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the recognition of God's claim as Supreme Owner of the land and its produce, the flocks and herds which pastured on it, and all the fruit of human toil; to nourish the habit of free-handed bounty, and to make giving an act of worship. In the New Testament Scripture we find recorded, among the earliest and most remarkable effects of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a large-hearted liberality seldom, if ever, rivalled; when no man said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own. The Epistles frequently teach the duty of giving, enforcing it by the highest motives. The rich are, on the one hand, faithfully warned of the dangers attending wealth, so that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven; but, on the other hand, they are encouraged to employ the special power entrusted to them to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation for the time to come. Two of our Lord's parables—and it is difficult to imagine a more significant intimation of the sacred responsibility attached to wealth--employ money and trade as the symbols of the work to which Christians are called, and the trust committed to them in Christ's service; and represent Doomsday itself under the image of an inquiry, “How much each one had gained by trading ?
The attempts sometimes made to define the proportion of income which each Christian should devote to the service of God, rests on no sound principle. The consecration by Abraham of a tenth of the spoils of battle, and by Jacob of a tenth of all that God should give him, are noble and instructive examples, but can furnish no rule to those whose circumstances are utterly different. Still less can the Jewish law afford any fixed rule. The Hebrew freeholder, as head of a family, cultivating his own land with his own labour, and that of his sons and servants, had to pay (not one but) two tithes, besides free-will offerings; thus recognising God both as the Giver of all, and as the Head of the nation and Owner of the land of promise. The Jewish law of tithes did not therefore affect any but the holders of the land, and heads of households. It may furnish a just model for any who in modern times are in equivalent circumstances, but constitutes no obligation on those whose toil barely supports them, and who have neither land nor capital to devote a tithe of their earnings; nor affords any excuse to wealthy Christians, whose yearly income would have bought up Jewish inheritances by the score, to rest satisfied with consecrating out of their abundance no more than a poor tenth to the Lord.
The laying down of a definite rule of giving, binding on all Christians, even if practicable, would be utterly out of harmony with the spirit of the New Testament. We are not under law but under grace. That higher obedience to which the Gospel calls us, is not conformity to the strictness of a rule, but the free working of love, striving to please God and to glorify Christ. The first condition of our giving being acceptable is, that it be “not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” But the obligation is plainly set forth, and enforced with the strongest motives.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.” God blesses us in nothing so much as in what He enables and inclines us to give to Him. Nor are we left without guidance in this duty, though literal rules are necessarily absent. Two rules we can plainly infer from the general tenor of New Testament teaching-1. That our giving be conscientious, which implies the devoting to God and to works of beneficence, some fixed proportion of our gains; 2. That this proportion be in every case large enough to involve self-denial. To one, sixpence out of the week's wages involves deliberate self-denial-going without his pipe, perhaps, or his newspaper. Another may give away £ 1,000 a year, and never feel it,-except in imagination. Only let a Christian feel that his property, capital, the hands and brains with which he earns his yearly income or his weekly wage, are the Lord's, and he will need no one to lay down a rule for his giving.--EUSTACE CONDER.
THE KINNIBURGH PAPERS.
NUMBER OF CHURCHES FORMED.
FROM 1798 to 1807, about eighty-five churches were formed in Scotland on New Testament principles, and had pastors ordained over them. A particular account of these will afterwards be given.
Thus, in a much shorter time than could have been expected, the Sect which was everywhere spoken against, acquired a footing in the country, which encouraged the hopes of its friends, and excited no small alarm in the minds of many others.
THE WITHERING BLAST. Until the year 1807, these churches were in as prosperous and comfortable a state, as infant churches could possibly expect to be, notwithstanding the opposition with which they had to contend. That year placed them in new and very embarrassing circumstances. The Society had ceased sometime before, to take any part in aiding the preachers, and Mr Robert Haldane having changed his sentiments on various points connected with church order, considered it to be his duty to withdraw his assistance from them. In a short time thereafter, Mr James Haldane adopted Antipædo-baptist sentiments, introduced into the church exhortation by the Brethren on the Lord's Day, public discipline, and the kiss of charity. These innovations did much mischief in the church of which he was pastor. The new notions soon spread over most of the churches in the connection, and contention, strife of words, jealousies, and divisions, followed; of which none but such as passed through the painful scenes of those days, can have an adequate idea. Many stumbling-blocks were laid in the way both of
Christians, and of unbelievers. The occurrences in question, while they embarrassed and weakened the churches, exposed them also to the triumph and sneers of adversaries, while, at the same time, much odium was brought on every attempt to follow out Scriptural fellowship.
Many of the churches were poor, and if they had hitherto been unable to support their pastors, much less were they able to do so now that they were divided in sentiment, and fewer in number. The consequences of these things were the retiring of some of the pastors from the work, others who remained at their posts, betook themselves either to teaching, or to still more secular occupations in connection with their official duties, whilst others continued to labour, and to exist with no other aid than the slender pittance which their flocks could give. This greatly marred their usefulness, both in the church and in the world, and consequently weakened and discouraged those who continued steadfast to their principles as congregationalists. For a full account of the controversies of that period, and the causes of the declension of the churches, we cannot do better than refer the reader to Orme's “Historical Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Independency in Scotland,” London Christian Instructor, Supplement for 1819; and to a very accurate account of the
occurrences of these times, in Dr Alexander's Memoir of Mr Watson, pp. 95-102.
