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PROFESSED IN THE STANDARDS
In Reply to
Messrs. Innis, Ewing, Ballentine, Glass, &t. among the
Modem, and of Goodwin, Lockier, Cotton, &c.
among the Ancient Independents.
In a Series of Letters, addrejscd to Mr. Innes.
With an APPENDIX, containing Remarks on Mr. Haldane's
By JOHN BRQWN,
MINISTER OP THE GOSPEL, GARTMORE.
** Where every thing must undergo discussion," (i. e. hy the people, at ia the cafe In In-
Eiving on ASt Kv,
'* Let it he recollected, it itfy/tem:, not the character either of Individuals or of particular'
PRINTED BT II. INGLIS.'
Sold by Ogle & AlKMAN, Guthrie &Tait, W. White;
The following Letters were originally intended as a Reply to Mr. Innes only. On sarther reflection, however, it appeared to be proper, not to restrict these inquiries to a review of that writer's sentiments, but to consider also what had been said by the more ancient and able advocates for Independency. In our researches after truth, it should always be our concern to know what is said, and not merely who says it; and certainly Independents cannot object, if, in examining what has been advanced by their present champions, we likewise consider the more learned and ingenious arguments of their enlightened predecessors.
It is requested to be remarked, that it is the principles only, and not the praBices of Presbyterians' that are here defended. The advocate for Presbytery is certainly no more bound to vindicate the latter, in order to establish the former, than the advocate for Christianity is bound to prove that the conduct of Christians is blameless and praise-worthy, in order to shew that Christianity is divine. It is Presoytery alone as exhibited in the scriptures for 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 considered, that if the errors which appear in the conduct of Presbyterians, with regard to government, are better known than those of Independents, it is owing, in a great measure, to the superior publicity of their courts. While none but members are allowed to attend the meetings of the latter, and while the strictest secrecy marks their proceedings in general, none are commonly prohibited from hearing the deliberations of the former. If the mistakes of Presbyterians then are more generally known than those of Independents, it arises from a circumstance which has ever been admitted to be a very important excellence in civil courts; namely, that their proceedings are usually conducted in the presence and hearing of all, even though not connected with their societies, while the transactions of Independents are carried on in private, and are carefully concealed from the inspection of the world.
That instances of very lawless oppreffion have occurred among our Tabernacle Independents in Scotland, even during the short time that they have already existed, is attempted to be proved, Letter II. These instances are taken either from the writings of those who represent themselves as, aggrieved, and whose statement has never been refuted by their opponents, or from the writings of those who were guilty of the oppression, and have acknowledged their sault. And, perhaps, had their courts been as open to the public as those of Presbyterians, we should have heard of a still greater number of acts of tyranny and injustice.
To allow the office-bearers to decide on any point, when the members of their congregations have not been previously consulted, has always been affirmed by former Independents to be a dik play of ecclesiastical despotism in Presbyterians. In the Letter however to which we have reserred, it ia endeavoured to be proved, that, in many instances, Mr. Ewing contends for this very power; and consequently, at least on their acknowledged principles, the constitution of his church, to a certain extent, must be viewed as a spiritual despotism.
It is attempted, moreover, to be demonstrated in these Letters, that the scheme of these writers, byrendering every congregation in the church of Christ independent of the rest, exhibits such a view of his kingdom as would be presented of the civil and political world, were it broken into as many independent governments as there were towns or villages on the sace-of the earth, and their governors were obliged uniformly to consult the inhabitants before they could perform any act of authority.
That the author, in every instance, should accurately have stated the sentiments of Independents, is what he by no means pretends. As each of their congregations is independent of the rest, it is possible that there may be as many creeds and constitutions among them as there are churches on the earth. But to think of. representing accurately the