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THE DEAD HAND.

TO THE EDITOB. Sir,— The other evening, in course of a debate in the Synod, I let fall a remark that the living Church of Christ ought not to be ruled by a deid hand, or something to> that effect. My old friend Mr Ryley took me to task for the remark last _ Dr Macgregor, in addition to characterising in the Synod the remark as “ shameful,” rushed off in the midst of an unfinished discussion last evening to your papsr with a letter, in which, after attempting to maul Mr Will, he has given another dig at me and the “ dead hand.”

Mr Will's shoulders are broad enough to bear the onus of any blame laid upon him, and his blade is sharp enough, and it would be an excess of chivalry in me to try to defend one who is so competent to defend himself ; but will you kindly allow me to explain what I meant by words which some whose good opinion I am anxious to retain regard as involving a dangerous and '*shameful" heresy ? I hold in the highest respect the great and good men who drew ap the Westminster Confession of Faith. _ They served their own generation according to the will of God, and did good work, as Mr Stobo remarked last evening, by building up the wall of Zion in troublous times. But the Church of Christ is a living organism, capable of growth and expansion. She gathers in every age new aspects of truth from the Word of God which had been overlooked in past ages; the inoidence of emphasis shifts from one side of the truth to another, and thus a, new doctrinal situation is created in every successive generation. And what I affirmed was that to be entirely controlled by men of a past age in the decision of points which had never come before them, or whioh had come before them under a totally different aspect, was to let the Church of Christ be ruled by a dead hand. Of course the church eanno.t do without authority. She must not allow her pulpits to be occupied by freelances, who mightfall foul of one another. Theremust be a general consensus as to what her ministers are to believe and to teach ,* but that consensus ought to be arrived at, if possible, in every new circumstance in which the church finds herself. That there is reason to believe that the Confession of Faith, as pre-, sently phrased, does not express the whole mind of the modern church on certain points, may be legitimately inferred from the movement all along the line of the Presbyterian Churches of the present day, of which our proposed Declaratory Act was a part. All intelligent Presbyterians will

assent to what I here say. I think I have heard Dr Macgregor himself giving expression to similar sentiments, only in better phraseology.—l am, etc,, Michael Watt. Dunedin, November 1.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18891102.2.33.5.3

Bibliographic details

THE DEAD HAND., Issue 8054, 2 November 1889, Supplement

Word Count
492

THE DEAD HAND. Issue 8054, 2 November 1889, Supplement

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