Imatges de pÓgina
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our author, descriptive of this first meeting of Presbytery in the kingdom.

"It was attended by five ministers, viz. the Rev. Messrs. Cunningham, Baird, Peebles, Scott, and Aird, Mr. Simpson being at Newry with his regiment, and Mr. Livingston at Antrim; and by four ruling elders from the four sessions already erected. The Rev. Mr. Baird, by previous appointment, preached on the latter part of the 51st Psalm; 'Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou up the walls of Jerusalem,' &c. A moderator was appointed, and the Rev. Mr. Peebles was chosen clerk of the presbytery,-an office which he held through every vicissitude till his death, a period of near thirty years. Each minister produced his act of admission to his charge or regiment, in virtue of which he sat as a member of presbytery; and the ruling elders in like manner, submitted their commissions from their respective sessions. They authorized some of the brethren to confer with the colonels of those regiments in which there were as yet no sessions, in order that these courts might be forthwith constituted. They enjoined each minister to commence a regular course of examination and catechetical instruction in his regimental charge; they resolved to hold, for a time at least, weekly meetings, and to open each meeting with a discourse by one of the brethren, choosing, as the subject of these presbyterial exercises, the book of Isaiah; and they concluded with appointing a fast to be observed the following week, wherein they were to sympathize with the case of the churches abroad in Germany and Bohemia-the present distraction of England and hazard of God's work there at that time, through the difference beginning between the king and parliament-and the case of this poor land who were as brands scarce plucked out of the fire, yet security and profanity remaining among many both in country and army-and that God should be cried unto to bless the country with a spiritual ministry-and for a blessing to the going out of the army against the Irish,' &c." P. 371, 372.

As soon as the report of this Presbytery having been held, spread abroad, applications were instantly made by many neighbouring parishes to be received into their communion. These applications received unwearied attention. Measures were adopted to have Sessions erected in the congregations; and as the scanty supply of ministers was altogether inadequate to meet the demands of the people, whose thirst for the word all the difficulties they suffered had not quenched, a petition was addressed to the General Assembly, entreating their aid. Among other addresses to the Assembly, the following proceeded from the Presbyterians of Down and Antrim.

"To the reverend and right honourable the moderator and remnant members of the General Assembly of Scotland, convened at St. Andrews, July 1642.

"The humble petition of the most part of the Scottish nation in the north of Ireland, in their own names, and in the name of the rest of the protestants there, humbly sheweth, —

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"That where your petitioners, by the great blessing of the Lord, en

joyed for a little while, a peaceable and fruitful ministry of the gospel; yet through our own abuse of so rich a mercy, and through the tyranny of the prelates, we have been a long time spoiled of our ministers, (a yoke to many of us heavier than death,) who being chased into Scotland, were not altogether unuseful in the day of your need: and we having been since oppressed and scattered, as sheep who have no shepherd, now at last the wise and righteous hand of the Lord, by the sword of the rebels, hath bereft us of our friends, and spoiled us of our goods, and left us but a few, and that a poor handful of many, and hath chased from us the rest that were called our ministers; the greater part whereof we could scarce esteem as such, being rather officers to put the prelates' injunctions into execution, than feeders of our souls. So that now being visited with sword and sickness, and under some apprehension of famine, if withal we shall taste of the sorest of all plagues, to be altogether deprived of the ministry of the word, we shall become in so much a worse condition than any pagans, as that once we enjoyed a better. Neither know we what hand to turn us to for help, but to the land so far obliged by the Lord's late rare mercies, and so far enriched to furnish help of that kind,―a land whence many of us drew our blood and breath, and where (pardon the necessary boldness) some of our own ministers now are, who were so violently plucked from us, so sore against both their own and our wills ::-yea, the land that so tenderly in their bosoms received our poor outcasts, and that hath already sent us so rich a supply of able and prosperous soldiers to revenge our wrong.

