The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

Memoirs of Rev James Begg, D.D., by Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D.



I N the years after 1838 the question came to be not as to the extension, but as to the existence of the Church of Scotland. We have already seen the fate of Lord Aberdeen's bill. The Duke of Argyll introduced a bill into the House of Lords, which would have been thoroughly acceptable to the Non-Intrusion party in the Church, being practically a legalisation of the veto law. But it was opposed by leading men of both political parties, such a Herod as Lord Dunfermline entering into amity with such Pilates as the Earls of Haddington and Aberdeen to oppose it. The measure was approved in the General Assembly of 1841 by a large majority, on the motion of Dr. Candlish. But the change of Ministry occurred. Sir Robert Peel came into power, and in the expectation that his Government would deal with the matter, the Duke of Argyll's bill was not proceeded with. Meantime, as deputations had done so much to further the extension of the Church, recourse was had to the same method of enlightening the people as to the vitality of the principles for which she was contending. Dr. Begg was one of the most efficient of these deputies, and rendered good service to a good cause.

In 1839 a movement was made which told most powerfully on the controversy which was being carried on respecting the independence of the Church and the rights of her people. I refer to the institution of the Witness newspaper, under the editorship of Mr, Hugh Miller. I have not been able to ascertain precisely the part which Dr. Begg had in the origination of this movement. But I have always understood that that part was a prominent one; and I know that the relation which subsisted betwixt him and Miller to the last day of the life of that notable and noble man was one of cordial friendship and of mutual respect. We may have occasion to notice in the sequel that they did not always agree in opinion. This will neither surprise nor distress us. But each ever regarded the other as an honest and fearless champion of what both regarded as a righteous cause, although there might be shades of difference in their views as to the ways in which that cause could best be advanced. Dr. Begg and the editor of the Witness had much in common. Sturdy maintenance of their views, no shrinking from controversy, if not a certain degree of liking to it, a general agreement in political sentiment - Conservative Whiggism as opposed to Radical Whiggism, but all subordinate to Christian principle and an earnest desire for the glory of God - these were the bases of the cordial friendship between the two men. And there were points of difference so great as to bar the access of that rivalry which through human infirmity often militates against the perfection of friendship even among good men. The oratory of the one was as much outside the province of the other as the science of the latter was outside the province of the former. It never occurred to Miller to aspire to oratory, or to Begg to cultivate science, any more than it occurs to any of us to emulate the birds in their flight. I am confident of being pardoned for stepping aside a very little from my direct way to pay a humble tribute to a man who not only did invaluable service to the cause which Dr. Begg had so much at heart, but who also, in a still higher department, in days of the prevalence of a shallow and boastful science, lived as a practical exhibition of the compatibility of sound science with simple faith.

But what I have to do with in connection with the Witness is the fact, or rather the two facts, that Dr. Begg was a frequent contributor to its columns, and that it contains full and appreciative reports of his public appearances. I have before me a collection of articles from the Witness which Dr. Begg had transcribed for insertion in his Autobiography. In accordance with the rule which I have prescribed for myself, of giving all the matter which has come into my hand manifestly designed by him to be incorporated in that Autobiography, I shall present these extracts in the order of their dates.

The first is an account of a disgraceful attack made on Dr. Begg at Ellon in Aberdeenshire, and described by himself.


(From Witness, April 15 and 25, 1840.)

"The following hasty notes may possess some interest at the present moment.

"On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 31, I started by the Aberdeen mail for the now famed district of Strathbogie.

"One enters this district, so called because it is traversed by the river Bogie, between thirty and forty miles beyond Aberdeen, Marnoch and the celebrated Foggyloan being on the right. The aspect of the country is wild, and although agriculture is rapidly advancing under the fostering care of the Highland Society, yet, in most parts of Banffshire and Aberdeenshire, one may see such remains of the olden time as a horse and an ox or cow united in the same yoke, and everywhere miserable huts and vast districts of uncultivated land. The parish churches, too, are in general very paltry, although here and there a few good specimens are beginning to be seen. Strathbogie was till lately a very wild, uncultivated district; indeed, I was told it was little better than a vast morass, whilst we all know it was scarcely thoroughly reformed, and till now a stronghold of Moderatism. But agriculture has of late been making immense strides, and the face of the country is rapidly changing; and a similar improvement is at present vigorously advancing in the moral aspect of the scene, by the divine blessing on the new modes of spiritual husbandry recently introduced. Huntly, the only one of the parishes in which I spent any time, is truly an interesting place. It is well situated on a rising ground - an old seat of the powerful Gordon family, and the remains of their ancient castle, as well as a beautiful modern residence, are in sight of the town. The Duchess of Gordon is held in the highest esteem, and has, by the erection of schools and otherwise, been eminently useful. In Huntly there are several meeting-houses, and especially a Popish chapel, lately finished. It was formerly three parishes, which were united in the days of spoliation by the influence of the landlords - not to benefit the people, but to save expense. This may account in some measure for the growth of dissent. The same system was practised to a great extent in Aberdeenshire, and indeed in most parts of Scotland, during the last century, often with the concurrence of the clergy, who, being mere nominees, durst not resist, - or who were bribed into silence by receiving two or three glebes instead of one. These matters ought to be revised now that the pernicious effects of that system are clearly seen.

"I arrived at Huntly on Thursday, April 2, and soon after was waited upon by Dr. Christie, a most agreeable man, and the Rev. Mr. M'Kenzie, a licentiate of the Church, who is now appointed to labour in the parish of Glass, a gentleman who has acted a most noble and disinterested part in the present struggle, and whose talents and Christian zeal equally entitle him to the active support of all friends of the Church. Soon after, I saw many zealous friends of non-intrusion, and, I trust, of Christian truth, - persons who seemed perfectly alive to the magnitude and importance of the present struggle, and who seemed ready to make any sacrifice for the cause of the Church and Christian people. I never saw a more interesting people. Their desire to hear the Gospel is perfectly wonderful. They listen with the most eager interest; and, week-day or Sabbath, an audience may be collected on the shortest notice. The kind of preaching lately introduced appears to be perfectly new to them, and I do trust that great and eternal good will be the result.

"Like the rest of my brethren who have been there, I was, of course, duly served with an interdict from the Court of Session. It was given me whilst standing in the open street by an officer accompanied by two witnesses. The officer himself smiled at the affair, seemed ashamed of it, and, I understood, came to hear the sermon; whilst a decent man, from the parish of Glass, who stood by, said, 'I dinna ken wha gied him authority to order you no to preach, but I'm sure it wasna Him wha gied you your commission.'

"A large audience assembled at seven to hear the sermon, and remained for nearly two hours and a half. The Rev. Mr. Macintosh of Tain preached a sermon in Gaelic at six o'clock to the Highlanders, who in all parts of the world thirst after the Word of God in their native tongue. I took up my residence in the house of Mr Lawson, a most excellent man, the kindness of whose family I shall never forget.

"Next day the Rev. Mr. M'Kenzie and I set out for the Alford district, which was always reckoned the stronghold of the intrusion party. Many threatenings of personal violence had been uttered against any non-intrusionist who would venture there, and we were told to provide steel caps, proving that the fiendish spirit of persecution exists amongst a few of the people, chiefly the lairds factors, &c., if they had the power of gratifying it, - proving also that such men are convinced that their cause cannot stand the test of argument, but flies before exposure like chaff before the wind. This is the true reason, I rather think, why public meetings are so much disliked, even by some of the clergy, who were themselves quite ready to meet the people upon other questions. The advocates of non-intrusion feel that the more their objects, arguments, and past struggles against violent settlements, and in favour of Christ's supreme and sole Headship in His own Church are known, the more will they commend themselves to the approbation of Christian and intelligent men. Therefore we had no scruple in going.

"The district of Alford is a beautiful strath on the banks of the Don, nearly twenty miles from Huntly by the best road. On our way we passed through Gartly, the excellent minister of which has stood by the Church and fulfilled his ordination engagements. We passed the church and manse of Rhynie, the wild and upland parish of the leader of the seven suspended ministers. We also saw the place, the court of an inn, where from a thousand to twelve hundred persons at present meet every Sabbath in the open air to hear the ministers sent by the Commission; and we spoke to a most intelligent watchmaker in the place, who is a warm and devoted friend to the Church in her present movements. We learned here not only that the great mass of the Church people now attend the preaching station, but also all the Independents, except about a dozen, and that it is very painful to see Mr. Allardyce sometimes obliged to pass this vast assemblage as he goes to and from the parish church to preach to the handful that remain.

"We halted at the residence of Mr. Lumsden of Clova, a very large proprietor, about twelve miles from Huntly, and a man of great influence, from whom we received great kindness, and who is a strenuous maintainer of the principle of non-intrusion. We learned from him the great evils which had flowed from the abuse of patronage in that district of Scotland before such a check as the veto existed, as also the evils which had proceeded from the inconvenient and unchristian union of parishes. This gentleman seems to be a genuine Presbyterian reformer of the best school.

After a beautiful ride along the banks of the Don, we came to the Bridge of Alford, the sort of headquarters of that district. We soon learned from the people that the statements in the newspapers had been grossly exaggerated, and they seemed indignant at the idea that they should have been so misrepresented. About four hundred people had met there a few nights before in hopes of hearing Mr. Macnaughtan, who had not time to go. The man said, 'The schoolmasters and the lairds hae been riding about on their shafts (ponies) to persuade us against non-intrusion, but they hae come little speed.' Another said, 'If Mr. Macnaughtan had come, he would have seen that there are as many non-intrusionists here as could, if they chose, eat all the rest.' A third told us that Mr. Paull's letter had been circulated in the district; 'but,' said he, 'I got Mr. Gray's answer, and I was delighted wi' it, for it cuttit um up sae clean;' and a fourth expressed his surprise that the newspapers (referring to a Radical print in Aberdeen), which formerly fought the people's battles, had on this occasion 'turned their backs and gaen ower to the side o' the lairds and Moderate clergy.' In a word, I have not often seen a peasantry so thoroughly full of the old Scotch principles and feelings, and I was, of course, agreeably surprised, as I was also when I found the same admirable leaven in strong existence in Eskdale and Wigtonshire.

"In such districts the Moderate system has existed for years, but some of the people have Boston, Flavel, and the Confession of Faith in their houses, and there are amongst them strong recollections of better days. Gordon of Alford was in former times sent to London to endeavour to secure the repeal of the Act of Queen Anne. Malcolm of Leochel-Cushnie was an excellent man, and his memory is much revered.

"The people seem most anxious to have a minister in this district who will act upon the principles of the Evangelical party, and most eagerly inquired at us whether such a thing could not immediately be by the authority of the General Assembly. They said his church would be crowded. They spoke in very kind terms of some of their present ministers. It was whispered, no doubt, however, amongst other things, that some of them were 'gran' farmers,' and had great 'skill o' nowt,' and instead of being alarmed and nervous, as some say they all are, at the suspension of ministers at Strathbogie, we heard of some who were expressing great anxiety, in the strong Aberdeen accent, to hear if any such good things were likely to 'come up their wy.'

