MEMOIR PART II
In the Presbytery of Perth, an interdict was asked from the
Court of Session, at the instance of several of the Moderate brethren, and was
with great alacrity granted, against the ministers and elders of the obnoxious
caste taking their seats, or voting in any matter. It was in these
circumstances that Mr. Gray found himself obliged to carry through a very
difficult sort of tactics on the day fixed for the election of the Presbytery's
commissioners. It turned out to be a field-day. And as the proceedings were of
a nature well fitted to illustrate Mr. Gray's tact and temper in the management
of such affairs, - and also well fitted to throw light on the position of the
Church at the time, - I make no apology for giving a sketch of the exciting
scene. Nothing of the same sort exactly occurred elsewhere.
Mr. Gray and his evangelical supporters were in a dilemma. On the one hand, it had been determined that it was not desirable to have any more interdicts of the Court of Session broken by the courts of the Church, or by its members, if that could be avoided in consistency with conscience. For this there was an obvious reason. The Church was making up her mind to a repudiation of what had been declared on the part of the State to be the terms of her establishment, and a consequent Separation on her part from the State; and it was not expedient, in the view of that termination of the contest, to incur the risk and expense of new legal actions. But then, on the other hand, it was impossible for those holding the Church's principles to acknowledge the Civil Court's right to say who should be members of the Presbytery, or to exclude from the Presbytery persons who had been, in the Church's view, competently and constitutionally admitted as members. This was the fix in which Mr. Gray and his friends found themselves on the morning of 29th March 1843. They were neither to break the interdict, nor to obey it, - neither to break it, by insisting on the interdicted members retaining their places on the roll, nor to obey it by consenting to do business without them. What then? Their only course was to prevent the Presbytery from proceeding to business at all, and to do so by a vote that should not commit them, either to an approval or to a disapproval, of the roll that might be called. The roll was of course in the hands of the clerk, and he was a thorough Moderate. His friends wished that he should read the roll, and have it formally adjusted by the Presbytery, in, terms of the interdict, before any motions were made. This would have been fatal to the policy of their opponents. They accordingly objected, as they were entitled, to object, to that course. They maintained that it must be left to the clerk, in the first instance, to call the roll upon his own responsibility, when the taking of a vote made it necessary to do so, and that the first thing was to see if there was to be a vote. In the end, Mr. Gray managed to have his motion put, - to adjourn sine die, or without appointing another day of meeting, - without the Presbytery, as such, doing anything, or knowing anything officially, about the roll. The clerk called it, as made up by himself, excluding the interdicted members. By the roll even as thus called, Mr. Gray's motion was carried. And the result was the breaking up of the Presbytery in admired and impotent disorder.
This explanation will, I think, render the following authentic, though abridged, report, sufficiently intelligible. It may also be found somewhat entertaining.
The note of suspension and interdict was served upon the members on Tuesday. In consequence ot this circumstance having become public, and as this was the meeting fixed at the previous sederunt, for electing Commissioners to the ensuing General Assembly, the Presbytery room was, long before the hour of meeting, crowded to excess, and an adjournment to the West Church was found to be necessary. The Rev. Mr. Burt of Arngarth occupied the Moderator's chair.
"Mr. Mather, a quoad sacra minister, rose and intimated that, before proceeding to business, the quoad sacra ministers and elders desired to make a statement fundamentally affecting the liberty and constitution of this Court.
Mr. Liston. - Before proceeding to any business, the roll must be made up; and previously to the making up of the roll, the motion of which I gave notice at a former meeting, regarding the status of the quoad sacre ministers and elders, must be disposed of.
" Mr. Mather. - To this I cannot agree, for -
Mr. Hobertson. - Moderator, I cannot allow Mr. Mather to proeeed, - there is an interdict against his appearing here this day, and 1 insist he shall not be heard, nor in any way recognised as a member of this Court.
Dr. Thomson. - Moderator, Mr. Mather has simply requested permission to make a statement, with the view of ascertaining whether he and his qnoed sacra brethren are members of this Court, ay or no. To this he is clearly entitled, that the Presbytery may decide whether they shall assist in making up the roll. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Mather. - I am making no claim farther than permission to make a certain statement. It will be for the Presbytery to judge of that statement when they hear it.
Mr. Gray thought it would only be fair to allow Mr. Mather to make his statement, and it could then be ascertained whether that involved any breach of the interdict. He would put Mr. Mather upon his guard. There were plenty of sharp-eared lawyers in the house, who would soon discover if any breach of the interdict took place, and fasten upon Mr. Mather accordingly. But he would put it to the good feeling of his brethren on tbe other side of the Presbytery, whether they onght to press with unnecessary harshness upon those gentlemen who were now placed in such peculiar and very painfnl circumstances, threatened as they now are with the pains and penalties of the law, and all the coercion of the civil power.
Mr. Robertson. - As Mr. Mather does not claim to be heard as a member of Court, I have no objection that he should be allowed to go on to make his statement; my objection was simply to protect my own consistency as one of the parties to the interdict.
Mr. Mather then read a statement on behalf of himself and the other quoad sacre ministers and elders, protesting against the interdict as illegal and unconstitutional, - as tyrannical and Erastian, subversive alike of the anthority and laws of the Church and the spiritual freedom of her office-bearers, - as destructive of the purity of ministers, which is an essential feature in the Presbyterian polity, - and finally, protesting that all acts and proceedings of the Presbytery, and especially the election of representatives to the Assembly, which shall or may be done while this interdict is in force, are illegal and inept, and of no force or effect. To this protest the other qnoed secra ministers and elders adhered, and took instruments in the hands of Mr. Kemp, notary public.
Mr. Kemp then read a formal protest, expressing the same grounds of objection and complaint against the interdict, and as to its vitiating consequences while it exists. The protest was then laid on the table.
Mr. Liston now begged to submit the motion of which he had formerly given notice to the Presbytery, and laid on the table an attested copy of the interlocutor of the Court of Session in the Stewarton case, and also a copy of the note of suspension and interdict which had been served npon the members of Presbytery. Before making up the sederunt, he conceived that the Presbytery was bound to expunge the names of the quoad sacra ministers and elders from the roll, and he moved that the Presbytery delete the names of the queed sacre ministers and elders from the roll, and especially that they be not allowed to vote in the election of representatives to the Assembly, nor be themselves eligible.
Dr. Findlay seconded the motion in a very long oration.
Mr. Gray, next rose, and entered very fully into the quoad sacra question, and the general policy and proceedings of the Evangelical party. He took particular notice of those members of the Presbytery who were at one time Non-intrusionists and had supported the Veto Act. He then proceeded to show that the pastoral office was entirely, and in all respects, under the authority of the Church - that office was not created by the State, nor received from the State, but from their Divine Redeemer. The quoad sacra ministers were ordained to the full pastoral office, and were entitled to exercise all the functions which the Church declares to belong to it. These things they believed in their consciences, and it was therefore a case of pure persecution to bring down the sword of the civil power upon them to coerce them in the discharge of their duties in these matters. He held the interdict to be a gross interference with a purely spiritnal matter. If it had been confined to secular functions which ministers are occasionally called to discharge, such as manses, schools, etc. the civil court would not have transgressed the limits of its authority; these things came from Caesar, and not directly from God; but the interdict brings the civil power into the spiritual province, and meddles, profanely meddles, with the sanctuary of God. The interdicters surrendered the pastoral office to the civil power; they laid that office upon the dissecting table of the Court of Session, and the effects of this were visible in the interdict which had been served upon them.
Mr. Gray then alluded to the petitioners for the interdict, and stated, that they knew that the principles of his (Mr. Gray's) friends wonld not allow them to act upon the interdict. What, then! They must desire to coerce our consciences! They threaten me not with the spiritual censures of the Church, but with the sword of civil persecution, while no necessity lay upon them to have adopted this most violent step, - a step altogether at variance with the more kindly, brotherly, and equally effective measures adopted by other Presbyteries. The decision of the Stewarton case is under appeal to the House of Lords, and that appeal will assuredly be pressed to a judgment, unless the proceedings of our brethren shall force us from tbe Establishment. But why drive matters thus to an extremity? Why not have allowed matters to go on for a few weeks or months longer? It could not be more. His (Mr. Gray's) friends were in course of disentanglement from the Establishment, - the disentanglement would soon have been completed without this additional force to drive them from the field. In the conduct of the interdictcrs he perceived the incipient signs of that persecution to which he was assured he and his friends would be exposed when they were no longer connected with the Establishment. In conclusion,(* This sentence is worthy of remark in connexion with the alacrity and eagerness shown, in certain quarters, to take advantage of a deposed ninister of the Free Church having appeared to the civil courts, for the purpose of subjecting that Church to civil Control in the exercise of her discipline over her own ministers and members. I refer of course, to the Cardress case now in progress.) he thought that the interdict should not be disobeyed. We shall be separated from the Establishment in the course of a few weeks. We only wait to hear what the Assembly shall say. We believe that the breaking of the interdict would not vindicate the liberty of the Church. But, nevertheless, we cannot yield to it an active obedience. Mr. Gray then moved as follows: - 'Find that said interdict is an invasion of the liberty of this Church as a Church of Christ; that it strikes a blow at the freedom of the ensuing General Assembly, to which the Presbytery's commissioners ought this day to have been elected; that in existing circumstances, the Presbytery of Perth is not a free conrt; that the Presbytery is now sitting nuder the coercion of the civil power, and is thereby incapacitated from the due diecharge of its functions. For these reasons the Presbytery refer the whole matter of the interdict to the ensuing Synod, and resolve to adjourn.'
