Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and wives, as brothers and sisters; to be faithful in the discharge of your more public duties, as masters and servants. Further, you are expected to observe daily the private reading of God's Word and prayer, family worship, and public ordinances. Be regularly in the house of God, be in good time, and be attentive and reverential, as becomes the sanctuary. Strive to imitate the Thessalonian Christians, who "

were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia ;” or the Corinthians, of whom Paul said,

"Ye are our epistle ... known and read of all men.” A great work of this kind remains to be done. Let me have you to point to as specimens of what the Gospel can do. " Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.' "Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you.”

Arise, let us go hence.” In the prosecution of this work let us cherish the ardour of the Lord Jesus.—The greatness of His work, the difficulty of it, the fearful sufferings to be endured in it, could not at all damp His ardour. Why? Because of His love to God, because of His love to man. Love to God will constrain us to a holy life. Love to man will lead us to seek the salvation of the perishing. Let us not give way to sentimental regrets, and look too long on the past. The season for rest has not yet come. Our day is not quite over. A great work is to be done, and little time remains for it. Let us improve on the past. Let us put our experience to a good use. When the Master comes to call us home, let Him find us in our place. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing.” “The Lord hath been mindful of us; he will bless us." “In the name of our God we will set up our banners." Save, Lord : let the king hear us when we call.” “Arise, let us go hence."



PRESBYTERY OF EDINBURGH. THE Edinburgh Presbytery, though far from being the most numerous in membership, is, geographically, the most extensive in Scotland. Its seven congregations include Stromness on the north, and Chirnside on the south-east. Hence, on account of the great distance of the congregations from each other, it is difficult for deputations to visit them. On the present occasion, however, five out of the seven congregations were visited by deputations appointed by the Presbytery—the ministers of Wick and Stromness obtaining the necessary information in regard to each other's congregations, by the mutual transmission of written questions and answers. From the written reports sent to the clerk the following summary is drawn up,-arranged according to the order indicated in the appointment by Synod :

The aggregate membership of the seven congregations is 830. This, as compared with the reported aggregate of the last visitation, shows a


[ocr errors]

decrease of 168. But it is to be remembered, that during the interval the Kelso congregation was dissolved, which was reported three years ago as containing 60 members; and that during the same interval a large number of the members of the Dundee congregation—a number said to be about 200—withdrew with their pastor to the communion of the Free Church. Apart from these two exceptional cases, there is actually an increase in the membership of those seven congregations of 92.

The average Sabbath attendance is 1170. This also shows a decrease, as compared with last Report, of 315; but this, likewise, may be chiefly accounted for as above stated. Of the seven congregations the only one vacant is that of Dundee, which, however, is rapidly increasing in membership, attendance, and contributions. It is at present taking steps to obtain a pastor, and with a fair prospect of success.

There are 40 ruling elders in the Presbytery. The highest number in any congregation is 15; the lowest, 3. These elders have assigned districts in three of the congregations. In one of the congregations the Session meets monthly; in the others, as occasion requires. In all, the records are regularly kept.

In two congregations the minister visits the members once in two years. In one congregation the minister visits twice a-year. In all the other congregations the minister visits once a-year. In one of the congregations the elders visit periodically; in one quarterly; in some annually; and in others occasionally. Diets of examination are held annually in two congregations.

Weekly Prayer-Meetings are held in connection with all the congregations-average attendance at each about 20. At most of them the minister conducts the exercises, and once a month gives missionary intelligence.

There are Sabbath schools and Bible classes in all the congregations. At the Sabbath schools the aggregate average attendance is 367. Number of teachers not fully stated. In some of the congregations the number attending the Bible class is included in the number stated for the Sabbath school—the classes being held at the same time and place ;-50 that a distinct aggregate cannot be given for the Bible classes.

The highest attendance reported is 55, at Dundee, where there is also an Industrial Evening School, attended by 30. In the Edinburgh congregation, in addition to the Sabbath school and Bible class, there are—A fortnightly class, meeting on alternate Thursdays, at which the pastor gives a course of lectures on important subjects; a Young Men's Fellowship Societyattendance 18; a fortnightly meeting of a Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association-attendance 14; a Psalmody class, conducted by the precentor; and a Penny Savings Bank.

