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and pew in the parish church, as they inherited his other property, and who formed that select body who, in all times of popular excitement, stood up for "kirk and king," and looked down upon Dissenters as the tagrag and bobtail of society.* It was, indeed, impossible to see such a fruitful element of division introduced into the most numerous and influential church in the newly formed connection, and that, too, by one of the most zealous and indefatigable of those who had originated the movement, without alarm.
The brethren were well aware of Mr. James Alexander Haldane's slavish scrupulousness as to points of faith and practice, his hastiness in adopting opinions, his firmness, or rather obstinacy, in holding to them, the high place he deservedly held in general estimation, and that it was a hopeless thing to induce him to pause and reflect ere he should decide finally in a matter which put such precious interests to hazard. The good man, whose great anxiety was to be right, and to lead others right, always supposed that he had already paused, already reflected, and that nothing remained for him but to go forward in the path of duty. There was, therefore, no likelihood that the evil would be stayed, and division warded off. To add to their uneasiness, the strong dissatisfaction which many felt with the irregularities which Mr. Robert Haldane had introduced into the Lord's Day services, while in England, began to find open expression, and to disturb the harmony which had previously reigned in the church. The prospect before them was gloomy. Mr. James Alexander Haldane was timidly conscientious, and saw his course plainly. There was, therefore, no hope of him; and they knew his brother's temperament, that he would submit to no questioning about his procedure-would allow no interference with his practice-give no reason to any one for anything he judged it
* At a public meeting where Rowland Hill was present, a clerical speaker alluded to all who dissented from the establishment, and sneeringly called them the tagrag and bobtail of every community. This called up Mr. Hill, whose majestic figure caught every eye, as extending his arms in the way of benediction, he said in a loud voice, "God bless tag, God bless rag, God bless bobtail," and then sat down; so did the orator!
expedient to do;-it was enough that he was satisfied; others had no right to find fault. The seeds of division and discord had thus been.sown; estrangement was certain to follow, and then they foresaw that the goodly fabric which had attained to such fair proportions, would be rent assunder and fall to pieces more rapidly than it had been built up.
These forebodings were soon, and to their utmost extent, realized, when Mr. Robert Haldane, as heretofore, followed his brother, and professed anti-paedobaptist opinions; for though both professed a willingness to continue in fellowship with their brethren, these were too well aware of the impossibility of continuing and coöperating as a brotherhood, when so radical a difference of opinion existed; more especially when Mr. Robert Haldane's position in reference to the Tabernacles, the property of which was wholly in his hands, and the Seminaries, which had hitherto been sustained and controlled by him, and his independent mode of proceeding,were considered. The result was, that after many meetings of the brethren, in private, and of the church, in public, the resolution was come to, that the entire membership should assemble and decide as to who should continue under Mr. James Alexander Haldane's pastoral care, as a Baptist, and who intended to withdraw.
On the sad occasion, when this division took place, every member, male and female, except those providentially hindered, were in their places; there were fervent prayers offered up for guidance, intense feeling shook every bosom,-memories of by-gone enjoyment flitted through every mind; recollections of good effected, were vividly called up, and the grief of separation saddened all. There was little preliminary discussion, for that had already been exhausted; the necessity of unity of faith and practice in pastor and flock, had been conceded on both sides. Nothing therefore remained but to proceed to a division and to break up a church which had so long and so pleasantly worshiped together, and so efficiently labored in diffusing the gospel.
One who was present described to the writer the trying scene, when the final separation took place. "The whole
church was present," said he, "and when the vote was to be taken, those who intended to remain under Mr. Haldane's ministry were directed to pass over to the aisle on the right of the pulpit, and those who were to withdraw to that on the left; but to prevent confusion, Mr. Haldane's friends were to move first. When the call was made, a goodly number rose and ranged themselves in the appointed place, then the others were called to take up theirs,-but for a minute or so, none rose, all their eyes were turned to those who decided to remain, as if counting how many dear friends were thus separating from them, but the delay made my heart sick; however, all at once the whole of us rose, and by far the largest and nearly all the influential portion of the members took their places in the withdrawing aisle. There were comparatively few who had decided to remain, and some of them shortly afterwards withdrew-they were discouraged by the altered state of the congregation on the Sunday."