The Rev. Dr. Thomson seconded the motion.
Mr. Buchanan declared his entire approval of the application for the interdict, and that he would have been a party to it had he not been from home when the measure was resolved upon. He then argued, at great length, as to the impropriety and the danger of allowing these brethren to remain, because it would be illegal and unsafe to allow men of sagacity, and prudence, and impartiality, and knowledge, to be employed as jurymen or judges, if not duly anthorised, and so it was with the quoad sacra brethren.
Mr. Craik did not approve of the application for the interdict; at least, he would not have been a party to it; bnt since it had been served upon him, he would obey it.
Mr. Liston would wave his right of reply, but would simply observe that Mr. Gray's motion was peculiarly incompetent. The Presbytery could not be called to adjourn before they had met, which they could not be said to have done until a sederunt had been made up. This ought now to be done before any motion could be put to a vote.
Mr. Gray admitted the validity of Mr. Liston's argument, but it applied with equal force against himself. You cannot vote for Mr. Liston's motion without making up a roll. The time for calling the roll is when the motions are put, and the members of Presbytery are called to give their votes.
Upwards of three hours were wasted in debating whether the clerk should call the roll upon the motions made, or should first make up a sederunt before any motion was put to the vote. Mr. Gray, Mr. John Thomson, Mr. Grierson, and others, contended that, according to form and the ordinary practice, the clerk made up a sederunt upon his own responsibility, without the interference of the Presbytery in the first instance, and called the roll, on his own responsibility, when a vote was to be taken; it being thereafter open to the Preebytery to judge of the correctness of the roll when the minutes were submitted for their approval. Mr. Robertson, Mr. Craik, and Mr. Liston insisted that until a roll was made up by the Presbytery itself, and not the clerk, members could not vote, as it could not be ascertained who were or were not entitled to sit in Court under the interdict, - that the Presbytery was not constituted until a sederunt was formed, - and that this was an indispensable preliminary to the performance of any act, - to the transaction of any business whatever.
A scene now ensued, unprecedented in any court, civil or ecclesiastical. The Moderates became perfectly infuriated; they saw the predicament in which they had placed themselves by the hasty motion of their leader, Mr. Liston. Times out of number attempts were made by Mr. Robertson and Mr. Liston, at the ceaseless dictation and prompting of their law agent, who stuck like a harpy at their ears throughout the whole day, to concuss and drag from the Moderator an intimation of how far he was favourable to their views; latterly the floor could not contain them, for they were mounted on the seats and tables, vociferating at the utmost pitch of their voices. One of them was perched at an altitude equal to that of the Moderator, screaming to his opponents, Sit down, Sir,' Hold your peace, Sir.'
The Moderates were not only infuriated by their own folly, but were deeply galled by the castigation which Mr. Gray with so much power had inflicted upon them. A more powerful, convincing, and feeling speech than that of Mr. Gray has seldom been listened to. It was frequently cheered throughout, and at its conclusion was followed by thunders of applause. At last the clerk intimated that he had made up a sederunt in the usual way, upon his own responsibility. Mr. Buchanan then moved that the Presbytery now proceed to elect their commissioners to the Assembly. Mr. Gray pressed his original resolution, as an amendment to Mr. Buchanan's motion.
The vote was then taken, and stood as follows
For Mr. Gray's amendment. - Dr. Thomson, Messrs. James M'Lagan, James Grierson, J. W. Thomson, James Drummond, James Noble, Andrew Gray, C. C. Stewart, Alexander Cumming, A. Bonar, - ministers. Messrs. Archibald Gorrie, R. Hewat, James Duncan, Chalmers, B. Bruce, - Lennie, - elders, 16.
For Mr. Buchanan's motion. - Drs. Findlay and Esdaile, Messrs. Liston, B. J. Robertson, J. E. Touch, D. Black, T. Buchanan, James Craik, and J. Struthers, - ministers. Messrs. Belches and James Bell, - elders, 11.
The Presbytery was then adjourned sine die.
I have received an account of these proceedings from an eye-witness, who was present, as a member of Presbytery-, at what he calls the most interesting and remarkable of many passages-of-arms that occurred about that time. I have thought it best to follow the newspaper report, but I may borrow a few touches to set off the picture. The popularity of Mr. Gray, he says, his well-known skill as a debater, his strength of judgment, and his knowledge of church law and forms, created a great excitement in the public mind in the prospect of this meeting of Presbytery, where it was known that a great struggle would arise. And when the community of Perth learned that an interdict had been got, and had been served upon the Evangelical ministers and elders of the Presbytery, at the instance of five Moderate ministers and two elders, it was with difficulty they were restrained from expressing their feelings in a tumultuous manner. He describes the extraordinary exertions of the Moderates, under a salutary fear of Mr. Gray's strategic talents, to muster all their forces, with a view to throw the ranks of the Evangelicals into confusion, and secure a quiet and easy victory ; and he adds that Mr. Gray actually rose from a bed of sickness to attend the meeting.
With the gusto of an old soldier fighting his battles over again, and showing how fields were won, my friend vividly paints the fight. He explains how, as the day wore on, and evening set in, it became a desperate game with time; the law of the Church requiring that the representatives to the Assembly must be elected between the hours of 1 and 8 P.M. It was this that brought on the crisis. Mr. Liston, having privately ascertained that the clerk had made up the roll as he desired, excluding the names of the interdicted members, announced the fact, and gave it as his reason for withdrawing his motion; alleging that it was virtually carried. Mr. Gray was too shrewd to fall into that trap. He objected to Mr. Liston knowing anything, or the Presbytery knowing anything, officially, about the way in which the clerk was making up the roll, till it came in regular form before them. And he objected to the Presbytery allowing either Mr. Liston's motion or his own amendment to be, at that stage, taken out of their hands. Still it might have been difficult to compel Mr. Liston to stand by his motion; and it was, therefore, a relief when, either not seeing through Mr. Gray's policy so clearly as the others, or pressed by time, Mr. Buchanan simply moved that, as the time for electing representatives was now nearly expired, the Presbytery proceed immediately to the election. This served the purpose of Mr. Gray and his friends quite as well as Mr. Liston's original motion. And so the vote was taken; eleven for Mr. Buchanan's motion and sixteen for Mr. Gray's.
The storm, which was great before, now became a hurricane. The Moderate party and their friends lost all self-command and control The people were frantic with joy at the victory, and the Intrusionists mad with rage. The latter called on the Moderator to call the roll for the election of Commissioners. But that was felt to be impossible after the resolution and vote to adjourn. In the middle of this tempest, the clock began slowly and deliberately to tell the fatal hour of eight; and the merry ringing of the curfew chimed in with the joyful feelings of the people, as they now quietly dispersed, but hissed, like drops of water on red hot iron, as it fell on the scorching wrath of the Intrusionists.
This is something like the fire of the old war-horse kindling at the old trumpet sound. It was a stirring time, - the memory of it is still stirring to a quiet country minister in his quiet Free Church Manse. But it was fast drawing to a close.
Not only on the arena of public strife did Mr. Gray render good service. He did so also through the press ; - especially by a most valuable series of newspaper articles, which at the time attracted much attention. And by his sound judgment and practical sagacity in the counsels of the church, he contributed his full share to the bringing about of that calm preparation beforehand, and that thorough understanding among the brethren, when the time came, which made the final movement of the Disruption at once so unanimous and so orderly. No man grasped more firmly, or could expound more clearly, the principles of that great transaction than Mr. Gray; and few, if any, have succeeded so well as he has done in putting the case for the Disruption emphatically, in short compass and without obscurity, so that a reader of intelligence may take it in at a glance. I refer to his account of it in his Catechism (Ch. iii., See. iv., Part 2): a portion of which I may be allowed to quote as closing what I have thought it needful to say on the subject. I quote it the rather, because it illustrates Mr. Gray's felicitous manner, as well in the forcible statement of facts and doctrines, as in the quiet humour of which we have a slight specimen at the end.
Q. 333. What happened on the day appointed for the meeting of the General Assembly?
A. The ministers and elders, commissioners to the Assembly, convened, according to appointment, on the 18th of May, 1843, in St. Andrew's Church, Edinburgh, and in presence of the Lord High Commissioner of the Queen; and the Moderator of the former Assembly, Dr. Welsh, after prayer to Almighty God, having, in his own name, and, as ultimately appeared, in the name of two hundred and three commissioners besides, read at length a suitable Protest, the evangelical representatives of the Church withdrew thereupon in a body to the Canonmills' Hall, and proceeded to constitute, in separation from the State, a free General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Q. 334. What was the substance of the Protest?
A. That submission to the magistrate in spiritual things, and acquiescence in the recent usurpations of the civil courts, as well as in any like usurpations for the future, being now the conditions on which the benefits of the Establishment must be held, the protesters were constrained to resign these benefits, because they could not fulfil the conditions without committing what they believed to be sin, in opposition to God's law, in disregard of the honour and authority of Christ's crown, and in violation of their ordination vows;' and further, that the protesting commissioners could not recognise any Assembly that might now be constituted within the Establishment as a free or lawful General Assembly of the true and ancient Church of Scotland, the conditions attached to the Establishment being subversive of the original principles and essential liberties of the Church.
