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Annals of the Disruption. Parts I. and II. Edinburgh : Maclaren and
Macniven. As the full title informs us, these “ Annals” consist chiefly of extracts from the autograph narratives of Disruption ministers, and are published by authority of a Committee of the General Assembly of the Free Church. They have been carefully selected and arranged by the Rev. Thomas Brown, F.R.S.E., convener of committee, who has also skilfully connected the different extracts by means of a brief narrative of his own, so as to impart a degree of unity to the work. The first part deals with the various phases of “the conflict " which led up to the Disruption, with the great event itself, and with what immediately followed in the experiences of those who went out, both ministers and people ; while part second describes the subsequent work of Church organization, which included the building of churches and manses, the erection of schools and colleges, the establishment of the Sustentation Fund, and other matters. It will thus be seen that the Annals form a kind of supplement, from the private records of individual ministers, to the well-known “History of the Ten Years' Conflict,” which sets forth “the general and more public aspects ” of the important event that is the subject of both works. We have read them with deep interest; by many things they contain we have been much impressed ; and our perusal of them has tended to increase our grateful admiration of the men who were enabled to display the moral heroism of surrendering so much that was dear to them—in a sense their earthly all—at the call of duty, for the sake of truth and conscience. And should these volumes be the means, as wc trust they may, of fostering in any who read them a similar self-denying spirit of fidelity in regard to Scriptural principle -a spirit so much needed in the present day—their publication will have proved a blessing.
The generation that witnessed and took part in the Disruption having well nigh passed away, it was right that steps should be taken to make those “who have risen into the place of their Disruption Fathers" acquainted with the Church's contendings, and the principles for wbich she was called to contend; and perhaps this could have been done in no way more interesting and impressive than by allowing, as is here done, the men of the Disruption to tell in their own words what it was that led them to act as they did, and what difficulties they had to encounter in taking up their new position. An additional reason for the publication of such “Annals” at the present time may probably be found in the circumstance that, by the recent abolition of Patronage in the Established Church, the relative positions of ecclesiastical parties in Scotland have been more or less affected. And one design of this work seems to be to show that, notwithstanding this change, the Free Church has still sufficient ground in principle for continuing to occupy her position of separation from the Establishment. If she herself is convinced of this, we have nothing to say to the contrary, for she should know best what her principles are. But while she persists in keeping clear of the slightest taint of what she still regards as Erastianism in the Established Church, we wish she had continued to manifest equal vigilance and zeal in maintaining her full Disruption testimony in opposition to the Voluntaryism with which, at that period, she so strenuously refused to be identified. The Free Church came out of the Establishment bearing aloft a noble testimony in behalf of “The Crown Rights of the Redeemer," as at once Head of His own Church and King of nations, to whom the homage of this realm beboved to be rendered, in those ways He Himself has directed. Is this twofold testimony being faithfully exhibited by her, in an unmutilated form at the present moment? To this question let the past negotiations for union, and the present movement for disestablishment, furnish an answer. We would rejoice to see the Free Church again rallying to her old position in its entirety, beneath the banner unfurled by the men of whom these “Annals” tell us ; and we would rejoice still more to see her going on from that position to the higher and nobler one of embracing a testimony for Britain's Covenanted Reformation. This we believe is her Scriptural duty, and this is what the character of the times and the state of our country urgently require and emphatically demand. It is not a mere destructive work of Disestablishment, but the recoustructive work of reviving the Reformation in Church and State, that will alone be a healing measure for the maladies from which we are suffering, and which threaten, ere long, to prove fatal to the life of the nation.
