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.

CHAPTER XLVII.

MODERATORSHIP OF ASSEMBLY - SERIOUS RAILWAY ACCIDENT - MODERATORSHIP.

E ACH General Assembly of the Free Church elects its own Moderator. But as various preparations require to be made - mental and sartorial - and as it would be very inconvenient for a man to be put into the chair without warning, it has become the unvaried custom to hold a meeting of ministers and elders at the close of the November Commission, when an agreement is come to as to the man that is to be proposed.

This of course leaves intact the right of any member of the Assembly to propose any other man. But this right has never been exercised, and it would be only in a very extreme case that its exercise would meet with approbation or acceptance. A similar meeting is held at the close of the March Commission, when the acceptance or nonacceptance of the nominee is announced; and in the event of his non-acceptance, another is named.

At the meeting in November 1864, Dr. James Buchanan and Dr. James Begg were proposed for the Moderatorship in 1865; but Dr. Begg gracefully declined to be put in nomination along with his old friend, under whose auspices, it will be remembered, he had begun his ministry at North Leith. Dr. Buchanan was accordingly nominated with cordial unanimity. But at the meeting in March it was intimated that the state of Dr. Buchanan's health necessitated his declining the honour of the Moderatorship, and Dr. Begg was again proposed, and unanimously accepted, as the nominee of the meeting.

It is usual for witty newspaper writers to perpetrate sneers at the "little brief authority" and the temperory dignity of the Moderators of our General Assemblies - sneers which, as Mr. Disraeli said of Sir Robert Peel's Horatian quotations, must be good, as they have again and again received the approbation of - their readers. It is, of course, quite possible that a Moderator may not always wear his honours meekly, and that one may occasionally put undue value on the mere millinery of the antique costume, or upon the social prominence which are considered appropriate to the office. But I confess that I should have diffficulty in refraining from the imputation of a defect of self-knowledge, or, alternatively, a defect of sincerity, to the Presbyterian minister who should profess to receive otherwise than with very intense gratification the highest honour to which any Presbyterian minister can aspire, an honour which can be conferred on very few of them. Certainly Dr. Begg was not the man to make any such disclaimer, or to adopt aught of the Nolo episcopari phraseology. He undervalued neither the honour nor the onerousness of the office which he was to be called to undertake.

Two things were necessary in preparation for it. No man could have lived so laborious a life as he had led without physical effects, and no small measure of bodily strength is essential to the endurance of the strain of the Moderatorship. Then it was natural that one who had spoken so much of religious and social questions should, in his addresses to the Assembly, make definite and authoritative statements on such subjects. With the twofold object, then, of recruiting his strength by comparative rest, and of viewing with his own eyes the condition of reformed and unreformed countries in respect of social and domestic manners and customs, he resolved to spend a portion of the time between his nomination to the Moderator's chair and his occupancy of it in a Continental tour.

Accordingly, in the records of the Newington Deacons' Court, under date "7th March 1865," I find the following paragraph:-

"Mr. Badenoch having intimated that Dr. Begg, by order of his medical adviser, had been under the necessity of leaving Edinburgh for a time for a milder climate, the Court desire to express their sympathy with their beloved pastor, and hope that under Providence the means employed may be blessed for his speedy recovery. The Rev. Mr. Kidd having been appointed to occupy the pulpit during his absence, the Court resolved to express their satisfaction with the temporary supply provided."

His Continental tour, however, was not to be. The following short paragraph I find in the Daily Review of March 27:-

"ACCIDENT TO DR. BEGG. - Our readers will learn with regret that in the course of last week an accident occurred on one of the English railways leading into London, by which several passengers, including the Rev. Dr. Begg of Edinburgh, were injured. The Rev. Doctor was, at the time of the accident, on his way to Geneva to spend a few weeks there for the benefit of his health, which has of late been rather delicate. He sustained a severe wound on one of his legs, above the knee, and though progressing favourably, he has for several days been confined to bed in London, and is in consequence prevented at present from prosecuting his journey."

