Page images

every pew in the chapel, so that on Sunday morning the keenest eye that ever quizzed shall not be able to see dust anywhere. Moreover, the model chapel-keeper will be as careful a student of the winds as a sailor. He will know to a nicety how best to ventilate his building so as to avoid draughts. If the wind be blowing from the east, his windows will be opened towards the west; if from the west, his windows will be opened towards the east, providing, that is, open windows be at all necessary for ventilation. Then'as to blindsif there be any in the building, they will all be arranged before the service begins, and not drawn askew so as to offend every trained and sensitive eye in the congregation. And last, but not least, a model chapel-keeper will be a man who knows how to be courteous to strangers (as well as to regular frequenters of the sanctuary) both as to speech and to manner. He will hear everything, and say nothing. Tattling is an incurable vice, and therefore all church officers, in selecting chapel-keepers, should be very particular as to questions which will elicit information on the applicant's ideas as to his duties in respect to the employment of speech. Every chapel-keeper should have a good power of silence. He should have a quick eye, a quiet step, a slow tongue, a courteous manner, an obliging disposition, a cool judgment, much good temper, and then he may be a real helper in a good work, and earn the esteem of all who feel that the worship of God's house should be characterised by decency, propriety, and reverence.

But we have known chapel-keepers whose nature seemed to be a compound of bitter herbs. They had no ideas of fitness and reverence. During prayer they would walk down the aisle with a foot as heavy as an elephant's. If any rude lads had found out a sly corner, wherein to teaze and annoy each other, the chapel-keeper could neither see nor hear them, though the whole congregation could. If a gas jet were squeaking, the last person whose attention was drawn to it was the chapelkeeper's. We have known chapel-keepers who had forgotten their coats, and were seen marching up the aisle in their shirt sleeves, and an old greasy cap on the head, while the congregation was assembling. We have known them so ubiquitous that the building seemed filled with chapel-keeper. Yes, and we have stood in the pulpit and seen people waiting in the aisle visible to everybody but the man who knew where to give them a seat-and then we have noticed them quietly slip out at the door, and walk away. Now these are not grave faults it may be said, but they are annoyances which often prevent that state of quiet, earnest attention in a congregation, which is always difficult to secure, and always easily disturbed. Paul the apostle would surely not have deemed the subject beneath his notice, seeing that it was his opinion that, in the services of the sanctuary, “all things should be done decently and in order.” -Selected.


THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION AND ITS ACCUSERS. We have received several communications from members of our churches in various parts of the country, complaining of the mischief that Mr Henderson is doing by his one-sided and misleading statements which have appeared in print. It is surely not Mr Henderson's intention to lower and damage the denomination in the eyes of the public, much less to discourage earnest ministers and struggling churches in the country, but such we are assured is the result of his ill-judged and unhappy attempts at reform. These churches, which he actually goes the length of naming, giving the number of pounds or shillings each member costs the denomination, are making a sacrifice for our principles, as great, perhaps greater, than he or any of us are making in the large towns. And when we see their ministers compelled in self-defence to correct his misstatements and defend their positions, we are indignant at the man who would thus carelessly insult and injure the feelings of brethren whom we should respect and love for their work's sake.

He may say that all this was unavoidable in the discussions of the general policy of the Union. We maintain it might have been avoided if he had put himself in communication with those responsible for the management of the affairs of the Union, or brought his views and proposals before the business meetings of the denomination. Of course to attend the business meetings of the Congregational Union, and make his statements in the presence of those most conversant with the facts, would neither be so safe nor so sensational as to deliver an oration, when chairman of the “Public” meeting, or print letters which are a “nine days' wonder,” filling the minds of those unacquainted with the real facts, with amazement that the interests of the Union should have been entrusted to men so wasteful, stupid, and generally incompetent. Believing, however, in the value of a free and full discussion of our policy and procedure when done decently and in order, we do trust that he and others of the same mind will show that they have the courage of their convictions by coming to our annual meetings in Glasgow a week hence, and speaking then and there with as much copiousness and strength in the presence of responsible parties as they have done to the general public.


MOBILITY OF OUR PASTORATES. ONE of our senior brethren, in addressing the students of our Hall several years ago, referred in an admonitory and warning tone to the evil effects of frequent ministerial changes. He complained of the growing“ mobility” of our pastorates. We need such a censor at the present time. There is too much restlessness amongst dissenting ministers. The pastoral tie is not so strong as it once was, or at least it is more easily severed. Doubtless much of this is unavoidable. The conditions of ministerial work are not the same as they were forty years ago. Nevertheless, this mobility is a loss of power, where there are not urgent reasons calling for a change; transplantation oft repeated has an enfeebling effect upon the most robust. The Scottish Congregational ministers, whose names will live longest are those who have spent the best of their days in one sphere. Should our young brethren not be more patient? The top of the ladder is not to be taken with a single bound.


