صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

DEPUTATION FROM THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN SYNOD.

The Rev. Professor Symington, Mr Grabam of Wishawtown, and Mr Nelson of Rothsay, appeared as a deputation from this body.

Professor SYMINGTON of Paisley read the following address:

"To the Ministers and Elders of the General Assembly of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, to meet at Glasgow, October 17, 1843. "We the members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, finding you in the new and interesting attitude of the Free Protesting Church of Scotland, beg leave, on occasion of our first meeting, since you assumed your present position, to render to you our heartfelt congratulations and sympathies. It is unnecessary to say that we highly approve of the scriptural principles upon which your recent proceedings have been founded, when, so successfully, in our view, so far as scriptural argument is concerned, you made the glorious truth of the supremacy of Jesus Christ to bear against the invasion of the rights of the Christian people, and against Erastian encroachments upon the independent jurisdiction of the church of Christ. We admire the high Christian principle and noble magnanimity of your late conduct in taking your protest, and in your subsequent act of separation from the Established Church of Scotland; and we have observed with high approbation the calm Christian dignity and order with which you bave carried your protest and separation into effect. We congratulate you cordially on the position of Christian liberty which you now occupy, and we deeply sympathise with you in all the difficulty you have encountered in reaching it; and from our own experience, we are prepared in some measure to sympathise with you in the sacrifice and trial to which you may yet be subjected in maintaining this position, and in prosecuting the hallowed objects for which it has been assumed. We rejoice in the reverential deference which has been paid to the authority of scriptural truth, and in the devout homage which has been rendered to the Lord Jesus Christ as King in Zion, Prince of the kings of the earth, in conducting your recent pleadings. And now that you stand in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, we expect of you, with some measure of confidence, faithfully to assert and vindicate the rights of the Christian people to choose their pastors and rulers, against intrusion and patronage in every form, and that now under the authority and by the grace of Jesus Christ, who has the key of the house of David, you will faithfully exercise your free spiritual jurisdiction in the probation and ordination of ministers and other officers, and in the admission and exclusion of members; and that, giving forth a faithful testimony in behalf of the doctrines of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, you will continue your efforts to extend that gospel to every corner of our beloved land, to the glory of the Redeemer and the salvation of immortal souls. We rejoice in the resolution you have taken, in the face of new and great difficulties, to persevere in your exertions in the cause of missions to the heathen and to the Jews; and it is our prayer to God that you may have unmolested liberty, liberal support, abundant grace, and great success in prosecuting your high and holy purposes.

"We regard, dear Christian brethren, your recent act of separation from the Established Church of Scotland,-in the principles which have dictated it, and in the extent and harmony with which it has been supported, as a token for good to our land in these eventful days. According to our estimation,-no event of equal importance to the interests of religion has occurred in our land for a century and a half. The day of its occurrence, already recorded by many a pen, must constitute a memorable epoch in the page of history. It calls up to remembrance a memorable day of former years, when the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in this very city, protested against an attempt to dissolve them by royal authority, asserted their intrinsic power in spiritual things, meekly and firmly maintained their ground, and, in the face of prohibition, continued their sittings, and proceeded in their proper and important work. To the principles of the great and noble actings of this Assembly, many members of the Church of Scotland gave public expression of their warm attachment, in the commemoration of its bicentenary, nearly five years ago. Nor can we overlook, in present circumstances, another important and parallel fact, that the Westminster Assembly of Divines, whose bicentenary is presently, in different

