Commission of the General Assembly

On Wednesday, the Commission of Assembly met in the Tolbooth Church–Dr Muir, Moderator, in the chair.

The Presbyterian Church in New South Wales. –The Moderator recalled to the notice of the Commission, that on a former meeting, they had directed him to write to Lord Glenelg, Secretary for the Colonies, disavowing connection with Dr Lang in New South Wales, and blaming his proceedings in that colony, in separating himself from the Presbytery there formed in connection with the Church of Scotland. Since that time he had had a communication from Lord Glenelg, which he was sure would be received by the Commission with great satisfaction.

The communication from Lord Glenelg was then read. It consisted of a copy of the despatch transmitted to the Governor of New South Wales, approving of his conduct in withholding the salaries of the Presbyterian laymen who had not submitted themselves to the authority of the Presbytery in connection with the Church of Scotland, and further directing that Dr Lang’s salary should be discontinued. His lordship explained, that in doing this the Government had no wish to constitute themselves judges in any ecclesiastical disputes ; but as the salaries awarded to these gentlemen had been given on the faith that they were to remain in connection with the Church of Scotland, they could not be continued so long as they defied her authority.

On the motion of Mr Dunlop, the Commission unanimously expressed their satisfaction with the promptitude and decision which the Government had shown in the matter ; and directed the Moderator to communicate their minute to Lord Glenelg. It was also agreed to re-appoint the Committee to watch over the farther proceedings, especially as it was understoof that Dr Lang was now on his way to this country.

Case of Small Isles. –The Commission, then proceeded to take up the case of Small Isles, which, it will be recollected, arose out of the Rev. Mr M’Lean having, as was alleged, appeared in the lobby of the Assembly House, while that Court was sitting in May last, in a state of intoxication. The case occupied the Court a considerable part of the day; and at the evening sederunt the following motion, by Dr Gardner, was unanimously agreed to–That the Commission having considered the evidence on the record, find, that in as far as that evidence is hearsay, it is inadmissable; but find it proved that on the afternoon of Friday the 25th of May last, Mr M’Lean was seen in a state of intoxication in the vestibule of the General Assembly, attempting to force his way into it; that it is proved he was on two other occasions during the sitting of last Assembly in a state of intoxication; and, therefore, they find that he ought to be deposed from the office of the holy ministry, and direct the Moderator accordingly to pronounce the sentence of deposition, directing the Clerk to transmit an extract of the sentence to the Presbytery of Skye, and them to declare the parish of Small Isles vacant.–The Moderator pronounced from the chair the sentence os deposition.

Case of Lethendy. –In the course of the proceedings during the early sederunt of the Commission, the Procurator rose and said, he might take the present opportunity of stating to the Commission, that within the last three or four days a petition and complaint had been given in to the Court of Session, and appointed to be served, at the instance of Mr Clark, presentee to the parish of Lethendy, against the Presbytery of Dunkeld, and Mr Kessen, whom that Presbytery had lately inducted into that charge, in despite of interdicts issued by the Court of Session. He mentioned the fact to that Commission, presuming that they would authorize him to defend the Presbytery, who had acted under authority of the Commission itself.

Mr Buchanan of Glasgow, after some remarks in commendation of the firmness of the Presbytery in carrying through the settlement amidst many difficulties, moved that “The Commission sanction the Procurator’s defending the Presbytery in the trying circumstances in which they are placed, and resolve that they will to the utmost of their power encourage and support them under whatsoever difficulties they may be subjected by their execution of the sentence of the Commission ; and that the thanks of the Commission be given to the Presbytery for the decision and temperate firmness with which they have practically maintained the rightful authority and jurisdiction of the Church.”

Dr Bryce said, he was quite unprepared for any motion on this subject; but with the views which he entertained in regard to this case, it was impossible he could concur in the motion proposed, and he must therefore dissent from it.

Mr James Bridges expressed great indignation against Mr Clark for thus bidding defiance to the authority of the Church Courts, and he proposed, that for thus trampling on the rights and dignity of the Church, Mr Clark should be forthwith called before the Commission for an exemplary punishment.–Mr Dunlop suggested, that although he concurred in feeling with Mr Bridges, it would be premature at present to take any steps against Mr Clark, inasmuch as there was no official communication on the subject from the Presbytery of Dunkeld.

Mr Makgill recommended to Mr Bridges, for this reason, not to press his motion, declaring, that as at this time 200 years ago eight Bishops had been deposed, he trusted the time was not far distant when Mr Clark would receive a similar reward for his misconduct; and Mr M. said emphatically, that whatever the Presbytery of Dunkeld might suffer for upholding the independence of the Church, he, as a member of Commission, by whose orders they had acted, would be proud to bear his share.

Mr bridges then intimated, that he would waive pressing his motion, and Mr Buchanan’s was adopted, Dr Bryce and Mr W. Malcolm intimating their dissent, on the ground that it was incompetent and inexpedient for the Commission to adopt such a resolution.

Commemoration of the Second Centenary of the Celebrated Assembly at Glasgow. –In the course of the day, the Moderator suggested, that as this was the second centenary of the great Assembly at Glasgow, which might be considered as the founder, not only of their ecclesiastical but of their civil liverties, a meeting should be held, exclusively devoted to prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the benefits conferred on their Zion.

At seven o’clock accordingly, several of the members, and a considerable number of people assembled, when an hour was spent in devotional exercises, which were conducted by Drs Muir, Lee, and Dickson, in succession.

The Commission adjourned to the second Tuesday in February next.

Citation: Scotsman (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 24 November 1838, available at the Scissors and Paste Database,