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E uuiinijgffijg[imlf?uil[^






■^ ^CBurcfi of ^(otlanti ;

In Reply to


MclTrs. IxNEs, EwiNG, Ballentine, Glass, &t. among the

Modern, and of Goodwin, LocKitR, Cotton, &c.

among the Ancient Independents.

In a Series of Ijetters, addrejjed to Mr. Innes.

Vith an APPENDIX, containing Remarks on Mr. Haldane's
View of Social Woriliip.



•' Where every thing muft undergo difcuflion," (j. e. by the people, as is the cafe in lo-
depenoent churches) «' fome may be in danger of thinking that they have la-wi to make,
" inftead o( laius to obey. A few of the moft adtive fpirit and readieft elocution will become
" the real movers and managers in every bufinefs. Thofe, in lliort, who have moft need of
<• rcftraint, are in danger of being led to fet it at defiance, while the peaceful, and thofe to
«• whim the government is comrnitted nominaiiy, are terrified and chained down by the tur..
" biilence of the rcji."

Eiving on Ads xv.

«« Let it be recollefted, it \3fyfiems, not the charafter either of ir.#,iduals or of particular
•* focieties, the merits of which we are here canvaffing."

♦' Ponderibus iibratafuii."



tSoId by Ogle & Aikman, Guthrie &: Tait, W. Wkyte ;
and M. Ogle, Glafgow.



The following Letters were originally intended as
a Reply to Mr. Innes only. On farther refleiflion,
however, it appeared to be proper, not to reftridt
thefe inquiries to a review of that vi^riter's fenti-
ments, but to confider alfo what had been faid by
the more ancient and able advocates for Inde-
pendency. In our refearches after truth, it (hould
always be our concern to know ^hat is faid, and
not merely who fays it \ and certainly Independents
cannot obje£l, if, in examining what has been
advanced by their prefent champions, we likewife
confider the more learned and ingenious arguments
of their enlightened predeceflbrs.

It is requefted to be remarked, that it is the
principles only, and not the praBices of Preibyterians
that are here defended. The advocate for Pref-
bytery is certainly no more bound to vindicate the
latter, in order to eftablifh the former, than the
advocate for Chriftianity is bound to prove that the
condu£l of Chriftians is blamelefs and praife- worthy,
in order to (hew that Chriftianity is divine. It is
Prelbytery alone as exhibited in the fcriptures for
a 2

iv Introduction.

which we here contend, and it is on this ground
alone that we can impartially review and compare
it with Independency.

Let it be further confidered, that if the errors
which appear in the conduct of Preibyterians, with
regard to government, are better known than thofe
of Independents, it is owing, in a great meafure,
to the fuperior publicity of their courts. While
none but members are allowed to attend the meet-
ings of the latter, and while the ftrifteft fecrecy
marks their proceedings in general, none are com-
monly prohibited from hearing the deliberations of
the former. If the miilakes of Prefbyterians then
are more generally known than thofe of Inde-
pendents, it arlfes from a circumftance which has
ever been admitted to be a very important excellence
in civil courts ; namely, that their proceedings are
ufually condu£led in the prefence and hearing of
:fell, even though not connedted with their focieties,
while the tranfaftions of Independents are carried
on in private, and are carefully concealed from the
infpe6tion of the world.

That inftances of very lawlefs oppreflion have
occurred among our Tabernacle Independents in
Scotland, even during the fhort time that they
have already exifted, is attempted to be proved,
Letter II. Thefe inftances are taken either from
the writings of thofe who reprefent themfelves as
aggrieved, and whofe ftatement has never been
refuted by their opponents, or from the writings
of thofe who were guilty of the oppreflion, and
have acknowledged their fault. And, perhaps,
had their courts been as open to the public as

Introduction. v

thofe of Prefbyterlans, we (hould have heard of
a ftiil greater number of a6ls of tyranny and in-

