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were entitled to sustain the reference in the shape in which it had come before them, and he moved that the reference be sustained. (Hear, hear.)
Mr THORBURN, Leith, did not rise for the purpose of moving a countermotion, but to express his regret that the case was not taken up by the Synod and a judgment pronounced upon it.
Mr Nixon considered that it was very wrong to the Assembly that there should be any reference like this without the brethren of the Synod having exhausted the whole case. He knew a case in the Synod of Perth, in which the papers were very voluminous and were not printed. Though the time before the meeting of the Assembly was as short in that case as in the present case, the Synod of Perth very dutifully adjourned for a fortnight, got the papers printed, and returned like men to their posts and considered the case. He held it was the bounden duty of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr to have acted in like manner. The mere difficulty of the case was not a reason for not entering into its consideration. Who knew, if that Synod had done their duty in the matter, but that a great deal of additional light might have been cast on the case-so much as to facilitate its due settlement? He was not, however, going to make a counter-motion ; but he thought it was highly desirable that the Assembly should, by the wording of the minute, indicate to the inferior courts that the Assembly were not to be held as being quite ready to receive any reference of that kind; and that they would maintain their position and insist that the Synods of the Church should perform the duties incumbent upon them. Sir HENRY MONCREIFF said he had no objection to this deliver
-“ The Assembly, without expressing any opinion as to the best course for the Synod to have pursued, but looking to the circumstances in which the case comes before us, sustain the reference.”
This was unanimously agreed to, and the reference was sustained.
Parties were then called, when there appeared at the bar :—for the Presbytery of Glasgow, Mr R. C. Smith, Dr Gibson, Mr A. N. Somerville, Dr Forbes, and Dr A. S. Paterson. For the Dissentients and Complainants--Professor Douglas, Mr Freer, Dr Lorimer, and Dr Buchanan.
Sir Henry MONCREIFF said the Assembly thought it right to ask whether Mr Smith appeared. He was not a party in the case, although the question concerned him, and it was thought that if he appeared he would have the right to do so; but at the same time the Assembly simply asked the question.
Dr Gibson said he was not sure whether the Presbytery could answer, but so far as he knew the Presbytery had no knowledge. Mr Smith never had appeared as a party either in the Synod or, in point of fact, in the Presbytery, in the form of taking any dissent of any kind.
Sir Henry MoncreIFF— Yes, we know that; we see it on the face of the papers. (Laughter.)
Dr Gibson—I should like to know what Sir Henry Moncreiff's question is, then.
Sir HENRY MONCREIFF— The question is simply whether Mr Smith appears—whether he is here or not.
Dr GibsoN-I am sure I cannot tell whether he is here or not.
order that there may be no mistake about Mr Smith's feelings and position, I may state I have a letter in my hand, addressed to another member of the Presbytery, in which Mr Smith says—" I send my
address, and if my presence be required on Tuesday telegraph to me, and I shall be there by the first train after getting the telegram. I do not think this will be necessary, but you will have it in your power at least to inform the Court that I am ready to appear whenever I am required. My health is greatly improved, but I am still weakly and nervous, and my eyes have been again troubling me.” He simply thinks his presence is unnecessary, but he means no disrespect to the Assembly.
Dr CANDLISH–I produce a volume, entitled on title-page “Sermon on the Mount; Lectures delivered by the Rev. W. C. Smith, author of * The Bishop's Walk,"” and so on. Had Mr Smith been here, I intended to ask, through the Moderator, whether he was the author of this book. But as he is not present, I may put this question to the Presbytery-whether they know anything of this book.
Dr GIBSON-I have no objection to any party that pleases availing themselves of what is in that book, but it has never been before the Presbytery in any form, and if any party chooses to refer to it, I only crave the liberty that we shall be allowed to refer to it in like manner.
Dr CANDLISH–It is not a question of liberty at all; it is simply the question-Can the Presbytery throw any light upon this book being Mr Smith's !
Dr FORBES—We saw a book in the hands of the Moderator, which appeared to be bound very much like that book, and in the same style; bat really, quoad ultra, we know nothing about it. (Laughter.)
Professor DOUGLAS said that when the case was before the Synod, Mr Smith sent a copy of that book to the Synod, stating it was written by him, and desiring that it should be laid on the table of the House, in order that they might make any use of it they pleased. The Synod, however, declined to do so, reckoning themselves a mere court of review, and not wishing to meddle with any additional matter.
Dr CANDLISH–I have got the answer I wanted-namely, that this book has been acknowledged by Mr Smith as his.