The accident was, in fact, much more serious than this notice would seem to indicate. I do not altogether understand how it befell, although I often heard him describe it. It was somewhat in this wise. An axle of the carriage broke, and one portion of it came through the floor of the compartment in which Dr. Begg was. The carriage was thrown off the rails, the wheel still revolving as it jumped from sleeper to sleeper, and the axle tearing the flesh off Dr. Begg's thigh. The train proceeded in this way for a mile or more before it could be stopped. This would not occupy more than three or four minutes, but to the sufferer it seemed a very much longer time. It was found that no bones were broken, but the flesh was torn in a dreadful manner. A surgeon who was in the train was able to arrest the bleeding, and Dr. Begg was removed to a hotel, where he remained under treatment for several weeks.

This accident very materially modified Dr. Begg's subsequent life. Although he seemed ere long to recover, his intimate friends often remarked that physically he was no longer "the man he once was." For a long time he was unable to take his wonted exercise, and from this time he almost entirely discontinued his practice of walking. This produced a degree of heaviness, which never, indeed, amounted to corpulence, but which was in marked contrast with his former elasticity. It told also on the activity of his mind in the ordinary intercourse of life. In his preaching and his speechmaking there was no off-falling. But it required more to rouse him than had sufficed before. Rather, up till this time, he required no rousing. He seemed to be always "up to the mark," ready at any moment to put forth all his powers. Of course this change might have been produced by the advance of years; but, in point of fact, its production was coincident with the accident, and his friends imputed it to this as its cause. For the reason which I have just stated, it was only his friends, and indeed only the most intimate of them, that noticed it at all.

If the railway accident left permanent evil physical effects, I have no doubt that it left good spiritual effects - far more good than the physical were evil and far more enduring, even eternal. He had been brought face to face with death, more closely than ever before, or, indeed, than ever after until the final encounter. Then he had a long period of enforced rest in the midst of a too laborious life, an opportunity for introspection and meditation in the midst of a life which was to a large extent spent in outward action. With the reticence which is more or less characteristic of our countrymen, and which was a very prominent feature in his character, he never spoke much of his spiritual exercises; but he often referred to those which he went through at this time; and I remember that once I heard him quote regarding them the text:

"Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

He makes a brief allusion to the subject in a business note to his friend Dr. Wylie, the envelope bearing date "May 13, '65."

"MATLOCK, Friday.

"MY DEAR DR. WYLIE, -

Many thanks for your kind letter. Amidst many trials I have had great experience of the Lord's goodness; and I earnestly pray that all may be sanctified and that I may be graciously fitted for every duty.The matter to which you refer is one in which I feel the deepest interest, and have always been anxious to have it settled. My illness has prevented me of late from attending much to business. But as the affairs of the Institute are now getting into a settled state, I shall be most anxious to come to some understanding as soon after the Assembly is over as possible. I hope there may be no difficulty in this.

- With kindest regards, my dear Dr. Wylie,
yours ever, "JAMES BEGG."

The Assembly met on the 18th of May. It is the unvarying custom that the retiring Moderator proposes as his successor the man who has been selected, as has been explained, at the meeting in November or March. The Assembly having been constituted,

"Principal FAIRBAIRN then said - Reverend Fathers and Brethren, it now only remains for me, in a few words, to take formal leave of this chair, to which the kindness of the last General Assembly raised me, and the prospective occupancy of which filled me with some concern. Positions of honour like offices of trust, sometimes become less irksome in the reality than they appeared beforehand to the imagination; and having received so much consideration and forbearance during my possession of the chair - (applause) - I can now sincerely associate with it my best, agreeable, and pleasant remembrances. (Applause.) If anything occurred to awaken other feelings in my mind I have forgotten it, and I fondly hope that whatever may have appeared out of place in my own bearing or procedure has, on your part, been consigned to a similar oblivion. As you all know, I am more at home in the comparatively retired, though by no means inactive, scenes of the study and the class-room than in the stir and excitement, and occasional collisions, of public assemblies. My venerable and esteemed predecessor also, Mr. M'Leod, accustomed to dwell remote from the busy thoroughfares of the world, and to be listened to and loved as a father by an attached people, represented the quieter and more composed aspect of Presbyterian authority and rule. It cannot but seem fitting now that you should have a representative of its more active and enterprising side (applause) - on which account, as well as in compliance with an established usage of our Church, I have much pleasure in proposing to your acceptance the Rev. Dr. James Begg - (loud applause) - one who, from an early period in his ministerial life, has taken an active part in the public affairs of the Church, and is distinguished for his practical sense and business habits. (Applause.) He has held the convenership of not a few committees of the Church, and by his counsel and sagacity has materially contributed to the successful management of others. In social economies and the moral well-being of the people he has long taken a deep interest; and even those who may sometimes have felt unable to concur in the specific measures proposed or supported by him, cannot but have admired the zeal and warmth of his advocacy. (Applause.) His talents as a public speaker are familiarly known to nearly all here; and if skill and power in debate, coolness of temper, promptitude of decision, readiness of thought and utterance - if these form important qualifications in one who is fitted either to guide or to preside over the deliberations of a public assembly, there are not many among us who will be allowed to possess them in a more eminent degree than Dr. Begg. (Applause.) I venture to hope, therefore, that he will receive a unanimous and hearty welcome to the chair of this House. (Loud applause.) "