To allow the office-bearers to decide on any
point, when the members of their congregations
have not been previoully confulted, has always
been affirmed by former Independents to be a dif-
play of ecclefiaftical defpotifm in Prefbyterians.
In the Letter however to which we have referred,
it is endeavoured to be proved, that, in many
inftances, Mr. Ewing contends for this very
power ; and confequently, at leaft on their acknow-
ledged principles, the conllitution of his church,
to a certain extent, mufl be viewed as a fpiritual

It is attempted, moreover, to be demonftrated in
thefe Letters, that the fcheme of thefe writers, by
rendering every congregation in the church of
Chrift independent of the reft, exhibits fuch a
view of his kingdom as would be prefented of the
civil and political world, were it broken into
as many independent governments as there were
towns or villages on the face of the earth, and their
governors were obliged uniformly to confult the
inhabitants before they could perform any a£t of

That the author, in every inftance, (hould ac-
curately have ftated the fentiments of Independents,
is what he by no means pretends. As each of their
congregations is independent of the reft, it is pof.
fible that there may be as many creeds and confti-
tutions among them as there are churches on the
earth. But to think of reprefenting accurately the

vi Introduction.

fentlmcnts of all of them, amidd this poffiUe y^LXiety,
would certainly be a vain and ridiculous idea, efpe-
cially as mofl: of them account it a fm to write and
publifli thefe creeds to the world; He is confcious
however that he has not wilfully, in any inftance,
misftated their views ; and if thofe, whofe opinions
are here examined, can point out any cafe in which
he has not fairly exhibited them, he will moft
readily correct it.

Let it not be faid, that the reafonings in thefe
Letters cannot be admitted to be conclufive, becaufe
many Independents do not, as is here aflerted, allow
their members a right to vote upon every queftion.
It is of little importance to differ about words. All
Independents (Mr. Ewing excepted) afk the judg-
ment and confent of their members upon every
matter, before the office-bearers can pronounce a
decifion ; and if fo, the arguments which are here
adduced, are equally conclufive as upon the former

Let it be underftood farther, that the arguments
advanced will not be confidered as overturned though
a number of miftakes (hould be pointed out in
feparate and detached obfervations, unlefs the body
of the evidence be fairly met, and fully overthrown.
It will much lefs be confidered as at all affedled if
encountered only by wit and humour, a weapon of
which fome advocates for Independency feem to be
peculiarly fond. It is from conviction alone that
the author of thefe Letters has publilhed his fenti-
ments, and when an oppofite conviction is pro-
duced, by difpaffionate, and able, and fcriptural
reafoning, he will inftantly renounce them. He

Introduction. vii

has no wifli that Prefbytery fhould be retained any
farther than it can be fupported by fcripture, and
the moment that it is proved that it cannot fo be
fupported, he will be happy to fee that it is rejected
by the world.

It is of little importance for the public to know,
that thefe Letters were written amidfl many avo-
cations,and at confiderable intervals. It is mentioned
only as an apology for any inaccuracies of ftyle, or
repetitions of fentiment, which may occur in the
perufal of them. This, however, is the only
indulgence for which he pleads. He afks none in
behalf of the argument. He wiflies it fully and
impartially to be examined, and will endeavour
candidly to confider the objections which are offered
to his reafonings, if Hated in the fpirit of Chriftian
meeknefs, and not with that virulence which fhews
only how ftrongly an individual fmarts under a fenfe
of inconfiftency, or how keenly he is devoted to the
purpofes of a party.

The author originally intended to examine like-
wife the argument for Separation from the Church
of Scotland, drawn from what have been called its
corruptions : but of this, his prefent avocations will
not admit. He fhall probably however be induced
to complete his defign, as foon as he can command
the leifure and time which it muft neceflarily re-
quire. And, till fome fuller treatife be publiftied,
he begs leave to recommend to the perufal of his
readers, Fergufon (of Kilwinning) on Independency
and Schifm *, and a valuable pamphlet by a late
eminent Minifter, entitled, Thoughts on Modern

'*'"■ Introduction.

