Imágenes de páginas

dead can have no part. And so they have deprived themselves of the very weapon by which all such adversaries as Ingersoll are forever silenced.

Mrs. L. Ormiston Chant, an English lady who lectured recently in this city before large and deeply interested audiences of her own sex upon temperance and social purity, has also been lecturing in Boston upon the "Progress of Religious Thought in England." Among other things she claimed that very few persons of average intelligence accept any longer the doctrine of a punishment that is without end and without hope.

That is a most just remark of Mr. Mozoomdar of India, who has been writing in the Christian Union upon the problem of the Conversion of India:

"We require a Christianity that is not ashamed to learn while it teaches, and that, in undertaking to reform India, shall be itself reformed also."

"heresy" In Scotland.—The London Christian World says: The New Theology is certainly not at a discount in the city of Glasgow. Whenever Dr. Walter Smith, of Edinburgh, or the Eev. D. Macrae, of Dundee, or other ministers of equally broad views preach in St. Mungo's city, there are always crowded congregations to listen to them. Principal Caird's attractive powers were well illustrated on Sunday afternoon, when hundreds had to be refused admission to the University Chapel. This generation is more enlightened in the knowledge of God, His word and ways, than were the men of the second, the fourth, or the seventeenth century, and competent to revise their ideas."

Unfair.—It is not fair in some of the papers to speak of our withdrawal from the Presbyterian Church as due to our endeavor to force upon it a doctrine of future probation. It was due to the fact that we reject its doctrine that the unjust dead are raised out of death and hell in order to be judged and sentenced again to the same pit of woe "to suffer most grievous and unspeakable torments in body and soul, without intermission, in hell-fire forever." We say that this is a fundamental misconception of the purpose of God in providing that all who died in Adam should receive another gift of life in Christ. We say that those who never heard the Gospel have never had probation under it. They came into the world " condemned already." The term "future probation " is usually applied to a theory which supposes that men who die in their sins have a prolongation of trial after death—that their judgment is delayed and sentence deferred until after this future probation. We teach that the ungodly are now under condemnation, that the sentence cannot be delayed, that they must go down to death and hell, that they must suffer in that prison-house the full consequences of their sins, and that it is only after judgment is thus rendered, the sentence executed, the righteousness of God vindicated and the law satisfied, that provision has been made by which the grace of God can take up their case again in the only way possible—through their resurrection from the dead.


A Presbyterian minister writes to us as follows in reference to the recent action upon our " case."

"There is something which it seems to me deserves rebuke of a stern kind, namely, this tendency to cry "no eternal punishment, no need of salvation!" "No everlasting torment—then let us eat, drink, and be merry!" Such persons are well aware that they would not dare to plead the "larger hope " in extenuation of any one sin, and why should such talk deter us for a moment? Shall we refrain talking about the Fatherhood of God, because mankind have a universal notion that fathers are indulgent f Shall we refrain from reading to others the story of the woman taken in adultery, from the fear that it will tend to remove the barriers which restrain sinners in this direction? Shall we be so " prudent" as to keep silence concerning the fullness and freeness of divine forgiveness for fear some will abuse it to the accumulation of yet more sins as things so easily disposed of? And in the name of all our boasted veneration for scriptural dictum, shall we hesitate to declare all God's counsel concerning sin and righteousness and judgment to come, and resurrection too, for fear some babbler, whose very words convict him of insincerity, cries, " I have another chance hereafter, so why bother about repentance now?"

In this same line of thought, it seems to me sometimes that sinners, in condemning their fellow sinners, have taken pains to say far more concerning God's " retributive justice," etc., than He has cared to say Himself, as well as to suppress much concerning His conquering righteousness that He has proclaimed. They remind me of Victor Hugo's policeman, Javert, rebuking his superior, the mayor, for his laxity in administering the penal code! And so what no doubt is meant sincerely enough for great circumspection in the contemplation of these solemn themes becomes practical uppishness. What precious underlings we are—to be afraid that divine wisdom has let out rather more secrets than it is best, in our judgment, for the world, and even the Church, to know."

A Presbyterian elder writes:

"I do not see how the question of a revision of the Confession is ever coming up for consideration except it is occasioned by some such incident as your case affords. The sooner something of the kind occurs the better for the Church."

