NOTES ON AN EXPRESSION IN THE U.P. DECLARATORY ACT.
(The Act >s in last June’s 4 Presbyterian,’ at the request of Synod Committee on the Confession of Faith.) TO THE EDITOR. Sib,—l request your insertion of this note, as the subject is not of merely private or sectional interest. Upon the understanding that* the Act will bo proposed for adoption to tho Otago and Southland Church, I was requested to give an opinion on the question whether it is not Amgraldian in its doctrine. The following is the substance of the opinion, excepting omission of some names of personsl know the subject perfectly in its ecclesiastical and other outs and ins, and have no hesitation whatever in saying that in a decisively testing clause Article 1 of that Act is at variance with the doctrine of the Confession of Faith—that is
the expression, which is unscriptural, about “ the love of God to all mankind ” is in its historical sense in that connection opposed to the express confessional doctrine of the sovereignty of grace in the destination of redemption. (See Cunningham’s ‘ Historical Theology ’ on ‘ The Extent of the Atonement.’) It was tho slipping of such an expression (as innocent looking as a lamb) into the Secession (Scottish) Testimony of 1830 that opened the way to the movement which, breaking out in the civil war of 1840-45, all but exploded the United Secession Church into fragments, and of which one abiding visible fruit has been the formation of a separate Armenian (the Morrisonian) Church in that land. In this land the expression would relieve (!) men, who love not the Gospel, of the “yoke" (Mat. xi., 29) of (verses 25—27) the sovereignty of grace in our salvation. Also the adoption of it under the name of explaining the ‘ Confession ’ (see Answer 5 to Reasons of Protest at last Synod), which it really contradicts, would introduce into the church’s working doctrinal constitution, a principle of falsity, double-face, “dissimulation” (Genesis ii., 13), which untrue men could carry much further in that direction than the expression itself goes. Now it is untrue men that have to be guarded against in a church’s doctrinal term of office, and when the wolves are coming (Acts xx., 28, 30) tho shepherds are on trial. But further, that which would break the fence that guards the flock would at the same time draw the whole church—every one of us—into complicity in the “ dissimulation ” of changing the term of office under the name of explaining it; for the whole church would be implicated in the adoption of that clause. And it would draw us all into subjection to that yoke (of “dissembling”), and the yoke of imposing the “dissimulation” on others, instead of the “yoke” (Mat. xi., 25,30), of the kingliness of the redeeming love of God in Christ. If a change be desired, let that be proposed openly and honestly. If no change be intended, let us have nothing to do with that ensnaring expression, which this independent church is under no necessity of adopting. She is of age ; let her speak for herself in words of no “uncertain sound.” “ Great plainness of speech,” which becomes the gospel of freedom (2 Cor., Hi., 12), is peculiarly desirable and obligatory at the foundation of a church’s doctrinal constitution. That is the last place in which the gift of speech, for expression of our mind, should be employed for concealment of it.— I am, etc,, James MacGregor. Oamaru, October 24.
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NOTES ON AN EXPRESSION IN THE U.P. DECLARATORY ACT., Evening Star, Issue 8049, 28 October 1889
NOTES ON AN EXPRESSION IN THE U.P. DECLARATORY ACT. Evening Star, Issue 8049, 28 October 1889
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