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observations upon it in a future number. We must content ourselves now with some extracts toward the close in which some things important to this whole subject are said.
In all the current discussions, most speak of the existing divisions as misfortunes for which nobody in particular is responsible, rather than as sins offensive to God for which He will punish all. I do not doubt the Spirit of God is in the movement, and that it will broaden and deepen, but now it is little more than an exchange of courtesies and good wishes.
A few earnest men here and there are seeking some remedy, and proposing some slight compromises, and partial co-operations. But there are two great obstacles to anything like true unity, first, that each division affirms that it has more of truth, more of right order, more that is according to God's mind, than any other; and that the rest, therefore, must come to it. But what is peculiar to it and most highly valued by it, the other divisions will not accept. No one in your communion will give up the Episcopate for the sake of unity; the Presbyterian will not give up the parity of presbyters and bishops, or the Congregationalist the independence of the local church, or the Baptist the rejection of infant baptism; and so with all. There will be in every part some who become indifferent to its leading peculiarities, but time only intensifies sectarianism in the rest, because bringing out more clearly the distinctive principles of each. There may be expressions of friendly feeling, but practically each part remains where it is.
The second obstacle is that very few in any part look beyond their own personal salvation. This, it is said, can be secured in any of the evangelical bodies; why then change? Many roads lead to heaven; why go from one to another? That God has a purpose in human salvation which can be carried out only by the whole Church acting as one, is a matter of comparative indifference because not understood, or perhaps, not believed.
To these obstacles may be added the prejudices of education, the force of habit, the zeal of conquest, the fear of reproach, the dislike of novelties, and all those considerations which tend to make us walk in the old and familiar paths.
There is much to indicate that before any true union can be effected, the process of church disintegration, which so many now welcome as progress, must go on further, and corporate unity more and more disappear. The Scriptures seem often to intimate this. If the Spirit be grieved, the bonds of spiritual cohesion become weak, the baptized fall apart, each man looks at his own and not at the things of others. Upon the sands of individualism no stable structure, political or religious, can be built. Out of the sea—society which has lost its solidity, and is dissolved into its personal units, and become a mass of restless, heaving waters—does the beast come up. (Rev. xiii. 1.) The Lord in His Epistle to Laodicea turns from its angel, the corporate head, and addresses Himself to its individual members: "If any man hear my voice," pointing to the want of church authority and unity (Rev. iii, 20).
With all respect for the sincerity and ability of those engaged in these attempts at union, I cannot expect from them any lasting results. Something will be gained if there is a theoretical recognition of the truth that only those "who walk in the Spirit" can "keep the unity of the Spirit;" and that organization, not disorganization, is the law of Christ's body.
I believe it would be a gain if all the non-episcopal bodieswould recognize the true place and ministry of bishops, but such a recognition, to be of any real value, must rest on the faith that this ministry is of Divine appointment, and must permit it to do its proper work. I confess that I do not see any signs of this. So far from accepting a new ministry, most of these bodies are more inclined to make little account of those they have, and in general would regard a lay evangelist like Moody as better than ten bishops.
It is a fact we may not overlook that the great battle between truth and falsehood, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil, God and Satan, is to be fought out in the bosom of the Church itself. As is the light so is the darkness, as the Spirit of truth, so the spirit of error; and therefore, first of all, must the prince of this world be overcome in the circle of Christ's disciples, His chosen ones. Here is the place of the trial, and of the conflict, and of the victory. Here are the depths of Satan and the depths of God to be revealed. I cannot but think it a delusion that so many should turn away their attention from the Church itself, and fasten it upon the struggle between Christianity and heathenism, as if the spiritual condition of His children and their relation to one another, were a matter of indifference to God, provided only that they are zealous to to make converts from the heathen. The first and indispensable duty of the Church is to keep itself in the love of God, and it cannot do this unless it keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It can wage no successful warfare without when torn in pieces by internal dissensions. If our present divisions are offensive to God, how much more must He be offended at their reproduction among our proselytes. No zeal for missions can be a substitute for brotherly love. It is little gain to march out with banners displayed to conquer the heathen, if the infidel creeps in and takes possession of our holy city. The Lord at the beginning of His ministry cleansed His Father's temple from its disorder and defilements, and so again at the end; perhaps a prophetic sign!
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS.
