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James Dodson

[from The Reformed Presbyterian, Vol. XXIV. No. 4./Vol. VI. No. 4. New Series.

April, 1860. pp. 124-125.]

OUR attention is called to this subject by some editorial remarks in the last number of the Scottish Reformed Presbyterian Magazine. The editor asks for something in favor of our views more than the statement made in our January number, that the practice “would break down the distinctive standing of the Covenanting Church,” and he seems to think that precedent is on the other side. He inquires, “from John Knox, who preached in Episcopalian pulpits, to Rutherford, who, it is said, had Episcopalians preaching in his, and Renwick, who was ordained by the Dutch Church, is there the least vestige for the conclusion which the editor of the Reformed Presbyterian presses so dogmatically?” We reply that the question is not, shall we preach in other pulpits than our own? We believe a minister should preach wherever there is a door open for him, and people to hear him. This disposes of the example of John Knox. Rutherford it is said received Bishop Usher on one occasion into his pulpit. And even this story, with its amusing circumstances, has a mythical appearance. If it be true, like Renwick’s ordination, it has weight as a precedent only where the cases are similar.

Did the Scotch Presbyterians receive the English Prelates into their pulpits in 1638? Let the exploit of Jennet Geddes, and the results that followed her well timed and effectual protest against interchange of pulpits, answer the question. Had this practice been then allowed, where would have been the Second Reformation? Our forefathers after the Restoration would not hear either the curates, or the Indulged, though they were persecuted to the death for refusing. Were they right? The “society people” received the ministrations of none of the ministers who went into the Revolution Settlement. Were they right? Do not all Reformed Presbyterians reckon these among the “faithful contendings?”

Thus much for history and precedent. And now what saith the Scripture? Romans 16: 17. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.” Wherever there are separate communions there are “divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine” taught in the Scriptures. If we are the persons who cause these, then we should disband and go to those who are better taught. If others do this, then we are to “avoid them.” How? Surely not, by admitting them into our pulpits and allowing them to teach our people.

We take this occasion to say, that with the sentiments of the extract from Dr. [Alexander] M’Leod’s inaugural address we are entirely agreed. Let him and those who are ecclesiastically one with him, carry out in practice his corollaries, “that it is the duty of nations, whether monarchies or republics, to make a distinct and open recognition of the Mediator’s throne, submit themselves to his law, and bind themselves by covenant to further his religion,” and a union between them and us will be no difficult matter. We want more than declarations of sound principles; we want a practical exemplification of the principles. And here, where confessedly the nation neglects these duties, there is the best opportunity of doing this. And the last clause of the address in the extract from which, we have quoted, seems to give some ground of hope, that our brethren will come back to the position of refusing allegiance to this nation. "What else can conscientious and intelligent men do who believe the following? “A national ignoring, or rejection of the Mediatorial supremacy, is national infidelity, which cannot but expose its subjects or citizens to the righteous judgments of Jehovah.” What man who fears God and regards his own welfare, will be found part and parcel of such a national organization?