« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Observer, Mar. 1, '71.
The State can best care for religion by securing to every man perfect freedom in all matters of religious belief and worship; so far, at least, as such freedom is compatible with the proper liberty of every other man. God never authorized humanly organized governments to determine forms of worship for those who would serve and honour Him, and any attempt to do so is an insult to God and a usurpation of the common rights of ED.
BRADLAUGH AND WATTS AT THEIR WORK.
THE Sword and Shield of last month gives a sample of the doings of the above-named persons, comment is not requisite. We merely reproduce the facts.
"BRADLAUGH'S WANT OF CANDOUR."
"Sir,-Many of your readers will be aware of the following facts:
1.-That Dr. Tischendorf published a pamphlet, entitled, 'When were our Gospels
2.-That Mr. Bradlaugh published a reply to it with the same title.
3.-That I had a discussion on the subject with Mr. Bradlaugh in the National Reformer.
A second edition of Mr. B.'s pamphlet has since appeared, and I am sorry to find that he utterly ignores most of the corrections with which I supplied him. If that gentleman continues to circulate what he has been told is false, and what he can ascertain to be false if he likes to enquire, I want to know what claim he can have to confidence. In illustration of my meaning I shall give an example: Dr. Tischendorf quoted a statement from the Philosophoumena of Hippolytus, upon which, among other things, Mr. B. said, The very work which Dr. Tischendorf quotes is not even mentioned by Eusebius, in the list he gives of the writings of Hippolytus.' In my rejoinder, I stated that the work of Hippolytus has two titles, one of which is given by Eusebius, though Tischendorf cites it by the other. A copy of the book is now before me bearing the title given it by Eusebius (printed at Gottingen, in 1859). But Mr. Bradlaugh after being informed of his error and after being able to correct it, repeats it without note or comment in his second edition! This is only one of the instances in which he has refused to retract false statements, and I beg to call attention to it as indicative of want of candour which must sooner or later shake the faith of his disciples, and which compels us to subject all his statements to the severest scrutiny before we accept them.-I am, &c., B. H. COWPER."
THE MORALITY OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS AND PIOUS FRAUDS." 'Nothing pleases an Infidel so much as the discovery of what is called pious frauds. He gloats over any admission on the part of an ecclesiastical writer, who is found boldly exposing error among the early professors of Christianity; and no class of persons are more successful in their determination not to see the distinction between profession and principle. They reason, that if the early Christians were only proved to be immoral, therefore, Christianity is immoral; that if they forged books under the names of eminent men, therefore the New Testament is, or may be, a forgery. Such a mode of reasoning, if universally admitted, would destroy all literary morality. But it must be borne in mind that Infidels only apply this most unreasonable mode of all reasoning to men, books, and subjects they dislike, and wish to destroy.
What is most singular in the case is, that the modern Infidels practice themselves what they condemn in the early Fathers, and still more strange is it, they practice the same deceit for a precisely similar purpose, with this difference that, the early forgers were often clever enough to conceal themselves, so that only their forgeries were known, whereas the Infidels of our day expose themselves to such an extent as to render search superfluous.
The early heretics, or schismatics, could only hope for success by forging books, or corrupting passages in other books, and attributing the forgery to some well-known and accredited author. Mr. C. Watts can only hope to persuade ignorant people that the Church has done nothing to this hour to settle by authority, either the Hebrew or the, Greek text,' except by using a well-known and accredited name, but like the early heretics, he is compelled to make his author say what he does not say, and mean what he does not
Here is the real passage and the forgery in parallel columns :
"Dr. Irons is of opinion that the Church did nothing to the Canon for 400 years; nothing except by individual and much neglected and opposed doctors, for 500 more; nothing authoritative till the sixteenth century; nothing satisfactory to herself even then; nothing to settle by authority, either the Hebrew or Greek text till this hour."-Reply to Bishop of London, No. 2, pages 11 and 12.
Observer, Mar. 1, 71.