Q. 335. What spectacle arose in the metropolis of Scotland from the Disruption which has now been described?
A, There was the spectacle of two General Assemblies - the Established Assembly and the Free Protesting Assembly - sitting at the same time, and each claiming to represent the Church of Scotland.
Q. 346. In what manner did the Established Assembly deal with the Free Assembly's Protest?
A. They took it into their consideration on Wednesday, May 24; and finding that the said Protest abounds in statements which are altogether unwarranted, appointed a committee to draw up a Full And Formal Answer to the same, and to report to the Assembly on Saturday.
Q. 347. What happened on Saturday?
A. There was no report.
Q. 348. Did the matter drop in this way?
A. No. There was a report on Monday; and, besides the report, there were resolutions by the procurator; and there was also a draft of an answer by Mr. Milne - making three answers altogether; and the Assembly approved of the diligence of their committee, and recorded their obligations for the report now laid on the table, as also for the resolutions of the procurator, and the draft of an answer submitted by Mr. Milne, without, however, pledging themselves to adopt all the views set forth in any of these documents; but found that a paper so important as the Protest under consideration requires to be answered with greater care, and with fuller leisure for mature deliberation, than it has been found possible to give to it during the pressure of business which the Assembly have had to sustain; and also, that in questions involving important points of jurisdiction, the bearings of the various judgnients which have been recently pronounced by the civil courts in the numerous cases that have arisen from the illegal maintenance, on the part of the Church, of the Act on Calls and the Arts with reference to Parliamentary and Quoad Sacra Cburches, should be very carefully and maturely considered. The General Assembly recommitted the whole case for the further consideration of their committee, and instructed them, accordingly, to report in the whole case to the Commission in August.' The Assembly, at the same time, enlarged their Committee.
Q. 349. What happened at the Commission in August? A. The convener of the committee appointed by last General Assembly to answer the Protest then given in by certain ministers and elders, gave in a report by that committee. The Commission agreed to take up the consideration of this report at their meeting to morrow.' (*from official report)
Q. 350. What occurred on the morrow?
A. No quorum appeared, and the Commission did not meet.
Q. 351. What became of the answer to the Protest?
A. It was never heard of more.
This seems to be a suitable place for adverting to Mr. Gray's affectionate solicitude about his people's prayers in connection with the church's struggles and his own part in them. I have before me letters addressed by him To the West Church Prayer Meeting for the General Assembly, in the years 1840, 41, 42, 43, 44. His practice, during these years, while in Edinburgh attending to his duties as a member, was to write daily letters to that prayer meeting, so as to keep those frequenting it day by day informed of the Assembly's proceedings, thus rendering their petitions on its behalf more pointed and precise than they could otherwise have been. The devout breathings of his soul come out in these letters, in connection with each step that was taken in the progress of the conflict. He frequently also acknowledges, in warm terms, the assurances which he receives of these prayer meetings being numerously attended, and pervaded by a spirit of deep earnestness and seriousness. Such a correspondence was fitted to carry his congregation along with him, in a remarkable degree, in his views and actings, with reference to the principles at stake, and the ultimate issue of the church's contendings for them. His flock, as well as himseli were prepared for the crisis of 1843: His tender and faithful ministry gave him a warm place in their affections. And he had spared no pains in his anxiety to satisfy their minds and enlist their spiritual sympathies on the side of the church. Hence it was that, when he was himself prepared to leave the Establishment, his people were prepared to leave it along with him in a proportion fully as large as any other minister could count.
When the Disruption actually came, Mr. Gray's first anxiety naturally was about his congregation. He had, as I have said, done his best to instruct them in the principles of the controversy, and to keep them informed as to its progress and probable issue. But he had no idea beforehand of the extent to which they would adhere to him when he had to take the decisive step. He thought he might have a congregation of 400, or perhaps 450; and he had accordingly been consulting with some of his elders about the erection of one of the smaller-sized brick churches then in vogue, to hold some 600 people, and cost £400. That sum .he thought he might face; and that accommodation would be sufficient. It turned out otherwise. Many of his hearers whom he did not expect to follow him out of the Establishment, rallied around him; and the places of those who remained were litore than filled up by accessions from other congregations. Some 100, or 120, were left in his old church; and he found himself minister of a larger flock than he had had before. The number of actual communicants, - I mean of those actually present at the communion, - before the Disruption, had never exceeded 600. At the first communion after it there were 620; at the second (April 1844), 680; and at the third (October 1844), 736. Thus agreeably were his expectations disappointed.
His congregation were accommodated, according to a brotherly fashion then common in towns, in the Independent Chapel, Mill Street; the people worshipping there having kindly consented to adjust their times of service so as to meet the emergency. Mr. Gray's flock - now the Free Church congregation - met at 12.15 and at 6. The first meeting was on the Sabbath after the rising of the Assembly. The chapel, passages and all, was densely crowded; and the street in front was, filled with anxious faces. Mr. Gray had difficulty in making his way to the pulpit, and when he got to his place there, he was thoroughly overcome. Giving a look at the multitude around him, he sunk down out of sight. He had not laid his account with such a scene.
Mr Gray's discourses, on the last Sabbath he preached in the Establishment, were, in the forenoon, a lecture on Paul's address to the elders of Ephesus (Acts xx. 17-38).; and, in the afternoon, a sermon on 1 Pet. i. 8, 9, Whom, having not seen, we love. He had made a very solemn appeal as to the faithfulness of his teaching; and had emphatically protested that, as he did not mean to leave their vicinity, the responsibility of breaking the pastoral tie, in the case of all who did not follow him, must lie with them, and not with him. It was a solemn day to many. His first sermon, in Mill Street chapel, was on the text, 2 Cor. x. 3-5, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh,etc. It gave occasion for his explaining how the church's strife within - the Establishment necessarily took end, when carnal weapons were resorted to against her, and nothing was left for her but to betake herself to her spiritual armour, under her great spiritual Head.
It is curious to observe, as a sort of measure of subsequent liberality, that in his last services in the Establishment, Mr. Gray had occasion to contrast what his congregation contributed to general Christian objects on his first coming to Perth - £20 - with what they had contributed during the last year (1842, 43) - £150. The year that then began (1843, 44) showed £1800; and the following years, after the expense of building was over, upwards of £1000 on an average. This is a tolerable specimen of what the movement did, in the way of calling forth the spirit of bountifulness in the people.
Of all the losses which he had to sustain at this crisis, what he felt perhaps most keenly was the loss of his schools. They might well be called his schools. They formed no part of the State's provision for the West Church Parish. They were entirely the fruit of voluntary liberality. In 1837, Mr. Gray set about the raising of funds for their erection; and in May 1838, the foundation was laid. The whole was carried through by Mr. Gray's untiring energy and zeal, in the face of not a little opposition in influential quarters. He had one noble coadjutor, his warm friend, the late Mr. Stewart Imrie, one of the most generous and large-hearted supporters of every good cause that Perth ever numbered among her citizens. His personal influence and ready purse were at the service of his minister. The result was the setting up in the West Church parish of a very complete school establishment, which, under Mr. Gray's watchful superintendence, continued in a flourishing condition till he was forced to let it go out of his hands in 1843.
From that moment, however, he contemplated replacing it with new schools in connection with his new church; and, accordingly, in obtaining a site for the church, he took care that it should be large enough to hold the schools also. The more immediate and urgent pressure of church-building occasioned some delay; but in 1847, 48, he was able to carry out his intention, and through the liberality of his people, aided by a Government grant, he succeeded in having school premises of the best sort completed at a cost of about £1300, and an effective staff of good and godly teachers set to work. This was his third educational effort. He planted schools, fully equipped, first at Woodside, Aberdeen; next in the West Church Parish, Perth; and, lastly, near his new church in Perth also, for the benefit of his old parish, and of the people in the neighbourhood. In all the three instances he did the business thoroughly, and proved himself an earnest and enlightened educationist.
Immediately after 18th May 1843, the work of building churches began, and was carried on within the bounds of the Presbytery of Perth, very much under Mr. Gray's counsels, with remarkable energy and wisdom. He proposed that all the churches, in town and country, should be built without drawing upon the central fund at Edinburgh for help. This was done, the ministers and congregations helping one another, and making common cause. His own church, the Free West, a plain but substantial edifice, was opened for worship on 26th October 1843, the first sermon preached in it being on the text, Gen xxviii. 17, This is none other than the house of God, etc. Both before and after their entering the new church, the congregation were much stirred, and gave signs of religious awakening. This was the experience of many Free Church congregations at that time. I look back, says a friend, to that period as a very happy one, a time of much spiritual life; the church being placed in a new position, called to trust on her living Head. The real vitalities, he adds, of the Disruption cannot be transmitted to posterity. That is true of other places as well as Perth.
The summer and autumn of 1843 proved a very busy period for the leading ministers of the Free Church of. Scotland, beyond the bounds of their own congregations, as well as within their own proper spheres. At home, in consequence of the people in many places adhering to her principles, when their pastors had either never held them, or proved weak in the day of trial, the demand for gospel ordinances greatly exceeded the supply; and the want of good accommodation, in spite of the kindness experienced at the hands of the brethren of the older Secessions and their congregations, made it necessary to have a great deal of preaching in the open air, as well as in places at once inconvenient and unhealthy.
