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culated to excite in men unaccustomed, from the elevation of the pulpit, to meet with contradiction.
In not a few instances we have known these ecclesiastical courts to avoid coming to decisions on points of order, from a disposition to keep the peace with every unenlightened Presbyter; and subsequently we have found that these very points of order occur in some trial, and are debated, for days, without establishing any thing for the future, but a miserable precedent for an ecclesiastical contention on every emergency:
We have not given our opinion, that the Presbytery of Kentucky had no sufficient reason for suspending Mr. M.Chord; nor that the Synod were erroneous in affirming the act of suspension, in May, 1817; but we do declare, that the proceedings of the Synod in silencing him for one year, without having heard his reasons for appealing to them; in appointing a committee to transact business for which the court alone was competent; and in not deciding after due hearing of the parties, article by article, that the libel was or was not relevant and true, were contrary to sound policy, and the fundamental principles of Presbyterian church discipline. It would have been better to have displeased the Presbytery, by shocking their prejudices, than to have wronged a minister of the gospel, by proceeding informally to even a merited suspension.
After Mr. M'Chord handed in his declinature, the Synod proceeded to declare him in a state of suspension, we believe, for contumacy and heresy. Soon after this event he published his Plea in Philadelphia, and then returned to Lexington in Kentucky. While under the judicial sentence of the Associate Reformed Synod, he applied, if our information is correct, for admission, as a co-presbyter, to the West Lexington Presbytery, under the care of the General Assembly of the United States, and was received. Even should it be granted that he was wrongfully suspended, this reception of him, under his circumstances, would be a matter of regret. What does the West Lexington Presbytery virtually do, but sit in judgment on the Synod of a sis
ter church; rejudge her judgments; reverse her decisions; and so far as possible, render discipline, in an acknowledged portion of the Church of Christ, a nullity? If the different sections of the Redeemer's kingdom treat each other in this way, it will experience worse divisions than it has hitherto had occasion to lament. One part or another of the visible Church might render void every act of discipline; and of course, there would be no government allowedly administered by Christ's authority. If the General Assembly and the particular church represented by that body deem it a duty to dis. own the Associate Reformed Church, then the conduct of the Presbytery which has received the suspended minister may be tolerated; and perhaps commended, by all who think that the church of which he was a member should be denounced.
We expect next to hear, that the West Lexington Presbytery have received the Rev. Horace Holley, late of Boston, and now President of Transylvania College, notwithstanding his avowed opposition to the doctrine, that Jesus Christ is God and man in one person, for ever. Mr. M.Chord and Mr. Holley are about equally clamorous and fierce for liberality in opposition to what each calls bigotry. It requires no more than the ordinary degree of prescience which God has given man, to predict too, since easy is the downward course of error, that Mr. M'Chord will either be speedily recovered from his theory, or will become a disciple of the Socinian president, which the Kentuckians have taken a great deal of pains to procure. The luxury and wealth of Kentuc. ky, the partial prevalence of Hopkinsianism in that state, and the removal of several Bostonians to it, have prepared the way for the diffusion of a religion like that of Mr. Holley, to which we cannot wish success. We think it the curse of God, sent to Kentucky.
From Mr. M'Chord we pass to a consideration of his books. They are written in a swaggering style; and abound more in round assertions, clamorous challenges, and expressions of defiance, than in solid reasoning. He has more fire than discernment and discrimination. Yet he gives us much reason to conclude that he is hopefully pious; and might do good as a minister of Christ, should he ever have the candour and magnanimity to detect and retract his errors. We observe in his writings many inaccuracies, and nothing very pleasing. Through the whole of the book entitled “ the Body of Christ,” he appears to think, that by his deep thought and unusual penetration, he has hit upon a new theory, which is to illuminate all the Western States; and in his Plea, he cannot think of regarding himself as a person who may be erroneous, but as one pleading for nothing less than the hope of Israel, and of all the world, against every other divine that ever lived and wrote. Owen and Mason, to be sure, are allowed to be great men, but their ken is nothing to his own; and before their eyes, the heavens, and the earth, come together, before they can see half way to his own sensible horizon.
