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heard the sound of their Master's feet. The Assembly might think, too, of choosing from an bumbler class than these, men of understanding and undoubted piety, who might live and labour among the lower ranks, and who knew their feelings, their language, and manners, and had a way of access to their hearts. Such, be thought, would eventually prove a blessing to the country.
Rev. Mr MURRAY of Aberdeen concurred with the view just expressed by Mr Brown. God gave different gifts, and made them serviceable in different ways for the church. It was thought that very few of the sermons of Whitefield were preached witbout being instrumental in converting one or more sinners to God. He referred to the success that had attended the like labours of Dr M.Donald and the Rev. William Burns. He was inclined to think that the office of Evangelist was intended to be a standing one in the Church, and that its advantages ought to have been made of avail before they left the Establishment. Ministers might not at present be well spared, but they could be sent out, and their charges temporarily supplied. He thought, too, that evening sermons should be established in the towns, and in all the large populous villages, as there was at present an earnest desire on the part of the people to hear the word of God, and tbey should be ready to take advantage of this desire.
Dr CUNNINGHAM said,- Moderator, having been, in God's providence, sent to another part of the world, in connection with the affairs of this Churcb, I would ask the aitention of this house for a few minutes, whilst I take the liberty of stating some matters bearing on this subject, which were impressed upon my mind; and, in mak. ing a few observations suggested by the state of matters in the American Churches, I would first of all advert to a remark made by my friend Mr Murray, as to the employment of Evangelists. In consequence of the variety of gifts conferred upon different ministers, I was at one time very favourable to the general idea of employ. ing Evangelists. I don't mean to discuss the propriety of the plan; but I would take the liberty of saying, that I believe the experience of the wisest and best men of the American Churches is adverse to any such scheme being carried out to any considerable extent in our Church ; and, instead of its being generally and publicly encouraged, they think it better that men possessing such gifts should be left to exercise them as opportunity occurred, without much seeking or grasping very much after it, when within their reach. This is the experience of the American Churches. I can truly say with Dr Makellar, tbat I conscientiously respond to the various statements that have been made as to the different lines of guilt we bave all been contracting in the course of our ministry, which have been so impressively set before us this day; and I will farther say, that I feel the vast importance of this observation being impressed upon us, in regard to the want of any adequate desire to secure the appropriate objects of a gospel ministry, any adequate expectation of the results of our labour. Í believe we have all been sinning in not cherishing a desire for the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, and from not seeking the agency and blessing of God's Spirit to render our labours successful in the attainment of these objects. Not that we may have bad any other desire, or the desire of any thing else, or that we were altogether defective in that desire; but that there has been a great want of a distinct and specific desire for the conversiou of sinners and the edification of saints, and therefore a want of due anxiety for such a result of our labours. I am sure I can say that on look. ing back upon a most unworthy ministry of thirteen years, I regard this as one of the many sins of which I have been guilty in common with my brethren, that I have often engaged in ministerial services, without any distinct, and positive, and ardent desire that, through God's blessing, sinners might be converted, and God's people built up in their most holy faith. But what I wish to say more and parti. cularly at present is, that I think to a considerable extent our brethren in the American Churches have been more intluenced by this positive desire and confident expectation of their labours being blessed to the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints; and the prevalence of this ardent and positive desire, and the existence and expression of this confident expectation, have been the means of effecting there those revivals of religion which, although frequently attended with what may be injurious and offensive, bave no doubt contributed largely to promote the cause of Christ's
kingdom on the earth, and to add many to the church of such as sbould be saved. Allusion has been made in the course of the day, to the feelings with which we engage in ministerial work; and it was remarked that we do not engage in it as men engage in matters of ordinary commercial business. Now, I would say, that to a large extent, in the American Churches, there is more of setting about the work of the ministry in what may be called a business way, with a distinct and definite idea of the object to be aimed at, with a real desire and determination to effect it,--with sincere regret and disappointment when it is not gained, -and with anxious inquiry into the causes of failure, wben failure has been experienced. It is more common there than it bas ever been with us, to inquire from time to time, with earnestness and solemnity, wbether the ministry of the Word has been blessed for those objects for which it has been appointed, -searching out to what extent this may have been realised, and if not realised, inquiring seriously into the causes of its hindrance; at the same time stirring up one another to greater zeal,--to greater frequency and earnestness of prayer,-and to greater energy of exertion, till