The Gospel and the Free Church Act of 1892.
By James Sinclair
Copyright 2000 © First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett

The following originally appeared in The Free Presbyterian Magazine in 1896 as “Explanatory Criticism On the Declaratory Act (v. 1 #4, 121-125, continued v. 1 #5, 161-167) and continued in several more articles. See The Free Presbyterian Magazine and Monthly Record Volume 1 (Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, [c.1999]) 121-125; 161-167. The following are reprinted as they apply to the current issue of The Blue Banner. Copyright © 2000 Free Presbyterian Publications.

[From the introduction to v.9 #10-12: This current issue deals with the question, somewhat controversial in our day, of how and why we preach the gospel to "every creature under heaven." Does God have a longing for the reprobate to repent? Does God have a saving, but conditional, love for all persons without exception? Is the Covenant of Grace conditional and for all who will, of their own volition, participate in it, or is it unconditional and for the elect alone?...James Sinclair, author of the critique of the Free Church of Scotland's Declaratory Act of 1892, was for many years the editor of The Free Presbyterian Magazine. The historical significance of the Declaratory Act is that it was the formal reason for the separation of the Free Presbyterians from the Free Church of Scotland in 1893. The first issue of The Free Presbyterian Magazine and Monthly Record declared in May 1896, "We, in fact, find in the Declaratory Act errors of Arminianism, Pelagianism, Voluntaryism, and Romanism." (p. 4) The Rev. Sinclair, in the editorials reprinted here from Volume One, pp. 121ff. and 161ff. of The Free Presbyterian Magazine, demonstrates that the modified "Calvinism" of the Declaratory Act is, in reality, no gospel at all. As Mr. Sinclair concluded, "The Free Church, by adopting this clause, puts a dagger into all true missionary effort."]

Note: This article is out of copyright but we received permission to reprint from the Free Presbyterian Church. The text as edited for this article is copyright © 2000 The Blue Banner.
The Gospel and the Free Church Act of 1892
Part One

As we believe there still exists, in many quarters, much ignorance as to the exact nature of the doctrinal views embodied in the Free Church Declaratory Act of 1892, we purpose to give, in part at least, in this article, an explanatory criticism of the Act, clause by clause, in as brief a manner as the extent and importance of the subject will allow. Before doing so, we make a few observations in regard to the affirmed necessity for a Declaratory Act. We find that it has been widely proclaimed by speech and pen that a Declaratory Act was necessary for the good of the Church, as many persons had difficulty in taking office, because of certain expressions of doctrine contained in the Confession of Faith. It is very apparent, however, to all observers that the present age is distinguished for great laxity of opinion on religious subjects in general, and that men, from lack of reverence to any authority in heaven or earth, but their own narrow reason, are ready to kick against all fixed doctrinal standards even though these should be clearly supported by the unerring Word of God.

We, therefore, maintain that if ever there was a time in which it was necessary to hold forth in clear and uncompromising terms the great unchanging and unchangeable doctrines of the Word of God as embodied in the Confession, the time is now. Instead of this, the Free Church, in order to please the fickle tastes of carnal men has traitorously lowered the standard of accepted truth, and weakened down the saving doctrines of the Gospel, so that they shall be powerless for any spiritual good to this or future generations. Instead of a Declaratory Act in favour of the weak and erroneous doctrines of Arminianism, we as a generation stood much more in need of an Act that would give forth a bold and unflinching testimony for the strong and life-giving doctrines of Calvinism. When the enemy comes in like a flood, it is not to adopt his standard that the Spirit of the Lord leads the true Church, but to raise a standard against him. At the Disruption of 1843, great popular interest was aroused in the doctrine of Christ’s headship over His Church. The rights of the Christian people to choose their own pastors were interfered with by the State. The whole body of the people rose as one man to shake off the fetter of patronage. But what has happened now? We have fallen into such a low condition that the greatest apathy prevails even when the very life-blood of the Church — those doctrines with which are bound up the salvation of immortal souls — is being filched away. People complain they do not understand the doctrines of the Declaratory Act; but if they were truly exercised as to the foundation of their hope for eternity, they would know the difference between a false and a true doctrinal foundation.

We now proceed to consider the Declaratory Act of 1892 in its various sections. The Act opens as follows: — “Whereas it is expedient to remove difficulties and scruples which have been felt by some in reference to the declaration of belief required from persons who receive licence or are admitted to office in this Church, the General Assembly, with consent of Presbyteries, declare as follows: — I. That, in holding and teaching, according to the Confession, the divine purpose of grace toward those who are saved, and the execution of that purpose in time, (a) this Church most earnestly proclaims, as standing in the forefront of the revelation of grace, the love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to sinners of mankind, manifested especially in the Father’s gift of the Son to be the Saviour of the world, in the coming of the Son to offer Himself a propitiation for sin, and in the striving of the Holy Spirit with men to bring them to repentance.”

The preamble of the Act sets forth that it was framed to “remove difficulties and scruples which have been felt by some in reference to the declaration of belief required” from candidates for office in the Church. The Confession of Faith is a document of almost unparalleled merit for lucidity and fulness of doctrinal statement, and there is not the slightest doubt that the difficulties and scruples referred to have arisen, not from any ambiguity or obscurity in the Confession, but from the natural opposition of the human heart to the gospel truths therein contained. In this assertion we are borne out by the kind of objections that have been raised during recent years to the Confession and also by the character of the remedy provided in this Act to remove these objections.

The Act, instead of casting light upon the doctrines of the Confession, does its best to shroud them in obscure and ambiguous language. The language, however, while tending to obscure the Calvinism of the Confession, is a fit vehicle for expressing the doctrines of Arminianism. The remedy that has thus been provided for difficulties and scruples is more dangerous than the disease. Truth is the only cure for difficulties. If error becomes the cure the individual is in a worse case than ever. That this is the nature of the remedy provided in the Declaratory Act will appear in the course of our exposition. After the preamble, the first topics treated of are the sovereignty and love of God. These are included under the first three paragraphs of the Act, one of which we have given above. In this paragraph the framers have divorced “the purpose” from “the love” of God. They announce that in holding and teaching the purpose of grace “this Church most earnestly proclaims, as standing in the forefront of the revelation of grace, the love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to sinners of mankind.” The love of God to sinners of mankind is represented as something distinct from, and something more prominent than the purpose of grace. Now we find that no such distinction is observed in Scripture. The purpose of grace and the love of God have reference to the same objects. It is they whom God the Father “predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29) whom, in the language of the Apostle John; He also loved. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John 3:1).

The purpose of grace in predestination and the love of God have reference to the same blessings to be conferred and the same objects for whom these blessings are destined. The intention of the framers of the Act was evidently to hide the decree of predestination as much as possible out of view, and to bring to the front the love of God as something more attractive in the eyes of men. It is further evident that the love of God, of which the Act speaks, is not that love which actually stands in the forefront of the revelation of grace. The love of God, which stands in the forefront of the revelation of grace, is not His universal benevolence to His creatures, whereby He makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon the evil and the good. It is a love certainly to sinners, but it is a love to those who were “ chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” It is the electing love of God which stands on the forefront of divine revelation. This is a love which He bears to special objects; not in virtue of any merit in them — for they equally with all others have none — but solely of His free good pleasure.

We are told in Eph. 5:25 that “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” It was the same love which was in the Son that was in the Father, and this love had special reference to the Church for whom, and not for all men, He gave Himself. We regard it therefore a serious deviation, not only from the doctrine of the Confession, but also from that of the word of God, to declare any love as standing in the forefront of the revelation of grace but the sovereign and electing love of God. It is quite evident, from further expressions in the Act, that it is a universal love to sinners of which it speaks, for the Act goes on to say that this love is “manifested especially in the Father’s gift of the Son to be the Saviour of the. world.”

The emphasis in this clause rests upon the word “especially,” which we have italicised. The use of this word clearly implies that the love spoken of is manifested in other ways besides in the Father’s gift of the Son. In a word, the gift of the Son, which the Scriptures as in Rom. 8:32, 33 evidently declare as proceeding from the Father’s love to the elect, is set forth as proceeding from God’s general love or goodness to mankind. This latter is a doctrine which has no foundation in Scripture, but seriously affects the whole scheme of redemption as revealed. We further take strong exception to the use of the expression “the Saviour of the world.” This expression is quite scriptural in itself, but as it stands in the Act it lacks its context. The immediate context and the analogy of Scripture explain to what extent the expression “world” may be taken — namely, not to all men, but to men in every age and country of the world, irrespective of rank or moral character. Common sense further tells us that the Lord Jesus is not the actual Saviour of the whole world, for many who heard the Gospel will be found on the left hand at last. The use of the expression, however, as it appears in the Act clearly implies that we are to take the words literally, as no explanation is appended. This gives the false impression that the Father gave the Son, not to be the Saviour of the elect only, but of the world at large.

The next clause confirms our belief in the Arminian character of this section of the Act. The love of God the Father is said to be manifested “in the coming of the Son to offer Himself a propitiation for sin.” We have here again the use of the general word “sin,” which, being given without any explanation such as the context of Scripture affords, we are fully warranted in understanding as inclusive of all sin whatsoever. On the atonement of Christ, for the Church or the elect only, the Scriptures are very explicit. He “loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” “The Church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” “Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” (Titus 2:14). The latter verse clearly proves that He gave Himself for special individuals, not to procure merely possibility of redemption, but actually to redeem them from all iniquity. Such passages set forth that Christ died only for the elect. The statement of the Act in the use of the word “sin,” sets aside these passages, and practically affirms a universal atonement. But the last clause of this section of the Act proves, as clear as noonday, that the love spoken of is universal in its character. The love of God the Holy Spirit is said to be especially manifested “in the striving of the Holy Spirit with men to bring them to repentance.” This is so plainly contradictory to the teaching of Scripture that it almost refutes itself. In Titus 3:4-6 the love of God is declared to appear, not in striving, but “in the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The goodness of the Spirit appears in His striving with sinners, but His love, beyond all contradiction, is manifested in the work of regeneration. He strives, and yet men perish for ever in their sins. But when He regenerates the soul He applies the redemption purchased by Christ, and the sinner is saved with an everlasting salvation. Herein verily is the love of the Spirit especially manifested. It is quite apparent that the love of the Holy Spirit, according to the Act, is a general and not a special love. If He loves all with whom He strives then He loves all who hear the Gospel, many of whom are lost for ever. But that He loves all men is plainly at variance with the Word of God and general experience, for if that were so He would regenerate and save all.

In concluding our observations in this section of the Act, we point out that the love of the Spirit as here spoken of sheds light upon the way in which we are to view the love of the Father and of the Son, as stated in the preceding clauses. The love of each person in the Godhead must necessarily be equal in strength, for the Three Persons are the same in substance equal in power and glory. The love revealed in Scripture “is the love of one God, and, therefore, the same in each Person of the Godhead. If, therefore, the love of the Spirit amounts only to an ineffectual striving with men, and does not absolutely secure the salvation of any, then the love of the Father and of the Son is of the same character. The love of God, therefore, as stated in this Act is not a love unto salvation. It is simply a mere sentiment of goodwill that does not secure the salvation of anyone in particular. The whole result depends upon some act on the part of the sinner, so that salvation, according to this theory, is of man and not of God. To show that the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost is a love that infallibly secures the salvation of its objects, we need only point our readers to passages already quoted. The love of the Father is revealed in Eph. 1:4, as choosing sinners to Christ that “ they should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” the love of the Son in Eph. 5:25, as giving Himself for the Church, “ that He might sanctify and cleanse it,” and the love of the Spirit in Titus 3:5, is spoken of as “ the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The soul that lays hold of any other love for salvation than this electing, redeeming, and renewing love embraces a delusion, and not the sure foundation laid in Zion. What serious consequences such delusive teaching as is contained in this Act has upon men’s minds we shall not at present enlarge upon.
Part Two

We now proceed to examine the second paragraph under the first section of the Act, which runs as follows: — (b) “That this Church also holds that all who hear the Gospel are warranted and required to believe to the saving of their souls; and that in the case of such as do not believe, but perish in their sins, the issue is due to their own rejection of the Gospel call. That this Church does not teach, and does not regard the Confession as teaching, the foreordination of men to death irrespective of their own sin.”

