Imagini ale paginilor

evidently are different; according to the literal sense of the words the meaning apparently expressed is different. And I believe the meaning intended to be expressed is also different. In the course of the discussion & member of committee remarked that if Jesus Christ has satisfied the justice of God for the sins of all men without exception, he did not see how it would be consistent with the justice of God to punish anyone for sins for which satisfaction bad been already received. A United Presbyterian member of committee immediately said, that was a difficulty that had always pressed on his mind, but there were difficulties on the other side also, thus showing that he held the doctrine in the plain meaning of the words, by his seeing and feeling the tremendous difficulty involved in so doing. I regard this doctrine, that Jesus Christ satisfied the justice of God for the sins of all men without exception, as inconsistent with the teachings of the Confession of Faith and of the Word of God. And it leads directly and logically to several very grievous errors—viz., that satisfaction for sin, and the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the benefits of that satisfaction, are not coextensive, the Holy Spirit never quickening into spiritual life multitudes for whose sins Jesus Christ has made satisfaction to the justice of God; and further, (what was noted before,) sins that have been satisfied for by Jesus Christ are punisbed over again on the sinner himself by God. (Hear.) But some people say that it is only individuals who hold this. We were told in the committee that it is the doctrine of the United Presbyterian Church, and from personalobservation, and from information on which I can rely, I believe that it is widely prevalent in the United Presbyterian Church. There are ministers and members of that Church who do not hold it; there are many who do ; and I know not why any one should blame me for stating what they themselves avow. I find it extensively and tenaciously held by members of the union committee. Allow me leave to say that in any remarks that may be made on these statements of mine in the course of this discussion, I hope no one will ride off on the expression “ Christ died for all,” or on the word “atonement,” or on what is the ground of the gospel offer. Much perverse talking has succeeded in investing these expressions with a degree of ambiguity. But the expression now used by the United Presbyterian members of committee seems to me scarcely capable of two meanings—at least I have never heard two meanings given to it

-“The Lord Jesus Christ made satisfaction to the justice of God for the sids of all men without exception, and therefore it is on that expression I stand. But to return to my narrative :-After a long discussion the following motion was put to the vote against another motion, (Report, p. 8,) “That the joint-committee agree in the following proposition, viz., * That Jesus Christ, in the purpose of the Father, and in His own intention, offered Himself to satisfy Divine justice only for the sins of the elect.” This motion was not made with any offensive intention toward any parties in or out of the committee, as has been alleged in some quarters. It was simply with the view of making it patent to our Presbyteries, who had suggested inquiry and requested information, whether or not we were agreed in the committee in holding in the same sense certain passages of the Confession of Faith. The motion was rejected by the committee substantially, among other reasons, on the ground that it would be equivalent to an addition to the Confession of Faith. But how is it possible to make known our agreement or disagreement as to the sense in which we hold certain passages of

[ocr errors]

the Confession, except by saying categorically we agree or we disagree, unless we embody in words the sense in wbich we hold the passage in question? Well, this motion was put to the vote and lost; and, notwithstanding the long and keen discussion, the divergence and opposition of doctrinal statement that had taken place, and the division that took place, the motion that carried contained the astounding statement (Report, p. 8) “ That the joint-committee were in entire harmony as to the views which that (the Westminster) Confession gives of the teaching of the Word of God.” I find that same statement, as to the entire harmony, reappearing in Dr Rainy's motion ; and this House is asked to put its imprimatur upon it.


do so after what I have told you ? Can you, as honest, truthful men, free from ballucination, free from the influence of subtile distinctions, men of common sense, enlightened by the spirit of truth, say that the joint-commiitee were in entire harmony as to the views which the Coufession of Faith gives of the teaching of the Word of God? This question of doctrine is to me the most important of all. Since the meeting of the committee on the 1st of May, letters have been published which amply confirm all that I have said about the doctrinal views stated aud defended in the union committee. (Hear.) Is not this a reason for waiting and examining into matters a little more fully before you commit yourselves and the Church, introducing mischief and confusion among us that some of us are little dreaming of, by adoptiug Dr Ruiny's motion? If you take Dr Begg's motion, you can go on and inqnire, whilst you are committed to nothing. May God this day enable us all to realise our solemn respunsibilities. God has been very good to the Free Church of Scotland. We have no complaint to make of our gracious Master. In these days of change, why should we lift our anchors ? Rather let us remain in the old paths, holding fast and holding forth the grand old truths of the Bible, which make men wise unto salvation. Some may say of us that in taking up this position we are bigoted and narrow-oiuued. That is a mistake; we are broad as the Word of God; and we desire to be no broader. Everything that we know and believe to be the truth of God we desire to hold fast, and we refuse to let it go. Look to it lest there be among our accusers those who have only a few truths which they deem important, aluny with a number of what they regard as half truths which they huld very loosely, and a number of little truths which they very often ignore. These are the narrow men. May God give us grace to hold fast all truth to which we have attaiued. And now I have done ; but I protest before God Almighty, the searcher of hearts, who is filling this House with His presence-1 protest before the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for His own covenant people, and for them al-ne, and who is at this moment present with us as the Master of Assemblies—I protest before the Holy Spirit, who is at this moment dwelling in the soul of many vow bearing my voice-I protest before this our God, that if we palter in a double sense with the great doctrines of our faith, there may come upon us, in just judgment, disunion and a blight, and the prosperity and usefulness of the Free Church of Scotland come to a speedy and disastrous eud. “ Them who hunour me I will honour; but they who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (Applause.)

