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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20

No. VII.—Present State of the Question

No. VII.—Present State of the Question.

The resolution adopted by a majority at last Assembly was to the effect, that the Assembly saw [unclear: no bar to union] with those who declare the principle of [unclear: a Church Establishment] to be sinful, being, as is alleged by them, [unclear: opposed] to an express "ordinance of Christ." This, if confirmed, would [unclear: of a aboandonment] on the part of the Free Church, of one of the [unclear: must] principles the Ten Years Conflict. That conflict might have been avoided if the Church had been willing to take this ground at first, whilst, by taking it now, we proclaim that we formerly convulsed the kingdom unnecessarily, and were "martyrs by mistake." It is said that we may still hold the duty of the Magistrate towards the Church as individuals. This is certainly true. No power on earth can prevent us from holding our private opinions. But the question relates to the public testimony of the Church, which the decision of last Assembly attempts to alter and overturn, without consulting the Church as a whole. It is said that the alteration proposed is small. This is the constant excuse of innovators. Small or great, however, the Assembly had no right to interfere with the fixed testimony of the Church without special authority; but if the matter in question be so small, why do the United Presbyterians adhere with such tenacity to the opposite view? Instead of being small, however, it affects the crown-rights of Christ to the entire homage of nations; the historical position of the Church since the Reformation, and even the constitution of the kingdom, as connected with the Protestant succession to the Crown, besides having a direct bearing on a number of practical questions of urgent interest.

But what is to be done now? If we may judge by the report of the proceedings of the Union Committee which has lately appeared, the union to be pressed forward. The negotiating parties are proceeding as resolutely as ever, apparently on the assumption that some historical statement and the arrangement of details are alone necessary, and that the recent proceedings in the Supreme Courts have virtually set aside all difficulties in the way of principle in carrying out the contemplated result. This, however, must not be allowed. A clear issue has been raised. The constitution of our Church has been attacked, and in so far as the Assembly had power, subverted, and no proper means must be left untried to have the members of the Church fully instructed on the subject, and to have the old Scriptural constitution again proclaimed and acknowledged in the General Assembly. Let us pray that the Church at large may be fully aroused to the duty and privilege of rallying again, at this new crisis, around the peculiar "banner displayed" in Scotland over since the Reformation, "because of the truth," viz., The Universal Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ.