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interest was also a right and good thing. A right interest in our own churches and institutions would strengthen and not weaken the interest we ought to feel in all the churches of Christ, and in every institution designed to maintain the gospel and extend the kingdom of God in the world. The Congregational churches of Scotland were a denomination, but they were not a sect in the sense of cutting themselves off from the rest of the churches, and having no fellowship with them; they held themselves to be one with all who loved Christ in sincerity, and rejoiced to co-operate with them, and were ready to enter into fraternal union with all evangelical churches. It would be strange were it otherwise, seeing that the Congregational churches did not owe their origin to any division of sentiment regarding the Presbyterian polity, or any other polity, but were born of a revival of religion ; their first and best distinction was not, strictly speaking, ecclesiastical, but spiritual, not denominational but evangelical. It was not the distinction of a sect or a party merely—it was a distinction spiritual as the gospel, and catholic as the Church of Christ; and they should take care to maintain their first distinction as churches in its prime significance and integrity; there was implied in churches originated as theirs were, the root principle of spiritual life in the members. Their principle was, not that people should come into the church to be converted, but because they were converted. They did not put the stamp of Christian character upon those who were admitted into their fellowship-they only received them, having, as they supposed, reason for believing that they were persons whom Christ had received. He would yield to no man in his attachment to Congregationalism, but the Congregationalism in which he believed was only that which sprang from, and was suggested by, personal spiritual life. Then, from the beginning, Congregational churches had been distinguished for their simple evangelical doctrine; their doctrine was Catholic. He valued the polity of their churches as the outcome of the spiritual life and simple Bible creed of the churches in which they were originated. But polity was one thing, and the carrying of it out was another thing. The matured condition and outcome of the Congregational polity was the presentation of every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Its aim was the highest that any man could have; and it was a Catholic aim. They were Congregationalists, but not sectarians; their aims were entirely compatible with the heartiest interest in the spiritual success of every body of Christians. And what was true in this respect of the root principle of their churches-the spiritual life of the members, and their doctrines and polity—was equally true of their fellowship—that fellowship was spiritual and evangelical. It was not fellowship alone, or chiefly, that made them a denomination of Christians, but fellowship based upon spiritual life and evangelical doctrine. It was a peculiarity with reference to their polity that it neither required nor sustained any fellowship of churches that was not evangelical.
It was the genius, the life and soul of their Congregationalism, that it sought for the fellowship of churches in the gospel, and in nothing else. Then all the objects of their fellowship as churches were in fullest harmony with the evangelical principle on which it was based. They existed as churches, and cooperated by means of that Union and other institutions, not for the sake of any mere ecclesiasticism, much less to further the schemes of any class of politicians, but for the one great end of bringing sinful men to know and trust in Christ as their Saviour, and be ruled by Him in all things. The object of this Union is the relief of Congregational churches in Scotland; it is a Church and a Home Missionary Society; and if faithful to its principles it must be doing a good work. It was always difficult to measure the influence of a spiritual society, such as the true "Church of Christ, that influence could not be measured by statistics. When the external circumstances of a Church were most humble, it might be doing its greatest works; when it was rich and increased in goods, it might be nourishing the seeds of decay: The maintenance of their smaller churches was never so much a question of policy as a question of spiritual forces, and faith in spiritual forces.
(Applause.) Criticism was a good thing when Christian in its spirit and aim, and might be useful; and of criticism they had not lacked of late, and possibly it might do some good could they see that it was supported by an equal amount of free contributions to the Union. What they desiderated at present was a real practical interest in the well-being of their churches and in the spiritual success of the Union. It was such an interest that was the best test of sincerity, that justified criticism, and that ensured success. (Applause.) The man who prized in a practical way his own Church institutions would not care less for the success of spiritual institutions unconnected with his own Church. He thought those connected with their churches who took an intelligent and practical interest in them were the likeliest to wish well to other churches. He was sure that there was nothing in their principles as Congregationalists that should make them feel or act in any way that was inconsistent with a truly Catholic spirit. (Applause.)
Rev. D. RUSSELL intimated that Dr Alexander, who had also been expected to deliver an address, had been detained in London by what they all trusted was but a temporary illness. He had to call on the meeting to give a very cordial vote of thanks to Dr Raleigh, the delegate from the Congregational Union of England and Wales, for the noble sermon he had delivered to them, so timeous in its subject, and treated with such consummate power. (Applause). He had also to call upon them to thank the sub-committee-- Mr Alexander Christie, Mr Gray, and Mr Livingston--for their exertions in arranging for the meetings. (Applause.)
Rev. Mr CURRIE, St Andrews, on behalf of the brethren from the country, said that they desired to express their thanks to the Glasgow friends for their generous, courteous, and most princely hospitality. (Applause.)
CORRESPONDENCE. SOME IMPRESSIONS OF THE UNION MEETINGS. DEAR SIR,-Some impressions of the meetings held in Glasgow by one who was present may not be wholly uninteresting to those of your readers who were not thus privileged. Knowing that Glasgow was the place of meeting, that Dr Raleigh was appointed deputy from the English Union, and that matters of much importance to the interests of the denomination were likely to be discussed, it was expected that the meetings would be more than usually interesting These expectations were not disappointed. The weather was fine, the meetings were well attended, and seemed to increase in interest as one meeting succeeded another. The speakers evinced a hopeful dependence on the Divine presence, and a readiness for earnest persevering effort for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom in and by the denomination.