quarters, commanding public attention, like the one just mentioned, proceeded with its business after being interdicted by royal authority, and in the incomparable ecclesiastical standards which it prepared, conferred an invaluable boon on its age, and on future generations. These standards, so scripturally founded, so lucid and orthodox, so distinctly pointed against Popish and Arminian errors, so practical and holy in their bearing, so soundly catholic in spirit, so approved and honoured by the churches of the Reformation, and withal, so well fitted, in the proper application of them, to form a rallying point to unite the scattered friends of truth, were adopted by the Church of Scotland; and you know well that this was done in terms that secured to the Church, against all available ambiguity, her Presbyterianism, and her freedom from Erastian encroachments. We look back with peculiar interest to those days of the Church of God in our land, as defining the grounds which we have aimed to assume, and which we deem it still our duty to occupy in fidelity to past attainments, in honest testimony against defection, and regarding it as presenting a basis for further advancement in the cause of reformation. We know this to be ground which you respect, ground to which your late Scriptural reasonings conduct you, and the occupation of which was justified by your late public act of protestation against the Erastian invasion of the rightful claims of the Church of Christ; and by your frequent appeals in preparing for that act, to the headship of Christ over the church, and his claim of dominion over the nations. Permit us to say, dear brethren, that we regard your recent public actings on the great scriptural principles on which they have been founded, as justifying ourselves in the part we have acted, in asserting and using our Christian liberty, in assuming our distinct position, and in protesting against the violation and relinquishment of the ancient scriptural and federal constitution of our land; and we feel ourselves encouraged by what you have done, to maintain the position you have assumed, to pursue the great objects of the Reformation, and to wait and pray that glory may yet dwell in our land, our God renewing our days as of old, restoring to us judges as at the first, and counsellors as at the beginning. Permit us also to say, in all plainness, that we are constrained, in consistency with these things, to acknowledge, as you are aware, the obligations of that public National Covenant which was renewed in adaptation to the circumstances of the times, by the interdicted Assembly of the Church of Scotland, convened in this city in 1638, as also the obligations of the Solemn League and Covenant which was entered into by the Westminster Assembly in 1643, by both Houses of Parliament, and subsequently by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. We regard these splendid documents as faithful testimonies against Popery and Prelacy, and as connected with noble public actings in the cause of true religion and liberty, although subsequently authoritatively condemned, treated with ignominious and profane contempt, and ultimately relinquished and suffered to fall into oblivion. Lingering at the graves of our Church's and our country's martyrs, we protest against the murderous shedding of their blood, and tremble to think on coming retribution. We feel it to be our duty, and we hope you will see it to be yours, to testify with fidelity against the sin of vesting the supremacy over the Church of Christ in the prerogatives of royalty, and against the criminality of incorporating with the civil constitution of these lands the Prelatic hierarchy; and remarking with concern the menacing aspects of Popery and Prelacy in the present day, and the various portents in the providence of God of coming trial, as Protestants we tremble at the criminality and peril of being partakers in the sin and the plagues of the Antichrist: we humbly seek to keep the word of Christ's patience, that we may be kept from the hour of temptation which shall come over all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. But we do not obtrude upon you our peculiar views, nor presume to address to you our counsels. We greet you in Jesus Christ the Lord, yours and ours, and request that you will accept our most cordial Christian salutations.

"We beg, in conclusion, to add, that while we rejoice in the vindication of great principles affecting the liberties and independent spiritual jurisdiction of the Church of Christ, which your recent scriptural pleadings, and your ulterior noble actings, have elicited, we rejoice also, not the less, but the more, in the hopeful evidence of a revival of the spirit of faith and devoted godliness, evinced in the ministrations of

the gospel, and in your public proceedings; and we desire to continue to pray for you, as well as for ourselves, and for the Church of God on earth, that by the plentiful effusion of his Holy Spirit, these may abound more and more in the conversion of sinners, in the increasing sanctification, usefulness, and preparation for heaven, of those that believe, and in the acceleration of the glory of the latter days. For Zion's sake we will not hold our peace, and for Jerusalem's sake we will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. The watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. "ANDW. GILMOUR, Moderator.

"A. M. ROGERS, Synod Clerk."

PROFESSOR SYMINGTON followed up the address by a few remarks, assuring the Assembly that the address was not a mere sympathetic imitation of what was going on in other quarters, but originated in deeper and better motives. A number of sessions, and also a Presbytery, had overtured the Synod to take some such step; and their adoption of the proposal was altogether unanimous. For a long period of time he had been familiarly acquainted with many ministers of the Church of Scotland, and held a high opinion of their piety and faithfulness; but he came there to express his regard for great and important principles which had been brought to view, not as the opinion of this or that man, however eminent, but as embodied in a phalanx of hundreds upon hundreds of faithful ministers of the gospel. The testimony which had been lately lifted up, appeared to him to be a kind of seed, the germination of which was to fill the world with peace and righteousness. The address which he had laid before them was intended as an encouragement for them to go on in the great work which they had begun. It had been well remarked in some of the other addresses, that one important object gained had been to vindicate the consistency and courage of a large body of Christian ministers-thousands and thousands of tongues and pens charged with calumny had been ready to go to work, when the sight of the ministers leaving the Church had put them to silence. (Great cheering.) On the subject of union he had nothing to say at present. So far, however, as his own opinion went, and he believed he spoke the sentiments of his brethren, when he saw the dangers which were coming, he thought that the time for union was coming too-yes, the storm would melt the hearts of the saints; the yelp of the wolf would make the flock to run together. (Loud cheers.) The body which he represented had appointed a Committee to correspond on the subject of union, and he had no doubt that good results would in the end issue from what was now doing in Scotland.