THEOLOGICAL ACADEMY, GLASGOW. The breaking up of the Seminary at Edinburgh cut off all supplies of preachers to the churches, and destitute parts of the country. It was, therefore necessary, if possible, to repair this loss. For this purpose a general meeting of pastors and brethren belonging to those churches who continued stedfast to their former order and practices, took place at Glasgow on the 13th of March 1811, when it was unanimously resolved to form an institution for the education of young men of approved piety and talents for the ministry of the Gospel, which should be supported by the contributions of the churches, placed under the direction of a committee of their number, and conducted by Messrs Ewing and Wardlaw as tutors. This academy, as soon as possible thereafter, came into operation. For its beneficial results we must refer to its annual reports.
A supply of preachers, however, without the existing churches being assisted to support their pastors, would not have removed the evil. With the view of giving relief, the Congregational Union was formed in the latter end of the year 1812. And here again we refer the reader to Dr Alexander's Memoir of Mr Watson, pp. 103-106. A different version of how the Union took its rise, is given in an account sent us from Dalkeith, but we have always viewed matters as represented by Dr Alexander, and we have reason to know that Mr Watson was of the same opinion.
CONGREGATIONAL UNION. The Congregational Union shows that “ Union is strength.” Few and feeble as our churches are, they would have been much more so, had they not formed an association by which their sympathies with each other are more fully drawn forth ; and but for its operations, many a light would have been removed, and many districts of country left in comparative darkness. “The churches constituting the Union hold the independency of each, and the necessity of purity in all; but the great object of their desire and effort is not to gather societies nominally congregational, or independent; it is to turn men from sin to God, that they may obtain by faith an inheritance among them who are sanctified.” For a more particular account of the highly beneficial results of the Union, we refer the reader to its published reports.
CORRESPONDENCE. THE NEW SECRETARY AND COMMITTEE OF THE UNION.
To the Editor of the Scottish Congregational Magazine. MY DEAR SIR-While those of your readers who are members of the Union will deeply regret the vacancy which has occurred in the Secretaryship by the resignation of our esteemed brother, the Rev. David Russell, who has so long and so ably discharged its duties, they will also feel that a serious responsibility is laid upon them to secure an able and well-qualified successor for the vacant office. I write therefore to give expression to the opinion of many with whom I have conversed, that nothing should be done in this matter before our annual meeting next month, that will in any way fetter or anticipate the deliberative action of the Union. I would also venture to suggest to the members whether it would not be wise to take up as a preliminary consideration the question as to the best method of procedure in this and all similar elections, so that our action now may form a precedent for our future guidance.- I am, yours sincerely,
THE NEW SECRETARY. MR EDITOR-DEAR SIR– I presume the Committee, anxious to meet, as far as possible, the wishes of brethren, will gladly welcome such expressions of opinion as any of us may feel moved to give on the above important subject. In thinking over the question, “Who is to be the new Secretary ?” the names of not a few esteemed and well-qualified gentlemen occurred to me, any one of whom would make an admirable secretary. Then came the process of reducing the number to a short leet, which now contains two, one of whom is the Rev. James Ross, formerly of Stirling, now of Calcutta.
If I were sure that Mr Ross would accept the office (if offered to him), I would vote for him at once as the very man for us, possessed of every qualification desirable in a first-rate secretary, and, being already well-known to us all, from the prominent part he took in the formation of the annual con. ference.
But the time is so limited that we cannot ascertain from him how he would regard any such proposal.
In these circumstances, I gladly fall back upon the other brother whose name I have bracketed with that of Mr Ross, viz., the Rev. Thomas Brisbane of Cambuslang. He is not (from no fault of his) so well known to the denomination as Mr Ross was, but I am satisfied that the Congregational Union would be fortunate in securing his services. If the chief qualifications for the office are such as these :—Sterling worth, clear intelligence, sound judgment, practical sagacity, painstaking assiduity, strong attachment to our distinctive principles, enlightened evangelistic zeal, and, last but not least, vigorous health and active habits, then our brother has all these in a very high degree. He has not only the experience of a lengthened pastorate, but he has also studied deeply the condition of our churches, and the various questions being agitated amongst us. We need just such as he is, a man with some
go” in him, self-possessed, yet earnest, cautious, yet aggressive, conciliatory in manner, yet resolute in spirit, and prompt in action. We should be glad to see our new Secretary set free altogether from pastoral work, but if that cannot be just yet, Mr Brisbane would have the advantage of residing in the immediate vicinity of a large city, and yet not burdened with the absorbing labours and fretting cares of a city charge.
With all deference to our brethren in and out of the Committee, I thus contribute my quota to the settlement of this important question. I am, dear Sir, yours very truly,
JOHN DOUGLAS. Glasgow, 4th February 1876.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH IN THE ADMISSION
OF MEMBERS. DEAR SIR-There is an article in your January number by the Rev. W. D. Knowles which deserves the attention of all your readers. The paper is not only carefully and ably written, but it treats of a subject of great importance to our churches, and indeed to all Christian churches in the land. The subject of the article is, “ The responsibility of the church in the admission of Members.” Mr Knowles says—“ It is willingly conceded, indeed, that of late years a decided improvement has been witnessed in some quarters, in the standard of admission to Christian fellowship.”. However far this may be true in reference to other communions, it is questionable whether there has been any improvenient in this matter among our own churches. We still hold the principle that none ought to be members of the church but those that have passed from death unto life, but it seems doubtful whether we are not more easily satisfied with the evidence required for this great spiritual change than we ever were,-perhaps I should say, more easily satisfied than we ought to be—for much as we honour our Fathers, we do not consider them models in all things. In some of our first churches there was, I daresay, too much rigidity. The forms through which the applicants had to pass were perhaps too stereotyped and too inquisitorial. But is there not in the present day a tendency to the other extreme? It has, at least, been often contended that nearly all the usual forms of admission should be laid aside, that even the deputation of two brethren to deal with the applicant should be dispensed with. It has been said that the testimony of the pastor is quite enough. I earnestly hope that this plan may never become general in our churches,