It was expected that some difference of opinion might prevail on one or two matters which has formed the subject of correspondence in our periodicals ; and prayer, it was known, had been offered for divine guidance and a right spirit.
It was pleasing to observe that while different opinions were freely expressed, and in a way that sometimes seemed to cause a little confusion, yet the spirit of brotherly love and mutual consideration was undisturbed, and not a word was uttered fitted to irritate or to leave unpleasant impressions on any mind. It may be remarked and noted as a lesson for the future that matters might have gone still more smoothly if those honoured brethren (and their labours entitle them to all honour and esteem), who have had the chief conduct of the Union affairs, had conferred more fully beforehand with those advocating a change in some of our modes of action. They could thus have adjusted at least technical difficulties much more satisfactorily than could be expected to be done at the larger meeting in a necessarily hurried discussion. As regards the subjects referred to in the correspondence and discussions, it seems clear, and was made increasingly so by the proceedings at the meetings, that some changes are highly desirable, if not almost a necessity. It is admitted that our laymen take less than their fair share in the work of the churches, and when it is known that the aggregate contributions to the funds of the Union amount to little more than they did twenty years ago, notwithstanding the increase of wealth and the liberal contributions given to other objects, it seems evident that the claims of the Union are not sufficiently understood or appreciated ; and any change at all likely to deepen the interest of the churches in the Union affairs should be cordially welcomed and earnestly considered. It does not seem impracticable that each church should send one representative (the larger churches more than one) to confer together at least once a year, and arrange generally the work of the Union, delegating to the secretary and a small subcommittee the more minute details and matters arising throughout the year.
This would do something towards drawing the churches closer together and diffusing information, the want of which, I believe, goes far to account for the little interest manifested in the Union's operations.
Other changes in the same direction may be desirable, all such changes requiring, of course, mature consideration and wise adjustment. The fact that the churches are not bound together by presbyterial bonds (and we do not want such) makes it all the more imperative that our arrangements should be such as will reach and interest every member in all our churches throughout the country; and it cannot be considered as reflecting on the wisdom of those who founded the Union, that some of the arrangements should now require readjustment to bring them more into harmony with the altered circumstances of the times in which we live.
H. D. Y.
A REVIEW AND CRITICISM OF THE CONFERENCE. Mr EDITOR, -Allow me to make a few remarks on the late meeting of the Conference. The address of a Chairman is not (as we saw in 1875 at the annual meetings of the Union) to be identified with the views of the Meeting itself; and this is less to be done in the case of the Conference than the Union. For even if the Union be of the “ mollusc" class, it has still a considerable following, whether we view it as regards numbers, or the money which it raises. Whereas the Conference is yet only in the state of the animal which the poet represents as having one-half formed and pawing the earth, whilst the other half is still without life. The Conference is yet little more than a name, and its raison d'etre to be justified by its actually becoming the means, among other things, of fusing the Congregationalists of Scotland more closely together in love as well as action. For though many things may be necessary to our wellbeing in the highest sense, this is necessary to our being.
I honour Dr Pulsford so much as to believe that, to a man of his free speech, free reference to his address will not be offensive. It certainly is not so designed.
1. Some years ago, a considerable portion of those attending the meetings of the Union came to the conclusion that, besides our home-mission work, other questions of interest to the body generally ought to be considered at our annual gatherings. Others decidedly opposed this, and the formation of the Conference was an expedient designed to preserve peace and mutual good feeling, especially with regard to the supporters of the Conference and the Union. It was believed that both wisdom and caution would be required to secure this, but also that these would be forthcoming. Parties not at first favourable to the Conference have been gradually gravitating towards it. One of the subjects which came before the Conference at the late meeting, was a motion to recommend certain changes in the Committee of the Union, though the meeting of the Union itself was to take place next day; and it
was known that the Committee of the Union had a proposal to make on this subject. The motion was dropped, but its proposal was not in harmony with the wishes of those who originated the Conference. The Conference was peace: such a proposal, made in such a place, might have been understood as meaning war.
2. Dr Pulsford put into his programme of work for the Conference-to get the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper changed into a monthly observ
When our churches commenced in Scotland, over the country generally, the observance of the Lord's Supper was once a-year-in rare places once in six months. The yearly observance is now the exception-half-yearly and quarterly the rule. We view this change, as well as the multiplication of
prayer-meetings and Sabbath schools, as a direct consequence of our own practice. They were all under ban when Congregational churches commenced in Scotland. If success in the past should encourage us, we have no cause surely to withdraw our testimony with regard to the Lord's Supper. Dr Pulsford, I do not suppose, will plead Scripture for a monthly celebration instead of a weekly. But the merits of the case altogether apart, what right has the Conference to take up the question of getting the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper among our churches changed, which would not justify it in seeking to get those who observe its monthly observance changed into the weekly? or which would not justify it in seeking to get any of our fixed observances changed ? I look in vain at the constitution of the Conference to find any justification of putting such a proposal on its programme. But the very mention of the thing ought to be sufficient to show its injudiciousness and fitness to injure the “ Conference,” instead of promoting its objects.
