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the world as enemies of civil liberty, adopting the most despotic principles of civil policy; as contentious and persecuting persons, with war in your hearts, even to extermination! And suppose the court treat such a plea with merited contempt, could they become liable to the charge of persecution ? Would the person making such a plea be able to excite public sympathy, and raise a party to rally round him as large as that which has already rallied round these schismatic brethren? I suppose not. Men act like rational creatures in almost all things else, except religion. But when any attempt is made to maintain rules of common justice, and common sense, which ought to regulate every body of men, whatever be the object of their association, in our ecclesiastical courts, the cry of persecution is raised, though these courts profess nothing more than a moral power--nothing but the power of judging of their own members. Defamation supplies the place of argument ; ignorance the place of knowledge ; falsehood the place of facts ; prejudice the place of judgment; and passion the place of piety ; confusion and anarchy the place of order and justice—the church is broken into fragments, and infidelity and immorality become rampant through the land.
We have already noticed the principle charges brought against our separating brethren in the church courts; but there are other facts which have been brought to light during this controversy, and which it is necessary to notice, in order to justify the title prefixed to this paper. And here, as in the former case, the writer courts an investigation of the facts in any scriptural and peaceable manner. He labors for truth. But hopes that the mere assertions of interested individuals may not be permitted to usurp the place of well-founded evidence.
We begin with the testimony of Rev. Dr. P. Bullions, taken on the trial of Mr. Webster. For the full testimony, the reader is referred to the Narrative of the Presbytery of Albany, published in 1836. And respecting this testimony we remark:
1. That it was given with extreme reluctance and after long dealing, by the Presbytery; which may be accounted for, from the fact that he was then and still is, acting with Mr. Stark.
2. Respecting the K paper, published in the fourth volume of the Religious Monitor, and ascribed to Mr. Stark, but denied by him; he says“ I saw the munuscript from which it was printed”—“have an opinion concerning it" "founded on the fact that it looked like the hand-writing of Luke F. Newland.” Here the matter rested. This appeared to be all that he had to tell the court on that point. But after a considerable lapse of time, he adds—" I gave the original copy to Luke F. Newland, to be transcribed.” He then iestifies his belief that the original copy of the paper was in Mr. Stark's hand-writing.
3. Respecting one of Mr. Stark's pamphlets, he says" the manu. script ihat letter was sent to me, I did not wish to have any thing to do with it, and gave it to another to do with it as he pleased. That individual asked me to examine a proof sheet and I did as I have stated. I believe the manuscript was sent to me by Mr. Stark, and to the best of my remembrance, it was in Mr. Stark's hand-writing. In speaking of that letter and the other pamphlets, Mr. Stark has always spoken of them as the work of the Observer. It may be that he left the disposal of it to mysell, but I think he requested it to be published. I myself paid one dollar to the person to whom the manuscript had been given towards the expense of publication, but do not know by whom the balance was furnished. I gave the manuscript of the Letter to John McDonald, Esq. of Washington County.”
Now the reader is requested to compare the above testimony with the following letter, which was laid on the table of Synod, 1837, and contributed largely to the strange votes passed by that Synod.
“ALBANY, May 5th, 18.37. “Dear Sir-In answer to your enquiry, whether I think the testimony given by me is sufficient proof that Mr. Stark is the author of the Anonymous Pamphlets ascribed to him—1 answer; that testimony is the foundation of the opinion expressed by me on that occasion, yet it might be very unjust to Mr. Stark, to convict him on that testimony; for an opinion may arise from circumstances very insufficient to prove a matter befor a court. The opinion I had of Mr. S. being the author of the · K. paper' was equally strong with that of his being the author of the Pamphlets ; but from what I have learned since, I am now satisfied that the former opinion was wrong, and that he was not the author of the K paper.'
“ Yours respectfully,
· P. BULLIONS. “ Rev. Dr. BULLIONS."