This paragraph, to begin with, deals with the general call of the Gospel. We are fully agreed that all who hear the Gospel are under obligation to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. But this obligation, we hold, rests upon the direct command of God, and the suitableness of the Gospel provision to men as sinners, and not upon supposed universal love, or universal atonement, as seems to be the case here, from the close connection between this and the preceding clause, which we have already dealt with. The Arminian Gospel is, “God loves all, Christ died for all, and the Holy Spirit strives with all,” and this is almost verbally the Gospel we find in the Declaratory Act. The command to believe, referred to in this clause, is evidently grounded upon such universal propositions as these, which afford a false and unscriptural basis for faith. We also observe, that no reference is made here to the person of Christ as the object of faith. The command of the Gospel is, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Many may believe the Gospel, as they believe a piece of history, and remain spiritually ignorance of Christ. On the other hand, saving faith in Christ springs from a revelation to the soul of His divine glory, sufficiency, and suitableness as a Saviour. No one, therefore, savingly believes the Gospel, except he is enlightened by the Holy Ghost as to the person and work of Christ. To believe unto salvation is not something which men can do, upon invitation, as easily as a common task, but can only be performed after the reception of spiritual life and enlightenment by the Spirit of God. This all-important aspect of the Gospel appears here to be lost sight of in the haste to emphasise the universality of the Gospel call.

We also regard as unsatisfactory the reference to those who “ do not believe, but perish in their sins.” It is said, “the issue is due to their own rejection of the Gospel call.” Whilst we can so far agree with this statement, we feel that it is written so as to hide from view the solemn, but nevertheless indisputable fact referred to in ch. 3, sect. 7, of the Confession, that God has in strict justice for sin passed by some of the human race, whilst He has chosen others unto salvation. It would also seem from the language of the Act that man, without special grace, was quite capable of receiving the Gospel, and that everything depended upon free will. Probably this the framers might deny, but we see nothing expressed that would prevent such an interpretation, and they ought to have been as careful to guard against error as to expound what they imagined to be truth.

In conclusion, we do not think that the universality of the Gospel call was an aspect of the truth that required any special emphasis at the present time. Our fathers, both in the near and remote past, never failed to give due prominence to this aspect of the Gospel, and it is only an insult to the living and the dead to bring it forth in the way done in this Act, as if it were hidden or obscured until now. The best Scottish Calvinistic Theology is full of it. Who could give a freer and more liberal offer of Christ to sinners than Samuel Rutherford, one of the leading framers of the Confession of Faith?

We now take up the second clause of this paragraph, which is to the effect: — “that this Church does not teach, and does not regard the Confession as teaching, the foreordination of men to death, irrespective of their own sin.” This clause deals with the relations of foreordination and sin. The emphasis lies upon the words, “their own,” and the meaning appears to be that men are not foreordained to death, temporal, spiritual, or eternal, irrespective of their own personal sin. This teaching is in direct contradiction to the truth as stated in the 5th chapter of the Romans. We are told there that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.” Adam stood not only for himself but also for his posterity, and so by his sin death passed upon all men. “By the offence of one many be dead.” It is also written in I Corinthians 15:22, that “in Adam all die.” Temporal death is one form of this death. The Act therefore denies, for example, that the temporal death of infants takes place on account of Adam’s sin, a fact evidently asserted in Rom. 5:14. It does more however; it denies that the spiritual death under which all men are born is in consequence of the imputation of Adam’s first sin. It may even be taken as denying that we are born in a state of spiritual death at all, for it associates death only with one’s own personal sin. If the Act refers however, as some affirm, only to everlasting death, the omission of the word ‘everlasting’ is a serious one, for the clause, as it stands, embraces temporal, spiritual, and everlasting death. But even in this latter case the teaching is quite erroneous.

If Adam stood for all his seed, then by his sin all were made liable not only to temporal and spiritual, but also to everlasting death, for the wages of sin involve the curse of God which eternity alone can exhaust. “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10). “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” (Matt. 25:41). The logical consequence clearly is, that in Adam the whole race merited by his sin the curse of God, which is everlasting death. But if, according to the Act, men are not foreordained to death, “ irrespective of their own sin,” then Adam’s sin did not merit for the race everlasting death, which consequently implies either that Adam did not stand for his posterity, or that his sin deserved less than the curse of God. The latter alternative may be regarded as too absurd a conclusion. We are therefore justified in affirming, in virtue of the former, that the Act, by implication, denies that Adam stood for his posterity. The denial of this doctrine may appear to some of little consequence, but, if the subject is carefully studied, it will be seen that a denial of Adam’s federal headship not only unhinges our views in regard to man’s natural state, but also seriously affects our views of Christ’s federal headship as the second Adam, and of the way of salvation through Him. If it is unwarrantable to say that Adam stood for his seed, it is equally so to say that Christ stood for His people. The denial therefore of Adam’s representative character has consequences of a serious and far-reaching character upon the welfare of men. For it is only by right apprehensions of the truth about sin and salvation that men will be converted from the error of their ways, and the cause of Christ advanced in the world.

