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.



D R. BEGG spent the time of his enforced cessation from his ordinary work partly in visits to various health resorts (especially his favourite Bridge of Allan), and partly in gathering up fragments of his previous literary works. Thus I find him dating the preface of a book on working men's houses 94 on the 1st of January 1866. The first sentence of this preface is as follows:-

[Footnote 94: From the account given in the volume of one of the Property "Happy Homes for Working Men, and How to Get Them." By James Begg, D.D. London: Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, 1866. - T. S.]

"A period of enforced leisure occurring amidst a somewhat busy life, in the holy providence of God, - an improved tone of public opinion on the subject referred to, with some very favourable circumstances in the present state of Edinburgh, - a wish to reply comprehensively to questions which the author is often called upon by letter to answer in detail, and which he can only answer imperfectly; and, above all, a strong desire to promote a cause with which he believes all the best interests of the people and the country to be inseparably bound up, will sufficiently account for the appearance of the present volume."

The book may be regarded as a handbook on one branch of the subject, the importance to the working man of becoming his own landlord, and the plan by which this can best be effected; while it points out the obstacles that lie in the way, such as the difficulty of procuring suitable sites, the expense of transfer and titles, and, most of all, the improvidence of the people and the drinking and smoking habits of many of them. The plan is by means of co-operation, and that in two directions, the co-operation of builders for the erection of houses, and the co-operation of working men for the purchase of them when they are erected. A great portion of the book is occupied with a detail of the institution and operations of the "Edinburgh Co-Operative Building Company (Limited)." The following extract will make the method "plain to the meanest capacity ":

".... It was resolved that the houses," erected by the Co-operative Building Company, "shall be sold at £130. "It may be explained that the houses are of two storeys each; but, inasmuch as the ground-floor enters from one side, and the upper storey from the other, 95 each house is self-contained. Each house has two rooms and a kitchen, with every necessary convenience. They are made of the best materials, and are thoroughly comfortable and substantial. In front of each there is a small garden. "The Property Investment Companies were willing to advance upon each £125 so that if a man had £5 in the Savings Bank to start with, he could at once become the owner of a house. It was found that the annual outlay to redeem this in fourteen years was about £13, or about £2 a year more than the annual rent of such houses; so that for an outlay of £28 - £2 a year for fourteen years - a house worth £130 is obtained."

[Footnote 95: By an "outside stair. "-T. S.]

Coming upon this passage without any previous knowledge of the subject, I was certainly startled, as many of my readers will be, with the statement that £28 can be made to do the work of £130. I therefore set about examining it with such knowledge of figures as I possess, and I shall give my readers the benefit of the examination.

First of all, the statement is not strictly accurate, as it is not £18 but £33 that does the work of £130; but that is a comparatively small error. - Then I find that the annual payment, in excess of the rent, is materially understated. Besides the £13 to be paid in liquidation of the loan, the purchaser of the house would have to pay feu-duty and imperial and municipal taxes, from which, as tenant, he would have been free. Besides this he would have to keep the house in repair; but this, of course, would not cost much for a considerable time in the case of a newly-built house. The only rate of feuduty mentioned in the book is £30 an acre; and assuming this to be the average rate, and considering that each house has a small garden in front of it, I suppose that each house will occupy a thirtieth part of an acre, and its proprietor will pay a feu-duty of £1. I do not think that landlord's taxes and repairs can be estimated at less than another pound.

If these suppositions be nearly correct, then it is not £2 a year for fourteen years that does the work of £130, but £5 paid down, £2 a year for fourteen years, and £2 a year in perpetuity; and, thus corrected, the statement is considerably less startling than as made by Dr. Begg. By a simple computation, which any one can verify, I found that the liquidation of a debt of £125 by annual payments of £13 for fourteen years meant simply the gradual payment of the debt, and the payment of 5 per cent, of interest on the portion left unpaid. 96

[Footnote 96: Thus the interest for the first year ia £6, 5s Therefore .£6, 15s goes towards the liquidation of the debt, reducing it to £118, 5s. The interest of this sum at 5 per cent. is £5, 18s 3d., so that a payment of £13 gives £7, 1s 9d. to the payment of the debt, bringing it down to £111, 3s 3d. If the non-mathematical reader will continue this computation for fourteen years, he will find that the account is just square. - T. S.]