It is with extreme reluctance that I offer any comment on this strange testimony, and still more strange letter. But there are certain points which deserve notice. The testimony asserts that the manuscript of one of Mr. Stark's pamphlets was sent to him, and that it was in Mr. Stark's hand-writing. It also asserts the same thing of the “K. paper.” The letter calls this testimony an opinion ; and thinks “an opinion very in. sufficient," &c. And from what he has learned since, he is now satisfied that Mr. Stark was not the author of the “ K. paper;" Was ever such a commentary given by a witness upon his own testimony, eighteen months after that testimony was given? Is he now satisfied that he swore false? If so, why not condescend to tell us what it is that led him to give false testimony against a friend whom he labored hard to screen before the court? I know a story is in circulation, but of its fuundation I know nothing, that a young man, whose name is not even known, wrote the “ K. paper," who has since gone to Scotland, and that Mr. Stark transcribed it for him, and sent it to Dr. Bullions to be retranscribed before given to the printer, that he, Mr. Stark, might not be known in it! Alas! for such a story! And if this be not the cause which led Dr. P. Bullions to contradict his own testimony under oath, he ought to inform us what produced such a remarkable change. If he de. clines doing so, he must rest under an imputation which I would not bear for the wealth of the Indies. But, suppose the story about the young man were true, have men a right to transcribe and inculcate slander, and be innocent ? Our civil law does not condescend to ask the holder of counterfeit money who made it. He must show how he came by it. Is it not then perfectly puerile to say that Mr. Stark transcribed from the pen of another? Is it not treating men as though they were idiots or children? For who does not know that his hand-writing makes him responsible both in the eye of human and divine law ? Besides, there was other conclusive corroborating testimony, which any one may see who will take the trouble to examine the Narrative published by the Presbytery of Albany.
Again : the pamphlets contain conclusive internal evidence of their paternity. Their style and manner are perfectly sui generis, no less peculiar than the features of their author's face. Let a single sample serve as an illustration. In his first pamphlet, p. 40, speaking of an act of Dr. A. Bullions, he says :-"It is a mere matter of taste, and accord. ing to the proverb— De gustibus nil disputandum.?” The same phrase applied to the same person, occurs in an acknowledged article of his in the Rel. Mon. vol. XI. p. 43. Indeed, one of his warmest advocates, who protested or dissented against almost every vote of ihe Synod of 1836, in his case, declared that he believed Mr. Stark to be the author of those pamphlets, as much as he believed any thing.
Now let the question be put to every man's conscience, was not a resolution to stay all proceedings and remove all censure, and gag the members of Synod, in circumstances like these, an attempt to cover up iniquity? But the subject must be resumed.
Art. IV. Free Communion—Thoughts on Rev. ii. 14, 15. " But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of
Balaam," &c. A false charity which rejoices in error, as well as "the truth,” which in a very literal manner, "covers a multitude of sins ;” and a disposition to free communion, or what is designated by the modern term of Latitudinarianism, are evils with which the church has been infected in every age, to a greater or less degree. Men so easily lose sight of this important idea, which should ever be most conspicuous, that the church is the house of God, and that its rules and privileges are limited and prescribed by himself. Would men but accord to Jehovah the same independence and discretion, in determining who should enjoy the hospitality, the favors of his house, which are granted to the proprietor of a mansion, or head of a family, the church would never have suffered from intrusion into membership of unworthy characters. What person, having any sense of propriety, would open wide his doors, and invite the honorable and virtuous, together with the suspicious, vile characters of infamous life, to the high privileges of his family enjoyment ? Would he not much rather, as master of his own house, establish his own domestic rules, and require a conformity to the same of all admit. ted to his intimacy? Then, since God has established the rules by which his house is to be governed, and delineated with great particularity the characters deemed worthy of its privileges, is it not daring in the steward of his house to disregard these? But how often do we see them, eager to make a display of their spurious charity, and forgetting that holiness is the boundary, the channel in which his love flows, invite to his holy table, even snch as have not “a wedding garment,” and the leprous! They set wide open the gates” of admission, so that not only “the righteous nation may enter," but also the unrighteous.
Correct views on this subject are of the greatest importance to the purity and prosperity of Zion. There are many circumstances which give a special interest to this at present. There is, perhaps, too much reason to fear that the popular sentiment, which abhors restriction, and approbates open, general communion, breh in hearing the word, and in VOL. XV.
sealing ordinances, is gaining on the affections of some ministers, as well as private members in the Secession Church. Also, the evident disposition in the Associate Reformed Church to approbate this favorite scheme, considering the laudable stand which they have taken for truth, makes it a present duty to investigate our principles anew on this subject. Likewise the liberal spirit which pervaded the late Convention at Pittsburgh, composed of delegates from several Reformed branches of the Church, highly respectable for orthodoxy, renders it incumbent on the Secession Church, as being invited to unite with them in their efforts to promote a general unity in Church communion, to weigh well such measures, and calmly view the principles involved. But what gives to this subject a present interest and greater importance than anything else, is the present State of the Presbyterian Church, and its very remarkable history for some years past.
