Imatges de pÓgina

wretchedness under which Ireland suffers, Scriptural education and the intelligible preaching of the Gospel can alone meet the evil. The progress of scriptural reading in Kingscourt and other districts in Ireland, is sufficient to warrant the strongest expressions that can be used on this subject. The truth is thus gradually, with wholesome and silent efficacy, leavening the mass-a work is proceeding which all the power and craft of man cannot arrest. The system thus followed, of teaching the people to read in their own language, is admirably suited to the habits and circumstances of the people ; it can no longer be regarded as theoretical or visionary; the voice of an innumerable multitude of witnesses from the Highlands and Isles of Scotland, from Wales, and from many districts in Ireland, declare its efficiency; and the blessing of God, who bas declared that his word shall not return unto bim void, has crowned this system of vernacular instruction with the most happy and unlooked-for success.

Before concluding, I beg leave to recommend to your committee to bring the objects of your Missionary Society the destitution of the poor Irish, and of the scattered Presbyterians over all Ireland, 'under the notice of the Christian public in Scotland. There is a lively interest at present over all Scotland in every thing connected with Ireland. I do not hazard this advice at random. I considered it my duty, on the last Lord's day, to give my people a short narrative of my excursion, to give them some idea of Popery, as it really exists in the west of Ireland. I stated the objects of your Missionary Society, and I recommended, that if they approved of your object, and had confidence in your management, they would contribute less or more to your fund, as they retired from church, after hearing sermon. I was happy to find that the collections amounted to twenty pounds, fifteen shillings.

I have, in the meantime, deposited that sum in your name in the Ship Bank, Glasgow, in case an addition to it can be

procured. I fondly hope this example of my kind and generous people will be followed by other congregations. If any thing occur to you, in which

you think I can be of service, write to I shall always be happy to hear from you, or from any member of Synod. If I know my heart at all, no time shall efface the deep interest I feel for the prosperity of your church, and the success of your missionary undertakings, which, that the Lord may abundantly bless, is, Rev. and Dear Sir, the sincere and fervent prayer of your grateful and obedient Servant,

NORMAN M'LEOD, Minister of Campsie.




No. X.



The present aspect of the PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, as well as other signs of the times, seems to invite special attention. Lulled for a season she may have been into a state of criminal repose, but her friends entertain the hope, that the light of a better day begins to throw its splendour around her, and that the Lord's “ power and glory” promises once more to visit our Zion. Refreshed, as she appears to be, even by her unwarranted slumbers, and, perhaps, somewhat ashamed of her misimproved opportunities of effecting good, the pages of your ably conducted work have lately instructed its readers of the gigantic efforts which she puts forth, both at home and abroad, to repair the breaches made upon her outworks by the hand of time, and the rude implements which her professed builders bave occasionally employed.

If, then, the origin, progress, and even decline of empires, have called forth the powers of talented research, it need to surprise none, should the feeblest abetter of Christianity attempt an inquiry into the history of churches. By correctly tracing their rise and successive advancements, or their rapid or gradual decay, many useful lessons may be acquired- the reasons for their decline may be detected, and a suitable remedy applied. A privilege which thus equally belongs to all sects and persuasion of Christians, can scarcely be denied to the Presbyterians of England. However insignificant may be their numbers at present, and however uninfluential their weight in the estimation of many, they were once a noble Christian army, and they can claim connexion with a religious community whose numbers are great, and whose influence at the present moment is widely extended. Apart from the support which their principles derive from the plainest statements of the Inspired Volume, they can point to the useful workings of Presbytery, in ancient as well as modern times, and count, among the ornaments of their church, the most learned divines and enlightened nations of which any age can boast. Not to mention at present the names and distinctions which, during the seventeenth century, the Presbyterian Church in England had acquired, think of the rapid diffusion of Calvin's principles of ecclesiastical polity in some of the instances prior to that time, over the cantons of Switzerland, over several states of Germany, among the countries of the Netherlands, and even among the population of France, including princes of the blood, nobility, and inhabitants of many of their best fortified towns; look across the Atlantic, at the fruits of persecution in England, where the few Presbyterian ministers, driven from their native land, have multiplied into nearly two thousand zealous and faithful servants of the Redeemer ; bring back your attention to a distracted, yet interesting kingdom, in connexion with the British throne, where you behold the Presbyterians of Ulster, who have honourably maintained their ground for more than two centuries, notwithstanding the frowns of the Church of Rome, the jealousy of the Protestant hierarchy, and the scowling contempt of worldly men; and do not forget the venerable, the Church of Scotland, who, in spite of oppressive tyranny, and as a reward of her many laudable struggles for the rights of conscience, has stood enshrined in the admiration and affections of a well-instructed people, for nearly three

hundred years.