the Lord was in mercy pleased to pour down upon them showers of blessings. This impressed more on my mind a feel. ing with which I have more or less been impressed all along--the importance and necessity of ministers being actuated, not by a vague listless wish for success, but by an ardent and positive desire for the conversion of sinners and the edification of Christ's body, and a confident expectation of that as the result of their labours. Now, so far from our really desiring this, and confidently expecting this, it has been I believe not a very uncommon feeling, when we have heard of the success of our preaching, and of the conversion it may be of a single sinner, to receive the intimation with joy and delight indeed, but with somewhat almost like a feeling of surprise that it should be so. These things ought not to be. If the gospel of the grace of God is faithfully preached, such a result should be not merely desired, but confidently expected, we should certainly anticipate that through the agency of his Spirit the means should be rendered effectual in opening men's eyes, and in turning them from darkness to light. No doubt this confident expectation may be abused, and this desire for success may be perverted ; and among the American Churches it has been abused and perverted, and to some extent, although not probably to the extent we may sometimes have supposed, it has been abused and perverted in the way of leading men to the virtual denial or compromise of the great truth of the agency of the Spirit in the conversion of the soul to God, and also, to some extent of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in the work of conversion; and it has also brought into some of the American Churches a state of mind and feeling, and measures based upon some such idea as this, that by means of a detinite amount of prayer and labour, ministers may make sure, every time they preach, of a certain number of conversions. Tbere have been men who carry it this length. This is undoubtedly a grievous abuse of the principle; but we may have the use without the abuse of it. And in passing, I may make another observation with regard to the American Churches.- When we bear of anytbing extreme or ultra, or extravagant, in reference to any of them, we are very apt to hold up this and say, this is a specimen of the state of matters in the American Churches : when in point of fact, it may be only a specimen of the views of some individuals in a particular locality, and if we knew the whole we might find it as decidedly condemned by the ministers of the American Churches generally, as it would be in this country; and in connection with this, we may remember that a few years ago, when we beard of a great many extreme and extravagant measures being based upon the idea of certain outward schemes and external arrangements, such as anxious seats, and public prayers of women before the congregation, and prayers for individuals by name who were unconverted men,-.when we heard of these and other proeeedings, we were apt to think that these were to be taken as specimens of the American churches ; whereas they were confined to a comparatively small number of indivi. duals, and to a comparatively small portion of the country, and were decidedly condemned and opposed, under the name of " new measures,” by the great body of ministers, and the great body of the churches in the United States. Many of these evils have undoubtedly arisen from dwelling exclusively upon particular parts of Christian doctrine, which is very apt, just as in their “ new measures,” to lead to an erroneous and in jurious kind of preaching, to an exaggerated estimate of man's ability to do the will of God, and to very imperfect views of Divine truth. We are required to be eare nestly desirous for the conversion of sinners ; but we must not confine ourselves to only one or two portions of Divine truth, as if we must seek to lodge in the minds of our hearers a sense of their responsibility, and then with that single idea before them call upon them to come to Christ? We are called upon to guard against this, to watch, lest in adopting means for the conversion of sinners, we limit ourselves in our statement to one or two portions of Divine truth? This is an error from the same source prosecuted to some extent there, and has led in some cases to virtually holding that men can convert themselves ; and this has been carried so far as to have received the name of " self-conversionism." But here again I have to say, that these are errors held by but a few, and condemned by the great body of the American Churches, who are opposed to the preaching of such views of Divine truth. Let us then guard against this danger, and seek more and more to feel the necessity and importance of preaching a full Christ, a full gospel, and a full development of the whole scheme of Divine truth, as it is revealed in the word of God,-it being the scheme of Divine truth in all its parts, and in all its branches, and not only particular portions of it, that God employs for the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints. There is one other topic which has been impressed upon my mind by what I have seen in the American Churches. It is the subject of Church discipline, or the principles and objects bearing upon the adınission of men to sealing ordinances. There can be no reasonable doubt on the one hand, that the practice of the Churches in this country is characterized by unwarrantable laxity; and there can be no reasonable doubt on the other, that in the American Churches there has been a much more complete separation between the Church and the world; in other words, there can be no reasonable doubt, that in the churches of that country it has usually been the case that a larger proportion of those who sat down at the Lord's table, were converted men, than has been the case with the great body of the Churches in this country. Now this is a very important matter, although I don't