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and again repeat, that, to employ any ec-
clesiastical punishment whatsoever against
any man's opinions never once enteredjnto
my mind. It must be in the recollection
of this Synod, that I openly deprecated
such a plan; that I compared the two
sides of the Synod to the contending
herdsmen of Abrahsm and Lot, in Gen.
xiii., and proposed, Aat as we could not
agree about the pasturing of our flocks,
we should respectively make choice of
the east, ur west, or north, or south, and
separate, that we might temain at peace.
Instead of the horrible apparatus of sus-
pensions and degradations, my plan was
merely the unshackled exercise of our re-
spective judgments, and a peaceable se-
paration between men who could not
agfree. Th e correct ness of this statement
must be in the recollection of the house.
(Hear, hear.) ;

Before I come to the subject imme-
diately claiming our attention^ I feel
bound to advert to another mistake. I
had said in my evidence before the Com-
missioners of Education, that I considered
there were thirty-five Arians in the Sy-
nod. But when the report of the Synod
at Strsbane gave the appearance merely
of ten, I was instantly set down as igno-
rant of the true state' of the Sjrnod — and
guilty of a voluntary exaggeration of the
number bf its Arian members. Various
were the accusations I had to sustain un-
der this head. First I was accused of
speaking as if possessed of a *■ discerning
of spirits,'^ when f called men Arian who
had never avowed their opinions. You
will, therefore, bear with me when I set
myself right withfthe publick upon this
subject. X pretend to no such estraordi-

nary gift of discerning men's secret opi-
nions; but 1 judge on the ordinary pnn-
ciples of the reason and revehition wnich
God has bestowed upon me. $ir Walter
Scott has more than once observed, that
there is a sort of freemasonry, or natural
tact, by which even children can discover
persons that are likely to be kind to
them. Even children can discover those
sUght symptoms of attention that escape
the e3re of unconcerned spectators. And
I do believe there is a similar capacity in
any man of ordinary attention to discovert
by slight, and apparently trivial, circum-
stances, the dispositions and opinions of
other men. But 1 need not have recourse
to st|ch principles of observation. In re-
ligion I know, or I discover, an Arian*
just as in politics, a Whig knows a Tory,
or a Tofy knows a Whig. Men may vain-
ly imagine their opinions are unknown,
but there is no cloak of concealment im-
penltrable to the commonest observation.
Besides, I plainly stated to the Com-
missioners the principles upon which I
judged of the number of Arians in the
Synod. The first principle I stated to be,
open declaration. The second I stated to
be, defect in their declaration of ientiment9»
— ^There are a few members of this Synod
who have always avowed their Arian^sen-
timents. I knew them because they wore
no cloaks There are others who have
never openly avowed Arian doctrines:
1 knew them, not by what they avowed,
but by what they did not avow The doc-
trine of the Supreme Deity of the Word,
who became flesh, forms such a noble
and unsliaken comer-stone for the temple
of God, that be who holds it, as the foun-
dation of his faith and hope, cannot con-
ceal from the world the glories of his con-
fidence. He who holds the Saviour to be
<* God manifest in fhe flesh"-— who feels
the full acceptation of his ** coming into
the world to save sinners" — he who ac-
knowledges his dignity ** as the mighty
God," yet confides in bis atonement as
** the prince of peace" — he, I say, who
thus believes, and thus feels, cannot be
silent, the incontroUable thought takes
full possession of the soul, arid *'out of
the abundance of the heart the mouth
must speak." When I, therefore, find a
minister who preachestnot, or who speaks
not, of this doctrine, I believe, I know,
he holds it not, — ^for to believe, and yet be
silei^t, are totally incompatible. Upon
tliese principles 1 formed my judgment,
and the result of this year's inquiry has
fully established the correctness of my es-
timate. The number of those who have
openly avowed Arianisro, or something
akin to it, or who have, for the reasons
they have stated, refused or declined to
answer, now amounts to thirty-two. , There

Digitized by


]8£9. Btv. B. Cookt?$ Speech in the Synod of Ulsler.


are of the tbirty-fiTe, to whom I alkided,
•ome who have not been yet present;
and some who» from age, cannot be pre-
lent^and when all sAaU thua be added, I
am Sony to say, that so &r from being
incorrect in overrating the Anana of this
body, I have anderrated it by three, or
lour members. The number of Arian
members in this Synod 1 would now say
amounts, most probably, to tJt^irty-nine.—
Should any of the members, whom I have
thus classified, deny the correctness of my '
opinions, they are at liberty so to do ; and
1 shall rejoice in their denial* But be-
fore they do so, I beg them to consider
the principles upon which I have formed

