Imágenes de páginas

couraged and itopt some intrusions, they encouraged others : 'and they gave no small occasion of offence by their management in the affair of Profeffor Campbell at St Andrews, who had' vented several dangerous errors in his writings, such as his Oratorio Academica, his Erquiry into the Original of Moral Virtue, his Dir. course concerning Enthusiasm, &c. wherein he afferts, a That men, by their natural powers, without revelation, cannot find out the being of a God: That the law of nature is sufficient to guide rational minds to happiness : That self-love, intereft, or pleasure, is the fole principle and motive of all 'virtuous and religious actions: That Christ's difciples had no notion of his Divinity before his resurrection, and before that they expected nothing from him but a worldly kingdom ; and, during the interval between his death and resurTellion, they looked on him as an impostor.” Likewife, while speaking against Enthufialts, he utters several things very disparaging and reproachful to the work of the holy Spirit upon the souls of the people of God. These errors were brought before the Assembly 1735, who referred them to their commission; and they appointed a committee to consider them, and prepare their report to the next Afsembly. Mr Campbell laboured to give in found and orthodox explications of :here his positions, which the committee brought before the Assembly. 1736, with their remarks and censures upon them, and the recommendations they judged fit to be given him. The Assembly, upon hearing Mr Campbell at great length, were of opinion that the committee's examining and stating the matter as they had done, was fufficient to caution againit the errors charged upon Mr Campbell, without giving any judgment or formal fentence upon the committee's report; only they recommended to him not to use doubtful expressions or propofitions, which may lead his hearers or readers into error. This issue of the process many, in the Assembly and out of it, were highly dissatisfied with, judging that Mr Campbell did juftly deserve a sharp rebuke for the many incautious and unsound expressions


he hath in his writings, however orthodox his explications might be : and with these we do heartily join.

Though the Affembly gave no judgment upon Mr Campbell's positions or explications, yet severals would charge the Assembly with adopting one 'of his errors ; because, when he explained his politions concerning Self-love he declared he meant no more but “ that our delight in the honour and glory of God was the chief motive of all virtuous and religious actions.” Now (say they), this Delight is the same with the Self-love, or the desire of our own happiness, which is the error charged on him : yet the Assembly dismissed him without quarrelling it. But this should be looked upon as a pure oversight in the Assembly, through their not adverting to the import of the word Delight, but taking “ delight in the glory of God," for the same with “ regard to the glory of God,” because of their affinity. For when Allembly 1739 was informed that severals had taken offence, as if the Assembly 1736 had adopted some of Mr Campbell's offensive expressions on the head of Self love, they vindicated this church from that charge, by making an act, declaring that they do sted. ! fastly adhere to the doctrine expressed in our standards on that head, particularly in the answers to that queltion in our Larger and Shorter Catechisms, What is the chief end of man? .

In the year 1735 there was an essay made by an unknown hand to alter our Shorter Catechism, which was printed at London under the title of The Affembly's Shorter Catechism Revised, and rendered fitter for General Ule. The reviser calls it into such a mould, as to make it agree with Arian, Socinian, Popiih, and Arminian schemes of doctrine. Asoon as it was publicly known in Scotland, the commission took it under their consideration, as the synod of Lothian had done before them, and past an act condemning it, and gave warning about it to all the presbyteries in this church, that they might be on their guari against the spreading and infection thereof. And would to God that our Asemblies had, in like manner, given plain and faithful warning to all the corners and members of this church,


against Profeffor Sinfón and Profeffor Campbell's errors, and others which have been vented and spread in this church, and shewn to them their inconsistency with the word of God, and our Confession of Faith and Catechisms ! May God in his infinite mercy revive our zeal for all the truths therein contained, and against all forts of error opposite thereto!

