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Secession Church, that no candid or liberal man would hesitate to bear with a brother, whatever his views might be about that." So say the advocates for change. But let any man who reads these pages gravely consider, how much can be adduced from the Holy Scriptures in condemnation of the indulgence asked: Let him consider how much can be said in favour of all the power allowed to the magiftrate by the principles of the Secession Church: Let him recollect the eminent advantages the Church of Christ would enjoy by the co-operation of the Christian magistrate in behalf of the true religion according to the powers assigned him in the word of God, and then say, if it be the trifling, insignificant article, many would suppose.' For a Church voluntarily to divest herself of those aids from the ordi. nance of magistracy, which God hath assigned her in his word, and which his Providence hath given her an opportunity of afferting and confessing, is in. deed a very high demand for any to make, and a Atill more serious concession for her to grant. In this point of view, the stand which my Brethren and I have been compelled, by the resolute proceedings of the ruling faction in the Synod to make, in mainten. ance of our principles, is neither the unreasonable nor unjustifiable, and unprecedented separation, which those who compelled us to it would suppose. It is a most serious matter to surrender any part of truth we became bound at ordination to maintain and de. fend; to acquiesce in measures that affect the consti. tution of the Secession Church in a most material point; to be accessory to the divesting her of that protection and help, which God in his wisdom and goodness hath assigned his Church; and how could these consequences have been avoided, had we gone along with the Syrod in her measures?
But since the vote of Synod in September 1799, retaining the preamble has led to a separation, and some considerably active in pressing measures now find their people have deserted their ministry, their next endeavour is to affure them that « after all there is no difference!" The Synod are the very fame they ever were, and so are we, add they, if we had not left them.That there are worthy'ministers in connection with the Synod who are far from approving of the measures of the ruling faction, and who are the same in principle with our Confession, &c. and are endeavouring to persevere in maintaining their integrity in this respect is readily granted. These may say there is no change with them individually, although by their practice they virtually strengthen the hands of those who have changed, and must in certain cafes, particularly at Licences and Ordinations, accede to the change or stay away. But let the Synod records bear witness. Let the many petitions and remonftrances from Sessions and Congregations bear witness. Let the speeches and behaviour of members witnefs. Nay let these Letters which so pointedly expose and condemn the very scheme which the Synod were for adopting witness: and then let every impartial mind judge of the candour, truth, and consistency, of attempting to perfuade any plain private Christian that there is no difference. But to put the matter fairly to the proof. If the Associate Synod be the same ever she was, then there is no need of a preamble to the Formula. Dismiss the preamble, and give an unlimited approbation of the whole doctrine contained in the Westminster Confeffion of Faith. Let all who have been licenced and ordained by the preamble, declare their unlimited afsent to the Formula without it, and upon all declaring their sorrow for what is paft, and security for the future, I for one will be among the firft to haften to repair the breach. Let the
member of Synod who refuses this be ashamed to affert any longer there is no difference.
After all, the charge of bloody and of persecuting principles is still revived! allow the Christian Magistrate according to these Letters the prerogative of punishing or of suppressing grofs hereiy, blasphemy and idolatry, and how, say they, can you avoid the charge of compulsion in the matters of religion? And hence some men, in the indulgence at once of their bad humour, as well as of their most refined and masterly wit, have designed my brethren and me the “ Prefbytery of compulsory measures!” But it will be a most easy matter, for the friends of the doctrine taught in these pages, to dispute the palm for generosity, humanity and gentleness of behaviour toward their opponents, even with the warmest declaimers against perfecution; with the most celebrated fons of modern moderation and charity. Witness the rigour with which the discipline of the Church of Christ was employed against all who opposed their late proceedings, by these very men of feeling, whose blood runs chill at the thoughts of perfecution! Witness the efforts they made, to destroy our comfort, and turn us out of our Churches, by the ridiculous farce of preaching our Churches vacant, when we could no longer follow them in their measures !! Bleffed be God, however, a most mortifying disappointment has frustrated all these violent proceedings. But had we been more at their
what would have become of us? Become of us! From such zealous opposers of all persecution, we could not posibly have cause to dread any harm!
Nor does the charge supposed in this objection attach to any man or society of men who hold the doctrine of Revelation upon this head; but falls upon Him who hath invested his ordinance of magistracy with these powefs. And the argument is the very
same, whether these were vested in the magistrate; under the old, or under the new dispensation. As to the truth of the charge against the Author of these Letters, no man, who knew him or his character, will reproach him as a man of blood: and with regard to the bloody tendency of the doctrine he hath taught against authoritative toleration, let his writings speak for themselves.
* “ It requires no small share of ignorance, impio dence, and fraud to insinuate that the many thousands of Protestant advocates for the magistrate's power to restrain gross heresy, blasphemy or idolatry, plead for the FORCING of men to faith and holiness when they so harmoniously plead for the contrary. None ought to be forced into the faith and profession of the true religion as hath been repeatedly declared, but all proper methods taken to render their compliance judicious and voluntary:" + " It is very improper to issue forth any law doubtful or obscure or which most of the subjects are not likely to be got peaceably to comply with. This ought especially to be attended to in the framing and imposing laws and conftitutions relative to religion, which ought to be a resonable and voluntary service." "Even in punishing manifeft crimes, especially in matters of religion, all proper mildness ought to be exercised, never proceeding to extremities where there is any hope of Reformation, or where, as in the case of heresy or blafphemy, confession and repentance can make any kind of restitution," &c. &c. Magistrates ought never to attempt FORCING men to believe with their hearts even the most fundamental truths of religion, or to practise any religious duty,--that being no mean appointed by God for convincing them of
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* Page 13, 14.
the truth, or inducing them to a cordial performance of religious duties, 2 Cor. x. 4, 5. But it would be highly absurd hence to infer, that magi. Atrates may not restrain men from robbing Nations or Churches of these divine truths which God hath graciously intrusted to them and which are inexpreffibly profitable to them,-or to reftrain them from propagating gross heresies, blafphemies, idolatries which undermine and exclude the true religion, provoke God or destroy Nations, and are the fruitful seeds of contention, confusion and every evil work. No magistrate can compel me to lose my neighbour as myself, or can justly compel me to divide mine inheritance with him: but he may lawfully punish me for calumniating or robbing him. It is therefore extremely uncandid in the advocates for magia stratical tolerations of heresy, blasphemy, and idola. try, always to attempt blending or placing on an equal level, true and false religion, mere neglect of fome positive duties of religion, and shocking insults upon, and opposition to the duties of religion -leffer and secret mistakes in religion, and the most damnable heresies, blasphemies and idolatries openly and obtinately profefied and practised, as if these were en qually the objects of toleration restraint and punishment--or to confound a mere forbearance to punish with an authoritative licence openly to profels and practise what is criminal respecting religion. The true religion ought never to need a toleration. It ought always to have an establishment, whereas a false one ought never to be established, magistrates having no power against the truth but for the truth. There are many mere neglects or lesser mistakes in religion against which it would not be proper for magiftrates to enact civil laws, in their present state of imperfection,” &c.