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bers of court would contrive considerably to shorten their pleadings, without the merits of the case being affected at all injuriously, and members would come to be of opinion, that if another man had spoken what was substantially their sentiments, although not in the most choice words, and had stated the case fairly, though not with entrancing eloquence, the interests of the church, or of individuals, would not suffer material detriment if they contented themselves with giving a vote occasionally, without feeling it incumbent to precede it by a speech.
But if any man doubt the practicability of the proposal (which we don't), we say let him give it a trial because of its importance. No one can be acquainted with the present state of things in our Synod, in reference to the issuing of causes, and have any hesitation in affirming the absolute necessity of a reform. If we were to put the question, " Whether will it be, on the whole, most for edification that a dozen and a half cases be issued fairly and without haste, or that half a dozen be issued with extra deliberation, and the rest huddled into a corner, or postponed for a twelvemonth or for ever?"-were we to put this question to most people, they would answer, “ Surely it would be preferable that all appeals and matters were disposed of, even though the time bestowed on each should be curtailed a little more than the parties to it desire, than that the first and best days of the court be consumed in disposing of a few cases, while others fall to be decided with less deliberation, and when the court is greatly reduced in numbers.” Indeed, has it not grown into a synodical proverb, that the first week is one of discussion, and the second one of business; or in other words, that a few causes which stand, in what is deemed a lucky place, at the top of the roll, wend their weary way through the first week, to the disadvantage of cases, equally important perhaps, but not equally fortunate as to position ? Were the time, when a cause was likely to be brought on, to be made known, there could moreover be this great benefit to the parties, that they would be aware when to attend. At present, they have to hang about the Synod day after day, the cause is after all called not unfrequently when there is no one to answer,--because all the members of the presbytery concerned, or other parties, have gone home, being unable to remain longer in town, or they have not returned to town, because they had miscalculated the day when the business might be expected to be taken up. Now let the plan proposed, which seems a likely one to cure the evil, be adopted, unless a better can be suggested, and let the court resolve in right earnest to ensure for it a fair trial. Something like an equality of time and attention and consideration, would be awarded to the various matters submitted to the Synod; and accommodating the principle of the political axiom _" the greatest happiness to the greatest number," we would say, “ the greatest amount of benefit in the disposal of the greatest number of causes.”
There is a suggestion contained in the report which well deserves consideration that the Synod, instead of confining itself so closely to its mere judicial or administrative functions, should take the opportunity of so many office-bearers of the church being assembled together, to promote a holy excitement on behalf of vital religion, and of those great movements in the church, and throughout the world, which have for their object the extension of Christ's kingdom. Such seasons, if thus improved, would soften the asperities of debate,would shed a hallowed influence over the minds and deportment of brethren,—and would leave the impress stamped on many a heart, to be afterwards exhibited in a circumspect life, active zeal, hearty co-operation, and more deeply felt commiseration for the perishing millions of the human race. - We sincerely trust the various suggestions of the Committee on Bills and Overtures, to which we have turned attention, rather than affected to discuss, will receive a candid, careful, unprejudiced consideration at the hands of the members of the approaching Synod.
J. G. ,
CHRISTIAN UNION-ONE OF ITS MOMENTOUS ASPECTS. ;
The importance of christian union has, of late, engaged much of public attention. And no wonder. It was high time. The enormous evils of division had become an incubus on the church of Christ, and a reproach to her name. It was a happy device, so far as it did not invade the church's peculiar office, which about half a century ago united the followers of the Redeemer in the dissemination of divine truth. And it is now a happy proposal to endeavour to bring Christians together, after some recent estrangement, in an evangelical alliance. Let us hope and pray that it may not be as the morning cloud. If the measure be wisely conducted, it will serve the most important ends without rendering necessary the slightest sacrifice of principle. It is not the design of this paper to descant on the many advantages of the measure, the agreement which it has originated and will foster, to speak the truth in love should controversy arise,—the care which may be expected to be taken by each church not to trespass on another's line of things—the determination which the different societies will form to abandon or avoid that miserable proselytism, which betrays the common cause of Christianity,--the moral influence which the dwelling together in unity of brethren will exert on those who are without, and the tendency of all to bring about the more perfect concord which the promise and intercession of the Saviour ensure to his friends. It is to the aspect of the proposed alliance on the greater effectiveness of missionary efforts abroad and at home, that the few following obser: vations are to be restricted.