I the calculation, and demonstrate the error

'^ in my premises before they deny the con-


I must now. Sir, advert to a charge, in
part, at least, directed against me in the
eloquent and learned adoress of my friend

> Mr. l^^ance. He traced the origin of
these present discussions in Synod to the
exaroinants before the Commissioners of
Education : and though he did equally at-*
tach blame^to the Anan examinants, yet

V as I was the first member of this body
summoned before them, I presume I am
entitled to the first or chier share of his
disapjibbation. 1 reply to my (riend's

t charge— first, by rectifying a point in his

i . chronology. This Synod will recollect,
that in 1824 the Commissioners of Edu-
cati<m gave to this body official notice of
their appointment. At that same meet-
ing, it will be recollected, that the sub-
ject of the Arianisra of our members came
under publick consideration. Dr. Bruce,
a diTine of high standing in the literary
wor1d - a man who, from ms local circum-

^ stances, was supposed well qualified to
judge, had published to the world, in the
prence to bis sermons, that Arian opi-
nions were ** making fllent but extensive
progress amongst th^ members of the Sy-
nod of Ulster," or words to that effect
The subject came before the Synod. The
eharge was indignantly repelled. Instead
of making progress, it yraa imiversaliy ad-
mitted that Manism was rapidly losing
ground; and the unanimous contradiction

p of the Synod to the doctor's statement,

was publick ly sent forth to the world.
I feel reluctantly compelled, by Hr.
K'Cance's charge, to refer thus to matters
that are gone by. I acquit Dr. B. of any

I wilful misrepresentation. He acted mere-

' ly as other men too often do. Attached

Jlo bis own favourite opinions, he too has-

I ^ly concluded that other men fe|^ a simi-

' ' Tkr predilection. He published what he
believed. But the Synod believed other-
wise> and published a decided contradict
lion. Let not Mr. M*Cance, then, charge
ttie origin of these discussions upon m^;

but charge it to Dr. Bruce - who is just*
ly entitled to the first portion of the praise
or the blame that may be due. Praise, I
«all it—- and Mr. M'Cance may call it by
any other name he chooses.

It was on considering the state of the
Synod, with a view to contradicting Dr.
B.'a statement, that I was first led to exa-
mine the supposed quantum of our Arian-
ism ; and the accuracy of my estimate is
now tolerably apparent. The publicity
of the matter would no doubt lead the
Commissioners of Education to the sub-
ject; and I answered, when tliey ques-
tioned me, according to my best know*
ledge and belief. But the blame of Mr.
M*Cance seems to attach both to myself
and others, because we answered the
questions of the Commissioners; and he
openly intimates, he would not have an^
swered to any such interrogatories. Will
Mr. M<Cance, however, consider, that the
Commissioners had the royal warrant for
examining upon oath ; that the oath com-
pelled us " to tell the whdle truth, and
nothing but the truth, in answer to such
questions as should be asked;'* and Uien
let Mr. M'Cance say how we could have
refiised the answers we had already
sworn to give.

But, in fact, I eannot selb how any man
could hesitate to answer to the truth of all
he knows about religion. Whatever opi-
nions I hold in religion, I glory in pro-
claiming them. -The declaration may en-
title me to the honourable soubriquet of
enthusiast, or fanatic, or bigot, or what
you' will, but will never deter me from
- giving to every man that asketh, an ac-
count of the hope that is in me ;'' or of
pbunly stating bow far, in my opinion,
error has maae breaches in the walls of
our Zion. If any man entrust me with
a secret, I shall endeavour faithfully to
keep it ; but my opinions in religion, or
my opinions of die religious sentiments of
others, I shall never consider as a secret
-*but shall, at all times, openly declare
them to every one who has a right or an
interest in ascertaining their nature.