The evil was often aggravated by the shortsighted policy of site-refusing landlords. It was a very blessed season, spiritually. But it entailed exhausting fatigues upon many of the church's best men, already affected by the demands of the previous conflict. Such instances, as those of Baird, at Cockburnspath, and the M'Kenzies, in Sutherlandshire, may be held to have been extreme and exceptional. But short of these, which were fatal, cases of needless hardship were not uncommon. We all, more or less, had experience of them. Mr. Gray took his full share in the work, especially in Ross-shire and Aberdeen- shire. He was not of course exposed to such hardships as those under which more than one of the Disruption confessors fell victims. But he laboured, as was his wont, beyond his strength, and often in circumstances unfavourable to a constitution like his, peculiarly liable to affections of the chest. It is not wonderful therefore, that he should have found his health beginning to give way. For not only in labours at home, but out of Scotland also, he gave his willing services, to his power, and beyond his power. When it was thought expedient to send deputations into England, to explain our principles, and vindicate our conduct in leaving the Establishment, as well as to afford to sympathising friends there an opportunity of giving us their countenance and help, Mr. Gray, of course, was in much request. In the end of the year 1843 (Nov. and Dec.), he was for some weeks incessantly employed in preaching and addressing meetings, in the largest chapels of the large towns in Yorkshire. The success of the movement was very great. But the strain of it, on a man of Mr. Gray's temperament and state of health, was very considerable.
It was not his nature, however, either to shrink from work, or to complain of weakness, prematurely. He continued at his post, discharging all his ministerial duties, and taking an active part in church affairs for upwards of a year, without seeking change or rest. It was not till the summer of 1845 that his friends in the church generally began to feel the necessity, or at least the great expediency, of his having a clear clerical furlough; and accordingly urged him to accept a commission, On the part of the Continental Committee, to visit some of those places in Europe to which the attention of the committee was directed, as presenting hopeful and interesting openings for evangelistic labour.
Before that time, however, Mr. Gray had completed a work which he undertook reluctantly, and only at the urgent solicitation of the Publications' Committee; a committee consisting of the most influential men in the church; both ministers and elders. That committee were impressed with a deep sense of the importance of something in the form of a catechetical manual being drawn up, to explain pointedly and clearly the distinctive principles of the Free Church ; - such a manual as might be put into the hands of the young in her own communion, as well as of others desiring information in short compass upon the subject. It was a very difficult and delicate task; requiring remarkable skill and tact, as well as a full and minute acquaintance with the earlier, as well as the later, history of the Church of Scotland. With one consent, Andrew Gray was fixed upon as the very man, and almost, if not even altogether, the only man, to do the thing. It was well known that, in addition to all the other necessary qualifications, he not only had the pen of a ready writer, but possessed the much rarer gift of being able to express his meaning in strong, terse, clear, and racy Saxon; the sort of style or diction suited for a popular catechism. He was therefore pressed into the service; and most laboriously and conscientiously did he perform the service. He gave his whole mind to the task; and from his correspondence during the preparation of it, it sufficiently appears that for many months he grudged no time, and spared no pains, in his endeavour to make the book as full and correct an exhibition as possible of the general mind of the church upon the subject he had to handle. It is in fact a comprehensive and complete summary of the whole ecclesiastical history of Scotland, viewed in the light of those great scriptural and constitutional principles which the Free Church of Scotland had been called, at a great sacrifice, to maintain. When it was finished, and before it was published, it was submitted in proof to the revision of all the men accustomed to take a prominent part in the church's affairs, including the Professors of Theology. While offering suggestions on points of detail, - which, I think, were almost always adopted, - they all, without exception, expressed themselves in terms of strong and warm approval of the catechism as a whole. There was but one opinion about its plan and method, - about the way in which it brought out the doctrine of God's word, as well as the views of all the Scottish Reformers, on the supremacy of Christ as the Head of his church, and the church's freedom under him.
It first appeared, in December 1845, under the authority of the Assembly's Publication Committee, and it obtained immediately a very large circulation. After having been about a year and a half before the church and public, it was submitted, in an improved and enlarged form, but without any essential alteration, to the Assembly, 1847, and an act was passed to the effect that the Assembly, being satisfied with its soundness, as well as its suitableness to the purpose intended, approve generally of it, as containing a valuable summary of this church's history, and exhibition of her distinctive principles, from the beginning of the Reformation to the present time, and earnestly recommend its general use.
At a subsequent period, towards the end of 1848, a very vehement assault was made on the catechism, by the Duke of Argyle, in his essay published under the title of Presbytery Examined. The assault was of the nature of a reductio absurdum an attempt to impugn the doctrine of Christ's Headship as asserted in the catechism, by exposing the absurdity involved in its being applied to particular questions of ecclesiastical order in detail, as much as to the great general question. of the Erastian controversy, respecting the civil magistrate's place in the church. The Duke's essay called forth an able rejoinder from Mr. Gray, published in 1849. It was also very thoroughly met, in so far as it seemed to touch the Free Church's Testimony, in an article, by Principal Cunningham, in the North British Review (February 1849); an article of permanent value, which it is to be hoped will not be suffered to fall into oblivion. Dr. Cunningham was not led by his line of argument to deal much, or even at all, with the Duke's criticisms on the catechism; nor did Mr. Gray himself grapple with them thoroughly; considering it enough to point out some instances of unfairness, and to assail the duke's leading principle and position on the subject of church authority.
It must be admitted that since that time, a certain measure of doubt has been felt, not as to the substantial soundness of the views advocated in the catechism, but as to the fair logical connection of these views with the doctrine of Christ's Headship. This has from time to time appeared, in different forms. Mr. Gray himself, on a careful revisal of his work, came to be satisfied that there was room for some considerable modification in several of its statements; and, in spite of failing health, he had prepared a paper which he meant to be the basis of full consultation among brethren of various shades of opinion, in the hope that there might be a general agreement as to the best and safest way of putting the case. His death prevented his intention being carried out. There is no reason, however, why it may not, by-and-by, be resumed. For the catechism is so excellent, and has been so acceptable, that it concerns, not Mr. Gray's memory only, but the church's credit, to have it made as nearly as possible perfect, with a view to its permanent use.
This is not the place for entering on the discussion but to prevent misconception, a word or two may be allowed on the state of the question. The weak and vulnerable point in the catechism is its bringing the doctrine of the Headship to bear, as it might seem, almost equally and in the same way, on such a matter of detail as kneeling at the Lord's Supper, or using the sign of the cross in baptism, and on the general principle of the admission of the civil magistrate's jurisdiction, or authoritative control over the church, in things spiritual. And the difficulty lies in drawing the line of distinction. It is a difficulty more in theory than in practise. It is admitted that the mere doctrinal statement that Christ is the sole King and Head of his church, visible as well as invisible, does not, and cannot, of itself, condemn any opinion or any usage whatever. There must be an ulterior step; an appeal to his word, as the only intimation which we have of his will. It is only by setting aside his will, as intiniated in his word, that the church can rebel against his supremacy as her King and Head. Ultimately, therefore, the question must resolve itself into that of the authority and interpretation of Scripture. Any disregard of his will, - or even any mistake about his will, - on any point, - may be said, in a certain sense, to touch or affect his Headship. And it is not easy to see how it does so in one case more than in another, unless we take into account the comparative importance of the matter to which the neglect or error relates, and the character and circumstances of the parties concerned.
The truth is, the charge of violating Christ's headship is a charge of treason; and, as in the instance of treason to an earthly sovereign, it must often be of the nature of a constructive, or inferential, charge of treason. Nay, it must always, or almost always, be so, when the monarch's supreme authority is in words and by profession, not denied, but acknowledged and asserted. The formal repudiation of Christ's headship over the church visible, may be dealt with, perhaps, summarily ; - as the formal repudiation of the kings of the house of Hanover was in the Stuart rebellions. But that is not what we have for the most part to deal with in this controversy. That Christ is sole King and Head of the visible, as well as of the invisible, church, must be held to be the avowed belief of our opponents as well as of ourselves. Our charge against them, therefore, of being traitors to the crown, can scarcely be any other than a constructive or inferential one. It is a charge against them personally, of disregarding more or less knowingly and willingly, the will of Christ, as intimated in his Word. Obviously, as thus put, the charge admits of degrees of guilt, wide as the poles asunder. To fasten it upon mistakes or aberrations in subordinate particulars, would of course be the height of folly and uncharitableness, especially when it is considered that they who bring the charge confess fallibility in themselves, as well as in their neighbours.
But it does not follow that the charge may not be warrantably brought and thoroughly substantiated in its gravest aspect ; - as when a church is seen deliberately accommodating her procedure, and consents to be legally bound to accommodate her procedure, in the discharge of her most spiritual and sacred functions, to the mere mandate of the civil magistrate; not on the ground of the magistrate having received authority from Christ, as Head of his church, to exercise his government in it, according to his word; but in opposition to her own declared conviction that he has not.