We now pass on to consider the third paragraph under section I: — (c) “That it is the duty of those who believe, and one end of their calling by God, to make known the Gospel to all men everywhere, for the obedience of faith. And that while the Gospel is the ordinary means of salvation for those to whom it is made known, yet it does not follow, nor is the Confession to be held as teaching, that any who die in infancy are lost, or that God may not extend His mercy for Christ’s sake, and by His Holy Spirit, to those who are beyond the reach of these means, as it may seem good to Him, according to the riches of His grace.”

In the opening words of this paragraph it is declared to be “the duty of those who believe to make known the Gospel to all men everywhere.” It has been always held by the Church of Christ that it is the duty of believers to make known the Gospel to all men by their life and conversation, but it has never been held that it is their duty to preach or conduct religious services. According to this clause, it is “one end of their calling by God” to preach or declare the Gospel. For the expression “make known” is evidently general enough to embrace this as well as other forms of setting forth the Gospel. We think this doctrine is of the essence of Plymouth Brethrenism, and is inconsistent with the system of pastors and teachers, which God has instituted in His Church. In the Presbyterian Church scope has certainly been given to Christian laymen to exercise their gifts both in public prayer and public address, but it has never been affirmed that it was the duty of all such thus to make known the Gospel. Many excellent men have lacked special gifts, especially in the direction of public address. It is further evident that this clause gives full liberty to women to declare or preach the Gospel, for it is said to be “the duty of those who believe,” — men or women, without distinction — “to make known the Gospel to all men everywhere.” Women are at liberty, according to the Scriptures, to be helpers in the Gospel, but it is not their duty to occupy the position of preachers. This position the Declaratory Act gives them full liberty to assume. The words, “to all men everywhere,” clearly indicate that liberty is given to these and all others to make known the gospel, not only in private, but also in public. We think, therefore, that this provision is wise above the revealed will of God. For persons who have no Scriptural call or fitness thus to engage themselves, this is to adopt expedients upon which the blessing of God cannot be expected to rest. Now-a-days, in connection with the Churches, there are multitudes of “workers” so called, many of whom would be better engaged at home striving to enter in at the strait gate, and seeking to learn the divine art of prayer at a throne of grace.

We further observe that this paragraph affirms “That while the Gospel is the ordinary means of salvation for those to whom it is made known, yet it does not follow, nor is the Confession to be held as teaching, that any who die in infancy are lost.” The first thing which calls for our attention is that which is said of the Gospel as “the ordinary means of salvation.” There is something very suspicious about this mode of expression, and if it is meant that there are some other extraordinary means of salvation available for hearers of the Gospel, nothing could be more contradictory to the plainest teaching of Scripture. Witness the words, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The next matter is the reference to infants. The Confession has already spoken with the utmost wisdom and carefulness on this subject. It says, “Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit.” It pronounces no opinion on whether all or some are elect, as the Scriptures have given no absolute decision. We would desire, however, to call particular attention to the terms of the Confessional statement. Many people not knowing the Scriptures or their own hearts are ready to ground the salvation of infants upon their early age or supposed innocence. If infants are saved, let it be observed, it is, first, because they are “elect,” secondly, because they are “saved by Christ,” and thirdly, because they are “regenerated through the Spirit.” Nothing more is needed for adult persons, and nothing less is needed for infants. Let no one therefore suppose that infants slip into heaven without requiring any inward change. They are by nature corrupt in heart, and children of wrath. There is nothing in them that a holy God can look upon with complacency. They require, therefore, a second birth before they can enter the kingdom of heaven. And who would be bold enough to impugn the holiness and justice of God although the whole corrupt human race, both infant and adult, had been shut out of that holy place? We know nothing aright if we do not hold that salvation is of free and sovereign grace both to the infant of days and to the man of mature years. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The framers of the Act would have done well to adhere to the careful words of the Confession on this subject. At the present day especially, there is such manifest wickedness and carelessness in regard to the upbringing of the young, and in the lower grades of society, even in regard to their very life, that we little need opiates to dull the consciences of parents and guardians as to their responsibilities.