But whilst 1 thus vindicat% myself and
fellow examinants from the charges ad-
duced against u9, 1 must also vindicata the
majority of the Synorl fit Strabane, in is-
suing the direction for the attendance of
members this year, to render an account
of the doctrines they preach to their peo-
ple. They have been accused by Mr.
M*Cance of ** drafting aged and venera-
ble men from their distant homes, to bear
testimony." I know the meaning of be-
ing dragged to death, as were the primi-
tive Christians by Paul, before his conver-
sion; I know the meaning of being drag-
ged to execution, as were many of our
Scottish fore&tbers, in the days of perse-

Digitized by



Bevj^H. Cook^s Speech in the Synod of Ubier. March^

cation ;-*lmt I do eonfeas I eannot under*
aUnd how any man is aaid to ** be dragged
to give testimony,** when there is no pain»
no penalty, either to the refusal or an-
nouncement, and the whole tertifick propla
consist merely In asking a minister's opi-
nion upon a fundamental doctrine of
Christianity. No man who puts value
upon what he believes to be truth can
ever feel reluctant to declare his opinions.
And no man declaring his opinions, with-
out pain or penalty tor refusal, can ever
be said tc be ** dragged" to give testi-

Against the whole past proceedings of
the Synod, and against the object contem-
plated in my notice of a future motion,
three broad grounds of objection are ex-

The' first of these objections represents
the proceedings of the 8ynod as opposed
to «the right of private judgment."-^
Whether our proceedings be, or be not,
opposed to the right of private Judgment,
I stiaU not take upon me to determine;
as' I must confess myself up till this hour,
ignorant of what the "right of private
j«Rlgment" can poasibhr mean. This is a
^startling confession of iterance in the
midst of the march of mind," and in the
full blaze of the <* lights of the nineteenth
century." But the nult is not mine. No
member of Synod has condescended to
explain what he means by ** the right. of
private judgment." Does it mean that
every roan has a right to think as he
pleases.' as the lights of the late French,
and of some modem schools of philoso-
phy, seem to intimate; then, at once, 1
totally deny its authority. Let roe look at
thee, thou idol called ^ liight of private
judgment !" I am told that if I deny to wor-
ship thee, I shall be branded as a rebel to
thy high and legitimate powers, it may
be SO: yet will 1 not tremble before the
philosophical idol men haVe conjured into
existence, nor bow before the image they
are pleased to set up. If by "right of
private judgment" we are to understand
a ** right to think as we please," then
what we h|pe a ri^fit to think, it never
can be ■wrong' to think. We cease then
to be accountable for odr opinions— in-
deed accountability becomes impossible;
for where there can be no wrong, the or-
dinary idea of accountability disnppears.
Then, as our actions arise from our opi-
nions, where opinions cannot be wrong,
actions caimot be wrong. Thus virtue
and vice are confounded for ever, and the
distinctions between moral right and
wrong disappear from the universe.

But have we not been told, one thou-
sand times, that the Protestant religion is
built upon «*the right of private judg-
ment^' God forbid it wen built upon

vay such flimsy foundation. The Protes-
tant religion is built upon the command,
the word of God— upon Prophets and
Apostles, Jesus Chrfst himself being the
chief corner-stone. There it rests un-
shaken upon the rock of ages, and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
> 1 know it haa been the practice of
many called philosophers, and of not a
fow called divines, to fix upon human
principles, when they shoukl have as-
cended to divine principles. Hence the
modem doctrine concerning "right of
private judgment." When I therefore
deny all allegiance to this phantom king,
1 am bound to point out to this assemb^
what principles I consider to be entitled
to the legitimate sovereignty. These
seem to me to be the following: —

1. It is the duttf of every man to search
the Scriptures.— John v. 39.

2. It is the dtay of every man to be fully,
persuaded in his own mind.—- Rom: xiv. 5.

3. It is the dutjf of every man to receive
the dictates and guidance of Scripture, as
the revealed will of heaven. — 2 Tim. iii.

4. A fourth principle, or rather corol-
lary, necessarily follows from the fore-
going, viz. :— That, as publick bodies are
composed of individualBk they, as jRblick
bodies, are subject to the same laws as in-
dividuals. Consequently, it is the duty
of publick bodies to search the mind of
Goa in the Scriptores^ to be fully per-
suaded in their own minds, and, in all
tlieir decisions, to be guided solely by the
authority of what God has revealed.
Now, if these four principles include what
is meant by tlie " right of private judg-
ment," let me Just entreat our opponenta
to reduce their phraseolog}'^ to some more
intelligible, some more definite, some
more Scriptural standard. And let me
assure them, that, #* theae principles in-
clude their •• private judgment," we will
be the last in existence to recede from
one iota of them. Let them convince us
of departing from one. of these principles,
and we will thank them for the correction
—but, till they bring this conviction, which
I am persuaded they will never Rttempt,
we will say with JLuther, when accused
before the Diet— "Here we take our
stand : we can pursue no other couase :
and God be our lielp."

