The Commission of the General Assembly of the Church have taken -a new step. At the May meeting of the Assembly, when the seven ministers of Strathbogie were deposed, Dr. Cook and others of the minority tendered a protest against that decision, declaring that they should still continue to recognize the ejected ministers as their brethren in the church. The majority refused to entertain that protest. In accordance with the views which it expressed, however, Dr. Cook, Principal Macfarlan, and others of the Moderate party, have afforded -every countenance to the seven ministers, and have officiated in their pulpits. At the last dispensation of the sacrament in the parishes, six ministers from a distance assisted : their names are—Messrs. Robertson of
Cusimay of Rayne, Grant of South Leith, John Cook of Haddington, Stirling of Galston, and William Mearns, missionary at Glenkinnes. At the meeting of the Commission on the 11th instant, a report was read from what the Assembly holds to be the Presbytery of Strathbogie- -that is, from the four ministers who constituted the minority in the Presbytery opposed to the seven—complaining that the latter continued to preach ; and setting forth the support which they received in their contumacy, especially from the six gentlemen who assisted at the sacra- ment. Mr. Candlish then undertook "a duty more painful than it had ever fallen to his lot, or he believed to the lot of any member or minister -of the Church to discharge," in moving the following resolution- " The Commission having had transmitted to them, by the Special Com- mission, a report from the Presbytery of Strathbogie anent certain irregu- larities and offences alleged to have been committed within their bounds, by -certain ministers of this Church, have considered the same; and, inasmuch as the said report bears that certain of the aforesaid ministers are said to have been present and assisting at the pretended dispensation of the sacrament of the Lord a supper by persons deposed from the office of the holy ministry by the late General Assembly, and to have held communion with these deposed ministers, and received the sacramental elements at their hands, thereby acknow- ledging them as still ministers of this Church, in contempt of the sentence of the General Assembly, and concurring with them in their endeavour to maintain themselves in the exercise of their spiritual functions by civil authority alone, against the highest censures of the Church, grounded on the Word ot God and the authority of the Lord Jesus in his Church, her only King and Head ; and inasmuch as such an act is in itself a heinous offence spinet the exclusive supremacy of the Lord Jesus in his Church, while it im- plies the guilt of schism, and tends, therefore, immediately and directly, to create separation and division of the most serious nature; the Commission, basing respect to that part of the instructions given by the General Assembly for many years bypast, which 'empowers the Commission to take special care to keep and maintain unity in the Church upon all emergents, especially among the ministers thereof, and to gain such as separate therefrom, and to -suppress error and schism in this Church,' resolve to transmit the said report of the Presbytery of Strathbogie, together with this deliverance of the Com- mission, to the several Presbyteries which have jurisdiction over the ministers named in the report as alleged to have been guilty of the offence referred to— namely, to the Presbyteries of Edinburgh, Haddington, and Ellon, in order that the said Presbyteries may proceed in the matter as they shall be advised, according to the laws of the Church ; instructing them to report their diligence to the meeting of the Commission in November." After some discussion and opposition, the resolution was carried, by ,60 to 13. Dr. Cook read the following reasons of dissent, which were signed by the minority- 1st, Because, believing, as we do, that these seven ministers did nothing incompatible with their duty as good subjects and as members of this Church as established by law, we adhere to our protestation, that they should still be regarded as if no sentence of deposition had been pronounced against them ; and therefore consider any attempt to punish those who so view them, and who act accordingly, as a perseverance in that course of defiance to the civil power which is inconsistent with the nature and design of the Established Church ; which has already impaired its usefulness, by introducing the most lamentable dissensions, and which threatens either to destroy it altogether, or alienate from it the reverence and affection of a great part of the people of Scot- land, who yet remain within its communion. "2d, Because the resolution now sanctioned pats an end to all hope of de- vising any measure by which the members of the Church might be united, and imposes upon us, and upon all who agree with us in the opinion which we have repeatedly expressed as to our present distressing condition, to take such steps as may appear most effectual for ascertaining, from competent authority, whether we now dissent, and they who concur with us, or they who continue to set at nought the law of the land and the decisions of the Supreme Courts, in what we esteem a matter of civil right, are to be held by the Legislature of the country as constituting the Established Church, and as entitled to the privileges and endowments conferred by statute upon the ministers of that Church." These reasons occasioned some alarm among the party of the majo- rity ; and next day twenty-five persons signed a requisition to Dr. Gordon, the Moderator, to call an extraordinary meeting of the Com- mission, at as early a day as possible. He has convened it for Wed- nesday the 25th.
The validity of the decree of the Court of Session, suspending the sentence of the Assembly of 1840, by which the Strathbogie ministers were suspended from thew functions and the preaching of the gospel in their parishes was interdicted, is now likely to be determined upon argument. This decree was pronounced in absence ; the Church not choosing to appear before the Civil Courts to plead a matter purely spiritual. The seven, however, not content with getting their interdict, craved further, and obtained a decree for expenses. These, though for a decree in absence, which usually costs a few pounds, amount to 120L; and for this a charge has been given. To resist this a suspension has been brought, on the ground mainly that the Court, having no juris- diction in the subject-matter of the process, could not award expenses; and thus, in deciding a purely civil question regarding the payment of money, as to which all parties may and ought to plead before the Court, the question of the Court's jurisdiction will be fully argued.—Edinburgk Witness.