Mr GRAHAM of Wishawtown spoke as follows:-Moderator, the circumstances which rendered it impracticable for us to present our congratulations and the assurances of our cordial sympathy on a former occasion, have already been explained. And though we have deeply regretted these, yet we have derived from them the advantage of appearing at your Assembly, not under the dazzling influence of that most magnificent moral spectacle exhibited in Edinburgh on the memorable 18th of May last, but after a season of calm, cool, solid reflection; so that our testimony, though somewhat tardy, and however humble, becomes so much the more clear and indubitable, because given in the most deliberate exercise of our judgments, in behalf of the noble stand which, by the grace of God, you have been enabled to make for the Redeemer's Headship over his own Church. (Hear, hear.) You have already called forth the sympathy of those who love the righteous cause of Christ throughout the world, and you could well afford to dispense with the expression of these feelings, however friendly, by a body so inconsiderable as ours. But we would be doing injustice to ourselves, and to the cause for which we have been contending, were we not to come forward and bless you in the name of the Lord. For 150 years and more we have been lifting up our feeble, but, I trust, honest testimony in behalf of the Redeemer's Headship over the Church and over the nations; we have been familiar with the opposition, the obloquy, the misrepresentation, the sacrifices, to which adherence to these principles will always more or less expose, so long as the nations remain in their present state, and the spirit of the world and of antichrist

is the ruling and presiding genius; but hitherto the grace of the Saviour has wonderfully sustained us. And from our lengthened experience, both of trial and of mercy, we may be held as qualified for sympathising with you in the circumstances in which obedience to God rather than to man has placed you. (Hear, hear.) We have ever been warmly attached to the principles of the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland-principles at once scriptural, catholic, and free. We have therefore watched with intense eagerness your contendings on their behalf, and have sincerely rejoiced in your successful argumentations; and it will be to us a source of mingled satisfaction, and a ground of thanksgiving to the Lord, to see these principles fully and faithfully exemplified by the Free Protesting Presbyterian Church after she has passed her transition state-a consummation for which we devoutly pray, under the influence of hopes excited by much that has already been spoken and performed. The Church of Scotland has already proved a blessing to the nations, and the admiration of the faithful in many lands; and we trust, that though greatly hindered and curbed in her high career by the rude hand of Erastian restraint, she will yet more than realise the virgin promise of her lofty character and wide-spread influence and renown, even though the powers of this world should regard her with a jealous and a scowling eye. She is a Church in the hand of whose office-bearers, distinct from the civil magistrate, the key of discipline is placed, that in the exercise of it the precious may be separated from the vile. And while her own children, living within the embrace of her maternal arms, are the objects of her special and fostering care, she casts her eyes abroad on the outcast sons of Abraham, and the wretched millions of the heathen nations, striving according to her means and opportunities, and by the instrumentality of her scriptural Presbyterian constitution, so admirably fitted for the extension of the gospel throughout all the lands, to impart to these the blessings of salvation. Nor must I omit to mention that the Reformed Church of Scotland had these precious principles deposited and secured within the casket of a solemn covenant. She is a covenanted Church. Her solemn federal transactions are inwoven into her constitution; they are hallowed by the blood of her faithful martyrs; and they are registered by the recording angel on enduring tablets beyond the skies. Not only were these holy scriptural deeds considered as adapted to what is called the times of the Covenant, but their descending obligation was a doctrine universally and strenuously maintained. Such was the doctrine most distinctly set forth, for example, in the dying testimony of that princely patriot and martyr, the good and great Argyle-" God," said he, "hath laid engagements on Scotland. We are tied by covenants to religion and reformation-those who were then unborn are yet engaged-and it passeth the power of all the magistrates under heaven to absolve from the oath of God." Such is our cherished idea of the Church of Scotland. It is no utopian theory of our own; for it was really and practically developed in the ecclesiastical constitution of the Church of the second reformation. Of this, her acts, her history, and the testimonies of her martyrs, afford sufficient evidence. And it is our hearts desire and prayer to God, that the Free Protesting Presbyterian Church may prove the living and glorious realisation of the happy conception and lofty aim of the fathers of the Reformation. No paltry jealousies, no mortified pride, no sectarian prejudice, would then, I am assured, prevent the followers of Cameron and Renwick from rallying, with heart and hand, around your uplifted standard. And may we not, without presumption, be permitted to say, in reference to these principles, " Bind them for a sign upon thine hands; let them be as frontlets between thine eyes; and write them on the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." (Hear, hear.)

