W. D. (William Dool) Killen.

A reply to the Rev. Isaac Nelson, of Belfast, and Rev. William Dobbin, of Anaghlone, or, Revivalism, assurance, the witness of the spirit defended, in speeches delivered at the General Assembly, June 12, 1866 online

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Online LibraryW. D. (William Dool) KillenA reply to the Rev. Isaac Nelson, of Belfast, and Rev. William Dobbin, of Anaghlone, or, Revivalism, assurance, the witness of the spirit defended, in speeches delivered at the General Assembly, June 12, 1866 → online text (page 8 of 8)
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open-air revival-meeting in a neighbouring district; thoroughly prejudiced
against it, I went to see if my suspicions were correct. What I heard and
saw there that evening dissipated all my prejudices, convinced me that
the work was of God, and sent me home to pray and labour that it might

visit my own flock, and tliat ttiey might be blessed with some drops
of the refreshing shower. From that day to this, I am not ashamed to
say that, I have been, in my own humble way, its friend and advocate.
While saying this, however, I am not about to defend every thing connected
with the Eevival. That mistakes were committed— that errors were taught
and that many of us have been sadly disappointed, I freely admit. Con-
sidering the excitement, and our inexperience, it would be strange if mistakes
had not occurred. For the errors which were taught we, at least, are not re-
sponsible. They came from other parties, who sought to turn the tide of
religious anxiety in the direction of their own denomination — reaping where
they had not sown. Many of the best friends of the Revival have been as
busy, perhaps, as Mr. Nelson, and with as much success, too, in denouncing
fanaticism, and opposing error. Concerning disappointment, it is enough to
say, we were deceived by appearances, and expected too much. Mr. Nelson
has twitted and tatmted me with these disappointments, as if they proved
the Eevival to be spurious. I ask, what Christian minister has not been
disappointed in the expectations which he formed of the piety and steadfast-
ness of individual members of his charge ? Has Mr. Nelson's expectations
always been realized ? Has he never been disappointed ? If he have, and
if it would be unfair to m-ge his disappointment as an argument against the
Gospel which he preached, and which produced the hopes he entertained,
it is also unfair to urge our disappointment as an argument against the
Eevival, over which we rejoiced, and which produced the hopes which we
entertained. The apostles were deceived and disappointed by Ananias and
Sapphira. So, too, was Philip by Simon Magus. But who wOTild point to
these cases, as proofs of the impotence and worthlessness of the religion of
Jesus Christ ?

Another of Mr. Nelson's objections to the Eevival ic3 that, in employing and
honouring lay-preachers, it tended to cast into the shade, and supersede the
Christian ministry. If Christian men, fresh from the baptism of the Holy
Ghost, and full of zeal for their Master's cause, and the salvation of souls,
give themselves earnestly to the help of the Lord against the mighty, and
endeavovir to persuade sinners to be reconciled to God, it is surely a most
gratuitous assumption, if not something worse, to say that such conduct is
calculated to subvert or disparage the Christian ministry. I have never
been troubled with such foolish fears. I would feel myself demeaned by the
possession of such jealousy for mine office. Eather let us be animated with
the spirit of the man who exclaimed, "Would God that aU the Lord's people
were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them." Mr.
George Stuart, of Philadelphia, in that admirable address which he delivered
the other night before this Assembly, told us a most interesting and affect-
ing story — how the Infidel challenge was met, and the Infidel Club broken
up, by the simple prayers and appeals of a little boy. According to Mr.
. Nelson, such a procedure was most objectionable, and tended to undervalue
and supersede the Christian ministry. But Mr. Nelson's chief delusion on
this subject is that, passing over everything good and Scriptural in the
Eevival, he seizes upon all that is extravagant and erroneous, and holds this
forth as characteristic and descriptive of the whole movement, forgetting
that many a truly good work may have mixed up with it much that is
wholly indefensible. I remember that, at the meeting of the Commission, I
directed Mr. Nelson's attention to a Eevival which had occurred long ago at
Antioch. He did not know the reference, and desired me to tell him where
mention of this Eevival was to be found. I tell him now, that in the Book
of the Acts of the Apostles, he will find that a great religious awakening, or
Eevival, took place at Antioch, and had been going on gloriously for some
time, when, as we learn from the 15th chapter, " Certain men, which came
down from Judea, taught the brethren and said. Except ye be circumcised
after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." These judaizing teachers
sought to mingle with the good work of the Lord their own paltry ceremon-
ialism, and so far succeeded to carry with them the minds of a portion of the


