Abbildungen der Seite

frates of Glasgow and the General Session (a body consisting of all the Ministers and other Members of the Kirk Session in the city) about the right of choosing ministers for the city churches. The issue was, that the magistrates and town-council were declared to be the patrons; and they placed a minister in the Wyndchurch, which had lately been rebuilt, disagreeable to the more serious part of the congregation. In consequence of this, a subscription was raised for erecting a relief meeting-louse; which was done in 1766, tho' it has since been converted into a chapel of ease to the Establishment. Mr. Dale was a subscriber; and one of his particular friends took the most active part in the erection. Thus the abolishing the old way of calling the ministers of Glasgow, was the means of loosening the affections of many devout people from the national church of Scotland.

About this time Mr. John Barclay, the founder of the sect called Bereans *, came from Fettercairn (where he preached as an assistant) on a visit to Glasgow; where he was one Sabbath permitted to preach for Dr. Gillies. His rapidity of utterance and vehemence of manner, amazed and disgusted the greater part of the congregation ; but Mr. Dale and some of his friends were much struck with the matter of his discourse, which they thought remarkably clear and evangelical. This produced an intimacy with Mr. Barclay, whom they still liked better in. conversation than in the pulpit; and for some years he paid them. an annual visit. In the most forcible manner he recommended to them the excellency of the Holy Scriptures; and urged the bounden duty of all who possess that blessed book, to search it for themselves, as containing the words of eternal life. With

* The Berèans are a sect of Dissenters from the Church of Scotland, who take this title from, and profess to follow the example of the ancient Bereans, in building their faith solely on Scripture. They are Trinitarians and High Calvinists; but differ from other Christians, maintaining that faith is a simple credence, not only of the truth of the gospel in itself, but of their iriterests in its blessings. Faith and assurance are with them the same ; " because they argue) God has expressly declared, ' He that believeth shall be saved';' and, therefore, it is not only absurd but impious, and in a manner calling God a liar, for a man to say, I believe the gospel; but have doubts, nevertheless, of my own salvation.' - Personal assurance (they insist) is the present infallible portion of every individual believer." This Mr. B. calls believing the direct testimony of God, -as if God had said that A. B. or C. D. were the individual subjects of his grace. " This,” says Mr. M‘Lean," is a favourite and distinguishing point, in support of which he denies that there are any natural notices of God or his law, any conviction of sin before the assurance of pardon, - any different degrees of faith, - that sin can weaken the assurance of our salvation, that the fruits of faith are any evidence to ourselves of our justification, -- that any should pray to God until they are assured of their being justified. He maintains that ail the doubts and fears in the Psalms are Christ's, - that self-jealousy, and cautious fear of coming short, is making God a liar, - that the sin against the Holy Ghost is simple unbelief, &c. These sentiments are scattered throughout his works, and retailed by his adherents.” — See Adams's Pew of Religions, by Fuller, p. 98,

characteristic violence he condemned all human comments, wish. ing (to use his own words) that all that had been written were gathered into one heap, and his own tracts used as a match to set them in a blaze. This doctrine was new to Mr. Dale and his friends ; and though they disapproved the rash and unqualified language of Mr. Barclay, they began to suspect they had paid too much respect to human authority; and considered him as rendering an important service, by having turned the attention of the people to the Scriptures, as the chief object of their study.

Mr. Barclay, on his first visit, strongly recommended Mr. Cruden, who preached near Fettercairn, as a suitable minister for the new congregation; and he was accordingly chosen : but Mr. Dale and his friends being now fully set upon an examination of the Scriptures, in order to derive froin them all their principles, and thereby regulate all their conduct, they began to be dissatisfied with several things in the Presbyterian mocle of worship, and inclined toward the Independent discipline. Particularly, they disapproved the quarterly administration of the Lord's Supper, conceiving it should be administered every Lord's Day; and íhat the members should be united by a mutual confession of their faith. On this change of principles, Mr. Dale and his friends withdrew to a private room, where they used to meet for mutual edification, and prosecute their religious enquiries.