Dr GIBSON asked how many parties were to be heard on either side. Sir HENRY MONCREIFF read the standing orders on this point, to the effect that in no case should there be more than two speeches for each party, including the reply, to which the appellant and complainer shall be entitled.
Dr Buchanan said the appellants had been under an impression different from what had been read by Sir Henry Moncreiff; and accordingly it had been arranged between Professor Douglas and Mr Freer that the one should take one branch of the opening, and the other another branch. Of course, if the House should decide that the standing orders must be rigidly adhered to, Professor Douglas must strive to make the two speeches himself. (Laughter.)
Dr Gibson did not see it would make any material difference to the Presbytery, but at the same time, if the standing orders were to be departed from in the one case, they must be suspended in the other.
On the motion of Dr CANDLISH, it was resolved that the standing orders should not be suspended.
Mr Brown DOUGLAS called the attention of the house to section 5 of the standing orders.
Sir HENRY MONCREIFF read the section referred to, to the effect that justice demands that no one should vote who had not been listening to the pleadings.
Mr BROWN DOUGLAS added that, with a view of doing justice to the case, it was to be hoped the parties at the bar would make the pleadings as short and concise as possible, because it would be impossible to comply with the spirit of the standing orders if the pleadings were lengthened out for many hours in the forenoon.
Professor DOUGLAS then addressed the Court in behalf of the dissentients and complainers. He said—I have to bring before this venerable Court a case which has been very painful and anxious to us all. I should have been heartily glad that the task of laying the matter before you had fallen into abler and more experienced hands; yet, with the strong convictions which I entertain, I could not shrink from the duty when it was laid upon me. I should have been thankful to the great Head of the Church, as I believe every member of our Presbytery would have been, had this case, with the offence which it necessarily involved, not arisen to disturb and vex us. But since it pleased Him to permit it to arise, it is my belief that He has overruled the evil for an evolution of good from it; and the nature of our dissent and complaint is simply this, that we think that the whole good has been evolved out of it, and that a further prosecution of it must rather tend to have evil consequences. I do not expect, of course, that my friends on the other side of the bar will admit this. But I am confident that they, and that this Court, will be of opinion that our Presbytery has not failed to give very full consideration to the case, to give consideration almost unexampled in its fulness, when you observe the number and the length of the Presbytery meetings, and when to these are added all the meetings of committee, my belief is that we were becoming exhausted with our labours ; I shall yet have to suggest that this exhaustion may account for some peculiarities in the proceedings of the Presbytery on October 3d; and I cannot but think it is well that a higher Court should here step in, and gather up the results of our proceedings from May 2d till November 15th, without even the risk of any imputation of excitement, or of the influence of preconceived opinions. What confirms me in the belief that we in the Presbytery became exhausted is this, that I really do not think I understand the answers to our reasons of dissent and complaint; and I think there is something said in them of a similar difficulty in apprehending our reasons. Having glanced at the history of the case, Professor Douglas said— The present position of the case may be understood better by some if I classify the papers before us, and say that, besides the Presbytery minutes and our reasons of dissent, there are here three classes of printed documents. One class consists of Mr Smith's two sermons, and his explanatory statements regarding them; also his answers to the two statements of the Presbytery, and his final statement. Another class consists of the two reports of the original Committee of Presbytery; the first report being upon his sermons and his first explanatory statement, and the second report being on these with the addition of his second statement. In a third class of documents I place what may be named the third report of the Presby. tery, namely, the report of the committee appointed after his answers were pronounced to be unsatisfactory. Now it is only against this last document that we complain ; our dissent is merely against its adoption and approval by the Presbytery; for we concurred in the two previous reports, and several of us had our full share of the labour and responsibility of drawing them up; and of course we also concurred with all heartiness in the action of the Presbytery when it adopted and approved of them. But the nature, the suitableness, and the value of that first report against which alone we direct our dissent and complaint) can be understood and estimated only in the light of our previous united action, to which therefore I ask your careful attention. That attention indeed is now comparatively easily given, the papers being all printed, and having been in the hands of those members who chose to have them before the meeting of Assembly. It is not necessary, therefore, for me to enlarge upon them, more especially as I had left some of the doctrinal matters to the care of my friend Mr Freer, whose great theological knowledge is only equalled by his modesty, and who, I regret to say, is prevented by the rules of the House from placing before the Assembly a paper he had prepared, which would have been especially valuable. Bat there are one or two somewhat preliminary remarks which I am anxious to make. The first of these remarks is, that there is a vast deal in these sermons and subsequent statements with which we were greatly