3. Dr . Pulsford further proposed that we should approach the E.U. churches, before the close of our meetings, for the purpose of proposing the union of their body and ours. At any of our annual meetings no more than one-fourth of the Congregationalists can be present. All he could expect was that a majority of the meeting would sanction his proposal, but could he have approached the E.U. body as representing the Congregational churches of Scotland, and made any proposal for such a purpose from such a meeting? On any such question the churches individually must be consulted, and the aggregate of their opinions ascertained. It would also be desirable to ascertain whether a majority of the E.U. churches desire such a union before making any approach to them. It is pretty certain that there will be a residuum in both bodies opposed to such a union. The result of the proceedings of the U.P. and the Free Church for such a purpose surely warns other bodies against precipitancy in such matters. In what a position we should have found ourselves if the meeting had agreed to his proposal ! Some arrangement requires to be made by which subjects of such a kind should be announced before the meetings take place, and a committee appointed to sanction the subjects brought up for discussion.
4. Further, Dr Pulsford has upon his programme that it is desirable to get a party formed for the promotion of these objects. One would like to put a meaning upon the phrase separating it from quarrels, strife, division, &c.; but I really see none. What a happy man Dr Pulsford must have been, in that he has never experienced the curse of party in the church, in political life, or in the various societies with which we must all stand connected ! That which some of us look upon with fear and trembling, Dr Pulsford seems to look at as nothing very formidable. If he had, he certainly would not see it as that by which evil of any kind is to be conquered. Some of the doctors tell us that what produces disease may be so employed as to cure it ; but it is not so with moral evils. However, it is by this means that he expects to get his programme carried out; and this, certainly, is not encouraging.
Hitherto, in matters connected with the Union, we have sought to secure our objects by mutual concessions. Party produces party, and the tactics of one direct those of the other. The beginning of strife is like the letting out of water ; whatever we avoid, I hope we will avoid this.
I was one of those who welcomed the Conference as supplying the means of stimulating each other to love and to good works, but, like many others, if it should propose for itself to effect changes in the churches on subjects with which it has nothing to do, or introduce parties among us, or strife, I should feel that the cure is worse than the disease.
It is in the hope of adding something to the feeling necessary to prevent these consequences, that these lines have been written.--I am, &c. F. F.
NEWS OF THE CHURCHES. FRASERBURGH.— The late James Park, Esq., Fraserburgh, has bequeathed the handsome sum of £2000 to the Congregational Church there for the support of a lay evangelist to labour in connection with the church.
In Mr Park's death which occurred nearly two years ago, the church lost one of its oldest, most consistent, and most liberal members. He held the office of treasurer to the church for upwards of fifty years, and during that long period discharged its duties with fidelity and enthusiasm. He was a man of earnest piety and clear intelligence, and warmly attached to congregational principles. Church schemes, missionary enterprise, and the education ofthe young found in him a liberal and steady supporter. A director of the London Missionary Society, he showed much interest in all its operations, contributing largely to its support, and influencing others on its behalf. During his lifetime he founded an Academy for the good of the town and neighbourhood, attaching to it one of the largest private endowments of any similar institution in Scotland. Through these memorials of his enlightened Christian liberality our brother “though dead yet speaketh.”.
ELGIN.—The Annual Social Meeting of the Congregational Church was held on the 29th of March. The lower part of the church was comfortably filled. After tea, Mr Bain, the Treasurer, gave a statement of accounts. After meeting every item of expenditure there was a small balance on hand. A hearty vote of thanks was accorded him for his valuable services. Mr Simpson followed with the Sabbath-school report; he referred specially to the new infant class with object lessons begun during the past year. The Rev. Mr Macfarlane next gave an address on the ways by which a congregation might help and encourage its minister.
The Chairman then gave a review of the church for the year. He stated that although the losses by removals had been very great, yet the total membership showed a slight increase. These remarks were followed by an address on what we might learn from other churches and what other churches might learn from us. Mr Lamb, the Secretary, next gave reminiscences of the congregation since they built the chapel in Batchen Lane in 1822, and these were of a very interesting nature.
In drawing to a close, he referred to the introduction of the harmonium in the service of praise now three years ago, and to Mrs Anderson's labours in connection therewith, whereupon he drew from a recess a very elegant silver cake basket, and a hand sewing-machine, and in the name of the subscribers, begged that lady's acceptance of them as a small but sincere acknowledgment of their indebtedness to her. Loud applause greeted the exhibition of the articles and the accompanying happy remarks of the venerable speaker. The Chairman on behalf of Mrs Anderson warmly thanked Mr Lamb and the other subscribers for the handsome gifts.
ABERDEEN–Albion Church.-As was announced in our last issue of the Magazine Mr Duncan and his people have decided to enter upon the undertaking of a new chapel, as their present
one is too small to accommodate the growing congregation. We commend the case to the liberality of our