Nor will it avail anything to say, that the matter in which she does so is one as to which she thinks that Christ has given no explicit directions, or none that forbid absolutely what the magistrate requires her to do. That is nothing to the purpose. If it is a spiritual matter, it is one which Christ would have to be regulated by the party, whoever he may be, to whom he has entrusted the government in his Church, - that party doing the best he can to ascertain his will. And if the church allow it to be regulated for her by a third party, that she does not admit, but denies, to have received authority from Christ, - and a party, moreover, that does not profess to be guided by his word, - is there not a direct outrage offered to the kingly prerogative of her Head?
I would oniy farther add, that I think a line surely may, and must, be drawn, between questions as to what the governing body in the church, under Christ, may and ought to do, and questions as to what the governing body should be, - in particular, the question, whether the governing body should be within or without the church itself - whether it should be the church's own officers, or the civil magistrate as such? Of course that question must be decided by an appeal to Scripture. But I am inclined to hold, that an erroneous decision of it, however conscientiously it may be adopted, does affect the Headship of Christ, and his Crown-rights, directly and immediately, in a sense in which no misunderstanding of his will on any other subject does or can do.
But I must quit this topic. And in doing so, I quote one short passage from Mr. Gray's Correspondence with the Duke of Argyll, not only as affording a good specimen of logical fencing - giving the Duke a Rowland for his Oliver - but as bearing materially on this whole argument.
(* * I am tempted to give, from Dr. Cunningham's Article, the series of propositions, in which he embodies all that he considers essential to the Testimony of the Free Church. Her principles then upon this subject are these: -
1st, That the visible Church of Christ, and every branch or section of it, is an independent society, distinct from the kingdoms of this world, and differing from them in many essential particulars, - its origin, nature, constitution, government, subjects, objects, etc.
2nd, That Christ is the only King and Head, and that he alone can settle its constitution and laws, and determine how its affairs are to regulated.
3rd; That the Sacred Scripture is the only rule or standard for regulating its constitution and laws, and the ordinary practical administration of its affairs.
4th, That the only parties authorised to administer the ordinary affairs of this society, according to the constitution and laws which Christ has prescribed, are ecclesiastical office-bearers, appointed and qualified according to the Word of God.
5th, That the civil magistrate, though bound to aim in the exercise of his lawful jurisdiction in civil or temporal things, at the prosperity of the Church of Christ, does not as such possess any jurisdiction or right of authoritative control in ecclesiastical or spiritual matters, and of course cannot, by any laws he may pass, or by any decisions he may pronounce, impose a valid obligation to obedience upon the church in general, or upon her office-bearers, in the execution of their respective functions. -
6th, That the distinct government which Christ has appointed in his Church - the spiritual or ecclesiastical province - the sphere within which ecclesiastical office-bearers possess jurisdiction, or are entitled to exercise a certain ministerial (not lordly) authority, comprehends not only the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments, but also the whole of the ordinary necessary business of the church as a visible soeiety, - the whole of those processes which must be going on wherever the church is fully executing its functions; in short, the exercise of discipline, including, of course, the admission and exclusion of members, and the ordination and deposition of officebearers.
And 7th, That Christ having established all these arrangements as King and Head of the Church, the maintenance of them on the one hand, and the infringement of them on the other, specially concern his honour and dignity as the church's only head and ruler.
The memorable statement of the Confession of Faith, that the Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his church, hath therein appointed a government in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate,' is condemned by your Grace for its want of logic. You say that there is no logical connection whatever between the several assertions' contained in it. The sentence is expressed so as to suggest the idea that an argument is involved; although, if it is examined, it becomes evident that there is none whatever.' The sentence has nothing of the form of an argument about it - no more than this other sentence, - ' The Duke of Argyll, as hereditary keeper of the royal Castle of Dunstaffnage, hath therein appointed a depute-keeper, distinct from the depute-keeper of Dunoon.' Does this suggest the idea of an argument to your Grace? It ought, if the other does. The truth is, that the sentence of the Confession is not in the form of an argument at all, but in the form of what logicians call, and what it actually is, and what your Grace should have recognised it to be, - a compound proposition. You think it is made up of three assertions: it is made up of five. It is a compound proposition, consisting of the main proposition, and four subsidiary propositions, whereof one belongs to the subject, and three belong to the predicate. The main proposition is, - That the Lord Jesus hath appointed a government.' He might have appointed no government at all, as some, indeed, maintain to be the case. The subsidiary proposition belonging to the subject is, - That the Lord Jesus is King and Head of his Church.' The first of the subsidiary propositions belonging to the predicate is, - That the government he hath appointed is in the hand of church-officers' (it might have been in the hand of the people); the second is, - That this government is distinct from the civil magistrate;' and the third is, - That the appointing of a government in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate,' is an act of his Headship. These five propositions are perspicuously, and with entire logical fairness and precision, joined together, when it is said, that the Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his church, hath therein appointed a government in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.' Your Grace tells us, that Presbyterians generally quote this passage as if' it were an argument.' I have never, myself, met with even one Presbyterian who regarded it as an argument, or viewed it in any other light than as a dogmatical announcement of doctrine, which required, in all its parts, the authority of Scripture to establish it.
I now resume my narrative; going back to the time of the first publication of the catechism. Mr. Gray had scarcely got the work out of his hands when he started on his foreign embassy. He left home for London towards the end of November 1845, and crossed from Dover to Ostend on 4th December. He had visited his brother-in-law, near Chester, in May; and spent June and July with his uncle at Tunbridge Wells. In fact he had been travelling, as an invalid, during the greater part of the summer and autumn, while he was finishing his catechism. His going abroad was a measure reluctantly forced upon him, after the failure of these temporising expedients.
There are jottings in one of his note books of his whole tour; but they are far too fragmentary to be of much use. By means of them I trace his route, through Belgium, to Cologne and Bonn; thence, by the Rhine, to Manheim; and by rail and diligence to Lausanne, where he arrived on 12th December. He remained at Lausanne till the 16th, and at Geneva till the 22d.
His time, at both places, was chiefly occupied about the affairs of the brethren in the Canton de Vaud, who had just been forced out of the Establishment by the high-handed tyranny of the Democratic party, then in the ascendancy in the State. Mr. Gray had a commission from our church at home to these brethren abroad; who were, in some respects, similarly situated with ourselves. In, the execution of it, he was ably supported by his companion in his travels, Mr Robert Watson, who since that time has rendered good service as Chaplain to the Forces, in the Crimea and in India. He was able to supply Mr. Gray's lack of familiarity with foreign languages. That this visit was a great encouragement to the suffering ministers in Vaud will appear from the following extract of a letter which I have received from the Rev. Charles Scholl of Lausanne; a man well known to many brethren here, and much beloved in the Lord.
We were then in a very perplexing and threatening situation. Our meetings for worship were prohibited. The interdicts passed against our infant church were becoming stronger and stronger. Fines, and banishment from our flocks, were enacted against us when we were caught in the illegal act of worshipping God according to our conscience, in private houses. The Free Church of Scotland who, from the day we demitted, had taken and manifested a great brotherly interest in us, being made aware of the situation we were in, considering very justly that we were in great need of sympathy, advice, and encouragement, thought that the time was come to send us a deputation of some of its most experienced and ablest members, and among others, the first, I believe, who came was the Rev. A. Gray, of Perth. We were greatly rejoiced at his appearance amongst us. His brotherly feeling, the great interest he manifested in us and in our cause, his Christian and ecclesiastical experience, the clearness and straightforwardness of his mind, the facility and openness of his communications with us during his stay, his firm faith, and his good advice, were of great service to us in our difficulties, and in the midst of our inexperience. Mr. Gray was a real friend and brother in our need. When he left us, to pursue his journey to Leghorn, his departure left a blank in our minds. But I must not forget to mention, also, that the particulars he had communicated to us concerning the Free Church of Scotland - its difficulties and its success, its trials and the blessing which the Lord had bestowed upon it - proved, not only very interesting, but also very encouraging to us. *** In the same letter, Mr. Scholl gives an account of his own reception in Scotland some years after, and of Mr. Gray's friendly attention : - In May 1848, being invited by your Continental Committee, and sent by the Synodal Commission of our church, I went to Scotland in order to attend the Assembly. By my presence in the midst of it, and the particulars I could communicate concerning our persecuted church, you wished me, and I intended, to keep up the kind interest for us that ever since our disruption your church had shown us in a variety of ways. I received the most hearty welcome from our Scotch brethren, and especially from Dr. Clason and Mr. A. Gray, both of whom I had seen in Switzerland. Our lamented friend took the best care of me, and did all he could do to make my stay in Edinburgh sweet to my heart and beneficial to onr church. As I was then banished from my flock, after I had attended the meeting of the Assembly, you, my dear sir, wished me to remain some weeks more in Scotland, in order to visit the most important Free Churches of your country, for the purpose of strengthening, by the particulars I could mention, the brotherly interest felt for us. As I could not then return to Lausanne, I willingly consented to your request; and in order to make my intended excursion in Scotland more easy for me, more pleasant and more useful, you kindly asked Mr. A. Gray to be my companion, my guide, and my helper in the said excursion. He was good enough to comply with your request, made a plan of our tour, took the necessary steps to convene the meetings we were to attend, and travelled with me nearly during three weeks. We visited together, Glasgow, Stirling, Crieff, Perth, then Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, Aberdeen, and some other places. During our journey, Mr. A. Gray was to me all that a friend and a brother could be. His presence, experience, and kindness did contribute greatly to the success of my mission during the which, I doubt not, it was given me, by the blessing of God, to gather for my then suffering church many, very many, faithful prayers, which assuredly have had their share in obtaining the deliverance out of our troubles we now enjoy. I am sure also, that my excursion with our lamented brother did greatly help, though I made it a point never to mention it in my allocutions, the collection for our church which, by order of your Synod, was made in July 1848, after my departure from Scotland, in all the congregations and stations of the Free Church of Scotland; a collection which proved so generous and abundant that, during the two or three following years, it was of the greatest service to us in our pecuniary needs. By all I have mentioned, you see, my dear sir, I cannot forget what our church and myself owe to the kind exertions of Mr. A. Gray in our behalf. In the discourse he pronounced at the opening of the Assembly in 1848, I think he said, in allusion to our church, We heve a little sister in the Canton de Vaud; and I can truly Say, jU conclusion, that, while I was with him, he always acted in obedience to this Christian and brotherly feeling. In the midst of my regret at his loss, it is sweet to my heart to feel assured that Mr. A. Gray has entered the rest that reniaineth for the people of God.