Historical Sketch of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, to its Union
with the Free Church in 1876. By the Rev. Robert Naismith, Chirn.
side. Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, & Co. 1877. Though brief, this is a well-arranged and well written sketch of the leading events in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, from the time of the first Reformation, and in particular of the rise and progress of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Were we disposed, and had space at our command, we might take exception to the way in which the writer occasionally puts things; but on the whole he presents us with a trustworthy survey of events and facts which cannot but continue fraught with deepest interest down to the latest generations. We turned with special eagerness to the chapter near the end in which our author treats of “Division and Union," to see what he has to say regarding the Disruption of 1863, and what followed. Regret is of course expressed at the “secession” of the minority, but comfort is drawn from the fact that it evidently “ facilitated the subsequent union.”
“Had the protesting seceders remained,” it is remarked, "they would likely have proved anti-unionists." And so we are left to infer that the pro-unionists felt they were well rid of them! This is all Mr. Naismith thinks it proper to say respecting his protesting, seceding brethren. Surely he might have had the
magnanimity and fairness to put on record the fact that those lightly esteemed seceders continue to the present day to exist as the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, faithfully upholding the banner which he and his brethren have dropped in their anxiety for union.
One other point we cannot but notice, as helping to let us into the secret of the wholesale defection of the Church to which the writer belonged. When referring to the differences in principle between the Free and R. P. Churches, he tells us that “both Churches held that the covenants were right in themselves.” And then he goes on to say—“In regard to their continued obligation, this had long been a term of communion in the R. P. Church, but it had recently, to a considerable extent, fallen into disuse. On the other hand, many members of the Free Church also held the stricter view in regard to covenant obligation. In the union therefore this question was properly left open.” We were much struck on reading these significant sentences, and we cannot but view them as fraught with warning. First, the term of communion regarding the continued obligation of our covenants was allowed gradually to fall into disuse ; and so the way was prepared for at length giving it up altogether. And why did it fall into disuse ? Clearly because they had ceased to believe in and feel its Scripturalness and importance. And yet they declare they have carried all their old principles with them only their once distinctive ones have been "properly left open questions !” By adopting this easy plan it would be a simple matter to effect a union among all Churches, however diverse their creeds. But what would be the worth of a Church so formed as a witness for the truth of God in an error-loving world ?
The little book is neatly got up, and is adorned with a picture of the house in which Cameron was born, as a frontispiece.
The Confessions of an Unfermented Wine Coinmunicant : A Plea for the urion of
Truth and Temperance. By Oxos. Edinburgh : James Gemmell. What is known as the “communion wine question ” is discussed in this pamphlet by one who is a total abstainer and was himself once an advocate for the use of “unfermented wine " in the ordinance of the supper, but who, on further enquiry, has been led to renounce the new-fangled theory. He has evidently been at pains to make himself acquainted with the subject, and has given a good deal of thought to it, and in these well-written pages he states clearly and forcibly the views he now holds. While not prepared to endorse some of the speculations in which the writer has indulged, such as those regarding our Lord's body, which seem to border on the irreverent, we are at one with him in his argument from Scripture, and in his position generally. It is to be deeply regretted that the question bere dealt with has been raised in the Church. At the same time it is a matter for thankfulness that it has not yet produced much discord and division ; and it is to be hoped that through such publications as this and other means of enlightenment, the matter will ere-long be completely set at rest. As is well known, one of the strongest objections to the use of ordinary wine at the Lord's Table, urged by those in favour of the socalled “unfermented wine,” is, that thereby temptation is put in the way of persons who were once addicted to drink but have been reformed. It is thus Oxos meets this objection, in the last paragraph of his pamphlet :-“Persons tempted on going to the Lord's table have no business there—they cannot possibly get benefit there, but the reverse. The same Christ who said, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” also said, “ Enter not into temptation.” To suppose that Christ requires the presence of tempted communicants at His table, is to suppose that He requires them to violate one commandment in order to obey another. Those who know anything rightly about Christianity, know that outward obstructions can never prevent spiritual communion with Christ and His people. The Churches are not bound to mutilate and modify their ordinances to accommodate idiosyncracies of individuals.” Confident that he is now on the right side of the question, “Oxos" writes strongly; but we fear the strength of his convictions and his zeal for truth have led him, unconsciously perhaps, to express himself occasionally, respecting the views he opposes, in a way not quite calculated to make speedy converts of his quondum friends. Considering that he himself was at one time with those against whom he now writes, a little more charity and moderation, here and there, in the spirit and tone of his “ Confessions” would not have been out of place.