The public is familiar with the elaborate "plea" in favor of free communion, made by the late Dr. Mason, and the general approbation it received among the Presbyterians. At that time, as it a flood of light had unexpectedly been poured in upon the long benighted intellect, and as if the channels of the great deep of christian benevolence had then for the first time been discovered and fully opened, they made wide their doors of admission, and folded in their loving embrace many ho!ding Arminian and Hopkinsian doctrines. They were all love. In their teinple they were not careful to have inscribed, “Holiness to the Lord,” but there was to be seen in legible characters this only sentiment, "charity, open fellowship,” which was continually re-echoed with the loudest peals of acclamation far and wide.
And, because Seceders protested against such measures, as being calculated to fill the church with corrupting errors, and heretical unworthy members, they were denounced by their Presbyterian brethren as “narrow-minded, bigotted, and as keeping back the Millenium." This spurious overgrown spirit of charity prevailed among them for several years; their church took ricketty growth, springing up like Jonah's gourd; and like some diseased bodies, though vitally affected within, yet become corpulent with an appearance of health. It is often observable in the political arena, and in movements of war, that a present advantage proves a real lasting injury. Such were the effects of the measures referred to above, so soon as fully developed. Errorists becom. ing identified with that body, once justly held in high estimation for purity in doctrines, aided in maturing their liberal schemes, and industriously disseminated their principles, which, becoming incorporated with that church, proved a fruitful source of discord, an appalling corruption.
At length, after the destruction of much fraternal love, and peace, and truth, the friends of true Presbyterianism were compelled, by dire necessity, to take the same stand for which they had previously contemned the Seceders with so much acrimony, in excluding from their fellowship such as were not cordially united in sentiment with them. This was done at their last Assembly in May, when racked with sad division. A return to the restrictive system of exclusive measures, bearing a faithful testimony against prevailing errors, is their only alternative; the only means of rescuing their branch of Zion from the flood of corruption, emitted from the Dragon's mouth, which has threatened to drown her in perdition.
This brief history affords the best comment on the practical influence of free communion, and to the candid observer must have the conviction that the scheme is not less impolitic than unscriptural. here naturally reminded of that remarkable epistle to the Church of Pergamos, recorded in Rev. ii. 12-17, in which the mind of the Holy Spirit is expressed on this subject in the plainest manner. She had in her much worthy of high commendation. Being located in a place of great wickedness, “where Satan had his seat," and iniquity its throne, they maintained a faithful adherence to the truth, amidst the stornis of persecution, in the rage of which “the faithful Antippas fell a martyr.” But she had her defections, for which, though many, she is reproved by God in these mild terms :-" I have a few things against thee." The ground of his complaint is, “ Because thou hast there them who hold the doctrine of Balaam.” The history of this man you have in Numbers, 25–31st chapters. His doctrine or instruction to Balak was to induce Israel to “commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab,” which was naturally calculated to lead them into idolatry. This proved a "stumbling block” to many, by which they were stained with the basest crimes, which rendered them obnoxious to the divine displeasure.
The charge brought against this church for having in her bosom such characters as held to this “doctrine,” and were stained with such vices, while it refers primarily to the vicious sect then existing under that name, can also be understood in a spiritual sense, and as pointing not only to some persons of scandalous life, but also to errorists, and such as are infected with dangerous heresy, who, by their insidious plots, seek to lead the church into spiritual fornication and idolatry. The heritage of the Lord, is, in our times, filled with such Balaamites, who corrupt and prove a disgrace to religion, and whom faithfulness would require to be excommunicated.
The reason why the church of Pergamos is here subjected to censure is, because she retained in her communion such vicious, heretical characters. She had been intrusted with the key of discipline, in virtue of which ecclesiastical rulers bind and loose with the delegated authority of heaven. And the courts of Zion are bound to enforce discipline as an ordinance of divine appointment, for cutting off from her fellowship those whose doctrine and practice are not according to godliness. The omission of this duty is a crying evil, for which God will hold a controversy with his people. Jehovah will have his sanctuary purged by his ordained ministry, or else he will do it himself by fearful judgments. The church of Pergamos had adopted a policy, too fashionable in our times, seeking an increase of numbers and popularity, screening from judicial censure the rich and noble, seeking ihe aggrandizement of Zion by worldly pomp more than by chaste purity. But God will not suffer unchastity nor vileness in his, spouse, without tokens of his displeasure. He has erected a wall around his heritage to keep out the “ wild beasts." Holiness should be inscribed on the doors of ad. mission, as well as “the thrones of judgement which there stay.” “Without are dogs," the unworthy; and such should be kept without, and when found within, should be ejected.
In this respect this church was defective; and in the 15th verse, we find another pungent reproof of a similar nature, administered to her, for having fellowship with “ them who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” This was a sect, founded, perhaps, by a deacon named Nicholas, which flourished in the commencement of ihe christian era. Eating things offered to idols, adultery, uncleanness,