MORE might be done to benefit the churches and relieve the pastors by occasional exchanges. Last year the Baptists in Scotland arranged for every minister of their denomination being one or more Sabbaths in the pulpit of some brother minister—town ministers going to the country, and vice versa. The results were highly advantageous to all concerned. We ourselves have had a measure of the same thing. But we might have much more than we have yet had. Could we not next summer agree to give a fortnight's work to the churches more remotely situated, and invite the ministers of these churches in turn to help us in our work in the large towns ?


PRESENTATION TO THE REV. DR LINDSAY ALEXANDER. (Specially Reported for the Scottish Congregational Magazine.") A VERY interesting Social Meeting, in connection with the Augustine Church and Congregation, was held in the large hall of the Literary Institute, Edinburgh, on Tuesday evening, 24th February, at which the respected Pastor, Rev. Dr Lindsay Alexander, was presented with a handsome testimonial, consisting of a time-piece with side ornaments to match, and a cheque for £ 1500, on the occasion of the completion of the fortieth year of his pastorate among them.

Mr JOHN GIBSON, W.S., Senior Deacon, presided, and on the platform were the Revs. Professor Robbie, Dr Gowan, Messrs Pulsford (Albany Street), Wemyss (Richmond Place), Stark (Dalry), and Wight, and the Deacons of the Church. Over 650 persons were present. The proceedings were commenced by the singing of the hundredth psalm, after which Professor Robbie engaged in prayer. A service of tea and cake followed—the tables being presided over by ladies of the Congregation, and the meeting thereafter joined in singing the hymn “ Now thank we all our God.”

The CHAIRMAN thanked them for the honour his fellow-members had done him in asking him to fill so honourable a position that evening. He had expressly stipulated, however, that he was not to make a speech, for at his advanced time of life he could not on so important an occasion trust himself to say all that was in his heart. But he could not refrain from expressing how glad he was to preside over such a meeting, assembled to do honour to their greatly respected pastor, who, in the good Providence of God, had been permitted for so many years to go out and in among them breaking to them the word of life. Dr Alexander had endeared himself to all their hearts, and was deserving of all the earthly honour which the congregation could do him, The Chairman afterwards spoke of the great privilege which the Church enjoyed in having so eminent a scholar as Dr Alexander for their pastor. He was indeed a “ Doctor"-taking the word in its etymological sense as signifying a teacher-for he had taught them and expounded to them the Word in a way highly creditable to the position he occupied in the denomination; and valuable beyond all computation to the Church with which he was more especially connected. (Applause.) As to his profound learning and erudition as a scholar and a theologian, that would be better dealt with by Dr Donaldson, whom he now begged leave to call upon to make the presentation.

Dr DONALDSON, who was received with applause, said - Dear Dr Alexander, we are met together this evening to express to you our hearty congratulations on your having completed the fortieth year of your pastorate amongst us. You have already given us a precious memorial of the event in the volume of sermons which you have dedicated to us. It is but natural that we also should devise some method of commemorating so interesting an event. And on this occasion the members of the congregation have confided to me the pleasant, but difficult and delicate task, of giving utterance to what they wish to say. Others would have more appropriately and effectively performed this duty had circumstances permitted them; none could have done it more heartily. I have to speak in the name not merely of those who are present, but of many beloved friends who are absent. Affliction has borne down heavily upon us these last years. Some are unable to be with us through personal illness; others are sitting by the bedside of dear relatives, and some are mourning the irreparable loss of those who were their stay and comfort. And as we look back through the long past, how many can we recall, genial and powerful men, George Wilson, Adam Black, George Harvey, and a host of others, who, if they had been alive, would have been the foremost in offering to you every mark of esteem and affection! I think I can divine your feelings to some extent on an occasion like this. When we start in life our hopes are bright, our ambition is strong, and we are keenly sensitive to the opinion men may form of us. But as time passes on, all the external pleasures and honours that may come to us appear transient and unsubstantial. We become somewhat indifferent to the praise or blame of men.

