it was asked regarding the proper interpretation of a statute. No one sought to fetter the judgment of the Ecclesiastical Courts as to the fitness or unfitness of the presentee for the benefice, or as to the validity of the objections which the people might bring against him. All that was insisted on was that the Presbytery—and the Presbytery alone—was bound to try the suitability of the presentee and that it was illegal to accept the simple Veto of " heads of families being communicants" as a sufficient bar to induction. [Even the Act, 1690, c. 23, which is appealed to in the Free Church Claim of Eights as if it were the very charter of the liberties of the Church, while it vests patronage in the heritors and elders—giving them the right to propose a minister to a congregation for their approval—expressly requires disapprovers "to give in their reasons to the effect the affair may be cognosced upon by the Presbytery of the Bounds, at whose judgment and by whose determination the calling and entry of the particular minister is to be ordered and concluded." The Veto Act, however, conferred on the people the right to reject a presentee without any trial and without assigning any reasons.] The dominant part in the Assembly, however, would not listen to this reasoning. They claimed spiritual independence, and absolutely refused obedience to the Civil Court.

The next step irretrievably involved both parties. This was taken in the well-known Marnoch case. The Presbytery of Strathbogie, acting on the injunctions of the General Assembly, but contrary to the judgment of a majority of their own number, and notwithstanding the decision of the House of Lords in the Auchterarder case, refused to take a presentee on trial. Upon this the presentee complained to the Civil Court. Before this tribunal the majority of the Presbytery appeared, and stated they were satisfied that by the laws of the Church they were bound to take the presentee on trial, but that they were restrained by an order of the superior Ecclesiastical Court. The Court of Session, however, told them that such an order was ultra vires, and ordered them to proceed. Their own convictions as to their duty being thus confirmed by a judicial sentence, they—unfortunately without waiting to throw the responsibility on the Assembly—took the presentee on trial, and having found him duly qualified, inducted him. For this act of disobedience to their injunctions, the General Assembly deposed the majority of the Presbytery. The constitutional party, on the other hand, who were in a minority in the Assembly, accepting the decision of the Civil Court as a confirmation of what they had themselves all along maintained to be the law of the Church, felt themselves bound to treat the ministers, who had been deposed for obeying that law, as if no ecclesiastical censure had been passed. They appealed, in short, from the decision of the dominant majority to the obligations which the statutes establishing the Church imposed. Matters thus came to a dead-lock, and both sides found themselves in a position from which it was almost impossible to retreat.

(b) Another proceeding of the same General Assembly of 1834 led even more decidedly to a similar conflict—for by the law then passed affecting Chapels of Ease, a formal right had been given to Ministers of quoad sacra or non-parochial churches, to sit in Presbyteries, Synods and Assemblies. The theory of Presbyterian parity, and some precedents which had not at the time been challenged, lent countenance to the Act. But its legality was disputed by the parishioners of Stewarton, in 1839, and after a trial, the Court of Session found it unconstitutional and incompetent. As Presbyteries are Courts which possess jurisdiction not only in matters spiritual, but in civil matters,—such as the building and repair of manses, churches, and the examination of schoolmasters—it was evident that any parishioner or heritor or schoolmaster, as well as minister, was entitled to object to any one sitting as a member of the Court who had no legal right to do so. The Non-Intrusion party, however, once more claimed supremacy for the General Assembly. The Church, and the Church only, they said, had the right to determine who should sit in her Courts; but the Court of Session held that it was a violation of the law of the land as well as of the constitution of the Church itself, to allow any minister to act as judge in a Presbytery who was not the minister of a parish, and issued interdict accordingly.

Confusion thus became worse confounded. With the view of reconciling parties, measures were proposed in Parliament for the settlement of ministers, in which the utmost latitude was given to the liberty of the people to object. One point alone was stipulated,—the Church Courts must decide whether the objections to the presentee were good or bad, and their decision was to be final. But even this was not satisfactory. Nothing short of such a liberum arbitrium must be given to the people as has been commemorated in the song—

"'I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell.'

The extreme party had taken their position, and it was not easy to recede from it. The "Ten Years' Conflict" waxed louder and fiercer as it approached its lamentable close. A Convocation of the Free Church party was held to mature measures for the final separation. Deputations were appointed to visit every parish whose minister was of the opposite party, and to stir up the people so as to prepare them for secession. The language used by these deputies was not unfrequently of the wildest and most reprehensible description. The choice they put before the country was "Christ or Caesar." Motives of the most mercenary description were too often attributed to the ministers who dared to abide by the Establishment There was kindled, especially in the North Highlands, a fanaticism the intensity of which would now appear incredible. It was, in short, a period of untold excitement.

Norman Macleod was for a long time unwilling to be dragged into the controversy, and pursued his parochial duties with increasing earnestness, without entering into the strife which was raging around him. He was unfitted alike by temperament and by conviction for being a "party man," and until nearly the end of the conflict his sympathies were not greatly roused by the action of either side. He felt that the High Churchmen or " Evangelicals" were, on the one hand, exaggerating the importance of their case, for he had seen noble types of Christianity in England and Germany under forms and conditions widely different from what were pronounced in Scotland essential to the existence of the Church. His common sense condemned the recklessness with which the very existence of the National Church was imperilled for the sake of an extreme and, at the best, a dubious question of ecclesiastical polity. In whatever way the dispute might be settled, his practical mind saw that nothing was involved which could hinder him from preaching the Gospel freely, or interfere either with his loyalty to the Word of God, or with the utmost liberty in promoting the advancement of Christ's kingdom. His whole nature was opposed to what savoured of ultramontane pretensions, however disguised, and knowing how easily "presbyter" might become "priest writ large," he was too much afraid of the tyranny of Church Courts and ecclesiastical majorities, not to value the checks imposed by constitutional law. He was, moreover, repelled by the violence of temper, the unfairness of judgment, and the spiritual pride, displayed by so many of the "Evangelicals." He had known and loved too many excellent Christian men among the so-called "Moderates," not to be shocked by the indiscriminate abuse which was heaped upon them.