"The public meeting we had at Leochel-Cushnie that evening was certainly one of the most splendid I have seen. It was just like a west country tent-preaching, such a number of fine-looking people, and so well dressed. They came showering down the hills in every direction, although one could not divine where they came from, and stood in a dense and eager crowd for more than two hours. There must have been at least 1,000 people - some say 1200 - and they had come from fourteen parishes. It was beautiful to see the vast multitude uncover at once, as by magic, the instant the psalm-book was opened, and delightful to hear the voice of such hearty praise rising in that distant valley. When the daylight failed, two willing assistants stood on the same table with me, and held up the two gig lamps on the right and left, whose light shone on the interesting faces of the people, whilst I stood and spoke in the midst; and at length, when the resolutions were proposed by most respectable men in the meeting, in favour of the great principle of non- intrusion, and of the popular party in the General Assembly, the whole hands went up at once like a forest, and a long shout of enthusiasm was echoed back amidst the darkness from the distant hills. The meeting, after a psalm and prayer, broke up with the utmost harmony. We were loaded with thanks, and entreated to come to many neighbouring parishes, and some of the people told us that they had partly been induced to come to the meeting in consequence of the threatenings uttered by a neighbouring minister, 'wi' a face as red as the fire,' against all who would go to hear those 'dangerous' men. 74

[Footnote 74: "As Matthew Henry would say, Nothing provokes human curiosity so much as a strenuous attempt at concealment. It may illustrate the kindness and zeal of the people of this district to mention that our host, Mr. Murray, innkeeper at Muggarthaugh, although we and our horse remained one night with him, would not allow us to pay him a single farthing whilst we were travelling in such a cause. As we stood at the door of the inn next morning and looked round the vast circle of hills, with scarcely a human being within sight, except such as were busy plying their daily toil, so that a whole army with Claverhouse at their head might have sought in vain for the crowd of the previous evening, we thought of the vast importance of the Church Establishment, by means of which a free Christianity is carried into all such regions, and of the madness of some of our higher classes in trying to force such a people into the ranks of dissent or heathenism, merely to gratify their own tyrannical dispositions, even at the expense of their worldly interests. No men are so deeply interested in securing popular, efficient Gospel ministers as landlords, and no landlords have benefited so much by Christianity as those in Scotland; and that just in the proportion in which they have yielded to the desires of the people for a pure Gospel, warmly and faithfully preached. Give the Scotch people this, and they ask little more; they will be found the most easily governed people in the world. Without this, the land that we saw would be a desert, and the people savages."]

"Our meeting at Tullynessle, a small parish on the other side of the Don, took place on Saturday, at four o'clock. It was held in the premises of Mr. Smith, at Mountgarry, one of Mr. Paull's elders, a venerable man, and a decided non-intrusionist. Mr. Paull is well liked amongst his people, but our meeting was large; we had again to adjourn to the open air, and there strong non-intrusion resolutions were passed, and a petition adopted, which the elder was the first to sign, and which the other people were busy subscribing when we left. It was now past six o'clock, and we proceeded past the church of Tullynessle, a very paltry building, but with a good manse, &c., which stands at the foot of a vast black Aberdeenshire-looking hill, over which we passed as the nearest road to Huntly, where we arrived at nine o'clock, after passing the churches of Clatt and Kennethmont.

"On Sabbath, April 5, I preached twice at Huntly to very crowded and most attentive audiences - the place of meeting containing about 1,000 people, and a considerable number not being able to find admittance. Between sermons there was a very numerous and interesting Sabbath school, which I had great pleasure in attending. It was established by Mr. Lewis, of Dundee, and the children and young people are making great progress. Many of the grown-up, and even old people, attended, and listened to the lessons with eager interest. The main stream of population and anxiety in the place is now turned towards this place of worship. Not only is the parish church nearly deserted, but many Dissenters and some Roman Catholics regularly attend it, the latter declaring that that church - it was formerly the Popish chapel - was once a 'dark place' to them, whereas they now see the light and rejoice. The same results have appeared more or less in all the parishes. The preachers are attended by large audiences everywhere, and an uncommon interest prevails; indeed, I never saw anything like it. News from the South is eagerly expected, and all eyes are turned towards the ensuing Assembly. The people seem quite prepared for the deposition of their ministers, as a step now forced upon the Church, in consequence of their own tyrannical and refractory proceedings; they say, 'We cannot go back to hear these men;' and if the Moderator were advanced to the chair of the Assembly by the votes of Strathbogie, I should say, from what I heard everywhere, that Dr. Hill would get few votes. The seven brethren are, it is understood, anything but pleased with the recent proceedings of Dr. Cook in the case of his own son, in which he seems to have left them rather in the lurch. The language of his conduct seems to be, 'I have no wish to be deposed, I assure you, gentlemen, nor to have the license taken from my son, - it may do very well for you in Strathbogie, but it won't suit me.' Perhaps the men of the cold 'east neuk' of Fife were afraid of a troop of preachers being sent over.

"On Monday morning, at half-past eight, I had a farewell meeting with the people at Huntly, and even at that early hour there was a good and most interesting congregation. I proceeded immediately afterwards to Aberdeen, and thence to Ellon.

"It occurs to me to mention, in addition to what I have already stated in regard to Huntly, that when there I was very anxious to discover in what way the proceedings of the Commission of the Assembly had operated amongst the people, and by what steps they had been brought to their present interesting state. I found that formerly they knew little about the affairs of the Church, and took almost no interest in her struggles. The great stream of ecclesiastical politics swept past almost unheeded; and even when the case of Marnoch began to excite general interest, the people of Huntly never dreamt that they would be drawn into the vortex. 'The first time I ever heard such an idea suggested,' said a most respectable man to me, 'was after the stormy meeting of Presbytery, at which it was resolved to proceed with Mr. Edwards' trials in defiance of the General Assembly and the people. A decent old man' (I think he said a Seceder) 'came into my house immediately after and said, "Your minister will be suspended for what he has done today." ' Immediately after the news of the suspension of the seven brethren came upon the district like a thunder-clap. The people scarcely knew either its cause or probable effect and as Mr. Walker was personally much esteemed, a feeling of general dislike was the immediate result. Indeed, it would have been wonderful had no such feeling existed in such circumstances. But when Mr. Candlish explained the matter fully to the people in the yard of the inn - the only place to which he could then get access - the tide was instantly turned. His sermons and speech appear to have produced a powerful effect, and the interest has since been continually increasing. The people speak with much affection of all the ministers who have been there - of Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Moody-Stuart, Mr. Macnaughtan, Mr. Lewis, and others, and every Sabbath new converts are made.

"One excellent lady, now a zealous non-intrusionist, told me that she had only been hearing for three Sabbaths the 'Commission ministers,' and that she was formerly quite opposed to them; and I heard of a person who had gone for the first time on the Sabbath that I preached. Those left in the old church, however, although few in number, are not deficient in zeal. And it is an instance of good brought out of evil to see them, as I did, taking all their children with them to church, even the smallest, - which they never did before, - for the purpose of increasing the attendance. One has heard of preaching, but I had never seen anything like hearing 'out of contention' before. In a word, it is impossible to suppose any combination of circumstances out of which more good is likely to spring to the long-neglected district of Strathbogie than the recent painful proceedings forced upon the Commission of the General Assembly. But I must proceed to Ellon.

"Ellon is far from and very unlike Strathbogie. It is on the east coast, sixteen miles from Aberdeen, on the road to Peterhead. It is a small place, amidst a well-cultivated country, in fact only a hamlet, the whole parish containing scarcely more than 2,000 souls, and yet within sight of the parish church there are three dissenting places of worship, besides several in the neighbourhood - so much for Moderatism in its worst form, which has long been rampant in this neighbourhood. It is ever to be kept in view that there are various shades and degrees of Moderatism, from Dr. Muir and Dr. Ferrie down to Mr. Pirie of Dyce and Mr. Ellis of Culsamond, although unfortunately, like a spoiled bunch of grapes - to use the figure of another - the good and the bad hang too perseveringly together. A friend of mine, himself one of the party, says there are 'Moderates' and 'dead Moderates,' and the district of Ellon seems to have had some of the worst samples. The present minister is well known as a man of talent, and I believe diligent in the discharge of his duty. The former was one of the most inefficient of his class for good, and there are still some singular specimens in the neighbourhood. Throughout part of this district there is besides a bad leaven of Scottish Jacobitism, which seems to retain all the hatred of Presbyterianism and of serious religion, against which our ancestors had so many struggles. Such is the low state of vital religion in the district that a most excellent Evangelical minister mentioned to me that he is often pointed and laughed at by the people of the surrounding district; and what would you think of individuals who, in regard to the appointment of an Evangelical minister, could say, 'We don't want any of your praying devils'?

"The meetings at Turriff and Ellon are sufficient to illustrate the moral state of the people, even although it was said in excuse for the latter that it was the 'market day.' It inverted all my ideas of mobs to see a mob of farmers, booted and spurred, doctors, factors, &c., to hear that some elders of the Established Church were amongst the number, whilst the humbler classes of the people - mostly Seceders, I understood - were well behaved, and anxious to be informed. I have been present at many riotous meetings, at Paisley, Dumfries, and elsewhere, and therefore was the less moved; but for deliberate, low, and apparently hired ruffianism, I never saw anything to equal the meeting at Ellon, except an awfully blasphemous exhibition by avowed atheists at Dundee, which Scotland will not soon forget. They were truly 'fierce for moderation.' There is, however, something intellectual even in the uproar of weavers, - they will debate a point with you and often with great talent; but there is something intensely gross and sensual in the irruption of a coarse, ignorant, and ungodly squirearchy. Such a scene proves in what a state Moderatism in its worst form leaves a population. It scarcely varnishes over the innate depravity of human nature, far less tends to change it, which nothing but the Gospel and Spirit of God can do; and the 'quietness' of which ministers sometimes boast, in such circumstances, will be found, when it is stirred, to be only like the quietness of a putrid pond.

"It is of immense importance to bring out the real state of the case; for a scene in a country district of Scotland only equalled by the Popery of Galway and Tipperary, and worse than mere heathenism is generally known to produce, proves that depravity is not confined to towns or the lower classes, and ought to teach senators that if an Established Church is to be of any use, they must take care that it shall really diffuse a knowledge of Christianity among the people. Such a scene proves that the spirit of persecution is as strong as ever, wherever fallen human nature exists unchecked, or perhaps only inflamed into greater hatred; and in the glaring eyes and red, maddened countenances of men who had previously taken the precaution partly to deprive themselves of reason, that they might assail without shame a minister of Christ whom they had never seen before, and whose object was to promote their best interests, one could more vividly imagine some of the striking scenes of the Word of God, and the days of the thumb-screws. We seldom see man in his demon aspect. We may dream that he is changed, and it is useful, though deeply painful, to see him as he really is - 'hateful and hating,' 'gnashing his teeth,' and exhibiting his 'desperate wickedness,' as he did in opposing our Saviour and His apostles. It serves to confirm our faith in the divine testimony, and, as a worthy man who was present at the Ellon meeting said 'Sir, we maun just expect it, for before Christ takes to Himself His great power and reigns, Satan will break forth into opposition.' How unlike the fine peasantry of Alford and Wigtonshire, the intelligent shepherds of Eskdale and Selkirk, or indeed anything to be found in Scotland generally beyond the dregs of our large cities.

"Before I left the place, which I did with deep pity for the people, I distributed a number of tracts, and I have no doubt that ere long a reaction will take place, and an opportunity will occur of letting in the light more effectually. Such a visitation as has been made in Strathbogie would be of great use in other districts of Scotland.

"I spent the night with Sir William Seton, whose high character is well known, and who is a great blessing to such a neighbourhood. Next evening I lectured in a Secession chapel in the neighbouring parish of Belhelvie. I have remarked, particularly in all the distant country parts of Scotland, that the Seceders in general seem to retain their original principles. The ministers often are Voluntaries, but not the people; and it is truly gratifying to reflect upon the vast amount of good which must have been done by evangelical Dissenters in districts where the Established Church has been inefficient, or perhaps worse than useless. What a glorious thing would it have been had the Seceders in this country, as in Ireland, been ready to join their forces with ours, now that the objects of the Testimony are being rapidly secured. Let us hope and pray that we may yet see such a glorious issue of all our struggles. It is melancholy to think that some of the pretended followers of Erskine are now the main obstacle in the way of the accomplishment of his fondest wishes. They should study the history and doom of Edom.

