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especially under the popular odium now so generally excited, evidently creates a temptation to insincerity.
4th,-Because we do not approve of the practice of bearing solemn testimony to a mysterious doctrine of pure Revelation-in the words of
5th,-Because as put and carried, this measure operates directly as a test of individual faith; is strictly inquisitorial in its nature and effects, and such an infringement on Christian liberty as is without a precedent among us, and wholly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of our Church."
When the Minute relative to the Home Missionary Committee was read, Mr. Magill moved, and Mr. S. H. Rowan (Elder) seconded a motion, "That the former Committee be not continued; and that no Arian be appointed as one of its members." A very warm discussion ensued, in which it was asserted by Dr. Wright, and other orthodox ministers, that Mr. Cooke was in the habit of assisting and preaching for an Arian minister; and that he (Mr. Cooke) received the sacramental elements through the hands of an ARIAN, and dispensed them to the communicants. Mr. Cooke acknowledged that he did so; but it was for the purpose of assisting in the overthrow of Arian doctrines!!!—Motion
Mr. Cooke presented a Protest, signed by 11 ministers and 1 elder, against the motion which had passed in the morning, to retain the present Committee for managing the affairs of the Home Missions. The objections urged were, that there being Arians in the Committee, we cannot expect any thing but destruction to the Society! The entering of the Protest was opposed, chiefly by orthodox ministers; Mr. Fletcher Blakely having seconded it. Passed-19 voting for insertion, and 17 against it.
Mr. M'Cay gave notice, that he would next year give notice of a motion for marking with disgrace any member of this body, who would join in communion with any minister of the Presbytery of Antrim!
To the Reverend Robert Stewart, Minister of the Gospel, at Broughshane, Ireland.-Letter 2.
THE violence of proselytes has long been proverbial; and I regret to add, that your conduct forms no exception to the general rule. According to your own admission, it is only a few short months since you returned to the orthodox faith; and you hasten to signalize your reconversion by harsh and uncharitable censures, and a vindictive persecution of those men, with whom you had lived on terms of friendly intercourse, and with whose creed your own so lately coincided. Was this merely the effervescence of newly-awakened zeal, or did the wisdom of this world whisper, that you should try to establish confidence in your wavering faith, by a sacrifice of early opinions, and early associates, and of all the charities of life? Perhaps it was a magnanimous offering on the altar of duty; but I will freely confess, that I could have pardoned you, if you had discovered some of the amiable weaknesses of our nature, by not joining in a crusade against those men, whose opinions you had so recently abandoned.
Having thus disposed of your prefatory matter, I shall now proceed to discuss the validity of those reasons which you have assigned, for a very remarkable change of creed.
To me it appears evident, that the principles which you have laid
down, as establishing a belief in the incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity, subvert the foundations of Protestantism, and lead directly to Popery.
Permit me to ask, Do you believe in Transubstantiation? I can well imagine how your protestant zeal will kindle into a flame, at the bare mention of such a question. "Impossible! How can any man in his senses believe such downright absurdity?" Such would doubtless be your reply. But softly, my good Sir. I admit that it is indeed highly absurd; and that no powers of language could convince me of its truth. Yet I will undertake to show, that you are bound at once to receive it, as an article of your creed. You must acknowledge that it is not more difficult to understand, than the doctrine of a three-one God. And in defence of it, it may be urged, that the question of the real presence, "must be answered by Scripture information alone; all attempts to answer it by information drawn from other quarters, will be as unsuccessful as they are presumptuous." Now, the Scriptures inform us, that "Jesus took bread, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." And in another passage we are told, that "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."-" How this can, or cannot be, we are unable by reason or philosophy to explain. We can only reason of what we know—upon subjects of which we are competent to form ideas. We may assert that it is absurd, but absurdity implies obvious contradiction; contradiction implies knowledge and ideas, and of the nature of God we have seen that we can form no definite idea whatever. The subject is above our reason, and therefore not contrary to it. There are a thousand things in ourselves and our situation, which we admit as facts, the reality of which we never doubt, but which in their nature we must acknowledge to be above the reach of reason, and, of course, inexplicable. Is it rational for us to admit, upon the evidence of our imperfect senses and experience, the reality of a thousand things, the nature of which we can neither comprehend nor explain; and at the same time deny the statement of inspiration, because we cannot comprehend or explain it ?"