people, that Paul and Barnabas were constrained " to go up to Jesusalem
unto the apostles and elders about this question/' Who woidd hold up those
false teachers, and their false doctrine, as characteristic and descriptive of
all the religious men and all the religious teaching with which Antioch, in
that revival time, was blessed ? We have reason to believe that God owned the
efforts of His servants there, and gave them many souls for their hire, and
though we may not be able now to speak so decisively of the Revival of 1859,
though much may be said and urged against it, yet, I hold it to be the
genuine work of the Holy Ghost, and sure I am that, when the records of
eternity are read, we shall find that it too was owned and blessed of God
bayond the highest expectation of its friends, and that through it many
sinners were drawn to the Saviour's fold, and many saints established in
their holy faith, and stimulated to greater spirituality, self-denial, and

I beg to thank the house for the kind an*^ patient hearing they have given

The Assembly came to the following finding: [See Minutes of 1866,
page 681.] "That the appeals be dismissed — confirm the finding of
the Presbytery of Banbridge, which is in these words, — 'That, having
given a serious consideration to this charge, we are of opinion that
Mr. Crawford has, in some parts of his publication, expressed himself
very loosely, and in a way liable to grave objections ; but that we do not
believe he holds, or intends to teach, doctrines at variance with the Stand-
ards of this Church j' also confirm the finding of the Commission, which
is in these words : — 'The Commission, having considered the whole case, and
examined the documents referred to, and having heard the parties, are of
opinion that the charges against Mr, Crawford have not been sustained, exhort
the brethren, Messrs. Crawford and Dobbin, to cultivate a spirit of harmony
and peace ; arid lest there should be any doubt in the public mind as to the
teaching of this Church on the doctrine of the Assurance of Faith, hereby
declare, that in the Standards of the Church it is affirmed that while assurance
is not of the essence of faith — that true believers can be infallibly assured
that they are in a state of grace, and that they shall persevere therein unto
salvation; and that this assurance is grounded on the truth of God's
promises, and by the Spirit enabling them to discover in themselves thost
graces to which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their
souls that they are the children of God. — Confession of Faith, chap, xviii. ;
Larger Catechism, question 80.' And further, that there may be no mis-
understanding, and to express more fully the teaching of this Church on the
subject of Assurance, the Assembly declares in the words of the Confession,
chap, xviii., sec. 3 — 'That this infallible Assurance doth not so belong to the
essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with
many difficulties before he be a partaker of it ; yet being enabled by the
Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God he may, without
extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain there-
unto; and, therefore, it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to
make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged
in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in
strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this
Assurance : so far is it from inclining men to looseness.'"

(a) It may be said that in examining Mr. Nelson's reasons of protest, I should have quoted thera
in full. My answer is : I could not get a copy of them at the time. I could but take a note of
them as they were being read, and that, having afterwards obtained a copy and compared it with
the notes I had used, I am satisfiea that I have not misrepresented Mr. Nelson, but in every
instance have given the gist of his objections.



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Online LibraryW. D. (William Dool) KillenA reply to the Rev. Isaac Nelson, of Belfast, and Rev. William Dobbin, of Anaghlone, or, Revivalism, assurance, the witness of the spirit defended, in speeches delivered at the General Assembly, June 12, 1866 → online text (page 8 of 8)