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ding to the comely order of this Church; and as for his own practice, he acknowledged his fault, thro' mistake, in contraveening the abovementioned sentence, which sentence he earnestly desires may be taken off, and he reponed to the exercise of his ministry at Balmaghie. And lastly, he hereby declares his sincere resolution to maintain unity and concord in this Church, according to the Word of God, and Presbyterial principles, and particularly the obligations he came under at his ordination. Sic subscribitur,
J. MACK MILLAN.” And,
“I, Mr John M'Millan, humbly acknowledge my great sin in deserting the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, as also my great sin in declining the said Presbytery, these being very contrary to my ordination engagements; and I do sincerely profess my hearty sorrow for these sins, and for any other thing in my way that hath given offence; and seeing I do hereby promise and engage (in the strength of God) to live more orderly, and in subjection to the Judicatories of this Church, and to use my outmost endeavours to maintain unity, concord, and peace therein, I earnestly desire the reverend Commission may take my case to consideration, and repone me to the exercise of my ministry at Balmaghie. In witness whereof, I have subscribed these presents with my hand at Edinburgh, the eleventh day of July 1704 years. Sic subscribitur,
J. MACKMILLAN.' In the interval between the meetings of Commission M‘Millan refrained from preaching; and the Presbytery appointed two of their number to go to Balmaghie, and tell his family that he was to remain some time in Edinburgh, and to invite the people to hear them. But they found the parish all against them. The keys of the church were not to be had, and they got their way in only by breaking through one of the windows. This opposition of the country people to the Presbytery, when their minister was not there to encourage them, and, indeed, contrary to his own wish, says much for their persuasion of the injustice that had been done to him by deposition, and doubtless had its own effect on M‘Millan's mind.
The Commission did not, as had been promised, reverse the sentence of deposition. After waiting in Edinburgh for a month or two M‘Millan returned home, when he wrote to the Presbytery, and craved it as a matter of right that they revoke his sentence, "and vindicate him from all the aspersions he was unjustly loaded with," and urged them to "use some pithy essays with superior judicatories, in order to the revival of a covenanted work of reformation in all its parts." He concluded his letter by declaring, " that on this footing only, he would give what subjection the Word of God requires of one in the station and office of the ministry.” This letter had no effect upon the Presbytery in leading them to remove the unjust sentence, and after several months silence he resumed preaching. At the same time, in justification of himself, he sent to the Commission that met in December 1704, a
“Protest and Appeal by John Mackmillan, unjustly deposed." This document is written in full confidence of the justice of his cause, and with a thorough persuasion that great wrong had been done to him by the Presbytery. “He was ready to follow out all the grievances which he had formerly offered.” He sought “that the whole process," "a capite ad calcem, be revised and judged," "and both parties heard tanquam in prima instantia." He retracts “his former obligations to them, protesting against the validity thereof, and declaring his resentment of what he had rashly done. He protests against the Commission, because of its unfaithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to His Church and people, in obstinately refusing to assert His truth and interest, and to redress the grievances of the Lord's servants and people; and renews his former appeal to the first free, faithful, and right constitute General Assembly, and concludes with protesting against all disturbance of him in the free and peaceable exercise of his ministry.”—“Vindication,” p. 228-9.
The General Assembly met in April 1705, and to it he addressed a letter, in which he declares the sentence passed upon him unscriptural, and so such as he could not submit to, and expresses his determination, on the ground taken in his first protest and appeal, "to continue the exercise of the ministry he had received of the Lord.” This determination he carried into effect, “to the conviction,” says his son, "of many, and the satisfaction of all the truly godly who were acquainted with him, and enjoyed his ministry.”
