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ever be corrected? Or what power is left in the church to reform herself? The Occident would be surprised to know what depletion our church would suffer if its demand were at once complied with. Moreover, this arraigner of our personal honor should bear in mind that we have not been content merely to speak. We have acted. Soon after we began to publish, we offered this overture in the Presbytery of West Jersey:
"In view of the unformed and varying opinions prevalent in the Church concerning great questions in Eschatology, and in view also of the immense importance which attaches to the testimony of the Church upon matters of such vital interest, in its bearing upon both the good conscience of her ministers and the faith of their hearers, this Presbytery would respectfully petition the General Assembly to appoint a suitable committee, whose duty it shall be,
"i. To consider whether the doctrine of our Confession concerning the final results of God's dealings with mankind, as set forth in Chapter xxxiii, Questions 29, 89, Larger Catechism, and elsewhere, is a complete and final expression of the teaching of Holy Scripture upon this subject.
"2. To propose any alterations or explanations in the statements of our Standards upon this subject which may seem to them advisable, and to report any such proposed changes to the succeeding General Assembly for its suitable action in the premises."
This overture was offered at one stated meeting, and put upon the docket for discussion at the next, at which time it received the votes of three ministers and two elders.
Now, if we had not taken this action, if we were not known in the church as fairly and openly committed to revision at these points, and as the earnest advocates of it in these pages, we admit that we would be open to a charge of dishonesty. But a higher sense of duty has led us to this step,—at what risk and cost our brethren well know. It is due to us also to state that, before this movement in the Presbytery, several of its leading members were frankly written to. Our views were submitted and their advice asked. Also, when the overture was rejected, we offered in open Presbytery to advise with any committee, which they might wish to appoint, as to the course we ought to take. We endeavored to act in the matter in all good conscience before God and man. The Presbytery did not appoint any committee. And, although they rejected our overture, they passed this resolution unanimously, which is now upon their records. "While Presbytery is constrained to reject the overture offered by the Rev. Mr. Baker, it nevertheless would express its entire confidence in the integrity of his convictions and the honesty of his purpose."
We regret to have to say this much about our personal honesty in this matter. We know, too, how deceitful is the human heart, and that it is a small matter to be judged of men, and that God's judgments go far deeper than man's. But it seems to be due to ourselves and to the church to make this explanation of our position in this matter, in which, at the first view of some of our brethren, we may seem to be acting in a dishonorable way.
One thing more: We would ask them to remember that our position is unique. Other men have differed from the Confession, and sought to retain position in the church by showing that the divergence was not fundamental. We raise no such question. We do not believe, indeed, it to be half so fundamental as the divergences concerning the structure and inspiration of the Bible, now finding entrance and claiming toleration in the very highest circles of the church. But the question we are raising is this: Will the church tolerate one of her ministers in a conscientious endeavor to bring some of her ancient formulas to a fresh examination in the light of Scripture, and who puts his finger upon the point where he believes them to be wrong? Is she not bound, before she invites him to depart, or pronounces him a heretic, to calmly consider whether the thing proposed be of man or^ of God? Such an issue as this has not been decided. For ourselves, we can simply say again, that whenever the church shall authoritatively determine that no such movement is to be tolerated, or that there is no Scripture warrant for the points we have raised against the Confession, then we will be ready at once to withdraw, either at peace with the church, or under its ban, as God may make known to us His will.
SLANDER OF THE BRETHREN.
We are most surprised of all at this charge: "He indulges himself in gross and slanderous accusations of the ministry of his church, for professing to believe what they do not, and concealing their real opinions." This, he says, is a charge of " cowardice and hypocrisy." The only words of ours he quotes to prove it are these: "The church binds the conscience, and fetters liberty of investigation, by statements so severe that her ministers recoil from preaching them, and the large majority oi both ministers and members do not fairly believe them." This is all. No one will deny that the subscription required by the church does bind the conscience, and restrain liberty of investigation within certain limits. In the case of the formulas in question, the substance of which is above quoted, we of course affirm that they are severe beyond the truth. This is the staple of our indictment. But here comes in the " slander." We affirm that our ministers recoil from preaching them. So Dr. Schaff has testified. So every one knows. Does the editor of the Occident know of any of our ministers who faithfully preaches them? We do not. That paper is itself a preacher of righteousness on the Pacific coast. The editor professes to believe that a large proportion of his fellow-men stand on the edge of this inconceivable doom—unspeakable torments of body and soul, without intermission, with the devil and his angels in hell-fire forever. Some of those so imperilled are of his readers, his friends and neighbors. We have looked through his columns. We find there some good and useful reading—" Proofs of Inspiration," etc., a variety of church and current news, Family reading, Missionary intelligence, with some stories for children. The article next to the one assailing us is a very kindly notice of the death of Henry Ward Beecher, the arch-offender of the century against the dogma of which he is so tenacious. But we search in vain for any word of warning to the men around him exposed to this awful peril. The editor says he believes this eternal agony awaits them. Does he act as if he believed it? He says he believes. Doubtless he thinks so. He is mistaken. Faith, without works, is dead. This is all we mean when we say that a large majority of our ministers and members do not fairly believe these statements. We mean they have no realizing conviction of their truth. They do not act as if they believed them. Moreover, we have no doubt that they recoil from them, because they do not believe they present the full truth about God and human destiny. They see that other aspects of the divine character and dealings are left out. There is no room for them. Therefore, if they are less honest toward the standards, it is because they seek to be more honest toward God and more true to His Word. Is this a slander of the brethren? This is what we have said, in explanation of the inconsistency between their preaching and their creed, again and again. We have said, indeed, that the church puts and keeps them in a false position. But we have apologized for them. In our issue of May, 1885, in remarking upon the overture we had introduced, we said:
'' Two explanations of this inconsistency are possible: 1. Either the ministers of our church are not honest in their failure to stand by these statements in their preaching-, or, 2. They have been led to see that they are not a complete and final expression of the teaching of Holy Scripture upon this subject. We much prefer the latter explanation. And if it be the true one, we cannot emphasize too strongly the obligation of the church to provide her ministry with doctrinal statements, to which they can adhere without evasion, and in the use of which they can commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
Such has been the uniform tone of our remarks about our brethren. We submit whether it sounds like "wholesale slander."