Another ground of accusation taken
against us is — that we are unfriendly to
liberty. This ground is untenable; for
we are the determined friends of the ci«
▼il constitution of the empire. To ou^
puritanical forefathers, even the infidcV
Hume has acknowledged, that Britain
stands indebted for every principle of our
freedom. We are the lineal inheritors
both of their religious creed, and their po-

Digitized by



Sev. B. Cook^s Speech in the BpuHlrfUUter,


Gtical pvinciplM. Ev«n our present ef-
ibn to ftee ourselves from the shackles
and tbFaJdom of Ariaoism, is not an effort
to enslave others to our opinions, but to
lihente ounelves from tbeur influence.

The last accusation brougiit against us
i»— that we are acting a^nst charity.
Last year at Strabane, a httle after the
commencement of oar discussi'<n8» the
charges were again and a^n rung upon
*<the unity of the Spirit in the bond of

Ece." — Eph^s. iv. 8. I did there open-
accuse, of erroneous interpretation^
Be who employed it. I did so, by read-
• ing the whole context referring to the
** one iaitfa, one Lord, one baptism,*' &e. ;
mnd also by directing attention to 1 John
▼. 6. •« It is the Spirit that beareth wit-
ness, because the Spirit is truth." Now,
as the doctrine ol TrinitAriana and of
Arians cannot both be true« I argued they
I cannot both come under the ** unity of

^ the Spirit.'* Tliey would more properly

rank under the <* contradictions or the
Spirit,*' if such an iden were possible. It
ki not a little remarkable, that not a single
speaker has this year eosployed this once
fivottrite text. And now I will venture to
prophesy, that I shall as certainly reform
another quotation, upon which the eharge
w of oncharitableness has been brougbt

^ against us. <* Charity," we have been

told , " Bufferetb long, and is kind, be-
fiev«th all thiAgs, hopetb all things, en-
dureth all things." But mark. Sir, how
exactly in these quetationB, they have fol-
lowed the example of that noted polemic,
who, wanting to prove angel worship from
the Bible, wrote, in his treatise, this proof
— '« I fell at the feet of the angel to wor-
ship him." He quoted defBcHvely - they
* have quoted defectively; for they have

forget the important additions which the
Apostle makes to the charadter of chari-
ty, ** charity rejoicetb in the tiuth." Now,
I do defy an^ man to say, that Trinitarian-
fl ism and Ananism are both tnic; conse-
quently, charity cannot rejofee io their

Having now. Sir, cleared away the rub-
bish with which, during a period of twehre
months, misrepresentatioh has been per^.
initted to disfigure the subject ; and nav-
ing now beaten in the advance guards of
our opponents^ we oome to take our
ground, and establish our defences.
Scripture is adduced against ua^we shall
prove that we stand on it. Reason is
brought against ua*-we ^ball fearlessly ap-
peal to its decisions. Custom b brought
against us— we shall appeal to honesty.
The nature of our views has been misun-
derstood or misrepresented^— we shall en-
deavour to explain and vindicate our pro-
1. we take, then, as our first po8ition«-

That it is the duty of every Christian, and
of every church, to try the doctrines of
those who preach. 1 John iv. 1.— •< Be-
loved, believe not every Spirit, but <ry
the Spirits whether they be of God."
Rom. xvi. 17— "Now, I beseech you,
brethren, mark them which cause divi-
sions and offencescontrary to the doctrine
which ye have heard, and avoid them."
3 John 9— <* Whosoever transgresseth, and
abideth not ia the doctrine ofChritt^ hath
not God. He that abideth in ttie doctrine
of Christ, he hath both the Father and the
Son. If there come any unto you, and
bring not this doctrine, receive him not
into vour house, neither bid him God
speed." Rev. ii. 2 —•• I know thy works,
and thy labour, and thy patience; and
thou hast tried them •which «ay thnf arc
ArosTLM, and are not."

Now, Sir, for my own part, 1 do de-
clare, that I cannot discover how these
pinn texts of Scripture can, by possibili-
ty, be explained otherwise than to esta-
blish my first propotttion. Mr. Carlisle
has, I know, said ot some of them, they are
directions to private Christians, and not .to
churches.^ I cannot adroit the distinc-
tion ; what is a rule to one Christian, must
be a rule to ten thousand. But, even ad*
mitting it io its fuU import, still the direc-
tions to the Romans, and te the Laodi-
ceans in Revclattens, are directions to
churches. The duty thus expounded to
two primitive churches, must be a rule to
others, even to the end of the worid.