mean to enter at present into an explanation of the theological principles by which it may and ought to be regulated. I may say, however, that practically the Presbyterians generally in the American Churches seem to act very much on the same principles as the Congregational Churches in that country There is not any definite or tangible line of demarcation between them ; and however the one may still retain what are usually the views of Presbyterians, as distinguished from those of Congregationalists on that point, there can be no reasonable doubt that the common'practice of most of other Presbyterian Churches has gone to the opposite extreme of laxness in admitting men to sealing ordinances. What I wish to bring under the notice of my fathers and brethren is not the principle applicable to the admission of men to sealing ordinances; but the extent of the responsibility that lies on those who admit them, as to the qualifications they may require, and the means they may adopt in order to secure these qualifications. Now, there is no difference of opinion amongst us on this, that every man not converted, and not under the exercise of genuine faith in some degree or other, who has received the memorials of Christ's broken body and shed blood, has eaten and drunk damnation to himself. In this we are all agreed; and, therefore, the important bearing of the matter of fact is, that it is undeniable that a large number of those who are in the habit of sitting down at the Lord's table are unconverted men; and what I wish to direct your attention to is, the existence of a large amount of guilt somewhere. The sin of course lies primarily and principally on the individual himself ; but if there be any church or churches where this prac. tice of unconverted men sitting down at the Lord's table obtains to any considerable extent, or in any considerable proportion, and even where a majority of the communicants are unconverted men, or any large number of them when they are not a majority, the guilt does not terminate with the individuals of whom it is composed, but must attach more or less also to those who are connected with the ad. ministration of its affairs ; and wherever it attaches, there is, in the sight of God, an amount of guilt which must be attended with injurious consequences to the Church where it exists, by restraining the blessing of God upon its ministrations. I merely suggest these matters for the consideration of our fathers and brethren. ] don't mean to make any suggestions as to the way and manner in which the interests of religion ought to be promoted among us; but I may just mention, that it is a common practice in America, which might be adopted with advantage by us, and which I take the liberty of throwing out as a practical suggestion,-it is the practice of the Presbyterian Churches to instruct the different Presbyteries to prepare and transmit every year to the Assembly, a report of the state of religion within their bounds. These reports are examined and compared by the Assembly, who appoint a committee to draw up from them a general account of tbe state of religion throughout the Church, with such warnings and admonitions as circumstances may require. This seems a useful plan, and might be done by us, and done at once, without resorting to any series of queries to Presbyteries. I do not see how the revival of religion among us could be better commenced than just by instructing Presbyteries to investigate and report on the state of religion within their own borders for the purpose of bringing a general review of the state of religion throughout the Church before the next General Assembly. This would lead to friendly intercourse between the members of Presbyteries as to the state of religion in their own congregations and neighbourhoods; and they would thus be brought into the very position of doing what we desire, inasmuch as each would have before him the distinct and definite object of the work in which we are engaged. I think, then, that this plan is worthy of being followed by us, with such modifications as circumstances may require.
Professor Duncan said, that in desiring and aiming at the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, it was of great importance that they should have a distinct idea of what the conversion of a sinner really means. He thought it was, in a great measure, owing to the want of this that a number of those errors to which Dr Cunningham had referred might be traced. Next to, and closely connected with, an earnest desire for the salvation of souls, and a constant expectancy of this blessed result, (which cannot be too strongly inculcated) was the right and scriptural understanding of what they aimed at when they desired and expected a sinner's conversion. Conversion was not merely to be understood as a turning from one thing to another thing, but as the turning of an absolutely lost sinner to the God of free and sovereign grace. It was therefore of great importance in existing circumstances, and at all times, that their minds and spirits should be under the sober regulation of revealed truth. And while different suggestions had been thrown out as to the means of promoting these ends, one deeply important question for them to consider was, What was the improvement or the amelioration arising from those means which they were already employing under the authority of the Word of God? The question was not only, should there be more preaching, but should there be better preaching. Here he begged to refer to the earnest admonition given by Dr Malan at the Assembly in Glasgow, to beware of Arminianism. He (Dr D.) did not believe that Arminianism existed in their own Church. But he could not disguise from his own mind, that of late years, at least previous to the disruption--he knew not how it may have been since, for they could not expect to get rid of all these evils in a day.-since evangelism had become more fashionable, it had become more indefinite and diluted ; and if this did not amount to Arminianism, it was a rubbing off of the rough corners for the sake of the refining of that which was called Calvinism. but which he believed to be the system of doctrine contained in the Word of God; it was a rubbing off and a smoothing down of the salient points of Calvinistic doctrine, into something which, if it was not Arminianism, was a kind of doctrine with which all #bo are called Calvinistic Evangelicals, and Arminian Evangelicals
