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these sermons whose teaching, in two particulars, we censured. you to consider what risks there are in pressing to a decision what the Church has not defined? I sometimes think that the Churches which are perfectly free to act are exposed to a temptation incident to liberty, to press too far the prevailing opinion of the moment, and to deny toleration to unpopular opinions, though these lie fairly beyond the limits of their standards. But on this I cannot enlarge. The report from which we dissent insists upon Mr Smith retracting and disavowing. Why both? Why not one or other? Mr Smith has unhesitatingly disclaimed the doctrines at variance with the truths which he has confessed-doctrines which we thought natural inferences from his teaching. Is not this enough to us who have him entirely at our mercy if he were conceivably to break faith? Are we to insist that Mr Smith shall say he believed those doctrines were taught in these sermons, after he has told us that he believes they were not? If he had at first withdrawn the sermons, at that time when, in the beginning of his second statement, he expressed regret for using language which had given rise to distrust, and trouble, and misunderstanding (from which language our first report had deduced opinions which he declared he did not entertain)—I say, if he had so withdrawn these sermons at the first, I think it would have been the happiest course for us all. But, again and again he gave explanations of them, declaring that his meaning was not what we supposed it to be; and setting aside the sermons, which we have censured, I frankly declare myself satisfied with the doctrinal teaching which he has finally enunciated. I am not sure that I understand the process by which he reconciles some of the language of these sermons with his present doctrinal statements; I don't understand it, and therefore I think we did right in censuring, painful though it was to do so. But he has all along declared that he does hold the sermons and his present statements and the successive explanations to be in harmony, and therefore I do not see how he could retract without practically confessing that he had been dishonest in these explanations. I will be no party to such a proceeding.
This would be to reverse what Seripture teaches of discipline, to make it for destruction and not for edification. And if you affirm the decision of the Presbytery, I venture, with all humility, to say that you will take a course not for the honour of the Church, nor for the confirmation of sound doctrine. You will send the case back to us, and bid us insist on retractation and disavowal. Of course Mr Smith will refuse ; for at times I have doubted his logical exactness and his wisdom, but I have never doubted his probity and his sense of honour. When he refuses to retract, what can we do but resolve to serve a libel? And when we do so, it is my firm persuasion that his answers and explanations will be such that it will be impossible to prove it. The case will ignominiously break down, and not improbably the whole moral influence of our past dealing will be lost, if not to him, yet to the Christian community around us and to ourselves. (Loud applause.)
Dr BEGG, referring to the manifestation of feeling indulged in by a part of the audience, said that he thought it intolerable, and that it ought not to be allowed. This is (he added) a very solemn and serious case-one that requires the greatest patience, and a calm, judicial bearing on the part of those who have to consider and dispose of it; and it is highly improper for any one to manifest any feeling on either side.
Dr FORBES—I think that some ministers have engaged in this manifestation, and I especially regret to think that some of those in the Presbytery of Glasgow are to be included in this number.
Mr Nixon—The demonstration has been confined, I think, to one part of the house. The unseemly interruptions referred to came from a single gallery, (pointing to that occupied by the students,) where I have observed that a few lads, scarcely half-grown, are the offending parties. I have but to remind those parties that if there be any further manifestation of that kind, if any one will second the motion, I will move that that gallery be cleared. (Some hisses from the gallery referred to.)
Professor Douglas said that, though he was anxious that the utmost silence should be observed while this case was under consideration, yet he would regret that they should be laid under any necessity to act as had been alluded to.
Dr CandLish said that, if there was any further noise from the gallery, they must have it cleared.