"Aberdeen itself is making vast progress. With such a staff of able and efficient ministers, with so little dissent, with its beautiful new university nearly completed, and with so many parochial schools, it may be justly said, although much remains to be done, to be one of the most hopeful cities in the kingdom. What a change since Rutherford was there of old! The non-intrusion cause is also very powerful, as was evident from the tone of the vast public meeting which I had the honour to attend; and when their new Church paper is started, under the able and spirited management of Mr. Troup of the Montrose Review, the best results may be anticipated.

"The friends of truth in Scotland must seize the press, and wrest it from the degraded hands in which it is often at present found. In travelling I have had occasion to see much of its immense power for good or evil, and the vast advantage of such publications as the Scottish Guardian, the Witness, and the Christian Herald, especially in districts where the ministers are hostile. In all the extreme districts of Scotland these papers are now found, and it is scarcely possible to imagine any cheaper or more effectual way of promoting the diffusion of sound principles than by widely circulating them, as all the country people are anxious to read newspapers.

"Means must also immediately be adopted, if the Church of Scotland is really to be efficient, for planting and maintaining preachers or ordained ministers in the destitute districts of Scotland. I have seen many a most necessitous district lately, and on former occasions, where the people are literally 'perishing for lack of knowledge,' but where the idea of erecting a church in the first instance is entirely out of the question. The first movement must be made from without, and it was most melancholy to think, whilst looking on these masses of heathenism, that unemployed preachers were walking the streets of Edinburgh whilst such multitudes had none to break to them the bread of life, - multitudes who never will apply to the committee at Edinburgh for relief, although that committee sits till doomsday, and who are every day sinking in torpor, and passing into eternity without hope. Let the Church then arise, and a portion of the Church Extension funds be immediately devoted to this object, and we shall soon set up a light in every dark place, till the whole land is filled with brightness. At present our efforts only reach the able and the willing - the worst cases are entirely overlooked; and besides, if the living agency is first brought to bear, the stone and lime will soon follow. We shall soon then, by the divine blessing, neutralise, and, by Christianising, bring over to the other side the heathenism and torpor which at present are the heaviest dead weights in the opposite scale. I trust, Dr. Clason's Committee 'on the Employment of Probationers' will not lose sight of this object, the immediate importance of which can in no view be exaggerated.

"If, in addition to all this, the Assembly would only declare against the Act of Queen Anne altogether, while she stands fast in her present noble position, there would arise an instant response from tens of thousands more in all parts of the kingdom. The people all hate patronage as cordially as their fathers did, and wherever I have been the only fault they find with the Church is that she does not go far enough."

Our next extract relates to certain proceedings in the Synod of Dumfries. Probably the latter part of it is from Dr. Begg's pen, though published editorially.


"The following overture was proposed by Dr. Duncan, of Ruthwell, seconded by Sir Patrick Maxwell: 'The Synod of Dumfries humbly overture the venerable the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, that they adhere to their previous resolution relative to the independent jurisdiction of the Church in all spiritual matters, and to support the principle of non-intrusion involved in the Act of 1835 anent calls, and that they continue their exertions to procure some legislative enactment whereby the present unhappy collision of the civil and ecclesiastical courts may be terminated, and the obstructions thereby occasioned to the peace, extension, and prosperity of the Church removed.'

"After a short discussion, this overture was rejected by 37 to 26 - majority, 11.

"Mr. Shaw, of Langholm, next proposed an overture calling upon the Assembly to pronounce a sentence of disapprobation, and put an effectual veto upon the illegal procedure of such ministers as have been deserting their own charges, and intruding into the parishes of their clerical brethren. A long discussion took place.

"Finally the overture was carried by 28 to 18 - majority, 10.

(Editorial Remarks. )

"It is not a little interesting to see the furious recoil of the Moderate clergy against the information which has lately been so successfully diffused in their parishes. No more certain evidence of success could be desired than such pathetic outcries. Owls and bats scream and flutter when light is let in. The Synod of Dumfries, still a region of comparative darkness, at the suggestion of Mr. Shaw, of Langholm, who, of course, is well known, has sent an instructive overture to the Assembly on the subject. The following passage from a violent and outrageous speech by the said Rev. brother, in defence of Christian meekness, as a preface to the overture, is admirable. 'Before the intrusion of these rev. agitators, our people were remarkably quiet and orderly, never interfering in any way with Church politics. But it is truly lamentable,' of course to the Intrusionists, 'to perceive the change that has taken place, and the evil spirit which has been engendered amongst them in this respect.' We, of course, all know the meaning of this. We trust the good cause in Eskdale will go on and prosper. The meeting at Langholm was very effective. Hence Mr. Shaw's rage at Messrs Cunningham and Begg. We trust the Non-Intrusion Committee. will take encouragement from such authentic testimonies to the success of their efforts, especially in such interesting districts.' "

The next extract, from the Witness of 15th April, 1840, is part of an account of

"NON-INTRUSION MEETING AT ABERDEEN. (From Witness, April 15, 1840.)

"The Rev. Mr. Begg of Liberton spoke next. He had listened with pleasure to the very interesting statements which they had just heard, and he was sure he spoke the sentiments of the friends of non-intrusion when he said that they would be delighted if any satisfactory measure were passed in Parliament, by whatsoever party it were introduced. He hoped they would in this question keep clear of politics. It did the gentleman who represented them great honour that he stated in the outset of his address that he did not come there to further any political object whatever.

"From the beginning he had given this cause his most zealous support, and they were much indebted to all, in both Houses of Parliament, who had done their best to procure a satisfactory settlement of the question. He agreed with the very rev. principal, that no settlement would be satisfactory which did not completely establish the rights of the Christian people, and he felt persuaded that no measure would give that satisfaction which did, not go the length of abolishing the Act of Queen Anne, by which patronage was established. (Cheers.) That Act was passed avowedly against the best interests of the Church of Scotland; had been used as an engine of tyranny to the people, and at the present moment they were bitterly reaping the fruits of its policy. It was his firm opinion that they would never be able to combine these two elements - the people's power and the patron's rights. They must cast the patron overboard; he was the Jonah that had raised the storm; they must go down to 'the side of the ship' and cast him out, and then they would have a calm. (Cheers.)

"The rev. gentleman then replied at length to the charge brought against the popular party in the Church, that they were grasping at more power, and adduced a great deal of evidence from the history of the Church of Scotland to prove that the Moderate party had all along been the most intolerant. He quoted the forced settlements of Shotts, Nigg, Torphichen, and Muckart, and gave a graphic account of the proceedings attending each case. He then came to the Auchterarder case, and from that to Marnoch, where he dealt rather humorously with Peter Taylor of Foggyloan, the only party who had signed Mr. Edwards' call. Peter, he said, was innkeeper at Foggyloan, at which inn the majority of the Presbytery of Strathbogie had been accustomed to dine. He had been told, however, that even Peter had bitterly repented the step he had taken in putting his name to the call. The call usually runs, 'The male heads of families,' &c.; but in the case of Marnoch it must have read thus, 'I, Peter Taylor, being destitute of a parish minister, invite you, Mr. Edwards, to minister to me and my family, and I promise you the whole manse and stipend of Marnoch in return for your services.' (Laughter and cheers.)

"In the days of the old supremacy it was usual to select some decided Intrusionist to ordain an unpopular minister; but on one occasion they chanced to select a man for this service who was in favour of the people's rights. That minister in ordaining the presentee said, 'I appoint you stipend-lifter of this parish.' (Laughter and cheers.) For this he was rebuked by the Presbytery; and on the cause being brought before the Assembly he was sentenced to be rebuked there also, when he leant over the seat, and coolly said, 'Come awe wi' yer rebuke, Moderator, it will brak nae banes.' (Laughter.) And so it would have been in Marnoch. Mr. Edwards could only have been ordained as stipend-lifter of the parish, and if the Moderate party had got their will he would have been so at this present moment; they would have ordained Mr. Edwards to be minister to Peter Taylor had the Commission tied their hands behind their back in a quiet way to prevent them from doing mischief.

"He then noticed the following encouraging circumstances in connection with the present movement - First, influential men of all parties were now convinced that something must be done. This was the universal impression, with the exception of those who were prejudiced against the people. These he would give up. They were what he would call 'dyed in the wool;' and to expect them to change their views was to expect to see a moral miracle. He would also give up most of the Dissenters, who had an interest in breaking down the Establishment.

"Secondly, the Rev. Dr. Cook of St. Andrews had given in to the Church. It was generally supposed that Dr. Cook had advised the majority of the Presbytery of Strathbogie in the present case, and had winked at the ecclesiastical authority of the Church. Now, it so happened that his own son had received a presentation as assistant and successor in a parish in Fife. The call to this young man was signed by his father; but though he had preached three years in the parish the people were now up in arms against him, and the Commission of the Assembly prevented the Presbytery from taking him on trials. What did Dr. Cook do in this case? He had abetted the rebellion of the Church, if rebellion it was - he submitted to the Commission, (Cheers.) For this his brethren in Strathbogie were much grieved with him, but he (Mr. Begg) viewed it as a symptom of returning to a sounder state of mind, and as an encouragement to hope that others of the Moderate party would follow his example.

"Thirdly, the young men in the Church, and those coming into her, were almost all Non-Intrusionists. Meetings had been held in the Divinity Halls, and it had been ascertained that out of 300 students 242 had declared in favour of non-intrusion, and many of these had sent memorials to the Assembly on the subject. Thirty-six students had declared against the non-intrusion principle. Oh, it would be very interesting to get hold of their names, and publish them all over Scotland, that it might be known what kind of men they were. If they could get this done, he believed it would be found that they were men depending on absolute patronage - men who could not get into the Church by the door, and were afraid that the ladder to the window was about to be taken away. (Cheers.)

"Fourthly, it was admitted on all hands that the Court of Session in granting the interdicts against preaching the Gospel in Strathbogie, went beyond its power. When in Huntly, he too was served with an interdict; but what did he do? Why, Christ told him, 'Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.' The Court of Session says, 'You shall not preach the Gospel to one soul in this parish.' I obeyed my Master. (Cheers.) They the (Non-Intrusionists) would submit to pains and penalties for disregarding these interdicts; but no complaint had been made against them yet; no man had yet been put in jail; and if they now attempt to do so, they would find a rather heavy arrear to bring up, that it would be a rather difficult task to put eighteen or twenty ministers in jail for preaching the Gospel, and determining to prevent a man from being intruded on a reclaiming people.

"Fifthly, hundreds and thousands of people in every direction were now flocking to hear the Gospel, who formerly cared little about its precepts or practice. In Strathbogie, where he had just been preaching, the people were not satisfied with the discourses delivered to them on Sabbath, but came out in great numbers on the Monday morning at half-past eight o'clock. Such was the desire now to hear the truth in that district, and multitudes, he believed, would bless God through eternity for the visits which had been paid them, and the sermons preached among them on this occasion. (Loud cheers.)

"In other districts the anxiety to hear the truth was equally remarkable. At Alford, such was the fear of a certain party lest the light should get in amongst the people there, that on hearing of Mr. Macnaughtan's intention to visit them, they collected a parcel of fiddlers together, and laid a scheme to get the people to dance rather than let them hear him speak. Nay, more, they sent men out with blackened faces to frighten him! He (Mr. Begg) was told that if he dared to go to that district he would need to take a steel cap with him; but notwithstanding this remark, and the treatment Mr. Macnaughtan had met with, he determined to go, and thither he went, and had the satisfaction of addressing a meeting of a thousand people in the open air. (Cheers.) There he stood till it was dark, and then two men held lanterns - one on each side of him - while a series of resolutions were passed, praise and prayer offered up to God, and the minds of the people enlightened, notwithstanding they had lairds and lords, ay, and ministers opposed to them; these were against them, but the people were with them. (Applause.)

"In Tullynessle the people were also with them. One decent man said to him, 'They sent me Mr. Paull and Mr. Pirie's letter, which I read; but I got Mr. Gray's answer, and was delighted with it; it cut up the other letter clean.' (Applause.)