REPORT ON THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
ONE of our most eloquent writers says, that no quality is more worthy of cultivation than the power of seeing things as they are, and of reproducing the vision in language of strict and absolute accuracy. All of us must be conscious of countless instances in which we have not seen things in their native reality, and have not reported our observations with a stern and fearless conformity to facts. Our habits of thought, our prejudices, our self-interest, and our feelings, have combined to render our vision impure and distorted, and to magnify or diminish our impression of the objects of our contemplation. We become painfully conscious of this in attempting to represent in our own mind, and to describe to others, the complex phenomena of modern life, and the agitated movements of actual events, There is such a mixture of good and evil in these events—the causes, developments, and tendencies of things at the present moment are involved in so much entanglement,—there is so much latent good in this measure, and so much that is doubtful in that, that it is impossible to pronounce a categorical yea or nay, and to possess that certainty which is to most minds a happy necessity. Whatever may be our personal convictions in respect of particular, events, there is no ground for complaint as to the magnitude and interest attaching to them. Questions of great importance,
and involving vast issues, are presented to us for consideration; and, in all the various spheres of literary, civil, and ecclesiastical activity, energies are at work whose operation is pregnant with the mightiest results. But however various, however conflicting, however multitudinous, our King and Lord is at the centre of all events, directing them by infinite wisdom and
power; and His Holy Spirit is in the heart of every one of His people, in virtue of whose indwelling they know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose."
Churches as such ought to refrain from party politics, and even, as much as possible, from direct political action of any kind. But if so, it is not because the great principles of righteousness, of good order, and of wholesome government, lie beyond their province, but for the purpose of exercising a more elevated influence on the whole spirit and tendency of national affairs. The politics of the hour, however, are inseparably intermingled with questions affecting not only the foundations of righteous administration, but also the constitution, the operation, and even the spiritual prosperity of the Kingdom of Christ in this and in other lands. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the Christian Church should watch, with mingled feelings of hope and fear, the progress of measures proposed to Parliament for giving effect to the national will. The course of the debates, both in Parliament and out of it, has been illustrated by many incidents of the most striking character. The Erastianism of Henry VIII. has been asserted with astounding candour; and all the Churches of Christ in this land not connected with the State have been told that they are mere sects, that they are not calm, that they are passionate and fanatical, that the Royal Supremacy in ecclesiastical causes is the only bulwark of civil and religious freedom, and that Churches established by law are the great refuge of disconsolate souls. The charges of inconsistency, operating on a high-minded and sensitive statesman, have made us acquainted with the process of thought through which he has been led to modify opinions conscientiously held, and to adopt a policy vastly different from that which he defended in the freshness of youthful enthusiasm. We have seen how another has preferred honour to office, and sacrificed the most brilliant advantages, rather than suppress the cherished convictions of his soul. The eloquent voice of another has summoned us to remember that righteousness is the attribute of the Kingdom of God, and that it is in this, first of all, that He is to be followed by statesmen and legislators in the administration of national affairs. The measure under consideration is likely to become law, and if the character of the Protestants of Ireland be of a strong and genuine texture, there will arise a day of blessing on that distracted land. The good men of that Church are not going to fall at all; their Church is not to be destroyed or weakened in the least degree; none, except the bigoted adherent of Romanism, has any desire to see it in any other condition than that of increased prosperity-purified, spiritual, and free,-and going forth to the help of the Lord against the mighty. In the first instance there must be some slight disorganisation, and a little confusion; but the only enemy
they have to fear is from within. If they adapt themselves wisely to their new condition—if they show a spirit of moderation, of charity, and of calm resolution even to suffer, seeing that the will of the nation has been pronounced in so emphatic a manner,—they will increase their own dignity, and prove themselves worthy of the spiritual teaching of Bramhall, of Taylor, of Usher, and of O'Brien. Even the temporary violence is not without its countervailing advantages. Although not free from danger, it sweeps like a fresh breeze over the stagnation of the world, and over the self-contentment of the Church. Our hopes for the prosperity of the Episcopal Church are quite in harmony with a strong preference for the primitive and noble order of Presbyterianism, whose influence will be mightily enhanced by being emancipated from the unworthy position which it has too long occupied. We are sanguine that it will be a great step towards complete brotherly concert and agreement in the practical work of evangelisation both at home and abroad. Hitherto the connection with the State has fostered a proud and selfish exclusiveness; but, when all the living Churches begin realise their responsibility, to measure aright the formidable forces arrayed against them, and to see their common danger in the presence of an enemy so subtle and so unscrupulous as the Papacy, they will feel the absolute necessity of a wider charity, were it for no other purpose than that of economising their resources, and of directing them all to the best ends. It will be sad should it be otherwise — sad, if it should appear that the enormous wealth which she has enjoyed has been the means of destroying her life, and that she has been the meanest instrument of British misrule. This we will not believe, but rather cherish the persuasion that she will put forth new strength, and prove herself more fruitful in the future than she has ever been in the past. The effect of this movement on the sister Establishments has been asserted somewhat ostentatiously; but when representative men, such as Pusey, Vaughan, and Alford, tell us that they are preparing for disestablishment, we may assume that it is coming. Happily the Christianity of a people does not depend on the endowment of any one Church by the State; and so long as the nation itself fears God and keeps His commandments, so long will the State be sacred, and have its action determined by the supreme authority of the Divine Word.
