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A Home Missionary writes:
I have read with much interest a copy of Words Op ReconCiliation. I wish I could afford to take it. > I am pastor of four weak, neglected Presbyterian churches, and have been eight years in Home Missionary service in the West. I know that enough money is wasted in supporting weak denominational churches in this country to supply the heathen world with the gospel in a few years. But what is the remedy? It would be folly to tear down unless we can rebuild the structure in an improved form. But in the full light of Scripture we know that denominations must cease to exist, when due attention is given to the authority of the Word, and the "Spirit of all truth," by which all believers are one in Christ Jesus. Whether union will begin by a work within denominations, or outside of them, is yet a question. May the blessing of the Lord be with your work! I unite with you in the prayer that the great Head of the church will draw His people together. Sincerely yours in the joytul service of the gospel.
A subscriber in Minneapolis writes:
I have been interested and instructed by your Monthly in the past and do not wish to be without it in the future.
Another from Newark, N. J.
I cannot tell you how much I value your Magazine, nor how much I admire the spirit in which the articles are written. I hope you will live to see with your own eyes the unity you are so earnestly seeking to bring about. May Uod speed your work.
From a friend "in sympathy :"
I am very glad that the Presbyterian Church has a faithful witness within its limits. I am sure a large majority of your members do not reflect upon what these portions of your creed really mean. I know your work must often be lonely and uphill work, but I am sure t he Lord, whom you are seeking to honor, must honor you with a blessed consciousness of His approval. Whatever mistakes you may have made, you have at least been loyal to this, that you have tried to get people to think well of God; so that the reward that comes from Him is sure what ever man may think.
Vol. III.] JUNE, 1887. [No. 6.
THE PRESBYTERIES OF NEW YORK AND NEW BRUNSWICK ON CHURCH UNION.
These two large and influential bodies have taken action on this question, and sent up overtures to the General Assembly requesting that body to make a reply in behalf of the whole church, to the action of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Other Presbyteries have endorsed their action, and it, no doubt, fairly represents the current Presbyterian sentiment on this subject. We are glad that this action has been taken. It is another sign that the Providence of God is compelling our great religious bodies to face this issue. Better still, it indicates that the Spirit of God is so stirring up the church upon this matter, that she will not rest until this divine instinct for unity, and for the realization of her Lord's prayer in her behalf, is satisfied. And yet it is manifest that all the parties to this movement will have to come down on to lower ground before they will be prepared either to discover or to deal with the evils that lie at the heart of our divisions. The memorial of the House of Bishops avoids taking this ground, inasmuch as it assumes that the whole church will have to accept of their view of the Episcopate in order to unity. Even granting that this position is right, it is too soon to assert it The action of the Presbytery of New York is still more objectionable, as it virtually assumes that the doctrines of the Westminster Confession must enter into any basis for future union. The fact is that the complete body of truth is the heritage of the whole church. It is something that we must "comprehend with all saints" (Eph. III. 18). The fact of our divisions proves that the church is not prepared to receive it in its fullness, and that no section of the church can lay claim to the whole of it. God will not bestow upon a fragment that which is the heritage of the whole. At the same time it is doubtless true that certain features of the truth have been committed in trust to these separate bodies, in order that they may develop and preserve them for the benefit of the whole. And yet even these they can only know in part and testify to in part.
It is manifest therefore that no true union in the church can be effected until all parties consent to take a more humble place before God, and a less confident attitude toward their brethren. We must all come to confess that these present divisions are the fruit of the church's sin and consequent spiritual blindness, that no portion possesses the truth in its fullness, and that only the Lord can show us the truth in the things about which we differ. And we must come together not for discussion over the points upon which we are divided, but to look to Him for a new and mighty influx of life from the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, such as shall heal the wounds in the one body, and bring its dissevered members into living organic union. We are glad to notice some recent words from the Rev. Dr. Schaff in the Christian Union which look very strongly in this direction. He says:
The tendency toward Christian Union cannot be repressed ; it will gradually pervade the churches and become a powerful factor in history. Christians are getting tired of division and distraction. The world stumbles at the multiplication and unholy rivalry of sects, and loses confidence in the church as a house divided against itself. True union can only be built on the historic basis of mutual recognition of the peculiar gifts of God which He has bestowed upon the various branches of His church, and the work which they have done and are still doing in the world. The denominations must lay down their exclusiveness, their vanity and pride. They must cease to imagine and to boast that they have the monopoly of truth, that they alone have the Scriptural creed or form of government or mode of worship.
We need a pentecostal effusion of the holy spirit of love to Christ and to all His followers, which will destroy envy, jealousy, pride, and bitterness, and make an end to the miserable, narrow, bigoted, exclusive sectarianism that has so long turned churches into hostile camps. Then, and not till then, will Christian union appear bright as the sun, lovely as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners ; and then "the world will know" that the Father did send the Son to make peace between God and man, and between all who profess to love Him in sincerity and truth.
We hope, therefore, that our General Assembly will not seek to "improve the occasion" by endeavoring to show where we are right and others wrong, but that it will urge the churches under its care to invite Christians of other names to join with them in suitably confessing the sin of the whole body, and in prayer that God would heal its divisions, and build it up into a true unity of faith and life. We have the Lord's word for it that the church can never fulfil her mission of salvation to the world until such unity is attained. Our zeal for missions must continue to largely fail of its end until we go back to this beginning, and seek to bring the. church on to this only ground where the Lord will work in her mightily, and make her a fit channel of His grace and power.
We regret to find in Prof. C. A. Briggs' able book upon this subject a radical defect which diminishes very much its value. All through the Psalms and Prophets we meet with references to an emancipating work of the Messiah which should reach beyond the bounds of death, and accomplish the promised salvation, notwithstanding the subjects of it had been made captives by this archenemy. That fountain-head of Old Testament prophecy, the Song of Moses (Deut. xxxii), more than hints at such a deliverance (vs. 39-43). Prof. Briggs can see, however, in these great promises only the hope of a national restoration. For example on page 176 he thus explains one of the most remarkable of these prophecies.
"From the power of Sheol I will redeem thee,
Hos. xiii. 14.
Upon this he remarks,
"Jahveh here summons death and sheol to do their worst,— bring on their plagues and pestilences, and put Israel to death; He will not interpose in His compassion to save the nation. But after the nation has died, and has gone into the sheol of the nations, then Jahveh will redeem them by bringing them up from sheol and by imparting to them new life. The prophet thus predicts a national resurrection. This is the first appearance of the conception of a