"Therefore, although we know that your zeal and brotherly affection would urge you to take notice without our advertisement, yet give us leave in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, to entreat, if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercy, that now, in this nick of time, when the sword of the enemy, making way for a more profitable entertaining the gospel, having also banished the prelates and their followers, when our extremity of distress, and the fair hopes of speedy settling of peace hath opened so fair a door to the gospel,-you would take the case of your younger sister that hath no breasts,' to your serious consideration, and pity poor Macedonians, crying to you that ye would come over and help us, being the servants of the God of your fathers, and claiming interest with you in a common covenant, that, according to the good hand of God upon us, ye may send us ministers for the house of our God. We do not take upon us to prescribe to you the way or the number; but, in the view of all, the finger of the Lord points at these, whom, though persecution of the prelates drew from us, yet our interest in them could not be taken away; wherein we trust, in regard of several of them, called home by death, your bounty will superadd some able man of your own, that may help to lay the foundation of God's house, according to the pattern. But for these, so unjustly reft from us, not only our necessity, but equity pleads, that either you would send them all over, which were a work to be paralleled to the glories of the primitive times; or, at least, that you would declare them transportable, that when invitators shall be sent to any of them, wherein they may discern a call from God, there may be no difficulty in their loosing from thence, but they may come back to perfect what they began, and may get praise and fame in the land, where they were put to shame. Neither are you to question your power over us so to do, or crave a precedent of your own practice in that kind, for our ex

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traordinary need calling on you, furnisheth you with a power to make this a precedent for the like cases hereafter: Herein if you shall lay aside the particular concernment of some few places, which you may easily, out of your rich nurseries, plant again, and make use of your public spirits, which are not spent, but increase by your so many noble designs; you shall leave upon us and our posterity the stamp of an obligation that cannot be delete, or that cannot be expressed,-you shall send to all the neighbouring churches a pattern, and erect for after ages a monument of self-denying tender zeal ;-you shall disburden the land of the many outcasts, who will follow over their ministers,—and you shall make it appear, that the churlish bounty of the prelates, which at first cast some of these men over to us, is not comparable with the cheerful liberality of a rightly constituted General Assembly, to whom, we are persuaded, the Lord will give seed for the loan which you bestow on the Lord: yea, the day may come, when a General Assembly in this land, may return to you the first fruits of thanks, for the plants of your free gift. And although you were scant of furniture of this kind yourselves, or might apprehend more need than formerly, yet, doubtless your bowels of compassion would make your deep poverty, even in a great trial of affliction, abound to the riches of your liberality. But now seeing you abound in all things, and have formerly given so ample a proof of your large bestowing on churches abroad in Germany and France, and knowing that you are not wearied in well-doing, we confidently promised to ourselves in your name, that you will abound in this grace also, following the example of our Lord and the primitive churches who always sent out disciples in pairs. But if herein our hopes shall fail us, we shall not know whether to wish that we had died with our brethren by the enemies' hands, for we shall be if it were said unto us, Go, serve other gods.' Yet looking for another kind of answer at your hands-for in this you are to us as an angel of Godwe have sent these bearers, M. John Gordon and M. Hugh Campbell, our brethren, who may more particularly inform you of our case, and desire that, at their return, they may refresh the bowels of

"Your most instant and earnest supplicants." P. 374–377.

This touching application was not addressed to the Assembly in vain. They appointed twelve of their ministers to repair to Ireland, four at the same time, and each company to remain four months, thus completing a supply for twelve months. Among these were some of those who had formerly laboured in Ireland, and they again entered on its spiritual cultivation with unabated ardour. The account of the labours of Blair may be taken as a specimen of the diligence and faithfulness of them all.

"During all the three months he was in Ireland, he generally preached once every day and twice on the Sabbath, and frequently in the fields; the auditories being so large that no house could contain them; and in some of these he administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

"But because many of the people, had formerly through constraint, taken an oath imposed by the lord deputy, abjuring the national covenant of Scotland, Mr. Blair, after a pathetic discourse, laying out the guilt of

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that black oath, charged all whose conscience accused and condemned them, to separate themselves from amongst those who were not involved in that grievous provocation. And they having willingly done so, and stood in a body on his left hand, he as a son, first of thunder and then of consolation, did with great vehemency, energy and warmth, set before them, the awful threatenings held forth by the holy law against such transgressors; and then endeavoured to display the exceeding greatness of God's mercy and grace, exhorting them to fly to God for reconciliation and pardon through Christ. And after the guilty had willingly, and with great expressions of grief and sorrow, confessed their sin, they were received as sincere penitents, and admitted to the holy communion.

