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the most intense and rigid Calvinism. Not only are the doctrines of the Trinity and Satisfaction taught in the most express terms, and in the form which has been repudiated as offensive, unscriptural, and untrue, by many eminent divines, who are yet usually esteemed orthodox,—but the doctrines of the absolute and unconditional predestination of particular individuals to eternal life and to eternal misery, —that of the imputation of the guilt of Adam and Eve to all their posterity,--that of the transmission to all mankind of a corrupt nature, defiled in all the parts and faculties both of soul and body,—that of the subjection of the human race, through and on account of the original sin of Adam, to all miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal,--that of the entire damnation of the Jewish, Mahommedan, and heathen world without exception,—that of the impossibility of salvation of infants dying in infancy, but not elected unto life,—that of the sinfulness even of good works if done by unregenerate men, while their omission is yet more sinful and displeasing unto God,—that of the duty of persecuting the adherents of tenets, which are judged to be erroneous, by the power of the civil magistrate, &c. together with many similar and kindred opinions, are taught in these works. No Unitarian, therefore, of any shade or grade ; no Arminian, no sublapsarian ; no man, of whatever doctrinal views, who respects the rights of conscience in his fellow-creatures, or is attached to the principles of toleration,—can possibly subscribe these documents, or profess belief in their contents, without the grossest inconsistency, falsehood, and hypocrisy. On this point, the Rev. Dr. Cooke may be regarded as a competent witness. Speaking on oath, of a person subscribing the Westminster Confession, he says,—“ It is impossible he could be anything but a Calvinist : it is, beyond all question, the most strict of all confessions that have been written.”-Fourth Report from Commissioners of Education Inquiry, Appendix, (p. 147).
The rules prescribed in the “ Constitution and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church," requiring adherence to the doctrines of the Westminster divines on the part of all ministers of the gospel in connexion with the Assembly, are extremely rigorous. At every step of his progress, the candidate for the ministry is obliged to profess his agreement with the Confession and Catechisms, else he cannot possibly be admitted to the office to which he aspires.
It is provided, that students designed for the ministry shall be examined by a committee, entitled the Theological Examination Committee, "previously to entering a theological class, and again, before receiving license to preach."-P. 23, par. 21, 22.
“ This Committee shall examine them respecting their personal religion, their knowledge of the Scriptures, especially on their views of the doctrines of the Trinity, original sin, justification by faith, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit ; and likewise as to their motives for offering themselves as candidates
for the ministerial office ; and should any examinant be found opposed to the doctrines contained in the standards of this church, or appear to be destitute of vital godliness, he shall in no case be recognised as a candidate for the ministry.”—P. 24, par. 23.
After having twice passed through this ordeal, the candidate must next present himself to the Presbytery to which he belongs, for trials and license. Previously to licensing any candidate to preach the gospel, the Presbytery is required to put to him the following, among other questions :
“ Do you believe the Westminster Confession of Faith, as received and approved by the Church of Scotland in their Act of 1647, prefixed to the Confession, to be founded on and agreeable to the Word of God, and, as such, do you acknowledge it as the confession of your faith ?
“Do you approve of the Catechisms compiled by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and received as the Catechisms of this Church?
“ Are you resolved through divine grace, firmly and constantly to adhere to the doctrine contained in the said Confession and Catechisms, and to teach and defend it to the utmost of your power, against all errors ?
“ The candidate having answered these questions in the affirmative, shall be required to subscribe the following formula, and none other :
“ • I believe the Westminster Confession of Faith to be founded on, and agreeable to, the Word, and as such I subscribe it as the confession of my faith.'
“ Should any candidate be licensed in violation of these rules, his license shall be withdrawn, and the Presbytery so licensing shall be subject to censure."-Pp. 26, 27, 28.
It is unnecessary to remind our readers that, in the General Assembly, licentiates are the only persons, not previously ministers of congregations, who can be chosen as pastors in any congregations which may become vacant ; so that the choice of the people is strictly limited to men who have once actually, and three times virtually, professed their belief in these standards of doctrine. But all this is not held to be sufficient ; for when a congregation has made choice of a candidate as its future minister, and the Presbytery are come together for the purpose of ordaining him, it is enacted, that before this ceremony can be performed,
“ The Candidate shall affix his signature to the Assembly's Formula of Subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith, in the Presbytery book."--P. 34.
And the same questions which are above set forth from the form of procedure at license, are again to be proposed to the candidate, word for word ; and all of them are required to be "satisfactorily answered," before the ordination can take place. Pp. 34, 35.
In the case of a minister who has been ordained in one congregation, removing to another, it is provided that “the same questions shall be put to the person to be installed as to one about to be ordained (p. 36); being the fifth time of his making the same solemn declaration,
In order to prevent any deviation in after life, from the doctrines thus repeatedly avowed in early manhood, it is enacted, that every Presbytery shall hold two visitations of the churches under its care in each year (p. 40). On these occasions, deputies appointed by the elders of the congregation, shall be publicly asked in the presence of the people.
“Does he (i. e, the minister) preach the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith, especially those of the Trinity—the fall of man-his recovery through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ-justification by faith in the righteousness of the Saviour—the Deity, personality, and work of the Holy Ghost—the sovereignty of divine grace-the necessity of faith and repentance wrought in us by God's spirit; and as an evidence of a work of grace, the necessity of a life of practical godliness?"-P. 41.
After having passed through this long and wearisome pilgrimage of examinations, questions, and subscriptions, and of repeated visitations and inquisitions, the man of God at length is permitted to die without renewing his subscription; and if he have been one worthy of his sacred calling, he sleeps, we trust, in Jesus, to hear no more of the Westminster Confession.
