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some fifteen centuries ago, when perhaps S. Ninian himself, the first known preacher of the Gospel in our land, the apostle of the southern Picts, or perhaps some Pictish priests from the monastic settlement at Abernethy, erected on this spot the first rude sanctuary for Christian worship. How different is Perth, how different the whole face of the country, from what at that time they were ! Why! Scotland had not begun to be called Scotland then! The Scots had not acquired so much as a foothold on its soil. It was Caledonia, the country of the barbarous Picts. This fair city, if it existed at all, was represented by a cluster of heathen wigwams; the forests which surrounded it were the haunt of the wolf and the wild boar ! How completely, since that day, has everything been altered—the people, with their language, manners, occupations, dress, habitations,

, thoughts: the landscape—its forests felled, its marshes drained, its islets become noble parks, its rudely cultivated patches extended into wide and fruitful fields, the river bridged, embanked, and deepened, the hills pierced through! Everything, in short, is changed but one. The Religion of Jesus Christ—the worship of Jesus Christ-which those far-off missionaries brought with them, is here to-day : it is here in all essential features the same.

Our service to-day is composed of the same elements as the service which they set up. We have read from the same Scriptures; we have sung the same Psalms; we have given, as they did, 'glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end : we have prayed the same Lord's Prayer; we have confessed the same Creed. We reopen this church to-day, repaired and adorned afresh, for the self-same purpose for which its earliest predecessor was erected—for the worship of the self-same Name, for the preaching of the self-same Faith, for the ministration of the self-same Sacraments. We carry on their work ; and we carry it on for the same reason which led them



to begin it—because we believe in Jesus : because we own Him as our God and King and Saviour ; because we believe and expect that He, the Same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, will meet with His people 2 and bless them in the ordinances of His own appointment, by His own unseen administration.

Again, it is not only with the first builders of a Christian church on this ancient site that we, as the servants of Jesus Christ, claim brotherhood and fellowship. We see throughout the whole intervening period a continuous acknowledgment, by each succeeding generation, of Jesus on His throne, a continuous stream

grace poured out by Jesus on His worshippers. What else, or less, was the attraction which drew to this spot at least once a week through all those ages so long a line of worshippers ? Why was each race of them carried hither as infants, and led hither by parental hands as children ? Why on their wedding days did they assemble here in festal attire ? Why did they continue in old age to totter through the porch into the sanctuary? Why were their dead brought to be laid within the precinct ? Why just now have you restored this church? You still expect a congregation to worship, and children to be baptised, and the Lord's Supper to be celebrated. It is not—it was not at any timedue mainly either to superstition or hypocrisy or formalism. These vices, we deny not, have affected some ; but to attempt to affix them on fifty generations of Christian worshippers were not only an intolerable breach of Christian charity, it were an insult to common

The main cause all along which drew men hither was their faith (howsoever marred by human imperfection) in Jesus crucified, risen, and exalted; what kept them coming was, and is, their experience of blessing from His presence.

Yet further, there are salient points in the long annals of this church on which the light of history falls


2 Exodus xxix. 43.

1 Heb. xiii. 8.

strong and clear. When we look at the prominent actors at these periods (if we do it in a spirit, I will not say of Christian charity, but of common fairness), we shall find, I think, that (whatever abatements we must make for human frailty) the faith of Christ—the love of Christ, shed abroad in men's hearts by the Holy Ghost—remain throughout the factors of prime importance.

Take the two hundred and fifty years which precede the Reformation. They were on the whole dark days alike for Scotland and the Scottish Church ; but when we read how, in the annals of this church, that period begins with a restoration of almost the entire fabric, and the building of these piers and arches by command of King Robert Bruce (1328) : how in the succeeding century a yet more sumptuous choir took the place of that which Bruce repaired: when we hear of the foundation of altar after altar ' for the glory of God and the increase of His worship’; when bells of price and melody, one of them called the ‘Preaching Bell,' are suspended in the tower' to stir the people to devotion': when in 1490, and again in 1496, the chivalrous James IV. makes his devotions and gives alms within the church; when in 1510 an organ is erected; must we not admit that, however in those days superstition had darkened men's conceptions of the Gospel, there was flowing, here at least, a stream of Christian liberality, which, considering the poverty of Scotland at the time, was both copious and beautiful :

They gave their best, o tenfold shame

On us, their fallen progeny !
Who sacrifice the blind and lame,

And will not wake nor fast with Thee.') On May II, 1560, John Knox preached, somewhere in this church, the tremendous sermon which sent forth 'the fiery besom’ to destroy so many of the fairest of

1 Keble, The Christian Year, Epiphany.

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our Scottish fanes. We are not required, either by the deep debt of gratitude which the Church of Scotland owes to her great reformer or by our admiration of his boldness, to thank him for this particular discourse, or to approve the doings of men whom he himself afterwards described as the rascal multitude. We have reason to lament, as a greater evil than even the destruction of so many noble churches, the fatal authority this example lent, not only to many later acts of fanatic violence, but to the narrow notion that artistic beauty, instead of being the appropriate expression of true devotion, must be its rival or its foe. We may rejoice that we are now at last recovering in some degree from this sordid superstition. But even while we censure the rudeness of Knox, we must not deny to him a truehearted zeal for the same Divine Saviour in whose honour those stately churches had been built. Knox, let us bear in mind, had been a daily witness of how the sacred mystery of Christ's Presence at His table was set forth in gross and carnal terms, and the Commemoration of the Sacrifice put in unwarrantable competition with the Death upon the cross—the latter being popularly represented as atoning only for original sin, while actual offences were expiated by the Eucharist! He was familiar, too, with the almost idolatrous perversions made of the Communion of Saints. It was loyalty to Jesus Christ which made his spirit burn with indignation at these errors. And that same loyalty which bade him cast away the Romish corruptions, taught him also, let us bear in mind, to repudiate with equal vigour the Zwinglian denials. Remember for him the noble words of the First Confession: We utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm Sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs; no, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted in Christ Jesus to be made partakers of His justice (righteousness), whereby our sins are covered and remitted, . . . and also that in the Supper rightly used ... the faithful do so

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eat the Body and drink the Blood of the Lord Jesus that He remaineth in them, and they in Him; yea, they are so made flesh of His Flesh and bone of His Bones that as the eternal Godhead hath given to the Flesh of Christ Jesus life and immortality, so doth Christ Jesus, His Flesh and Blood, eaten and drunken by us, give unto us the same prerogatives.

It is the primitive doctrine of the Sacraments, cleansed and cleared, but most certainly neither eviscerated nor abated.

There are interesting notices in the session records of how at Perth the ecclesiastical authorities followed rather the wiser reflection of Knox's maturer years than the fiery vehemence of his opening sermon.

Thus, in 1586, when the fabric was decaying, the session` desired the minister to elect and choose some part and portion of Scripture which he thought most able and meet to move the hearts of the people, and especially the magistrates, .. to provide for the reparation of the church in all honest and decent form.'

It were much for the honour of our Church and the instruction of our people that such efforts (of which, after the Reformation had been settled, there were many) should be brought out and insisted on. But I must pass on to another period, and an event of great historical importance.

It was in this church, and in this section of it, that, on August 5, 1618, the famous General Assembly met which agreed to the ‘Five Articles of Perth. That Assembly was afterwards repudiated by our Church, and few Episcopalians will now deny its Erastian constitution, or refuse their meed of honour to the churchmen who, on grounds of high Church principle, refused to acknowledge its authority. But it is only fair we should remember that there were good men, and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, on the other side—the Moderator, Archbishop Spottiswood, the careful primate, the invaluable historian of the Church of Scotland ; Bishop

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