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they would like to see what Free Churchmen say, without renouncing their own principles.
When a man has expressed contempt for anything, if he wishes to be believed, he should treat it with contempt, but after having expressed contempt for the doctrine of covenant obligation, you proceed to argue farther in the matter. Do you not thereby admit that the point at issue was worthy of being discussed even by men of your own highly respectable status and surely it would not be worthy of Mr Lumsden soberly to discuss what he ought rather to have treated with contempt. It may, however, be justly said, if the doctrine of Covenant obligation be contemptible, that, in the eyes of most men who are capable of understanding what a sound argument is, it will appear, at least, entitled to as much respect as your answer to the argument in its behalf, from the Treaty of Union. That
• treaty,' say you, "bound the nation of England to uphold the presbyterian church in all its rights, privileges, and possessions, as the Established Church of Scotland. It was a covenant or compact directly referring to matters of property, over which nations, as nations, have direct and authoritative control; and because of the moral identity of nations throughout successive ages, it would have been a valid and binding covenant, though it had guaranteed the upholding of a prelatic and popish church, and this however impolitic or sinful it might have been for the English nation to have made such a covenant. But the Covenants of the Reformation bound to matters of faith and conscience; and in order that the illustration might be pertinent and conclusive, it would be needful that the Treaty of Union should have bound the English nation to believe the doctrines of the presbyterian church, or to believe the establishing of it to be in itself a perpetual and scriptural duty, or to do what in the very doing of it implied such a belief.' This is a most extraordinary sentence; and as long as the enemies of Covenant obligation can produce nothing of a higher stamp, they are scarcely entitled to treat the Covenants, or anything else, with contempt. Sir, do you know what you have done? In the above sentence you have made a deep pit, intending to bury the Covenants, and it becomes your own grave as a Free Churchman. If, as you assert in the above passage, the Treaty of Union only referred to matters of property, over which nations as such have direct authoritative control ;' if this be true, then, to you belongs the honour of having answered the unanswerable protest, in so far as it rests upon the Treaty of Union. There could be no violation of the Treaty of Union, in the recent actings of the state, if that treaty only referred to matters of property, as you assert; for over these the state has direct and authoritative control.' Thus have you unsettled one of the main pillars of your own house, in attempting to pull down that of your neighbour, so perilous a thing is it for an anti-Covenanting Free Churchman to give reasons for his contempt. But in the second place, nothing is more notorious than the fact, that the Treaty of Union, while it referred to matters of property, also referred to the church and religion, as much as they were referred to in the Solemn League and Covenant. As you may learn from the Free
Church protest, the Treaty of Union secured, that the foresaid true protestant religion, contained in the above-mentioned Confession of Faith, with the form and purity of worship presently in use within this church, and its presbyterian church discipline and government—that is to say, the government of the church by kirk-sessions, presbyteries, provincial synods, and General Assemblies, pursuant to the claim of right, shall remain and continue unalterable.' And in regard to England the said Treaty of Union secured, “That the uniformity of public prayers, and administration of sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies, with the form of making, ordaining, and consecrating bishops, priests, and deacons, in the Church of England, and all and singular acts of parliament now in force for the establishment and preservation of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, shall remain and be in full force for ever.' Look at these two extracts, and will you now venture to declare that the Treaty of Union did not refer to ‘matters of faith and conscience, but merely to matters of property, over which the state has direct and authoritative control ?' Is 'the doctrine, worship, discipline, or government of the Church of England' a matter of property? or, were “the uniformity of public prayers, and administration of sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies,' mere matters of property, which had nothing to do with faith and conscience? And ought · faith and conscience to have nothing to do with the form of making, ordaining, and consecrating bishops, priests, and deacons ?' Are these all mere matters of property? And what would become of Free Churchism if the protestant religion contained in the above Confession of Faith' were a mere matter of property, over which the state has direct and authoritative control?' To say that the “Confession of Faith, with the form and purity of worship presently in use within this church, and its Presbyterian Church discipline and government'—to say that these are mere matters of property—would surely be residuaryism of a gigantic type! But, seeing the Treaty of Union secured all these, and you have asserted that it was a .compact about property,' your assertion is either grossly opposed to the most palpable facts, or you must regard the Confession of Faith, and purity of worship, and Presbyterian Church discipline and government, as matters of property. Your premises are contrary to undeniable facts, and therefore your conclusion must be unsound. But in the third place, allowing that the Treaty of Union referred only to matters of property, while the Solemn League and Covenant referred to