It is in our work that we find our satisfaction, in the honest performance of our duty, in the earnest investigation of the truth, and in the furtherance of whatever is good. I know that it is in these things that you have taken delight. You have certainly not sought your reward in the praise of men. You have not courted the applause of the multitude. And when you look back over the forty years, the thought that gives you the greatest pleasure is that you have been enabled to devote all the highest powers of your soul to the service of God. But though a good conscience is the first and main element of a man's satisfaction, yet we are so made that, when we have laboured honestly and earnestly, we are glad that our labour should be recognised in some measure by our fellowmen. Our very sense of justice leads to this. 'And whether this be or not, at any rate those who have received great benefits from any one feel a strong impulse to express their obligations to him. It is under such an impulse that we now address you. You have put us under great obligations, and I shall now make the attempt to express, however imperfectly, our feelings of gratitude to you. And first of all, we feel thankful that you have remained so long with us. You have had many strong temptations to leave us. I can understand the greatness of the inducement which worked upon you when you were invited to take the Presidency of New College. Devoted as you are to the highest intellectual pursuits, you would have had in the ample leisure of a Chair, and in the quiet of St John's Wood, splendid opportunities for the prosecution of those studies which you love so passionately. But you resisted the allurements, and we have derived the benefit. And an exceedingly great , benefit it has been to us. Foremost I place among our advantages, the singular honesty and punctual accuracy with which you have expounded the Word of God. You have acted, as every minister ought to do, but as only a few do, who believes the Bible to be inspired. You have toiled and laboured with infinite patienceto ascertain exactly what was the meaning of the revelation. I have never known you come unprepared or ill-prepared to the pulpit. I have never known you treat of a passage to which you did not apply all the resources of your great learning, and unwearied research and toil, in order to ascertain its precise meaning. I think that you are a model to all ministers in this respect, and while you have done us unspeakable good by this conscientious labour, your example is calculated to elevate the work of the ministry throughout our land. But you have been not less faithful in applying the truth which you have thus patiently sought. You have been fearless in the expression of your opinions. You have kept nothing back. Occasionally this may have not been altogether agreeable to some of us at the time, but now when we look back in calm mood we feel that it has been a great blessing to us that we have had one to teach us who thought not of the personal consequences of his teaching, but boldly proclaimed the whole truth without respect of persons. And all your ministrations were eminently fitted to produce an intelligent, healthy, and manly piety, an active and vital Christianity. You have also taken a deep personal interest in the members of your congregation. You do not indeed think that regular visitation is your special work, and your intercourse with many must be limited, but whenever occasion required, you have been always ready to minister to us, poor and rich alike, in sickness or in distress, in bereavement or whenever sound advice was needed. And to some of us with whom you have come in contact more frequently you have been the true-hearted friend, full of tender sympathy and wise counsel. This is what we have to say to you on this occasion. I might have touched on many other topics, such as your professorial labours, your series of learned and eloquent contributions to theological literature, your high eminence as a preacher, the general esteem in which all denominations hold you, but I have preferred to speak of those qualities and actions which have endeared you to us, and awakened within us a strong sense of our personal obligations to you. All connected with the Church know that you have acted with remarkable unselfishness in all its temporal concerns, and that earthly reward has not been in all your thoughts. But this is one of the ways by which we can symbolise in a permanent form our sincere regard and gratitude, and in the name of the Church and congregation I now beg you to accept this clock and cheque as our memorial gift. And with it we earnestly offer up the prayer that

you may long be spared to minister amongst us, that the latter years of your ministry may be calm and tranquil, with ample leisure for your favourite studies, and that the light of heaven may shine ever brighter upon your path as you advance nearer to the home of the blessed.

Upon the Timepiece, which, like the side ornaments, was in gold and enamel -was the following inscription.

“ Presented with £1500 to the Rev. W. L. ALEXANDER, D.D., by the Members and Congregation of Augustine Church, on the occasion of his concluding the 40th year of his ministry among them, and in grateful recognition of the profound learning, fearless fidelity, and true Christian love with which he has discharged the duties of his sacred office.-Feby. 24th, 1876."

Rev. Dr ALEXANDER, who was greeted with much applause, said :- I rise under a conflict of feeling which almost incapacitates me from doing what it is now my duty to do. Perhaps upon such occasions, the fewest words are the best, because they more truly express the feelings of the heart; and therefore from my heart, I do most sincerely thank you for this munificent present, so valuable in itself, and so much more precious to me because it is the embodiment of such kindly feeling as that to which Dr Donaldson has just given so very full expression in his address. I can truly say with the apostle that I did not desire a gift, I did not expect it, for I do not feel that I have

« PreviousContinue »