Page images
[ocr errors]

which is contained in those books [i.e. the two Books of Discipline]. Gillespie also says :-"No reformed Church in Europe is strictly tied by the bond of an oath and subscription, to hold fast her first discipline and use of the sacraments, and to hold out popish rites, as is the Church of Scotland. And who knoweth not that an oath doth always oblige and bind, 'when it is taken concerning things sure and possible, truly and without deceit, with deliberation and with judgment, justly, for the glory of God and the good of our neighbour ?'? What one of all those conditions was here wanting? Can we then say any less than a pope said before us :—'It is not safe that any person whatever should act contrary to his oath, unless it be such as, when kept, would lead to the loss of eternal salvation?' 2 O damnable impiety, which maketh so small account of the violation of the aforesaid oath, which hath as great power to bind us as that oath of the princes of Israel made to the Gibeonites, had to bind their posterity (2 Sam. xxi. 1, 2); for it was made by the whole incorporation of this land, and hath no term at which it may cease to bind. Nay (in some respects) it bindeth more straitly than that oath of the princes of Israel. For, 1. That was made by the princes only; this by prince, pastors, and people : 2. That was made rashly (for the text showeth that they asked not counsel from the mouth of the Lord); this with most religious and due deliberation : 3. That was made to men; this to the great God : 4. That sworn but once; this once and again.”

Again, the Solemn League and Covenant binds us to endeavour, “the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worsbip, discipline, and government, .... the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed Churches ; ” and to “ endeavour to bring the Churches of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church-government (this means corrective government], directory for worship and catechising." "Now, setting aside the circumstantials,




? Quando et factum de rebus certis et possibilibus, vere oc sine dolo premeditate ac cum judicio, iuste, ad gloriam Dei, et bonum proximi.

2 “ Non est tutum quemlibet contra juramentum suum venire, nisi tale sit, quod servatum vergat in interitum salutis æternua.

3 English Popish Ceremonies, part 4, chap. 8, sect. 2, 8.

4“In Mr. Crofton's sense, and in the sense of the Presbyterian covenanters in England, the government engadged unto in that article, is that platforme of Presbyterian government contained in these two books of discipline, which adversaries themselves do grant to comprehend an intire frame of Presbyterian government.” Rectius Instruendum, part 2, p. 63.


there is not any substantial part of the uniformity according to the covenant which is not either expressly grounded upon the word of God, or by necessary consequence drawn from it, and so no commandment of men, but of God." When the English Parliament ratified the Westminster Confession, they did not reject, but recommitted “particulars in discipline,” but as the Parliament was dissolved by Cromwell, the report of the committee was never returned. These particulars are said to bave been the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters, and tbe fourth section of the twentieth chapter. But at any rate when the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland approved of the Directory for Public Worship; the Form of Presbyterial Church Government; and the Confession of Faith, it was provided that the former should " be no prejudice to the order and practice of this Kirk, in such particulars as are appointed by the Books of Disciplive, and Acts of General Assemblies, and are not otherwise ordered and appointed in the Directory ;"3 the second was approved (10 Feb. 1645) not only because they desired, "an Uniformity in Kirk-government betwixt these Kingdomes," but from a solicitation to preserve "the Form of Kirk-government in this Kingdome, according to the Word of God, Books of Discipline, Acts of General Assemblies, and Nationall Covenant; " 4 and the latter was “found by the

1 Treatise of Miscellany Questions, chap. 15.
? Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly, ed. 1843, p. 304.
3 Records of the Kirk of Scotland, p. 419.

* Records of the Kirk of Scotland, p. 422. The General Assembly and the Parliament of Scotland approved the Propositions concerning Kirk-government and Ordination of Ministers (now called, the form of Presbyterial Church Government), “as a ground-work of the intended Uniformity in Kirk-government according to the Covenant ;” and earnestly desired and expected that the remanent parts of Uniformity would be expedited, especially that the materials of Kirk. government which had been so long in the hands of the Assembly of Divines, might be “formed into a practical Directory with all possible diligence.”Minutes of Westminster Assembly, foot-note, pp. 80, 81.–At length, “A Directory for Church Government, Church censures, and ordination of Ministers" was agreed upon by the Westminster Assembly, and which the General Assembly, in 1647, ordered to be printed, that it might be "examined by Presbyteries against the next Assembly.” In 1648, it was continued to the next Assembly ; and in 1649 it seems to have been again referred to the next General Assembly ; but alas ! in 1650 the Church was divided. See Records of the Kirk of Scotland. pp. 482, 519, 555.-A collection of confessions published in Edinburgh, in 1725, contains this Directory, reprinted from that issued by the General Assembly in 1647. In most respects it is substantially the same as the Form of Presbyterial Church Government though the arrangement is slightly different, and some parts are enlarged. It also includes a Directory for Church Censures, which fills six closely printed pages in 12mo, and is not in the Form of Presbyterial Church Government at all. Many of its phrases and sentences bear a striking resemblance to those of the Order of Excommunication and of Public Repentance, in o'r Book of Common Order ; indeed, it may almost be described as a concise epitome of it.


Assembly to bee most agreable to the Word of God, and in nothing contrary to the received Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government of this Kirk.”