"He went to Ellon on Tuesday; there he was not so successful. He could not obtain a place to preach in within doors, but he got a wood yard, and regretted to learn since that the poor man who gave the use of it was likely to suffer loss, the Intrusionists in the town and neighbourhood having resolved not to employ him again. A good number of people came out to hear him. Some of them were drunk; some of them were respectably dressed, and some of them were boys. They began to shout and laugh, and make faces. They induced the boys also to laugh, and they assailed him with eggs. One decent man remarked that this was not more than might be expected under the yoke of patronage. (A laugh.) He had been pelted with stones before, but never with eggs. However, there he stood and declared the truth, until two ferocious-looking men came up to the platform and threatened personal violence. He was told afterwards, though he could not vouch for the fact, that these two men were offered a bottle of whisky by one party there to 'go up and throw Mr. Begg down.' In these circumstances he could not proceed further at that time. But did not conduct of this kind show what a desperate cause the Intrusionists had to maintain?

"Nevertheless, he believed there was a spirit of intelligence abroad which would thwart all their opposition. A reaction would yet take place, even in that district, and when this did happen, he trusted the friends of the truth in Aberdeen would not fail to send out men to explain the question of non-intrusion. (Cheers.)

"But a reaction had already taken place, for, on the evening of the next day, one of the Seceder ministers, much to his honour, frankly gave them his place of worship. Many other Dissenters, he was glad to say, had given them assistance in their present struggle for the people's rights. There were some opposing them, for this reason: if they could get Evangelical religion and Evangelical ministers out of the pulpits of the Establishment, they would soon get quit of the Moderates - the more rickety the house the easier it would be pulled down. - Mr. Begg then read a statement from a document lately issued by the Central Board of Dissenters in Edinburgh, and deduced therefrom the fears of Dissenters lest the popular party should succeed in their present struggle. He remarked, however, that the Central Board comprised but a small section of the Dissenters of Scotland, and had little influence. He then alluded to the election of delegates to the Assembly in the Edinburgh Town Council, and called attention to the remarkable fact that the extreme ultra-Tories had united with the extreme ultra-Radicals to put in two Moderates!

"He then concluded thus - This is just a struggle for the rights of the Christian people of Scotland, and it must - it will succeed. When the Ark of God was brought into the temple of Dagon, down came the image of the idolaters on the floor; and though the infatuated worshippers put him up again, he fell a second time, and his fall was greater than the first, for his hands and his head were chopped off. Now the image of patronage had been set up in the temple of the Lord. When the principle of non-intrusion was introduced, down came the image, and what were the moderate party doing now, but trying to raise him up again, and bind him up that he may frown and scowl on the Christian people. And what are we labouring for but to pull him down again, by all proper means? Nor shall we rest satisfied until we shall have cut off his head and his hands, and thrown him over the wall, that the people of Scotland may no longer be subjected to his tyranny. (Much cheering.)"

Dr. Begg was a member of the General Assembly of 1840, and took an active part in its proceedings. The two following extracts contain reports of his most important speeches.

"GENERAL ASSEMBLY: STRATHBOGIE CASE (From Supplement to Witness, May 28, 1840.)

"The Procurator moved - 'That the General Assembly, having heard counsel for the complainers, find that the Commission had not exceeded its powers, dismiss the complaint, and find and declare the seven ministers of the Presbytery of Strathbogie, complainers in the cause, to have been duly suspended.'

"Mr. Begg (Liberton) rose to support the motion made by the learned Procurator. That motion referred to two matters: first, to the power of the Commission to entertain the question brought before them, and to give the deliverance upon it which they did give; and secondly, to the nature of that deliverance itself - chiefly to the former. In regard to the power of the Commission, he thought that might be established first of all by the general terms upon which the Commission was appointed. He would even take the exception which was quoted and dwelt upon by the rev. doctor who opened the debate (Cook) as in the strongest manner confirmatory of the power of the Commission, and the duty of the Commission, to take up and dispose of that question when it came before them. What were the terms of that exception? The terms were, that they shall advert to the interests of the Church on every occasion, and take care that the Church and the present Establishment thereof shall sustain no injury until the ensuing Assembly, provided always that this general care be not extended to particular affairs and processes before Synods, and to matters that are not of universal concern to the Church. Therefore, although the case of Marnoch had arisen wholly after the rising of last Assembly, and although consequently no remit had been made to the Commission, it concerned the whole Church, according to the admission of all parties, and especially of the learned counsel to the seven rev. complainers. 'The issue of it might be the demolition of our Church Establishment as it is now constituted. (Hear, hear, hear.)

"They had heard of a special remit of the case of Marnoch to the Commission, by which they were empowered to judge and determine in regard to any appeals or references which might be subsequently made in regard to that case. It appeared that the seven suspended clergymen admitted their knowledge of the authority of the Commission to take up the matter, because in their resolution, after the sentence of suspension had been passed, they declared that the Presbytery find that as ministers of a Church established by law, and owing obedience to the law of the land, they must, from a regard to conscience, and to avoid the penal consequences, refuse obedience.

"Then followed an expression of deep regret at being obliged to adopt such a course, as thereby they were acting against the authority of their superior Church courts. It was very extraordinary to any one acquainted with the history of the Church to see gentlemen on the other side of the House questioning the power of the Commission to take up such questions and decide upon them. In the days of old the Commissions of Assembly were the main agents in carrying through a series of forced settlement - (disapprobation from the Moderate side; 'Hear, hear,' from the other side) - by which the feelings of the people were outraged; no more outraged, however, than were the laws and principles of the Church. Even the celebrated case of Inverkeithing, which gave rise to a large secession, and to the manifestoes of several parties in the Church, was decided originally by a Commission, and that before it came before the Assembly at all. On that occasion Principal Robertson dissented from the sentence of the Commission, not on the ground of its want of power, but because having full power they did not exercise it for the purpose of coercing conscientious ministers to settle unacceptable presentees upon reclaiming congregations. (Hear, hear, hear.) The title of that document was, 'Reasons of dissent from the judgment and resolution of the Commission on March 11, 1772, resolving to inflicts no censure on the Presbytery of Dunfermline for disobedience in reference to the settlement of Inverkeithing'

"The great fault now found with the Commission was that they had prevented a minister from being thrust upon a parish against whom almost the whole people dissented. (Hear.) The essence of the whole lay there. A new idea - (laughter) - had been discovered by the Moderate party in regard to the power of the Commission, and that grand discovery had probably been made because, unfortunately, the Commission now had shielded the Christian people against violent intrusion. (Hear, hear, hear.)

"In regard to the emergency itself in which the Commission had to interpose, impartial men could scarcely differ in this, that if they were to have a Church at all, if they were to have any body of men acting together, there must be order, and for its preservation the inferior courts must be subordinate to the superior, except on the ground of conscience, in which case they were entitled to leave the Church. (Laughter from the Moderate side.) The gentlemen who laugh should be told that this was the grand doctrine maintained in days of old - (laughter from the Evangelical side) - and that the essence of Principal Robertson's manifesto consists in its maintenance (to an extent indeed to which I could not subscribe).

"Mr. Begg, after quoting part of Principal Robertson's reasons of dissent, made an extract from Dr. Cook's evidence on patronage, to show that he (Dr. Cook) was not the least strenuous in maintaining the power of the superior judicatories. To evade this general reasoning, it was argued that when the civil law interfered all obedience to the Church courts should cease, and the Church should immediately become a passive instrument in the hands of the supreme power in the State. What was this but the old Erastian heresy that was contended against by our ancestors, and for opposition to which multitudes shed their blood? (Hear, hear.) What was the ground of all the struggles in the reign of Charles II.? Chiefly prelacy; but it also regarded the supremacy of the crown in ecclesiastical matters; and their ancestors thought that when they came out from that bloody struggle the yoke of Erastianism had been broken off the neck of the Church of Scotland for ever.

"During the whole of the last century the civil courts had refused to interfere, on the ground that the Church had been recognised in the Confession of Faith as having exclusive power in spiritual matters. Why did the civil courts interfere now? Because the power of the Church, which was formerly exerted against the people, is now exerted for them. (Hear, hear.) The Church had thrown herself between the people and their oppressors, saying, 'You must trample our spiritual jurisdiction under foot before you can trample on the rights of our congregations.' (Hear, hear.) The civil court was forcing its way through them merely for the purpose of intruding - he did not speak of motives - (laughter from the Moderate side) - ministers upon unwilling parishes; and the object of the Church was to stand between. What had the Presbytery of Strathbogie done? They had voluntarily made a breach in the ranks of the Church; they had said in effect to the civil court, 'You do not require to make your way through us, for we will just lie down, and let you walk over us.'

"When the Church of Scotland was opposed by many of the high and mighty, when there were many enemies without, she must put down mutiny and insubordination within, however painful the task, and he was sure it must have been very painful for the Commission. (Laughter.) He would take leave to say, and he was sure the saying would be re-echoed by thousands and tens of thousands in Scotland, that the Commission was entitled to, and would receive, the best thanks of the people of this country - (loud cries of 'Hear, hear,' and 'No, no') - and since reference had been made to the district of Strathbogie, he would take upon him to say, that, however these sentiments might be disliked in some quarters, nowhere were the proceedings of the Commission more relished than in that quarter.

"The rev. gentleman sat down amidst loud cries of 'Hear, hear,' from the members, and vehement marks of applause from the spectators in the galleries, interrupted with loud cries of 'Order' from the Moderator's side of the House, in the midst of which

"Mr. Robertson of Ellon rose to order. He trusted the House would have so much respect to its own dignity as to prevent those marks of approbation from being allowed.

"Mr. Bennie had no objection to support the dignity of the House so that it was done impartially. But he could not agree while the applause from one side was quietly submitted to, though applause from the other side to their friends was immediately complained against. (Hear, hear.)"


"The Rev. Mr. Begg of Liberton then rose, and said that he did not mean to reply to the speech which they had just now heard. He was sure they would agree with him that it would have been a sad pity if the rev. doctor (Bryce) had not been permitted to continue a member of this Assembly, for he (Mr. Begg) thought that the statements which he had just made, and the extreme love which he had expressed for Lord Aberdeen's bill, were in the highest degree fitted to convince the Assembly, and the country, that it was not the bill which they desired. (Hear, hear.)

"One reason why he (Mr. Begg) would not reply to the previous speech was because Dr. Bryce was one of those convenient speakers who answer their own speeches as they go along. (A laugh.) After alluding to the controversy betwixt Mr. Robertson of Ellon and Mr. Cunningham of Edinburgh, he continued that the question had assumed a very definite shape - whether this House shall approve or disapprove of Lord Aberdeen's bill. He at once admitted that he could not, in any degree, approve of the bill. This was to all of them a matter of serious disappointment, because they expected, upon what they reckoned good grounds, that some measure would be introduced to which they could, in some measure, give their assent.

"In contemplating, through the medium of the public press, the proceedings of the House of Lords, they supposed that there was some intimation given that there would be some concession by which they could conscientiously have closed, at least for a time - ('Hear' from the Moderate side) - with the provisions of the measures introduced. More particularly when statements were made to the effect that the patrons of the land were willing to make concessions, it was expected that the bill would embody some of these concessions, whereas it now appeared to be a mere declaratory enactment; therefore the alteration of its clauses could not affect its essence. It was impossible to improve that bill so as to make it satisfactory, except the principle of it was changed, and a totally different one introduced.

"What was it that the Church has been contending for of late? Her spiritual jurisdiction might be regarded as only an incidental question, though it had now become the most important of the two. The point originally agitated was, whether the pastoral relationship could in any case be properly constituted without the consent of the people implied, or expressly given. The General Assembly, and the Presbyteries of the Church separately, came to the determination, in 1834, that it could not be formed without the consent of the people, at least implied in the absence of dissent. It was vain, therefore, to mystify the question by pretending that there were various interpretations of the word 'non-intrusion.' There could not by any possibility be two interpretations, for it expressed the simple proposition that no minister be intruded into a parish 'contrary to the will of the Presbytery 75 .' (Hear, hear, hear.)