After all, it is to be regretted that the national church was not duly humbled by all these awful rebukes for her manifold defections, and particularly for disregard. ing Christ's flock in settlements; neither did she amend her ways and doings, and turn to the Lord: wherefore we find the hand of the Lord stretched out against her Itill, and a new sharp trial carved out for her from an airth'that none could have expected. One Captain Porteous, that had been condemned to die for feveral murders, having obtained a reprieve by tiie interest of some great men, the mob rose up notwithstanding, and executed him at Edinburgh the 7th of September 1736. The King and Parliament resented this affront so highly, that they framed a strange and extroardinary act for discovering the actors : and because some of the church's enemies fuggested, without all ground, that the Scots clergy,' at lealt a set of them, encouraged the people in such mobbish actions, they appointed all the minifters of Scotland to read the said act in time of Divine service in their churches every first Sabbath in the month for a whole year, beginning in August 1737; and the penalty for the first neglect of reading it was, that * they shall be declared incapable of fitting or voting in any church judicatory;" and this was to be executed against them by the civil judges in Scotland. The most part of ministers in many synods and presbyteries, though they fcrupled not to condemn the outrageous insult of the mob as murder, yet they had not freedom to read the said act, because they judged the penalty foresaid to be properly a church censure, seeing by it' ministers would be divested of the power of church government and discipline, which is given them by the Lord Jesus Christ the Head of the church, and is effential to their office as preaching or difpenfing the fa


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

crament. Now, for the civil magistrate to assume the power of the keys, or of inflicting church censures, which Christ hath put in the hands of his own officers, they judged a manifest incroachment upon Christ's Headthip over his church, and contrary to the word of God and the Confession of Faith they had subscribed, chap. 30. par. 1. 2. and chap 23. 3. And for minifters to become the magistrate's heralds, to proclaim this law on the Lord's day, in such a folemn manner, would be an homologating of this incroachment, and a consenting to this Erastian power of the m.gistrate. Likewise they judged, to approve or concur with a law so prejudicial to the doctrine and discipline of his church, as established by law civil and ecclefiaftical, would be to give up with fundamental securities, and act contrary to the solemn engagements ministers come under to maintain the doctrine and discipline of this church, and do nothing prejudicial thereto. Besides, they did not think it agrecable to the office of those, who were “ ambassadors of the gospel of peace," to become heralds or executors of this or any fanguinary law ; especially when they apprehended there were several things in it inconfitent with justice and equity, besides the Erastian penalty aforementioned. These and other arguments, set in a clear light in several pamphlets published at that time, determined us to join with those who bore testimony against the reading of the foresaid act, and to run the hazard of all its penalties. And we wish the light of all the ministers of of Scotland had been the same with ours in this matter, which would have prevented much divilion and Itumbling that different practices have occafioned.

But yet we must do justice to those of a diff-rent light, so far as to own, that there were several pious and conscientious minifters who read this act, because of the quite different view they had of it from those who refused it : and seeing, by the whole tenor of their lives and actions, it appears they have acted upsightly and honestly in other matters, we are in charity bound to think they acted sincerely in this also. Their reasons for reading were ; A sinful penalty in VOL. IV.


'the act, should not hinder their reading those parts of the act which might be lawful; and they judged they were bound to read some parts of it, to warn their people of the danger of harbouring or succouring the rioters. And they did not look on the penalty scrupled at as any church censure, or Eraftian incroachment upon Christ's Headship'; and, as they judged, no more was meant by it, but that the non-readers should forfeit the magistrate's protection in sitting in churchcourts: and that the magistrate, without assuming the power of the keys, might by his civil power as a magiftrate, exclude or render ministers incapable of fitting in church-courts, by confining or banishing them. And they sincerely declare, that, if they had thought their reading of that act had in the least wronged the Headship of the King of Zion, they would rather have suffered the loss of their ftipends, or any thing else. Now charity obligeth us to believe pious men to be ingenuous in such declarations.

But, alas! notwithstanding of all these shaking difpensations, the church was not brought to a right fenfe of her fins and defections; and therefore the Lord's controversy with her was not at an end : for we find the Assembly 1738 continuing in former steps, and giving new offence to many in the church, by another decision in a process of error. The magistrates and town-council of Edinburgh having chosen Mr William Wishart à minister at London to be Principal of their college, and having got a call to him also to be one of the ministers of the city, the presbytery of Edinburgh refused to concur with the said cali, and charged him with venting several erroneous propofitions in two of his printed fermons, with respect to the power and office of the magistrate in religious matters, the liberty of Christian subjects, the subscribing of Confessions, the education of children, the influence of arguments taken from the awe of future rewards and punishments, his excessive charity to Heathens and others who reject the gospel offers and institutions, and the finful and corrupt state of all men from their birth, &c. This affair being brought by ap



« AnteriorContinuar »