Writing to Mr. Gray himself, in 1846, Mr. Scholl warmly and pithily says, You have won all our hearts; so you must come back to insure your conquest. From Lausanne and Geneva, Mr. Gray and Mr. Watson proceeded to Lyons, where they had pleasant intercourse with M. Fisch, and saw something of his important evangelistic movement; thence by the Rhone to Avignon, and by diligence to Marseilles; where they separated; Mr. Watson returning home, and Mr. Gray going on alone. He embarked on the 27th December for Genoa; enjoying the fine climate much, though saddened by the Sabbath gaiety on board the steamer. From Genoa, he reached Leghorn on the 30th, and remained there till 10th February 1846. I find an entry on the 20th January; Night without coughing, first for months. It would seem that his health, was somewhat better, though there are not many of his nights thus marked. He was able, however, to preach occasionally for the Rev. R W. Stewart, our admirable representative at Leghorn, whose praise indeed is in all the churches. Along with the Rev. Messrs. Keith and Makellar, Mr. Gray assisted Mr. Stewart in the election of elders constituting a presbytery and a kirk-session, for that purpose, and thus organising the Leghorn congregation according to Presbyterial order. Mr. Gray had much pleasant intercourse at Leghorn with Christian friends of different denominations; among others, with M. Gobat, then on his way to preside over the Malta College - now the Prusso-Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. He had also opportunities of learning a good deal not only of the outer show, but of the inward working, of Romanism and semi-romanism; obtaining insight and information which he turned to good account afterwards in grappling with these evils nearer home. On 10th February, he left Leghorn for Florence; and on the 14th he arrived at Rome. In addition to all the usual wonders of the Imperial city, which he seems to have seen pretty thoroughly, he had the advantage of witnessing the Carnival, and he notes his having one day met the Pope unexpectedly, and received a bow from him. He does not say if he returned it.
Leaving Rome on 19th February, along with Mr. Wingate (Missionary to the Jews), his wife and child, and Mr. Rawlins, whom, upon his leaving the party shortly afterwards, Mr. Gray calls a noble fellow, he proceeded by Loretto to Ancona, and there embarked in an Austrian steamer on the 25th. He writes in raptures of the pleasant sailing on the Adriatic, and the beauty of the scenery. He notes a very interesting conversation he had with the engineer, an Englishman from Southampton, who had been baptized by Adam Clarke. This man, with whom Mr. Gray dealt very faithfully, showed him much attention during the voyage; and among other services, procured for him an opportunity of preaching. On 3d March, the party reached Athens, and were warmly welcomed by the American Missionary, Dr. King, with whom they had much consultation on the subject of missions.
Leaving Athens on 8th March, and visiting Syra, Scio, and Smyrna, they reached Constantinople on the 13th. Having been instructed to make particular inquiries about the Free Church Mission to the Jews there, as well as about the American Missions, Mr. Gray and Mt Wingate spent the following days in diligently prosecuting that task. It occupied them till the 19th March; after which Mr. Gray turned his face homewards; sailing by Smyrna and Lazaretto, to Marseilles; and spending a short time at Malta by the way. On 13th April, he went on to Lyons, and thence to Paris, where he spent two days. Crossing from Havre to Portsmouth on the 21st, he reached home safely on the 29th; having been benefitted, not a little, by his four months' tour.
In the following Assembly, May 1846, Mr. Gray was called upon to make a statement on the subject of the Continent, and what he had seen and learned while there. His speech on the occasion, as reported in The Proceedings, is an excellent specimen of his eloquence, not in debate, but in simple exposition and exhortation. Of his eloquence in debate, there is also a good specimen in the proceedings of that same Assembly. I refer to his very able extempore speech in the discussion on Christian union and the Evangelical Alliance, - .-one of the most interesting discussions that has occurred in the Courts of the Free Church.
For some years after his furlough, Mr. Gray continued to discharge his pastoral duties without any considerable interruption, and to take his usual share in the business of the church, and in public affairs generally. He was sent from year to year by his Presbytery, as one of their commissioners to the Assembly; and no one can testify, as I can, to the untiring zeal with which he attended to Assembly business, by night as well as by day, and the invaluable help which he gave in the adjusting and conducting of it. For years, he and I worked together in that department; and much of the system of arrangement which makes the meetings of our Assembly so orderly, is due to his firmness and sagacity. He took his fair share in its discussions and debates. In 1848, he was appointed to deliver an address to the Assembly at its usual devotional diet on Friday, on the present position and duty of the church. By desire of the Assembly, on whom it made a most solemn impression, the address was published separately, as a tract for distribution, under the title of Our Sins, our Dangers, our Duties. In the discussions and proceedings about College Extension, which agitated the church so painfully for several years, Mr. Gray warmly and keenly espoused the cause of the Aberdeen Hall. Into the unhappy personal misunderstandings which the controversy occasioned, it would be wrong to enter, now that the strife is over. Let it suffice to say, that while Mr. Gray may have sinned and suffered, as we all did, - and while he had often much anguish of soul, on private as well as public grounds, - he had none but the purest and highest motives influencing him all along. And in the midst of sad divisions, his feelings of real brotherly esteem continued unabated. Another matter in which Mr. Gray felt a deep and strong interest was the question of National Education. He entered warmly into the discussions which took place, especially in 1849, 50;. watching with anxiety the movements then made in that direction. He differed somewhat from some of his friends, being more favourable than most of them to the continuance of the present denominational plan of rates in aid, and more apprehensive of some of the proposals made for a national system, as not sufficiently securing the religious element. But he substantially approved of the position occupied by the Free Church, in prosecuting vigorously her own educational enterprise, and at the same time seeking the reform and extension of the Old Parish School Establishment, so as to adapt it to the circumstances and wants of the country.
Towards the close of his public life he undertook a great work of Christian philanthropy, truly worthy of his zeal. His spirit was deeply affected by the religious state of large masses of the people in our larger towns, and especially in Glasgow. The subject had long occupied his thoughts; but it was in 1851 that he first moved in it actively. At the Assembly of that year, there were overtures from various Synods and Presbyteries, which, it is believed, Mr. Gray was largely instrumental in getting up; and, in concert with Dr. Buchanan of Glasgow, he had already been devising plans of operation. His idea was, that instead of directing her attention at once to the large towns generally, the church should, in the first instance, concentrate her strength upon Glasgow, and deal with the spiritual destitution existing there. After a very full statement by Dr. Buchanan of the case of Glasgow, enforced by a most powerful and pathetic appeal, the Assembly warmly entered into Mr. Gray's idea ; resolved to prosecute, as a distinct object, the evangelization of Glasgow; and entrusted it specially to his charge. Mr. Gray acted as Convener of the Glasgow Evangelization Committee till his health again gave way, in the spring of 1855.
His successive Reports to the Assembly are full of interest, and might, with advantage, be before the church in a more accessible form than as they are at present, almost buried in the mass of Assembly proceedings. He was ably seconded by the ministers of the city, as well as by those enlightened friends among the citizens, who, although they had some years previously borne the chief burden of erecting the quoad sacra churches lost at the Disruption, did not hesitate to repeat what they then did, and to reorganize their Church Building Society. Mr. Gray's method was to stir up influential congregations to undertake the planting of Territorial charges, by offering them help towards the support of the agents, while the Church Building Society aided in the erection of premises. In the course of two years he was able to report eight such charges as in hopeful progress; and the number went on increasing steadily. It is impossible, without going into details unsuitable here, to give any adequate idea of the toil and trouble - the expenditure of time, and thought, and pains - which Mr. Gray went through.
During one of these years, 1852, he was set free from his charge, by order of the Assembly, for three months, that he might devote himself to this work, in which his whole heart was. His correspondence, his meetings, his speeches, not only then, but all throughout, were such as to task the strongest man's energies to the utmost. His faculty of organization, and power of impulsive action, conspicuously appeared in the whole movement. He has left his impress on the enterprise, as it is now carried forward by his like-minded successor; and the minister of the Wynd Church, as well as the catechist, Mr. Hog, with the men whom they have smitten with their own zeal, are, to a large extent, entering into Mr. Gray's labours.