The publication of thefe (heets has been delayed
for fome time, that the Second Appendix, containing
a Review of Mr. Haldane's book on Social Worfhip,
as far as relates to the fubjea of Government,
might accompany the Letters.


Except in p. 53. and Letter IX. Dr. »-.„, „o. Dr. Tfaac !V,„.

was intended to be quoted.
P. 236. I. 25. for v:cn:hrs, read the mmhers.



LtTTtR I. Propriety of the condtift of Mr. Innes and
ether Indepei. dents confidcred, p. i — 5. Dr. Stuart^s
view of the Church of Scotland as Antichrift, refuted,
5, 6. Note. The examination of Prefbytery by Mr. Innes
extremely partial, 9, 10. Plan of difcufiion ftated, 10.

Letter II. On the Nature ^n J Degree of the ^o^^tx claimed
by Prejbyterians and Independents. MIfreprefentations
of Independents, 11, 12. The degree of power exer-
cifed by them, proved to be more than that of advice,
13, Iffc. and 14 — 19. Note. Inconfiftency between
the fentiments of Mr. Innes and Mr. Ewing, 21 — 26.
Unreafonable or imperious authority not claimed by
Prefbyterians, 28. The fcriptural terms expreffing the
power of church-rulers, 32 — 37. and the relation of
members confidered, 37-— 40. Sum of the preceding
remarks, 40, i^c.

Letter III. Of the Perfons entitled to Authority in the
Church. Arguments to (hew that all the members can-
not have equal power in mattefg of govci r«m£r.t, 4^, ^^.
Power of ruling not indifcriminate, proved, from the
names given in fcripture to rulers, 49 — 53 — to the
" members, 54 — 58 ; and from the duties of the mem-
bers to the rulers, 58-— 60.

Letter IV. Samefuhject. The meaning of Matth. xvi. 19.
confidered, 61 — 71. Binding and loofing explained,
64 — 69 ; that it implies an exercife of authoritative
judicial power, and is committed to minifters only,
proved, 69- — 71.

Letter V. Samefubje&. The higheft afts of govern-
ment and difcipline Hievvn to be performed by the
elders exclufively. Admiffion of members, 71 — 75.
Ordination of office-bearers, necclTary, 76 — 79 ; com-
mitted to pallors alone, 80 — S3. Power of difcipline
veiled in the office-bearers only, 84—86.

X Contents.

Letter VI. Argument for Independency from Matth.
xvlli. 15, 16, 17, as ftated by Mr. Innes, 86 — 88;
anfvvered, from the meaning of the word churchy
88 — 90, which is {hown to fignify, in this paffage
particularly, the elders and office-bearers ; — from the
allnfion to the Jewifh courts, in which the government
was not vefted in all who attended them, but in parti-
cular rulers, 92 — lOO; and — from the common lan-
guage of fcripture on this fubje6l, lOi — 106.

Letter VII. Argument for Independency from 1 Cor. v.
examined, and proved to be inconclufive, 107 — 118.
The tendency of the Independent plan to encourage
a fchifmatic fpirit, even in matters of trivial importance,
confidered, 112 — ii']. Note.

Letter VIII. Argument from Acts xv. difcuffed, and
(hewn to be not only irrelevant, but favourable to
Prefbytery, 118 — 127.

Appendix to Letter VIII. The conftitution of the
primitive church proved to have refembled Prefbytery
more than Independency, from the teftimony of Cy-
prian, 13c — 134 — Clemens Romanus, 134 — Jerome,
136 — Ignatius, 137. Cyprian, whom Independents
rank among their defenders, further, ihewn to oppofe
their fentiments, 139 — 148.