Investment Companies, it appears that they credit their shareholders with £25 in consideration of the payment of a shilling per fortnight, or £1, 6s. per annum, for about fourteen years; and this also is virtually giving them 5 per cent. for their payments. Now it is evident that the paying 5 per cent. for money and investing it at 5 per cent. would leave nothing for expense of management and possibIe losses, and bankruptcy would be the certain result; but then they raise in this way only a very small portion of the money which they invest. From their advertisements it appears that they are really banking companies. As their operations are conducted on a humbler scale, they are able to give depositors very materially higher interest than the larger banks do, and still to invest their deposits at 5 per cent. Suppose such a company has £1000 contributed by shareholders and £9,000 deposited, and can invest the whole £10,000 on good security at 5 per cent., it can give 5 per cent. to the shareholders and 4 per cent. to the depositors, and have £90 for working expenses. At first sight it would appear that an advance of £125 on a house worth £130 left too small a margin for deterioration and the fluctuation of the market; but I presume that the Society would hold a bond over the house during the whole period of fourteen years, and the selling price of the house could scarcely by possibility be less at any time than the amount still due upon it.

Altogether, then, it seems to me that there is no reason, apart from dishonesty or mismanagement, why such a scheme should fail. For two reasons I have thought it well to go at some length into an examination of this matter. The first is, that it occupied a very great part of Dr. Begg's thought and life. The second, that it is capable of almost indefinite extension in town and country, and it is possible that this notice of it may contribute to its extension.

From the first section it appears that Dr. Begg had the high honour conferred on him by the Society of laying the foundation-stones of their first two blocks of houses, "Reid Terrace" and "Hugh Miller Place." At a later time another Society conferred on him the still higher honour of calling by his name a tenement of houses at Abbeyhill. This honour was higher than the other, inasmuch as it is held in perpetual remembrance, as the Edinburgh Directory, in all time coming, in its "List of the Streets, Squares, Places, &c., in Edinburgh and Leith, with reference to their situations," will contain the following entry- "Begg, Dr., Builds., 11 Abbeyhill, 3." This is more honourable to him than if he had been enabled to rear a mansion for himself, or to occupy a position among the landed proprietors of the country. Such a commemoration comes not within the Scriptural reprobation of those whose�

"inward thought is that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations, who call their lands after their own names" (Ps. xlix. 11).

At the same time, he had himself a more than average share of that sense of the comfort and advantage of proprietorship which he so earnestly strove to excite in others. It is with a keen sympathy that he relates the following characteristic utterance of his great leader:-

"Standing, one lovely afternoon; long ago, with Dr. Chalmers, on the top of [one of] the Pentland Hills, that great man, as he rangred around the splendid landscape with his dreamy, poetical eyes and most benign countenance, exclaimed, 'Well, sir, it is a fine thing after all to be the owner of a section of a planet!' "

The work was not confined to our own country. The working men of Copenhagen heard of the movement, and resolved to imitate it. They made a representation on the subject to the Danish Government, and suggested that they should apply to Dr. Begg for information on the subject. In reply to a communication from the Government, Dr. Begg forwarded to them plans and specifications of the Edinburgh Society's model houses, and photographs of some of those which had been built.