On the other hand, he had such reverent love for Chalmers, the leader of the "Evangelicals," and for many of the eminent men associated with him, that he was for a time led to sympathize with their side, without adopting the policy they advocated. Although he afterwards perceived the inconsistency of the utterances of Chalmers in this controversy with the whole of his previously declared opinions on Church and State ["Third Crack about the Kirk," passim.] yet there was a boldness displayed by the party at whose head was his old teacher, and a warmth and zeal for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ, which appeared, to his eyes, in favourable contrast with the proverbial coldness of the "Moderates."

He did not, however, publicly commit himself to a side, nor did he, indeed, carefully examine the question, until the thickening of the storm compelled him to do so. A speech delivered by Mr. Whigham, then sheriff of Perth, opened his eyes to the true nature of the issue set before the Church. He went home to Loudoun, shut himself up in his study, plunged into the history and literature of the controversy, and fairly thought out for himself the conclusions which determined his line of action. In April, 1843, a small section of the Church, known by the sobriquet of "The Forty," or "The Forty Thieves," attempted to take a middle course between extremes. They refused to identify the principle of con-Intrusion with the Veto Act, or with its spirit, and were ready to accept as a compromise such an arrangement as afterwards became law through Lord Aberdeen's Bill, by which the utmost freedom was declared to belong to the Presbytery to decide on the suitableness of each presentee to the particular circumstances of the parish to which he had been nominated by the patron. They equally differed from the extreme "Moderates," who were content with the existing law, and who did not desire any further popularising of the Church. "The Forty" would undoubtedly have been content had patronage been done away altogether, and the bone of contention for ever removed.

Shortly after the declaration of "The Forty," Norman intimated to Dr. Leishman, their leader, his wish to append his name, expressing the characteristic hope that "The Forty" would soon become another '45, to revolutionise the policy of the Church.

At last the war came to his own door, and he was roused to a public defense of his principles. A deputation had been sent to his parish, for the purpose of promoting secession, and of driving the people from his ministry. He at once addressed his parishioners on the disputed question with such effect, that their loyalty was secured almost to a man. He next wrote a pamphlet suited for the common people. It was in the form of a dialogue, conducted in pithy Scotch, and entitled, "A Crack about the Kirk." [See Appendix B.] Its wit and clearness of statement at once attracted attention, and it passed rapidly through several editions. The first "Crack" was speedily followed by two others, which were hardly so racy in style, though perhaps quite as powerful in argument. About the same period he found himself placed in a position of painful responsibility. The case which had determined the non-eligibility of Chapel Ministers to sit in Presbyteries had been that of Stewarton, in the Presbytery of Irvine. He was moderator of the Presbytery when the election of commissioners, to sit in the ensuing General Assembly of '43, was to take place. As moderator it was his duty to keep the actings of the Presbytery in due form; and as the decision of the Court of Session satisfied him that the ministers of Chapels quoad sacra had no legal position in the Ecclesiastical Court, he declared his determination not to admit their votes, and intimated that, should they insist on retaining their seats at the meeting of Presbytery, he would then separate, with all such members as should adhere to him, and constitute the Court from a roll purged of the names of all not legally qualified. "A circumstance had come to his knowledge," he said, "since the last meeting that materially weighed with him in the step he was about to take at this juncture. It had been declared by the public organs of the Non-Intrusionists, [Vide the Presbyterian Review, April, 1813.] and he heard it stated frequently in private and never heard it contradicted, that it was the intention of the party which was about to secede, not to retire merely as a section of the Church, but, by gaining a majority in the Assembly, to declare the connection between Church and State at an end, and, moreover to excommunicate those who remained in the Church as by law established. He would by all constitutional means, and at all hazards, do all that in him lay to prevent the venerable Establishment to which he was attached from being annihilated, and himself and his brethren from being held up to their people as excommunicated ministers. And to attain this object he felt it necessary for the members of Presbytery to send none but legally qualified commissioners to the next Assembly, and he saw no other possible course for accomplishing this than separating from their quoad sacra brethren. He would go further, perhaps, to evince his love and attachment to the Church of his fathers than by merely giving up a stipend; and to separate from his brethren with whom he had associated in the Presbytery, was as sore a trial as any he had yet met with. .... While he gave the utmost credit to his brethren on the opposite side for the sincerity of their intentions, he claimed the same credit from them for his conduct in this matter, as being dictated by a conscientious sense of duty." He accordingly separated with those who adhered to him, and the first split in the Church took place.

He was a member of the famous Assembly of '43, and used to recount the strange vicissitudes of that eventful meeting. He gives some reminiscences in letters and journals, but they are meagre compared with those to which his friends have frequently listened. "The sacrifices," he often said, "were certainly not all on one side." With indignant energy he portrayed the trial it was to the flesh to keep by the unpopular side and to act out what conscience dictated as the line of duty. If it was hard to go out, it was harder to stay in. It would have been a relief to have joined the procession of those who passed out amid the huzzas of the populace, and who were borne on the tide of enthusiasm,—greeted as martyrs and regarded as saints, in place of remaining by the apparent wreck of all that was lately a prosperous Church. The heart sank at the spectacle of those empty benches where once sat Chalmers and Welsh and Gordon, and such able leaders as Candlish and Cunningham; while the task of filling up more than four hundred vacant charges, and reorganizing all the foreign missionary agencies of the Church, which had in one day disappeared, was terribly disheartening. There was no encouragement from the outside world for those who began with brave hearts to clear away the wreck. Scorn and hissing greeted them at every turn, as men whose only aim was "to abide by the stuff." One unpopular step had to be resolutely taken after another, and the impolitic legislation of the last ten years reversed. Unless there had been in his mind a deep sense of duty, Norman Macleod was the last man in the world to undertake the dreary task which for many a day was assigned to him and to his brethren. But he did not hesitate. Although his heart was burdened by its anxieties, he took his place from that day onward as a "restorer of the breach," and was spared to see that the labours of those who endeavoured in the hour of danger to preserve the blessings of an Established Church for the country had not been thrown away.