Letter IX. On the Order of Ruling Elders, This order
acknowledged by Watts, Cotton, Goodwin, ISJc. 149.
The authority of it proved, from the language of fcrip-
ture, as to plurality of elders, 1 50 ; from the extent of
infpedion and fuperintendence required of them, ic i —
their duties ftated by Dr. Owen, 152 — 155; from
the propriety of checking the ambition of pallors,
156^^—158; from the qualifications of many of the
members, 159 — 162.

Letter X . Scriptural Authority of this Order. Ro m . x i i.
6, 7, 8. explained, 162 — 172. The ruling mentioned,
an office in the church, 164— does not refer to gifts, 165,

Contests. xi

nor to a family, i66 — nor to an infpired prefident,
as M'Knight afferts, 169. Meaning of ^^o<f>i^<, 171.
I Cor. xii. 28. confidered, 172 — 176. Opinion of
Chryfoftom on this text, 173.

Letter XI. Same fubjea. i Tim. v. 17. confidered:
acknowledged by Dr. Owen to be decifive on the
point, 177, and by Whitaker, tb. Objeftions exa-
mined, 179 — 186. Sentiments of the primitive fathers,

Letter XII. On Courts of Review. Difference of
opinion among Independents, 192. Aflbciation and
fubordtnation of courts contended for by Hooker,
Cotton, the Weftminfter Independents, and Goodwin,

193 196. Strong language of Dr. Owen to this

piirpofe, 197 — 200. Authoritative rule, and not ad-
vice merely. Implied in their ftatcments, 202 — 204.
Sentimentsoflndependents in Holland, 204, 205. A^o/^.

Lettlr XIII. Same fubjea. Views of Independents
and Preibyterians as dated by Baillie and Fergufon,
206—209, and of Prefbytery by Hoornbeek, ib.
Note. Congregations not to be independent of each
other, proved, from the fcripture-reprefentation of
the unity of the church, 2 1 1—2 22. The non-exiftence
of an univerfal church, no objeAIon, 215. Analogy,
on this point, between political and ecclefiaftical
government confidered and defended, 217. This unity
belongs to the univerfal church, and not to a particular
congregation only, 221.

Letter XIV. Same JubjeB. Independency more fa-
vourable to error and tyranny than Prefbytcry, 222 to
23 2. Ordination by minifters alone, a fymptom of Prefby-
terian principles, even among Independents, 232. A
court of review neceffary to judge heretical or immoral
paftors, 235. Independency lefs favourable than Pref-
bytery to an enlightened and candid adminiftration of
juftice, 236 — 242.

xii Contents.

Letter XV. SamefubjeSi. Scripture-authority of courts of I
review. Their exiftence among the Jews, 242 — among
Chriftians, 244, particularly at Jerufalem, proved, from
the number of Chriftians there, 245 — 267. The
difperfion at the death of Stephen confiderid, 253 to
258. Minifters of different congregations at Jerufalem,
fhewn, 261. Teftlmonyof Eufebius,/^. Objedlionfrom
Ezra, anfwered, 263. Note. Weekly communion not
revealed, 264 — 266. Note.

Letter XVI. Samefubjed. Plur, 'ity of congregations
in Jerufalem argued, from the number ofminijlers employed
there y 268 ; from the diverfity of languages fpoken,
269. Mr. Ewing's objedtion confidered, 272. The term
brethren applied to minifters in the New Teftament,
and probably fo to be underftood in Afts xv. 276.
Great argument of Mr. Ewing and other Independents
from A6lsxxi. 22. fhown to be inconclufive, 278 — 287.

Letter XVIL SamefubjeB. Independency not fupported
by Afts XV. The form of this aflembly — difference of
opinion on this point, 289 \ that the members of it
were office-bearers, and a reference was made to them,
293 ; that they delivered an authoritative decifion,
294 — 297 ; that this aflembly was not infpired, proved,

Letter XVI II. Same fubjed. Mr. Innes's reafons for
giving up A6ls xv. as an argument for Prefbytery, con-
fidered and anfwered, 313 — 323. Conclufion from this
reafoning, 324. Sentiments of the primitive church,
325 — from Cyprian, 331. Teftimony of Eufebius, 332.
Conclufion, 333.