Mr John HARVEY, Stirling, (elder,) said, -I am in the same position as Mr Denny. If there are parties in this Church, I belong to none of

them. I follow no doctor's lead, but I rise as an independent member of this Assembly; not in the vain espectation of aduing anything new to this discussion, but to give expression to the hope that nu difference of opinion on secondary or subordinate points will be allowed to act as a barrier to the union of those brethren who have one Lord, one fuith, one baptism. I believe that many of the difficulties that stand in the


of union are to be found in the regions of feeling and prejudice, and I think nothing is better calculated to dissijate those little clouds of opposition which ever and anon arise, than a hearty expression of opinion, in favour of union, on the part of the laity of our Church. It is quite time that our laity bad spoken out decidedly on this subject. The taunt has been frequently thrown out that they take little interest in it.

I believe no tauut is more unfounded. The great majority of the laity do take an interest in it, and they long for its consummation. It is true that they have bitherto taken but little part in the discussion, and I don't wonder at it. They have en perplexed and bewildered by those abtle distinctions in which the clerical mind seeins to revel-(laughter)—but when it comes to be a question, “Whether or not the difference of opinion that exists in regard to State support of religion is a warrantable ground of separation?” the case is different. This is a thing the laity can understand.

If there be no substantial difference between the position and tenetu of the negotiating Churches except on this one subject—if they all bold the principles of the Confession of Faith in regard to the duty of civil magistrates to own allegiance to Christ, to act for the furtherance of His cause, aud to take the Word of God for their rule--surely the question of State support to religion, which is only an inference from the general principles of the Confession, may be left as a question of mutual love and forbearance. It is an impossibility to rear a Church, or goveru a Church, on any other principle than that of mutual forbearance on some points. It would be a foolish theory to expect a dead, useless unity, by making all the members of a Church think alike. Is there a Church in existence at this time, the members of which are all of one miud on every point of Bible truth? And if absolute unanimity is impossible on so important a subject as this, surely a matter so subordinate and so shadowy as the State support of religion may be left as a matter of forbearance too.

But where 18 the argument in favour of State endowments to be found ? Dr Berg says, if the argument for a State Enduwment is not found in the 23d chapter of the Confession of Faith, it will be found in the proofs from Scripture on which the text of that chapter is based. They refer us to the text in Isaiah that foretells that kings shall be nursing fathers, and their queens nursing mothers, as establishing the principle of National Endowments; but this is a sordid result to attach to so glorious a promise. (Laughier.) I believe the time predicted by Isaiah will come, when even kings shall ackuowledge that the glory of the Lord has riseu ou the Church ; when they shall devote themselves and all tbeir influence to the Lord; when that influence, which has often been used against Christ, shall be used for Him ; when thuse restrictins and penalties which are enforced by many governments at this day against the spread of the gospel shall be removed; when the laws that are passed shall be founded on God's Word, and have a regard to His glory: and in this way kings and governments may become nursing fathers to the Church of Christ in a more exalted sense than by giving it mere money support. Why, sir, this text in Isaiah, if taken literally, will carry us much further than a State Endowment. Taken literally, the words in this same verse, “ They shall bow down to thee with their face toward the eartb, and lick up the dust of thy feet," would justify the Papal usurpation to trample on the necks of kings. (Applause.) And as to the verses from Ezra, I can imagine the mind of Artaxerxes being influenced by a ready scribe in the law of Moses, as Ezra was, and a wed by the recital of the signs the Lord had shown and the wonders He had done in the land of Ham ;-I can imagine Artaxerxes doing all that he did, not with any desire of bringing glory and honour to God, but from some blind and superstitious feeling awing and controlling him; I can imagine Artaxerxes doing all this, and much more, for the sake of securing the favour of a God of whose power he had heard so much; for, as he says in the letter he gave to Ezra, " Why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons ? ” The hearts of kings are in the hands of God, and He turns them as He will. When God's purposes are to be accomplished, He raises up men to do them, from whom such service was never expected. But if this passage from Ezra is an argument in favour of State Endowments, the twentyfourth verse of this chapter is an argument for the exemption of the ministers of a State Church, and “the porters and singers" employed about the sanctuary, from the payment of toll, tribute, and custom-and this, of course, would include the Income Tax. (Loud laughter.) The 25th verse is an argument in favour of the Church appointing magistrates and judges; and the 26th verse is an authority to imprison, banish, and even kill all persons who are found guilty of disobeying the law of God. Are our friends who argue for taking the proofs as well as the text as the Confession, prepared to take the literal meaning of these proofs? Are they prepared to go the lengths their argument would lead them? (Applause.)

