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Aps: 1.-We believe not the word spoken by angels, the law; por yet the word spoken by the Lord (Heb. ii. 3; xii. 25). Christ came from heaven and out of the Bosom of the Father, and hath preached heaven and bell to us; for He had experience of wrath, answerable to the pain of hell.
(2). This is no other shift than that of the rich man in the parable, Luke xvi. 30. “Nay, Father Abraham if one went to them from the dead, they will repent.” Now, repentance flows not from the preacher's experience, though he had seen and felt the pains of hell, or the joys of heaven ; nor doth the experience of heaven's joy or hell's torment heal the broken and wounded will. And the rich man's divinity hath been the same with Pelagian's way, that if the word be feelingly and dexterously proposed, it can awaken up the sleeping freewill; and that repentance is a work of nature; if the fire be dexterously blown upon, it will certainly flame, and all depends upon the running and willing of his five brethren. Grace can waken up sleeping freewill, but freewill cannot stir up grace;
Death cannot make use of life, but life can work upon deadness.
Again, to say : “ Had I grace or more grace, I should be as holy as David,” is a blowing up of nature, and a dethroning of Christ. For this I when you say: “I should be holy as David,” is not that gracious 1, of which Paul—(Gal. ii. 20,)“I live not, but Christ lives in me;" but it is I and self, divided from self and grace. But woe to the will separated from Christ; woe to the branch cut off from the green and flourishing tree; it is good for nothing but the fire ; woe to the arm sawn off the living body. And by this, as one saith well : “ If God would give the power, you would of yourself add the will.” This is the Pelagian heresy. “Let God but make a stirring and a blowing, and give a sort of will, I could do wonders ;” as if it were not " the Lord who works in us both to will and to do, of His good pleasure:” Phil. ii. 13. Yea, it lays little upon God's calling (for He calleth Cain and Judas), and much, yea the all of our salvation, on our answering. “Christ knocks by word of mouth, and I, and self, and freewill opens the heart,” which debaseth Christ and powerful grace. In all which consider : had you the influences of grace
disposal, (1) Then why doth not freewill bar the iron door against sin; that sin of angels and men, without freewill's good leave, should never enter the world ? Thus the creature should be more master, lord, governor over providence, than the Sovereign Lord Himself. Then could the Lord erect no theatre, nor set a chair of free-grace to the Mediator and Lord of grace, Jesus Christ, unless first He took counsel with created freewill, and said : “ Oh creature, may I have thy good leave to send my Son to the world?” And the disease must be
consulted : “Shall there be such a Precious One as the Physician, the Healer of sinners ?" It is true-No sinner, no Saviour ; no lost one, no Redeemer, such as our Immanuel: but it is known, if influences of grace be (as Pelagianizing Universalists say) at the disposing of nature, with that absolute indifferency, then the creature may stand, or may fall, let the all-governing Lord do His best to the contrary. There is here a created sovereign dominion. If God create the creature free, it involves a contradiction that God should be free to hold out or to bring in sin, and hell, and misery : and God is indifferent (except man must irrevocably perish) to send His Son in the flesh to save sipners.
(3). Were influences at our disposal, we might make our prayers only to our own freewill, for then God can only by this way hear and help. If so be influences be at man’s disposal, could any kiss the Mediator, stoop to free grace, and adore it, praise and sing His glory who sits upon the Throne, and commend the Lamb who redeemed sinners from among lost sinners ?
In reason, we can no more time and dispose of the measure, manner, and kind of our own comforts, and of the measure and kind of the Lord's influences, than the earth can dispose of the quantity of rain and dew; and herbs, corn, or growing trees can determine of the influences of the sun, moon, and heavens.
THE GENERAL PRESBYTERIAN COUNCIL.
[The two delegates from our Church were the Moderator (Rev. E. Ritchie) and Rev.' T Hobart, M.A. Carluke. We are indebted to the former for the following remarks on the proceedings.] Most of our readers we doubt not have already been furnished by the newspapers with some account of the proceedings of this great ecclesiastical congress, which met at Edinburgh on the 3rd of July. It is hoped, however, that the following brief notice by one who was present may not be uninteresting.