Mr NELSON of Rothsay said, that on account of the lateness of the hour be would not trespass on the time of the Assembly.

DEPUTATION FROM THE UNITED SECESSION SYNOD.

The deputation from the United Secession Synod was then introduced, and received with loud and continued cheering. The deputation consisted of the Rev. Drs Brown, Heugh, King, Harper, the Rev. Mr Struthers, Moderator of the Synod, and James Peddie, Esq., W. S., &c., &c.

The following address from the Synod was read by Dr Harper of Leith:"With sincere feelings of fraternal regard, the United Associate Synod of the Secession Church greet the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, praying that the presence of Zion's Counsellor may be with them in all their deliberations, and that grace, mercy, and peace may be multiplied to ministers, elders, and people.

"The circumstances, dear brethren, in which we address you are as deeply interesting as they are unprecedented. Though differing with you conscientiously with respect to the grounds on which, as a portion of the Establishment, your Claim of Right was based, we feel not the less strongly that we could not justify ourselves in the sight of God, or of man, were we to look with indifference on the change that has befallen you-a change so extraordinary in its character, so pregnant with instructive lessons, and affording so august an example of sacrifices for conscience sake. In the emancipation from State control, achieved by you, none can rejoice more fervently than we. We see in it the hand of God overruling your contendings, and conducting you by a way you knew not, to a prosperous issue; and our prayers ascend to the Father of all, that the good work so happily begun may be daily promoted, and that God may in all things be glorified through Jesus Christ the Lord, both yours and ours.

"We cannot but wish you well when we consider that your cause, in common with that which we maintain, is the cause of Christian liberty. Taught by experience that the freedom of Christ's house could not be enjoyed by you under those conditions which the temporal power were willing to concede, led plainly to perceive that the alternative was presented to you of relinquishing state alliance, or of bowing to state dictation, you acted in the hour of trial with the self-denial and decision which duty to our common Head demanded; and with a devotedness, to which we unfeignedly do honour, you counted those things that were gain to you loss for Christ.

"It was with no evil eye we watched the progress of your arduous conflict-how temptations to compromise were seen and resisted by you-how attempts at adjustment failed, because 'no surrender' was your motto-how, as the crisis drew near, you became more resolved in purpose, more clear and decided in your judgment of duty; so that, when the hour of temptation came, no measure in your whole procedure was taken with greater alacrity, or with a bolder heart, than that final step which conducted you forth from the church of your fathers, and which, leaving you unpatronised by the rulers of this world, lifted you at once to independence and freedom. "These things, brethren, we say not only with sincerity, but with thankfulness; and that not the less, that a consistent adherence to principles, which in our view are important, precluded our co-operation with you in the contest in which you were engaged. You acted honestly on your views, we on ours; let us forget the divisions, let us bury the prejudices of the past, and give mutual credit for uprightness and consistency; let us love and walk as brethren.

66

To the painful alienations of other days we would not, dear brethren, allude, had we not a deep and undissembled consciousness that we harbour no grudge in our bosom, and that none of those who differed from you less in your views can sympathise with you more in the freedom you have won, and in the protest which you maintain for Christ's kingly prerogative, and for the liberties of that Church which he has purchased with his blood.

“Already the pleasant fruits of your emancipation are felt by many in that of cooperation which is drawing together the friends of religion in our land. That the bonds of Christian fellowship should ever have been broken we have often and much deplored. But the light now shineth, and better days draw nigh. The intercourse of Christian brotherhood is begun; and, from the measures in progress, we earnestly anticipate results that shall be beneficial and gratifying to all.

"We are learning the maxim-let us cherish its spirit and exemplify its worththat to know one another in consulting for a common end, and meeting face to face, tends to conciliate when circumstances bave put asunder. Occasions of this nature have occurred with the happiest consequences, and more especially on a recent com

« السابقةمتابعة »