And the history of both Churches has since then amply vindicated the position taken by the party which was then ready to move for reform without disruption. The policy of "The Forty" has been practically followed by the Church for several years past, and it is that, on the one hand, which has led to the gradual removal of the difficulties affecting Chapels of Ease, by erecting them into Endowed Parishes quoad sacra, and which, on the other, has obtained from Parliament a total repeal of the Law of Patronage. The problems which disturbed the Church have thus been settled by patient and devoted labour, conducted in a spirit of toleration and charity towards others, and with an honest endeavour after reconstruction on a sure and national ground.

It is not too much to say that to many minds the history of the Free Church has presented a marked contrast to this. In spite of her great energy, they believe that she has failed to solve the difficulty she herself raised as to the relationship of Church and State. In the Cardross case, her claim to spiritual independence within her own denomination was judicially denied. May it not therefore be questioned whether, after little more than thirty years' existence, she does not really find herself without a logical position between Voluntaryism and the Establishment?

Norman Macleod made two speeches during the memorable Assembly of 1843—the first being in reference to a motion of Dr. Cook for rescinding the Veto. A distinguished minister of the Church, who was then a student, records the deep impression which this speech made. The courage and Christian enthusiasm of its tone, he says, inspired confidence in the hearts of many who were almost despairing, and for his own part greatly confirmed his loyalty. When he heard it he exclaimed, "There is life in the old Church yet," and gave himself anew to its ministry. Only a condensed report remains of this speech, but the following extract gives some idea of its bearing:—

"Difficult as the task is which those who have left us have assigned to us, I, for one, cheerfully, but yet with chastened and determined feelings, accept of it. I do so, God knoweth not for my own ease and comfort. If I consulted them, or any selfish feeling, I would take the popular and easy method of solving all difficulties, by leaving the Establishment; but I am not free to do so. I glory in declaring that this is not a Free Presbyterian Church. We are not free to legislate beyond the bounds of the constitution ; we are not free to gratify our own feelings at the expense of the good of the country. Neither are we free from the weakness and infirmities of humanity—its fears, despondencies, and anxieties. No ! we are bound, but bound by honour, conscience, and law—by the cords of love and affection—to maintain our beloved Established Church, and, through it, to benefit our dear fatherland. And I am not afraid. By the grace of God we shall succeed. We shall endeavor to extinguish the fire which has been kindled, and every fire but the light of the glorious Gospel, which we shall, I hope, fan into a brighter flame. And the beautiful spectacle which was presented to us on Sabbath evening in the dense crowd assembled here to ask the blessing of God on our beloved Church, enabled me to distinguish amid the flames the old motto flashing out, ' Nec tamen consumebatur.' We shall try to bring our ship safe to harbour, and if we haul down the one flag 'Retract! No, never!' we shall hoist another, 'Despair! No, never!' And if I live to come to this Assembly an old man, I am confident that a grateful posterity will vindicate our present position, in endeavouring, through good report and bad report, to preserve this great national institution as a blessing to them and to their children's children."

To the Rev. A. Clerk, Ardnamurchan.

"Loudoun Manse, February, 18th, 1843.

"How thankful ought you to be for your lot being cast in a parish which is known only to a few sea-fowl, to Sir John Barrow, or the Trigonometrical Survey! No convocationist can find you out—no Witness or Guardian newspaper has any conception where you are—no Commission would know where to send for you if they wished to depose you. The Church and State may be severed during your life ere you hear of the dissolution, or suffer by it. Happy recluse! fortunate eremite! Pity a poor brother who is tossed on the sea of Lowland commotion. He needs both pity and sympathy.

