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things in their private intercourses or
their publick ministraiions?— They are di-
vided about the very first principles of re-
ligion— shout the great object dT their tes-
timony; and while they remain contradict-
ing one another, yet apparently forming
one church, it can only serve to increase
the doublings of the sceptick, or create
suspicions in men's minds of their mntual
insincerity. " The great object for which
Christ erected a church was to bear wit-
ness of him." Matt. xxiv. 14;— «iid except
there be uniformity in that witness, I can-
not discover upon what principles her tes-
timony is entitled to acceptance. The or-
thodox member testifies, that Christ is
'< God manifested in the flesh"— the Arian
member testifier <* he is some created an-
ftV* — ^the Socinian member testifies^ '*hfe
IS a mere peccable morul like himself;^'
and the orthodox member licenses and or-
dains the witnesses whose testimony is so
directly opposed to that which he himself
has delivered. I do most respectfully, yet
earnestly, beseech my brethren to weigh
these considerations in Scripture scales.
It is now high time that we *' awake out
of our sleep." The night is far spent—
the day is at hand. Let us watch and he
sober, that at such time as the Lord Com-
eth, we mav be found as servants doing
his holy will

I believe we have Scripture authoritv
for endeavourinji^ to purify the church
from the errors in doctrine or in practice^
that may from time to time arise. 2 Tim.
ii. 21— The Appstle has been addressinjif
Timothy on his duties as a Christian mi-
nister. In the 17th verse he has impugn-
ed the erroneous doctrines of Hyfkieoeus
and Philetus, who had overthrown the

Digitized by


18£9. Stc. H. Cook^s Spteeh in the Synod of VlsteK


faith f^Boat, And now, in the 2lBt verae,
I be.addf^'*If a man shall puree himself

from these, he shall be a vessel unto ho-
nour, sanctified, and meet for the mastei^s
ttsp, and prepared unto every good work/'
**A man that is an heretic, after the first
and second admonition reject/' 1 Tim.
vi. 5^** From such withdraw thyself." 2
Thess. ill. 6 — **Now, we command you,
brethren, in die name of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from
every brother that waiketh disorderly, and
not after the tradition which .he received
horn us " '

I am fully aware how my friend, Mr.
Carlisle, will criticise these texts, and en-
deavour to show that they are inapplica-
ble to our circumstances. He may do so.
Yet 1 feel it necessary to suggest to him
the following questions. Was the duty of
Hiiiothy, a Christian minister, intended
as an example to other Christian minis-
ters ? Was it not his duty to purge the
church of tlie ^erroneous teaching^ Hy-
meneus and Philetus? Is Arianisro, oris
it not. heresy ? I confess I dislike the use
of the word heresy, because it has been
■o abused by the church of Rome;' yet, aa
it is a Scriptural term, 1 take it as I nnd it.
I use it in no invidious sense, but merely
to obtain a plain answer to a plain ques-
tion. I ask farther, if we are commanded
to Tvilhdraw ourselves from every brother
that waiketh disorderly, even in the com-
* mon concerns of life, are we to remain
united with those who walk disorderly in
the church of Christ? I put the question
home to my orthodox brethren, are the
doctrines of Arianism according to the
tradition received from Paul ? u they are
I not, do not they who preach them walk

• disorderly? And is it not our duty^o with-

draw ourselves from them?

I^ave thus. Sir, endeavoured to take
aftd illustrate some of the Scripture
grounds upon which we rest our cause.
And I come now to exhibit the reasona-
bleness of the means by which, tinder the
good providence of God, we propose to
advance the purity of this church.

The first of those means to which I
diall advert is, a Scriptural, plain, and
publick declaration of the doctnnes which
we teach. This will apply to the exami-
nation of entrants to the ministry, and to
t the continuation of communion with those
who are already ordained.

A publick confession of a church's faith
should a test to be impoted upon
any man. Rut it is a^publick declaration*
to all men of what that church believes,
that they may know upon what terms,
and on what* professed principles, they
enter her communion.