We now pass to the laws relating to the elders, of whom there are usually from six to twelve in each congregation—sometimes even more. The more aged and personally respectable members ought to be chosen for this office; so that it is one of very considerable dignity, betokening the regard and esteem of his fellow-Christians for the individual on whom it is conferred. The rules for the election and ordination of the elders, are set forth in the third chapter of the Constitution and Discipline; and it is there required, that the person elected to the office shall be called on to answer certain questions, among which are two, which are verbatim the same with the first two of those already quoted from the procedure at license to preach the gospel. “Do you believe the Westminster Confession of Faith as received and approved?” &c. &c. “Do you approve of the catechisms compiled by the Assembly of Divines?" &c. &c.-P. 13.
Thus neither minister nor elder of the General Assembly, if he be a man of truth, can be anything else than a believer in all the doctrines of the Calvinistic theology set forth in the formularios drawn up by the Westminster Assembly of divines; but here it is commonly thought that the enforcement of those doctrines ends. No mistake, however, is more casy of correction. The fact is, that the same system of doctrine is uniformly and consistently required to be professed, held, and believed, not only by ministers, but by every man woman, and child, claiming Christian ordinances, or the exercise of Christian privileges, in the congregations connected with that body. Such, at least, is the law of the church; and if the law be laid aside, -as we believe it sometimes is, by those whose duty it is to carry it into effeot,—the inconsistency of their continuing in a church, whose rules they systematically disobey, must be apparent to every mind.
To begin with baptism. Before administering this ordinance, the pastor is required by the Directory (p. 77), to put to the parent nine questions, relating to his religious belief; some of which relate to points that are not controverted among Christians; but others, including the two following, introduce and require profession of belief in some of the most doubtful opinions, to say the very least, that have ever been devised by the perverse ingenuity of men, anxious to be “ wise above that which is written.”
“Do you believe that there is one Jehovah, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the world ; and that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that these three are One God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory?"
“Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ offered himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us unto God; that he died for our sins and rose for our justification; and that he makes continual intercession for us?”—P. 77.
At the end of the questions a note is added:
“These doctrines are continued in the Scriptures at large (!) and are exhibited in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms,—the recognised Standards of the Church.”—P. 78.
And to prevent any possibility of the ministers slurring over, or omitting any of these questions, in deference to the known heterodoxy of particular persons, whom he might be unwilling to offend, it is enacted, that, all baptisms “shall be administered in the presence of the congregation, after discourse on the Lord's day, except in case of necessity and with the concurrence of the eldership,” (p. 76). Nor is this enough, for at each visitation by the Presbytery, the people are to be publicly asked, “ Is baptism administered according to the regulations of the Assembly? Are the children of parents, holding unscriptural ciews, baptized?”—(p. 43).
Thus, the infant's first admission into the church is to be accompanied by a profession of its parents' belief in the doctrines of the Westminster divines. As it advances in life, it is in due time to be brought to the minister to be catechised (p. 84), and it is declared that “the Westminster Catechisms are the only models for catechising, authorized by the General Assembly.'
And when, in process of time, the young Christian seeks for the privilege of commemorating the death of Christ with the church, it is provided (p. 78) that the “ignorant, the unbaptized, and scandalous, are not to be admitted ” to communion, that
persons communicating for the first time are to be examined, instructed, and approved, before they be admitted, and that “the minister is, in the name of Christ, to warn the ignorant, the heretical, the scandalous,
...... not to approach the table of the Lord,” (p. 79). And lest he should prove unfaithful, or remiss in the discharge of this duty, the representatives of the elders are at each visitation to be asked by the Presbytery,—“ How often is the Lord's Supper administered during the year, and are the scandalous and profane, the ignorant and erroneous, excluded from the fellowship of the church ?" (p. 41). In these regulations, it is but common candour to believe that the terms " heretical ” and “erroneous are used to designate persons who deviate from the doctrines set forth in the Confession and Catechisms, which are in the same work, entitled, - “ The Standards of the Church.” To explain them otherwise would be unfair and unjust; it would be to impute fraud and imposition to its authors and publishers ;—and this interpretation is rendered still more clear and certain by an enactment found in the 5th section of the Constitution and Discipline ; in which it is declared (p. 16), that " to the Eldership in Session belongs the right of judging of the admission to Church privileges ;” and that “the Eldership shall admit to sealing ordinances, those persons only who are under their superintendence, whose views of the doctrines of grace are in accordance with the standards of the General Assembly, and whose personal character is becoming the Gospel of Christ.”—(16.)
To the communicants—that is, to the persons thus tested, amined and approved ”-and who have been ascertained to be neither "heretical nor erroneous,” but whose views, on the contrary, are found to be “in accordance with the standards of the General Assembly," or, in other words, with the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms-is confined the privilege of having their names entered on the Register of Voters in the Congregation (p. 29), and of voting at any poll, respecting the hearing of a candidate for the ministry (p. 30); respecting a call to a minister (p. 30, infra); respecting the election of a precentor (p. 17); respecting the choice of an elder (p. 13); and generally in any congregational question, not purely and exclusively secular.
Thus are the members of the Presbyterian Church in connexion with the Irish General Assembly, tied hand and foot, with this oppressive and galling chain. Neither minister, elder, nor private member, can make a single step in advance, beyond the narrow limits fixed by an Assembly of divines held two centuries ago. If they dare venture an inch outside of the prescribed enclosure, they violate the law which their Church has enacted, which it has solemnly set forth to the world in its recognised Book of Discipline, which it has ratified by express compact, and for the observance of which it has plighted its troth, before God and man. No function can be exercised, no ordinance can be observed, no privilege can be enjoyed, in that body, except on the implied or express declaration of complete agreement