The meeting of Council was inaugurated with a sermon, by Professor Flint, in the High Church. That which is now known as the Eastern or High Church, forms part of St. Giles Cathedral—the most ancient existing ecclesiastical edifice in Edinburgh. In Knox's time it is said to have been open from end to end, and that it could accommodate about 3000. After the Reformation it was divided into four Churches, and at present there are three. It was in the High Church of St. Giles, that the famous Janet Geddes hurled her stool at the dean's head, as she cried out, “ Villain, dost thou say mass at my lug!”
The Church has certainly an imposing appearance, with its lofty and massive stone pillars ; but we could not help feeling that its
stained glass windows, adorned with so-called pictorial representations of scenes in the history of our Lord and His disciples, are strangely out of place in a Protestant and Presbyterian place of worship. We can appreciate the arts of sculpture and painting, in the Museum and Picture Gallery, and on legitimate subjects. But we disapprove entirely of all attempts at any time to represent our Lord's humanity, not only since He is God-man, but also because He is exhibited in Scripture to the eye of faith and not of sense. “ Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
THE MODE OF CONDUCTING Public WORSHIP.-It was gratifying to find that the Psalms alone were sung without any instrumental accompaniment, and that no Liturgy was used. We observed, however, that with a few exceptions the whole assembly stood at praise, and sat at prayer.
We may perhaps find Scripture warrant for the former, but the attitude of sitting at Prayer is unknown, and is to our mind most unseemly.
THE SERMON.-The Preacher announced as his text, John xvii. 20, 21, “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shalí believe on me through their word; that they may all be one,” &c. After referring to the circumstances in which the words were first spoken, and the grievous misrepresentations there had been of the unity prayed for, he remarked, That Christian unity had its origin in heaven, and was the patural and necessary expression of the common relationship of believing men to the one God, one Saviour, and one Holy Spirit. That Christians were certainly far indeed from being one as Christ desired they might be, but to the extent that they were Christians at all, they were already one. He represented this unity as cousistent with underlying differences of principle, and as wholly distinct from uniformity. He affirmed that it was not the difference of principle, which marred Christian unity, but the evil and angry passions which gathered round the differences.
The sermon was sufficiently able and interesting to sustain the reputation of the preacher. But bis definition and descriptions of Christian unity appeared to us to be far too general and indefinite to express the meaning of the passage. Granting that Christian unity is ultimately, and in the power of its perfection, the natural and necessary expression of the common relationship of believing men to the one God, &c., yet is it not unphilosophical and unscriptural to make 80 little of the remaining darkness of the people of God in this life, and of those sinful prejudices which often prepossess their minds against the truth ? He took no particular notice of the work of the Holy Spirit as he is the Spirit of truth and the great author of Christian unity, nor of the written Word as the standard, rule, directory, and test of it. He overlooked the fact that there are visible as well as invisible bonds of Christian unity, or that there are external and visible expressions of the common relationship of believing men to the one God, one Saviour and one Holy Spirit, as well as those that are internal and invisible. Hence He arrived at the onesided and partly illogical conclusion that Christian unity could
exist under all these differences and might be perfected and strengthened by them.
Whilst he trusted that Protestants would never slight the differences which separated them from the Church of Rome, yet “He hesitated not to say, that when Protestants were able clearly to discern the oneness even beneath these differences, and gradually to love what was of Christ even when it appeared in the Church of Rome, a greater step would have been taken towards the attainment of Christian unity than would be made by the mere external union of all denominations of Christendom.”
Now we can regard this as nothing else than a vain parade of Christian charity. Or was it an apology for the pictorial windows with the virgin and the infant child? The preacher is so Catholic, that he is almost prepared to take the Church of Rome in his arms !
We do not deny that Christ has had His little ones in that apostate Church, but if they did not come out of her, they have been hidden in her dungeons. It is not as they are within that Church that we recognise our oneness with them, but rather as they are separated from her and renounce her soul-destroying errors.