Here it is plain that Dr. Irons is speaking of one thing and Mr. C. Watts makes him say another-in other words, Mr. Watts forges for the Doctor an opinion which he does not hold, and which he has nowhere expressed,
But, admitting, as we must, forgeries and pious frauds in the early times of Christianity, to whom are they due? Can the Infidel charge John, Peter, Paul, Polycarp, Clement, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, or Tertullian, with any of these crimes? No, he cannot! Can he carry home any forgery to any orthodox Father? No, he cannot. Who then were the guilty parties? Let the much-abused Mosheim answer, cen. 2, part 2, chap. 3, sec. 15; 'The Platonists and Pythagoreans deemed it not only lawful but commendable to deceive and to lie, for the sake of truth and piety. The Jews, living in Egypt, learned from them this sentiment before the Christian era, as appears from many proofs. Take the next, cen. 3, part 1, chap. 2, sec. 5; 'If, what I would not pertinaciously deny, pious frauds and impositions deserve a place among the causes of the ex tension of Christianity, they doubtless held the lowest place, and were employed only by a few.' Again sec 10: The Platonists contributed to the currency of the practice (i.e. victory rather than truth) by asserting that it was no sin for a person to employ falsehood and fallacies for the support of truth, when it was in danger of being bound down.' It was then, as it is now, in proportion to the amount of Infidelity, Platonism, or Heresy, did fraud and lying abound; and no Infidel can point to a time, place, or man, where the Bible was the sole rule of faith and practice, such faith being according to knowledge, and find at the same time, and with such person, practices other than just and true.H. D. JEFFRIES."
Mr. Cowper is perfectly correct.
Every statement made by these hireling infidels should be tested before reception as true.
REV. F. FERGUSON ON THE PROPOSAL TO RE-ARRAIGN HIM FOR HERESY.
In the January part of the Observer extracts were given from the speech of the Rev. Fergus Ferguson, of Dalkeith, delivered at a meeting of the Edinburgh U. P. Presbytery, when a charge of heresy was preferred against him, founded upon an interpretation of 1 Peter iii. 19. Notice of motion has been given by Mr. Brodie, one of the members of the reverend court, to resuscitate the charge. The annual soiree of Mr. Ferguson's congregation took place on Friday evening, the 4th February, and in referring to the charge of heresy made against him, and its proposed resuscitation, that gentleman said that Mr. Brodie's plea for reviving the case was that he did not hear the whole of the statement made by Mr. Ferguson. The latter, after remarking that he would offer no opposition to the further investigation of the subject, went on to say:
The fact that the Church has a constitution does not appear to give that protection to the character and position of its ministers which, in my inexperience, I had hoped it would; and I am therefore warned against being too sanguine as to the value of its protection for the future. * I am free to confess that I have no interest in the United Presbyterian Church except in so far as it is a branch of the one true catholic progressive Church. If it cannot allow liberty of thought, which is the real question at issue, it is a fortunate circumstance that the world is wide enough for all of us; and I hope there is no disloyalty in thinking that just men and true methods are not confined to any section of the Church."
That the Confession is not the only rule of faith, Mr. Ferguson next proceeded to affirm—
Observer, Mar. 1, '71.
"It is a large matter, this question of religious belief. In connection with a motion made by Dr. Peddie some time ago, recommending some sort of action against heretics or heresies, Dr. Bruce said that he supposed we had all drifted, more or less, from the Confession. I do not mention this to irritate any one, but to suggest an impartial administration of the law. With all deference and respect, I think it might be a good thing to purge the roll, beginning at the top. The younger men, whose names are at the bottom, would then have ample time to mature their opinions, before the investigation could possibly reach them. I firmly believe that I am quite as orthodox, if not more so, than some of my respected counsellors; and if there is a disposition to push the matter to extremities, discoveries may be made on more sides than one. This whole case has proceeded hitherto on the purest assumption-the assumption that my interpretation of a text was neither correct in itself nor in harmony with the Confession. If my interpretation was not correct, why is it that the Presbytery has not given to the world the orthodox interpretation? Of course, the view taken by the majority of the Presbytery may be the right one, even although it should contradict the majority of the ablest expositors. But was it respectful to any man's intelligence to counsel him as a person who was not to be reasoned with, and instruct him authoritatively to avoid all speculation in the future? To say that there was nothing in Scripture to support the interpretation I advanced, was simply to deny, without proof, that the passage in question could bear the construction put upon it; and that was to beg the whole question. Besides, it did not by any means follow that, because those who drew up the report could not find any other scriptures in support of my view, that therefore such scriptures do not exist. I am of opinon that they do exist; and consequently cannot regard the matter as 'lying beyond the line of divine revelation.' The counsel, then, proceeded upon an assertion that ought to have been proved. In addition to that, it was based upon an insinuation which I repudiated-the insinuation that it involved consequences incompatible with the Confession. But that, also, was a foregone conclusion, for the proof of which I had waited in vain. I am not aware that I have said anything more disrespectful of the Confession than that it is inferior to the Bible. After all this, I was coolly lectured on 'the mildness of the sentence' by members of the Court who had been unable to make good one point in the case."