As the church I have already shown to
be a witness for God, so a publick confes-

VoL. y\\.—Ch, Adv.

sion of her fiiith is necessar}', to let the na-
ture of her witness be known. In this
way we know what the church of Scot-
land testifies, what the church of England
testifies, what the Greek or Italian church-
es testify — and we are enabled thus to
judge into what communion we can enter
with a |;ood conscience, and the hope of
edification. 1 may be told that all this in-
formation may as well be received in the
{)resent state of this Synod, for we all al-
ow that the Bible is our confesrfon.
Granted. But I ask you what Bible is
your confession ? Is it the Trinitarian Bi-
ble, which we consider announcing that
the " Word was God V* or is it the Arian
Bible, which announces the " Word waa
Divine?" or is it the ISocinian Bible,
which, I believe,, has it «VRcasoft w^ Di-
vine?" Answer me -what Bible is your
confession, and then 1 shall understand
you. But, until this-be doncyto say that
the Bible is our confession', is a mere castl-
ing of dust into our eyes, which we must
either avoid by closing them altogether,
or getting, as speedily as possible, into a ^
more salubrious atmosphere.

Another use of publick dechirations of
faith is, to show how fiir we and dther
churches can agree. This is a most de-
sirable object. 1 rejoice to see how es- i
sentially we coincide, on all important
doctrines, with churches that stand distin- *
guislied from us by many barriers of mere
external discipline. We are not within
the same enclosure; but we are sowing
the same seed ; we are labouring for the
same master; we are actuated by the
same spirit. We know what we are, be-
cause we have mutually declared our sen- .
tiroents ; and wc rejoice that our declara-
tions have demonstrated our kindred and

There is still another important use of
publick declarations of faith, in the vindi-
cation which, at present, they affbi-d, and
in time to come they may afford, to the
■ religions character of those churches by
which they are exhibited. The Protest-
ant churches of Germany, Switzerland,
Scotland, England, &c. &c. found it abso-
lutely necessary, at the period of the re-
formation, to give confessions of their
faith, in order to vindicate themselves
from the many and injurious charges that
were brought against their principles.
The ancient church of the Waldenses
have found their publick confessions of
great importance, towards vindicating the
character of their forefather from the
grossest aspersions ; and the time may
come, when the Presbyterian church, com-
prising the Synod of Ulster, may find an
eqdkl vindication of her religious charac-
ter, in the open confession of the princi-
ples of her faith. Foreign chn relies can

Digitized by


1 14 Rev. U. Cooker's Speech in the Synod of Ubter. M auch,

der to qualify for office ; and which, if
taken, the rig;ht to the ofl^ce follows.
Confessions of faith have heen so abused
— but any such abuse must be far from
our mindi. Were a roan to si^n a con-
fession of faith again and again, I should
not consider him one whit better quali-
fied for the ministerial office than before
his signature. My convictitm^of the sin-
cerity of his profession, the scripturality
of hts views, and the sanctity of his life,
would, in my mind, be his sole qualifica-
tions : for t^e signing of a creed I consi-
der not as a test — I merely vifew it as a
means of putting to a man this plain ques.
tion, What do you think ? "^

2. The second argument against the
use of any creed ia derived from the dan-
ger of binding men to any uninspired phra-
seology. On this subject, let me explain
the practice, and vindicate the conduct,
of the General Synod of Ulster. At an
early period of the Synod's history, it was
found, that some persons scrupled to ad-
mit certain piirases in the Westminster
confession, tne acknowledged l«cord of
the faith of the Synod. .TlieBe scAiples
arose, not from oppontion'to the doctrines
of the confession, but frbm the phraseolo-

ff in which some of them were expressed,
he Synod, therefore, enacted — ^tnat per-
sons, when required to make a decura-
tion of tlieir faith, might have liberty to
explain, in words of their own, the sense
in which they understood any particular
phrases ; at the same time satisfying the
Presbytery that they did not reject the
dootrine, but merely scrupled at the
phraseoloev. This order of Synod was
called, **The Pacific Act;'' and has been
the ordinary law in subscribing Presbyte-
ries down till this time. For my own part,
I would not wish to bind any man to ex-
press his faith in any particular, uninsi4l>ed
phraseology whatever. I would lea«%
him to the me and unrestricted selection
of his own words, where he could ,not
adopt mine ; but 1 would beg him to fur-
nish me with such words as would clearly
enable me to* comprehend his meaning.

3. But if you are willing to sanction a
man's selection of phrases, then why not
be contented with mere Scripture phrases f
Here let me remark, that all the oppo-
nents of creeds and confessions woula, I
believe', at once surrender and throw down
their arms, were churches to accept of
their declarations of faith in mere Scrip-
ture phrases. And why are they not con-
tented with such declaration ? Why, just
because it is no declaration. Let me re-
spectfully be^ your attention to this point.
A confeation in Scripture phrases is indeed
a declaration of what God hat taid, but
not an account of the meantfi^ man aiiack'
€9 to God's sayings. Mr. Montgomery
has undertaken to sliowf that he holds no

know nothing of our reli^ous character,
but by the religious opinions we publish
and avow. And future times can know
nothing of what we have been, but by the
record we leave behind us of the faith we
have embraced.