[Footnote 75: Qu. 'people'? - T. S.]

"The question was, since it is admitted by Lord Aberdeen himself, in the most upright and straightforward manner, and since it has been re-iterated by the honourable baronet (Sir George Clerk), that the bill did not and never meant to guard that principle, the Church of Scotland had no alternative left her but to reject this measure, if she wished to maintain her ground as a consistent Church of Christ - except she wished to violate all her declared principles, and was prepared to declare herself to the country as a traitor to the cause of God. If they approved of it, they must proceed to do those things which they had already refused to do. For example, they must proceed to induct Mr. Young into the parish of Auchterarder and Mr. Edwards into Marnoch, - they must virtually pronounce censure on all the past proceedings of the Church.

"He knew not what the consequences might be in regard to the country if such a traitorous resolution were adopted, but he knew the consequences if they were for an instant to give in to any plan or measure by which they were compelled to acquiesce in the sentiment that it is possible for the Church, in any circumstances, to intrude a minister. In the days of old, when the Church, in violation of what always was a fundamental principle of her government, thrust ministers into reclaiming parishes, she required to apply to the civil power for protection in exercising that shameful tyranny. The statement stood upon the minutes of the Assembly that application was made to the Lord Advocate for the aid of the civil power, and ministers were carried into parishes in the midst of bayoneted soldiers. Were the Assembly - were those who would acquiesce in the present bill and the decisions of the civil courts - prepared to do these things over again? Mr. Begg then quoted an extract from Dr. Cook's evidence on patronage with reference to the parish of Shotts, in which he stated that he would not have recourse to the assistance of the military in the settlement of ministers if he could help it!! (Considerable laughter.) Even Principal Robertson would have gone as far as that admission, for he probably was not an amateur of dragoons. (A laugh.) There were yet individuals in the Assembly who were prepared not to use the military, only if the people would consent to take the minister without the military.

"This bill professed to countenance the principle of ecclesiastical jurisdiction to some extent, and it was mainly on that ground that its defenders had maintained it. All this was founded on a single parenthetical clause, and it had been conclusively proved that that clause gave no protection to the Church. It gave protection in giving effect to certain reasons written down, but not against the encroachments of the civil court. It was said that they wished an independence which was not within the bounds of possibility, which could not co-exist with the independence of the State. They wished no Popish supremacy in the Church. They wished it to stand on the ground on which it was placed in the Confession of Faith, which is part of the law of the land, as a Church of Christ, having a Government in the hands of Church officers distinct from the civil magistrate. Unless they had the power of interpreting the limit of their jurisdiction, and of giving effect to it in spiritual things, their independence was but a name.

"This was the controversy which their ancestors had maintained in all past periods - the only difference being that their ancestors contended against a single despot, but they themselves against the encroachments of what was called the civil authority. The very essence of the whole lay in our claim to interpret and define the limits of our own ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and as the bill takes for granted that the civil court has decided the law for us even in spiritual matters, it is radically and fundamentally defective. The State can only legitimately interfere with the temporalities. The hon. baronet (Sir George Clerk) would give the Church to the full extent the power of determining absolutely in every case in regard to the settlement of ministers.

"What was the reason that even in England no bishop could be compelled to ordain a man without his own consent, although he could be compelled to induct him into a benefice after he had been ordained? But the proposal at present before them was to degrade the Church of Scotland beneath that level, and to deprive her of her solemn judicial power, and to prevent her from giving effect to her own law in regard to settlements.

"He (Mr. Begg) had no such faith as some gentlemen seemed to have in the judicious exercise of the judicial power of the Church, even if it were conceded to them. He gave no opinion, however, upon that, except to the extent that if it were granted fully it might clear them for a time of their present difficulty. Yet it would not be in any degree a satisfactory or certain settlement of the great question of non-intrusion, because it did not appear to make intrusion impossible. His principal objection to it was one of principle, for he did not think that the Church court was entitled to intrude. But suppose such a power recognised by a civil sanction, and that they proceeded without an Act to attempt a series of righteous decisions, he had no such faith in Church courts as to make him believe that they would not very speedily relapse into the old system. Dr. Simpson had referred to the students of theology; and it gave him (Mr. Begg) joy to think of so many excellent young men. But would any one acquainted with Church history deny that in 1735 the Assembly was as much opposed to the intrusion of ministers as it is at present? At that time they sent a deputation to London to have the law of patronage repealed, and the people were admonished to offer prayers for the success of the enterprise. Next year the Assembly passed a solemn declaration against intrusion, but in a few years the spirit of the Church entirely changed, and as the people were protected by no general law, cases of intrusion arose. Ministers were deposed because they would not take part in these proceedings, and in the face of all considerations, they went on in this course until at length 100,000 were driven in thirty years from the Church of their fathers.

"The rev. gentleman then referred in illustration to the cases of Jedburgh, in which all the parishioners, except five, were in arms against Mr. Douglas, the presentee, in consequence of whose settlement 2,000 left the Church in one day; to the case of Biggar, in which it was objected, and admitted by the Presbytery, that the voice of the presentee could not be heard in the church, notwithstanding which he was settled; and the case of Kirkcudbright, in which the presentee was stone-blind. And in this last case, it was very amusing to see the extent of clerical ingenuity, for it had been specifically stated by the court who sustained the presentation of the blind man, that the objection to his want of sight would have been all very well in Popish times, when there were so many hocus pocus ceremonies that it was impossible such a presentee could see how to perform them, but that now the objection was totally inapplicable and irrelevant where the Gospel was administered in all its simplicity. (Loud cries of 'Hear, hear.')

"He had brought forward these instances for the sake of those on the other side of the House, and in the expectation that they would be brought to look upon and contemplate them in the same way as the wanderers - referred to by the rev. doctor (Macleod) - were now brought to view the bare bones of the Macdonalds. (Loud applause.)

"He might also ask, in reference to another subject, if those who were on his side were not among the foremost in driving the battle from the gates when the Establishment was threatened to be overthrown by the Voluntaries? (Hear, hear, and great cheering.) It had been alleged that ministers of the Church had addressed the parishioners of men holding different sentiments - that they had propagated sentiments which were fitted to bring the civil law into contempt, and particularly in the west, where the people are notorious for obedience to the law. (A laugh.) He admitted he had been guilty in that respect - ('Hear, hear,' from the Moderate side) - guilty of having, to the utmost of his ability, explained to the people of Scotland what he conscientiously believed to be the sound and Scriptural view of the question. Did not the Assembly sanction such agitation as to the important subject of Church Extension? No opposition was given to agitation when they were defending the Church against the Voluntaries; and on his side of the Church, he might state, they were foremost in the ranks in driving the battle from the gate. The Church of Scotland must look to them - (laughter from the Moderate side) - and to men of similar principles - ('Hear, hear,' from the popular side) - to defend her against the attacks of the Voluntaries.

"Admissions were made on the opposite side of the House which the sagacious Voluntary might turn most effectively against the Church. It was admitted, for example, that the compact between Church and State prevented them from exercising her spiritual jurisdiction. ('No' from the Moderate side.) If they allowed the Court of Session to interpret the limit of their power, they gave to Voluntaries a weapon with which they would beat down any Establishment upon earth. (Loud cries of 'Hear.')

"There had been agitation on the other side, too, though on a small scale - (a laugh) - and conducted chiefly by the less knowing of the party, for the most of them are well aware that the great mass of the people of Scotland held opinions entirely and diametrically opposed to theirs. (Cries of 'Hear.') Therefore, although there had been meetings on the other side sufficient to show that they had no objection to the principle and practice of agitation, they opposed it not because it was agitation, but, like Lord Galloway, because it was not in favour of those principles which they have adopted, and of 'such a bill as that now before them. It was necessary to agitate. Any one who remembered the proceedings of last Assembly must know that the great argument, -

"A. E. Monteith, Esq., reminded the speaker that he had digressed from the subject before the House.

"Dr. Cook said Mr. Begg had expressed nothing more than that it was his opinion that such an inference might be drawn from what had been stated in the Assembly.

"Mr. Begg said that the subject was introduced into the debate by a rev. doctor from the west. They had heard much addressed to their fears; they had been told that unless they had accepted of this bill there was no relief, and they might only expect the destruction of the Church. If she did accept of it she was infallibly gone as a Church of Christ in this land, if those against whom they were contending were determined to persevere in their present measures. (Hear, hear.) He saw nothing for the Church but either a glorious dissolution from the State, retaining all her principles entire, or the abandonment of her principles - the prostration of herself at the feet of the State, and her utter extinction piecemeal from the desertion of the best of her people.

"It appeared to him that although the Church of Scotland was a poor Church (and her poverty was principally owing to the faithful contending for her present principles), yet, being free, she was a noble Church. When they looked to all the Churches of the Reformation fettered and prostrated before the civil power, and thought of their own Church, free and independent, though supported by the civil power, he felt that she was a noble specimen of the Church of Christ.

"The question was now tried with regard to her whether it was possible to have a Church Establishment and at the same time maintain her ecclesiastical freedom as a Church of Christ, and the rights and privileges of a Christian people. If by their vote they gave the slightest countenance to any individual in determining that question so as to peril the existence of our spiritual independence - so as to peril or endanger the rights of the people, he saw nothing for it but dissolution to the Church. But if they stood true and united within, he had no fear of their enemies from without. Truth was great - it had prevailed in times past over far mightier difficulties, and he trusted that by the aid of the great Head of the Church, whose prerogatives they were endeavouring to defend, the Church would again be rescued from danger and perplexity; they would not fear: God Himself would defend and protect her, and that right early."

There is generally a comparative lull in the ecclesiastical cyclone after the meeting of the General Assembly, and so an opportunity is given for the consideration by the inferior courts of matters relating to the regulation of minor ecclesiastical affairs, many of which, though minor, are of great importance. But at such a time as 1840, there was and could be no lull. The subject of non-intrusion was all in all. In July, the subject of Lord Aberdeen's bill was discussed in the Presbytery of Edinburgh. The Witness of 4th July contains a report of the speeches, and a most interesting leader on the discussion, manifestly from Hugh Miller's own pen.


"Mr. Begg, after a short pause in the court, said that as none of the older brethren seemed inclined to speak, he would respectfully submit a few remarks. There was no need to reply to the speeches of Dr. Muir and Mr. Penney, as they had so often before heard what these gentlemen had advanced, and more especially as they had never once looked at, or attempted to answer, the conclusive argument of Mr. Cunningham. There was, however, one remark of Dr. Muir that had the semblance of novelty, though in reality it was neither new nor applicable. He alluded to what Dr. Muir had said about the translation of ministers. They did not in that case advocate intrusion any more than in the case of a first ordination. Much had been said about the corruption of human nature, and the consequent danger in admitting the people to a voice in the choice of their spiritual guides. That corruption they admitted to at least as great an extent as their opponents. But it was surely absurd to take refuge from the corruption of the people in the purity of the patron.

"An argument which had been made use of by Dr. Muir would, if carried out, lead to the destruction of patronage. Dr. Muir had supposed the case of a parish in a state of apathy and heresy, and had stated it to be the duty of the Church to find a man able to rouse from the one and to combat the other. Now, as it was arranged at present, it was impossible for the Church to exercise her own judgment in the choice of a fitting individual. She could not move till the patron made his choice. Dr. Muir, to carry out his own principle, ought to be an anti-patronage man, as under patronage there was no opportunity for such a choice as that for which he (Dr. Muir) argued. He (Mr. Begg) must, however, say that had wondered to hear any man speaking of heresy and apathy in connection with the support of a measure for the purpose of bolstering up that very system under which such evils had been fostered.