The EARL OF DALHOUSIE said -

Moderator, I have very great pleasure in seconding the motion you have just made. But before doing so I must take leave to express to you the regret we all feel that we require, according to our usual forms, to part with one who has added dignity to the chair of the Assembly, and of whom I am quite certain it may be said that the whole Assembly has benefited to a very large extent during the period he has occupied the chair. Sir, in proceeding to elect one whom you designate as a more active member of the Church, I think that we proceed to confer tho highest honour that this Assembly has in its power to confer, on one who is fully worthy of it. (Applause.) There are none whom I now address who are not well aware of the independent spirit in which Dr. Begg has ever taken part in the debates of the Assembly of this Church (applause) - and it is a proof that those who have somewhat, and some times, differed from him on subjects in debate can appreciate that independence by cordially conjoining to raise him to the chair of the Assembly. (Applause.) There are other reasons at this season, and at this time, which make me rejoice that it is the pleasure of the Assembly to confer this honour on such a man as Dr. Begg. Dr. Begg is not only remarkable in this Church for that independent spirit in its debates which I have stated, but it has been his lot to occupy a position on an important subject - I mean the resistance to Popery - (applause) - which makes me at the present time rejoice to see him marked with the approbation of the Free Church. (Applause.) I do not mean to say that in his opinion and his antipathy to Popery Dr. Begg differs at all from the rest of his brethren in the Church - (Hear, hear) - but it has been his lot to hold a more prominent place in the eyes of the public in his resistance to it. He has been blamed for so doing by those whose censure he can afford to make light of - (Hear, and applause); but he has been praised for so doing by those whose praise must be his best reward. When we look abroad over these islands, when we turn our face across the sea, we see how necessary it is to mark our determination to resist the progress of Popish doctrine and Popish opinions. (Hear, hear.) I am sorry to say that we see the Church of England holding a dangerous flirtation with these opinions - (applause) - and that recent circumstances have brought under the public eye the fact that in our Protestant - our so-called Protestant - churches the wretched device of the Confessional is again rearing itself. (Applause.) Anything more degrading to liberal-minded men, anything more detrimental to the virtue and harmony of society, never was invented by Satan himself than the system of the Confessional, which, it now appears, is again rearing its head in our Protestant churches. (Applause.) When we look at home, on this side of the Tweed, and when we see our old true-blue Presbyterianism flirting with that section of the Church of which we all know very well we have no pleasant memories - (Hear, hear, and laughter) - I think it is necessary, and I am happy that the event has occurred, that we should place in our chair at this Assembly one so distinguished for the strictness of his Presbyterian sentiments as is Dr. Begg. (Hear, hear, and applause.) I have therefore the greatest pleasure in seconding his nomination.

The only regret I feel is, that I am given to understand that the state of his health is such that he may not be able to enter into all the labours of this Assembly with that strength of body which ought to keep pace with his spirit of mind. "

The motion having been unanimously carried, Dr. Begg was introduced to the House by Dr. Clason, Lord Dalhousie, and Dr. Candlish, and amid great applause, he was welcomed to the chair by Principal Fairbairn, who said -

"Dr. Begg, I have the happiness to announce to you that you have been unanimously elected to the office of Moderator of this Assembly. I congratulate you on the appointment, and have only to wish that your possession of the chair may be attended with comfort to yourself, as I have no doubt it will be with satisfaction to the House.' (Loud applause.)"