I am fully aware that, in this age of li-
berality, the man y^ho stands up as the
advocate'of creeds or confessions, exposes
himself to a thousand hostile attacks.
For the liberals of this sge are only libe-
ral to themselves— with one exception,
indeed, thkt they are most liberal of
abuse to every man who dares to lift the
hand of opposition against them. Well,
be it so. I only pray that I may be ena-
bled to- bear misrepresentation or invec-
tive with composure and forgiveness; and
that Qpd 'may eyable m^ now, and at all
times, to vindicate the cause of truth, and
exhibit the fallacy and inconclusive ness of
. t]ie arguments by which it is assailed.

That an improper use has often been
made of creeds and confessions, I willing-
ly admit ; but when I have admitted so
much, I have only said, that, in the hands
of men, evei-y thing has been abused.
Reason, the word of God himself, the
Lord's Supper, and every good gift of
God, have been abused ; and so evident
\ is this fact, that it has passed into a logi-
cal proverb — that wc are not to argue
• from the abuse of any thing. Taking it,
then, for granted, that ever}' honourable
opponent will argue from other principles
than the abuse of creeds, 1 shall proceed
to explain the sole purpose of church
creeds, and then vindicate their use from
the objections now urged against. them.

Every man has a creed, for every man
believes something ; and a creed is mere-
ly what a man believes.

The sole purpose of a creed, then, is to
show what a man believes, or what a
church, believes. Every thing beyond
this citmes under the head of abiise.
When we call upon a man then for his
creed, we merely ask, what does he be-
lieve } and I confess I can see no princi-
{>lef either of politeness.or religion, that
brbids the question, nor any principle
of honesty tliat entitles any man to refuse
a reply.

I have given to the subject all tiie at-
tention in my power, during the entire
progress of the discussion ; and the argu-
ments urged against reference to creeds,
seem to me reducible to the following ar-
rangement. 1 shall state them in order,
that I may meet them with a refutation :-~

1. It has been argued, that <* we wish
to impose a test." I'here is a double
fallacy in this argument. We impose no-
thing i for impositign implies power, ^ith
pains and penalties for refusing com-
pliunce. Thus, in popular use, the word
<(f9/, signifies aumething to be taken, io oi>

Digitized by



Rev. U. Cookers Speech iu Uie Syfigd of Ulster.


opinions inconsistent with the Word of
€»od. In other words, as he is generally
understood to be an Arian, and as be may
fMirlv be considered as ihe representative
of tfke entire body of the Arians of this
Synods Mr. M. undertakes to prove thst
Arianism is consi«tent with the .Word of
God { and that by consequence, the faith
of Trinitarians is inconsistent with that
Word. Now, how does Mr. M. effect
this dentoAstration ? Why, by declaring
that he believes his Bible. This is a spe-
cimen of that fprai of sophism, which, by
S roving too much, is found to prove no-
ling. t know Mr. M. abhors Socinian-
ism as much as we do. Now, a Socinian
will join Mr. M- in declaring that he be-
lieves the Bible. Therefore, on Mr. M's
principles, the faith of the Socinian is aUo
consistent with the Word of God, That
n, the Arian and Socinian creeds, which
are inconsistent with one another* are yet
both consistent with the Word of God.

But let us examine Mr. Montgoroerv's
confession of faith a little more minutely.
When Philip, says he, baptized the Ethio-
pian nobleman, it was upon this simple
declaration, ** I believe that Jesus Christ
is the Son of God." <« And I,'' said Mr.
M. *<do most decidedly believe thb." Mr.
Montgomery has also undertaken to prove
that Arians hold all the doctrines that can
justly be required of them, in order to
church-fellowship with l> The
text adduced to prove this was 1 John
iv. 14 : •« We 'do testify that the Father
sent the Son to be* the Saviour of tlie
world; and whosoever shall confess tliat
Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in
biin,^nd he in God.** ** Most cordially,**
said, Mr. M., "(]o#ve believe this doc-
trine; we subscribe to it with all our
hearts and consciences." Now, all this
looks very fair, and sounds^most orthodox*
mnd after all contains.not one word to