Dr FORBES then proceeded to address the Asseinbly in support of the judgmentof the Presbytery. In doing so, he said—Moderator,- In defending the decision of the Presbytery, which has been impugned by the dissentients in this important case, it will be necessary to take a review of the previous proceedings of the Presbytery; and it will be understood by the Assembly that the whole of these proceedings were adopted by the Presbytery with perfect unanimity, or at least without a single dissentient voice. This review, it is apprehended, will satisfy the Assembly that the decision impugned is the only consistent logical conclusion to which the Presbytery could possibly have arrived—that we were shut up to it by our previous decisions in the case—and that to have adopted the motion proposed and supported by the dissentients would have stultified the Presbytery, compromised the interests of divine truth, and have involved us in the imputation of countenancing a mode of expressing the obligation of the Decalogue, and the relation of the Old Testament Scriptures to the New, which the Presbytery had unanimously disapproved and censured as being at variance with the language of the Confession of Faith and the teaching of Scripture. The case came before the Presbytery, in the first instance, in a public manner, on the 2d day of May 1866, in consequence of a statement by Mr Smith to the effect that “ he had become aware, though only by means of vague rumours, that certain statements of his on our Lord's Sermon on the Mount had given offence to a small party in his session," and he thereupon proceeded to give an explanation of his views with reference to the subjects respecting which he had been charged with delivering erroneous teaching in his discourses. The following extracts from that explanatory statement will show the General Assembly that the questions in- . volved were of a most serious description, and such as not only justified the Presbytery, but rendered it imperatively necessary to institute the subsequent proceedings in the case. Mr Smith, evidently with a view to protect himself from an inference to the contrary, which the Presbytery would almost unavoidably draw from the theory which he proceeded to propound respecting the supercession of the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures, stated :-" I hold firmly by the apostle's saying, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doce
trine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.'' He then proceeds to state
" Bat now, coming to the real question at issue, allow me to say that all those Old Testament Scriptures, whatever of eternal truth they might and did contain, were at least formally connected with a dispensation which has assuredly passed away, and it appeared to me that in that sense, as the formal regulative documents of the present economy, they have been superseded by the New Testament, which is now itself the authoritative and sufficient revelation of God's will to us, as to all matters of doctrine, worship, and duty.”
Mr Smith evidently limits the administration of the covenant of grace during the period embraced under the Old Testament to one dispensation : whereas, the Confession of Faith expressly states that “one and the same” covenant has been administered under various dispensations. We are, accordingly, accustomed to distinguish the patriarchal dispensation, and the Abrahamic dispensation, and the Mosaic dispensation, as differing from each other and from the Christian dispensation ; but as all severally combining to one and the same end, the exhibition and administration of the covenant of grace, which is as much the substance of the Old Testament as the New. That we are doing no injustice to Mr Smith in ascribing to him an oversight on this subject, and one which involves much of the erroneous teaching into which he has fallen, appears from the following passage in his statement :-“It appeared necessary to determine, if possible, the precise relation between the Old Testament and the New.. And the question presented itself to me in this light. There are two dispensations—the one less clearly, and the other more fully, setting forth the mind and will of God for our salvation ; yet both so closely allied that the first did figure and foreshadow its successor, which last again fulfilled all the promise of the earlier covenant. These two dispensations I found embodied in two different sets of documents, both alike divinely inspired, therefore both claiming the same authority. But it was clear that the one dispensation had superseded the other ; and therefore it seemed to me equally clear that, in some sense, the one set of inspired documents must be assumed to have come in the room of the previous set. The laws which regulated the first economy could not remain in force, side by side with those of the New Testament; and yet the Lord had plainly said He had not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them."
The summary, and, we may add, the indiscriminate way in which Mr Smith decides that the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures has been entirely superseded by the New, contrasts very remarkably with the exceedingly guarded, careful, and elaborate disquisitions of the most eminent divines upon the distinction between what was ordained to be permanent in the Old Testament, and what was merely temporary.
" It is a matter of the greatest moment,” says Witsius, "that we learn distinctly to consider the covenant of grace either as it is in its substance or essence, as they call it, or as it is in diverse ways proposed by God with respect to circumstantials under different economies. If we view the substance of the covenant, it is but only one, nor is it possible it could be otherwise. There is no other way worthy of God in which salvation can be bestowed on sinners, but that discovered in the gospel, whence the apostle (Gal. i. 7) has beautifully said, 'which is not an
other;' and that testament which was consecrated by the blood of Christ he calls everlasting, (Heb. xiii, 20,) because it was settled from eternity, published immediately upon the fall of the first man, constantly handed down by the ancients, more fully explained by Christ himself and His apostles, and is to continue throughout all ages, and in virtue of which believers shall inherit eternal happiness. But if we attend to the circumstances of the covenant, it was dispensed at “sundry times and in divers manners,' under various economies, for the manifestation of the manifold wisdom of God. In considering this, we are first to discourse on those general things which pertain to the substance of the covenant, and have continued in every age ; and then explain the different economies or dispensations, and the new accessions made to each, which we will first do in a general and concise manner, then gradually descend to the more special considerations."