, could agree. Now this was just the beginning of the evil,—it was the letting in of waters,—the dilution
gospel; and the dilution of the gospel would very soon slide into the perversion of the gospel
. He remembered an anecdote of a poor man and his wife in England, were labouring people. They attended a dissenting minister, who, in the course Afrer perusing it for some time, the man asked his wife what she thought of the accordingly laboured to be able to purchase one, and were at last able to do this
. and it seemed to do us good; and now that we have got the Commentary,- it is very Cominentary ? " Why," said his wife, “ we used to read the Bible in the evening,
doubt, but I do not think it does us so much good. The Bible did us good glass of wine, but the Commentary does us good like the same glass of wine in
a pailful of water.” Dr D. reminded them that zeal for God's glory should be ever uppermost in the minds of his servants. When they urged sinners to repentance, the character and claims of Jehovah should be laid as the basis of it. This was the basis of all revelation-Jehovah He is God-Jehovah He is God. That was a doctrine not only of the Old Testament, but set forth and explained in the New Testament, when He was set forth as working all things after the counsel of his own glory. The doctrine of man's fall-his total fall, not merely from virtue and righteousness, but his total alienation from Jehovah, and the consequent loss of all internal good,-his entire separation from Jehovah God, out of which came the doctrine that the fall was a total ruin,-ought to be much insisted on. The doctrine, too, of the Trinity ought not only to be referred to, but set forth in their whole preaching, in its relation to the manifestation of God's glory in the salvation of sinners. Their preaching should be the gospel of the Triune God. The doctrine of the Trinity should be ever taught, though not ever formally taught. The doctrine of the Person of Christ, which gives glory and excellence to the work of Christ, should be brought forward, -not salvation merely, but the glorious Saviour himself, and that not only for the sake of guilty sinners' salvation, but for the exhibition of the Divine characierthat it was worthy of God to save sinners for such a Saviour.
Man's total apostacy from God-his total depravity-would lead to the exhibition of what alone can be, in an apostate's condition, any comfort or support—the love of Jehovah. It opened such a deep wound, that nothing but a Saviour—as a Saviour for an absolute sinner, dead in trespasses and sins-could heal it. God should be proclaimed as the sole Creator, Christ as the entire Saviour, not the Redeemer only, but the quickener also, not the author of faith only, but the perfecter and finisher of faith. The doctrine of man's impotency-of his total inability-was essential to the bringing of bim back to God. The opposite doctrine-the doctrine of man's ability to convert himself, countenanced the absurdity that man is to return to a dependence on Jehovah by the belief of a certain independence,—which was not only absurd, but also most dishonourable to God. It would not do to tell a man that he may come to Christ, but that he must come, and that be cannot come. He must come, or he would look to another; and that he cannot come, or be will look to himself for salvation. This was the Gospel view to shut up a man to the faith. Some grasped the one side of the view, and some the other. Some, indeed, would have man to do all, though he could do nothing; and others would have him to do nothing. But when a man was so shut up that he must come to Christ, and yet cannot, then that man was shut up to the faith, or rather he was shut up in the faith. God was sovereign, and this was not to be overlooked; but neither should the sovereign grace of God. They spoke of the sovereign God, but why not of the sovereignty of grace.
For himself, he felt comfort when shut up to this truth. This God was sovereign, and his grace sovereign ; for that though he was a sinner-an absolute sinner, Jehovah had said, “ I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This doctrine might stand in a man's way when it came like heaven's own thunder, and struck down all human dependance. But when it came upon man as lost, as the very chief of sinners, and depending solely on God's will; then, oh how blessed to know the sovereignty of grace. It was of importance that the truth which gave such glory to God, which alone could comfort because it alone brought man down, be declared ; that Jehovah's glory be exhibited ; that men be made to feel tbeir own emptiness ; that they may see Christ's sufficiency, and Christ's yearning heart over sinners. On what is to be made of preaching, he should say not a word, as he was sure all were convinced that it was not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. If God gave the desire, and sent his servants forth with his glorious work impressed on the heart and conscience, he who had given his word for that very end would accompany it with demonstration of the Spirit; having appointed these means, and ordained them, he would give grace to apply them; and he believed that Jehovah had this end in view, and the more so, when they were feeling their infirmities and sins.
The Rev. Mr Gibson of Glasgow. He suggested that the audience should be reminded of their responsibility for a great part of the success of a minister's preaching. Success was not always the test of ministerial usefulness. It depended not