dissatisfied, and which might have, perhaps, suitably come under the notice of the Presbytery, certainly, at least, under the notice of individual ministers for private and friendly dealing with Mr Smith, although they might not have come under the category of heretical teaching. ACcordingly, many of these were noticed in the speeches of members of Presbytery—such as his amazing blunder in exegesis, as if his text could mean that the law was to be annulled which it spoke of not destroying but fulfilling; the comparison of the Old and New Testaments to the draft of a will and the will itself, instead of to a will and a codicil, which true comparison would have saved the preacher from a mass of crudities and difficulties; the comparison of the old Law of Moses to the dimly burning lamp in morning, when the shutters are opened and daylight streams in ; and a number of instances adduced by Mr Smith in his answers to the two questions. In addition to the matter of these statements, there was much in the manner of them that grated on my feelings, and as I believe on those of my brethren, especially on account of what had at least an appearance of flippancy, of which I am convinced that his own calmer and better judgment disapproves. A second remark is, that the most objectionable statements, and those on which from the first we agreed to concentrate attention (because after the settlement of these we hoped to have the rest easily adjusted), were connected with two points of doctrine—the one being the perfection and immutability of the moral law, which God delivered to Israel in the Decalogue, and the other being the independent and permanent authority of the Old Testament as an integral and very large part of that only rule to direct us how to glorify and enjoy God. And while I did cherish the hope in my own mind that Mr Smith's sentiments were sounder than his language often seemed to imply, and while his subsequent explanations confirmed me in this opinion, and convinced me that he had confused himself by loose rhetorical expressions, which had a look of novelty and a majestic sound, and yet which shrunk away to little or nothing when we came to deal more closely with them ; still this did not alter my opinion that the language was very reprehensible. For I held these unguarded and exaggerated statements to be of a most exciting or inflammable nature. They bore upon questions that emphatically demand from us reverent and judicious handling, owing to currents of opinion and other influences at the present day, which I think unfavourable to a correct solution of such questions. And even if there were counter-balancing influences in Mr Smith's own mind (as I had every reason to think there were), which might keep the dangerous elements in check in his own individual case, we might well apprehend that these checks would operate feebly, or not at all, in the case of many of his hearers, who might probably be carried away by the attractiveness of novel views which seemed to promise a certain freedom and advancement in religion and morality. And this conviction on our part no doubt led us to scan his words more narrowly than otherwise we might have done; and this is our defence, if we seem ever to have been a little hard upon him, as, in the commencement of his second statement, he inclines to think that we have been. My third and last preliminary remark is that, in dealing with those errors which we believed to be contained in the language of the sermons, the committee were heartily unanimous; and so were the members of Presbytery. And whatever differences have unfortunately emerged afterwards, let be thankful to the great Head of the Church that there is not a shadow of difference on any doctrinal point truly belonging to the case, as in these two first reports of the committee-reports in the preparation of which I myself took a place so thoroughly subordinate and unimportant that I can very freely give my opinion. I deem them masterly productions. I think that on these two points-namely, first, the perfection and immutability of the moral law, which is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments; and, second, the relation of the Old to the New Testament in the one supreme rule of faith and duty-they contain very clear and correct statements of evangelical truth such as are likely to be valuable to those who handle a difficult subject in a somewhat unsettled state of public opinion. It might have been not unreasonably feared, that the free and full dealing with some intricate matters of theology thus rashly thrust upon our consideration, would have shown that some members of so large a Presbytery as ours had been taken at unawares, or had been involved in some uncertainty. Is it not most gratifying that there was nothing of the kind discoveredall the more gratifying, that it soon came out that there was independence enough in many minds to express their feelings and opinions frankly upon other matters imported into this case, however painful that expression of difference might be. I regard the procedure of the Presbytery at the meeting on September 12, after nearly four months' interval, as our most important act, the true turning-point of the whole case ; for, on that day, our second report was adopted, and the following recommendation in the close of it became the unanimous judgment of the Presbytery :—“ That the two discourses of Mr Smith be disapproved and censured, as containing statements regarding the Moral Law and the Old Testament Scriptures which are at variance with the language of the Confession and the teachings of Scripture.” Observe what we did; we pronounced judgment on the sermons, disapproving and censuring them.
We might have proceeded by libel, found him guilty, and pronounced judgment; and our sentence would have been final, if no appeal was taken. We actually did what amounted to the same thing, though we took a shorter course, as was natural and sensible in the circumstances, in a matter where all the facts are plain and notorious.