In the first of his publications, he inculcates many sound doctrines concerning the unity of the visible church; the propriety of intercommunion with all visi. ble saints, so far as it may be practicable; and the actual spiritual union of all the members of the invisible church to Jesus Christ, so that they become partakers of the di. vine nature, though the inhabitation and agency of the Holy Ghost. The things in which he coincides with the commonly received opinions of his Calvinistic brethren need not be considered by us; but it may be of some service to the church, and to those especially who have become almost, if not altogether such as he is, except in suspension, to exhibit and expose his unscriptural tenets. In doing this we shall have frequent occasion to refer to Dr. Gray's “ Fiend of the Reformation Detected,” a controversial work which may well be selected as a pattern of good humoured argumentation; and which contains not a few of as fine strains of eloquence as ever flowed from an uninspired pen; mingled with some erroneous doctrines, which as much need refutation, as any thing ever promulgated by the young theorist of Kentucky. From the scriptural passages in which Christ is represented as a Bridegroom,
and his people as the Bride, the Lamb's wife; in which he is compared to a vine or an olive tree, and they to the branches; or Jesus to the Head and his people to the members of a body; and from the prayer of the Mediator, that all believers may be “one in us," "as thou Father art in me, and I in thee," none can avoid concluding, says Mr. M.C. “ that the relation subsisting between the Head of the church and all the individual members, is something more real and intimate than a simple relationship created by law.” The Body, &c. p. 17. The orthodox will admit, that there is a real relation subsisting between Christ and all renewed persons; which is frequently denominated, especially by the Eastern Divines, a vital, and by others a spiritual union; for by the agency of the Holy Ghost, through the great and precious promises of the gospel, they are made partakers of the divine nature; and are actuated, in all their holy operations, by the same spirit that was poured on the Mediator without measure. But will it follow from the fact of a vital, or spiritual union between Christ and all who are regenerated, that there is no OTHER relationship subsisting between them? How can it be proved, from this vital union, which takes place in time, at the moment of the new birth, that no relation was previously established between them in the divine counsels; or in covenant between the Father and Son, which may be termed a decretive covenant relation? How can Mr. M'C. evince, that this decretive covenant relationship is not established upon strictly equitable, legal principles; and that it is not with propriety called a union in, or according to, law? He admits of the vital union; and seems to believe, while he does not positively assert, that there is no eternal covenant union, established by the counsels of peace between the Father and the Son. We ask with Dr. Gray, “why did he not professedly examine whether the Scriptures reveal an eternal covenant between the Father and the Son? Why does the whole amount of his reasoning go to the denial of such a transaction?” Fiend, p. 44. Had he done this, he would have avoided the erroneous conclusion, “ that Vol. I.
upon this connexion,” established in regeneration, “ as founded in fact, all those relations are predicted which are said to exist in law, between the Redeemer and his people.” The Body, p. 21. Dr. Gray in reply, has abundantly proved, that the Son of God was by divine counsel and covenant constituted a covenant head of all who were decretively given to him before the world was made. We shall not trouble ourselves in this place to do over again, what is well done in Section III. of the Fiend Detected; but simply quote a few of the most important passages of Scripture which evince a decre. tive, eternal covenant relation between Christ and the elect. “ The Lord possessed me, (wisdom) in the begining of his way, before his work of old. I was set up, (or, anointed a covenant head, as Dr. Gray correctly reads it,) from everlasting, from the beginning." "I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” Prov. viii. 22, 23, 30, 31. “God hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us (in covenant) in Christ Jesus before the world began.” 2 Tim. i. 5. “ If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed, which shall prolong their days, and the gracious purpose of Jehovah shall prosper in his hands. Of the travail of his soul he shall see (the fruit,) and be satisfi. ed: by the knowledge of him shall my servant justify many; for the punishment of their iniquities he shall bear.” Isaiah, liii. 10, 11, Lowth's translation. “Fa. ther, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." John xvii. 1, 2. “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.” “ My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that