He has bequeathed the church a double legacy, as regards this great field of Home Mission operations; a matured plan, and a half-solved problem. The plan is that of the Chalmers' endowments. It is a plan intended to foster one set of new Territorial charges, by means of moderate endowments, till they can stand on their own feet; and then to foster another set, by transferring the endowments to them. Mr. Gray succeeded in procuring several such endowments, thus transferable from charge to charge; and experience is owning that the plan is one that works admirably, with great ease and great efficiency. It is a plan capable of application all over the country. A beginning has been made in the Highlands; and the sooner it is extended more widely, the better.
The problem is a much more serious and difficult affair. It is to find or create the sort of agency, fitted in its nature, and sufficient in amount, for really accomplishing the end in view, and reaching thoroughly the classes sought. Mr. Gray's mind, in the course of his actual experience of the work, came to be deeply impressed with the necessity of this problem being fairly faced. He prepared an elaborate paper on the subject which he never had an opportunity of submitting to the church; for, although he was named Convener of a Committee, specially appointed by the Assembly to institute inquiries and make suggestions, his failing health hindered him from taking any action. The matter, however, is still so urgent, and the urgency of it is so well put by Mr. Gray, in his Report to the As sembly, 1854, that I make no apology for giving that portion of the Report almost entire. The problem assuredly is uot solved yet.
We are placed in circumstances quite peculiar and extraordinary, - in circumstances to which there has been no parallel among us since the Reformation. We have our arrangements for the training of the ordinary ministers; we gather students together and educate them, expressly with the view of their being pastors of ordinary congregations; but we have no arrangements of any kind that are specially directed to the object of attracting, enlisting, and qualifying those who might dedicate their lives to the evangelistic work, and be the pastors of mission churches and congregations. At the same time, it is interesting to observe that the matter has begun to excite attention in various quarters. We confess we have entertained the thought, that the evangelists who are wanted for this field of Christian labour may be found among the working-classes themselves. Is it unreasonable to hold that the way to gain the heathen abroad is the way to gain the heathen at home? We expect that the former are to be evangelized on a large scale by their own kinsmen after the flesh, by persons of their own class, by preachers drawn from their own number, who can understand them, bear with them, feel for them, live among them, and be all things to all men among them, as strangers never could; and to this expectation is to be ascribed in a great degree the distinctive nature of the arrangements and labours of our missionaries in the foreign field. Why, then, should we not expect that the evangelization of the heathen at home is to be accomplished on the grand scale by means of their own brethren, of preachers and pastors from their own ranks?
"We are not without some proof that this is the way. About the middle of last century there was a home mission founded by George Whitfield. At the same time, another home mission was founded by John Wesley. What are now the visible fruits of these two home missions? The home mission of Whitfield is rupresented mainly by a feeble community of thirty or forty congregations. The home mission of Wesley is represented by the great Wesleyan Church, with its thousands of congregations, and a large proportion of the workmen and labourers of England embraced in its pale. But what would have been the state of Wesleyanism at this moment, if Wesley had not adopted a system of organization, and summoned pious and gifted colliers and miners to his aid, as evangelists and pastors of the people? And what might we have seen as the issue of the work which Whitfield commenced, if Whitfield had followed Wesley's plan?
An objection, however, may occur. Has not trial already been made of such agency as the working-classes can supply, and with no very extensive or encouraging results? The answer is, No. The city missionary plan, with which all are familiar, is no proper trial of it. For one thing, that plan does not contemplate, or admit of, the organization of the people. It leaves them at the most critical stage of the work to go away and join themselves to some existing pastoral charge, the ministry of which has not been directly instrumental in awakening them, may or may not be suitable for carrying them on, and can, at all events, have but little time to pay them the necessary attention. On the old plan of city missions, the humble labourer who reclaimed the people was not intended to be, and could not become, their stated and ordinary pastor. It was a fixed principle that other men must enter into his labours, and reap where he had sown. He was expected to he the instrument of the people's conversion, but he was not permitted to be the chief and regular instrument of their edification thereafter. He was expected to do one part of the shepherd's office, by finding the sheep that had strayed, and bringing them back to the fold; but he was forbidden to do the other part of the shepherd's office, and to be clothed with the functions of their ordinary watchman and pastor within the fold. The hardest toils that can fall within the sphere of the gospel ministry were devolved upon him, but the distinctive honours and powers of the ministry were beyond his reach.
Among the working classes there is as large a proportion as there is in any other of men of energy, intellectual power, and natural eloquence; and during times of agitation, of political or social excitement, or when any great and wide-spread influence is to be exerted upon them, the leaders who are most successful in speaking to their hearts, and setting them in motion, are generally those which have stepped forth from their own ranks. But the attempt to enlist for evangelistic work the services of working-men who have talents and grace, has never yet been seriously made. The offer to employ them as city missionaries, with power to hold a few prayer-meetings, teach a Sabbath-school, and go the rounds of a district, distributing tracts, and urging the people to attend some place of worship, is not enough to secure them. But is there no ground to think that the effect would be different if the offer was to send him forth as an evangelist to gather a flock, and to form a congregation, of which he himself should be the pastor? Might not this open np a prospect that wonld influence his Christian zeal, and make him follow the example of Matthew, when he abandoned the receipt of custom, and of the fishermen of Galilee, when they left their nets for the service of Christ? And is it preposterous to hope that, in many cases, the flock would he gathered and the congregation formed?
In submitting these thoughts, with most profound deference to the consideration cf the General Assembly, it may scarcely be necessary to say, that we have no notion that they should he carried out and acted on without very special regulations to gnard against abuse and against any encroachments on the system of the Church in the training of the ministry for her ordinary charges. The Chnrches of Christ have a great and difficult problem before them regarding the agency for home mission work, and all we have attempted is to give some hints, which we pray God to bless, for promoting the solution of it.
I now draw near the end of my undertaking. it can serve no good purpose to linger over the few remaining years of doubtful struggle with inveterate disease; a sound mind, - a mind sound to the last, - wrestling, often almost desperately, with an unsound body. The attack which prostrated him in the spring of 1855 was of a most serious character; hoemorrhage to a great extent occurring more than once; with former symptoms not a little aggravated. He spent the summer where he was accustomed to spend some weeks or months almost every summer, at a favourite retreat, Amuiree, in Perthshire. There was a considerable rally. He was able to resume his pulpit and pastoral work, with the occasional or stated relief of an assistant; and he still exerted himself, when there seemed to be a call, in public business. He was again. in his place as a member in one or two successive Assemblies. But he was under strict regimen and restraint; and although all his powers of intellect and eloquence were in full vigour, he was compelled to forego much of his wonted activity.
At last, in 1859, it became too apparent that a change of scene and climate must once more be tried. The first suggestion was that he should visit Australia, in the hope of the voyage being beneficial; and the opportunity and means were put within his power. But insuperable difficulties came in the way. Another Continental tour was then resolved on. He had spent a good part of the previous winter and spring in England, - some of it at Ben-Rhydding with Dr. M'Leod, whose kind and judicious treatment he always highly appreciated.
On 11th April, he left home, with Mrs. Gray, on a Mediterranean voyage; arriving at Gibraltar on the 21st. After visiting Palermo, Venice, Corfu, Tangiers, and other places, he left Gibraltar on 25th June, and reached London on 10th July. There he consulted Dr Billing, whose advice was of great service, and whom he continued to consult by correspondence down to the close of life. He reached home on 9th August 1859; but it was only to set out again on the 26th for Ben-Rhydding, where he remained till 12th December. Thence Mrs. Gray and he proceeded, by way of London, to the Isle of Wight, arriving at Ventnor on 3d January 1860. At Ventnor they resided till 23d May; after which they returned home; reaching Perth on 13th June. During all that time, from jottings of his letters to Dr. Billing, it appears that his complaint was on the whole making progress.
The state of his flock was much upon his mind. He was constantly praying for them, and manifesting, in various ways, his anxiety for their highest good. But their circumstances, under his so frequently interrupted ministry, were such as to occasion uneasiness; and both he and they were glad and thankful when he returned among them, fit for some portion of his duties. He resumed his place in the pulpit, officiating generally once every Sabbath, apparently with no bad effects. But the end drew near. He had just completed a satisfactory arrangement with his office-bearers and people for the appointment of a colleague, when the necessity for that step ceased. He addressed his people for the last time on 15th December 1860, from the text 1 Tim. vi. 12, Fight the good fight of faith. And then, having himself fought the good fight of faith, he was gradually and peacefully called to his rest and reward.
Mr. Gray was never disposed to make much of death bed experiences; and I shrink from saying much of his own. But a few notices may be allowed; as illustrating at once his concern for his people, and his state of mind with reference to himself In all his absences, he shewed a deep interest in what was going on at home; in his last, as much as in the others. Writing to a friend from Gibraltar, he says (20th June 1859), Thanks for all the little bits of congregational news. They are very interesting to me. I am particularly pleased that poor old A. C. is not neglected, and that he gives evidence of having placed his trust where trust was never placed in vain. Again, writing to the same friend from Ben Rhydding (26th Sept.), with reference to some concern awakened by accounts of the Irish revivals, he adds, Your report of some appearances of an increase of interest in Divine things among my dear flock is good news. I have often wished for a work of revival in the congregation, but I have often also felt much doubt of my fitness for the ministerial superintendence of it; - a doubt which, alas! who has not felt? Will it not be a little remarkable if the wish should be granted when I am laid aside and away? May the blessing come at all events, and not tarry! And when it does come, I will hope that the absent pastor will get a share of it. 1 have need of patience, he says, I often forget myself. I am like one who would jump out of the furnace. Here we are, he writes from London, 29th May 1860, on our way home to our beloved Perth. I am comforted and encouraged by knowing that I have your prayers. Oh, how I need them! This poor body of mine is not so much invigorated as I have often hoped it would be, and, perhaps, too wilfully desired it to be; and, alas! the lustings of the spirit against the flesh are but feeble, compared with those on the other side.