We find Dr. Begg dating, at Bridge of Allan, on the 9th of January, a letter to Mr. Thorburn, as Moderator of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, on the subject of proposals that had been made in the Presbytery on the subject of "calls," and an alteration of the "Form of Process," in "cases" of heresy or immorality in the Church courts. The former proposal had been agreed to by the Presbytery for the regulation of its own procedure; the latter could, of course, be dealt with only by Act of Assembly. Dr. Begg advocated the status quo in both cases. With respect to the former I thought, and still think, that he was substantially right. Ecclesiastical readers will understand the matter when I say that the question was between "calls at large" and calls to a particular person. Dr. Begg seemed to hold that the former should be the uniform rule.
The matter has since been regulated authoritatively by the Assembly (1868) laying down the call at large as the rule, but allowing a special call in certain cases at the discretion of the Presbytery.

As I took the opposite view to Dr. Begg as to the Form of Process, I may be allowed to say that the proposal was made by the late Sheriff Cleghorn with the view of remedying two evils; the one being that in very many cases the Presbytery are at once prosecutors and judges in the first instance; and the other, that the court of ultimate appeal is a jury of six hundred members!

It was proposed, in substance, that the Presbytery should prosecute, and that the judges should be a committee or commission specially nominated by the Assembly, and composed of representatives from all quarters of the Church. The remedy proposed might not be the best, - and I admit that some of Dr. Begg's objections to it were of great weight, - but the evils are so great, and they become so patent in almost every case that comes up, that I am persuaded that some remedy ought to be devised.

Very much on account of Dr. Begg's letter, Sheriff Cleghorn's overture was submitted to a committee of Presbytery to be put in a less specific form. When the report of the committee came up at the end of February Dr. Begg was present. With a further modification proposed by him, the transmission of the overture was unanimously agreed to.

When the matter came before the Assembly three motions were made, the first by Dr. Gibson, seconded by Dr. Forbes; the second by Sir Eenry Moncreiff, seconded by Principal Fairbairn; the third by Sheriff Cleghorn, seconded by me. There was an "order of the day" for the Assembly to proceed to another business at four o'clock. When that hour approached it was proposed that the vote should be taken, but a member was anxious to speak.

"The MODERATOR - The question must be determined whether the discussion is to go on. "Dr. BEGG - The question must be determined, and the House has the right to do so. Many members would wish to speak, no doubt. I myself would do so, and I have a good deal to say. (Laughter.) But I am willing to let the matter come to a close. (Cries of 'Vote, vote.') I move that the House proceed to a vote. (Hear, hear.) "

It was agreed to take the vote accordingly. Sheriff Cleghorn, with consent of his seconder, withdrew his motion. The vote was then taken between Dr. Gibson's motion and that of Sir H. W. Moncreiff.

The numbers were - for Dr. Gibson's motion, 88; for Sir H. W. Moncreiff's motion, 96. Sir H. W. Moncreiff's motion was accordingly carried. The motion of Sir Henry Moncreiff, in favour of which Sheriff Cleghorn and I withdrew ours, was simply,

"That the General Assembly, having considered the overtures, resolve to appoint a large committee, consisting of members from various parts of the Church, to consider how far there are, or are not, any serious defects or evils in the existing law and practice of the Church, as to cases of libel; and how far, if there be such defects or evils, any remedy can be scripturally and constitutionally applied."

Dr. Begg, of course, voted in favour of Dr. Gibson's motion. It may be freely conceded that our present system would work well enough if accusers and accused were sincerely desirous only for the ascertainment of the truth. But I am afraid that this is a very rare case indeed. One strange anomaly is, that the accused, as a member of Presbytery, sits in judgment upon the question of the relevancy of the libel against him. He is, indeed, suspended when once the libel is found relevant and served upon him; but in the preliminary stage he is able to interpose innumerable obstructions. Cases have occurred of late in which the evil of this has become sadly manifest.

On the 4th of April a meeting of citizens was held in Queen Street Hall, to consider the subject of publichouse licenses. Dr. Guthrie presided, and introduced the proceedings by expressing regret at Dr. Begg's inability to be present:-

"I am sorry, also, to say that we are to be deprived of the presence, the powerful speaking and pleading, and eloquence of my friend Dr. Begg, who, I am sorry to say, has been obliged to leave home, on account of the state of his health, for the South. You will permit me to read his letter to you. He says:- 'I am sorry that I have been unwell, and that I will not have it in my power to be present at your very important meeting. This is to me a great disappointment, for I was anxious to say, in the most public way, how much I dislike and disapprove of the proceedings of our public authorities in the headlong granting of spirit-licenses. I am confident that this has much to do with the social and moral degradation which we all so much deplore, and that, if the present course is persevered in, it must impede and render nugatory all our schemes of social and sanitary reform. I do, therefore, earnestly hope and pray that your meeting may be very successful. "

In connection with this I may say that, all through, Dr. Begg was a strenuous advocate of restrictive legislation of the character contemplated in Mr. M`Lagan's "Permissive Bill." He never saw his way to advocate or practise total abstinence. I used to say to him that it was not worth his while to be a non-abstainer, for all the enjoyment or benefit he could possibly get from the small quantity of wine that he occasionally drank!

But by such banter, and by more serious arguments, he was never persuaded to enrol himself among abstainers. I do not blame him for this, as his refusal was the result of serious consideration, but I thought, and do think, that it was a mistake. One consideration, I know, he regarded as important. It was, that the opposition of a non-abstainer to the granting of a license is more prevalent with the licensing body than that of an abstainer. This may be so; - probably it is so - but I do not think that countenance ought to be given to such an unreasonable prejudice.

His main reason, however, was that he regarded total abstinence as a sort of cowardly attempt to escape from the obligation of the higher virtue of temperance. I often pointed out to him that his reasonings to this effect, however they might be valid as against some of the arguments frequently employed in favour of total abstinence, were of no force as against the thing itself. I ought to state that I do not doubt that in the last years of his life he was benefited by his very moderate use of wine, and that it would have been his duty to have recourse to it even if he had previously been a total abstainer. He never had much sympathy with the "working man's pipe and pot of beer" declamation.

His advocacy of the interests of the working man took a different direction. In the General Assembly of 1865 the subject of the use of hymns in public worship was introduced by the late Dr. Nelson of Greenock, a comparatively young man, but one whose great abilities and high character gave weight to his clear and intelligent utterances on any subject that he had occasion to handle. Dr. Begg, being Moderator, could take no part in the discussion. But in his closing address he went quite as far as usage permitted - some hinted, a little further - in indicating his own opinion on the subject.

Early in 1866 Dr. Candlish proposed an overture in the Presbytery of Edinburgh, the general purport of which was, that a small number of the best hymns - not more than twenty-five - should be licensed for use in public worship. Dr. Begg was not present at the meeting of Presbytery at which the overture was discussed; but at the meeting of the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale on the 1st of May he "took the first word o' fiytin' " by moving the following overture:

"It is humbly overtured by the Free Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale that the General Assembly, before adopting any new resolution in regard to the materials of praise, shall inquire (1) Whether any principle is involved in the singing of inspired or uninspired compositions in the worship of God; and (2) whether the experience of other Churches has indicated that the practical tendency of singing human poems in the worship of God is to supersede and set aside the inspired psalmody of Scripture."

As the controversy was keenly maintained for several years, and as Dr. Begg very frequently took a prominent part in it, I may as well state, once for all, that he constantly maintained that the Book of Psalms is given by Divine authority as the hymnal of the Church, and that the use of uninspired compositions is pro tanto a setting aside of a Divine appointment. He also showed that such a proposal as that of Dr. Candlish was the insertion of the "thin end of the wedge," and must of necessity lead to the supersession of the Psalms to a far more considerable extent than it contemplated. When I had occasion to speak on the subject, I always took care to

disclaim a great part of the arguments used by the advocates of hymns, and to avow my own strong preference for the Psalms, and our grand version of them, over any hymns with which I was acquainted. At the same time, I could not accept Dr. Begg's principle, that we are restricted to the use of inspired language in praise, while we are at liberty to employ our own words in prayer. I thus occupied the proverbially uninfluential position of the "crossbenches." Had Dr. Begg grounded his opposition to hymns simply on Christian expediency, I should have very cordially supported him; but as I could not go the length to which his argument led him, still less the further length to which I considered that it ought in consistency to have led him, and as he always framed his motions on the line of his arguments, I was reluctantly compelled to vote against the motion, although my sympathies were very much with the views of those who proposed them. Eventually a hymn-book was prepared, containing, not twenty-five, but 417 hymns, and was sanctioned by the Assembly of 1872.

Looking back over the experience of twenty years, I may be allowed to express the opinion that the use of the hymnbook has not been satisfactory, while I admit that a contrary opinion is held by many. In the first place, the hymn-book has been introduced into some congregations in neglect of or opposition to the caution that it should not be introduced in cases where it would interfere with the peace of the congregation. In other cases members have refrained from opposing its introduction only because they felt that it would be invidious to object, and have considered that they were unfairly treated in being reduced to the alternative of consenting to what they disapproved of, or being regarded as peace-breakers.

As to the book itself, I believe that it is a very good collection, as compared with others; and this is likely to be so, as I know that a great deal of pains was bestowed on its compilation. But it contains a large number of hymns which no one would regard as very good, and some to which very positive objections have been made.

As to Dr. Begg's anticipation that the hymns would gradually supersede the Psalms, I suspect that it is being realised in many cases. I am told that it is not unusual in the course of a service to sing two portions of Psalms and three entire hymns; that is, eight stanzas from the psalter and fifteen or eighteen from the Hymnal; the Psalter stanzas consisting of four lines each, and those from the Hymnal frequently containing eight lines.

Lastly, musical people tell me that, through want of acquaintance with the hymn tunes, the people in some of our congregations leave the singing of them entirely to the choir; - as great an evil as can well be.

It devolved on Dr. Begg, as Moderator of the Assembly of 1865, to preach a sermon at the opening of the Assembly of 1866, and to propose his successor in the chair. His sermon, on Deut. xxxiii. 16 - "The good will of him that dwelt in the bush" - was less elaborate than many sermons delivered on such occasions; but it was characterised by the preacher's usual earnestness and manly sense. So far as I remember, it was the only opening sermon I ever heard that was not read. My impression is, that it was not even written before delivery; but it was afterwards published and largely circulated.

After the Assembly was constituted, Dr. Begg, in a graceful speech, nominated Mr. (now Dr.) Wilson of Dundee as his successor in the chair, and so closed his Moderatorial career, and descended to the position of an ordinary member.

In this capacity he took a leading part in the proceedings of the Assembly. In addition to the presentation of the reports of his two committees - on Popery, and on Houses for the Working Classes - he made an important speech on the Union question, which will claim our attention ere long; and one on hymns, in which he unsuccessfully advocated the adoption by the Assembly of the overture which he had proposed in the inferior court.

Having already stated in general his course of action on this subject, I shall content myself here with extracting a characteristic "bit" from his speech:-

"If men really knew the Psalms, they would find how wonderfully full of grand and appropriate praise they were. He had heard a story the other day which illustrated the kind of feeling which prevailed to a large extent among the people on this subject A young man from Edinburgh had been addressing a prayer-meeting somewhere in the North, and after his address was over, he said he would give out a hymn. 'Na,' said a grave elder, 'we maun ha'e a psalm.' 'No,' replied the young man, 'I'll give out a hymn; I can't get a psalm to meet my case.' 'What? What?' said an old wife who was sitting near. 'What's he speakin' aboot?' 'Oh,' answered the elder, 'this lad says he canna get a psalm to meet his case; he says he canna find his case in the Psalms.' 'Weel, weel,' said she, 'I doot the lad hasna a case at a', if he canna find it in the Psalms."

In some respects the most important speech made by Dr. Begg in this Assembly was in moving the adoption of the Report on the Conversion of the Jews. I very gladly present an extract from it, as indicating his interest in missionary work - an interest for which he did not always get credit:-

"A blessing still rested on all who sought the good of Israel. In connection with the ultimate conversion of the Jews, immense advantages were to result to the Church and to the world. The restoration of them was to be as life from the dead; and so far as they could discover, the greatest events that were to mark the future history of the world and of the Church, were to be connected with that event. Some imagined that, because blindness in part had happened unto Israel, no efforts should be made for their conversion; but it was always improper for men to make their ideas of the future the rule of their duty. Their rule of duty was the Word of God; and experience had proved, though large numbers of the Jews had not been converted, some of them were being converted still, as they were in the primitive age. Instances were mentioned in that report; and who could tell, in connection with the great circulation of the Divine Word, to which reference had been made - who could tell what result might arise in connection with that, accompanied by the outpourings of God's Holy Spirit?"

The same speech contains important references to Romanism, as "the same not only impure but bloody system that it ever was, and that it would continue so till the end." This was a matter on which Dr. Begg continually insisted, thereby bringing on himself innumerable sneers, and charges of bigotry, uncharitableness, and fanaticism. But it was a small matter for him to be judged of man's judgment.

The summer of 1866 was rendered sadly memorable by the ravages of the rinderpest or cattle-plague; and in the autumn we were threatened with a visitation of Asiatic cholera.

Dr. Begg brought these two matters before the Presbytery of Edinburgh at its meeting in August, and proposed that the brethren, at such times and in such ways as they might severally deem best, should bring these matters before their people, as a subject of humiliation and deprecation. The proposal received the cordial acquiescence of the Presbytery.

On the subject of cholera Dr. Begg could speak with the more feeling, that he had witnessed its direful ravages in Paisley in 1832.

At the next meeting of Presbytery a matter came up in respect to which Dr. Begg took an unusual course. A minister was called from one of the churches in Edinburgh to an English Presbyterian Church. He intimated to his congregation that he thought it right to accept the call, and requested as a personal favour that they should offer no opposition to his removal. He stated this very distinctly to the Presbytery, expecting that they would, as a matter of course, agree to the translation.

Dr. Begg, however, moved that the translation should not take place. He was defeated by a majority of one (13 - 12); but dissented and complained. As he declared that he was determined not to fall from his complaint, but to carry it to the Synod, and if necessary to the Assembly, which would have had the effect of keeping both the congregation in suspense for eight months, the minister considered himself shut up to advising the English congregation to fall from the call, and this they did, with the consent of their own Presbytery.

It is undoubtedly the law of the Free Church that the consent of his Presbytery is indispensable in order to a minister's acceptance of a call to another congregation. But in almost every case they regard the minister's own judgment, when it is distinctly stated, as the most important element in the formation of their judgment, remembering, I suppose, the proverb as to the case of conveying a steed to the trough, as compared with the difficulty of compelling him to drink.

Generally our Church courts are facile enough in obtempering the precept to speed the parting guest. Although the minister in question was taken aback by Dr. Begg's action, it made no difference in their personal relations. The matter was a small one in itself; but it was not without importance as showing that the proceedings in the call of a minister are not a mere form.

About this time the subject of working men's houses assumed a new aspect, so far as Edinburgh was concerned. With a special Act of Parliament, and with a most energetic Lord Provost of the city, 97 a vigorous effort was made for the improvement of the city by the pulling down of wretched houses and the opening of well- aired streets. All very good.

[Footnote 97: Mr. William Chambers. - T. S.]

But then the houses, wretched as they were, had many inhabitants. It would�have been well for these inhabitants to be turned out of these, provided adequate means had been taken to supply them with better ones into which they could turn; and the Improvement Act did make some provision for this.

But the accommodation which was proposed to be provided was altogether inadequate; and moreover, it was not proposed to be supplied in time. For example, the beautiful street called after the Provost's name was formed by the eviction of a very large number of tenants, and it does not contain a single dwelling-house. Other new streets do contain dwelling-houses, but at rents above the reach of those who were dispossessed in order to their formation.

Dr. Begg was touched in the apple of his eye, and he came out with an unanswerable appeal for the assignment, on fair terms, of the Heriot's Hospital ground in the neighbourhood of Leith Walk, for which he had so Long pleaded in vain.

His appeal was not altogether without effect; but till this day no really adequate relief has been given. Many of the worst houses were pulled down. This had the effect of increasing the demand for those that remained. The result was, that many respectable families were unable to get houses at rents which they could pay, and were obliged to betake themselves to lodging-houses.

This I regard as a very great evil. Every wife should have a house of her own; every family should have its "ain fireside."

The Hon. Neal Dow, a distinguished American temperance advocate, being in this country, a public meeting was held in the Music Hall "to welcome him and to promote the interests of temperance and reform." Dr. Begg was the leading speaker. From an eloquent speech I shall extract only a few sentences:-

"There were certain principles in regard to which all true-hearted men were agreed. The first of these principles he took to be, that there was no true reform which did not contemplate the moral state of society; and they were not real statesmen who did not look upon society in its moral relations. He thought one of the evils under which Great Britain laboured was that mere talent, mere physical progress, would advance society apart from moral progress. He heard men spoken of as exceedingly talented. He believed, if Satan himself could assume a bodily shape, and bring with him a number of those other demons whom Milton described - including especially Mammon - their service would be in great request.... The drunkard was a great enemy to himself, but he was also a great enemy to society. Drunkards filled our jails, our poorhouses, and laid heavy burdens on society, and therefore he held that society was entitled to protect itself against such a monstrous and palpable evil.... Drunkenness, when it appeared in public, should be treated as a crime.... He thought in the Temperance Catechism, as in the Shorter Catechism, there should be a Required as well as a Forbidden. 98

He held it was required that working men should have power to get good, comfortable houses; they would then be less likely to be dragged into the public-house. And what hindered that in Edinburgh at present? Why, the inability of working men to get ground on which to build houses. And who were hindering them? The kindly rulers of this city; and in doing so they were doing injury to the institution they governed."

[Footnote 98: While no Scottish reader can need an explanation of this, it may be necesaary for the information of others to atate that in the Shorter Catechism there is an exposition of the Ten Commandments, the questions being put and answered with respect to each of them. "What is required in the ___ Commandment?" and "What ia forbidden in the ___ Commandment? " With the additional question in regard to the Second, Fourth, and Fifth, "What are the reasons annexed to the ___ Commandment? " - T. S.]

At the autumn meeting of the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale Dr. Begg proposed an overture with reference to the "inadequate supply of ministers." This was an evil from which the Free Church was then suffering, in common with all the British Churches.

Dr. Begg suggested various methods by which the evil might be remedied, the chief being the provision of synodic bursaries. The remedy has been applied with good effect in other Synods, though not in ours, and in combination with other influences, has been abundantly efficacious.

Dr. Begg also seconded another proposal, introduced by Mr. Mackenzie of Edinburgh, for rendering more effective, by rendering more systematic, the presbyterial and synodic oversight of the congregations within their respective bounds.

At the meeting of the Presbytery of Edinburgh in October, and again in November, Dr. Begg called attention to Sabbath railway trains. The pretext for these was the obligation laid upon railway companies which carried mails to run mail trains on the Sabbath. I believe that the evil - and it is a very great one - will not be got rid of but by a demand for the abolition of mail-trains and the cessation of Post-Office work on the Sabbath.

At the November meeting he also proposed, that

"in every case of ordination or induction of a minister within the bounds, a short statement be made of the solemn authority of Presbyterian Church Government."

In connection with this Dr. Blaikie told a story which is too good to be lost.

"One of the members of the Presbytery had told him, that once he was gravely informed by a Church of England parson, that he had never been baptized, he had never been married, and he never could be buried!"