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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 85 dated 10th February 1766, resigning his charge, in which he expresses himself in the following terms :- “I now inform you, as Moderator, that I entirely give up my charge of the High Church in this town, and the care of the flock belonging to it, into the bands of the Presbytery. They know not how far I am advanced in life, who see not that a house for worship, so very large aa the High Church, and commonly so crowded too, must be very unequal to my strength ; and this burden was made more heavy by denying me a Session to assist me in the common concerns of the parish, which I certainly had a title to. But the load became quite intolerable, when, by a late unhappy process, the just and natural right of the common Session waa wrested from us, which drove away from scting in it twelve men of excellent character.” After stating these and other grievances to the Moderator of the Presbytery, he further proceeds :- ‘‘I would earnestly beg of my reverend brethren to think that this change in my condition, and the charge I have now accepted, makes no change in my former creed, nor in my cordiatregard to the constitution and interest of the Church of Scotland, which I solemnly engaged to support more than thirty years ago, and hope to do so while I live. At the same time, I abhor persecution in every form, and that abuse of Church power of late, which to me appears inconsistent with humanity-with the civil interests of the nation-and destrnctive of the ends of our office as ministers of Christ.” In consequence of this letter, and his connecting himself with the Relief Presbytery, Mr. Baine was cited to appear before the General Assembly, 29th May 1766. Having cornpeared, and been heard at considerable length, in an elaborate and keen defence, he was declared by the Assembly to be no longer a minister of the Church of Scotland. Immediately after his deposition, Mr. Baine published a pamphlet, entitled “ Memoirs of Modern Church Reformation ; or the History of the General Assembly, 1766, with a brief account and vindication of the Presbytery of Relief.” In this publication, consisting of letters to a reverend friend, he gave an amusing account of the procedure of the supreme ecclesiastical court in his case, and indulged in some acrimonious remarks on the conduct of the leading members of the moderate party. The pamphlet, now scarce, and indeed almost out of sight, is a curious and interesting document. Mr. Baine had in the meantime entered on the duties of his new charge. The Chapel in South College Street, which was the first in Edinburgh belonging to the Relief Presbytery, was opened for public worship on Sabbath, 12th January 1766. At that period the city did not extend so far south as it does now, South College Street being then a portion of Nicolson’s Park, one of the suburbs. To this chapel he was inducted by the Rev. Mr. Gillespie, late of Carnock, on the 13th of the following month, only three days subsequent to the date of his letter to the Presbytery of Paisley resigning his charge of the High Church. It has been remarked by one of his biographers, that when he took this step he did not contemplate an entire separation from the Established Church ; and that, in evidence of his considering himself still belonging to its communion, he is said, after his admission to South College Street Chapel, to have conducted his new congregation to the neighbouring Church of Old Greyfriars (at that time under the pastoral care of his old friend the venerable Dr. Erskine), in order to partake of the sacrament of the Lord‘s Supper. The Establishment, however, viewed the matter in a different light; and various
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&G BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. opinions were formed by the religious public regarding the conduct of Mr. Baine, Whatever might be his motives in still seeking communion with the Church-whether from a lingering affection for a body with whom he had long associated, or from a desire to test its tolerance to the utmost, we shall not attempt to divine.l His formal deposition at the ensuing General Assembly, while it produced a strong sensation in the country, had the effect of exciting the warmest sympathy in his new congregation, who not only gave him a kind reception as their pastor-eagerly attending on his ministrations-but afforded him a salary equal to the income he had enjoyed at Paisley. During the more vigorous period of an active life, one distinguishing feature in the character of Mr. Baine was his bold and determined resolution in condemning and exposing, on proper occasions, whatever he considered to be a violation of public morality. While in Paisley, he published a sermon preached before the Society for Reformation of Manners in that town (instituted under his auspices), in which he testified in strong terms against the prevailing vices of the age; and, when prosecuting his labours in the metropolis in 1770, the amusements of the stage called forth a similar manifestation of his zeal. This discourse-the first edition of which was sold off in the course of a few dayswas occasioned by the performance of the comedy of the Minor, written by Foote, in which the characters of Whitefield, and other zealous ministers, were held up to profane and blasphemous ridicule. The sermon was entitled “ The Theatre Licentious and Perverted,” and had prefixed to it the following curious and rather singular dedication :- ’ “TO SAMUEL FOOTE, ESQ. “ Uncommon, or rather outre, productions (witness your diinor) suit the times. This dedication pretends to be of that quality, and entirely out of the beaten track. Instead of adulation and fulsome flattery, it is the reverse, and plain. Christianity is certainly worth something ; and you may be assured, Sir, that in North Britain it has its admirers still. To insult it, therefore, was neither pious nor prudent. An Aristophanes, worthless as he and his comedy were, compassed the death of a great man. It was fond and foolish, if you aimed at the same success against our holy religion, or what is most venerable in it; and wicked aa foolish. When I recollect the whole of the horrid scene, Mr. Foote and his spruce band of actors performing their part, it has once and again brought to my mind the day when the Saviour of our world was enclosed in an assembly of the great and gay, dressed in a gorgeous robe, an ensign of mock-royalty, to be laughed at. In some such manner have you treated what is most interesting in revelation, and dear to believen of it. Culpable complaisance would not have told you the one-half of this. Genuine charity, perhaps, would have said much more than I have done. Wishing, with all my heart, that you may speedily become as conspicuous a penitent aa you have done despite to the Spirit of Grace, I am, Sir, your faithful servant.” It has the countenance of law. 1 The circumstance of Mr. Baine aid some of his hearers having gone over to the Old Greyfriarg for the purpose of communicating at the Lord’s Supper, is explained by his friends on the ground that, though the Church in South College Street had been opened for public worship, it ww not then in such a state of forwardness as to admit of the dispensation of the sacrament : that Mr. Baine had not been formally cut off at that period by the Church of Scotland ; and therefore, though he himself had taken a decided step towards ecclesiastical separation, he was willing to evince a friendly feeling for the Establishment, in matten of Church fellowship, so long &s the Church should evince a similar feeling towards him. Relief principles, then. as well as now, are not inimical to occasional communion with those who may be regarded as true followers of Christ, though on some points a difference of sentiment may be entertained.
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