In this frame of mind he returned for the last time to Perth. His last days there, after he ceased to preach, were, on the whole, very peaceful And there were characteristic incidents. His scrupulous honesty, for instance, and jealousy of anything like deathbed display, appeared in an apparently trifling matter. He was in the habit of asking for his little Bible every morning after breakfast. One morning, when he was too sick to read, Mrs. Gray, in arranging the room for the Doctor's visit, naturally placed the Bible, as usual, on the table beside his bed. Turning round in his quick way, he said, What do you mean? Take it away. The Doctor will think I have been reading it, when I have not. One forenoon, a fortnight before his death, a dear friend called. I fear I am going to slip through your fingers, he said. What matters it, was her reply, if you fall into kinder arms ? If! be rejoined, oh, that if ! She said, Fear not. Ah! you don't know me. But the Lord does; and yet he is willing to receive. Yes! but a minister's sins are so aggravated ! And then he burst into tears. For a few days, about the time of this conversation, he appeared depressed and unhappy. But that appearance passed away, and was succeeded by a calm, placid look, which never left him. He had difficulty in speaking; but his friends say they never can forget, even in these days of great suffering, the look of warm affection and the kind pressure of the hand, with which he always received them.
He spoke little of death; but all his affairs and papers were arranged; and, though it is a trifle, it may be mentioned, as characteristic, that the wages of his domestics were paid in anticipation of the usual time. He was always exceedingly fond of singing the Psalms, not only at church and in family worship, but in his private devotions. Shortly before his death, finding that he could not sing, he seemed much distressed, remarking to Mrs. Gray, "It will not do now."But he instantly added, -
"There in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave."
He continued calm and collected to the last. Taking a
tumbler of milk in his hands, he drank it, and said, You see I have not
spilled a drop. His wife read to him the hymn, My Redeemer
liveth. He looked up and said, That's sweet. Seeing her very
sorrowful, he said, But you know who is the widow's shield.
On the morning of Sabbath, 10th March 1861, when the bells were ringing for church, he fell asleep.
On Mr. Gray's character, his private worth, and public services, I need not enlarge. I leave my narrative, however imperfect, to speak for itself. He had not much taste for eulogy at any time; and he is now beyond its reach.
To the prominent feature of his inner man, it has been remarked that even his outward form and bearing gave vivid expression. An utter abhorrence of display - a fixed purpose, or rather a rooted instinct, compelling him to seem always what he was - a noble incapacity of guile, and even of cautious reserve - such was the temperament that his blunt bold attitude strongly and stoutly bespoke. It was the habit of his soul; and, one might say, of his body too. To see and hear him at any time, whether in open debate, or in the familiarities of most intimate home fellowship - to see his keen look, and hear his clear voice - made you feel that he was one who could not but show what was in him, and speak out all that was on his mind. Too much of this there might sometimes be for strangers, or for unfriendly watchers and observers. To them, he might appear abrupt and violent. And even his intimates might now and then shrink from his earnest vehemence. But no man could ever doubt his truth ; - or distrust, I say not his word, but his very aspect and gesture, and the glance of his eye. He was pre-eminently a true man; unmistakeably, invariably, fearlessly, true. And he could well afford to be true; for his nature was as genial as it was genuine and guileless. There was no keenness of temper about him, no fixedness of purpose, no dogmatic confidence, or as some might think, even occasional opinionativeness, in his way of forming and giving forth his sentiments and judgments, no eagerness of disputation, no pertinacity apt to be mistaken for obstinacy, no intensity of excitement, looking almost like passion, - that was not all tempered by a heart as gentle, and warm, and unselfish, and loving, as ever beat in the bosom of any of the meekest and mildest of God's saints.
His mental powers were acknowledged universally. He had an intellect acute and keen to draw sharp lines, and yet large and firm to grasp broad principles. A sense of humour and play of fancy would often break in to enliven discussion or debate. And the reader of the discourses published in this volume, while perceiving in them all evidences of strong sense and great power, will see in not a few of them proof of an imagination naturally capable of high flights ; - aud made capable of still higher, by familiar converse with the glories of Zion and Zion's King. Such as he was by original endowment, improved by most thorough training and sanctified by special grace, he gave himself to the business of life. Of no man could it ever be more truly said, that whatever his hand found to do he did it with his might: he did it heartily as unto the Lord. He was always in earnest. None ever sought his counsel, or sympathy, or help, without finding that he threw his whole soul into the case. None who sought him ever left him without being the better for his wise head and warm heart. He was as ready to be useful and helpful in the most private and personal affairs of a brother, or of a member of his flock, as in the public counsels of the church.
He was at the command, - not a part of him, but the man entire, - of every call of Christian duty, every claim of our common humanity. Into whatever he went he went thoroughly. His liberality was on a large scale, and it was systematic. In all instances in which he had occasion to make appeals, for his schools, or his church, or any other undertaking, he himself set the example, by giving more in proportion to his means than he could ask or expect from any other: and his private accounts show his stated contributions to religious and charitable objects to have been strictly regular, and of more than ordinary amount. But this was the least valuable of his services to the cause of God and truth. His pen, and tongue, and heart, and soul, were consecrated to it. In every righteous enterprise, for every philanthropic end, he was ever the foremost and the firmest to stand for high principle and resist treacherous accommodation.
Hence the respect in which he could not fail to be always held. Some might dislike, and others might disapprove of, his proceedings. Even his closest allies might at times be compelled to differ from him. But all men always knew where to find him. None could deny him the tribute of esteem. But I gladly desist from attempting myself to do him justice, and take advantage, in closing, of the well-weighed sentences in which Dr. Buchanan commemorated him, in his Discourse at the opening of the Assembly 1861 : -
Since last we met in General Assembly, another has been added to the roll of distinguished names that have disappeared from the midst of us. I need not add, that I refer to the name of the lamented Andrew Gray. It seems but yesterday, though in reality it is upwards of thirteen years ago, since I heard him in the Commission of Assembly, mourning the loss of one just then deceased, - that same John Hamilton already spoken of; and none who were present can forget the pathos with which Mr. Gray uttered on that occasion, as expressive of the painfulness of his own personal bereavement, those beautiful and touching words of David - I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me. Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. In the vivid recollection of the warmth of Mr. Gray's own love for his friends, more than one will this day be ready to utter over him a similarly tender lamentation. It is not, however, of his personal amiability and ardently affectionate nature that it chiefly concerns me, in this public place, to speak. His character and labours as a minister of Christ, and as a profound and powerful expounder and defender of the great Scripture principles for which our church, in her memorable conflict, was, and still is, called to contend, it cannot be out of place here, and especially on the part of one who loved him well, gratefully to commemorate. For thirty years he served God in the gospel of his Son, and with his whole heart. He was one of those men who cannot be anywhere without making their presence felt, and leaving their mark behind them. In the large manufacturing village near Aberdeen, where he began his labours, he speedily set a-going a multitude of wholesome Christian agencies, to which previously the place had been an utter stranger. Week-day and Sabbath-schools rose around him; and the sweet savour of Christ's name, preached from Sabbath to Sabbath with earnestness and power, awakened throughout the neighbourhood an interest in Divine things, little known or experienced there before.
His subsequent removal to a larger and more important sphere in the city of Perth, was attended by similar results. His great force of character, his intellectual activity, the courage and energy of his masculine mind, his unbending integrity, his pulpit gifts, and his singular capacity in handling the often intricate public questions which were then agitating the church, speedily raised him to a place of highest influence, not alone in the community to which he belonged, but throughout the church at large. These things are more or less known to all who possess even a moderate acquaintance with the public movements which have been signalising the religious history of our country during the last five-and- twenty years. But only those who were more closely concerned in those great movements, and who had personally to deal with the perplexing questions, agitating discussions, and anxious deliberations, that were inseparably connected with them, can fully appreciate what this church of ours owes to my honoured and lamented friend. In re-organising. the church, and adapting its machinery and its laws to the altered circumstances of its new and untried position, no counsel was more valuable, and no pen was oftener employed, than his. No pains, no time, no labour did he ever grudge by which God's cause might be promoted, and the interests, and honour, and efficiency of the Free Church might be advanced. The multitude who see only the outside of things may imagine that the goodly order and the marvellous prosperity at which our dis-established Church has so soon arrived, have come about without an effort, and as a mere matter of course. The world, indeed, will never know at the expense of what sleepless nights, and shattered nerves, and shaken health, the happy results now spoken of have, under the Divine blessing, been reached. These things had their share, I doubt not, in hastening more than one of those to whom I have this day alluded, and among them, the brother now spoken of, to their everlasting home, Perhaps there are at this moment hastening to the same glorious resting place some who still remain.
So Dr. Buchanan spoke on 2nd May last. And, strange and sad coincidence, I close my task on 18th December, amid the gloom and grief of Dr. Cunningham's funeral-day.
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