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Branton, Moderator of the Synod. On the Scotia, having been obliged, for domestic Monday evening following, a public tea- reasons, to leave his flourishing and attached meeting was held in the schoolroom behind congregation, in Halifax, where he has been the church. After tea, which was provided labouring, with much acceptance and sucgratuitously by the ladies of the congrega- cess, for the last five years. Mr. Hunter is tion, the meeting adjourned to the church, a licentiate of our own church, and as he is which was completely filled, when interesting desirous of putting his services again at her and instructive addresses were delivered by disposal, it is only an act of justice to him the Revs. Dr. Paterson, Jas. Blythe, J. Reid, to publish in our columns the following doof Blyth, McKenzie, of North Shields, Terrot cument, which bears out distinctly the cirGlover, Esq., of South Shields, with the cumstances in which he left the colony, and Rers. Messrs. Angus, Giekie, Fennel, the vouchers of ministerial zeal and effiParkes, and Parker, and John Candlish, ciency which he brings back with him to his Esq., of Sunderland. It was stated in the native country. course of the evening that the congregation, which started under its present pastoratetwo

TO THE REV. JOHN HUNTER, years ago, in the midst of great difficulties

REV. AND DEAR SIR, and with very small numbers, was now entirely free from embarrassment. Upwards of We, the Elders, Omice-Bearers, Members, £100, which at that time stood against it, and adherents of Chalmers' Church, Halifax, £60 owing to its treasurer, and upwards Nova Scotia, beg to express our deep regret of £10 having to be paid for repairs, at your approaching departure from amongst had all been cleared off, and the congrega- us, and more especially that it should have tion had now no burden but its mortguge- been hastened by information received by debt of £400, which, we believe, steps will the last English mail of the serious illness be scon taken to reduce and ultimately to of Mrs. Hunter. extinguish. In other respects, the congre- Our feeling towards you, both as a minisgation was shown to be in a healthy state, ter of the Gospel, and as a private indiof which one pleasing indication was given vidual, had led us to hope that the stern in the course of the evening, in the pre- hand of death alone would have sundered sentation of a handsome writing-desk to the tie which united us, but the decree of the minister, by Mr John Robson, in the the Allwise has otherwise determined this name of the young ladies of the Bible-class, matter; and we desire to bow in humble bearing the following inscription :

submission to his will. The past four years have been characterised by great and re

markable movements in the religious world; REV. JOHN BLACK,

and whilst always prompt to occupy your true position in the field of controversy as 3

champion for the truth, we have ever recogBIBLE CLASS,

nised the ardent desire to cultivate that conJUNE 17TH, 1861.

sistency of walk and Christian forbearance

which should invariably animate those who It is only right to state that the congrega- profess to be followers of Him who is essention was assisted in attaining the above- tially the “Prince of Peace.” mentioned result by a contribution of £10, Your pulpit services in the lucid exposiwhich Robert Barbour, Esq., sent, with tion of Scripture, and the prompt refutation his usual munificence, entirely unasked for. of prevailing error, and, we may add, your It is also due to the congregation to state, literary efforts and literary successes also, that during these two years of hard struggle, will continue to be held in pleasing and it has never neglected to contribute to any of grateful remembrance, while your fearless the schemes of the Church, unless, indeed, we and unflinching advocacy of the principles may except the Synod Fund of 1860, when, of our common Protestantism, must render instead of taking the usual Synod collec- your departure from the shores of Nova tion, it contributed £10 towards the Scotia a cause of sorrow to all those who entertainment of the Synod, which that are zealous for the maintenance of those year met in Sunderland. After a vote of great truths for which our forefathers suffered thanks to the ladies for the liberality and and died. excellence of their arrangements, a verse of We beg your aceceptance of the accoma Psalm was sung, and the large assembly panying testimonial as a faint expression of dismissed with the Bendiction.

our regard. Our good wishes and prayers

for your future prosperity will accompany THE REV. JOHN HUNTER.

you wherever in the providence of God your

lot may be cast, with the request that you We understand that Mr. Hunter has re- will convey to Mrs. Hunter our kindest cently returned to this country from Nova regards and good wishes, and thc earnest

PRESENTED

TO

THE

BY THE YOUNG LADIES OF THE

Original Papers.