matters of faith and conscience,' still it is by no means self-evident that a nation is bound by a covenant about property, while it is not bound by a covenant that has respect to faith. If you make a vow about matters of faith and conscience, are you not as much bound by it as by a vow about a matter of property? When you produce evidence to show that the case is otherwise with nations, it shall be carefully considered. In the fourth place, as another evidence that extremes always meet, you carry out the continued obligation of covenants to an extent that no Covenanter ever did, and to an extent which, if you have been correctly reported, is subversive of morality. You assert that the Treaty of Union 'would have been a valid and binding covenant, though it had guaranteed the upholding of a prelatic or popish church, and this HOWEVER IMPOLITIC OR SINFUL it might have been for the English nation to have made such a covenant. Sir, no covenant, engagement, vow, or oath, can bind any party to do what is sinful. In the eyes of protestants and presbyterians, no covenant can bind any party to the upholding of a prelatic or popish church,' for these are plants not of God's planting, and ought to be rooted up. You carry the doctrine of covenant obligation to a far greater extent than ever it has been done by Covenanters in recent or remote times. You maintain that, in consequence of the identity of nations during successive generations, England would have been bound to uphold what was sinful,' to uphold a prelatic or popish church. Only grant the same obligation from a covenant to oppose what is wrong, that is here conceded in behalf of a covenant to do what is wrong, -only grant the same privilege to presbyterian protestantism, that you claim for prelacy and popery, and the whole point at issue is given up: for if a covenant would bind to the upholding of popery and prelacy, then an engagement to renounce and oppose these by such methods as are under the direct and authoritative control of the state,' must also be binding. If a covenant bind to the upholding of a prelatic or popish church, then it must bind equally to the upholding of a presbyterian church, and this is all that is contended for in regard to our national Covenants, which, viewed as a whole, were nothing else than an engagement to uphold the Church of Scotland in its purity, and to extirpate popery and prelacy from England and Ireland.
You return again to the subject of a historical testimony, which you consider to be a device of Seceders. “A historical testimony was, so far as you knew, a kind of document unknown to any church, until it had been devised and adopted by Seceders.' But, sir, have we not the best authority for adopting such a testimony? In the first place, is not the lawfulness of it founded in nature itself? Is there not an historical testimony in every man's bosom ? And does not every good man confess his former sins, and acknowledge the past mercies of Him who has fed him and led him all his life long? And if a church or nation have an identity through successive ages, does not nature itself teach that what constitutes so important a part of personal religion, must also be an important part of social religion? In the second place, there are numerous commands in scripture to nations in a church state, to remember all the way in which God has led them. Of these you are not in ignorance, nor of the manner in which they are applicable to the subject. These passages show that, in framing a testimony of this kind, Seceders had not recourse to a human device, as you allege, but were obeying a divine injunction. In the third place, does not every church keep a record of her public transactions ? And for what purpose ought this to be kept ? Ought it to be kept merely as a piece of history with which the church has no connection, and wbich awakens no feelings in her bosom? Ought it not rather to be kept, among other ends, that she may see God's way, with her, and her way with God? And if it ought to be so improved, what is an historical testimony but the moral and religious improvement of the recorded acts of the church? In the fourth place, if you will open again the volume, called popularly, the Confession of Faith, you will find one of the documents therein bearing this tittle, 'A Solemn Acknowledgment of public sins, and breaches of the Covenant, and a solemn engagement to all duties contained therein.' That document, sir, is the origin of the historical testimony of the Secession Church. In the fifth place, but allowing that Seceders had been the first to adopt a historical testimony, you well know they have not been the last. The Protest and Claim of Rights of the Free Church, is an historical testimony in behalf of the independence of the church founded upon the civil laws of the kingdom, which for that purpose are traced back to the beginning of the Reformation. And, sir, if you have adhibited your name to an historical testimony based on the civil law, there does not appear to be much sense or consistency in opposing an overture for an historical testimony based on the acts of the church as well as the acts of the state. After resigning your state emoluments, that you might adhere to an historical testimony, based on civil law, it surely indicates a taste somewhat peculiar for a Free Churchman to declare that you will resign your connection with that church, if she adopt a historical testimony founded on the past acts of the Church of Scotland.