"Of that solemnity, several old experienced Christians declared that they never saw the like, nor ever heard the gospel so powerfully preached and pertinently applied, with such variety of threatenings, promises, exhortations, motives, comforts and cordials; and that they never saw such commotion and heart-melting among hearers, both guilty and innoeent: so that it might be truly said, that they gathered together' to that place, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord, and said, we have sinned against the Lord.' 1 Sam. vii. 6. During this short visit to Ireland, both ministers and professors had many sweet and soul-refreshing days of the gospel, and some solemn high Sabbaths, the like of which Mr. Blair seldom enjoyed in St. Andrews.'' P. 383, 384.

Upon the next meeting of the Assembly, another petition was addressed to them, expressing the gratitude of the Irish Presbyterians for their past favours, and entreating a repetition of them.

"Whereas you were pleased the last year to take notice of our petition, and conceive so favourable an act in our behalf, from our hearts we bless the Lord God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this in your hearts, to begin in any sort to beautify the house of the Lord amongst us. Doubtless you have brought upon yourselves the blessing of them who consider the poor; the Lord will certainly deliver you in time of trouble. We trust no distance of place, no length of time, no pressure of affliction, yea nor smiling of prosperity, shall delete out of our thankful memories, the humble acknowledgement of your so motherly care, in drawing out your breasts, yea, your souls to satisfy the hunger. Although we have been beaten with the sword, bitten with famine, our own wickedness correcting us, our back-slidings reproving us, yet we have not so far forgot. ten the Lord's ancient love, but that our hearts were brought to a little reviving in the midst of our bondage, by the ministry of those, who, at your direction, made a short visit amongst us.

It is therefore our humble and earnest desire, that you would yet again look on our former petition, and your own obligatory act, and at least declare your consent, that a competent number of our own ministers may be loosed to settle here, and break bread to the children that lie fainting at the head of all streets; which, although it may be accounted but a restoring of what we lost and you have found, yet we shall esteem it as the most precious gift that earth can afford. When they are so loosed, if they find not all things concurring to clear God's calling, it will be in their hand to forbear, and you have testified your bounty. But oh! for the Lord's' sake, do not kill our dying souls, by denying these our

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necessary desires. There are about twelve or fourteen waste congregations on this nearest coast; let us have at least a competent number that may erect Christ's throne of discipline, and may help to bring in others, and then shall we sing, that the people who were left of the sword, have found grace in the wilderness." P. 394, 395.

In answer to this petition, eight ministers were again appointed to visit Ireland, and spend that year there, as their predecessors had done before. Under the faithful and indefatigable labours of these men, in conjunction with those already settled in the country, the church broke forth on the right hand and on the left. Congregations were formed and established-discipline was faithfully exercised-the converts from all sides were as the morning dew-and our Zion again became a praise in the land. Never was the beautiful and touching language of the 126th Psalm more applicable than at that time. "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall, doubtless, come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with

him."

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With an account of the efforts of the English Parliament to reform ecclesiastical abuses, and among others, with the adoption of the Solemn League and Covenant, our historian brings his volume to a close, and after the review already taken of its contents, and the extracts selected from it, our readers will readily anticipate our judgment of the work.

It is a production of great literary merit, discovering extensive information, profound research, an accurate acquaintance with the period whose history it traces, and a most correct statement of events in their proper time and circumstances. The style is in general good, though occasionally somewhat involved, and consequently in those places a little obscure; but this is a trifling evil, which, in another edition, can easily be corrected, and detracts nothing from the great merit of the work.

By this volume Dr. Reid has laid his brethren in the ministry, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and, indeed, the entire public, under serious obligations to him. His success reflects honour on the body with which he is connected. He has exhibited to Presbyterians the life and power of their res

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