You at least must admit the force of this reasoning, for it is your own, and the very words, with the exception of Scripture quotation, which you employ in support of Trinitarianism. They apply with equal force to the mysterious doctrine of Transubstantiation. Indeed, if we are to take the language of the New Testament in its strict literal meaning, without presuming to exercise our judgment in the interpretation of it, then I have no hesitation in affirming, that of the two, the latter doctrine is the more strongly supported. They are both founded on false and absurd explanations of some passages in holy Scripture; but are wholly at variance with its true spirit and intention, and with the plainest deductions of common sense. But if men are interdicted the use of their understandings on such subjects, there is no more difficulty in believing the one, than the other. It ought not, therefore, to excite our surprise, in these days of conversion, and perversion, to be informed, that in some of your various journeyings southward, "you had renounced the errors of Protestantism, and been reconciled to the Catholic Church!"
Since the above was written, 1 observe, by the newspapers, that you have been entertaining the public by an exhibition of yourself, in a polemical combat with Father Macaulay, of Bally-mena. The whole of the proceeding reminds me so forcibly of a dispute which took place be
tween two Quack Doctors, in the days of Oliver Goldsmith, and which he has described with infinite humour in his Citizen of the World, that
cannot resist the inclination to transcribe a part of the story, for your edification:-"And yet the great have their foibles, as well as the little. I am almost ashamed to mention it. Let the foibles of the great rest in peace. Yet I must impart the whole to my friend. These two great men are actually now at variance: yes, my dear Fum Hoam, by the head of our Grandfather, they are now at variance, like mere men, mere common mortals! The champion Rock advises the world to beware of bogtrotting Quacks; while Franks retorts the wit and the sarcasm (for they have both a world of wit), by fixing on his rival, the odious appellation of Dumplin Dick. He calls the serious Doctor Rock, Dumplín Dick! Head of Confucius, what profanation! Dumplin Dick! What a pity, ye Powers! that the learned, who were born mutually to assist in enlightening the world, should thus differ among themselves, and make even the profession ridiculous! Sure, the world is wide enough at least for two great personages to figure in. Men of science should leave controversy to the little world below them; and then we might see Rock and Franks walking together, hand in hand, smiling onward to immortality."
To do justice to the poor priest, in this case, he seems to have been alarmed for the injurious effects which the contest was likely to produce on the passions of the multitude, already sufficiently inflamed; and was anxious to decline the war. But in the fulness of self-estimation, and reckless of the consequences, and anticipating, no doubt, an easy triumph over your less assuming opponent, you bearded him in such a manner, that he was reluctantly compelled to buckle on his armour. And what has been the result of all this mighty preparation, this vaporing and bustle? After much silly discussion, totally unworthy of men of enlightened minds, and an interchange of vulgar personalities, each party has claimed the honour of the day, erected a trophy, and sung Te Deum, for victory.
And to transmit to distant times the history of this illustrious warfare, in a manner suited to the dignity of the subject, the itinerant venders of important intelligence, in our streets and market-places, after horrifying the listening crowd, with "the last speech, and dying declaration" of some wretch, hanged for murder; by way of farce, after tragedy, now favour us with "a full, true, and particular account of the great combat between the Rev. Mr. Stewart of Broughshane, and Priest Macaulay of Bally-mena; wherein is set forth, the difference between their two religions, by way of question and answer, all for one halfpenny!"
In addition to these blushing honours, sufficient to make any man vain, I observe, by the public prints, that "the inhabitants of Bally-mena, and its vicinity, have resolved to present you with a copy of a Polyglott Bible, and several critical works, which are calculated to explain and elucidate the same.
The people of Bally-mena, are not such dull fellows as is generally supposed. Under a stupid exterior, a rich fund of genuine humour, mingled with benevolence, lies concealed. Thus, having witnessed your deficiences on a late occasion, and willing to cover your retreat with a show of victory, and at the same time, to give you a gentle hint, as to your future line of study, they have agreed to supply you with books, of which you evidently stand much in need," a Polyglott Bible, and works calculated to explain and elucidate the same. And, if I am not greatly mistaken in the estimate I have formed of your character, you will gravely receive it as a compliment, and "pocket the affront!"
Now, all this idle bravadoing might fairly call up a smile on the gravest face, were it not for its probable effects. It has sown the seeds of bitterness and dissension, amongst numbers of ignorant people of both
denominations, who know nothing of the real merits of the question at issue; and these, in due time, will yield a plentiful harvest of malice, and hatred, and all uncharitableness. And these miserable consequences will doubtless remain, long after the unworthy cause of them shall have been forgotten, and your name, and your purposes, and your hopes, shall have perished from the earth.