Five of the congregations have no library. In the Edinburgh congregation there is one of 500 volumes, and in the Chirnside congregation one of 300 volumes.

The cases requiring discipline have been comparatively rare. They have been chiefly connected with the sins of uncleanness, intemperance, and irregular attendance on ordinances.

All the ministers preach in their churches twice every Sabbath, and monthly or occasionally in the evening; two of them (the ministers of Carnoustie and Chirnside congregations) have evening lectures in their own churches twice a-month; and occasionally preach on the other evenings in the neighbouring churches or school-rooms. The ministers also take their share in conducting local and union prayer-meetings, and in social movements for the promotion of benevolence, temperance, and general moral improvement, in their several districts.

Home Mission Work is carried on in connection with the congregations of Edinburgh and Dundee. The Edinburgh congregation employs a missionary in the district surrounding its former place of worship in Lady Lawson's Wynd. In that district he addresses evening meetings twice a-week, and visits about 300 families ; conducts a morning Bible class for young men, attended by 34; and a Thursday evening class for young women and girls, attended by 58. For the use of these persons there is provided a library of 500 volumes. 33 tract distributors also visit this district; and in it there have been sold, during the past year, 272 Bibles, 83 New Testaments, and 13 Psalm-Books, besides about 50 Gospels. The missionary at present in the Dundee congregation is also carrying on extensively, and successfully, home mission labours in the important field surrounding his church. In these labours he is aided by tract distributors, and other agencies, connected with the Dundee congregation. The effect of these labours is abundantly appearing in the increasing prosperity of the congregation. (The missionary, Rev. John Wylie, has since been ordained to the pastoral charge.) In the five country congregations there is comparatively little occasion for home mission work ; but even in these the ministers do something in this way, as occasion offers. The minister of Wick preaches occasionally on Sabbath evenings to Danish seamen in their own language.

The publications connected with the Church are generally well circulated in the various congregations; though, generally speaking, more copies of the "Reformed Presbyterian Magazine "might be subscribed for by the members. One copy for each family would not be too large a proportion.

In regard to Financial matters, in addition to the annual liabilities for stipend, etc., in all the congregations, in one congregation there is a debt on the church, and in another a debt on the manse. All the congregations are able to meet their liabilities. The seven congregations in the Presbytery raised during the past year, for all purposes, about £1200, being about £1: 98. a member. These funds are generally raised by seat-rents and weekly collections, and in some cases aided by subscriptions. There was collected for missions, within the Presbytery, during the past year, £159, being nearly four shillings a member. In two of the congregations provision is made for the poor statedly; in the others occasionally. In two of the congregations there are deacons ; in the others, managers. Records of their proceedings, and account-books, are regularly kept.

In closing this Report it may be remarked, that the period between it and the last Triennial Report has been one of unusual trial to the Edinburgh Presbytery,—first, by the removal of the respected minister of the Kelso congregation to another sphere of labour in Valparaiso, followed by the dissolution of his congregation, which was deemed too weak to continue in a separate condition, and too distant from the nearest of the other con

[ocr errors]

gregations in the Presbytery, for any of its members to unite with these. This occasioned a loss of 60 members, as stated in last Report. Again, about a year ago the minister of the Dundee congregation withdrew to the Free Church, with about 200 of his members, as reported. It is gratifying to reflect, however, that the Dundee congregation is, notwithstanding of this discouraging circumstance, in a healthy and vigorous condition, and rapidly increasing both in members and in contributions for the support of ordinances. The Edinburgh congregation was never in a more prosperous condition than at present, either in itself, or in its evangelistic efforts. The five country congregations have not much room for increase, as they all exist in districts that are fully occupied by evangelical Churches, and from which many young men and women are continually removing to the great centres of more remunerative employment, or to foreign lands. Yet, notwithstanding of these obstacles to increased membership, these five country congregations have not only kept up in numbers, but show an increase, as compared with the aggregate membership stated in last Triennial Report. At the same time, all the congregations seem to be more lively spiritually, and liberal financially, than they have ever been at any former period.