Appendix I. On the Jewifli Synagogues and Sanhedrin,

Appendix II. Remarks on a View of Social Worfhip,^^:.
by James Alexander Haldane, 345.


Mr. I N N E S.

L E T T E R I.


It is with the utmoft reludance that I addrefs you oa
the fubjed of your late publication. Senfible of the
evils which have often refulted to the caufe of Chriil
from religious controverfies, and from controverfies efpe-
cially of inferior importance, I am forry that an oppor-
tunity fliould again be afforded to the enemies of religion
to triumph at the increailng animofities and diffenfions
of her friends. Confcious alfo of the neceflity of mutual
forbearance, to promote among Chriftians that univerfal
charity which 13 " the bond of perfeftnefs," I cannot
behold, without the deepeft regret, charges the moil
awful and momentous, exhibited by one body of Chrif-
tians againil another, though equally attached to the
fame bleffed caufe ; charges which, from their peculiar
chara6ter, are not lefs dellruftive of thofe pleafures and
advantages which flow from the cultivation of private
intercourfe, than totally incompatible with public fel-

Extraordinary as was the manner in which you were
led to change your views of the EilabHfhment *, and

* See Letter III. p. 27. in which you admit that it was in
confequence of an inquiry begun upon your being offered another
fituation in your prefent connection. U.i'c vou finally determined


2 Letter I.

flrong as may have been your convictions of the pi^opriety
of that meafure, it appeared to me particularly unbe-
coming in JO?/, or any oi your brethren, to difcover fuch
keennefs in your oppofition to that Eftablifhment as you
have lately manifefted. It was the avowed defign of a
Celebrated fociety *, of which many of you are members,
and which raayjuftly be confidered as the parent of your
churches, to difieminate the gofpel where the means of
inflru(5lion were not enjoyed, or, in your apprehenfion,
not enjoyed in purity, and not to form a party for Inde-
pendents, by dividing the congregations of faithful mini-
fters, either among the Diflenters or in the Eftabhrti-
mentf. You ought certainly to have confidered alfo,

to leave tlie Church of Scotland. Whether fuch alfo was the
jTecuiity of your brother Mr. Ballentine, before he renounced his
Prefbyterian connecftion, I do not pretend to fay. 1 confider it
however as furprifmg, that for many years before he had re-
nounced his proftflion as a Prefbyterian, or even his ftudies, in the
view of becoming a Prefbyterian minifter, he fliould tell us, that
•* he had clearly feen from the word of God, that churches of
*' Chfift fbould confift only of converted perJonSy and that their
*' government (hould be what is called congregational" or Inde-
pendent, and yet have remained a Prefbyterian. See p. 19. of his

* That for propagating the gofpel at home.

f That fuch was the original profeflion of this fociety, is
evident from the regulations which they delivered to their
itinerant preachers aftd catechifls, and vvhich, {o far as I know,
they have never yet publicly retraifled. In the ad and 3d of thefe,
it is declared, that " thefe itinerants are not to fhew a preference
** to flKjf denomination of Chriflians, either eftahlifoed or dijfent'
*' ing., but exhort the people to attend -wherever the gofpel is
" preached in purity. And to endeavour to flrengthen the hands
*' of all faithful miniflers of Jtfus Chrift, of whatever denomina-
" tion." See Appendix to Haldane's Addrefs. If fuch liberal
Sentiments however were the genuir.e Jenthnents of this fociety, and
have uniformly been adhered to by its itinerants and catechiits,
how can it be explained, that in every inflance where they fuc-
oeeded in procuring a corgic^ation, that congregation has invarially