THE OFFICE OF DEACON.*

The authoritative deliverance of the Free Church of Scotland anent deacons, as reprinted in “ The Form of Church Government,” among their “ Subordinate Standards and other authoritative Documents,” published by authority of the General Assembly, is :

“The Scripture doth hold out deacons as distinct officers in the Church.

"Whose office is perpetual. To whose office it belongs not to preach the Word, or administer the sacraments, but to take special care in distributing to the necessities of the poor.”

In support of this finding for the office of deacon, reference is made to Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, where he speaks (i. 1) of "the bishops and deacons," and to his first letter to Timothy, in which he specially describes the proper characteristics of "the deacons."

Then for the duties of the office we are referred to its first institution as narrated in the sixth of Acts.

In the Book of Discipline prepared by Knox, the paragr.ph,“ Of the deacons, and their office and election," is as follows:

“The deacons must be men of good estimation and report, discreet, of good conscience, charitable, wyse, and finally endewed with such vertues as Saint Paul requyreth in them. (1 Tim. iii. 8.) Their office is to gather the alms diligently, and faythfully to distribute it, with consent of the ministers and elders; also to provyde for the sicke and impotent persons; having ever a diligent care that the charity of godly men be not wasted upon loyterers and ydle vagabonds. Their election is as hath been before rehearsed in the ininisters and elders.”—P. 65, copy 1633.

I quote the above from a very old and imperfect copy prefixed to Knox's Psalms, in my possession. Mr. Lorimer, of Glasgow, quotes the reference to " deacon" from the First Book of Discipline, somewhat differently, thus :

“The office of deacon is to receive the rents, and gather the alms of the kirk, to keep and distribute the same as by the minister and Kirk shall be appointed. They may also assist in judgement with the minister and elders, and may be admitted to read in assembly if they be required and be able thereto."

The date of the First Book of Discipline is 1560, but a few years previous to that date we read (Lorimer, p. 79) “ that a number of private Christians who had been brought to the knowledge of the truth under the labours of the reformers, met together for religious conference, the reading of the Scriptures and prayer." Convinced,” says Mr. McCrie (Life of Knox, 2nd Edit. vol. i. p. 229), “ of the necessity of order and discipline in their societies, and desirous to have them organised, so far as within their power, agreeably to the institution of Christ, they proceeded to choose elders for the inspection of

* A paper read at a quarterly meeting of ministers and office-bearers connected with the Presbytery of London, in June last, by William Ferguson, Esq., of Hampstead. No. 163.--New Series.

16

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their manners, to whom they promised subjection, and deacons for the collection and distribution of alms to the poor.”

This was not a new proceeding in the history of the Christian Church, but we shall not stop now to trace it farther back. It is more to our purpose to know that the Church of Scotland put its views into practice, for we are told that in John Knox's church, St. Giles's, Edinburgh (Lorimer p. 83), and which contained 3,000 hearers, there were twelve elders, and not less than sixteen deacons.

The Second Book of Discipline, which dates from 1578, repeats more at large what the first book states as to the office of deacon.

We only quote now two sentences :

“I. The word Diaconos sometimes is largely taken, comprehending all those who bear office in the ministry and perpetual function in the Kirk.

“II. But now as we speak, it is taken only for those to whom the collection and distribution of the alms of the faithful and ecclesiastical goods do appertain.”

It appears, then, that the office of the deacon has to do with the temporal in contrast to and contradisti tion from the spiritual and ruling functions of ministers and elders, and that this has all along been the idea of Presbyterianism as a complete and well carried out system.