We can recognise no oneness or Christian unity with a rotten branch nor with the deadly upas tree of Romanism. Does not Scripture say, “ Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
His imperfect views of Christian unity and of its obligations, may be inferred when he says, “A man might err very widely in creed and yet have a sincere believing soul.” We suppose that Saul when he persecuted the Church was one of these sincere believing souls, and that Ignatius Loyala was another, though of a different creed. But sure we are that the man who errs so widely in creed, cannot have an enlightened believing soul. God alone is the proper judge of a man's sincerity, and there is surely a great difference between a natural and gracious principle of sincerity.
If one be a sincere believing soul in his error and delusion, he is so much the more blinded and darkened.
The Professor concluded by denying any divinely given form of worship in the Church or of ecclesiastical polity, and by making light of doctrinal unity, whilst admitting that unity in the faith naturally leads to doctrinal unity. He argued that because research is ever advancing in God's book of nature, and God's book of Revelation, therefore there cannot be absolute harmony until the day of doom. But we may ask, Who ever dreamed of the Church reaching a state of sinless perfection on this side the grave? The question is, Are we not warranted by the predictions and promises of the Word, to expect and strive for the highest attainable degree of Scriptural union, or, for that nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, &c., to which these lands are pledged by solemn league and covenant. But our preacher added, “ That union of Churches must be grown into, and not striven for; and that a Universal Church was as grandiose and diseased a dream as was a universal empire.” Let us here search the Scriptures whether the things
spoken are so, and there we find, “For God is King of all the earth.” When ye pray, say
Thy kingdom come”—and “For then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.
Public RECEPTION.--A Public Reception of delegates took place on Tuesday evening at the Industrial Museum, where from four to five thousand assembled. The delegates were then invited to assemble in the lecture room. After prayer and praise, the Lord ProvostSir James Falshaw-on behalf of the Magistrates, Corporation, and citizens generally, and Lord Balfour of Burleigh, on behalf of the Presbyterians of Scotland, bade them welcome.
THE SUBBEQUENT MEETINGS.— These were held in the Free Church Assembly Hall. The business of the council may be concisely brought under the notice of our readers by the following extracts from the programme.Wednesday, 4th July, at 10.30 A.M.--" Harmony of Reformed
“ Confessions ; "Fundamental Principles of Presbyterianism ;” Presbyterianism in relation to the Wants and Tendencies of the Day, (e.g., Ritualism, Plymouthism, Rationalism, &c.); “Report on Statistics of Presbyterian Churches," &c.
Thursday, 5th July.-Home Work of the Presbyterian Church: (1) Preaching and the Training of Preachers; (2) The Eldership, its Theory and Practice ; (3) Home Missions in United States and other Lands.
Friday, 6th July.--Foreign Missions.
Monday, 9th July.-" The Unbelief of the present day and how to meet it ; Spiritual Life-Helps and Hindrances ;” The Reformed Churches of the Continent of Europe.
Tuesday, 10th July.- Presbyterian Literature and the Use of the Press generally ; “ The Christian Training of the Young ; dictory meeting in Evening.
After a vote of thanks to the President, prayer was offered up, and the vast assembly having joined in singing, “Pray that Jerusalem may have peace and felicity," the Council was dissolved to meet again at Philadelphia in 1880.
CONCLUDING REMARKS.— The meeting of this great Presbyterian Assembly is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable of its kind that ever took place in any land, or at any period. It must be regarded as one of the signs of the times, whether for good or evil. One of the speakers appeared to regard it as an accomplishment of the prediction, “I will bring my sons from far.”
It was certainly a very pleasing thing to meet face to face with so many distinguished men from America, and the Continent, and the British Colonies. We were pleased to observe that the American delegates generally spoke with no uncertain sound on the preaching of the word, and on Presbyterianism. Very able papers were read on the harmony of the Reformed Confessions and on preaching and the training of Preachers. Interesting accounts were given of Home and Foreign Missionary operations. We trust and believe that one result of this Conference will be to lead the Churches in various lands to