"To be serious—for this is too serious a time for joking—I am most anxious to give you an account of my personal adventures in this troublous time, and to lay before you, for your kind, candid and prayerful advice, the position in which I may very soon be placed. You know how earnestly I have tried to keep out of this Church question. Not that I was by any means indifferent to its importance, for it is connected with the question of the age (as it has been the question of ages gone by, viz., the relation of Church and State, and their mutual duties), and which, in one form or other is discussed over Europe. Neither was I indolent in acquiring information on the subject, as my extensive collection of pamphlets, my Church history notes, my underlined Books of Discipline, Acts of Assembly and of Parliament, my repeated conversations with men of both parties, and my own conscience, can testify. But my heart does not sympathize with controversy. I hate it. It is the worst way of getting good. It is at best a sore operation; rendered, perhaps, necessary by the state of the body politic—but nevertheless a sore operation; and I hate the cutting, flaying, bleeding, connected—I fear, inseparably—with all such modes of cure. Besides, whatever opinion I might have of their system of Church and State government, I really do not like the animus of the Edinburgh clique. There is a domineering, bullying temper about many of them, a sort of evangelical method of abusing, and a conscientious way of destroying a man's character and making him have the appearance of being evil, which I loathe. The cold, gentlemanly Moderate, in spite of his many faults, is more bearable to my flesh and blood than the loudspeaking high professor, who has as little real heart for religion as the other. I would rather—than—or—. The one may be a Sadducee, the other looks like a Pharisee. I would sooner have the glacier than the volcano. Pardon me, Archy, for saying this, but I am heartily vexed with what I have lived to see done under the cloak of Evangelism. I now begin to understand how the Puritanism of Charles I.'s time should have produced libertinism in the reign of Charles II.—aye, and the persecution too. Well, I am disgressing from my theme. I said that I wished to keep out of this row, and to do my Master's work and will in my dear, dear parish. I hoped to be let alone to win souls quietly in this sweet bay where we only felt the pulse-beating of that great ocean which was roaring and raging outside. But no ! The country must be raised and excited, and my parish, of course, did not escape. When absent at Kil-ninver, I heard that B. of L. and W. of B. had been making arrangements for a meeting, both in Newmilns and Darvel. The evening came —B. was unwell, and W. alone arrived. The place of meeting was the Secession Church in Newmilns (contrary to Mr. Bruce's mind), and the Cameronians' meeting-place in Darvel. I went to the first meeting, at seven o'clock. Newmilns, you know, has nearly two thousand inhabitants, besides the country round. There were about a hundred in church; of these, sixty were Chartists, and the rest Dissenters and Churchmen. W. spoke for an hour—very tamely and very lamely, I thought, but was perfectly civil. If you only heard his arguments! The gist of the first part of his speech was this:—The Church ought to obey the Bible—the Bible says, 'Beware of false prophets;' 'Try the spirits,' &c. These are commands, duties which must be performed, and necessarily imply liberty and power on the part of the Christian people to judge. The ergo was the amusing thing from these premises—ergo, the Church passed the Veto Act! which gave the privilege to the male heads of families to object! He went on thus until be came to that which a sausage has—the end, and then said that if any elders or communicants present wished to sign their names to certain resolutions, they would have an opportunity, and mentioned how successful he had been in other parishes. I could stand this no longer, but sprang up —to the visible astonishment of W.—and told the people if they had any confidence in me not to give him one name, and I would take an early opportunity of satisfying them that the question was a much more difficult one than it was represented to be by Mr. W------. He said nothing, but gave the blessing!—for what, no one knew, for he did not get one name! In Darvel, however, he got twenty or so. Well, on Sabbath, after explaining my position, I intimated a meeting with my people upon the Tuesday following. I had been reading hard for weeks on the subject, and had the facts at my finger-ends. The evening came, and the church was crammed with all sects and parties. I do believe I never had a greater pressure on my soul than I had before this meeting. I did not so much possess the subject as the subject possessed me. Between anxiety to do right, and a feeling of degradation that I should be looked upon, by even one Christian brother as inimical to the Church of Scotland, not to speak of the Church of Christ, I was so overcome that during the singing of the Psalm—

'''Therefore I wish that peace may still
Within thy walls remain,'

I wept like a very child. I spoke, however, for three-and-a-half hours, and not a soul moved! Never did I see such an attentive audience.

"The result has been most gratifying. Of ten elders not one has left me! This is singular, as I believe only two in the whole town of Kilmarnock have refused to join the Convocation. The people are nearly unanimous, or at all events, are so attached to me personally that they are about to present to me a gold watch and an address from all parties. I would be very ungrateful to God if I were not both gratified and humbled by this proof of my dear people's good-will to me.

"So far all has been well in my parish. But here conies a row in the Presbytery, which I greatly fear will be followed by more serious consequences. I am Moderator. You know, of course, the decision in the Stewarton case. At the first meeting after that decision, when the Interlocutor from the Court of Session was laid upon the table, it was moved that the names of the minister and elder affected by it should be struck off the roll. A counter-motion was made and carried, that the business of the Presbytery be suspended, and the case referred to the Commission for advice. Against this finding we all (i.e., the 'Moderates') protested. At that meeting the 'Moderates' had a minority of the lawful members of court. But at next meeting we are satisfied that we shall have a majority among the lawful members, i.e., exclusive of all the Quoad Sacra ministers. What is to be done? 'A question to be asked.' At a private meeting, by the advice of counsel, it was proposed—and, I fear, agreed to—that I should insist on the legal roll only being read when the vote is taken regarding the admission of the ministers Quoad Sacra to the court—that, in the event of a legal majority agreeing to dismiss them, we should adjourn the meeting for a few minutes, then constitute the court anew, and, if any Chapel minister insisted on remaining in spite of our decision, to turn him out. This is, in all truth, decided enough.

"The reasons for it are:—

"1. By thus forming ourselves into a legal Presbytery by the vote of a legal majority, we are enabled to stop the appeal to the House of Lords on the Stewarton case—the decision on which by the Court of Session we know there is not the slightest chance of being reversed—and which we know there is no intention of following out, the appeal only being to gain time— but which is throwing obstacles in the way of those members in other presbyteries who, but for the appeal, would form themselves into constitutional courts.

"2. We would thus send moderate men (in the right sense of the word) to next Assembly. This is of great consequence, as it is understood—the Aberdeen Banner makes no secret of it—that the Assembly may declare the Church severed from the State and hold as schismatics all who differ from that dictum, authoritatively uttered by the Assembly. Now we wish to have a set of decent fellows to be presided over by the Commissioner. These are the reasons for our movement, in addition to the more obvious one that all our proceedings, quoad civilia at least, are de facto null and void as long as these ministers are with us.

"On the other hand, will not this step settle the question as to whether both parties can remain together any longer? 1. We separate. 2. The Commission meets and suspends us. 3. We deny the right or a body illegally constituted to do so. 4. We send Commissioners to the Assembly. 5. Our party receives them, the other party rejects them. 6. The receiving party appeals to the Commissioner as to which is the Established Church, and then comes the split—and all this by my vote and determination as Moderator !!

"Is this not a fix for a quiet-living man like me to be placed in! Is it not enough to make a man's hair grey? What is to be done? 'I would,' as Sir John says, 'you would practise an answer.'

