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the English clergy, the seceders were not behind them in introducing into their discourses the defeca tions of the church of Scotland. If both had been more sparing on the subject, and spent the time it occupied, in calling sinners to repentance, it would have accomplished a more valuable purpose. However the effect was powerful; multitudes joined them, the number of their congregations increased, continued yearly to increase, till a check was reá ceived by an unnatural division among themselves.'
While in the excess of their zeal for little things, and the indulgence of scrupulosity of conscience, the seceders had proceeded to raise high walls of separation between themselves and all other Chris. tians in the world, in 1745 the baneful effects of this contracted spirit were betrayed in rending to pieces their own body, and producing a separation which exposed them to the ridicule of their enemies, and covered them with dishonour even in the eyes of their friends. In the oath required of persons who become burgesses of corporations in Scotland, there is the following clause: “I profess and allow with my heart the true religion at present professed within the realm, and authorised by the laws, thereof. I shall abide by and defend the same to my life?s end, renouncing the Roman religion called papistry.".
This declaration some of the seceders conceived to be perfectly consistent with their principles, because it was the pure religion of the church of Scotland which they professed they would maintain.. To others of their body it appeared unlawful, because the oath was administered by the members of the established church, and must mean religion as it at present existed in the establishment. When the subject was brought before the synod, those who thought the oath lawful were desirous that forbear, ance might be exercised, and no decision made upon it; and this was carried by a majority of votes. The other party would not acquiesce in this arrangement: but leaving the place, though confessedly the minority they claimed to themselves the name and powers of the synod, excommunicated their brethren, and renounced all fellowship with them. From that time, 1746, they became two separate bodies, and were known to the world by the undignified names of burghers and antiburghers, from their approbation or their condemnation of the burgess oath?
During the course of this period another separa. tion from the church of Scotland took place, but on principles directly opposite to those of the seceders, The author of it was John Glas, minister of Tealing, a country parish in the neighbourhood of Dundee, who had imbibed the sentiments of the independents, but carried them to a degree of minuteness and rigour far beyond the advocates for the system, in England and America. Though an inveterate enemy to presbytery, he had not the manliness to quit his living; but after having for some years tormented and perplexed the ecclesiastical courts, by modes of rea. soning to which they had been altogether unaccustomed, he was arraigned at the bar of the presbytery, of Dundee, and as his answers tended rather to con. firm than to remove the suspicions of his departure from presbyterian principles, he was cited, in April, 1728, before the synod of Angus and Mearns. He ibere openly avowed his sentiments concerning the
.. 9 Brown's historical Account of the Secessions
nature and discipline of a Christian church; and be. ing asked whether he thought himself obliged to publish these opinions, he answered, “ I think myself obliged in conscience to declare every truth of Christ, and keep nothing back, but to speak all the words of this life, and to teach his people to observe all things whatsoever he commands, so far as I can understand, though others may differ from me and I may be exposed to hazard for declaring them.” The synod then pronounced him deposed from his office as minister of the parish of Tealing; and he published an exposition of the proposition " that a congregation or church of Jesus Christ, with its presbytery, is in its discipline subject to no jurisdiction under heaven.” « Notwithstanding all means for reclaiming the Glassites,” says Brown," they obstinately went about preaching their principles in fields or streets, or printing pamphlets in favour of them, so that at length the synod deposed Mr. Glaş from the office of the holy ministry.”.
That many ministers who approved of the church of Scotland, might disapprove of the sentence which completely drove an able man from the establishment, might naturally be expected; but that Mr. Glas himself should appeal to the general assembly against a sentence which only deprived hiin of what he could not conscientiously hold, seems strange and unreasonable. The assembly, however, on the twelfth of March, 1730, confirmed the sentence of deposition: passed by the synod. As he had published in the preceding year his " testimony of the king of the martyrs,” and had even acted upon the views which he there avowed by forming, in the parish of which he had been minister, a church upon his own principles,
why did he yet linger on the threshold of the establishment, clinging to its door-posts and compelling the rulers to drive him out by force, and then complain of his expulsion as an injury?
Mr. Glas was a man of very considerable talents, and illustrated some parts of the gospel with peculiar felicity, simplicity, and purity. He died in 1773. It was not till the end of this period and the begin-, ning of the next that his opinion took root in England, under the name of Sandemanianism, and produced a new religious sect of which an ac, count will be given in its proper place. Though differing so widely in his opinions from the seceders, he equalled, or perhaps exceeded them in a contracted spirit, in excluding all other Christians from his communion, and in short in confining Christianity to himself and to his sect.
This is a strange phenomenon in the religious world, but particular countries have their endemial diseases. The plague has from time immemorial ravaged Egypt; the yellow fever is the scourge of the West Indies; and goitres afflict and disfigure the inhabitants of the Alps. A malady of the soul similar to the last, seems to be the curse of Scotland. An excessive zeal for little things, like an enormous wen, has, with but perhaps one exception, disfigured every sect that has arisen in that country ; and drawing away the vital energy which should have communi. cated strength, has weakened its spiritual powers. To ascertain the cause would be important, as it might operate as a preventative in future: but it is certainly a striking peculiarity in the Scotch charac, ter; and if it could be purged by hellebore, the whole
produce of Anticyra could not be purchased at a price too high.
Towards the latter part of this period another sect arose, which took to itself the name of the Presbytery of Relief. It derived its origin from the tyranny of the church of Scotland, and alone of all the divisions in that country can lay claim to the praise of liberality in principles. The person compelled to be its founder was Thomas Gillespie, minister of Carnock, a man of apostolical sanctity and zeal, as faithful to his charge, and as unblamable in his conduet, as any age can produce. · One distinguished mark of a true Scotch presbyterian, till within the last fifty years, was that a congregation has a right to choose its minister. But a party in the church was now beginning to prevail, of men who carried the law of patronage to the utmost rigour, and treated the sentiments of the people with sovereign contempt.
In 1752, a candidate being presented by a patron to a parish within the bounds of the presbytery to which Mr. Gillespie belonged, the inhabitants were unwilling to receive him as their pastor. The business being finally brought before the general assembly, they enjoined the presbytery to proceed to his ordination. Mr. Gillespie, who was appointed to 'preside on the occasion, refused to take part in a service which he conceived to be contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; and several of his brethren concurred with him. Far from venerating the pious scruples of a tender conscience, the assembly, provoked at their refusal, inflicted ecclesiastical censures on all; but poured the full stream of its vengeance on Mr. Gillespie's head, by deposing him from the office of