The progress of Popery in this country is owing to the teaching and practice of a large section of the Church of England, more than to anything else. This party has been taking full advantage of the occupation of the public mind with the affairs of Ireland; and from recent publications, we gather that they are continuing to propagate their tenets on the Sacraments, Tradition, the Priesthood, Confession, and the Church, with wonderful zeal and energy. They are too full of determination to allow the late judicial decision to deter them, and the other parties in the Church are helpless against them. There is, however, one happy augury to which the Court will permit us to direct their attention. It is well known that some of the eminent men who left the Church of England for that of Rome have proved uncompromising advocates of the system in its most naked features. Manning and Newman have been among the ablest and most successful of these advocates. Mr Ffoulkes, who abandoned the Church of England under the influence of Manning, has written him a letter, of which many thousand copies have already issued from the press ; and it is no exaggeration to say, that, whether estimated by its ability, its arguments, its record of experiences, its boldness and honesty, or its probable effects, it is entitled to profound study. He is still a member of the Romish body, and assures us that he has no intention of leaving it. For the purposes of personal edification, he considers the Communion equally good both in life and in death; while the visible headship of the Pope, prayers for the dead, and the invocation of saints, are sufficient to keep him in the bosom of the Church of Rome. It is not easy for us to understand his rapture in dilating on the dignity of a practice which, in our view, borders on blasphemy. But what has he to say on the chief points that are brought forward in his remarkable letter? He has devoted himself for thirteen years to the study of Romanism-its doctrines, its polity, its worship, and its actual workings,—under the most favourable circumstances; and he gives us the results of his examination, conducted as faithfully as he could, and with all his prepossessions on the side of the Church of his choice. The boasted infallibility of the Pope is assailed with calmness, but with trenchant and irresistible logic. He maintains, that so far from the Pope or the Church being even supreme in questions of doctrine, the Nicene Creed was interpolated craftily by Reccared of Spain in 589, and then imposed by him on the Church, as it was afterwards by Charlemagne in 789, and by Henry II. in 1014; that this was the real cause of the schism between the East and the West; and that the Pope has been a negligent, feeble, self-seeking, and hypocritical guide. General Councils fare little better at his hands, having been composed partly of bad men, and often disgraced by cunning and wickedness. The Papacy has reached its present position by force and fraud, which he confirms by an elaborate history of the pseudo-decretals, the pseudo-donation, and the crusades. The Reformation, although wrong in principle, as involving the sin of schism, was, in his judgment, a justifiable revolt from intolerable tyranny, and a righteous vengeance inflicted by God on the Papacy for its long catalogue of iniquities. He laughs to scorn the assumption that salvation is to be found only in the Church of Rome; declaring, that while he receives constant edification in her fellowship, his knowledge of God and delight in His service were experienced by him in the Church of his birth, and that he has not seen so pure an ideal of the Christian life in any part of Catholic Christendom as was presented to him in his own home, and as is to be seen amid the sanctities of an English family: indeed, he records his conviction that family religion is at a low ebb in the Catholic countries of Italy, of France, and of Spain. He has found that the efficacy of the Sacraments is as great in Protestant communities as in Rome; that if the dispositions are the same, the Romish priesthood has no special grace to communicate, and that they can offer neither greater preservatives from sin, nor greater inducements to holiness. The personal character is not improved beyond what takes place in serious souls in all communities. There is, however, a testimony of peculiar value to one point. He says