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off" (kolasis) of the wicked, and consignment to the eternal fire, may show that in this character of their old manhood they must be forever destroyed. But this would not exclude the hope of their possible rescue out of this death in a new form of manhood bringing with it new opportunities of obedience and life.
It must always be borne in mind that all these words of Christ concerning human destiny were spoken before the full light of His triumph over death was turned upon this dark subject. He had not yet risen. And the great hope for humanity, both dead and living, bound up in that event, was yet to be revealed. This explains why the Apostles in no one of their sermons or epistles make that use of these words of Jesus which we should expect if they had put that meaning upon them which found its way into the later creeds.
MATTHEW XXV. 46.
The two most ancient MSS. of the Italic version, or Latin translation of the New Testament in use in Italy, Spain and Africa from the middle of the second century before Jerome's Vulgate appeared, read in Matt. xxv. 46 aternum ignem instead oittternum supplicium, "These shall go away into eternal fire." These MSS. (codices of Verona and Vercelli of the old and unrevised text of the fourth century) are in general much relied on by Tischendorf as showing the state of the Greek text from which they were translated, and are renowned for their exact literality. It seems to follow therefore, that, although no Greek MSS. remain which read differently from those of modern date, there must have been some in the early part of the second and third centuries, and those of sufficient authority to be used as the basis of the African Latin version. See also Dr. Westcott's article on Latin versions in Smith's Dictionary iv. p. 3451. An example of the illicit introduction of this very word kolasis by some later copyists is seen in the doubtful clause of Mark iii. 29, "Shall be guilty of eternal judgment (or sin as in Alex. MS.). However, what remains undisputed is that the Latin populations of Italy, Spain and Africa from the middle of the second century till Jerome's day read, "These shall go away into eternal fire."—White's Life in Christ, p. 428.
To those who would rest an appalling doctrine on a word, one or two things might be said. Many critics believe that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, and that the Greek is a translation. The Ethiopic gives "judgment." The oldest Latin versions, ignis. Augustine (et al.) combustionem.
We are persuaded that the one thing needed above all others, in order to dispose the hearts of all true Christians toward union, is a right view of the purpose of God in the calling of the church. Many persons look upon the church as a society of good people, banded together for their own spiritual improvement, and for the purpose of influencing others to become Christians in order to salvation. This is true as far as it goes, but it falls- far below the Scriptural conception of the church as the body of
Christ, pervaded by His life, and now being prepared to take part with Him in those administrations of power and blessing by which He shall subdue all things unto God. In the common view the salvation of the individual soul is the one thing important, and the church is only useful as it subserves this end. For it she exists.
But in the wide Scripture view the important thing is a perfected body, one with the Head, and made a fit instrument to take part with Him in His work of saving and blessing the world. The church's great work of salvation lies in the future. Creation and mankind, as a part of it, will not be delivered from its bondage to corruption until the "manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. viii, 19-23). But it is plain from the last prayer of Jesus for His disciples, that they cannot take on this glorified character nor enter upon this work until they are "perfected into one" (Jno. xvii, 23, R. V.) The very first duty of the church then, before the work of soulsaving, is to seek this "perfection into one." The world will not believe, nor will the creature be delivered until it is attained.
NOTES ON CURRENT TOPICS.
Presbyterian Subscription—A correspondent of The Presbyterian, Nov. 10th, quotes with approbation a recent article of President Patton in the Princeton Review as follows:
"It is important to ask what is meant by subscription to the Confession of Faith? For this settles the question, What is an offence? Here the practice in Scotland differs from the custom in America. It is not understood that our ministers subscribe to the Confession of Faith in ipsissimis verbis. They 'receive and adopt' it ' as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Word of God.' Hence in an ecclesiastical trial the question whether a given departure from the Confession is an offence would be debatable. ... By the provisions of our own Book of Discipline it would seem that in determining a question of heresy there is a fixed and variable element, and that it is the living and possibly the changing voice of the Church that must tell us whether this or that anti-confessional doctrine is a heresy that' infers deposition.' In the nature of the case, therefore, there can be no guarantee that important parts of the Confession of Faith will not gradually come under the category of dead-letter law, and there can be no assurance that a church may not abandon every distinctive tenet, though, for the sake of vested rights, it may still continue to profess its ancient creed and wear its ancient name. This only shows, however, that great responsibility rests upon those who, as the interpreters of the church's faith to-day, are making the precedents that will be cited in all time to come."
"I quote these words of President Patton because of what is meant by subscription to the Confession of Faith is being more or less discussed. In some cases the discussion is carried on by persons belonging to other communions, who, doubtless unintentionally, misrepresent the position of the Presbyterian Church. And the question is of interest to excellent men, who are being invited to the office of ruling elder in our churches. The subscription required of ministers is wisely required of the Christian men who are elevated to the dignity ot ruling elder. They wish to enter upon their office understanding^ as well as conscientiously. In the accurate and lucid statements of Pres. F. L. Patton they find light and encouragement."
Encouragement for what? Whydothese " excellent men who are invited to the office of ruling elder " need to be encouraged to make the required subscription? Everybody knows that the more intelligent and conscientious of them stumble at the hard points hi the system, and especially at its statement that all of mankind who die out of this life unsaved are " to be punished with most grievous and unspeakable torments without intermission with the devil and his angels in hellfire forever." But these men are told that "the living voice of the church " no longer endorses, or at least no longer proclaims this harsh doctrine. And they are here assured on high authority that this neglect of it virtually remands it to the region of " dead-letter law," which is still retained on the statute book "for the sake of vested rights."
We knew, indeed, before we left it, that the Presbyterian Church had sunk down to this low level in this matter of subscription, but we hardly expected to see a public confession of it from such high quarters. Is it, then, a matter of secondary importance what public and authorized testimony the Church shall bear before the world in a matter of the most tremendous human interest? Is the claim of "vested rights " superior to the claim of a good conscience before God and man? Is the Church, then, no longer to be the pillar and ground of the truth f Is it more important to preserve chartered rights and venerable institutions than it is to be open to the truth as God shall make it known, and be at all times its faithful witness?
It was for the purpose of testing these questions that we raised the issue in the Presbyterian Church which resulted in our withdrawal from it. The Presbytery in their report upon our case declared " that if Mr. Baker could hold his views privately, and not insist upon agitating the Church, they would be content to retain the same relations with one whom we sincerely love and respect for his ability and piety." It would seem then that our offence was not so much departure in doctrine; there are plenty of ministers and members in that Church who are just as recalcitrant in heart. But the repose of the Church! that must not be disturbed. May God hasten the day when His professing Church shall have higher views than all this of her solemn duties and responsibilities before God and man.
Unfair.—We clip the following paragraph from the Presbyterian.
Canon Farrar says: "The old rapacity of the slave-trader has been followed by the greedier and more ruinous rapacity of the rum-seller." According to the latest account the same Canon Farrar has been earnestly contending that there is to be no retribution in the long future either for the "rapacious" slave trader, or the " greedier " rum-seller.
Why cannot religious papers deal fairly with their opponents?