"He was loth to believe, both when this bill was before the Synod, and when it was discussed in the Assembly, that Lord Aberdeen was anything but a friend. Now he was better informed. He now knew that his lordship was neither more nor less than the exponent of the defeated minority in the Church, and that the Dean of Faculty was his accredited friend. Lord Aberdeen had denounced their proceedings, and had gone so far as to say that there were some of them he would not object to see imprisoned. That just meant that he would do as Charles II. did, if he were as independent of public opinion as he was.

"But there was one admission of his lordship which was important. In recommending his Declaratory Act, he had told the House of Lords that the Church, though it had disobeyed a deliverance of that House, would not disobey an Act of Parliament, which was very different from a mere judgment of their lordships' House. Such a judgment was not law. Here Lord Aberdeen admitted that the Church of Scotland was not rebellious in having refused obedience to that judgment. It was a most important admission coming from his lordship, that they stood on strong legal ground, and were not exposed to the charge of rebellion. The fact was, that their enemies had found that the thing was at a dead-lock. Since the Church would not obey, there was no power to compel her. This was a defect which Lord Aberdeen wanted to supply by his bill. He wanted to give authority to the Court of Session and the House of Lords to enforce their decision. That clearly was the character of the bill, and they might plainly see the position in which it would put them. Looking to the reason of the thing, they had just as much right to look over the shoulder of the judges in the Court of Session, and review their proceedings, as they have to come and review the proceedings of the Church. But the object of the bill was to erect a court of review over the Church.

"They had heard a great deal from the learned gentleman who seconded the motion of 'I think,' and 'I believe,' and 'my professional opinion is' - (laughter) - and the learned gentleman had assured them on the strength of these asseverations that the whole question of qualification was left entirely open in the bill. But it so happened that they could refer to Lord Aberdeen's own interpretation - and what did his lordship say? Speaking of the question of qualification, he had said that the bill did not, and was not intended to leave the Church courts at liberty to give effect to their convictions of the inexpediency of admitting a presentee. The plain and manifest object of the bill was to give power to compel the Church to admit presentees, whether the expediency of their admission was approved by her or no.

"They had heard in the course of the discussion that there was no Act on record in the history of the Church similar to this, except the Act of 1612, which compelled ordination under pain of horning. That was an important circumstance, as it enabled them to identify the principles of the supporters of the bill with those of some of the worst men that Scotland had ever produced, When Carstairs went to London on matters connected with the Act of Queen Anne, he found that it was meditated to pass two other bills; one of them was for the abolition of the Assembly, and the other to compel the Church to do exactly what the Earl of Aberdeen wants - namely, to force the Church to grant admission in every case of a presentation. Carstairs warded off this by telling that he would rather use the whole of his influence with the people of Scotland to cause them to submit to the Act for restoring patronage than have these new enactments. The time soon came when the Church courts did not need the coercion which it had been contemplated to impose, for they became themselves the willing instruments of intrusion. And now, when the Church is alive to the sinfulness of such procedure, and refuses any longer to be the instruments of such tyranny, men are rising up to do the very thing - to impose the very compulsion, which Carstairs was the means of averting.

"And further, Lord Aberdeen had denounced the Commission as unrecognised by law. The Assembly had supported the obnoxious deed of the Commission, and his lordship's good will to it was more than suspected. Thus is his lordship coming in to do the work which the men of Queen Anne's day left undone, because they did not venture to do it. And yet they had men imploring them to accept that bill, and so secure their peace, in a style so ludicrous that he thought he saw the smile of the learned gentleman (Mr. Penney) through his own pathetic (Laughter.)

"The question had long ago come to this, that patronage, the root of the mischief, must be destroyed. For that purpose a vigorous, a determined, and a sustained agitation would speedily be undertaken. The Earl of Haddington had talked of compelling the Church to do its duty in the settlement of presentees. Was he to drag the Presbytery to the church of Marnoch? Was he, by force, to hold down their hands upon the head of Mr. Edwards and ordain him to empty walls? Perhaps he thinks that the mere passing of an Act of Parliament will cause the submission of the Church? Dr. Muir had failed to administer a fitting rebuke to his lordship, but it became them to let it be known that they would not sell their birthright for a mess of pottage - they would not consent to hold the means of temporal subsistence on the condition of such degradation, being well assured that to do so would be to accept the wages of iniquity. (Applause.)

"The present struggle threatens to be a protracted one. But there is no lack of symptoms on the part of both the friends and the opponents of the popular principle which indicate the final result. Our readers will find a full report in our columns of the proceedings of the Edinburgh Presbytery at its meeting of Wednesday last. The chief business of the meeting arose out of the present position of the Church in connection with the attempt of the Earl of Aberdeen to convert into law the mischievous absurdities of the Dean of Faculty; and the decision arrived at by the Presbytery, by an overpowering majority, and after a discussion of six hours, was to petition Parliament against his lordship's bill as directly subversive of the spiritual independence of the Church, and wholly at variance with the genius of Presbytery. No report, however literal, can convey an adequate idea of a debate so animated and interesting as that which took place on this occasion, - there is a vast difference between a series of speeches spread over a few closely-printed columns and a spirit-stirringviva voce discussion; but our report must be very defective indeed, if it does not convey the impression of strength contending with weakness, and show that there was much feebleness and much timidity on the one side, and much courage and great power on the other. The cause backed by the decision of our law courts, and by a considerable portion of the wealth and a large proportion of the aristocracy. Of the country, must ultimately go down, for there is no heart and no strength in it.

"We fain wish we could give our readers at a distance some such idea of the late meeting of Presbytery as we ourselves have had an opportunity of forming. The Presbytery of Edinburgh is the most ancient in the kingdom. It may be regarded as the nucleus of the Scottish Church. According to Knox, 'before that there was any public face of the true religion in this realm, it had pleased God to illuminate the hearts of many private persons, who, straightway quitting the idolatry Of Papistry, began to assemble themselves together.' They elected out of their number good and judicious men, such as 'God by His grace' had best qualified for their elders and teachers; and from this small beginning, principally within the town of Edinburgh, arose the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

"There is nothing to mark the antiquity of the Presbytery in the hall in which they assemble. It is a modern erection, lighted from above, with a few portraits suspended on the walls, and a bust or two placed on brackets. There is a gallery for strangers, of limits all too scanty on occasions such as that of Wednesday last, and the members occupied the area below. From a front seat, which we were fortunate enough to secure, we could overlook the whole. The parties, instead of being ranged on opposite sides, were mixed up together, and apparently for a very excellent reason - the Non-Intrusionists were all too numerous, and their opponents too few. The original Presbyterians bid fair to fill all their own house as at first; and if Moderatism insists on retaining its own side, it must proceed forthwith, as in the days of Gillespie, to eject and expel.

"Some of the better-known names in the Presbytery are borne by men of very striking appearance, Dr. Muir is an eminently handsome man, thin, gentlemanly, dignified, tastefully dressed, with a well-formed head of moderate size, such as a phrenologist would expect to find on the shoulders of a person rather of fine taste than of comprehensive genius. We would have deemed him quite in his proper place in the Upper House of Parliament either as a lord spiritual or lay. Dr. Gordon is also a strikingly handsome man, but with a much more remarkable development of head. It is a head of the Melancthon type - high, erect, with an overpowering superstructure of sentiment on a narrow base of propensity, and a forehead rising, as in the case of Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott, to the top of the coronal region. Combe in one of his phrenological works gives a print of a similar head, and states that among the heads of many thousand criminals which he had examined, he had in no instance found a resembling development. If, however, the Earl of Aberdeen carry his measure, prisons will be quite the place to find them in, and the phrenologist will require to modify his statement by a note.

"Among the figures of the younger members of the court, that of Mr. Guthrie is one of the most striking. He is an erect, lathy, muscular man, of rather more than six feet two inches, who would evidently not have been idle at Drumclog, and who, if employed at all, could not be employed other than formidably. Though apparently under forty, the hair is slightly touched with grey, and the features, though beyond comparison more handsome than those of his ancestor the martyr, bear decidedly a similar cast and expression.

"The appearance and figure of Mr. Cunningham is scarcely less striking than that of his friend Mr. Guthrie; he is tall, but not so tall, though rather above than below six feet, and powerfully built. His head is apparently of the largest size - of thenemo me impune lacessit calibre, and the temperament is of that firm bilious cast which gives to size its fullest effect.

"Mr. Cunningham commenced the debate in a speech of tremendous power. The elements were various. A clear logic, at once severely nice and popular, an unhesitating readiness of language, select and forcible, and well fitted to express every minuter shade of meaning, but plain and devoid of figure; above all, an extent of erudition, and an acquaintance with Church history, that in every instance in which the argument turned on a matter of fact, seemed to render opposition hopeless. But what gave peculiar emphasis to the whole was, what we shall venture to term the propelling power of the mind - that animal energy which seems to act the part of the moving power in the mechanism of intellect, which gives force to action and depth to the tones of the voice, and impresses the hearer with an idea of immense momentum. There were parts of Mr. Cunningham's speech in which he reminded us of Andrew Melville when he put down Bishops Barlow and Bancroft, and shook the lawn sleeves of the latter; and we could not help wishing that, by any possibility, circumstances should be so ordered as to afford an opportunity of trying conclusions face to face with the Earl of Aberdeen.

"His powers of sarcasm are great, and of a peculiar character. He first places some important fact or argument in so clear a light that there remains no possibility of arriving at more than one conclusion regarding it. He then sets in close juxtaposition to it the absurd inference or crooked mis-statement of an antagonist, and bestows upon his ignorance or his absurdity the plain and simple name. White is always white with Mr. Cunningham, and black black, and he finds no shade of grey in either. His confidence in matter of fact, based on an extent of erudition recognised by all, tells, with a crippling effect, on his opponents.

"He referred during his speech to the often-repeated sophism regarding the nonintrusion of the Reformers - Knox, Calvin, and Beza. What, he asked, do the Earls of Aberdeen and Dalhousie know of the opinions of these men? This much and no more. Lord Medwyn inserted in his speech on the Auchterarder ease a few partial and garbled extracts from the writings of Calvin and Beza, which, in their broken and unconnected state, seemed to bear a meaning at variance with the principles which the men in reality held. Mr. Robertson of Ellon quoted the passages at second-hand, not omitting even the errors of his lordship's printer. The Earls of Dalhousie and Aberdeen quoted them at third-hand from Mr. Robertson; and such is the entire extent of their lordships' information on the subject, and such the amount of their authority. He then proceeded to show what the non-intrusion of the Reformers really was, - that they all held with the ancient fathers the doctrine for which the Church is now contending; - 'there is no member of this Presbytery,' he added, 'who will question the fact.' And he was quite in the right, - no member did question it. He offered to prove further, that Dr. Muir on the agitated question holds exactly the principles of Cardinal Bellarmine, and the doctor took particular care not to demand the proof.

"Mr. Cunningham was followed by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, a gentleman who has been a reformer all his life long, and who evidently feels that, in the present struggle, he is occupying exactly his old ground. He was listened to with much respect. His remarks were characterised by a vein of sound good sense, and much gentlemanly feeling. Dr. Muir then rose to express his approbation of the Earl of Aberdeen's bill.

"How, we asked, when listening to the powerful logic of Mr. Cunningham, will Dr. Muir contrive to find answers to arguments such as these? We might have spared ourselves the query. Dr. Muir did not attempt finding answers to them. He spoke as if no one had spoken before him. He reiterated all his old assertions, and assured the meeting that he was thoroughly conscientious and quite in earnest. Pascal could mortify his senses by shutting his casement on a delightful prospect. Dr. Muir restrains the reasoning faculty in the same way out of a sense of duty, and eschews argument as a gross temptation. When convicted of an absurdity, he talks of persecution, and clings to an exposed misstatement with the devotedness of a faithful nature true to a friend in distress. He carries, on every occasion, all his facts and all his opinions home with him - nothing adds to their number, nothing diminishes them - and when the day of battle comes, he bring them out with him again. His troops fight none the worse of being killed; they rise all gory, like Falstaff's opponents, and fight by the hour; his antagonists complain, with Macbeth, that his dead men come to 'push them from their stools.'