purpose. /lad we asketl Mr. M. what
Bible had tailed Christ, he had answered
rightly, ''The Son of God»* ' But we ask
him not what the Bible Miyt, we ask him
what he thinks the Bible jMeant by *' Son
of God." Does it mean that he.was « God
manifest in the ilesli," or does it mean
that he was an angel or created spirit ; or
does it mean that he was a man of like in-
.firmities with ourselves?^ When Mr.
Montgomery has answered these plain
questions, we shall then be able to est^
mate the amount of an Arian confesuo*
— And I do appeal to Mr. M., by the \#
lue he puts upon simple truth, whether
the use of equivocal language be worthy
of the character of an honest roan ? The
language of Scripture is not, indeed, na-
turalljr equivocal. But the introduction
of A nan and Socinian doctrines have made
it so. Must not then every man, upon

the prindples^of common honesty, employ
such explanati(/ns as will *8how to every
one the real sense and meaning he attach-
es to the divine Word. Itamohun Roy, a
Bramin,and sprt of a Socinian, will imme-
diately adopt' Mr. Montgomery's creed.
Christ, he will tell vou, was the Saviour
of the world, for he saved men from
error bv his use of excellent precepts-
Christ, he will tell you, was thie " Son of
Gods" for by « Sou of God," he means
merely a tock! man. Let it then be re-
membered^ that when we ask a mi^n for
his profession of faith, we ask him not for
the vordt of the Bible, but for an honest
declaration of the meaning he attachet to
these woMsw ,

4. To the use of confessions it hss been
ingeniously objected by Mr. Fletcher
Blake ly, that we require first to under-
stand the Bible, and then we make a con-
fession « rule far undentanding the Bible f
which we are presumed to understand be-
fore the confession was made. To this I

'answer^— a confession is no rule far under'
ftaniUng the Bible t a confession is a mere
declaration of what we believe to be the
meamng of*the Bible.

5. I'he same individual has argued, that
by a confession we add to the Bible. Did
the gentleman but weigh this charge, I
am convinced he would retract it. What !
does he mean to bring us under that aw-
ful sentence pronounced in. the book of
Revelation, against those who add to the
word of God ! 1 cannot believe him so li-
berally uncharitifble. His charge arises
from his continual mistake about the lui-
ture and purposes of creeds. They are
not made to add to the word of God, or
to have any authority as the word of
God ; they are merely mtended to declare
what we believe to be the meaning of the
word of God. They are not to be const-*

^dered an authoritative dechiration of what .
God has said, but of what we believe to
be the import of his saying.

6. He has likewise charged us with an
invasion of the rights of private judgment.
In answer to this I shall suppose that Mr.
B. subscribes to my description of << pri-
vate judgment ;" and if he do, 1 deny that
the making of a confession of fkith is sn in-
%'asiQn of private judgment. I aver that
it is an exercise of private judgment. An
fndividual comes to the Bible, and by
every means which God has bestowed
upon him, he endeavours to ascertain its
meaning. He propounds this meaning to
others; and on a similar examination, l^ey
agree with him. This sgreement is a
mere aggregate of private judgments.
Well, in their union of private judgments,
they determine that persons denying doc-
trines which they hold to be fimdameotal
and essential, shall not be considered of

Digitized by


Jiev. U. Cooke's Speech in ilie Synod of Ulsfer. Mabch,

company^. Ah ! replies the objcc-
fyou deny me admission, you invade
rivate judgment. It may be so, rc-
ke others ; but if you intrude, you ia-

our private judgment. We leave

Sir, undisturbed} to \lie choice of

own companionship; nor shall we
de upon you farther than by our opi-

if you will listen to it. If we cannot
ince you of your error, and our cor- *
lessy we beg to part, and to paK in
ty. But surety. Sir, if your private
ment be to overturn our private judg-
, this is not liberality, but tyranny
our own consciences.

From the same quarter we are
g^ed with presuming to express mat-

betier than God, Another awful
H^e, and just as unfounded as' the
^ing. What is it we presume to ex-
s } Not what God should have said,
what we heUfve he meantf by vfuU he
ay. I have yet to learn that there is
presumption in telling, in the plainest
uage, what opinions we do hold ; or in
ig our best interpretation of any por-
of the divine word. A creed is mere-
ich a statement, such an interpreta-
Were the objector to carry his
pnary principle to its legitimate con-
lences, he would never preach another
ion. The moment he would com-
ce an interpretation of Scripture, a
;ment of what he believes the Scrip-
s to mean, he would be horror struck
: the idea of attempting to express the
er better than God ; and his entire
ices would consist of a mere recitation
le words of the Bible.

