« AnteriorContinuar »
meelfncs', courteousness, and humbleness of mind". Surely such a decHnature. and such a sentence as theirs, would seem to import no less than the unchurching the the who'e church, :nd unrministering her whole ministry, faithsul body and all, as if they were all given up to some dr: adsul apostasy or sundamental errors- Now, we are pretty sure there are sew judicious orthodox divines in the world that will adventure to unchurch the church of Scotland, or declare her no church of Christ, for all the sains- she hath. They have owned others as the churches of Christ, who have been as corrupt as fhe, if not more. Nay, the glorious Head of the church, the best Judge, hath owned sume no less corrupt, as gclden cand/e/licks, walked in them, and held communion with them; such as the church of Corinth, some of the churches of Asia, Galatia and other places. And is it thank-worthy in any of the members to outrun the Head, or to be more forward to unchurch his churches, or to unminister his ministers, than he himself inclines to be.
4 We cannot justify the brethstai in resusing to return to assist these whom they owned to be a body of saithsul ministers, to promote a work of resormation j when by a surprising providence they had got the upperhand in the Assembly 1734, and were doing all they could to remove the evils they complained of, and had got the door opened for them, and the act 1732 repealed, which was the great occasion of their protesting and seceding; and were most willing to do every thing in their power to satisfy them and all the friends of reformation. But aster they had continued for two or three years to struggle even above their strength, and thereby had got many good things done, still hoping their brethren would return to their assistance; they were grievously discouraged when they saw them still bent upon their begun schism, so as to set at nought all they had been doing, and misconstruct their most honest designs; yea, they were at length so disheartened by their measures, that many of them gave over travelling, and attending the Assemblies, who thereupon, alas ! suon returned to their old bias. So that it is
manisest irranisest the brethrens wilsulness in their dividing way, pot a stop to a begun national resormation, which, if they had savoured and struck in with, might have been advanced very sar through the blrffing of God, and many dismal consequences of their s hism prevented.
5. We must disapprove the brethren in seceding not only from the church, but also from their old Christian temper and disposition, and from that royal law of love and charity which they once preached up: this appears in their excluding from the room they onc« had in their charity and communion, all their old friends and acquaintances, though never so found and piou , or willing to spend or be spent for Christ and souls, if they have not light to secede and join with tliem. Whatever esteem of them they had before, they must now no longer employ them, hear them, nor preach for them. Now, why should they treat t!'e body of faithsul ministers, they once took sweet counsel with, as if they were gross apostates, when it is notour they continue the very fame men they were besore, wheni the brethren sat with 'hem iri judicatories ?'They still witness and contend sor reformation principles- as well a8 they; they give testimony against licensing or ordaining corrupt men, and ag.iinst all errors and intrusions; against countenancing patronages, arid'accepting presentations; against all encroachments made upon the rights of the church and Christian people, and upon the Headship of Christ over the churchy against the preaching up & sort of Heathen morality, and the neglect of the true preaching of Christ arid gospel holiness, &c. Now, what must be the reason for the brethrens separating and departing frorhtheir old frietids/ as if they were become Papists or Mahometans? Is if a good reasons, because they continue to vi itness against the evils of the time in the judicatories as they did before, and not in conjunction with the eight seceders? Why must it now become such a deadly sin for worthy men to go with Joseph and Nicodemud to backsliding judicatories, to plead with their mother,' to testify against corruptions, to do all they can to hold out English prelacy and ceremonies, and maintain the national Vet. IV j M establishment
establishment os presbytery, and a sound Consession of Faith, and to strive to do all the good in their power, while waiting for better times, when God will open the eyes of men to see the evil of their ways? Now, when honest men think these ends may be better an. fwered by going to judicatories than by joining a sew seceders, ought not their brethren to forbear them, and allow them the same place in their charity and communion they had besore?
6. We cannot approve of their marking so narrowly the failings, mistakes, and wrong steps of their sincere godly brethren, as they do; and, instead of covering and forgiving their weaknesses (as Christ injoins) aggravating and magnifying them so, as to make every mistake a dangerous error and desection ; and not only doing this in private conversation, but going to the pulpit, and proclaiming them at times of greatest concourse, such as sacrament occasions, which should be seasts of love and charity among Christians, and not engines of strise and debate. Such an uncharitable course we judge the ready way to mar the usesulness of many of Christ's faithsul servants in his vineyard, tending both to break their ministry, and break their hearts at oncej to scatter their poor flocks, and do great harm to many precious souls.