The closing sentence of this paragraph asserts that the Confession is not to be held as teaching “that God may not extend His mercy for Christ’s sake, and by His Holy Spirit to those who are beyond the reach of these means,” that is, the Gospel, described above as “the ordinary means of salvation.” For this statement there is no warrant in Scripture. The persons spoken of as “beyond the reach of these means” are evidently the heathen, and we think it ill becomes the Free Church that has shown so much missionary activity to speak of any as beyond the reach of the means, or as being saved without the Gospel. Further, the expression “beyond the reach of these means” is not a true statement of the case. There are none in the most remote parts of the earth that are beyond the reach of the means. God is able to send the Gospel by His servants to any corner of the world. This clause, nevertheless, affirms the very dangerous and pernicious error, that “God may extend His mercy” to those who are without the Gospel. This teaching is in the most manifest contradiction to Scripture. We are told in Rom. 2:12 concerning the Gentiles, that “as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law,” which plainly declares that the Gentiles, who had not the Jewish revelation, perished in their sins. And the heathen who are today without law or Gospel are in a similar position, and so must likewise perish. The framers of this Act shut their eyes to the truth as stated in the above passage.

We also find in the Scriptures abundant testimony to the fact that men require to know the Gospel before they can be saved. No other way is once hinted at. The parting message of the Lord Jesus to His disciples was, “Go ye into all the wor1d, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), unmistakably announcing that no creature in all the world could be saved without the Gospel. We are surprised, in face of a passage such as this, that men can speak of a possibility of salvation without the Gospel. Again, the Apostle Paul by the Holy Ghost thus addresses the Ephesians, “In whom (i.e., in Christ) ye also trusted after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation.” (Eph. 1:13). The word of truth is here said to be the Gospel of their salvation. He also declares in the 2nd chapter of this epistle that in their natural state they were “children of wrath “ (v. 3), and therefore liable to perish for ever without the Gospel. It is also written by the Apostle Peter that the Word of God is the seed of the new birth, “being born again of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23). Sinners are also said to be “ saved through faith,” the gift of God. (Eph. 2:7). How does faith spring up? “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). These passages further confirm the truth that it is by the Word of God, and by it alone, accompanied by the Spirit, that sinners are born again. A passage already quoted sets a final seal upon the necessity of the Gospel of Christ for salvation. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The word “name” points out that Christ must be preached in the hearing of men and His person and work made known that they may be saved.

But to show that at least one leading man in the Free Church holds the view contained in this clause of the Act, we may mention that we heard Professor Marcus Dods declare on one occasion from his chair in the New College that there would be many on the right hand at the great day who had had “no knowledge of the historical Christ.” This conclusion he drew from the answer given by the righteous, narrated in Matt. 25:37, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee?” &c. From the King’s reply, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” he affirmed that in whatever part of the world men are found doing good to their fellowmen, there we find “the spirit of Christ.” All persons who were engaged thus in doing good would be found on the right hand. This is clearly a perversion of the obvious meaning of the passage, and of Christian doctrine in general. But it shows what pernicious views may be held in consistency with the doctrine that God may extend His mercy to those who have not heard the Gospel. We cannot but wonder that the Lord Jesus should have sent forth so many servants in apostolic and later times, who gave their lives for the Gospel, if some other way was available for the conversion of men. Surely the very end for which the Gospel was given was that its sound might go throughout the world (Rom. 10:18), and those who knew its unspeakable value were willing to sacrifice all earthly comforts, and endure the most cruel deaths, that the Gospel might be known among men everywhere as the power of God unto salvation.

The Free Church, by adopting this clause, puts a dagger into all true missionary effort. If her missionaries hold this view, as we have no doubt some of them do, the Gospel they proclaim, and their efforts to proclaim it, will be detrimentally affected thereby. We have, indeed, no ground for concluding that the Gospel that is now proclaimed abroad is one whit better than that which is preached at home. In fact, the question arises if this clause is true, “What need is there for missionaries to the heathen at all?”