This decision, as it was unexpected, was a heavy blow to Mr. James A. Haldane, whose heart was in his work; he had labored diligently, affectionately, and gratuitously among his people, and anticipated the secession of those only, who were decidedly opposed to his Baptist views, while he should retain the great majority of his flock; he was therefore sadly disappointed. But if the blow was a heavy one to him, it fell far more heavily on his brother, who very naturally looked on the whole previous movement and its results as mainly his own work, and he had been accustomed to deal with it as his own; he knew what he had done for it, and what he was still doing, and thus to be cast off, instead of being followed by those to whose general cause he had ministered so liberally of his substance, to be shrunk from, instead of being clung to,was a bitter trial to his proud spirit.
The results were disastrous to the cause in Edinburgh. Many members went back to the churches of the Evangelical ministers in the established kirk, some to Lady Glenorchy's, some who had adopted Baptist opinions in all their sectarian rigidity, joined the close communion church under Mr. A. McLean, (author of a Commentary on the Hebrews),--but the
majority kept together, rented Bernard's rooms in the New Town, and afterwards built and removed to a chapel at the corner of Albany street, where the Second Congregational Church still worships.
The immense congregation, which for six years had crowded every corner of the Tabernacle, Leith Walk, was scattered, never to be gathered again; and instead of the three thousand and four thousand who had gathered to hear him, Mr. James A. Haldane preached to a mere handful of people sprinkled over its broad area and deep galleries; he continued to do so for a short time only, for the woefully reduced number of hearers became irksome, and therefore to reduce the capacity of the house, the area (which was below the level of the street, the building standing on the steep slope stretching down to the base of the Calton Hill) was cut off by a floor being put over it, making the first gallery of the ground floor of the meeting house; and the original basement was rented for ale and wine vaults. But even this reduction was not enough to suit the diminishing numbers who attended, and a second reduction was made by roofing over the first gallery and area, and making the second gallery the place of worship, to which access was had by steep stairs from Leith Walk; and as in the former case, the portion thus taken off was divided and fitted up as shops and warehouses, and let as places of business, being on a level with the street. In this very circumscribed house, and to a very scanty audience, good Mr. James A. Haldane labored to his death; few converts were made; death removed his early and attached friends, and his flock dwindled away yearly, not because of any failure in his power as a preacher, or any diminution of his faithfulness as a pastor, but from the frequent changes of his opinions, especially in church order and practice. At one time he inculcated the duty of the members' saluting one another with a holy kiss when they met in the sanctuary. This was not approved by some, who in consequence withdrew. At another he varied the practice of praying and exhorting by the lay brethren, by calling on one or others so to engage, and this also rendered others dissatisfied who were not called on. Then he changed
again, and left the whole brotherhood to pray or exhort as the spirit might give them utterance, and this, while it drove away some, brought others, who labored under the cacoethes loquendi, but who were by no means qualified to benefit any; and these again distasted a few who left on their account. Then he changed again and took the entire services upon himself as he had done at the beginning of his pastoral labors, and this scattered the band of volunteer exhorters.*
In his latter years it was painful to see the good old saint, who had for so many years been listened to by eager crowds in every portion of the country through which he itinerated,and who, in that very house had preached for years to anxious thousands, ministering, with his habitual fervency, to a little band, which would scarcely have filled a small conference
The disruption thus begun in Edinburgh spread through all the churches, and placed many of them in a very painful position. The property of all the Tabernacles except that built by Mr. Aikman, for his own people, belonged to Mr. Robert Haldane; and as in nearly every case the churches which met in them resolved to abide by the order on whose platform they had been formed, the alternative was left them, either to buy the building or rent it, and failing ability to do either, to leave it. To many this was almost extinction,-for though the congregations were large, (the sittings being, according to the original design, free, except in the Circus at Glasgow),
* There were twelve of these men who, unwilling that their candles should be hid under a bushel, formed themselves into a novel society which they named 'the Zeletic,” and as all were gifted alike, they resolved that each should be presiding Elder in rotation, and they rented the Calton convening room as their conventicle. One of them, Mr. Robert Cockburn, had a most singular voice, it sounded as if he spoke from the bottom of a hogshead. On the night of his presi dency, his wife, who was anxious to hear how he would acquit himself, went with a neighbor to the room, but as they were all the congregation, Mr. Cockburn saw them and abdicated the chair, which a brother moved into.
When Mrs. Cockburn and her friend retired, she said with great simplicity, “Mr. Cushnie, did you notice there were twelve of them; do you know I could not help thinking of the apostles, and may be one of them, too, is a devil-and what if it be Rob?"