*]. Likewise we must witness against their exciting and stirring up poor people plainly and directly to leave their godly pastors, by whom many of them have been brought to Christ; and doing so at the very time while they are seeding and prositing under their ministry; and for no other reason but because these ministers have not freedom to join in their- secession and testimony, &c. yea, persuading the people to leave these, and come to them, as they would not fall under the curse of Meroz, &c. and doing this both when they preach at home, and when they invade the parishes of others abroad. We cannot but testify against such flock-scattering doctrine and practices, as most sinsul j and judge it to be a counterseiting of our Lord's words, "He that despiscth you despiseth meJl and also great cruelty to go and pluck weak childrenTrom the beasts, while sucking strength and nourishment from pure ordinances, and to tell them (asseceden do) that some sew occasional meals, like their itinerant sermons, will be better for them, though perhaps they are not so good as their daily sare. This doctrine tends to ruin souls, by fostering ignorance, error, insidelity, looseness, carnality, worldliness, Sabbath break- 1 ing, and all sorts of prosanity through the land; for thus many thousands of ignorant Christless suuls, if they obey them, must sit at home on the Lord's day, - and live without the gospel, except when they get a transient sermon of this kind now and then from a seceder.
8. We must also bear witness against the brethren, their narrowing the terms both of ministerial and Christian communion, so as no resormed church ever did. 1. As to ministerial, they have come the length to reiuse communion with the most strict and holy minister in Scotland, if he do not secede and approve of their long act and testimony, notwithstanding of the many visible blemishes that are in it. And this they do in contradiction to their protestation at their sirst secession, Nov. 16. 1733, by which they prosess still to hold communion with all true Presbyterians, who groan under the evils of the time, and wrestle against them: and again, they say the same in their sirst testimony, page 95. But they continued short while in that moderate disposition; for they soon came to resuse communion with all ministers but these of their own presbytery. 2. As to Christian communion, they go a prodigious length in excommunicating from the Lord's table all who hear or communicate with any other ministers, although these ministers might possibly be the instruments of their conversion, and signally blessed to them; and men upon whom they can charge no desection or fault, but their not seceding from the church, and acceding to their long testimony in all points. Surely, for men to prescribe such new terms of communion to God's children besore they can get their bread, terms not appointed by the Head, is both to incroach upf)n the headship of Jesus Christ, and 3 M 2 "' break break in upon that article of our Creed, The coat'
munian of faints.
9. We must regret their casting slanders on their wortl y ancestors and on their mother-church, in their AB and leflimony, and other papers emitted or adopted by them; particularly by alledging, that the Assembly 1690 (which consisted of many consessors and ol4 fii ierert)" made no particular acknowledgment of the backsliding of the land under prelacy; and that they declared the persidious prelates were not to be deposed for their treacherous desections: That the parliament which met at that time imposed the oath of allegiance, to exclude the oath of the covenant J That Prosessor Simson and Prosessir Campbell's errors, and these favoured by the Assembly's Shorter Catechism revised, have overspread this church like a flood: That the jndicatories have overturned the foundations of the doctrine and government of Christ's church: That they have subverted both her doctrine and worship: That they have done what in them lay to pull the crown oss Christ's head: That they have resused to give him the glory of his supreme Deity, and involved themselves in denying the Son of God, which is one special mark of Antichrist: they have made sinsul terms of communion, &c. For all which see Testimony, sirst Edit Pages 51, 53, 59, 105. 109, 144, 144, 145, 148. besides others of their papers. These are but a swatch of the many false aspersions contained in their writing?, besides those which they daily cast upon their brethren in their sermon6. A'as! that brethren, who are concerned for the fame gospel interest, should take such methods to slander their own mother's sons, to discredit their persons and blast their ministry; especially when God is • pleased to countenance severals of them remarkably in their work. There are indeed many evils in the national church but it is sinsul to calumniate her, and make her desections greater than they are.
But not withstanding of all these extravagant steps and accusations of our seceding brethren, occasioned through their intemperate party zeal; we still have re