"Our meeting is on the first Tuesday of March. Send me your opinion, as a Christian man, before that. How do you think I can best discharge my duty to the law, the Church, my people, and to myself, and consequently to God? You observe I take for granted the principle—on which you need not argue—that in any question relating to the privileges granted by the State to the Church, neither the Church, on the one hand, nor the State, on the other, is the judge; but a third party, namely, the Civil Courts, whose duty it is to say what the Statute Law is. Therefore I hold their decision in the Stewarton case right de jure. At the same time I will use every effort to get the ministers of Quoad Sacra churches legally into the Church. The decision just makes us fall back to what we were before '34.

"I have some thoughts of splitting the difficulty in the Presbytery by asking leave to withdraw from the Court, protesting against all consequences which may follow from letting these men in; and if the other party do not agree to this, then to run my big jib up and bear away for another Presbytery. I am satisfied that a great mass of the community is sick of this business. The people feel no practical evil—and no nation was ever yet roused to revolution by a mere theory. Had it not been for indulgences and such like practical evils, Luther would not have had material with which to begin the war, though, after it was once begun opinions could keep it agoing. If the Covenanters had not been shot and bayoneted, no theory-regarding Church or State would have made them sleep in moss-bogs or fight at Drumclog.

"What did you think of C, of C. saying, 'The Lord Jesus Christ will have left the Church when we go!' One of the Rothesay ministers, I am told, said the other day, that the Devil was preparing a cradle in hell for the opposition ! Yet I daresay, in a century after this, we shall have some partisan historian writing whining books about these persecuted, self-denying, far-seeing saints, and describing all who oppose them as lovers of the fleece, dumb dogs, and all that trash."

To his sister Jane:—

"I am very dowie and cast down—not because I am alone, for I love the bachelor life every day more and more, and delight in the independence with which I can rise, eat, read, write when I like!—but this Church of ours is going between me and my sleep.

"There was a private meeting of our party the day before yesterday at Irvine. All that was done was strictly private, but most important; and only think of this—just think of it—that I Norman McLeod, shall certainly be obliged to make the move which will beyond a doubt first separate the Church into two parts ! ! This is confidence. It is making my head grey. As Strong says, I am this moment the Archbishop of Canterbury. My simple vote as Moderator will decide the game one way or another. In short, the hurricane is only beginning. The explosion is to come, and I !!! must fire the train. Well, I think I will get enough of acting now, and no mistake. Suspension, and anathemas loud and deep from the Witness, are all before me as possibilities. You can fancy my cogitations, my working out of problems. David Strong came here and spent yesterday with me. He went away to-day. We had a delightful walk together. He goes with us, and we feel as one. I gave a great blowing up to—, who said with a sneer when he heard me express my many difficulties, 'Oh, it is quite plain that Macleod does not like it!' 'Like it!' I said, turning round on him like a tiger, ' let me assure you, sir, that I look upon it as one of the sorest trials that have ever come my way, and that I would give a year's stipend and ten times more to get quit of it.' All the others backed me."

To the Same:—

"Edinburgh, Thursday Morning, Half-past Seven, May, 1843.

"The day has come, beautiful in the physical world, but thundery and ominous in the moral one. All the 'Convocationists' are going out. They have been unanimous. No vote is to be taken on any point. They lodge a protest and walk. The excitement is prodigious. I am very sad, but in no way frightened. Many are acting from fear of public opinion as much as anything else. . . ."

To the Same:—

"Thursday Evening, May 18, 1843.

"They are off. Four hundred and fifty ministers and elders, one hundred and fifty members. Three have gone since the Queen's letter was read. Welsh's sermon was the beau ideal of one. Everything in their conduct was dignified.

"God bless all the serious among them. The row is only beginning. I am to protest against the Strathbogies. I am lighter than in the morning, though very dowie. I think we may, by God's blessing, survive. An immense crowd in the New Assembly. Welsh, and then Chalmers, moderator. The procession was solemn, I am told. Some sad, but others laughing! The contrast between the old and the young was very striking.

"P.S.—They are out of the Church."

"I take my stand for Constitutional Reform. We are at our worst. If we survive this week we shall swim. How my soul rises against those men, who have left us to rectify their blundering, and then laugh at our inability to do so."

To the Same:—

"Tuesday, May 23.

"I have but five minutes. The Strathbogie case is over, thank God ! I think we may swim. It was to me a terrible night. I spoke till half-past twelve p.m. I voted twice yesterday against my old friends. I could not help it. I followed my own judgment. Great gloom, but not despair, -tour hundred and fifty have this day for ever abandoned the Church."

To the Same:—


"No one but a member of Assembly—and of such an Assembly as the present—can understand how difficult a thing it is to command quiet time and quiet thoughts, so as to be enabled to write a legible and interesting letter. I am unfit for the task.

"We are going ahead slowly; our disagreeable work is now nearly over. We yesterday reached zero, when the whole Free Presbyterians formally resigned their status as parish ministers. I believe I intensely realise the position of our Church, which some of the Aberdeenshire 'Moderates' do not. The best temper prevails in the Assembly upon the whole, but upon our weak side there is a general gloom when contemplating the awful task before us of filling up four hundred and thirty vacancies, in the face of an agitation conducted by four hundred and thirty sworn, able, energetic enemies. I look forward to five years as the period of reaction. We shall have, fearful religious excitement or hysterical revivals, the women and ladies leading; 2, starvation from the effect of voluntaryism; 3, ecclesiastical tyranny; 4, a strong and united combination of all Dissenters against 'all the Establishments of this country,' to borrow—'s words; and when these features of this secession begin to manifest themselves then, but not till then, will the tide fully turn.

"I wait in hope and with patience. I am ashamed at the cowardice and terror of many of our ministers. I feel the secession deeply, but I am possessed with a most chivalrous and firm determination to live and die fighting for this bulwark of Protestantism, this ark of righteousness, this conservator of social order and religious liberty, the dear old Kirk.

