Monthly scrap book, for October/Synod of Relief
SYNOD OF RELIEF.
The members of the Relief Kirk are a species of Dissenters in Scotland, whose chief ground of dissent from the Establishment is,—the liberty and privilege which they maintain in choosing their own ministers.
In 1762, when Mr Thomas Gillespie, minister of Carnock, in the presbytery of Dunfermline, was deposed by the General Assembly, for refusing to assist at the admission of Mr Andrew Richardson, in the parish of Inverkeithing, the parishioners, in general, being unwilling to receive him as their pastor. Mr Gillespie's situation now rendered him more conspicuous and popular than before; and a chapel was soon built for him in Dunfermine, where he continued to preach to a congregation that was much attached to him, and to oppose the law of patronage in the Kirk. Nor was it long before he was joined by Mr Thomas Boston, minister of Oxnam, who, being refused the presentation, when the town-council, kirk-session, and ⟨⟩ great body of the people in Jedburgh, declared in his favour, on a vacancy in their kirk, gave in his demission to the presbytery of Jedburgh, and undertook the pastoral care of that people, in connection with Mr G.
Mr Boston's cause was brought before the General Assembly, who declared him incapable of receiving a presentation, or even of preaching in a parish church; and all its members were prohibited from holding ministerial communion with him.
Being thus excluded from the communion of the Kirk, these two gentlemen, and a Mr Collier, originally from Fife, who had been officiating for some time among the Dissenters in England, but was now recalled to take charge of a congregation at Colinsburgh, together with some ordained elders, constituted themselves into a presbytery at this last place, whose inhabitants were the first who formally applied to them for relief, hence called "The Presbytery of Relief;" being willing, say they, to afford relief from the rigorous execution of the act of patronage, to all "who adhered to the constitution of the Church of Scotland, as exhibited in her creeds, canons, confessions, and forms of worship."
Their views of church-communion are not so contracted as those of the Seceders, for they permit their members, in the absence of their pastor, or when they are at a distance from any chapel in their own communion, "to join in any other society of sound Presbyterians, where the speaker is known to be orthodox, of good report and regularly called to the ministry." Many of their people receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper with equal readiness in the established Kirk as in their own; and they admit to communion, not only Presbyterians, but Christians of every denomination, who, "as far as they can judge, have a competent measure of knowledge, are sound in the faith, and unblamable in their lives, though not their followers."
Mr Gillespie assured the public, that "his views were to hold communion with all who appear to hold communion with the head, our Lord Jesus Christ, and with such only;" and their synod has determined, "that it is agreeable to the principles of the Presbytery of Relief, to hold communion with visible saints in the Episcopalian and Independent Churches."