We are churged with putting our
dfl into the place of the Bibll. 1 an-
r, we do no such thing. But as dif*
nt persons understand the Bible in dif-
nt senses, we declare, by a confession
ir faith, inwhea eenee we understand it^

W^e are charged with claiming infal-
ity. 1 pause not to argue the church's
ihbility. But I shall fearlessly an-
nce. that there is a Scriptural sense,
hicn <;very true believer is iofallible.
I I learn from Jesus Christ, the Lord.
>hn vi. 45. <*And they shall be all
ht of God."->Now I know that God
t be an infallible teacher, and that
7 one, taught of him, must, in the
ptural sertse» be infallible. But in de-
ing our creed we claim not to be in-
>le interpreters of God's meaning, but
est interpreters of our own; or, if
will so have it, infallible interpreters
ur own meaning. I do believe that
*y honest man is able infallibly to de-
5 what he behoves — what he disbe-
1% — or where he is in doubts. Now,
is all that we, by a declaration of our
I, propose to do. It is not ftiir to con-

jure up the phantom of Romish infUlib'di-
ty, and charge us with all the enprmities
committed under its guidance. We dis-
claim all connexion with .its origin and
principles. But, without presumption, it
will be admitted, that we know our own
opinion^ and that we can honestly, that is
infallibly, declare them to the world.

10. But, as in all cases, the appeal to
matters of fact must form the strongest ar-
guments, so we have an open and bold
appeal to the condition of those churches
that have adopted piiblipk confessions^
The church of England, we have been
told, is overrun with Arianism, notwitli-
standing the orthodoxy of her thirty-nine
AHicles. For any thing I know, this may
be the case; but so far as my personal
knowledge extends, it is totally untrue.
My acquaintance with the minister* of
tliat church is certainly not ver3'extensiv^
yet it is far from being inconsiderable.
And I am bold to aver, that within the en-
tire circle of my. acquaintance, there is
not an individual that I believe to be either
Arian or Socinian.

O'he church of Scotland has also been
adduced as an example of the inutility of
publick confessions. We were told last
year, by a member of this house, who may
be presumed to be well acquainted with .
the state of the Scottish church, that it is
infested with the diseases of Arianism, of
even Socinianism, to no inconsidehible
amount ; and is as much diversified in re-
ligious sentiment as we oUrselves can pos-
sibly be.

I cannot presume to speak of the church
of Scotland as matter of personal know*
ledge. Yet I know most of the mir^^ters
of Edinburgh, either personally or ^ re-
ligious character— I hive a similat ac-
quaintance with many of the ministers of
Glasgow, and its neighbourhood — and so
^ir as my acquaintance extends, and it
TO nut inconsiderable, 1 feel enabled to en-
ter ag^nst the statement alluded 'to my
decided prdtest. 1 hnve no doubt the in-
dividual who made it, did honestly believe
it — yet I am bputid, on the knowledge 1
have of the church of Scotland, to say,
1 do not believe it. Such a statement about
the church of Scotland appears to me to
rest much upon the same kind of evidence
on which rests the statement concerning
one of her g^r^atest ornaments; I mean
l)r. Chalmers; which statement was not
9nly made in this Synod, but formed into
•foundation for two arguments. And
yet it has no foundation of truth, beyond
tlie imagination of the individuals by whom
it was originally propagated. It was, Sir»
openly stated, last year, in this house, that
Dr. Chalmers, when a minister of the
church of Scotland, had been a Socinian ! !
1 have since made inquiries upon the sub-


izq^ by Google

1829. State of Religion in the J^orth of Germany.


ject from a source that cannot be doubt-
ed : and I can tell to this bouse that the
statement is totally erroneous. Dr. C.
was at all tiroes of his ministry a Calvinist.
True, be has said, in his Address to the
people of Kilmeny, that he had tried upon
them, for yeai^ the influence of " a moral
experiment ;" but this merely alluded to
the more legal form of his preaching, pre-
vious to bis adoption of that evai^elical
strain which has since delighted and en-
livened the hearts of listenmg thousands.
A Calvinist may preach the law, and give
it a prominence over the doctrines of
grace i and this is the sole foundation for
3)e chaige of Socinianism in the distin-
guisbed individual with whom the charac-
ter of the Scottish church was involved.
I do then say that those churches, in pro-
portion as they hav^e openly, uprightly,
aad determinately, employed tne\^ ac-
knowledged creeds, have, in that propor-
tion, preseryeE their doctrinal purity, —
while we who have connived, like Geneva,
at the neglect of our creeds, have^ in tile

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