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the provision to restore another life to the human race out of the pit of death and hell into which it was cast by the primal sin. He had striven to preach throughout the Presbyterian Church the gospel of the resurrection of the dead, without which it is impossible to understand the Old Testament, or to measure the gospel of the grace of God as unfolded in the New. It was now plain to him that there was no room for such a work within the limits of the Presbyterian system. He sincerely loved that church itself. But we could no longer affiliate with its system. He therefore desired now to resign his ministry under it. The resignation was accepted, and he was allowed peacefully to withdraw.
It is due to the brethren who took this action that their spirit was throughout kindly and Christian. Several expressed their deep regret at the separation, and deplored it as a necessity forced upon them by their views of what fidelity to the church, and to the truth, as they received it, required. Earnest prayers were offered for Divine guidance and blessing upon us in the future. And thus, with scarcely a tinge of acrimony in the conferences and discussions that led to this issue, but in a spirit of mutual respect and love, separation was effected. Most heartily we joined in the prayers offered that God would give both to us and to them a truer understanding of His word, and reveal to both the truth in the things about which we differ.
A circumstance that lost us some votes was this: Near the close of the debate the pastor of the church in which Presbytery was convened, and who had formerly been a stout defender of our principle of liberty, arose and announced that he felt compelled to change his purpose and vote with the majority. He represented that there had come to his ears reports of ungodly men who were making sport of the controversy then going on, and taking comfort in our doctrine as a relief from the awful sanctions with which the Bible invests future punishment. Some who were wavering, and one who had announced his purpose to vote in the negative, were at once drawn over to that side. But this good brother did not stop to consider that we also teach a doctrine of future punishment which, when understood, must carry conviction to the reason and. consciences of men, as the old doctrine does not and cannot. He forgot also how many sons of the church from godly households have been driven into infidelity and sin by their revolt against the old doctrine. The very men who were then scoffing had lived long under the dark shadow of a false view of God. No man can be brought to God until he sees that He is not a God of hate but of love. A man whose life has been lived under the restraints of these dreadful views of God as the relentless tormentor of His creatures with unspeakable torments to endless ages cannot, when these restraints are lightened, be expeced at once to take right views of either His holiness or His love. But we claim that the old docrine is largely responsible for this state of things. It terrorizes men by a perverted view of God, until right moral conduct is impossible. For everything in right conduct and in spiritual life depends upon a right knowledge of God. It is confidently asserted by Universalists that there is a lower percentage of criminals among those brought up in their churches and Sunday-schools than among those trained in other churches. We have no means of knowing how far this claim is true, but we can well understand that it may be true. We would far rather trust to the results upon any community of an over-statement of the doctrine of God's forgiving love than depend upon such distortion of His retributive justice. No one who rightly understands our teaching could ever imagine that it opens the door to indulgence in sin in this life. If it ought to be repressed on this ground, then the story of the woman taken in adultery, the parable of the prodigal son, our Lord's last prayer for the forgiveness of His murderers ought to be stricken from the Bible.
The question is, Which is true—the Westminster doctrine of an implacable God, inflicting everlasting torments on the creatures of His hands, or the doctrine of a Lord God, merciful and gracious, even though He will by no means clear the guilty; finding a way to restore life to man even out of the depths of that death and hell to which His righteousness must consign him for his sins, and yet never abating His wrath against sin, nor lowering for anyone, nor in any world, His terms, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."
It is frequently said that these formulas are no more harsh than the words of the loving Saviour himself, and that they are largely made up from His words. We have repeatedly shown in this magazine that the Standards make use of His words out of their connection, that words spoken to disciples to enjoin upon them the law of self-mortification as the way of life are treated as warnings addressed to the multitude against being cast into hell " where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," and that the judgment-scene of Matthew xxv, which relates to a judgment of mankind now going on toward its consummation, is treated as something delayed until after a general resurrection of the dead. Thus the gospel of the resurrection, which is the God-given light thrown over all these dark passages, is entirely obscured. The "appalling sentences " of the Confession are thus made up of misunderstood and misapplied and wrongly-located phrases, put together in a gloomy age and under a dark sky, from which the light of a true " hope toward God that there shall be a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust" (Acts xxiv. 15) was shut out.
The small number of votes against our withdrawal is not surprising when we consider how much it costs a Presbyterian minister to antagonize his system. We make no charges of disloyalty to conscience against any one. But conscience moves slow against the tremendously repressive power of such a system, and of an adverse public opinion.
One member of Presbytery remarked that we had exposed the Standards to ridicule. We defy any one to point out the place in these pages, or elsewhere, where our language will bear that construction. The worst that we have done to expose their statements about endless torment to reprobation has been in simply printing the statements themselves. No more damaging thing could happen to the Presbyterian Church than to have their authoritative teaching on this subject spread upon the pages of every journal in the land. In seeking to arouse the church to the dishonesty of her position we were obliged to often quote these formulas, which one of the most honored members of Presbytery described as "the most appalling sentences in the English language." Surely no right-minded person would employ ridicule upon such an awful theme. Nothing more is needed to excite the repulsion of the intelligent mind and loving heart of a Christian than to read the sentences themselves.
We are increasingly convinced that the ability to receive truth comes from God. Men may be plied with the strongest and most sufficient arguments, but their force will be lost unless the eye of the soul is open to the light. It is in vain that truth is forced upon men beyond their preparation of heart to receive it.
It is surprising how the Pharisaic temper reappears in every age. To nothing were the old Jews more averse than to the ideas, which God sent special prophets to promulgate, that His mercies flowed beyond them to the Gentiles. The Pharisees rejected and crucified Jesus for teaching the wider grace of God. They stirred up a clamor against Paul wherever he went for preaching salvation from God to the Gentiles. Even the first apostles had to be taught these wider reaches of God's mercy to mankind by special revelation. With surprise they were constrained to confess, " Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." A chosen people is always reluctant to admit that theblessings vouchsafed to them can flow out into other channels. It is in just this spirit that the Presbyterian Church has received our testimony of blessing stored up for all mankind in the provision to raise all from the dead, and that the elect of this age are only a royal priesthood, from whom, as a centre, the salvation of God is to flow out in far wider circles in the ages to come.
Since making up our account of the action of Presbytery the letter we there refer to has been sent to us by its author, with a special request that it be published as a part of the record in the case, and as affording him the opportunity to let the public know how he stands. We do not deserve all that this dear brother says of us, but we give his letter entire, as he requests.
Mr. Moderator and Brethren of the Presbytery: An absentee perforce from your Assembly, I can neither hear nor participate in your deliberations. There is, however, one subject, likely to engage your attention, in the face of which I neither wish nor dare to shirk responsibility. And it is for the sake of my own conscience, and not in the conceit of affecting your judgment, that I request the reading of this communication.
As among the possibilities of the present meeting, I dread the taking of certain action, whose issue shall be either the silencing of that periodical known as Words of Reconciliation, or the withdrawal of its editor from the ministry of the Presbyterian Church.
It were impertinent to remind you that Brother Baker is worthy of all respect, confidence, and love, whether considered in the light of his Christian worth, disinterested honesty, or rich erudition. You, who are veterans in the Presbytery, best know and honor him, and your esteem is in the direct ratio of your knowledge. Whatever repulse you might offer him for the sake of his literary work, would react most painfully upon your own hearts. Withdrawing yourself from him, you would do so only under the pressure of what seemed to you most pitiless necessity. But, more than I can express, I wish this necessity did