Not long after this, Messrs. Smith and Ferriar, two ministers of the church of Scotland, seceded from her communion, and formed a kind of Independent church at Balchristy, on what they supposed to be the exact plan of the New Testament, of which they were appointed elders or co-pastors. About the same time one of Mr. Dale's friends built the new meeting in Grammar School - Wynd; and the congregation forming an intimate connection with that at Balchristy, they visited each other. After some time it was agreed that Mr. Fcrriar should leave Bal. christy, and come to Glasgow; and as, according to their opi. nion, two ministers (or eiders) were necessary to each church, another was chosen to assist Mr. Smith; and Mr. Dale was ordained joint elder with Mr. Ferriar, over a church of about twenty members. Mr. Dale, however, accepted the office with relactancc, and with such diffidence and anxiety, that his health was thereby materially affected. This was in 1769. On the opening of the new meeting, Mr. Dale could not be prsuaded to engage till the second Sabbath; and then began with saying, “ As I have no talent for composition, I propose only, comparing spiritual things will spiritual, to make a few observations on the passage I have read," namely, Rom. i. 14–18; which lie then proceeded to expound. Mr. Ferriar, however, was an able preacher'; and the congregation increased greatly, notwithstanding the ridicule of the protane and the reproach of many professors, who then considered ladependentisin as a kind of new heresy', that ought not to be suffered ;- so little was the doctrine of toleration chien un

derstood. But in the course of a few years, many similar congregations were formed in Scotland, wbich still subsist, and wontinue greatly to increase

In the mean time Mr. Dale's church became greatly agitated by doubtful disputations; and some of the weighty points contested were the use of the Lord's Prayer, standing to sing, and repeating Amen aloud by the congregation. Mr. Ferriar, who contended for uniformity of faith and unrelaxing discipline, see parated from Mr. Dale and his friends and joined Mr. Glass, the founder of the sect of Glassites. On the contrary, Mr. Dale picaded for the doctrine of Christian Forbearance and forgive ness. If on this question the New Testament is to be the criterion, it is easy to see which is right; for on whatever points that sacred book may be supposed ambiguous, it could not possibly be more decided in favour of Christians loving, forbearing, and forgiving one another ; nor more severe against all wrath, bitterness, and angry disputation.

Some of these persons pleaded also, that a minister or deacor must be but once married, because he is to be thic “ husband of one wife;" which Mr. Dale understood inerely as forbidding the practice of polygamy: others contended (the poorer part we may

* The Glassites originated about 1728 ; and were denominated from the above Mr. Glass, who had been expelled by the Synod, under the charge of attempting to undermine the Scotch Establishment. The same section England are denominated Sandemanions, from Mr. R. Sandeman, one of their elders, who about 1956, attacked Mr. Hervey, in Lerters, on his Theron aud A spasio. “In these letters Mr. Sandeman attempts to prove that justifying faith is no more than a simple belief of the truth, or the divine testiniony passively received by the inderstanding; and that this divine testimony carries in itself sufficient ground of hope to every one who believes it, without any thing wrought in us, or done by as, to give it a particular direction to ourselves.

" Some of the popular preachers,' as they were called, kad taught that it was of the essence of faith to believe that Christ is ours; but Mr. Sandeman contended, that that which is believed in tine faith is the truth; and what would liave been the truth, though we liad riever believed it. They dealt largely in calls and invitations to repent and believe in Chiist, in order to forgivenesi'; but he rejects the whole of them, maintaining that the gospel contained no offer but that of evidence, and that it was merely a record or testimory to be credited. They had caught, that though acceptance with God, which included the forgiveness ot sins, was merely on account of the inputed righteousness of Christ; yet that none was accepted of God, or forgiven, till he repented of his sin, and received Christ as the only Saviour; but he insists, that there is acceptance with God, through Christ, for sioners while such, or before • any act, exercise, or exertion of their minds whatsover;" consequently, before repentance; and that " a passive belief of this quiets the guilty conscience, be. gets hope, and so lays the foundation for love.'. . . . . . . . .

“With respect to discipline, the Classites are particularly strict, maintaining conununion with no other sect of Christians, not even to przy wish them and here originate the two great evils of the system. Ii engenders and promotes a spirit of disputation, which is always unfriendly to practical religion ; and the circumstance of refusing to pray with iubelievers, annihilates family-prayer, and very in!Ich embarrasses social wors ship.” — See Alams's lipow of all Re'igions, bay Fuller, p. 275.

suppose) for a kind of community of goods, as practised by some of the primitive Christians; but Mr. Dale maintained that it was the order of God's providence that there always should be rich and poor among his people, as well as in the world ; and that it is lawful to acquire riches by industry, avoiding all undue means of " hasting to be rich :" - that Christians are to consider themselves as God's stewards in the riches they possess, and, according to their ability, to “ do good to all, especially to the household of faith:” a precept of which Mr. Dale gave the most happy exemplification.