This idea is, we think, fully borne out on examination of the institution of the order as narrated in the sixth of Acts. It grew out of the necessities of the Church. It was found to meet a particular phase of the Church's wants, and in it we find a principle of adaptation which the Church need not fear to act on always in meeting the requirements of ever-changing circumstances. Let

your attention to the origin of their office in a few sentences condensing the interesting remarks of a German writer, to which my notice has been kindly directed :

“ It is discovered that the apostolical office is not an adequate organisation for the whole Church. The Apostles were the recipients of the offerings of brotherly love poured in those days of early emotion with such liberality into the Church's common treasury. They had to provide for the just and appropriate distribution of these funds. Perhaps at first

, when selfishness was kept down by the might of the original inspiration of the Spirit, this was easy, but soon the weakness of human nature prevailed and there were murmurs.

“ The true work of the Apostles was to preach, and no doubt they employed others to distribute those funds, whose acts gave occasion for discontent, and that a discontent which attached to the responsible parties, the Apostles themselves. “The Apostles hereupon call together the whole multitude of the disciples, and publicly declare that the previous regulation, by which all official employment and occupation was vested in the hands of the Apostles, was defective, and they therefore propose another arrangement, according to which the duty of distributing alms is to be assigned to others.' The Spirit which speaks by the Apostle censures a defective regulation, even though such censure may derogate from the official authority of the Apostles; and he brings forward a better one, although this is to be built up out of the community itself, notwithstanding that it was there that the dissension had broken out. Accordingly, the Apostles first of all lay their proposition before the assembly, evidently with the view of gaining for it their approbation. And those who were addressed by the title of “Brethren” viewed the matter precisely in this light, for Luke tells us that the saying of the Apostles met with the approval of the whole multitude. And their assent gained, the community were left to themselves to choose out of their own number seven men possessed of certain specified qualifications. These seven, thus put forward by the community, are then named to intimate the importance attached to this ordinance. And thus elected, they are presented to the Apostles, who with prayer and imposition of hands, institute them into their office of distributors of alms.”

1. We have here, then, a special authority for the order—an authority based on the mind of the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles.

2. We have, then, the great fact that the deacons were chosen by the people from among themselves.

3. Further, that these deacons so chosen were consecrated, set apart, specially and solemnly, by prayer and by the laying on of hands, to this office, which was one of a secular character, within the Church.

4. And we have, finally, the business in which they were to be engaged : the almsgiving of the Church, comprehending at that period the whole pecuniary business of the Church.

We are left in no doubt as to the result of this new feature in the Church's platform :

“We are not expressly told,” says Baumgarten, " that this institution of the diaconate remedied the existing evil; we can, however, with tolerably perfect confidence, infer from it, that the office was introduced into all the Apostolical Churches. Moreover, this result is clearly implied in the close of the narrative before us (verse 7.) For the increase of the Word, the great multiplication of the members of the community, to which even a great company of the priests now joined themselves, cannot in such a context mean anything else than that the disturbances to which, on the occasion of the distribution of the alms of the society, selfishness had for some time given rise, were completely removed by the institution of the diaconate; and that the very thing which had threatened so much confusion would now, by means of the operation of the Spirit which dwelt within the Church, tend rather to the furtherance of the truth.”

Similar has been the experience of those Churches which in this matter have adopted the Apostolic plan. That experience testifies to the wisdom and appropriateness of the arrangements which devolve a separate and direct responsibility, as to all the pecuniary affairs of the Church, upon officers selected and set apart for that very thing. The spiritual officers are relieved of distracting cares, and, while still consulted, are kept free from the harassment of administration.

On the other hand, the existence of a special organization for all the money affairs of the Church is calculated to stimulate systematic liberality where it is sluggish or fitful, and to direct aright, and guard from becoming a source of evil, that liberality which true religion creates.

On the qualifications of deacons, nothing can be said more explicit than the original requirements amplified by Paul—“Men of honest report; full of the Holy Ghost; full of wisdom." How comprehensive, yet how precise ! Who is sufficient for these things? In those early days they had no difficulty in finding men up to the mark. We find men still. Is it that they are up to the mark, or have we relaxed the standard ?---and yet a few years later than the pristine pencilling in outline Paul filled in the diaconal portraiture, without any relaxation of the original precise lines.