"He was followed by Mr. Penney, a smart gentleman, who is tedious with very marked effect, on the same side, and succeeds when he is particularly pathetic in making his audience gay. He was liberal in tendering to the Presbytery the benefit of his law, and generously advised them to submit to the Court of Session, without cherishing the remotest expectation of being paid for his advice. He excels, too, in divinity. His speech gradually rose into a sermon, and when he came to the most serious part of it the gallery laughed. He was succeeded in reply by the Rev. Mr. Begg of Liberton.

"Of all the gentlemen whom the caricaturists have failed in rendering ridiculous, Mr. Begg has escaped best. Some of the others are striking likenesses. There is no likeness in the case of Mr. Begg. There is no exaggeration of feature or figure for the artist to catch, and so he has caught none. He is a young good-looking man, rather above the middle size, with a well-developed forehead - frank, vigorous, and energetic. His brief speech contained one or two pointed hits, which told with excellent effect, and a historical statement of much importance in its bearing on the Earl of Aberdeen's bill, and which will probably be new to the great bulk of our readers.

"He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. M'Farlane. We are admirers of the good sense and poetical feeling of Hervey, whereas Mr. M'Farlane seems to admire only his style. He rounds his sentences after the same model, and leaves out only the poetry and the good sense. His flowers are all gum-flowers. Pliny speaks of an orator who used to set his periods to music; we are convinced that if Mr. M'Farlane were well watched he would be found modulating his periods by the full symphonies of the Jews' harp. All feel, however, that when delivered in public they want their necessary and original accompaniment; and we think the reverend gentleman should benefit by the hint. A respectable and sensible man, a Seceder, sat beside us: 'Ah,' he exclaimed with a groan, 'a weak brother.'

"The Rev. Mr. Bennie followed in a sparkling, witty speech that at once awakened the gallery, and cost the Moderator a considerable amount of trouble. All wasextempore - there was not an idea which did not bear reference to some previous remark from the opposite side, and yet every sentence had the point of an epigram. The laboured dulnesses of an inane and feeble mind have rarely been more pointedly contrasted with the spontaneous felicities of a mind singularly ingenuous and fertile than on this occasion.

"Drs. Clason and Gordon followed in addresses brief, but of great moral weight, and conceived in an admirable spirit, and the whole was wound up by Mr. Cunningham.

"Nothing more tended to the spread of the Reformation than the public disputations between the Reformers and their opponents. There was breadth of principle and force of argument on the one side, united to generous feeling and conscious integrity - and merely sophistry, meanness, misstatement, and the disreputable shifts of a petty ingenuity on the other. On every occasion on which they met, the better cause invariably prevailed; and the people saw and felt that it did. Good argument is always popular argument. If Dr. Muir and his friends really wish well to the people of Scotland, they could still hold by their peculiar opinions and yet be of great service to them. All that is necessary is to grant their opponents such opportunities of meeting with them in the various parishes of the country as they afforded them at the meeting of the Edinburgh Presbytery on Wednesday last."

The two extracts following relate to a particular phase of a matter of vast moment - the subject of pauperism, in which Dr. Begg all through his life took a specially lively interest.

Alas that his warnings, and those of Dr. Chalmers, were treated by cotemporaries as Cassandrine prophecies.


"Mr. Moody Stuart brought up a reference from the kirk-session of St. Luke's, arising from an application which was made to them by the treasurer of the charity workhouse, requesting them, in terms of a resolution come to by that body, to send in to the funds of the workhouse the collections made at the doors of the church on each Sabbath.

"Mr. Paul moved - 'That the Presbytery having learned, with the deepest regret, the intended attempt of the managers of the Edinburgh Charity Workhouse to obtain possession of the collections at the unendowed churches within the city, an attempt which must necessarily be productive of great inconvenience and injury to the congregations of these churches, and will certainly prove of no avail to the charity workhouse, in so far as regards the collections in question, inasmuch as its effects would be not to provide any addition to the workhouse funds, but to compel the congregations to resort to a more convenient means of making those contributions which are essential to the maintenance of their places of worship. The Presbytery regret this attempt the more, because, if persevered in, it will lead to very disastrous consequences; but as the Presbytery are most unwilling to contemplate the necessity of such results, before adopting any resolution on the subject they appoint a committee to take this matter into consideration, to confer with the managers of the workhouse, in the hope that the necessity of doing so may yet be prevented.'

"Dr. Simpson, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Candlish spoke in support of the motion.

"Mr. Begg most cordially agreed with all that had been so well said, but thought the Presbytery ought to regard this not as an isolated case, but as part of a general system. He believed it first began in Brechin, and had since been attempted in Haddington, and at various other new churches. It had now come to the capital, and it fell to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, in the face of all Scotland, to give a decision on the question. Even though the managers should decline to avail themselves of these church-door collections, any ratepayer might force them to appropriate them; for since the law had decided that all church-door collections were liable to be taken for the support of the poor, it was in the power of any ratepayer to say that he would not pay one farthing of his assessment till the managers had taken the collections. It was therefore important that they should contemplate in their settlement of this matter not only the immediate result that would flow from it, but some suitable remedy that would reach to the root of the evil.

"If it were not put an end to, he had no doubt that the collections in the city churches generally would entirely cease, and that this example would spread throughout the kingdom. Even aIready, in all assessed parishes, the feeling was spreading that in giving collections the people are only saving the pockets of the heritors, and these rapacious proceedings would only increase that feeling. He wished to press upon the heritors of Scotland this consideration, that, in the first place, £40,000 a year was collected at the church doors in support of the poor, and this depended entirely upon the sanction of the Church.

"The General Assembly had only to do what some were disposed to do - and what, if they followed this example of going to the full stretch of their rights, they might do - issue an edict to all ministers and elders in the Church prohibiting this system, and the thing would be put an end to at once; and not only so, but there were 7,000 men, ministers and elders, who gave their gratuitous services in superintending the distribution of this money among the poor. If these men were paid at the low rate of�£50 each, the result would be that £350,000 would be required for the expense of machinery alone, while at present the whole assessment of Scotland only amounted to £100,000. This was a most important question, and might settle in a very summary way a controversy of vast importance at present agitating the kingdom.

"Dr. Alison has proposed that the present mode of supporting the poor should be entirely changed, and that an assessment should be raised, amounting to £80,000, for their support. (Hear, hear.) Sheriff Alison thinks that £1,200,000 a year will be necessary, or more than four times the whole cost of the Church Establishment!

"A committee of the Presbytery is at present engaged in deliberation on this important question, but if the present attempt is persevered in, that committee may be dissolved, for if the collections are swept away, nothing will remain but to have recourse at once to the English system of poor-rates. (Hear, hear.) As to the case of Edinburgh, the managers of the charity workhouse were by far too well-off already. They received from the city churches £2,000 a year, whilst no meeting-house in the city gave them a penny. (Hear.)

"This was never the original design of these collections, and was a most improper innovation. When the system was first begun, the intention was to distribute the collections among the poor of each congregation by the kirk-session. It was never meant to be handed over to a parcel of nondescript persons called managers, who might be respectable men indeed, and many, he believed, were so, but they were never intended to come in place of the elders.

"The effect of the measure would be to put a premium on dissent - to raise up a barrier in the way of Seceders returning to the Church, for every seceding congregation now returning to the Church must do it under the certainty that their collections might be seized upon. The very men who formerly put a barrier in the way of Church extension, now put a barrier in the way of Church union. The Church must put a stop to this.

"It would be easy to place a box in every lobby, and send round the elders to collect the sums there deposited. He would regret if this were found necessary; for he was a friend to the parochial collections, and wished to continue and extend them. But if the question came to be whether the parochial collection of the Church Establishment was to be put down - for if the Church was not extended, she must be extinguished - he had no doubt the Church would know how to answer it. (Hear, hear.) He thought the Presbytery should not only adopt the resolution, but overture the Assembly to appoint a committee to confer with the landed proprietors of Scotland in order to have a legislative enactment for some change in the present system.

"Mr. Guthrie spoke.

"The motion was then unanimously agreed to."


"Dr. Aiton moved the appointment of a committee to consider this subject. As an overture had been sent up by his Presbytery on this subject, he felt inclined to state to the Synod the views he, in common with all his brethren in the country, entertained on this important subject. He felt strongly, but he would endeavour to express himself temperately, as became one moderate in all matters of the Church. But guided as he was by this desire, which he hoped was natural to him, nevertheless he must say, that in the history of human folly he had not observed anything more cruel or infatuated than the course of conduct now complained of.

"He did not know, neither did he care, whether the legislative aristocracy or the executive departments were most to blame, because the result was the same to the Church; for on every hand in these matters she had got nothing but hard and heavy blows from the birth of Presbytery in Scotland. The Establishment had not only been kept half-naked and half starved, but she had been otherwise stunted in her growth, hampered in her proportions, and distorted in all her members.

"When the population of Scotland scarcely amounted to one million, church accommodation hardly adequate to that number was provided. In course of time the population increased rapidly, but instead of divided parishes, many of them were united.

"Manufacturing villages rose like mushrooms, and became towns, and even cities; and ironworks were erected, employing thousands of persons, and expending millions of money every year. But instead of providing new churches, the strong arm of power was raised to prevent even the little old parish church from being enlarged so long as the heritors could manage to keep one stone of it standing upon another.

"Parishes a hundred square miles in extent, in earlier times, had a small pastoral population clustered into a fertile corner, with a few herds' houses, distant half a score of miles from the then 'clachan,' or from each other. The church was placed amid the general mass of the people, beside the smithy, the wright's shop, and the cobbler's stall. In time agricultural improvements advanced rapidly. Bogs and moors were converted into fertile fields, and a swarming population was spread over the whole parish. The people complained that they were far from Gospel ordinances, and that the church should be removed from a distant corner to the centre of the parish. But when the aged and infirm thus asked the bread of life, a stone was thrown in their face - an Act of Parliament was passed (1707) prohibiting any church to be moved without the consent of three fourths of the heritors. Dissenters broke off from the Church, and Episcopalians began to raise their head.

In reference to the churches erected in this way, the Establishment demanded that equal justice should be dispensed to all; and as their collections went to the heritors' pockets for behoof of the poor, so, it was argued, should the collections of dissenting chapels be applied to the same purpose. But the Court of Session found (1739) that this money might be appropriated as the managers might please to direct. Thus there was a pressure kept on the Establishment, and a premium offered to Dissent.

"But this finding of the Court of Session was ruinous even to the landed interest, inasmuch as it gave rise to parochial assessments. Under every discouragement from the church herself, chapels of ease began to be raised, and as these congregations were similar to the Dissenters in everything but their attachment to the Establishment, they expected that they would enjoy the benefit of their own collections. But no; every penny collected at their plate was put into a box and carried away to the pockets of the heritors. Hence chapels of ease could not compete with dissenting churches.

"In this way the Establishment drifted fast towards the minority. She dropped astern of her people, and would in time have been left, as an old hulk, to rot at her leisure.

"But fortunately a man rose amongst us with the head and the heart of a Knox. And he has done more for the Presbyterian Establishment of our Church than any since the period of the two Reformations. Unaided by one sixpence from the public purse, and unsupported by many men in public stations, he has raised two hundred churches in about four years.