Letter I. 3

that the more formidable the charges which you bring
forward againft it are, the more ftriking is your own
inconnllency, in granting the higheil and moil valued
privileges of your church to perfons while remaining in
this very fcciety, if you were fatisned as to the rectitude
of their principles and pradice *.

become an Independent church ? And efpccially, fince you, and
MclTrs. Haldane and Ewing, are fo zealous members and patrons of
this fbciety, I fliould be glad to know upon what principle you can
vindicate your prefent conduit, in writing with fuch vehemence
againft faithful min:f>ers both ejJahlificd and diflenting, while, as
conne<rted with this fociety, you are J}ill fblemnly declared to b«
publicly ailociated, *' to ftrengthen their hands, and encourage
" their people to -u>aif upon th^ir labours, and to enjoin all to fliew
" no greater partiality for your/elves than for ibern //"

* Reprehenfible as is the practice of jnlxed communion, as granted
occafionaily to the members of other religious focicties b"y fomc
of our Difienters, it Teems to be doubly Co upon the principles of
yotir churches. You confider the Church of Scotland in particular,
as will inftantly be proved, as an image of Antichrifl:, if not
Antichrift itfelf. But what plcalure can you experience, when
you fit down to participate of'your feaft of love with men whom,
you regard as fupporters of this adverfary of the blefled. Saviour ?
or what fatisfa»Stioa can they feel, when they reflet that they arc
joining in this delightful exercife with perfons who, whatever
attachment they profefs, afcribe to them, in another view, this
dreadful charader ? If I am not mifinformed too, it has not been
uncommon among you to admit thofe to occafional communion,
whom afterwards, when they applied for ftated memberihip with
the very fame views, you would not receive. But where. Sir, is
your warrant either from fcripture or reafon, for denying the
latter, which does not introduce to ordinances more folemn, or
privileges more important, to perfons to whom you would not
fcruple to grant the former ? Yet while you have imparted at
firft this privilege with the utmofl cheerfulnefs to thofe pious
perfons who occafionally applied for it, you have been known in
many inftances, if they perfifted in their applications, to remon-
ftrate with them on what you denominated the inconf.ftency of their
conduft, and mofl: affiduoufly to infift that they would become
ftaisd members. Does an aft however, which, in your opinion,

4 Letter I.

It is undeniable however, that fuch charges have been
advanced by you againft it. You yourfelf infinuate
(p. 1 16.), in terms the mofl decided, that it is no longer
entitled to the charadler of a church of Chr'ijl, And
your brother Mr. Ewing, in a late very extraordinary
paper refpefling Vows (fee Miflionary Magazine for
January 1804, p. 6.), after quoting Rev. xiii. 16, 17.
•' And he caufed all, both fmall and great, rich and
** poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right
** hand, or in their foreheads : and that no man might
*' buy or fell, fave he that had the mark, or the name
*' of the beaft, or the number of his name" — introduces,
in page 36. a note from the annotations of the Geneva
tranflators, explanatory of the mark of the beaft ; and
then fubjoins, ** How happy fhould we be that we are
** happily delivered from fo many of the abufes mention-
*' ed above ; and that, through the lenity of the govern-
** ment under which we live, any man is at liberty to
*• rejeft them all! No clafs of men ought to be more
" fenfible of the value of our civil conftitution than

may be perfonned without inconfiftency for eight or ten times, be-
come inconfiftent if movt frequently repeated? And does not the
folicitude wiiich you difcover, and the importunity which yon em-
ploy, to prevail with thofe who are occafional communicants to be-
come dated members, difclofe a def-gn rather of converting^ this
folemn and invaluable privilege into a mean oi tncrcafing your own
focieties, than of promoting the mutual love of Chriftians ? And, in
fhort, according to the principles of your different focieties, every
individual, who is admitted as a member, is entitled as a virtual,
though not a nominal ruler, to judge and vote in the affairs of the

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