I well remember the sensation that was produced when Dr. Begg entered the House, still very partially recovered from the effect of his recent accident, and the Court-dress making very conspicuous the abundant bandaging of the injured limb. He was so far recovered that his.intimate friends could joke with him - outside the Assembly, of course - on the grotesqueness of his appearance, caused by what had been to them a matter of very grave anxiety. I need not say that he took such banter with the most genial good-nature. I have heard also that some of the young members of the Assembly irreverently deemed his figure - usually so grand and perfectly proportioned - a fit subject for the exercise of their pictorial powers!

Although the position of the Moderator of the General Assembly is, in the main, correspondent to that of the Speaker in the House of Commons, inasmuch as he alone of all the members cannot speak or vote, or indicate any preference for one or other of any proposals that may be made, - yet in one particular his office bears a certain resemblance to that of the Prime Minister, or rather to that of the Cabinet as a unit; for he opens and closes the proceedings with addresses, which may be regarded as in some degree analogous to the Queen's speech at the opening and the dissolution of Parliament. Very naturally the Moderatorial addresses, for many years after the Disruption, were, to a considerable extent, of an apologetic character. It was necessary to vindicate the position of the Free Church, and to account for the existence of her General Assembly. Thus every successive Moderator reverted to the Disruption, showed its necessity, or indicated the good results which had flowed from it. This, perhaps, was done too frequently; so that I remember a witty friend of mine suggested that an Act should be passed prohibiting the utterance of the word Disruption by any Moderator.

But such a vindication as I have referred to was altogether appropriate while the Free Church was still in the first quarter of a century of separate existence. Dr. Begg's address was of this character; and I do not know that there is anywhere to be found so complete a vindication, in so small compass, of a movement which was unquestionably the most important in its bearings on the interests of the Church of Christ, of any in our time. It is grave and solemn, the utterance of a man fully alive to the importance of his theme, and to the responsibilities of the position which he was called to occupy. Of course it was impossible to show that the Free Church was in the right, without showing that the Established Church was in the wrong; and this could not bo done without giving offence to the supporters of the latter. Sure I am, however, that very few of these supporters had a particle of sympathy with an attack which was made on Dr. Begg by an Edinburgh newspaper I regret that it is necessary - but it seems to be so - to reproduce two or three paragraphs of this article:-

"Begg has his uses in the world, and was created to serve a profitable purpose, just as the tiger and the wolf have their valuable functions to furfil in the economy of nature. Begg's mission is to frighten away respectable and moderate people from the Free Church, and he promises to be very successful in accomplishing the object of his existence. The Liberals, whom Mr. Bright has terrified into reflection, are now dividing themselves into two sections, one of which will unite itself to the Conservatives, and the other to the Radicals. So, in the case of the Free Church, Begg will allure many to follow him to join the U.P.s; and on the other, he will drive many to join the Establishment. Begg will divide the sheep from the goats, and as performing this function with vigour, he must be pronounced to be a really useful member of society. "

It is not every day that one meets with so violent, and therefore so useful, an oration as Begg's of Thursday. Begg denounces in the most unmeasured terms, as diabolical and all the rest of it, the series of compromises proposed before 1843, and of which he was one of the chief framers and the noisiest advocates. Really, Begg ought to be a little more charitable to those who differ from him now, considering that he admits himself to have been in the wrong before 1843, and that he denounces to-day, as diabolic and satanic, arrangements which he then protested were all that was necessary to restore peace to the Church. Dr. Begg went the length on Thursday of comparing those who differed with him on some trumpery point of patronage to the Jews who crucified the Founder of our religion. Such deplorable exaggeration defeats its own object, and before many years have elapsed we hope to welcome back into the old fold many who have been alienated by his wicked violence. Let Begg & Co. join their congenial associates of the U.P.s, and let the moderate and sensible men of the Free Church return to the old Establishment. In this arrangement will be found, we believe, the settlement, both of the negotiations which occupy, and of the controversies which divide, the various sections of the great Presbyterian communion." 91

[Footnote 91: Edinburgh Evening Courant, Saturday, May 20, 1865.]

I am sure that this impertinent piece of abuse caused deep sorrow to many good and intelligent members of the Established Church. I could not, without reproducing Dr. Begg's address in its entirety, prove that there is not a sentence or an expression in it that gives the slightest reason for this virulent tirade. The account which Hamlet gives of his mother's second marriage seems to be strictly applicable to its publication. It was a matter of "thrift." The article must have been put into type before the delivery of the address. The compositors would have to be paid for "setting it up," and it would have been a waste of money to "take it down." If the Moderator of the Free Assembly did not describe the Veto Law and the Duke of Argyle's Bill as "diabolical and-all-the-rest-of-it" compromises, but as concessions whose rejection necessitated disruption, - if he never, from beginning to end of his address, hinted at the most distant resemblance between Judas and the "forty," - why, the fault was his, and the compositor must not be made to suffer for it.