3. We take, as a second positioiw-That
the prunhive Scriptural method of «* try-
ing the S^rits^" was by plain questions
on the fondamental doctrines of the 6o»
peL Our Saviour sets the example. Matt.
XV. 13—** Whom do men say, that I, the
Son of Man, am ?" 15— >«*'But whom say
yethatlamr Matt. xxli. 43— "What
think ye of Christ ?" ■* Whose Son is
he ?" When they answer, eten in Scrip*
ture Umgua^ he is the Son of David, our
Saviour additional question, to as-
certain in wAar cente he was called the
Son of David. 45— ''If David then call
hitn Lord, how is he David's son ? And
'n« man was able to answer him a word."
Had the examinants lived till our days, we
had Uugfat them twoauswers :— In the first
pbice, they could have replied, we are
teachers of the people, and are therefore
under no obligation to answer; er, they
might have replied, we have given you an
answer ih Scripture hinguage; be content
with that; we go no farther than our
guide. But 1 forget that we are now in
the nineteenth century ; and that we have
consequently outstripped these ancients
in the " march of mind."

3. We take as a third position— That
it is {he duty of- every preacher of the

Digitized by



BtOMM. Cookers Speedi in ihe Shfnod rf Ubter. Mabos,

rapel* to pve to the chuicb of which he
18 a member, ad account of the doctrines
which he preaches. Gal. ii. 2.— •* And I
went up by revelation, and communLcated
unto them that gospel, which I preach
among the Gentiles; but privately to them
which were of reputation, lest by anv
means 1 should run a hard race in vain.*'
Here the Aposlle Paul hesitated not to
give to the church a retrospective view
of the gospel he had been preaching for
many years past. And that not even to
the churches among whom he had been
preaqhing, but to the church at Jerusa-
lem, where he had not vbeen since his
conversion. It will require no argument
to prove, that what Paul did, we, as sue-
cessors of the Apostles, are bound, after
his example, to do.

4. Our fourth position is— That error
in any of the fundamental doctrines of the
gospel is destructive to the churches.
2 Tim. ii. 17.— *< And their word will eat
as doth a canker; of whom is Hymeneus
and Philetus; who concerning the tnith
have erred, saying that the resurrection
is already past; and overthrow the &ith
of some." I now put it hom^to my or*
thodox brethreo, for to them 1 speoaUy
address myself; and I call upon them to
answer— if an error respecting the resur*
rection "eateth as a canker," and ** over-
throweth the faith of some," what must be
the effect of an error respecting the Lord
Jesus Christ himself? WiU it operate as a
sanative medicine P •Will it establish the
fiuth of the church ? Let them answer
this to God, and their own consciences.

5. We consider it the duty of the teach-
ers and rulers of churches, to refuse their
authority to the preaching of doctrines
which, in their consciences, thhy believe
to be erroneous, and subvenive of the
&ith once delivered to the saints. 1 Tim.
i. 3.— <* I besought* thee to abide at Ephe-
sus, that thou mightest charge mme that
they teach no other doctrine," I do now
beseech my orthodox brethren — (I use
the word orthodox distinctively, not offen-
sively ) — ^I do beseech them, I say, tv
pause over this text, and apply it as the
measure of their own conduct. Do they
believe that Arianism is the doctrine <^
the Gospel i Do they not believe tliat it
is subversive of the gospel ? Yet do they
not, year after year, give their publick li-
cense to Arians to preach the gospel? Do
they not, year after year, ordain them to
minister in the gospel? And have they
ever made an attempt to tell them that
the Supreme Deity df Christ is the foun-
dation of the gospel ? And have they ever
attempted to charge them that they
preacn no other doctrine ? Our fathers in
the ministry, by the manner in which they
conducted this church, have been instru-

mental, I grieve to say it, in laying a snsie
Ibr the feet of us, their sons. We have^
accordingly, been entangled in it, and are
so till this hour; and I do beseech my
brethren, for the sake of consistency— for
the sake of Scripture truth— to ponder '
the paths of their feet, and make an eaiw
nest, an humble, a persevering effort, to
free themselves and future generations
from this unhappy entanglement.

6. We consider it, upon Scripture war-
rant, to be the duty of the churches to fol-
low after tim/onni/y-rnot a uniformity to
be produced by pains and penalties, and
legal enactments; but by a strict adhe- .
rence to Scripture truth and apustolicsl
practice. ICor. L 10— <<Now 1 beseech
you, brethren, by the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same
thing,, and that there be no divisions
among you; but that ye be perfectly join-
ed in the same mind, and in the aame
judgment." Now, are Trinitarians and
Arians joined in the same mind, in the
same judgment f Do they speak the same

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