"Endowments were asked by the people from the Legislature; but no, said they, we will build jails, and bridewells, and penitentiaries enough, but no churches. We will give batons to our police, but no Bibles to our poor, we will pay constables, endow a rural police, and fix salaries on judges, jailers, and hangmen, but we will not endow your clergymen. In other words, we will punish rather than prevent crime, although the one method costs ten times more than the other.

"Nay, worst and last of all, they have not only refused to feed the sheep, but when the industrious bees have begun to lay up stores for themselves, the lazy drones are come, numerous as the locusts of Egypt, to rob them of their own honey. In plain speech, the heritors are with sacrilegious hands laying their greedy grasp on the pence which our poor are willing to pay for a preached Gospel which they must otherwise want.

"The demand made on Israel of old for bricks, while the material was withheld, is nothing to this. In our case the straw is withheld by the Legislature, and when the bricks are made, notwithstanding, they are wrenched out of our hands by the Court of Session, and still we must without money and without price, give them to the perishing souls of our overcrowded population.

"The State are, or ought to be, nursing fathers to the Church; but what parent would put the foot of his own child into an iron boot, and, however much the child might grow in stature, would refuse to enlarge it? But the State parent adds screws to the ankles, pincers to the toes, and drives down wedges at the top. This is not only cruel but infatuated, as it is killing the goose with the golden egg, and breaking the egg to the bargain.

"But Tartars will be caught if matters are to go on in this way. The Church will be roused, not to retaliate, but to redress her wrongs. Men of all parties will unite in protecting their interests, and promoting the spiritual good of the poor. They will not, they ought not, quietly to submit. Let a committee be formed, and an overture transmitted to the Assembly. Let appeals be made to our congregations, and let all culprits be told of their guilt and their danger.

"Mr. Begg remarked that the subject was of immense importance in itself, and in its bearings on the moral condition of the people, and therefore on the state of pauperism. Everything which made the house of God inconvenient was a direct cause of pauperism. If people were not at church, they both sunk into heathenism, the great parent of poverty, and they could not of course give their penny at the church door. The obstacles, therefore, to such improvements as have been suggested ought, if possible, on every ground to be removed.

"He rejoiced in the appointment of this committee, and hoped they would direct their attention to the general subject of collections as a mode of supporting the poor, and as a peculiar part of the Scottish parochial system. A short history of that system would exhibit the outrageous injustice and impolicy of the present attempt to seize the collections of the unendowed churches.

"At the Reformation it was proposed to divide the immense sums of the Popish Church into portions, one of which was to go to the maintenance of the poor. The whole, however, was seized, and when a small pittance was extorted back for the support of the clergy, the Church herself most disinterestedly contrived by her collections and judicious management to make this fraction contribute towards the comfort of the poor also. But now there is a refinement proposed even on this. The pittance is now to be withheld in the case of our new churches - the teinds are not to be given up - the Government is to give nothing - the ancient property is all to be kept; every obstacle is to be thrown in the way of Church Extension, and every premium given to dissent; and yet, when in spite of every obstacle new churches are erected, their collections are to be seized, and still the Church, thus trampled on, is expected to stand as a barrier against the demand for the entire overthrow of the present system of supporting the poor.

"The real state of the matter is not understood even by men who profess to speak and write on the subject, and a calm firm statement of facts may serve to convince the landholders and aristocracy, as well as the poor of this land, of their own true interests, and the glaring cruelty and absurdity of recent attempts at aggression.

"He hoped the committee would carefully consider the matter in all its bearings, and report fully and clearly to next meeting of Synod."

At the same meeting of the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, an overture was moved by Dr. Candlish for the abolition of patronage. Dr. Begg made a short speech in support of the overture, which is thus reported:-


"Mr. Begg said that he rose chiefly to correct an assertion of Dr. Simpson's, reasserted also by Mr. Bridges, which was not correct. He had said that the patrons endowed the Church. Now, whatever may be the case in other countries it would have been much nearer the truth had he said that in Scotland the Church had endowed the patrons.

"After the Reformation they got a large portion of the Church lands and afterwards, as a result, obtained the patronages connected with these lands. At the Revolution, when patronage was abolished, a compensation was given to the patrons, but when it was restored they retained the compensation - they kept, in the words of our fathers, both the purchase and the price. So that no one could say, with the shadow of a ground, that the Church was endowed by the very patrons by whom she had been deprived of her property.

There might be single cases, such as that of Mr Gladstone at Leith where the church and endowment were presented on condition of the patronage remaining in the hands of the donor. But he thought it was to the lasting honour of the Presbytery of Edinburgh that they refused to receive a church coupled with such a condition. In that case, however, patronage had been created by an express Act of the General Assembly, and the fact had been founded on here, which only showed them the extreme jealousy with which they ought to look upon all such measures.

"As to the probable success which would attend their endeavours, it was a serious and a natural question. It was too true that Scotch matters are treated with contempt in the British Parliament; but would England refuse to repeal the Act of Queen Anne if Scotland, on the ground of Scripture and the Treaty of Union, declared against it? If the people came forward, and firmly and calmly demanded from England, on the ground of the national faith, which has been outraged, that patronage should be destroyed, would England contemptuously refuse to do it - would she say, when all the circumstances were fully explained, that she would persist in her unrighteous conduct, though she saw the contention it created, the many evils it had inflicted on Scotland? Would she persist in preserving the union merely by superior physical force, and at the same time trample on the constitution of our Church and of the country? He could not bring himself to believe that she would do so.

"The people of Scotland would be with them; there was nothing about which they were so unanimous; and, considering the history of patronage in the Church - how it was opposed to Scripture, and was only part of the errors of Popery - how it had been twice shaken off, and only restored in violation of the Treaty of Union - how it had caused secession, heathenism, pauperism, and many evils - he had no doubt whatever that truth and justice would ultimately prevail, and that it would be for ever abolished. He wished the people of Scotland every success in their present righteous and noble struggle."

I have thought it well to introduce in continuity the autobiographical materials which Dr. Begg had collected from the columns of the Witness for the year 1840. I have now only to add a few fragments collected from the same quarter. In the earlier part of the year we find him in various parts of the country addressing enthusiastic meetings on Non-Intrusion, sometimes in connection with Dr. Guthrie or other Edinburgh ministers, and sometimes alone. No place can be got for holding a meeting in Thornhill, but a large one (proportionately) is held at Canonbie, and another at Stranraer. His name is also frequently introduced by the speakers at Intrusion meetings, coupled with those of Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Candlish, as the arch-disturbers of the peace of the Church. From some of the extracts already given it has been seen that he was a member of the General Assembly of 1840.

In addition to the two speeches already given, he spoke from time to time on various points. In that Assembly an anti-patronage overture, by 71 members of the House, was presented. From the fact that he presented it to the Assembly it may be presumed that he was its originator. From the length of time occupied in the discussion of the Strathbogie case, it was not found possible to enter on the consideration of the overture. In this Dr. Begg reluctantly acquiesced, but gave distinct warning that the question must be faced ere long:-

"Mr. Begg observed, that as the debate had been prolonged to so late an hour there had been no time to take up the subject of patronage yesterday, and he did not mean to propose that it should be taken up now, in consequence of the overwhelming mass of business. All that he wished was to advert to the fact, as he felt perfectly certain that great anxiety prevailed amongst thousands throughout the country to learn in what way the Assembly disposed of the question. It was evident that a large number of persons had formed decided opinions on the subject, from the great number of overtures sent up. One of these laid on the table of the House, calling for the abolition of patronage, was signed by no less than 71 ministers and elders, members of the Assembly. He, however, thought it right to give fair notice to the Assembly that it was intended to commence immediately to bring the matter under the serious consideration of the country, in order to obtain a remedy for this grievance.

"He was persuaded that not only a large number of persons were convinced that this was the only effectual way of terminating the present conflict, but it was every day becoming clearer that many more, whose minds were in a transition state, would be convinced by next Assembly that, in the words of our sagacious ancestors, 'the order whilk God's Word craves cannot stand with patronage and presentations to benefices.' " 76

[Footnote 76: Wintness, June 3, 1840]

In the course of the summer I find him in Ireland, attending, along with Mr. M'Cheyne of Dundee and Mr. Maitland Makgill, a large meeting held in Belfast to express sympathy with the Church of Scotland. His speech is not reported; but from the opening sentence of Dr. Cooke's speech it appears that it was in whole or in part on the subject of patronage. Dr. Cooke said, - "Mr. Chairman and Christian friends, I have been specially gratified with the declaration of my friend Mr. Begg, that as patronage and freedom can never be reconciled, no quarter should be given to the system. The question is now between patronage and the Church of Scotland, and patronage or the Church must fall. So long as patronage submitted to be modified by the Veto Act, the minds of the Christian people and the Church courts had a posture of independence and freedom; but when the voice of the Christian people is silenced, and the ecclesiastical authority is, in things ecclesiastical, superseded by the civil power, independence and freedom are no more, and nothing remains but the tame submission of slaves, the struggle of freemen, or the endurance of martyrs. Yes, sir, when unrestricted patronage would enchain the Church, nothing remains but to enchain patronage."

As patronage, or rather anti-patronage, was at this time the subject that was in the ascendant in Dr. Begg's mind, it is probably to this period that we are to ascribe the following imperfectly dated note addressed to Dr. Chalmers. It possesses great historical interest, and it is to be regretted that its date can only be conjectured:-


"MY DEAR SIR, - I have requested Mr. Johnston to present you with a copy of the 'Anti-Patronage Library,' a work whose publication was superintended by Cunningham and myself. I was much delighted to hear that if the Church question is not properly settled before the Assembly, it is your intention to take up anti-patronage ground. This I think is, humanly speaking, the only prospect of safety. And I fondly hope that you will find in the 'Anti-Patronage Library' unanswerable arguments in favour of such a course from Scripture, reason, and history. Indeed the work although small, contains all that can be said on the subject. If others could be persuaded to read it, our ministers would be prepared (all our people are prepared already, for they are ahead of the Church courts in this matter) to join a bold and decisive movement in May next, which would bring the English nation to its senses. - I am, &c."

On the 11th of August, the evening before the meeting of the Assembly's Commission, a great meeting was held in Edinburgh for the formation of an association for the repeal of patronage. The venerable minister of New Monkland was among the speakers; but his son, on account of the lateness of the hour, contented himself with merely reading the motion which he had to propose. A month later a meeting with the same object was held at the instance of the Tradesmen's Association. Dr. Begg made a most eloquent speech, which was cheered to the echo. He was seconded by a journeyman joiner in an equally effective speech. This was after Dr. Begg's own heart. He was no vulgar radical, and in the speech before me he pays a glowing tribute of admiration to the Marquis of Breadalbane, and to Mr. Fox Maule, and Mr. Maitland Makgill Crichton; but he loved the people, and believed in them, and they loved and believed in him.

In an article in the Witness of the 19th of August 1842 on the inconsistency of the Scotsman on the subject of patronage, I find the following statement: "The country is deeply indebted to Mr. Begg for proving, in his admirable lecture on patronage, all the statements which were thus made many years before by the Scotsman; he has filled up their outline by many striking details, and has made it plain to the meanest capacity that the privilege which the Scottish congregations enjoyed of electing their clergymen.... was taken away, and patronage re-established, in 1712, by Oxford and Bolingbroke, to further their schemes for betraying the country into the hands of the exiled family. And the passing of this Act is shown to have been an act of the basest treachery for the accomplishment of the vilest purposes." This would seem to refer to a published lecture on the subject; but I have not been able to find any other reference to such a publication. Nor is it in the collection which Dr. Begg had begun, several years before his death, to form of his published writings. But he was aware that this collection was very incomplete. The loss of this one is regrettable on literary grounds, but not in any great measure on ecclesiastical or controversial, as he doubtless repeated the substance of the lecture on many occasions and in many forms. But I do regret not to have before me what appears to have been the first of that series of pamphlets in which Dr. Begg was ever ready to express his sentiments on important questions as they successively became prominent.