"May God help us, and then I will not fear what man can do. I trust that posterity will vindicate our doings. It is for future generations we are now suffering. —has tried to cut up my speech, but he must have known that I never meant what he alleges. But there is, I grieve to think it, a great want of honour amongst a certain set of these men. I am just informed that I am to be offered an Edinburgh Church. This will put a finish to my troubles. I dare not think of the subject. I hope I have one feeling—a desire to sacrifice myself for my country; but whether will I do most good, in Loudoun, near Loudoun, or here! As to the living, poor as it is, and much as I have to pay, I could bear with it."

To the Same:—

"May 27, 1843.

"I am at present, I begin to suspect, rather a black sheep among the 'Moderates,' because I dare to have a mind of my own, and to act as a check, though a fearfully trifling one, on their power. Another day is coming; and come what may, there shall be one free Presbyterian in Scotland who will not give up his own understanding or conscience to living man.

"I intend to give my farewell speech on Monday. We have been as cold as ice and looking as if we were all to be shot. The Free Church is carrying it on most nobly. They know human nature better than we do. But defense never has the glory of attack. I leave all to posterity, and am not afraid of the verdict. I saw a tomb to-day in the Chapel of Holyrood with this inscription, 'Here lies an honest man.' I only wish to live in such a way as to entitle me to have the same éloge.

"My Father is off. My soul is sick."

From his Journal:—

"June 2nd, 1843.—I have returned from the Assembly of 1843, one which will be famous in the annals of the Church of Scotland. Yet who will ever know its real history? The great movements, the grand results,
will certainly be known, and everything has been done in the way most calculated to tell on posterity (for how many have been acting before its eyes!); but who in the next century will know or understand the ten thousand secret influences, the vanity and pride of some, the love of applause, the fear and terror, of others, and, above all, the seceding mania, the revolutionary mesmerism, which I have witnessed within these few days?

"It was impossible to watch the progress of this schism without seeing that it was inevitable.

"To pass and to maintain at all hazards laws, which by the highest authorities were declared to be inconsistent with and subversive of civil statutes, could end only in breaking up the Establishment. So Dr. Cook said. So Dr. McCrie said in his evidence before the House of Commons. The Procurator told me that when the Veto Law was first proposed, Lord Moncrieff gave it as his opinion that the Church had power to pass it; that he was unwilling to go to Parliament for its approval until it was certain that its approval was necessary, but that should this become apparent, then unquestionably the Church ought to apply for a legislative enactment. This advice was not taken, and all the subsequent difficulties have arisen out of the determination to force that law.

"The event which made a disruption necessary was the deposition of the Strathbogie ministers for obeying the interpretation of statute law given by the civil court, instead of that given by the Church court. The moment one part of the Church solemnly deposed them, and another as solemnly determined to treat them as not deposed, the Church became virtually two Churches, and their separation became inevitable.

"Thursday, the 18th, was a beautiful day; but a general sense of oppression was over the town. Among many of the seceding party, upon that and on the successive days of the Assembly, there was an assumed levity of manner—a smiling tone of countenance, which seemed to say, 'Look what calm, cool, brave martyrs we are.' There were two incidents which convinced me that the old and soberer part of the seceders had a very different feeling from the younger and more violent, regarding the magnitude and consequence of this movement. I was in St. Giles's half an hour before Welsh began his sermon; two or three benches before me—and—, with a few of this hot genus omne, were chattering and laughing. During the singing of the Paraphrase old Brown (dear, good man) of St. John's, Glasgow, was weeping; but—was idly staring round the church. So in the procession some were smiling and appeared heedless, but the old men were sad and cast down. Welsh's sermon was in exquisite taste, and very calm and dignified; but its sentiments, I thought, were a century ahead of many of his convocation friends. His prayer at the opening of the Assembly was also beautiful. The Assembly presented a stirring sight. But still I was struck by the smiling of several on the seceding side, as if to show how light their hearts were when, methinks, they had no cause to be so at the beginning of such a great revolution. The subsequent movements of the two Assemblies are matters of history. The hissing and cheering in the galleries and along the line of procession were tremendous.

"Never did I pass such a fortnight of care and anxiety. Never did men engage in a task with more oppression of spirit than we did, as we tried to preserve this Church for the benefit of our children's children.

"The Assembly was called upon to perform a, work full of difficulty, and to do such unpopular things as restoring the Strathbogie ministers, rescinding the Veto, &c. We were hissed by the mob in the galleries, looked coldly on by many Christians, ridiculed as enemies to the true Church, as lovers of ourselves, seeking the fleece; and yet what was nearest my own heart and that of my friends was the wish to preserve this Establishment for the well-being of Britain. While 'the persecuted martyrs of the covenant' met amid the huzzas and applauses of the multitude, with thousands of pounds daily pouring in upon them, and nothing to do but what was in the highest degree popular; nothing but self-denial and a desire to sacrifice name and fame, and all but honour, to my country, could have kept me in the Assembly. There was one feature of the Assembly which I shall never forget, and that was the fever of secession, the restless, nervous desire to fly to the Free Church. No new truth had come to light, no new event had been developed, but there was a species of frenzy which seized men, and away they went. One man (------, of------) said to me, 'I must go; I am a lover of the Establishment, but last autumn I signed the convocation resolutions. All my people will leave me. I never will take a church left vacant by my seceding brethren. If I do not, I am a beggar. If I stay I lose all character. I must go;' and away he went, sick at heart; and many I know have been unconsciously led step by step, by meetings, by pledges, by rash statements, into a position which they sincerely lament but cannot help. There are many unwilling Latimers in that body. This 1 know right well. It amuses me, who have been much behind the scenes, to read the lithographed names of some as hollow-hearted fellows as ever ruined a country from love of glory and applause. But there are also many others there who would do honour to any cause.

"What is to be the upshot of this?

"1. The first rock I fear is fanaticism in Ross-shire and other parts of the country, such as has been witnessed only in America. I have already heard of scenes and expressions which would hardly be credited. (Nov.— The riots in Ross-shire show this has been fulfilled!)