The matter was referred to on the last evening of the Assembly. The somewhat unusual course was taken of requesting the Moderator to give his opening address to the Assembly for publication. In moving to that effect:-

"Lord DALHOUSIE said - Notice of a motion was given by a reverend brother who has been obliged to leave us to-night in order to reach home. I shall now make the motion of which he gave notice. It was to the effect, that 'the address delivered by our venerable Moderator at the time when he first occupied the chair should be printed and circulated through the Church.' I can most cordially concur in that motion, with one very trifling exception. You will all, brethren, recollect the deep impression that address made upon all who heard it, and it appears to me to be singularly apposite to the period in which we live.... There was one sentence, and one only, that grated somewhat upon my ear. Not that I attributed to the venerable Moderator any desire to say anything which he could not conscientiously reconcile to himself; but it was a sentence which referred, if you recollect it - I trust it has passed from the memories of most - it referred to the conduct of the Jews and the crucifixion of our Saviour, and drew a parallel which some weak brethren - very weak brethren indeed - made the mistake of carrying too far, and which some very hostile people have not been ashamed to take hold of and pervert. I could wish that senfence had not been there, because I am quite certain it never was, or could have been, in the mind of our Moderator to charge the members of the Established Church with feelings at all in sympathy with the feelings which inspired the Jews when they said in mockery to our Saviour, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' But it appears to me it was intended to draw a contrast between real and sham allegiance to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, and to point out that whilst the members of the Established Church, conscientiously, no doubt, believed that they look upon the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, yet that their conduct was inconsistent with that profession, inasmuch as they were guided in spiritual matters by legal authority and Parliamentary enactment. I think the sentence meant nothing more than that, and meaning nothing more than that, I can most cordially go along with it. I trust our venerable Moderator will agree, for the sake of relieving the minds of weaker brethren, and for the sake of preventing wilful misrepresentation, to give an explanation, in a note appended to the sentence, of the real meaning and bearing of it. With such a suggestion, I have the greatest pleasure in moving 'that this address be printed at the expense of the Church, and that it be sent down to Presbyteries for the information of sons of the Church."

"The MODERATOR - I beg to state that the address is entirely at the service of the Church, to do with it as they please. I beer further to say that Lord Dalhousie has given the correct interpretation of this very obnoxious sentence to certain individuals.' The obnoxiousness of it, however, with many, lies, I suspect, very much in its truth. I shall be most happy to append to the sentence an explanatory note. There is not a word about the Crucifixion; the sentence is most carefully limited and restricted to what Lord Dalhousie has just pointed out, namely, the contrast between professed allegiance and real loyal submission." The terrible sentence was the following:- "The Jews might therefore as well have claimed to be loyal to Christ when they arrayed Him in a scarlet robe, and put a reed in His hand and a crown of thorns on His head, crying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' at the very time when their conduct as well as their words said, 'We have no king but Caesar,' as our modern Churchmen are entitled to claim that they are loyal to Him, when in every case of debate they regulate their conduct by Acts of Parliament, not by the Acts of the Apostles."

To this sentence Dr. Begg appended the following note when the address was published:-

"This sentence has been perverted by one of our newspapers, which affirmed that I had exhibited a parallel between the members of the Established Church and the Jews aiding the Crucifixion.' It is scarcely necessary to say that there is not one word about the 'Crucifixion' in the sentence. It was intended to convey, and, fairly interpreted, only does convey, an illustration of the contrast between professed loyalty and true submission to the kingly authority of Christ."

I must say that I think both Lord Dalhousie and Dr. Begg made far too much of the Courant in noticing at all its malevolent attack. No Free Churchman could possibly say less than Dr. Begg said as to the practical denial of the Headship of Christ by the Established Church at the Disruption. If they did not practically deny it, the Free Church had no ralson d'etre; and it would be too much to demand of a Free Churchman that he should vindicate his Church from the charge of causeless schism. That a great proportion of those who abode by the Establishment were conscientious, no Free Churchman ever denied. That they were mistaken, every Free Churchman was bound to maintain.