Likewise must the deacons

1. Be grave.—Not austere or morose, but of dignified gravity. Reverence, veneration, are required in deacons as well as other officials. And this does not imply austerity. No! the religion of Jesus is a joyous thing ; but its joy is a staid, quiet, pure, lowly joy—serene, calm, equable, persistent. 2. Not double-tongued-in other words, sincere.

3. Not given to much wine. Temperate. In the early days of the Church, as now, temptation to excess was very great. Hence the frequent exhortations on this point in Scripture, and this special one for deacons.

4. Not greedy of filthy lucre. There was a Judas among the Apostles. He was treasurer, and he was a thief. The caution was not unneeded. But, apart altogether from the temptation to personal aggrandisement, there is sometimes a temptation to carry the avaricious feeling into the affairs of any society to which the miserly-inclined may belong. The deacon must be generous, large-hearted ; withal, he should be prudent, not reckless or spendthrift, but judiciously liberal, kind, and helpful.

5. Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. That is, welltheir manners, to whom they promised subjection, and deacons for the collection and distribution of alms to the poor."

This was not a new proceeding in the history of the Christian Church, but we shall not stop now to trace it farther back. It is more to our purpose to know that the Church of Scotland put its views into practice, for we are told that in John Knox's church, St. Giles's, Edinburgh (Lorimer p. 83), and which contained 3,000 hearers, there were twelve elders, and not less than sixteen deacons.

The Second Book of Discipline, which dates from 1578, repeats more at large what the first book states as to the office of deacon. We only quote now two sentences :

“I. The word Diaconos sometimes is largely taken, comprehending all those who bear office in the ministry and perpetual function in the Kirk.

“II. But now as we speak, it is taken only for those to whom the collection and distribution of the alms of the faithful and ecclesiastical goods do appertain.”

It appears, then, that the office of the deacon has to do with the temporal in contrast to and contradistinction from the spiritual and ruling functions of ministers and elders, and that this has all along been the idea of Presbyterianism as a complete and well carried out system.

This idea is, we think, fully borne out on examination of the institution of the order as narrated in the sixth of Acts. It grew out of the necessities of the Church. It was found to meet a particular phase of the Church's wants, and in it we find a principle of adaptation which the Church need not fear to act on always in meeting the requirements of ever-changing circumstances.

Let me call your attention to the origin of their office in a few sentences condensing the interesting remarks of a German writer, to which my notice has been kindly directed :

" It is discovered that the apostolical office is not an adequate organisation for the whole Church. The Apostles were the recipients of the offerings of brotherly love poured in those days of early emotion with such liberality into the Church's common treasury. They had to provide for the just and appropriate distribution of these funds. Perhaps at first, when selfishness was kept down by the might of the original inspiration of the Spirit, this was easy, but soon the weakness of human nature prevailed and there were murmurs.

“The true work of the Apostles was to preach, and no doubt they employed others to distribute those funds, whose acts gave occasion for discontent, and that a discontent which attached to the responsible parties, the Apostles themselves. The Apostles hereupon call together the whole multitude of the disciples, and publicly declare that the previous regulation, by which all official employment and occupation was vested in the hands of the Apostles, was defective, and they therefore propose another arrangement, according to which the duty of distributing alms is to be assigned to others. The Spirit which speaks by the Apostle censures a defective regulation, even though such censure may derogate from the official authority of the Apostles; and he brings forward a better one, although this is to be built up out of the community itself, notwithstanding that it was there that the dissension had broken out. Accordingly, the Apostles first of all lay their proposi. tion before the assembly, evidently with the view of gaining for it their approbation. And those who were addressed by the title of “Brethren” viewed the matter precisely in this light, for Luke tells us that the saying of the Apostles met with the approval of the whole multitude. And their assent gained, the community were left to themselves to choose out of their own number seven men possessed of certain specified qualifications. These seven, thus put forward by the community, are then named to intimate the importance attached to this ordinance. And thus elected, they are presented to the Apostles, who with prayer and imposition of hands, institute them into their office of distributors of alms."

1. We have here, then, a special authority for the order--an authority based on the mind of the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles.

2. We have, then, the great fact that the deacons were chosen by the people from among themselves.

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