But can the antiquity of a church, or her splendour at any given period of her history, entitle all who assume her name to honour, whether they retain their respectability and usefulness, or whether they fall into pernicious 'errors and corrupt practices ? Unquestionably this position caunot be granted ; having become fruitless branches, they must either retrieve. their character, or lie 'under the doom of the withered vine. That the Presbyterian Church in England does not shine at present in the splendid light for which she was once distinguished, cannot be denied; but that she vigorously attempts, under the divine blessing, to throw off the specks and blemishes which disfigure her form and beauty, we are glad that truth warrants us to affirm. The Presbyterian ministers in England, that are in connexion with the Church of Scotland, and who disclaim all ecclesiastical alliance with the Unitarian Presbyterians, not only preach the Gospel faithfully, but most of them evince greater attention to the discipline of the church than once was the case; they make a more effectual attempt to. keep up the order of the church, in regard to Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries, than their predecessors did. In fact, many of their congregations, till of late, had scarcely any idea what the Presbyterian form of church-government meant, having, perhaps, never heard of a Kirk Session or of a Presbytery. Thus many of the congregations designated Presbyterian,” were without any form or discipline whatever. Roused in some degree to a sense of their criminal indifference, and that of their predecessors in office; anxious to rise from a state of contempt, to that of usefulness; and desirous of having their church respecto ed for her principles and efficiency, as she once was in England as well as in other kingdoms; lately several Presbyteries in this country, have made a movement towards an organization of the body, and the formation of a direct connexion between Presbyteries in England and the mother church. Memorials to this effect were presented to the last General Assembly from the Presbytery of London, the Presbytery of the NorthWest of England, and the Presbytery of Lancashire, in consequence of which memorials, the appointment of a committee for their consideration took place, to report to the Assembly of the succeeding year. Already have the committee collected much useful information in regard to the Presbyterian Churches in England, evincing thereby the strongest desire to promote the interest and comfort of the ministers and people, in communion with the Church of Scotland, who have their residence in this kingdom.

To enable the ensuing General Assembly of the church to legislate with safety to her own rights, as well as with advantage to her expatriated sons, every avenue of information which bears upon the subject ought to be ransacked. Supine indifference at such a time as this must be truly criminal, inasmuch as the respectability, efficiency, and success of Presby. terianism in England may be hazarded, if not finally ruined. And while such information must be interesting to the parties immediately concerned in the adjustment of the question, it must also be important to all, whether in this or in any

other country, who wish success to the Presbyterian cause ; and especially interesting do I consider that this information will be to the Presbyterians of Ulster, who bave recently signalized themselves in attacking the strong-holds of error, and in exhibiting Presbytery as it is peculiarly fitted to be, the instrument in the hand of the Saviour for diffusing Christianity in the kingdom of Ireland. With your permission, therefore, and by the assistance of the Great Head of the church, I shall furnish the “ Orthodox Presbyterian" with a brief article in each successive month, upon the following topics :-“1. The Presbyterian principles stated and shortly vindicated, as they were acted upon in England, when Presbyterianism prevailed in that kingdom. 2. The extent of prosperity to which the Presbyterian Church reached in England. 3. The state of Presbyterianism in England at the present time. 4. The causes of its decline. And lastly, the remedy for reviving the Presbyterian interest in England.

The history of this once Hourishing church in England, invites the attention of Christians in general, as well as those that are attached to Presbyterian principles. Apart altogether from the jus divinum of Presbytery, which we would not readily relinquish, it appears a very remarkable fact, that, in whatever nation and at whatever period vital godliness has spread its hallowed influence, to the greatest extent, over the societies of men, there Presbytery has existed in its best and purest forms. At present it would be out of place to institute the inquiry, whether Christianity, free from flagrant corruptions, promotes the establishment of Presbytery, or whether this form of ecclesiastical polity be the best calculated, under the influence of God's gracious power, to propagate the doctrines, piety, and practical holiness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But totally unconscious in this investigation of the slightest party-feeling, we challenge attention to the statement, that vital Christianity and Presbytery have almost, if not always, existed together; and that in whatever other section of the church religion has prospered most extensively and for the longest period of time, it has been in proportion as that church has assimilated her procedure to that mode of government pursued by Presbyterian assemblies. Should this sweeping declaration awaken the indignation of antagonists, or startle the admirers of Presbytery, lest the proof afterwards to be adduced should not be sufficient for the purpose, let them only suspend their censure and suppress their fears, until the grounds are fully stated upon which it rests. In the mean time, however, they may employ their minds with these inquiries : where does the Christian Church Hourish to the greatest extent; and in that kingdom, whether does Presbytery hold the dominant sway, or what denomination of Christians take the lead, in point of numbers and influence ? To aid conscientious inquirers after facts for the solution of these questions, let them peruse with impartiality the records of nations, to which allusion has already been made-Scotland, Holland, and America. Nor can we refrain from begging them to inquire, whether the northern counties of Ireland exhibit most of the form and power of godliness, or those districts of that kingdom which are destitute of Presbytery? Nor will it be foreign to the settlement of this discussion, should

« AnteriorContinua »