[ocr errors]

it was


Notes on Public Affairs.

THE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL. We apply the title oecumenical to the approaching Council at Rome, only for the purpose of being understood, as it would be an abuse of language to describe the projected conclave of Popish bishops as in any real sense a Council of the Universal Church. Historians do not agree as to the total number of General Councils hitherto held. Ephesus, in 449, had decided, not “without the aid of swords, sticks, and monks' heels," that Eutychus' opinion as to the Person of Christ was the orthodox one. Another General Council, held at Chalcedon eleven years later, decreed that the decision of its predecessor was null and void, and that so far from its being a Council of the Universal Church, a Council of Brigands.' These early Councils, however, were to some extent representative; and although their decrees were too often contradictory, and of little permanent value, the Assemblies themselves rendered services which entitle them to reverential and grateful remembrance. We anticipate no blessing to Christendom from the Council which is summoned to meet at Rome on the 8th of December. It would not, however, be wise for us to undervalue its significance. As an external spectacle it will be august and imposing. It is to be held in St Peter's, and everything will be done to render the assembly a magnificent embodiment of the wealth and splendour of the Papal hierarchy. The circumstances which have led to its being summoned take their rise from the definition of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, 1854. Again, in 1864, there appeared, together with an encyclical letter, the now famous Syllabus, treating, in ten chapters and eighty paragraphs, of the

principal errors of the time. On the 6th of June 1867, seventeen questions were addressed, in a circular letter, to all the bishops. On the 26th, the Pope announced an Allocution in the Secret Consistory, in the presence of 500 bishops, in which he intimated his desire to summon a General Council, by the means of which the Catholic Church would celebrate its highest triumph, convert her enemies, and carry her faith over all the world. On the 29th of June 1868, the Bull of the Indiction of the Council was promulgated. Protestants and other non-Catholics were exhorted to embrace the opportunity of this Council. The Patriarch of the Greek Church refused to read the letter, although it was handsomely bound in red morocco, and emblazoned with gold letters, bearing his own name. The Governments of Europe heard the proposal with unaffected indifference; and it must be humiliating to the Pope and his followers to find that his temporal power has been almost entirely shattered, although Romanism itself is still tremendously strong, and represents an ecclesiastical empire of 200,000,000 souls. France has repndiated the Syllabus, and the infallibility of the Pope. Italy has for years been in the most disagreeable and irritating relations with him. Austria has torn to pieces the Papal Concordat. Spain has, in the first hours of her emancipation, proclaimed liberty of conscience; and even Bavaria fluctuates in her allegiance to the temporal Head. Dr Cumming has done good service in bringing out the hollowness of the invitation so far as Protestantism is concerned. But what, our readers will ask, will the Council do? It is generally believed that three things will be done :-The infallibility of the Pope will be declared; the Syllabus will be made law; and the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin will be proclaimed. Should these false and blasphemous Articles be raised to the rank of a dogmatic creed, which every Romanist must accept, the reprobate and incurable wickedness of the Papacy will be sealed. It has been proposed to hold an Assembly of Protestants in an Italian city about the same time. We trust that this proposal will not be seriously entertained. It would be impossible to bring together a number sufficient to render it impressive. The quality of its members would not be a faithful representation of the intellectual and spiritual strength of Evangelical Christendom. It would occupy itself with secondary and one-sided discussions, and its decisions would have neither authority nor moral weight. A more attractive suggestion emanates from an influential source, and is recommended by honoured names. It is, that Christian people should unite, during the sittings of the Council, in earnest and believing prayer for the conversion of Roman Catholics, and for the utter destruction of the system, and that they should seriously consider the best means of giving effect to their desires by practical action.

THE IRISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH. The progress of reconstruction is highly gratifying. Instead of wasting their time and energies in vain regrets, its members

« PreviousContinue »