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REV. JOHN SCOTT PORTER
THE REV. DANIEL BAGOT, M. A.
Weld an Sprü 14, 1834, and three following Bays;
IN THE MEETING-HOUSE
OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION, BELFAST.
CURRY, TIMS, CARSON; BELFAST, PHILLIPS, HODGSON, GREER,
Belfast :-Printed by T. MAIRS, Joy's Entry.
This Discussion, which has excited so much public interest for some time back, commenced on Monday, the 14th April, 1834, at halfpast 10 o'clock. MICHAEL ANDREWS, Esq. of Ardoyne, and ConWAY RICHARD DOBBS, Esq. of Acton, were chairmen on the occasion.
The following is a statement of the Propositions which constituted the Subject of Discussion on each side, of the Standard of Refer. ence, and the Rules by which the business was conducted.
STANDARD OF REFERENCE.
The Word of God contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, which are received into the Authorised Versiun, admitting them all to be canonical. The correctness or incorrectness of passages marked as spurious in Griesbach's last edition, and the translation or signification of any particular words or passages, to be open to question and legitimate criticism. The divine authority of Scripture to be admitted on both sides. And all quotations to be given in chapter and verse, according to the divisions of the Authorised Translation in common use.
Mr. J. S. Porter's Propositions: 1. There is one self-existent God, the Father : who is God alone ; to the entire exclusion of the alleged Proper Deity of the Word.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is (even in his highest capacity, nature, or condi. tion) a Created Being, deriving his existence, wisdom, power, and authority from the Fa. ther; and inferior to him in these and all other attributes.
Mr. Bagot's Propositions : 1. There is one God, Jehovah, who is God only, to the entire exclusion of the alleged godhead of every creature.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Mediator, is the Word made flesh, perfect God and perfect man; possessing, as the Word, the same eternity, knowledge, power, authority, preroga. tives, and godhead with the Father, and one with him in all attributes.
1. The discussion to commence on Monday, the 14th of April, and to continue for that and the three following days.
2. The discussion to continue for four hours each day :-the time, on the first day, to be divided into two equal portions, and each to give a statement and proof of the affirmative propositions on his side.
3. It is to be determined, by lot, on the first day of discussion, who is to open the debate.
4. On each of the two following days, the speakers are to address the meeting forty minutes alternately, a pause of ten minutes being allowed between each address, during which any question may be asked in explanation of what the last speaker had said. The person who closes one day's discussion is to commence on the following.
5. The discussion to be held in Belfast, in the most suitable place that can be obtained.
6. Two Chairmen to preside each day, one chosen by each party, with power to put a peremptory stop to any thing disorderly, and of excluding from the place of meeting any one who transgresses the rules.
7. Each day's meeting to commence at eleven o'clock, except the first, which is to commence at half-past ten, to allow the Chairmen to make any necessary explanations ; and any time lost during any day's discussion, to be added to the regular period of closing the business of the day.
8. Admission to be by tickets, for which the sum of 4s. each shall be charged, and which shall admit to the entire discussion. In case of any room remaining, tickets for one day's discussion, at 1s. 6d. each shall be sold ; but not before the Saturday preceding. The money received to be expended in defraying the necessary expense ; and, if not sufficient for that purpose, each shall be liable for one half the sum deficient.
9. No signs of approbation or disapprobation to be allowed ; and no person whatever to be permitted to address the meeting, except the speakers or the Chairmen, to a point of order; and no person to interrupt, in any way, the speakers; but each may have a friend to assist him in looking for references and marking them.
10. One Reporter to be employed, who shall be admonished and expected to do equal justice to both parties in the discussion, and his expenses to be defrayed out of the produce of the sale of tickets. Each speaker to write out a full report of bis own speeches from the Reporter's notes ; which, when approved by the other party, shall be jointly published ; but neither to be allowed to introduce any new matter, nor to suppress any argument actually adduced, nor any statement actually advanced ; and each to consider himself pledged not to sanction the publication of a report of any one side of the discussion unaccompanied by the other.
11. On the fourth day of discussion each speaker to make one speech of forty minutes' length ; an adjournment for half an hour then to take place, after which each shall be allowed to make a closing speech of one hour, the report of which shall supersede the appendix formerly proposed.
12. The tickets to be equally divided between Mr. Bagor and Mr. PORTER, and to be sold at the price above stated ; each to account for the number of tickets received, but to be at liberty to give away twenty tickets for the entire meeting to his personal friends.
13. The execution of the above arrangements, and of all minor regulations, to be intrusted to Messrs. John Campbell and John Marshall, who may call in a third party, by mutual agreement, in case of any difference of opinion. We agree to the foregoing.
MR. PORTER.--LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, It has fallen to my lot to address you first on this occasion; and without any formal preface, I proceed at once to the business which has brought us together this day..
You are aware that the present controversy has arisen in consequence of a notice which my reverend opponent caused to be inserted in the Northern Whig of Monday, January 26, 1834; which was to this effect :
THEOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY.-The Rev. Daniel Bagot, it will be seen, by an advertisement, has published an abstract of controversial sermons, lately preached by him in this town. He has requested us to suggest to the Unitarians, that they should publish a similar tract, in the same form, containing, concisely, their arguments in reply to his abstract. We readily do this; and we would have added, had Mr. Bagot not got so soon before the public, that both tracts should have been stitched together, and sold at a very low price. As journalists, we have nothing to do with either party ; but, as we wish that truth should predominate, on whatever side it may be, we would readily concur in any fair proposition which might tend to settle the great questions at issue.
Having the honour and happiness to be a Minister of the Gospel of that persuasion to which this invitation was publicly addressed, it appeared to me that I could not, with propriety, omit taking notice of the challenge in some way or other. Had I allowed it to pass disregarded, I should not only have treated with disrespect an inti. mation proceeding from a gentleman, whose bland deportment and controversial candour I have always most readily acknowledged ; but I should likewise bave given occasion to any who might be so disposed, to insinuate that the Unitarian Ministers of this townthough sufficiently open and sufficiently eager to propound their doctrines, when no direct attack upon them was to be apprehendedshrunk away from avowing and defending their opinions, when they would necessarily be contrasted with tenets of an opposite description; and I have no doubt whatever, the inference would have been drawn, and pointedly stated, that this reluctance proceeded from a secret consciousness that our principles would not bear the light of open discussion. I could not, in conscience and in honour, give ground for these suspicions. Convinced, as I am most firmly, that the tenets which I have embraced, are the solemn truths of the Gospel, firmly built on the solid foundation of Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, 1 dare not allow them, by any remissness or indolence on my part, to receive a wound, This would have been to abandon my post in the time of danger-to turn my back upon the standard of Christ, at the moment when the tide of battle rolled on direcıly against it. Convinced, besides, as I am, by the study of history, and by what little I have learned