Helen Gray: or Come and See. By J. W. M., author of “Alice Lowther,”
“Mary M`Neil," &c. Edinburgh : Johnstone, Hunter, & Co. 1877. This is an interesting little tale bearing upon the recent religious movement in Edinburgh, in which Messrs Moody and Sankey took such a prominent part. It relates how, through the influence of a cousin, Helen Gray, while thinking of joining a companion in a Roman Catholic “Sisters' Training Home” in Germany, in hope of thus finding peace to her troubled mind, was led to attend the meetings held by the American “evangelists," and so was brought to the enjoyment of that true and lasting peace which the world can neither give nor take away. By Helen's influence, again, her sister and brother-in-law, with whom she was residing for a time, were led in the same direction with apparently equally happy results. The little book, we believe, is fitted to be useful. Parts of it are very touching and impressive.
Light in Darkness, or The Miner's Tale. A true History. Edited by James
Bridges, W.S. Third edition. Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, & Co. We have here a thrilling little story--a true tale-telling how, thirty years ago, thirteen miners, male and female, were entombed alive in the bowels of the earth in the vicinity of Musselburghhow they were animated and comforted by the appropriate, pious, exhortations and prayers of one of their number, Peter Hay, who
knew where to find “a stronghold in the day of trouble,”—and how, after thirty-six long hours had passed, and when all hope of escape seemed about to be cut off, they were, in the merciful providence of Him who is the prayer-hearing God, delivered and restored in safety to their distressed friends. The simple and touching narrative was written by Peter Hay himself, and though he was the chief actor, it would be difficult to gather as much from what he bas, written, 80 careful has he been modestly to conceal himself from view. It has been republished, as the preface informs us, with reference to the recent lamentable colliery disaster at Blantyre, " in the hope that it may help to lead the sorrowing relatives of those who have perished to resort to the quarter whence alone consolations can be derived in such circumstances where the help of man is vain.” We would rejoice in the thought of the benevolent Christian hope thus expressed being realized. It may be added, that as furnishing a striking example of the power of religion to support the soul in the hour of dire extremity, and of the efficacy of believing fervent prayer, the little book is one that may be most profitably read by all classes ; and as its price is only fourpence, it may be said to be within the reach of all.
The British Messenger; The Gospel Trumpet ; Good News; Stirling : Drummond's
Tract Depot. THESE yearly parts of the three well-known and much-prized Stirling monthly periodicals are as usual full of interesting and profitable reading on religious subjects, adapted to the capacities of all-old and young and middle-aged. It is surely matter for deep thankfulness that such excellent cheap publications, full of simple gospel truth, earnestly and impressively set forth and illustrated, continue to be so widely diffused amongst the masses of the people. We have no hesitation in giving them our heartiest recommendation, and in asking our readers to do what they can to promote their circulation. Parents and masters would do well to place such periodicals, in their monthly or yearly parts, in the hands of their children and their servants. The whole three cost less than two
pence a month.
The Christian Treasury: a Family Miscellany. September-December. Edited
by Rev. H. Bonar, D.D. Edinburgh : Jobnstone, Hunter, & Co. These four monthly parts of the Christian Treasury, for the year now closing, are in every respect equal to the preceding ones noticed in our September number. We have great pleasure in again warmly recommending this well-conducted, sound, religious magazine, which the respected publishers hope to make still more attractive and worthy of public support during the coming year.
St. Christopher, with Psalm anıl Song. By Maurice Baxter. Pp. 150.
Hodder & Stoughton, London. This attractive little volume consists of poetical monologues,