"2. A union with all the Voluntaries to overthrow the Establishments of this country.

"3. Ecclesiastical despotism on the part of the laity and influential clergy.

"4. The consequence of this will be, the retiring of the more sober-minded from their ranks.

"5. Action, excitement, and perpetual motion are absolutely necessary to the existence of this Free Church; and it is impossible as yet to foresee whether it will blow up itself, or blow up the whole British constitution, or sink into paltry dissent.

"I hope it will also stir up the Establishment and purify us, make us more self-sacrificing and self-denying than ever, and so all these disasters may advance the Redeemer's glory.

"Aug. 14.—What an important period of my personal history has passed since I wrote my last Diary ! Since the division in the Presbytery of Irvine until this moment the troubles in the Church, the writing of pamphlets, the disruption, the Assembly, the preachings, the attending meetings, the refusing of parishes, has altogether formed a time long to be remembered.

"Let me try and jot a mere table of contents.


"1. I was Moderator of the Presbytery when it separated on the business of the ministers of Quoad Sacra churches. I moved to retire, probably never as a presbytery to meet again ! I did this, after much hesitation and many deep and, I hope, prayerful anxieties, (1) Because I believed that it was law. (2.) Because while it was the law, as stated by the courts of the country, which I conceive were alone competent to do so, and so the condition on which the Church was established, it did not interfere with the Jaw of Christ, as I see nothing in the New Testament which makes it necessary for ministers to rule in Church courts. The preservation of the Establishment I felt to be more necessary. (3) It was the avowed intention of the High Church party to get the majority in the Assembly by means of the Quoad Sacras (the appeal to the Lords being a sham, and as such dropped immediately after the commissioners were elected), and then, as the Assembly of the National Church, to dissolve the connection between Church and State, excommunicating those who might remain.

"In these circumstances I saw only one path open for me, i.e., to form ourselves into a separate Presbytery, and send proper commissioners to the Assembly.

"2. I was a member of the Assembly. It is now a matter of history.

"The 'Moderates' were too much blamed, I opposed them. I could do so. I was a free man, but they were pledged. They could act only as they did in treating the Strathbogie deposition as null and void, i.e., wrong— being on wrong grounds—and in rescinding the veto. I believe the Act of '79 respecting the admission of ministers of other Churches to our pulpits, was restored for this reason, viz., had this Act not been restored, and had a weak brother in the Establishment been asked for the use of his pulpit by a Free Churchman, he must either have given it or refused it. If he did the first, it would have been made the lever for overthrowing the interests of the Church in that parish. If he did the last, he would be held up to the scorn of the people as a coward or a tyrant. Nothing is more ludicrous than ------'s assertion that by this Act the Church has excommunicated Christendom! Why, he and his party were in power nine years while the existing law was the law of the Church.

"The last Assembly saw the Church at its lowest ebb. The reforming party was represented by our poor fifteen. They alone by vote and dissent opposed the ' Moderates,' and formed a kind of nucleus for a strong party. We are now as Dr. Thomson was twenty years ago. But the limits of the powers of the Establishment are better defined. We have already received a lesson not to reform beyond these limits; but I believe next Assembly will exhibit a strong party determined to popularise the Church as far as possible within these limits, and, if possible, to extend them. For my own part, I think it is a principle, a political necessity, to make the Church acceptable to the people, as far as Bible principle will permit. I rather think the struggle against patronage is to be renewed, and that twenty years will see its death. The question will soon be tried—a republican Church Establishment or disestablishment. I would sooner have the first. If we attempt to recede we shall be crushed like an old bandbox.

"The reason why I can conscientiously remain in the Church is simply because I believe I have spiritual liberty to obey every thing in God's Word. I know of no verse in it which I cannot obey as well as any seceder can. This suffices me.

"During this controversy I published two small brochures entitled 'Cracks about the Kirk for Kintra Folk.' The first sold well. It went through eight editions one thousand each, the second through four. They did much good.

"Since the disruption I have been offered the first charge of Cupar, Fife; Maybole; Campsie (by all the male communicants); St. John's, Edinburgh; St. Ninian's, Stirlingshire; Tolbooth, Edinburgh; and the elders and others in the West Church, Greenock, have petitioned for me. As yet I have refused all but the last two. These have only come under my notice last week.

"I shall ever bear in. my heart a grateful remembrance of the kindness and deep Christian affection shown to me by the people here. When I nearly accepted Campsie, I found many whom I thought rocks, sending forth tears, and gathered fruit from what appeared stony ground. God has, I believe, blessed my ministry. Now, all this and ten times more than I can mention occurred just as I had made up my mind not to go to Campsie.

"Oct. 16th.—I was elected on the 16th of September to the Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh, unanimously. On the 17th of the same month the Duke of Buccleuch's Commissioner, Mr. Scott Moncrieff, came here and offered me the parish of Dalkeith.

"On the very day of my election to Edinburgh. I went to see Dalkeith; and on my return home I sent a letter accepting it. One reason among others for preferring Dalkeith to Edinburgh is, that I prefer a country parish to a town because I am in better health, and because the fever and excitement and the kind of work on Sabbath days and week days in Edinburgh would do me much harm, bodily and spiritually.

"But why do I leave Loudoun—dear, dear Loudoun! Because

[Here follows a blank page, and on it is this entry:—]

"1845.—Reviewing this, I find this page blank. Why, I cannot tell; perhaps hardly knew. But I know I was convinced that I ought to accept Dalkeith, and I do not repent as far as Dalkeith is concerned—but poor Loudoun!"

To Rev. Wm. Leitch:—

"July 21, 1843.

"I have been fearfully occupied of late. Indeed I am sick—sick of books, pamphlets, parsons, and parishes. Would we had an Inquisition ! One glorious auto-da-fè would finish the whole question!