Now, it shows the indiscriminate and unsparing extent to which Mr Smith carries out his theory with respect to the supercession of the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures by the New, that he expressly includes the Decalogue as being superseded. His words are—“I apprehend that the form in which unchanging moral duty is laid down to us may, to some extent vary, and that it may be revealed at one time in greater fulness than it was previously understood to be. That changed form, then, and that fuller expression of its meaning, will henceforth be the law to us. It was in this sense that I spoke of the Decalogue as being in a manner superseded. The ceremonial law is fulfilled and annulled in Christ, so that it is no longer obligatory. But the moral law is fulfilled or filled up in such a way that it appears altogether more supremely excellent, and tenfold more binding than ever. The form of that law, as it is now revealed in Christ, is the form which is now obligatory upon us; but that, instead of relaxing its authority, has, I believe, greatly exalted it, both in that its claims now rest on God's redeeming love and sacrifice, also in that its deep meaning, and spirituality, and holiness are better understood than they were under the former economy."
An eminent divine has been referred to by Professor Jas. Douglas as favouring the idea of the abrogation of the moral law under the gospel ; but I may observe, in reply to what he has said in regard to him, that no theological writer was perhaps ever more resolute in defending the doctrine of free grace than Calvin, or more eloquent in maintaining the divine honour of the Saviour and His divine offices, and so far was he, as appeared to be hinted to-day, from conceding to the theory of those who maintained. that the Decalogue was abrogated by the gospel, that he denounced it and its abettors in terms of unmeasured condemnation. In Book II., Institutes, chap. 7, occurs a passage which may be translated as follows :
“ That the whole subject may be made manifest, the better let us combine, in a succinct order, the office and use of the law which is called moral. So far as I understand, that consists of three parts. The first is, that it displays to us the righteousness of God, or, in other words, that righteousness which alone God will accept, and by this means it admonishes, certifies, convinces, and condemns every individual of his own unrighteousness. The second office of the law is, that those who are not reached with any anxiety about what is right and just, unless by compulsion, may be restrained from wickedness, at least, by the dread of punishment, when they hear, by means of the law, the dire penalties incurred by disobedience. In both these respects, that which is elsewhere spoken is applicable to the law, viz., that it is a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ; for there are two descriptions of persons whom it leads to Christ, as by the hand of a schoolmaster-those who are excessively filled with reliance upon their personal virtue or righteousness; and those who stand in need to be restrained as with a bridle, lest their sinful impulses should utterly extinguish all zeal for righteousness. The third use of the law, which is both its principal one and also the use which has a special respect to its proper end, is that which it serves in the case of believers, in whose hearts the Spirit of God acts and reigns. For, although they have the law written and engraven upon their hearts by the finger of God, that is, are so influenced and animated through the guidance of the Spirit, that their desire is to obtemper, or to be obedient to God, nevertheless they derive a twofold advantage from the law, It is the best of all means whereby they can learn better and more surely, day by day, than by any other, what the will of God is which they aspire to, and are confirmed in the understanding of it. And further, inasmuch as we stand in need, not only of knowledge, but of exhortation, the servant of God will derive this advantage from the law, that he shall be stimulated to obedience by frequent meditation upon it, and shall therein be strengthened and kept at a distance from the lubricity of a course of delinquency."
After descanting upon these three topics, Calvin adds, sec. 13:
“Whereas ignorant and unskilful persons cannot discern these things, they fiercely explode the authority of Moses in toto, and bid farewell to the tables of the law, because, forsooth, they deem it foreign to the position and condition of Christians to adhere to a teaching which contains the administration of death. Let such a profane sentiment be banished far from our minds ; for Moses has admirably shown that the law which engenders death to sinners has a better and more excellent use to serve to saints ; for he said to the people, when about to die, 'Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do; all the words of the law, for it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life, and through this ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it."
With reference to the statement of Mr Smith, that the form of the moral law in which it is revealed in Christ is the form which is now binding on us, it may be asked, Where does such a form exist? Christ evidently dealt not with the form, but with the spirit of the law, and, without altering its form one jot or tittle, exhibited the comprehensiveness, the spirituality, the holiness, and the unchangeableness of its precepts. There is nothing analogous to the Decalogue in the New Testament; and teach men that the Decalogue has lost its authority, you leave them at large to find out their duty by constructing a form of law for themselves ; in which case the form they adopt will necessarily quadrate with and become as various as their several idiosyncrasies, moral and intellectual. At any rate, the authority of any form thus deduced from the New Testament will not be “thus saith the Lord,” but it can only amount to this: such, according to my reading of the New Testa