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REV. W. COOKE AND MR. JOS. BARKER,
DURING TEN NIGHTS IN NEWCASTLE
I certify this report, taken (and revised while passing
J. BAKEWELL, 80, NEWGATE STREET;
Rec'd $119103 cq
ba Hill, Birmingham, 12
BUT few prefatory remarks are necessary. My antagonist is well known as one who was once a popular advocate of christianity, but who has since renounced almost everything of religion but a nominal profession of it, and has employed his powers to undermine that Gospel he once defended. My residence in his locality was singularly providential---unsought and unexpected by myself; and equally so my collision with him. Though I had known him intimately in his better days, I had no desire to come into contact with him, and indeed felt inclined to lay it down as a principle in my conduct to avoid any public collision. But sent to repair the broken walls which he hath ruthlessly thrown down, and to preach the Gospel to a people scattered and bewildered by his pernicious doctrines, and surrounded by a community of tens of thousands whose minds were abused by his misrepresentations, I felt called upon at length to oppose error by proclaiming the truth, and to neutralize misrepresentation by publishing facts. I was thus forced into the arena, and was challenged by my opponent to meet him in public Discussion. This, I declined at first, neither deeming myself qualified for debate, nor thinking it the best way to defend and exhibit truth. These challenges, however, were repeated and renewed almost every week in his publications; and the same honour was extended to all other ministers. Still declining, my antagonist often insinuated to his readers that a secret consciousness of the unsoundness of our principles was the true cause of our not accepting his challenges. Therefore, looking at the fact that this insinuation was believed by thousands, and that immense masses of immortal souls were being deceived and ruined by his sophistry and perversions of Holy Scripture, I at last resolved, in the name of David's God, to meet the vaunting Goliah. A committee, formed of about twenty-five ministers and Christian friends of high respectability, and connected with the several Evangelical Denominations, gathered around me, arrangements were made, and the Discussion followed.
Respecting the arrangements, I have to observe that almost every advantage my opponent desired was conceded to him, in order to preclude the possibility of his evading the contest.
1. The subject, "What is a Christian ?" was chosen by himself. This, and this alone, was accepted by me.
2. The time was fixed by himself to suit his own convenience. 3. The place was chosen by himself.
4. The time for each speaker was determined by Mr. Barker. He did indeed at first desire the time to be undefined, and
that each speaker should occupy a whole evening at once, if he thought proper. To this my Committee strongly objected, alleging that on such a principle there could be nothing like dis cussion, and therefore it was proposed to Mr. Barker that each disputant should, after the first evening, occupy alternately 20 minutes, or half an hour. But to this Mr. Barker resolutely objected, and insisted either that the time should be undefined, or, as the only concession he would make, the disputants should at least be permitted to speak for one hour and a half at a time. To this, therefore, I and my Committee consented.
5. The standard of appeal was agreed to, chiefly in compliance with Mr. Barker's wishes. I and my Committee desired the received text to be the standard. To this, however, Mr. Barker objected, and, therefore, to cut off all occasion for his evading the discussion, it was proposed to extend the appeal to the authorities prescribed in the terms of discussion.
From these facts, my readers will see that all my opponent's complaints about my introducing the incarnation of the Savi-our were unfounded, as that was necessarily implied in the question we had to discuss; and that all my opponent's quotations from modern writers were totally in violation of the law, which limited our quotations from the Fathers to the first three cen uries. But my chairman urged me to allow my opponent to proceed, alleging that it would be impossible for him to continue the discussion, unless permitted to read those copious extracts, and that by allowing him to proceed in his own way, he would the more fully unmask himself to the audience, and be left without excuse. To this I submitted.
The reader will clearly perceive that my opponent came expecting to introduce ten subjects; that is, for each disputant to deliver a lecture on a separate topic each night. This would have been an evasion of discussion, and an imposition upon the public, and therefore I resisted it. The doctrines of human depravity, eternal punishment, and the hired ministry, which Mr. Barker foisted in to eke out his time, of course I had not time to dwell upon in the discussion. My object was to devote, special attention to establish the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Trinity and Atonement, subjects abundantly sufficient for ten nights. Other matters will be noticed in a separate treatise, which the purchaser may bind with the Discussion.
The public will now see what Mr. Barker's sentiments really are, and deception can be practised no longer; and they will see, too, the sophistry, the falsehoods, the perversions of Scripture, and the denial of Scripture authority, which are necessary to uphold his tottering system of delusion.
I desire to testify my personal obligations to my friend Mr. Grant, for the important services he rendered as secretary to my committee, and as my chairman in the Discussion.
[ November 15th, 1845.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 1845.
THE first discussion was held in the Lecture Room, in Nelsonstreet, Newcastle, at seven o'clock on the above evening. The depressed platform in the centre of one side of the room was furnished with tables for the use of the disputants, seats for the Chairmen and Umpire, and accommodation for the Committees of the two gentlemen; that of Mr. Cooke being on the right, and that of Mr. Barker on the left of the Umpire. ~ Tickets for the course, transferable, had been at the disposal of each party, in equal numbers of seven hundred each. They were sold at 1s. 6d.; and well nigh the whole were bought before the commencement of the discussion. Consequently the Lecture Room was crowded on the occasion; but the accommodation it afforded was, notwithstanding, satisfactory.
Mr. Joseph Barker entered the platform, alone, boutIten minutes to seven. His reception was warm on the part of his friends several members of his Committee having already Occupied the position assigned them.
The Rev. Mr. Cooke and his Committee entered in a body about seven o'clock; and the rev. gentleman was likewise greeted with much cordiality. Shortly afterwards,
Mr. J. HENDERSON said :-I rise to announce that Dr. Lees
Mr, GRANTAs Chairman for Mr. Cooke, I beg leave to read the terms on which the discussion is to be conducted.-Mr. G. then read the following as the.