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And now as to the general charge that we are rebellious and harmful agitators, we beg to remind our brethren that a large proportion of our Presbyterian friends abroad have seen the necessity for some such action as we are urging. A large proportion of our own church confess that it must sooner or later come. The United Presbyterian Church of Great Britain sought relief some years ago in an explanatory statement, which takes off the edge of these severe statements to one subscribing them. An unworthy shrinking from the real issue! The Presbyteries in England have recently taken similar action. Prof. James A. Candlish, son of a famous sire, of the Free Church College in Glasgow, has just nearly carried an overture in his Presbytery, looking in the same general direction with our own. A majority of the ministers, and nearly all of the younger ones, voted for it. It was lost by only three votes among seventyseven. The difference between his action and ours is simply that he states in more vague terms what we are definite about. He says our Eschatology fails to make room for the Scriptural conception of the Fatherhood of God, and of the provisions of His grace toward lost men. We put our finger on the spot where it fails. We say that it is vitiated by a wrong idea of the place and meaning of resurrection in the divine economy. To the vast majority of the race, at least up to this time, it makes resurrection to be doubled and confirmed retribution. * This is false to the Scriptural idea of death as
*We do not forget that a balance is made up on the side of mercy, by the view that heaven is mainly peopled with redeemed infants and imbeciles. But this is beyond the Confession. The last Presbyterian Beview says it is against it.
the wages of sin, and of the grace involved in the provision to recover all men from the pit of death, into which they were cast "by the offense of one." And it is false to the great Scripture promises, which declare that some character of blessing has been opened up by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to all mankind. Until the church has remedied this great wrong, there will continue to be this discrepancy between her creed and her inmost convictions, between her intellectual and spiritual insight, her stern repellent thoughts of God, and the humane and compassionate feelings His Spirit begets within her toward men. And until Prof. Candlish, and others who are prompted to lead in this movement, come to recognize this as the vital point at which the church has gone astray, they can only give us a vague reform and compromising explanations which cannot reach the root of the church's trouble, and can only heal her hurt but slightly.
STUDIES IN THE BIBLE.
WHO ARE THE PRISONERS?
In several passages in the Psalms and Prophets, a certain class is brought to view under the name " prisoners," " captives," "them that are bound." We quote a few instances.
Psalm cii. 18-22, R. V. This shall be written for the generation to come:
And a people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.
For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the "sighing of the prisoner ; to loose those that are appointed to death; (margin, Heb. the children of death);
That men may declare the name of the Lord in Zion,
And His praise in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms to serve the Lord.
Isaiah xlix. 8-10. Thus saith the Lord: In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish (raise up) the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages ; That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth ; to them that are in darkness, shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. See also xlii. 7 ; lxi. 1-4; Zech. ix. II, 12.
A study of these passages shows,
1. The deliverance spoken of is connected with the final and universal triumph of the Messiah's Kingdom.
2. That of which Isaiah xlix. speaks is definitely connected with a rescue of captives from the realms of death, by its quotation in Rev. vii. 16,17. There the company who hunger and thirst no more, and whom the sun nor any heat can smite, because the Lamb is their leader and guide, is a company redeemed out of all nations who have evidently triumphed over death. That is but a meagre grasp of the Spirit's meaning which would limit, in any of these passages, the deliverance spoken of to an earthly captivity, such as the Babylonish, or to a spiritual bondage. This is doubtless included: for redemption from death is closely connected with redemption from sin. But the " children of death," "prisoners in the pit," are, in the wide view, the multitudes of God's covenant people who, for their sins, have gone down to death and are held as captives in its prison-house. This is the ultimate meaning of these phrases as used in the Old Testament. And these passages look forward to the times of restitution of all things of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
The question still remains, however, Do not these promises apply only to the regenerate people of God? The answer is that most of these passages view these prisoners as having gone down into this captivity on account of their sins. The clearest and most emphatic prediction of their ransom from Sheol is that found in Hosea xiii. 14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." The context shows that it was an Ephraim joined to his idols—an Israel who had destroyed himself by his sins, who was to be thus delivered.
An interpretation of the psalms and prophets which 'does not find a hope of resurrection in such passages, and which does not see that this hope covers the case of large classes of mankind, Jew and Gentile, who were consigned to Sheol for their sins, is not worthy of the name. It overlooks one of the most vital features of the Word of God, and one most essential to its correct interpretation. And, that not only sinners of the chosen people, but from Gentile nations, are among these rescued captives is plainly taught by such pas«ages as Jer. xlviii. 47, xlix. 6; Ezek. xvi. 53—63, in which Moab, and Amnion, and Sodom are specified as to be restored from their captivity in the latter days.
NOTES ON CURRENT OPINIONS AND EVENTS.
Advice Asked.—In obedience to a recommendation adopted by the General Assembly (see Minutes for 1878, p. 99), the Rev. L. C. Baker has requested the Presbytery of West Jersey to appoint a Committee to advise with him upon the following points.
1. If a minister of this church has been led to believe that a .wrong interpretation of Scripture has crept into our system of doctrine at an important point, what constitutional right has he to agitate for its removal, and what duty in reference thereto is put upon him by his ordination vows?
2. Are the views which he has published from time to time in his magazine, called Words Of Reconciliation, irreconcilable with our system of doctrine, insomuch that any one holding them should withdraw from the Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery acceded to the request at its last stated meeting, and appointed such a Committee.
The Presbyterian Review. — We find in the April number of this representative Quarterly enough to justify the position we have taken, that it is high time the church should take up the question of amending her standards, and that a fair and honest discussion of the points we have raised against iheir eschatology should, not only be allowed, but encouraged. Prof. J. 8. Candlish, of the Free Church, whose movement toward revision in the Presbytery of Glasgow, we noticed in our last number, contributes an able article on "Reformation Theology," in which he shows that, by reason of the enormous advance in knowledge in Biblical criticism and interpretation, in the fields of history, of science, and of philosophy, while the substance of all the leading doctrines is unaffected, "the form of statement may have in some cases to be changed, and some of the more particular parts of the old systems may have to be modified or given up." That he regards these required changes as of sufficient importance to call for church action is seen in his recent effort to induce his Presbytery to overture the Assembly "to appoint a committee to consider whether anything should be done to explain the sense in which the