I shall now allude to the assertion you have made respecting the injurious consequences with which the adoption of a testimony has been followed in the Secession. On the other hand,' say you, they (i. e. the testimonies) came to be regarded as practically of greater importance than the Confession of Faith ; and the comparatively smaller matters for which they testified came to engross the attention of the people, so as practically to have a larger place in their thoughts and in their esteem than the great verities of the gospel. Some of their friends of the Original Secession lament this influence of their voluminous testimonies on the people of that communion ; and a most respectable minister of that church had very recently said to him, that the Free Church would do well to beware of such a course as they had adopted.' Permit me to remark in regard to this, in the first place, that this most respectable minister,' whoever he may be, is no doubt fully entitled to speak for himself, and if he has been guilty of the crime of exalting the Original Secession testimony above the Confession of Faith, it is a happy circumstance that he has been brought to see and acknowledge his error; but neither he nor you, nor any other man alive, will ever be able to prove, either that the Original Secession Church is comparatively indifferent to the doctrines of the gospel, or that this has arisen from the fact of her having a testimony. Whatever faults have attached to that church, carelessness about doctrine has never at any time been on of these. From the beginning of her history to the present time, she has been animated by an ardent, devoted, and almost enthusiastic attachment to the doctrine of the Confession of Faith. At ordination, she takes all her ministers bound to maintain and defend the doctrine of the Confession against all deistical, Arian, Socinian, Neonomian, Antinomian, and all other doctrines, opinions, and tenets, whatsoever, contrary to, or inconsistent therewith. And this surely is no evidence of the Confession having fallen in the estimation of Original Seceders? The one-half of the Original Secession Testimony consists of a doctrinal defence of the various articles in the Confession of Faith; and does this look as if she had begun to depreciate the Confession? Does not this clearly demonstrate that, in her estimation, the doctrines of the Confession are of more importance than they are in that of most churches ? In all Scotland, there is only another church having a doctrinal testimony in defence of the Confession, and strange to teli
, that is the only other church which has a historical testimony. This consigns your objection to the dust--the only appropriate resting-place of arguments that are opposed to broad, palpable, and outstanding facts. And, still farther, there are only two explanations of the Confession of Faith in existence, of which I am aware, and strange to say,
the one of these was written by a Reformed Presbyterian, and the other by an Original Seceder. The churches to which these commentators on the Confession belong, are the only two in Scotland having an historical testimony. It would thus appear that such a testimony, instead of rendering men more careless about the Confession, has, somehow or other, a tendency to fill them with more abundant zeal in its defence. This is confirmed by the whole history of the Secession Church. Public spirit has been the genius of that body. Fully alive to the unspeakable importance of sound doctrine, Original Seceders have watched with intense anxiety, as over a matter in which they were personally interested, all controversies respecting divine truth, in whatever section of the church they might originate. When the Establishment was enveloped in the thick cloud, besides raising her testimony against the errors of Simpson and Campbell, she also issued her invaluable acts anent the doctrine of grace, and anent Arminian errors. When, in more recent times, voluntaryism assailed the doctrine of the Confession of Faith, respecting the civil magistrate, the fathers of the Original Secession stood forward in its defence—and they did so, unaided and alone, during twenty yearsfor the Establishment always considered it to be a dispute about some small peculiarity, until the attack upon endowments was commenced. And, sir, the first man in Britain who gave warning to the churches of the dangerous errors of Dwight and Hopkins, which are now circulated in this land under the name of Morisonianism, was the late Dr George Stevenson, of the Original Secession Church, Ayr. So far did his vigilant eye see in advance of doctors, belonging to churches which have no historical testimony, that, in noticing his work, the Presbyterian Reviow declared that it could discern no difference between his doctrine and that of the Hopkinsian school. It is no less a fact, that Original Seceders were among the very first to take the field against Morisonianism, and they have been the last to leave it; and they are almost the only denomination in the land which has never at