"As to the question, I think we are now at dead ebb in the country, and that for the time to come the tide will change, and in a century or so—such is the genius of restless Presbyterianism—it will begin to ebb again. Our ecclesiastical maxima and minima seem to alternate or oscillate every hundred years or so. I hate—by the way—above all things a Presbyterian revolution. There is always something Chartist or fanatic about it. The jus divinum being stamped upon every leading ecclesiastic, everything in the civilized world must be overthrown which stands in the way of his notions being realized. I think the present Establishment has indirectly saved the monarchy."

To his sister Jane:—

"Kirkton (Campsie), Saturday Night, 1843.

"I am very, very low. I have preached in that place to-day, and have been in the Manse. Manse and glen are sleeping in the pale moonshine. I am oppressed to the earth with thoughts and feelings. The voices of the departed are ringing in my ears. I have suffered more than I can tell. It is horrid ; dearest, I never could live here!"

To John Mackintosh, at Cambridge:—

"Loudoun Manse, August 30, 1843.

"Oh, for a day of peace—one of those peaceful days which I used to enjoy when a boy in the far west. Such days are gone, fled. I cannot grasp the sense of repose I once felt—that feeling, you know, which one has in a lonely corry or by a burnie's side far up among the mountains, when, far from the noise and turmoil of mortal man, and the fitful agitations of this stormy life, our souls in solitude became calm and serene as the blue sky on which we gazed as we lay half asleep in body, though awake in soul, among the brackens or the blooming heather. Could Isaak Walton be a member of a Scotch Presbytery or General Assembly?—he who ' felt thankful for his food and raiment—the rising and setting sun—the singing of larks—and leisure to go a-angling'? Dear old soul! 'One of the lovers of peace and quiet, and a good man, as indeed most anglers are.' Isaak never would have been a member of any committee along with--------------and Co. That is certain. Don't be angry, dear John! Do let me claver with you, and smile or cry just as I feel inclined. We shall slide into business and gravity soon enough.

". . . . As to Non-intrusion, unless history lies, we have guaranteed to us now more than we ever acted on for a hundred years, and as much as the Church, except during a short period, ever had. We can reject a presentee for any reason which we think prevents him from being useful; and this is all the power the Church ever had. Simple dissent was never considered as itself a sufficient reason for rejecting a presentee.

"As to spiritual independence. In spite of all the Court of Session can do, or has done, there is not a thing in God's Word which I have not as much freedom to obey in the Church as out of it. I cannot lay my hand on my heart and say, ' I leave the Establishment because in it I cannot obey Christ, or do so much for His glory in it as out of it.' I thank God I was saved from the fearful excitement into which many of my friends were cast during May. I have been blessed in my parish.

"Banish the idea of my ever ceasing to love you as long as you love truth. You know my latitudinarian principles in regard to Church government-old clothes. I value each form in proportion as it gains the end of making man more meet for Heaven. At the same time I cannot incur the responsibility of weakening the Establishment—that bulwark of Protestantism—that breakwater against the waves of democracy and of revolution—that ark of a nation's righteousness—that beloved national Zion, lovely in its strength, but more beloved in the day of its desolation and danger."

From his Journal:—

"Dec. 3, 1843, Sabbath Night, past Eleven.—

The last communion Sabbath is over which I shall ever enjoy as minister of this parish. The congregation is dismissed—whither, oh whither? How many shall partake of the feast above?

"I can hardly describe my feelings. I felt as if I had been at the funeral of a beloved Christian friend; where I had experienced deep and unfeigned sorrow, but mingled with much to comfort and cheer.

"I thank a gracious God for the support He has given. And though I wept sore and had a severe day, I did not repent of the choice I had made. Dear, dear Loudoun has been an oasis during these five years. But 'I am a stranger and a sojourner, as all my fathers were,' and I only pray God that my vows made this day may be performed, that my sins may be forgiven, and that I may ever retain a lively sense of the mercies I have received.

"There is a Church here, by the grace of God. Oh, that God may keep it by His power, and send a pastor according to His mind to feed it.

"Dec. 16th, Sabbath night, eleven.—This has been a solemn, yet a calm, peaceful, and I hope a profitable day for myself and the people. My last Sabbath in Loudoun as its minister! What a thing it is to write the last leaf of the book of my ministry, that has been open for nearly six years!

"The parting with my evening congregation quite overcame me. I had a good greet in the pulpit when they were all going out, and I hope my prayers for forgiveness and acceptance were all heard and answered.

"The coming hope at night with dear Jane (beloved companion—more than sister—of all my sunshine and shade) was the most affecting of all. The night was a dusky moonlight. About a hundred Sabbath-school children had collected round the church gate, surrounded by groups of women; and all so sad and sorrowful. As we came along, some one met us every twenty yards who was watching for us; and I shall never forget those suppressed sobs and clutchings of the hand, and deep and earnest ' God bless you!' 'God be with you!'

"How many thoughts press upon me! The sins of the past. Thou knowest! The mercy and love of God. The singular grace shown to me at this time. The good effected by me—by such a poor, vile, sinful worm. The gratitude of my people for the little I have done. The fear and trembling in entering on a new field of labour; the awful passing of time; the coming Judgment!

"Dec. 13th.—The last night in my study in my dear Manse of Loudoun, the scene of so many anxieties and communings—of sweet intercourse, of study, of sinful and unprofitable thoughts!

"I have had three days of the most deeply solemn and anxious scenes I have ever witnessed in this world! Oh, what overwhelming gratitude and affection! Let me never, never, never, O God, forget what I have seen and heard!

"I have done good—more than I knew of. May the Lord advance it, and bless the seed; may He keep the beloved young Christian communicants, the rising Church. The Good Shepherd is always with them, and they will be fed as He pleases."

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus