« VorigeDoorgaan »
bright in its polished freshness, the new Assembly Hall, on which they had turned their backs for ever. On either side was the crowd of lookers-on-thronging windows and balconies, and outside stairs ; some cheering, and others lifting their hats in silent reverence, some weeping, many wondering, and a few endeavouring to smile. And in the middle of the street held on the long procession which included Welsh and Chalmers, Gordon and Buchanan, Keith and Macfarlan, Alexander Stewart and John Macdonald, Cunningham and Candlish, everything of which a Scotchman thinks when he thinks of the Church of Scotland."
“Humble in its original destination, and prepared in haste, but of vast dimensions, and crowned with an eager auditory, their new place of meeting was emblematic of that new dispensation in the history of the Church of Scotland which had now begun. The emblems of Royal patronage were absent. There was neither canopy nor throne. No civic pomp was seen. Magistrates had laid aside their robes of office, and none of Scotland's nobles had come. But the heart of Scotland was there, and it was soon borne in on every mind that a greater than Solomon was there. None who heard them can ever forget the fulness and worldforgetting rapture, the inspiration of the opening prayers; and when that mighty multitude stood up to sing,* it seemed as if the swell of vehement melody would lift the roof from off the walls. And when at last the adjournment for the day took place, and in the brightness of a lovely evening the different groups went home, all felt as if returning from a pentecostal meeting. A common salutation was, “We have seen strange things to-day. Some, contrasting the harmony and happi* Psalm xliii. 3–5. O send thy light forth and thy truth, &c.
ness of the Free Assembly with the strife and debate of other days, could not help exclaiming, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Many remembered the text of Dr. Chalmers's sermon six months before in opening the Convocation, Unto the upright light shall arise in the darkness.' And at the family worship of those memorable evenings such psalms as the 124th and 126th were often sung, and were felt to be 'new songs.'
“ It would be pleasant to dwell upon many of the features of the Free Church Assemblies; especially on those deputations and messages of sympathy and congratulation which they received from so many churches, and on those tributes of approbation and encouragement which coming in from so many quarters made them recognise the good hand of the Lord upon them. But we have only room to state, that Tuesday, the 23rd of May, was, after special devotional exercises, employed in subscribing the “Act of SEPARATION AND DEED OF DEMISSION,' by which 470 ministers did . SEPARATE FROM AND ABANDON THE PRESENT SUBSISTING ECCLESIASTICAL ESTABLISHMENT IN SCOTLAND, AND RENOUNCE ALL RIGHTS OR EMOLUMENTS PERTAINING TO THEM BY VIRTUE THEREOF.'”—Farewell to Egypt. Tract by the Rev. James Hamilton, D.D.
Such is a brief abstract of the history of an event fraught with blessings for Scotland—lessons for England—and admiration for the world. It must be held in recollection that “ The Free Church of Scotland,” this being the designation which it has adopted, still admits the scriptural authority, and therefore the lawfulness of national religious establishments, but restricts the interference of the civil magistrate to temporal matters. They are voluntaries in many matters from necessity;
and how mighty has been the operation among them of the voluntary principle. There is no such instance in modern times--they have built nearly seven hundred churches, almost as many school-rooms, and are proceeding to add a parsonage house to each church : and they have also raised a sustentation fund sufficient to allow a stipend of a hundred pounds a year to each minister: all this, besides the erection and support of colleges, and all the usual benevolent and missionary institutions of the day. Altogether the disruption of the Scottish national church must be regarded as the most extraordinary religious event of our age and empire.
There have been always some congregations in this kingdom, both in London and the provinces, which owned a relationship to the Church of Scotland, though they could not be included in its organisation. These at the time of the disruption, retained according to their views their attachment to the establishment, or espoused the cause of “The Free Church.” Among the latter is the congregation in this town.
Its members not only unanimously, but enthusiastically sympathised with their brethren in the north in their struggle for emancipation. We have already seen that Scottish Presbyterianism lifted its standard here in the first instance at Mount Zion chapel, by the hand of Mr. Irving. Its friends then for reasons already stated removed from that place and built the chapel at the bottom of Newhall-street. Finding this also too large, they erected a smaller one in Broad-street, which is now being replaced by its larger and more elegant successor, and which will be opened for worship before this volume is published. The first minister was Mr. Crosbie ; he was followed by Mr. Macdonald, and he again by Mr. M'Lean, all of whom preached in Newhall-street chapel; and all of whom, I believe, are now dead. The first minister of the chapel in Broad-street was Mr. Wallace, who about two years since changed his views on the subject of infant baptism, and became an Antipædo-baptist, and of course left the connexion. The present minister is Mr. M'Kenzie who was inducted to his charge in 1847.
The Presbyterian congregations in England do not call themselves “The Free Church,” but “The English Presbyterian Church,” and amount in number to more than eighty.
THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH, OR
SUMMER-LANE CHAPEL. EMANUEL Swedenborg was the son of a Swedish bishop, and born at Stockholm in the year 1689. He was distinguished by great talents, great application, and great acquirements in literature and science, which introduced him to the notice and patronage of his sovereign Charles XII. He became eminent as a mathematician, an astronomer, an experimentalist in natural philosophy, an anatomist, and a mineralogist, His published works on these various subjects of knowledge, interested and astonished the learned and scientific world. About the year 1743, his attention was turned to spiritual subjects, by what he declared to be a personal appearance of our Lord, and a direct revelation of spiritual truth, and the invisible world. He then published in various works the communications he had received from Christ. His zeal in propagating his revelations was so ardent that he travelled into distant countries and circulated his works at an immense expence. He declined worldly honours and employment, which were at his command, and devoted his time, labour, and property to what he conceived to be the instruction and benefit of mankind. He died in London in 1772. The following is a brief snmmary of the opinions which he taught, and which are embraced by his followers.
They believe in the Unity of the Divine Nature, and also in a Trinity. This, however, is not a Trinity of Persons, but a Trinity of Essentials, for they maintain a unity of personality in the Deity as well as a Unity of Nature. The one God is Jesus Christ, in whose glorified humanity dwells “the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”—(Col. ii. 9.) The Father being the inmost Divinity; the Son the Divine Humanity; and the Holy Spirit the joint operation of both. So that the Lord Jesus Christ, in this view of his nature is the one Jehovah, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Regenerator. He is the Trinity in Unity, just as the soul, the body, and the operation of man form one man; or as the will, the understanding, and the life form one mind. They hold that the word of God (consisting of those portions of the sacred Scriptures which are plenarily inspired) is to be interpreted by what is called the science of correspondence, or the relation which they assert exists between causes and their effects, thus also between God and man, and between celestial and spiritual realities, and the objects and appearances of the natural universe. They do not hold the doctrine of the vicarious sufferings and death of Christ, but still contend