From a Presbyterian elder in central New York:—
Although a stranger I trust you will pardon my familiarity in addressing you, for I feel a deep sympathy for you and in the work of reform in our Standards. Your books have afforded me the greatest satisfaction, and cannot but commend themselves to every candid mind, and if I rightly judge they will prove to be an important factor in the bringing about the desired result and advancing the glorious kingdom of our Lord and Master. I am sorry you had to sacrifice your standing in .our Church in order that truth might abound, but who shall prevail against the Lord? Moreover, I rejoice that some are found who do not count the cost too dear to stand loyal to the
truth. We remember "the greater the cross, the greater the crown " and put our trust in the Lord.
I shall endeavor to keep your books in circulation among my acquaintances, for I am confident of the comfort they have afforded me and desire my friends to share with me this joy. For a number of years I had been looking for light in this very direction, and to discover if possible the cause of so much unbelief. Who shall say that the fault does not lie at our very doors in our doctrine of the eternal damnation of the lost in hellfire forever? Previous to reading Drummond's work and your books I had endeavored to put my own ideas of life and death on paper, and so I was agreeably surprised that there was so much of harmony between them.
From a lady subscriber:—
I do not know enough to judge of the correctness of your exegesis, but I do know that the spirit of all your words is inspiring, suggestive and helpful, and yet more so is the example of your courageous action. It is one of the most cheering things that I know of in the Presbyterian Church. That is the Church in which I was brought up, though I am now in the church home of my own affections and convictions, and am an Episcopalian. I have none the less, however, of sincere sympathy and earnest interest in your movement. It cannot fail to do good.
Many of our readers will remember the case of the Eev. John W. White, of Milroy, Pa., who separated from the Presbytery of Huntingdon, a few years ago after being arraigned before that body for heresy. They will be doubtless interested in reading the following letter from him :—
My Dear Brother. I congratulate you on your stand for freedom and your release from bondage to the traditions of men. I have a fellow feeling for you, having myself passed through a similar experience a few years ago. We may err in our judgments and interpretations of the Word of God, but surely, not more grievously than our fathers did. What blind folly it is to try to bind men, in this free age, when the morning light is breaking, to hold and teach the traditions of the dark ages. From the little I have seen in the papers with regard to your views, I think it is very likely that we differ somewhat in our eschatology. And why not? One is our Master, even Christ. Our final account must be given to him and we must be left free to serve him according to the light he gives us. "All ye are brethren." We may confess, may entreat, may instruct if we can, and may witness to the grace of God, in a fraternal way; but we may lord it over others, never. The Church of Christ is founded upon this rock: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." No other acknowledgement or confession of faith was demanded by the apostles for church membership or the work of the ministry (see 1st John iv. 1-3). What right have men now to demand more, to require others not only to receive Christ as Lord and Master; but to profess faith in the five points of Calvinism, in baptism by immersion, in Luther's doctrine of justification, in the orthodox doctrine of atonement or of hell, etc. While the spirit of Rome pervades the ministry, it must continue to divide the Church in the future, as it has done in the past, into hundreds of rival, jealous, warring sects, and justify the statement of Froude that "there is a great difference between the Christian religion and the religion of Christ." When will men learn that the truth does not need the testimony of men, that it is self-evincing to those who love it and seek it for its own sake, that it cannot be enforced by dogmatism or the infliction of penalties; and that the more men are left free to seek, to find and to follow the one Master, the sooner they will become one in him. The world would laugh to scorn any attempt to enforce by law, as the decree of some assembly, the truths of science. It will not much longer bear with force in maintaining religious beliefs. There is only one thing that saves it now from the opprobium it deserves, that is, the general belief that men have a right to organize a church, if they please, to propagate a particular belief and to say to others, if you do not believe as we do you are free to depart. Men have a right to form such a society; but, I deny their right to call such a society the church or to make within the church any such regulations—Christ alone is Master in his household. Again congratulating you, and praying that the Master may ever lead and bless you, I remain, Yours fraternally,
Jno. W. White.
A correspondent writes to us from California.
I have been very much interested in the report in the N. Y., Evangelist of May 3d, of the action of the Presbytery of West Jersey in your case. A long time ago I came to the full conviction that the doctrine of endless punishment as taught by our orthodox churches was an error. Instead of this change of belief leading me farther away from God and into the license