The Moderator's closing address was solemn and weighty. It referred mainly to the duty of standing upon the solid ground of God's Word, and taking that Word as our only rule in regard to all matters, not of doctrine only, but also of government and worship. I have often read it, and ever with enhanced admiration. I have just read it now. My regret that my space does not admit of my reproducing it is only lessened by the consideration that it is easily accessible to my readers. I very cordially commend it to their perusal. It contains what may be regarded as an epitome of its author's life-long teaching on the subjects which were ever nearest his heart, the glory of God and the well-being of man in time and eternity.

I must, however, enliven my page by the quotation of the following characterestic anecdote, the rather as it was one which Dr. Begg often told with great gusto, and I do not remember that he has introduced it into his Autobiography:- "A worthy minister in those days asked a neighbour of this class to preach one of his Fast-Day sermons. He preached a well-composed piece of negative theology - something that he reckoned very philosophical, without any mixture of controversial doctrine, although, as one said, they could be 'fierce for moderation' when they had an object in view. Next day the minister met an old village patriarch, and asked him how he liked the sermon. 'Oh, dinna bring him here ony mair,' was the answer; 'he's very far back in his information; he doesna ken that Adam's fa'en yet.' " An Iliad this in a nutshell!

It is part of the Moderator's duty, as mouthpiece of the Assembly, to state its mind to deputies from other Churches, and others to whom it may be the pleasure of the Assembly to convey thanks. This duty Dr. Begg discharged, not in a commonplace and perfunctory way, but by suggesting matters worthy of their earnest consideration in the circumstances in which they were placed.

We have not in Scotland any word corresponding to the Lady-Mayoress of our Southern neighbours. I must, therefore, coin the term when I state that the Lady-Moderatress was precluded from taking any part in the dispensation of the hospitalities which are regarded as an inseparable adjunct of the Moderatorial office. 92 There were various whisperings of a proposal to present her with a silver cradle, but I do not think that it was carried into effect. The little one "born in the purple," to whom the pet-name of "little Mody" was naturally given, lived only long enough to become as an angel in the house.

I very well remember the deep and long-continued dejection which his removal produced on his father. It was at a time when he was overwhelmed with public business and controversy; but the strong and apparently ruthless champion of the right was broken as the weakest woman by the death-bed of his winsome boy. Large eyes shed large tears.

[Footnote 92: "At Newington Free Church Manse, on the 20th inst., Mrs. Begg, of a son" (Daily Review, 24th May 1865). - T. S.]

Dr. Begg's impressions of the proceedings of the Assembly over which he presided are given in a speech which he delivered on the day after its close, at a "Jubilee dinner to the Rev. Dr. Clason." In replying to the toast of his health as Moderator of the Assembly, he said:-

".... In regard to the late General Assembly - of which, in a sense, he was a mere spectator, though a very deeply interested spectator - he thought that they must all rejoice at the unabated energy of the Church. There were many things remarkable in that Assembly. The increase towards the support of their ministers to the extent of £6 added to the equal dividend was certainly remarkable, as indicating a growing liberality on the part of people at home. The deputies from France, Italy, and Hungary who addressed the Assembly afforded a spectacle that was quite unknown in olden times; and the interesting reports in regard to all their missionary enterprises indicated an increase of vigour that must have been peculiarly gratifying to all the friends of the Church. He hoped that, by the Divine blessing, it might lead to the establishment of the Missionary Institute proposed by Dr. Duff 93 - an institute which, if once established, would, he trusted, render the recent Assembly memorable in the history of the Church."

[Footnote 93: This hope, I grieve to say, has not as yet been realised. - T. S.]

It may be noted in passing, with a view to subsequent reference, that it was into this Assembly that a subject was introduced which was matter of much discussion in the following years - the subject of hymn-singing in public worship.

Of course Dr. Begg was precluded from taking part in the discussion this year; but in his closing address he indicated unmistakably the attitude which he should assume and maintain when his hands should be untied.

The fatigue of the Assembly told far more severely on Dr. Begg in his debilitated condition than he had anticipated, - more, indeed, than he realised at the time. But while he was able to hold out till the work was done, the strain told on him all the more when it was over. During the summer he was able for little work; and at the end of October he applied to the Presbytery for three months' leave of absence, which was, of course, granted, with a very cordial expression of the sympathy of his brethren.