Were Christians more united, it would have the best effects on their foreign enterprises. The reckless spirit of party has, in more than one instance, put in peril the cause of Christ in distant lands. The good sense of missionaries, and the unsophisticated character of the young converts, have done much to counteract the evil. But why should there be need for counteractives? Why should we have missionaries from various denominations labouring in the same field, and inoculating the heathen with their peculiarities? Why should not missionary settlements be formed after the following model :-" And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen, for we be brethren. Is not
the whole land before thee? If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or, if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." It is admitted that competition has done good, but, in such a case, it does more evil than good, and what an overruling pro vidence may accomplish, is not the rule for our conduct. May we not expect that, when Christians come together to confer on the subject of union, they will take this matter into consideration, and devise means of securing a better division of labour, in the case, at least, of new undertakings.
Were Christians on terms of a better understanding and feeling with one another, they could combine to furnish the means of instruction and salvation to all in their neighbourhoods, who are living in the neglect of religion. In a city or town, for example, each congregation or church might, with the concurrence of the rest, have its district, where its office-bearers, and a selection of its members, male and female, should be engaged, reading the word of God, compelling men to come in that his house might be filled, comforting the poor and the afflicted, and collecting the young into seminaries of common and religious education. Even in the present divided state of the church, congregations ought to have this machinery in operation in every town and district of the land. To some extent these things are done; but how partially, and, owing to our divisions, under how great disadvantage! It is only the other day, that when a body of Christians in Canada attempted to do something for the spiritual good of a part of the country which for a long time no one seemed to care for, immediately all the other sects rushed into the field, only, however, to retreat when the original aggressors had retired disgusted from the scene. O vile display of human pride and selfishness, under the garb of religion! Similar manifestations of this spirit are to be witnessed in our own country, so that some would rather face at once the difficulties of a heathen land, than encounter the jealousies and paltry rivalry that beset the walks of usefulness at home. What we require, then, under the blessing of God, to more effective efforts for saving our countrymen and our country from ruin, is, that Christians should come to a mutual good understanding and feeling in this matter, so that their only divisions should be the divisions of labour, their only strife that of provoking to love and good works,--their only jealousy, the godly one over their own tempers and conduct. And if the evangelical alliance should do nothing more than unite all British Christians in a more strenuous war against the ignorance, irreligion, and immorality of their country, it would be one of the greatest blessings of the times in which we live.
G. M. S.
I HAVE had the pleasure of reading the communication which appeared in the April number of this Magazine on Ministers' Libraries, and beg to offer a few remarks intended to promote the general object which the author of that paper has in view. While holding that the possession of a certain number of books is as necessary to a minister as that of his tools to the tradesman, I am disposed to be of the opinion that NO. V. VOL. III.
the presence of a large library is a temptation to literary dissipation, rarely resulting in commensurate attainments—and that, at all events, to accumulate personal property of this kind is an error, as it is almost certain to involve, sooner or later, a serious loss of means which might have been usefully expended otherwise. Still, however, it is desirable for every minister to have access to the treasures of biblical lore, and to some even indispensable. Now, how is this to be compassed ? Borrowing books from friends, procuring them from a distant public library, and similar expedients, may answer the purpose at a time, and to some extent, but they are troublesome and unsatisfactory. I know of oply two methods of accomplishing the object—the one, that of ministers' libraries attached to their charges, maintained and increased by annual contributions, and transmitted to their successors : and the other, that of libraries for tovons or districts, which shall be open to ministers, and, if wished, to laymen of all denominations. Of the former scheme there are, it appears, several examples in our church. The experiment in one case that of Biggar-has been successful; another, of very early origin, has, I believe, not turned out so well. I am not acquainted with the other cases ; but, I trust, that those who are qualified will accept the invitation of the correspondent already referred to, and adduce the results of their experience, which, if the saving of space be an object, the editor would perhaps be so good as present in one paper. The latter plan has been partially tried ; and I cannot conceive why theological libraries, formed on this principle, should not succeed as well as those of a literary description. The scheme appears to have the advantage of securing, at the same expense, a more valuable store on which ministers can draw, and of extending the benefit beyond a limited circle, thus fostering the spirit of union, and affording to all who choose to employ them, the same means of preparation for that more determined conflict between light and darkness which Christians generally concur in supposing to be at hand. It may be a question which of these methods is preferable ; but I see no cause of collision or reason for strife in the matter. I can suppose both adopted even in the same place, or one or other adopted according to circumstances.