I find that I have wandered from the subject with which I set out, the consideration of your proofs of "the essential divinity of our blessed Lord;" but your inconsistencies have led me into these deviations; and perhaps, in due time, I may yet, like yourself, return to the path of duty. You have raised the war-whoop of intolerance against your brethren, with whom you lately held intimate converse, because they exercise their reason in matters of faith, and you have, almost in the same breath, denounced the poor ignorant Catholic, because he presumes not to think for himself, but with pious submission, receives the law from the mouth of his priest, and believes and worships as his fathers have done!
These are more contradictions, which I must leave you to reconcile; and again subscribe myself,
August 17, 1827.
THE extraordinary proceedings of the General Synod of Ulster, at their late annual meeting, of which we have given as long and as accurate an account as possible, must have excited mingled sensations of gratitude and sorrow, in the mind of every sincere disciple of Jesus Christ. They must have called forth sorrow, if not indignation, that men assuming the name of Christian Ministers, and miscalling themselves Protestant Dissenters, should, by their conduct, have violated every principle of Protestanism, and set at nought, the distinctive benevolence of Christianity. At the same time, they must have elicited the purest gratitude to heaven, that not a few were there, who evinced their freedom from the leprosy of intolerance, who resolved to stand fast in that "liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free," nobly vindicated the privileges of humanity, and fearlessly incurred the odium of the fanatic, and the sarcasm of the bigot, whilst boldly advocating that intellectual privilege, characteristic of man, and the chartered right of the Christian-a privilege,
Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers,
The meeting began well. It commenced with a discourse on Christian benevolence, by the late Moderator of the Synod. But Mr. Magill, fond, we presume, of striking contrasts, speedily broke up the harmony, which the practical exemplification of the principles of gospel charity would have produced, by introducing a motion which soon led to "most admired disorder." The idea of depriving a respected individual of the office of Clerk, simply for his opinions, for it was acknowledged on all sides, that Mr. Porter's conduct in the office was unimpeachable, was certainly worthy of the worst days of orthodoxy, and the language by which the motion was illustrated and adorned, was a most apt com
ment on the spirit which dictated it. Let not Mr. Magill flatter himself, that the "people of India, Africa, and the South Seas," will fix "their eyes on the Synod of Ulster," or himself, with approbation. The approval of persons in their benighted and heathenish condition, may possibly be very gratifying to Mr. Magill, and truly his language, and his motion, and their admiration, would be very appropriately associated; but we think, that even these poor creatures, could they understand the subject, would turn from such Christianity with aversion and contempt. "Highway robber, and low-way robber!"-Poor man! Let him know that the parties whom he thus characterizes, believe all that they conceive the Scriptures teach them respecting the character, offices, and person of the Saviour, they value Christ's mission as the most glorious dispensation of God's mercy, and they rejoice in Jesus, as "the way, the truth, and the life." If they are mistaken in their opinions, they are to be pitied, not condemned; and he must know little of human nature, who imagines, that the erring will be led to truth by opprobious names. These, however, have ever been the chief weapons of those who think they "have all faith," and we envy them not their possession.
Mr. Magill, unfortunately, did not stand alone in the employment of rancorous and unmeaning abuse. This folly was shared pretty equally by several other individuals. The one who avowed "that Arians and Calvinists should not worship in the same temple, nor give each other the right hand of fellowship," for "in fact, they do not worship the same God," proved most abundantly, his title to rank high in the scale. Where can these men have lived-what society can they have kept-what works can they have studied? Surely these are not the teachings of that Bible in which they profess to believe; or the manifestations of that Spirit, by which they almost assert, they are illuminated.
The amendment which was carried, condemned Arianism, but retained Mr. Porter. This, however, was not sufficiently explicit for Mr. Cooke, whose exhibitions, during the meeting of Synod, formed the most extraordinary portion of their most extraordinary proceedings. Not satisfied with this sweeping reprobation of Arianism, Mr. Cooke followed it up, by proposing that the members should declare their belief in that portion of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory!" This motion, Mr. Cooke stated, he should, at a future period, follow up, by moving commissions of inquiry into the faith of ministers, suspending them from, and depriving them of their charges, and precluding persons from holding communion with those who differed from the Catechism in opinion! We must do Mr. Cooke the justice to say, that he goes boldly forward to the accomplishment of his end, and that end, divested of all cant and mystification, is, the establishment of an Inquisition in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland-its avowed and unattainable object, uniformity of faith! Of Mr. Cooke, we know nothing, but by the melancholy exhibition he made of himself at the Synod. The