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And here we are constrained to say that emancipation and honest freedom and growth in the knowledge of God toward the perfection of the one body of Christ will never be possible until our church consents to put her Standards where they themselves claim they ought to be put, beneath the Word and Spirit of God, and subject at all times to discussion and amendment as He may give increasing light. To some of our brethren the Standards have become almost a fetish. They are enslaved by them to an extent of which they are not aware. They are beguiled into evasions and even dissimulations which lower the tone of both intellectual and spiritual life in ways they do not suspect. They will allow liberties of thought in themselves and others which stretch the limits of the Standards beyond all legitimate lines. But the moment anyone suggests that it would be far more consistent and honest for the church to revise the Standards they are up in arms. Is not this a reverence of creed and system above Christ? Is this giving Him the lawful place in His own Church? Is this the way to honor His Spirit given to guide us into all truth and to show us things to come?
For these reasons we believe we have made no mistake, and that no higher service is demanded in the Presbyterian Church at this time than one which shall compel her to ask again before God, "Are these formulas which we have received as an heritage from the seventeenth century concerning the final results of God's dealings with mankind such as our church ought now to set before the world as her authorized testimony upon a matter of such tremendous import?"
Evolution.—We are pleased to see that a leading evolutionist, Mr. John A. Symonds, in a recent article in the Fortniglitly Review, puts himself thus squarely upon theistic ground:
By convincing us that the universe is one homogeneous whole, in which nothing can be lost and unaccounted for, through which there runs a continuity of energizing forces, and of which we are indisputably conscious members, science has not eliminated the conception of a Deity, or effaced the noble humanities secured for us by many centuries of Christian faith. It cannot be too emphatically insisted upon, that much-dreaded Darwinism leaves the theological belief in a divine spirit untouched. God is not less God, nor is creative energy less creative, because we are led to suppose that a lengthy instead of a sudden method was employed in the production of the Kosmos.
We have not been eager to take sides in the grave questions which have been forced upon our attention by this new doctrine of creation. The evidence for it is not yet all in. We cannot, however, shut our eyes to the fact that it has proved strong enough to win over to its side the large majority of scientific inquirers, and that some thoughtful Christian philosophers accept its leading principle, without, however, abating in the least their loyalty to the accepted truths of our holy faith. That a clarified light will yet be thrown by this doctrine upon important subjects we are prepared to believe. But it will be when it has rid itself of all its atheistic and materialistic accompaniments. And we are glad to see such signs of this as the above extract affords.
It is with pain, therefore, that we read such words as these in the last number of The Truth, that "an evolutionist is bound to be an infidel." When will men see that the truth of God's word is a very different thing from the truth of their understanding of it.
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS.
Prom a Pennsylvania pastor:
I have just received the July number, and send you congratulations in the first response made by the West Jersey Presbytery to your request for advice. I sincerely trust that answer No. 2 may be equally favorable. That letter from the Free Church Professor is full of encouragement. To those of us who are awaiting the recognition and establishment of the spirit of toleration in our Church—our future course depending upon the issue—the multiplying evidences of progress in theological thought are peculiarly gratifying. May God greatly bless and prosper you in your important work.
From another in this State:
God speed you in your work of reconciliation.
In my absence I met with an intelligent and thoughtful young lady, conversation with whom led to my reading to her considerable portions of your July number. She was deeply interested, and thought your reasonings out of the Scriptures weighty and powerful.
I have just read the August number—a good, strong one. I am anxious to have Spurgeon read the July and August numbers, and will help to send them. I think if he begins to read, he'll read on, and then I can't see how he can evade the force of your Scripture argument. If he thinks your position untenable, I should like to see his refutation of it.
From a Co-Presbyter:
Until the Church realizes that there is something worse even than being "agitated;" until it is forced into a position where crying "peace, peace," when there is no peace, will be impossible, the real questions at issue will be held in the background; and as at Andover, the decision will be not upon the merits of the truth at stake, but upon the conformity of one's teaching to the artificial standards, conventionally interpreted.
You saw how the "Board of Visitors" did not undertake to say whether Professor Smyth and others were "scriptural" or not, but only whether they squared with the "seminary creed." Meanwhile, it does seem to me that you are to be congratulated (so is the Church on your behalf, if they but knew it)—first, upon having definite and clear-cut views where there is so much prevalent fog; and secondly, upon having given to the Church at large so scripturally definite an expression of those views. The theory that a man is not called upon to resign rather grows upon me. If the Presbyterian Church is only the petty, voluntary society that men would make it in their administration of its government, then we ought to be carefully instructed in that fact, in youth, and ere we give our subscription; not join it under the impression that it is over us with a broad, maternal relationship which we can neither make or unmake.
A friend writes from Chicago:
I thought I would like to tell you what a minister, to whom I loaned the volumes of your magazine, says of it. After speaking of various features in them, he adds: "In all these particulars, and in many more, the books are a real help to me. I read them with much interest, and although I cannot say that I accept all the writer says, yet I can say that the spirit in which he writes is the true one, and shows where light must at last come from. I can also say in regard to the details of exposition which I find in the volumes, that of all details and of all plans which I know, they seem the most probable and natural. I am sure the books will do you good, and above all things, give you a truer idea of our Father in Heaven."
O God, who hast knit together all who have been baptized in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ into one mystical body, bless, we beseech thee, the one body of the one Lord, Carry each member of it safely through his appointed trial and discipline. Replenish it with all Heavenly gifts and graces. Heal its dissensions and divisions. Let the power of Thy Spirit be manifest in all its holy offices and ministries; that so taught and guided and governed by Thee, we may all come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. So shall we evermore offer unto Thy Holy Name the incense of true praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Vol. III.] OCTOBER, 1887. [No. 10.
JUST PUBLISHED: The Fire Ok God's Anger:
Light from the Old Testament upon the New Testament teaching concerning Future Punishment, by L. C. BAKER.
This volume consists of a series of Bible Studies, from a new point of view, upon the great questions of human destiny, with Preface, and a copious Index of topics, and of Scripture Texts. • Price 75 cents, or If sent by mall, 80 cents. Three copies to one address, $3.00. Five copies to one address, $3.00.
By enclosing $1.00, the magazine will be sent for three montl s with this volume: or for one year for $1.50.
Address, L. C. BAKER,
No. 2022 Delancy Place,
THE BEST SOLUTION.
The mystery of man's destiny, and of the punishment that awaits him on account of sin, is beyond human solution. Born into the world with a sinful nature, and subject to death, the wages of sin, the question of what is to become of him under the economy of a just and merciful God is indeed a painful one. The theory that every man is a free moral agent, endowed with a capac ity for virtue and holiness by the Spirit of God free!;.