Another matter alluded to in the paper, which has been the immediate Occasion of these remarks, is probably not less important. I mean, the providing of books for students. In our day particularly, when so much of the time of ministers has to be spent in labours out of the study, it is of great moment that as deep and broad a foundation of learning as possible should be laid ere they enter on pastoral duties. Where this has been done, the superstructure may be reared amidst their other and undiminished exertions ; but where it has been neglected, the student has lost the opportunity which the pastor will in vain attempt to recover. Whatever else may be devised for the good of our students, I trust that our Hall library, which merits as well as needs our fostering care, will not be injured or overlooked. If the students were all induced to support it, one great object would be gained. Should others favour them with spontaneous assistancewell—but let the students manfully help themselves.
, I enter not on some other points such as the institution of a boardfarther than to express my hope that a system of beneficent operation
will not become too miscellaneous and varied for effective management and success—too eleemosynary to be favourable to the character of our office-bearers and people—or too episcopal for the presbyterian taste of the provinces.
Øllo-TOL-OUTOS. SCOTTISH ASSOCIATION FOR OPPOSING PREVALENT ERRORS..
TO THE EDITOR OF THE UNITED SECESSION MAGAZINE, MY DEAR SIR,—Permit me, through the medium of your pages, to invite the attention of your readers, and especially of my brethren in the ministry, to the proceedings of the “ Scottish Association for Opposing Prevalent Errors."
Respecting its constitution, they will receive ample information through a document transmitted to them by post.* The errors against which we have hitherto directed our energies are those of Infidelity and Popery, as being at once the most vital and the most widely spread. In our measures against infidelity, we have adopted the following arrangements, in which we request the co-operation of our brethren throughout the body.
1. The selection of Bogue's Essay, as a text-book for congregational classes, on the Evidences of Christianity. We fixed upon Bogue, both on account of its admirable brevity, its point and comprehensiveness, and also because it does what many of our best treatises on the evidences fail to do explains Christianity in defending it. This the Association has purchased in large quantities, and at such a rate, that it can be given to ministers for use in Bible classes, and also for free circulation, at 6ld. in stiff paper, and 9 d. in boards. The reduction in price by this means enjoyed is about one-half.
2. The publication of a series of tracts against Socialism, for free circulation, and which ministers might obtain along with their copies of Bogue. Two of these have already been published, viz. Socialism What is its History? No. I. ; and Socialism_ What is its Tendency? No. II. Five thousand of each of these have been printed, and, as the Association retains the stereotype, more might be thrown off if required.
3. The publication of a small volume, entitled, “ Nature and Revelation Harmonious," intended to meet and counteract the theological errors in “ Combe's Constitution of Man." This is especially seasonable for our congregational libraries, as it is well known that Combe's treatise has sown doubts and difficulties in some very amiable young minds, and it is the confident opinion of the Association that this treatise, which is now their copyright, affords the needed antidote.
Applications for “ Bogue's Essay," or for a supply of tracts, addressed to. me, to the care of Mr A. PADON, 3, Dundas Street, will receive attention. The volume in answer to Combe is sold, at a small sum, by Mr OLIPHANT, South Bridge.
Confiding in the hearty co-operation of our brethren in the ministry, I am, my dear Sir, in name of the Association, yours most truly,
ANDREW THOMSON, EDINBURGH, 24, Fettes Row, 18th April 1846. * The document referred to, will be found on p. 232 of Religious Intelligence.Domestic.-Ed.