In the days of Nehemiah there were men who laughed at him for seeking to build the ruined walls of Jerusalem ; so there are men now who cry out, “ What is this thing ye do ?” when we seek to unite the scattered hosts of Israel ; but I say in all solemnity that these men incur a great responsibility, who, for the sake of an abstract and shadowy theory-a theory which involves no vital principle, a theory never likely to be of any practical importance, a theory which you cannot make a term of communion in our own Church–I say they incur a vast responsibility who would jeopardise the union of the Churches on such a ground as this.

But it has been said, “What is the use of uniting? we will never agree !” This argument I cannot understand, and I can less understand Disruption ministers using it-men who experienced God's providential and guiding hand so strikingly in days gone by. This yearning for union among believers, which has in it so much that is noble and holy, I believe to be a work of God. It is not of man's seeking alone, whatever some may say. God by His Spirit seems to be leading the Churches on to seek this union ; and if in His mercy the union do take place, I have sufficient faith in God to believe that He will smooth—nay, even remove difficulties that may subsequently arise. God, who led the children of Israel in their marchings through the wilderness, did not forsake them when they came to the Red Sea. The United Church may have bitter waters to drink, but if we look

to the Lord and trust in Him, He will show us how these bitter waters may be made sweet. When God in His providence opens doors for us, and bids us enter, we dare not refuse. We must take ground as fast as Providence indicates, for it is only by doing so that His further purposes concerning us can be disclosed. Why, it would have been just as reasonable for Dr Begg and Dr Gibson never to have married, for fear that their great-great-grandchildren might quarrel over a property that they were never likely to get-(loud laughter)— as it would be for the negotiating Churches to remain single for fear their descendants might quarrel over the offer of a State Endowment.

Our fitting course is to do what is right now, without forecasting the future — to do present duty, and leave results to God. We shouldn't be deterred by fancied difficulties, for imaginary trials are often worse than real trials; and how many make themselves miserable, and others too, by predicting evils that never come to pass ! (Applause.) If we engage ourselves to God's work, He will give strength and wisdom to perform it. Former mercies should cause us to anticipate fresh mercies. Jonah's case should be a warning to us. He got a command from the Lord, but thought it better to take his own way. Instead of going to Nineveh, as he was told, he thought he would run away to Tarshish, but ere long he found himself in a very different place. (Loud laughter.) Abraham's case should be an encouragement to us : “ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out to a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out not knowing whither he went."

Questions, no doubt, will arise in the United Church about which difference of opinion may ist, but not to a greater extent than exists among ourselves at present. Are we all of one mind in the Free Church as to a scheme of National Education ? (Hear, hear.) Do we all think alike as to the benefit derived by the Irish Presbyterian Church from the Regium Donum ? (Hear, hear.) Do we all agree that the Government is honouring Christ, or paying Him homage, while with one hand they support truth, and with the other support error and superstition? (Applause.) Do we all act alike in matters of worship? Do we all think alike as to the principle and working of the Sustentation Scheme? (Hear, hear.) But some say, "If the union take place, what becomes of our historical identity ?” A family famous in history doesn't lose its identity by uniting with a family equally illustrious ; neither did Scotland lose its identity by its union with England; and I don't think the Free Church will lose its historical identity by uniting with Churches which have an historical identity of which to be proud, as well as ourselves. (Loud applause.) The names of Knox, and Melville, and Henderson belong as much to the other Churches as to us. (Hear, hear.) The Reformed Presbyterian and the United Presbyterian Churches have each maintained a poble testimony to the truth in our fathers' days, and we may consider it no little honour to have the arms of these Churches quartered with our own. Our identity will not be lost by union, but will become more intensified. We bave a lineage of which we may proudly boast as Free Churchmen, but should this union take place, our children will be able to boast of an ancestry more illustrious still. It is no slight honour to point to names so great as Moncreiff, and Thomson, and Chalmers, and Cunningham; but the honour will be increased wben we can unite with these names, names so illustrious as the Erskines and the Browns—when

« ÎnapoiContinuați »