A Presbyterian pastor from the interior of this State sends us the following:

Dear Brother Baker: You are now excluded from the Presbyterian pulpit, but it is perfectly allowable for you to take a seat in the pews. As I am not as yet dismissed from the pulpit, permit me to preach a little sermon to you. The text is as follows:

"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp bearing his reproach." Heb. xiii. 13.

"Going forth " is essential to the Christian life. Abraham was "called to go out;" the chosen people, "brought out from the house of bondage;" the disciples of Christ " forsook all and followed him;" the Church of Christ is the ecclesia, " called forth" from the world.

Sometimes the call is to go forth and separate oneself from a corrupt form of worship; thus the tabernacle of the congregation was removed outside the camp, because the people were debasing themselves with the worship of the golden calf, and thither the cloudy pillar descended and spiritual worshippers resorted. Thus also Luther went forth; so likewise have the Quakers, the Puritans, and others, signified their protest in behalf of a purer worship.

Sometimes God calls us to go forth toward a higher and truer form of faith, of which the entire argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews furnishes the best illustration. The original call of Christianity was to occupy a (technically speaking) heterodox position. It required the advocacy of fresh truth in distinction from the out-worn tenets of ecclesiasticism. "And this word, 'Yet once more,' signifyeth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain."

Think it not strange that you find yourself " without the camp." The process of going forth and-re-establishing the truth must be repeated in every age. "Jesus heard that they had cast him out: and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe in the Son of God?" This is the true and final test. "Let us go forth unto him, bearing his reproach." If in your present position you have an unshaken faith in the Son of God; if you are bearing the reproach of a more Christlike creed, then it is far better, under the circumstances, that you are without the camp than within; it was maintaining a false peace within; you are enjoying a true peace without.

Your case stands unique in the history of trials for heresy. It was not a trial, in the technical sense. Claiming the right to diverge from the standards and to agitate for their revision, you stood self-arraigned before the Presbytery. Nothing can be more creditable and more commendable to all concerned than the spirit which prevailed; and yet, with the bitterness commonly accompanying such affairs eliminated, the impression left upon the mind formulates itself into the instinctive conviction that a mistake, approaching the proportions of a blunder, has been committed. Only those who adhere slavishly to a dogmatic system can regard this action with complacency. If from those who voted against you there were to be deducted all who did so with secret misgivings as to the rightfulness of this entire procedure, doubtless the majority in this case would be considerably reduced. But if this be God's way of advancing His cause and leading eventually toward a purer and simpler creed, whyshould you complain if you find yourself, first with a small minority, and then, without the camp?

Notice, too, how hard it is to sweeten any such controversy as this. It has been done in this case probably with a larger measure of success than ever before. Very much what partisan politics is to patriotism or the clashing of schools of medicine is to the cure of the disease, such is the relation which these dogmatic controversies sustain to religion. We must rise into and live in a higher air or the religious life becomes asphyxiated, and the more so oftentimes in proportion as orthodoxy so-called is adhered to. With sincere regard,

Fraternally Yours.

A professor in a theological seminary writes concerning "The Fire of God's Anger."

My Dear Mr. Baker :—I have read your book far enough to be able to give my impressions, and I have been much impressed by it. In the chapter "Eternal Fire" I found what struck me most forcibly. What you say about man's relation to the world and its forces and the inferences therefrom, are what I have felt for some time, and also, as you say, that Theology seemed to ignore it all, and look at man only as a spiritual being. You know, no doubt that this is one of the strong points of Froebel's philosophy, in his "Education of Man," as that philosophy underlies his kindergarten system ; and its recognition of truths given in this fact, makes it with its intelligent votaries a religion almost. Your use of scientific or cosmic truths is in the line of what many feel, that Theology can never be what it ought, till it take in and assimilate the best of science. I cannot express myself well or fully, because my head is tired and also because I have not yet learned to compose anything abstract on the type-writer. I felt all the while I was reading that the book has not at all received the recognition it is worth, or what is more, the importance the subject demands. How puerile most men's thinking is, in grooves of education and tradition!

« AnteriorContinuar »