« ZurückWeiter »
ner, Abernethy, Doddridge, Grove, Chandler, Gill, Orton, Furneaux, Farmer, Towgood, Robinson, Price, Kippis, and Priestley. Though it may happen that among Dissenters sufficient encourageinent is not given in certain cases to men of talents and integrity, yet among their more liberal denominations, it must be confessed, that a Dissenting minister may, unawed by a conclave of cardinals--a bench of bishopsmor a board of ministers-exercise in its fullest extent the right of private judgment, which is the pride and pleasure of the human mind. In Pierce's Vindication of the Dissenters, Towgood's Letters to White, and Palmer's Protestant Dissenter's Ca. techism, are stated the grounds upon which their dissent from the established church is founded.
KIRK OF SCOTLAND. THE members of the Kirk of Scotland are, strictly speaking, the only Presbyterians in Great Britain. Their mode of ecclesiastical government was brought thither from Geneva by John Knox, the celebrated Scotch Reformer, who has been styled the apostle of Scotland, for the same reason that Luther was called the apostle of Germany.
Contrary to the Episcopalians, the Presbyte
rians maintain that the church should be governed by Presbyteries, Synods, and General Assemblies. The title Presbyterian comes from the Greek word nieco Gutiços, which signifies senior or elder. In the Kirk of Scotland there are fifteen synods and sixty-nine presbyteries. Their arti.cles are Calvinistic, and their General Assembly
is held annually in the month of May at Edin.burgh. Dreadful scenes took place in Scotland previous to the establishment of Presbyterianism in its present form at the revolution, and its confirmation in 1706, by the act of union between the two kingdoms. During the commonwealth, Presbyterianism was the established religion, but on the restoration Episcopacy was introduced in its room. So averse, however, were the Scotch to the Episcopalians, and so harsh were the measures of the Episcopalian party, that the whole country was thrown into confusion. Leighton, the most pious and modern prelate amongst them, disgusted with the proceedings of his brethren, resigned his bishopric, and told the king, “ He would not have a hand in such oppressive measures, were he sure to plant the Christian religion in an infidel country by them; much less when they tended only to alter the form of church government.” On the other hand, Sharp, Arch-, bishop of St. Andrew's, adopted violent measures, which terminated in his death. For in 1679, nine
ruffians stopped his coach near St. Andrew's, assassinated him, and left his body covered with thirty-two wounds. On the monument of this unfortunate prelate, in one of the churches of St. Andrew's, I have seen an exact representation in elegant sculpture of this tragical event.'
It was in these troubled times that the Presbye terians drew up their famous solemn league and covenant, whereby they bound themselves to effect the extirpation of episcopacy; and however useful they may have found it, yet, assuredly, it was not dictated by the spirit of true religion. The Scotch church, however, is now considerably improved in sentiment and liberality, and some of their clergy stand foremost in the several departments of literature. Robertson, Henry, Leechman, Blacklock, Gerard, Campbell, Blair, and Hunter, all deceased within these few years, are among its principal ornaments. In a selection of sermons, entitled the Scotch Preacher, will be found a pleasing specimen of the pulpit compositions of the Scotch clergy, delivered on parti cular occasions.
SECEDERS. DISSENTERS from the Kirk or Church of Scotland, call themselves Seceders; for as the term Dissenters comes from the Latin word dissentio, to differ, so the appellation Seceder is derived from another Latin word, secedo, to separate or to withdraw from any body of men with which we may have been united. The Seceders are rigid Calvinists, rather austere in their manners, and severe in their discipline. Through a difference as to civil matters they are broken down into Burghers and Anti-burghers. Of these two classes the latter are the most confined in their sentiments, and associate therefore the least with any other body of Christians. The Seceders originated under two brothers, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, about the year 1730. It is worthy of observation, that the Rev. George Whitfield, in one of his visits to Scotland, was solemnly reprobated by the Seceders, because he refused 10 confine his itinerant labours wholly to them. The reason assigned for this monopolization was, that they were exclusively God's people! Mr. Whitfield smartly replied, that they had therefore the less need of his services, for his aim was to turn sinners from the error and wickedness of their ways by preaching among them glad tidings of great joy.
There is also a species of Dissenters from the church of Scotland called Relief, whose only difference from the Kirk is, the choosing of their own pastors, They are respectable as to numbers and ability,
The Reformation in Scotland, like that in England and Germany, struggled with a lung series of opposition, and was at length gloriously triumphant, Dr. Gilbert Stewart closes his History of the Reformation in North Britain with the following animated reflections :
« From the order and the laws of our nature, it perpetually happens that advantages are mixed with misfortune. The conflicts which led to a purer religion, while they excite under one aspect the liveliest transports of joy, create in another a mournful sentiment of sympathy and compassion. Amidst the felicities which were obtained, and the trophies which were won, we deplore the meJancholy ravages of the passions, and weep over the ruins of ancient magnificence. But while the contentions and the ferments of men, even in
the road to improvements and excellence, are · ever destined to be polluted with mischief and blood; a tribute of the highest. panegyric and praise is yet justly to be paid to the actors in the reformation. They gave way to the movements of a liberal and a resolute spirit. They laught the rulers of nations that the obedience of the subject is the child of justice, and that men must be governed by their opinions and their reason. This magnanimity is illustrated by great and conspicuous exploits, which at the same time that they awaken admiration, are an example to sup