Notwithstanding the above separation, Mr. Dale occasionally visited the church at Edinburgh, where he formed an acquaintance with the lady to whom he was shortly married. Soon after this, Mr. Robt. Moncrief, a member of the church at Edinburgh, and a young man of very popular talents, came to Glasgow ; where also his labours were highly acceptable, and was chosen an elder ; but in a few months he declared against Infant Baptism, for which Mr. Dale was a zealous and conscientious advocate: but Mrs. Dale became a convert to the young preacher and, with a few others, left the church of which her husband was an elder.

By this series of painful events, the church at Glasgow was continually torn ; and we cannot but lament, that the occasions were often inconsiderable. Yet Mr. Dalė continued his ministry among them. All the doctrines he taught were the result of mature deliberation, for he was naturally thoughtful and deliberate. He searched the Scriptures daily, to know the will of God; and never shunned to declare, it to the best of his judgment, "preaching the gospel of the kingdom faithfully, and with all boldress.”

llis prosperity in the world, far from contracting the heart, as is too often the case, enabled him to adorn the doctrine of Christ by very extensive liberality to the poor ; and to display a very active and public-spirited benevolence on all occasions, bea ing constantly ready to every good work. Above all, he was interested in the propagation of the gospel throughout the world. Whenever he could approve the principles of Missionaries, he was most cordial in affording them assistance ; and in every attempt to translate and publish the Holy Scriptures, his zeal was remarkable. Often would be say, that even if some of these attempts were be executed in an inferior manner, they should be encouraged ; for he had never seen a Bible in any language so mistaken as not to contain the revealed method of salvation; and! a new translation, though erroneous, would make room for another, and an improved one.

For several of his latter years he was infirm ; but was not cona fined till within two or three weeks of his end. The very day before his departure, which was the Sabbath, he sent for some of his brethren in the church to confer with them. He told them

he had now found time to review his principles, and had seen no reason to change them. He recommendal attending siinply to the word of God, and following it with implicit obedience. He particularly begged their attention to our Lord's dying testimony : "My kingdom is not of this world;" and added,“ Never give up that." He spoke briefly of the way of salvation by the Son of God, as what alone could satisfy the inind of a dying man. He mentioned the song of the redeemed im Heaven : - To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins," &c.; and how distinguished a privilege it is for believers to join in it upon earth. He told them he had left nothing to the church; and wished to know their opinion. They were glad of it; because they thought the church should rely only on her exalted Head, and not on any earthly funds. These, he said, were his sentiments; and he was happy they were theirs. 66 The church (he added) has nothing to fear: the Lord will be with yon through fire and thro' water, till he bring you to a wealthy place.” His strength tailing, they took leave; and after falling on his neck and kissing him, they left the room with mingled sensations of sorrow and of joy, easier to be conceived than described. The next day, being April 17, 1806, he departed at four o'clock in the afternoon, in his sixty-eighth year, beloved and lamented by all with whom he had been connected, or to whom he had been known. Ilis fellowcitizens, and especially the poor, bewailed him as their father; for on all occasions they had found him such, being applied io as well for counsel as for assistance. His manners were always modest and unassuming : his charities, though numerous and great, were never ostentatious; on the contrary, he was so carta ful to conceal them, that many of the individuals who were saver by him from wretchedness and want, never knew the instrunicnt which Pravidence employed for their deliverance. Though a Dissenter, he was highly esteemed by all parties of Christians“; and by his own, affectionately beloved. In short, his memory is deeply engraven in the hearts of his friends, his fellow.christians, and his countrymen!


I AM sensible that there are many difficulties in the sacred Scriptures, some perhaps which no human skill can satisfacto, rily resolve; but I am sorry to find others created by hypothee sis or prejudice which have no existence but in our own conceptions. Of this kind I consider Matt. ii. 23, on which å great deal of critical sagacity has been lavished, in order to find a passage in the prophets, containing the prediction there referred to, which probably never was in writing. Without ena tering into the question, Whetler we have all the writings of the

« ZurückWeiter »