Scotland, Relief Church or Synod

Scotland, Relief Church Or Synod or, one of the seceding bodies in Scotland which arose out of opposition to the system of Patronage (q.v.). A majority of the Presbytery- of Dunfermline having refused to take part in the induction of a minister to the parish of Inverkeithing who was unacceptable to the people, they were cited in 1752 before the General Assembly and ordered to proceed with the settlement of Mr. Richardson, the minister mentioned. Although three formed a legal quorum, and it was well known that three members of the presbytery were willing to comply with the command of the assembly, yet the quorum was raised to five. Three ministers were present on the day appointed for the settlement; but as they were not a quorum, nothing was done. Of the six who refused to comply with the appointment of the Supreme Court, it was resolved that one should be deposed. On Saturday, the day after their report was presented to the assembly, each of the six was singly placed before the bar of the house. Three seemed to yield, two remained firm. Thomas Gillespie, minister of Carnock. came forward with a protestation defending his conduct, and as a result was deposed from the ministry; the vote standing 56 for deposition and 102 declining to vote. Rightly judging that he was illegally and unrighteously deposed, Mr. Gillespie preached next Lord's day in the open air at Carnock. He went to Dunfermline a few months after, and the General Assembly refusing, the next year, to remove his sentence of deposition, he laid the foundation of a new secession. He labored alone until 1757, when a similar congregation was formed by Thomas Boston (son of Boston of Ettrick) at Jedburgh, in consequence of the forcible intrusion of a minister into that parish where the people desired that Boston should be appointed. A third congregation was formed from a similar cause in 1760. The first Relief Presbytery was formed Oct. 22,1761, and consisted of Gillespie, Boston, and Thomas Colier, according to the words of the original minute, "for the relief of Christians oppressed in their Christian privileges." Its first synod was formed in Edinburgh in 1773, and in 1794 a hymn-book was sanctioned by the synod. In 1807 it numbered about 60 congregations with 36,000 members, and in 1847, 7 presbyteries, 114 congregations, and about 45,000 members. In 1834 proposals were made for a union between the Secession and Relief synods, which was consummated, at Edinburgh, May 13, 1847, under the name of the United Presbyterian Church (q.v.). See Blunt, Dict. of Sects, s.v.; Eadie, Eccles. Cyclop. s.v. SEE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES.

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