The first step of defection in Scotland from the Covenanted Work of Reformation, and that which led the way to its overthrow, was the public resolutions of church and state, which brought in the malignant party, first to the army and then to the judicatories, “on making a superficial and counterfeit profession of repentance." In 1661, the State buried the Covenanted Work of Reformation under the infamous Act Rescissory. And now the Voluntary theory, "may be viewed as an Act Rescissory, in the ecclesiastical sense, annulling, setting aside, and burying all the public laws which have been made in support of religion in this land since the period of the Reforma

“We are to this day an unhumbled and an unprepared people; and there are among us both many cursed Achans, and many sleeping Jonahs, but few wrestling Jacobs; even the wise virgins are slumbering with the foolish (Matt. xxv. 5.); surely, unless we be timely awakened, and more deeply humbled, God will punish us yet 'seven times' (Lev. xxvi. 18, 21, 24, 28) more for our sins; and if He hath chastised us with whips,' He will chastise us with ‘scorpions;' and He will yet give a further charge to the sword to 'avenge the quarrel of His covenant' (Lev. xxvi. 25).'"3 Scotland is at last cursed with the re-erection of a popish hierarchy, while many of the watchmen of Sion are singing the siren song of toleration. “O Scutland ! understand and turn again, or else, as God lives, most terrible judgments are abiding thee!”


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


PERSONAL religion must mean the religion of the person, or the individual who professes it. But that religion is the truth as it is in Jesus applied by the Spirit. He operates on the faculties of the soul, and produces evangelical knowledge, lively experience, and growing exemplification. Not only is there light in the understanding, but this is from the Sun of Righteousness. For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness shines inwardly “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,"—that is, in the person, character, offices, work and salvation of our Lord. This is the Gospel, and includes all collateral subjects, so that the true believer knows Him in whom he believes, and is thoroughly persuaded that He, to whom is committed the safe keeping of his soul for time and eternity, is willing, as well as able and faithful, to accomplish all that is cherished by every Christian who rejoices in hope of the glory of God.

i Records of the Kirk of Scotland, 475. 2 M'Cric's Statement of the Difference, ed. 1871, p. 78. 3 Preface to Gillespie's Sermon to the House of Commons, 27th March, 1644.

* A paper read by the Rev. John Powell, Lisburn, before the Synod of the Secession Church, Ireland, at its meeting in Lisburn, July 2, 1878, and published by request.

It is hardly necessary to refer formally to sacred Scripture for corroboration of these statements. But there is an utterance of Apostolical authority that is particularly suitable to the subject before us, and this I deem worthy of deep and prayerful consideration; and, therefore, I lay it before you, and trust that its corroborative importance may be duly appreciated : “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom. viii. 9). They who walk after the flesh, unrenewed in nature, and, therefore, destitute of true religion, are most distinctly, most decidedly pointed out as not having qualities forming the elements of personal religion. They are, in fact, not Christians. For he adds what brings the matter to a just, but an awful issue, “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” The possession, enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Ghost were clearly and forcibly set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ when he said to the disciples :-“When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John xvi. 10-14). Thus shall all persons who have real religion in them be taught of God.

This originates what the apostle terms, very accurately “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. v. 22, 23). The fruit “is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These nine graces, as they may be scripturally called, deserve individual notice, and may for greater clearness be thus arranged :three cardinal graces, “love, joy, peace; "—three kindred qualities, “longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; "-three concurrent manifestations, “fidelity, meekness, temperance." These are contrasted with "the works of the flesh ” by the same divine writer, giving by that contrast additional force to the line of remark already made in this paper on personal religion. In his strikingly contrasting view there is a monition of such a nature that I cannot but notice it. In the twentyfirst verse of the fifth chapter of Galatians, after enumerating the various overt actions of unrenewed hu nity, the apostle adds “and suchlike," or, literally, things similar to these; "of the which I tell you before ”-or forewarn you, as I have also told you in time past” or forewarned you, “ that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Let us now review, however briefly, the nine sorts of the fruit of the Spirit, that is, the nine distinctive features of personal religion, which each true believer in, and follower of, the Lord Jesus presents to the Church and the world. Of the three cardinal graces, the first in order and pre-eminence is “love.” Love to God, love to real Christians, love to mankind (Matt. xxii. 37-40). Love to God is the first and great commandment, including and regulating the other two. The latter are embraced in our Lord's wording of the second commandment, in His comprehensive summary of the second table“ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” With regard to God we may assert that love is such an affection as cannot so properly be said to be in the soul, as the soul to be in that,-it is the whole man wrapt up into one desire. Right love of God has two phases, the esteem and desire of Him. The believing soul holds communion with the Father of lights, by the out-goings of spiritual love. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him, and thus there is a discernment, more or less, of those who are possessed of the same divine privilege, and an inclination towards them, more than the kindness, or strong regard of men inculcated in the precept to love one's neighbour as himself. Love to real Christians is, in this way, distinct from love to mankind at large, or from that to our own flesh and blood. “Every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him." (1 John v. 1). This is the new commandment, or the old, the original commandment in a new form, and with a new object.

The next cardinal grace is “joy.” It is “joy in the Holy Ghost," as a fruit of the Spirit-satisfaction arising from actual good assuredly possessed, amounting at times to a high degree of pleasure, but, as South writes, not that "trivial, vanishing, superficial thing, that only gilds the apprehension, and plays upon the surface of the soul.” It is lasting, and cannot evangelically exist without Christ—without union to Him, and a lively exercise of faith in Him. This is finely expressed by the Apostle Peter, in writing to the Christians of his time. “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” (1 Pet. i. 8).

The tbird grace, in the order which I am following, is “ “peace.” In the epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul ranks this before joy. “ The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. xiv. 17). Peace, denoting re


« PreviousContinue »