Disapproving of having his beliefs pinned to fixed and unchangeable dogmas, his dislike to the proposed union of the U. P. and Free Churches, on the basis suggested, is equally strong, as is seen from the following:"How can men come to intellectual agreement who are not previously united by generosity of sentiment? Union surely means confidence in each other's Christian character, however widely our thoughts may range on certain topics; and not in the concussing of one another into cold and killing formula. And yet we have men in our midst who take part in discussions about union, and at the same time, in the actual intercourse of life, cut themselves off at once from the society of those who dare to differ from them in thought even by a hair's breadth. Papal Rome cannot be much worse than that; and one is constrained sorrowfully to ask-What can such men mean by union? It would appear that the nine-tenths, if not more, of the religious discussions that take place spring from an equivocal use of words. Certain words suggest to certain minds not a clear scientific idea, but a vague, monstrous, shifting form; whereupon they sound the trumpet, and with the most frantic party cries rush into the arena of debate, and make the strangest contortions, battling with the mist. An anxious inquirer is ready to exclaim-What can all this mingled turmoil of ghosts and men actually mean? good dictionary would often settle the matter with reasonable minds. Emerson says of Plato-At last a man was born into the world who could see two sides of a thing. All sectarian and mere party-men are such as, having taken up a side, insist that truth has only one side, and that is the side to which they belong. A very melancholy illustration of bitter and narrow bigotry, with the consequent perversion of all fairness and truthfulness to which it leads, is presented to us in the movements of the Anti-Union party. Singularly weak in their defence of the high citadel of Scripture, they make a tremendous noise as they retreat with confused cries into the redoubt of the lower Standards. They seem unable to understand how any one can have an interest in truth and not belong to them. Influenced by worldly ideas of the Church, they fight for what is obsolete; and if their position seems a tenable one, it is because the living world has no interest in dislodging them from it, having turned its back upon the whole affair. They mistake the sepulchre and the cerements of the grave for the risen and victorious life, and would have us engaged in a crusade for the possession of a place from which the very truth itself has fled. It is not by planting the banner of Christianity on the top of every political tower of Babel that we bear witness to that kingdom which is yet to come. Alas, no! although there is much fruitless
* * *
Observer, Mar. 1, "1.
industry in that direction. How can a nation or an individual promote Christianity except by becoming thoroughly Christian in daily thought and action? But the prospect of the Civil State being thoroughly permeated by Christian principles, is one which may fill not a few minds with considerable dismay; and, therefore, it is more convenient for bellicose theologians who are given to lecturing the State, to recommend the hoisting of a mere flag, and the making of a fair show of religion, although the structure underneath, in many of its departments, is rotten with ungodliness."
From the above it does not seem that Mr. Ferguson is impressed with bright views of the Union of the Churches, should it be consummated on a human basis.
On liberty of opinion, apart from any human code of beliefs, Mr. David Macrae, a guest at the festive gathering, spoke no less strongly than Mr. Ferguson
"But there is one thing I do believe in, and would contend for, and that is Mr. Ferguson's right to search the Scriptures for himself, and to accept that interpretation of the passage if he believes it to be the right one. We claim this right for him and for ourselves as Protestants. If Mr. Ferguson has no right to judge for himself, even though his judgment leads him to differ from Dr. Peddie's view, or Dr. Harper's view, or anybody else's view, and if the same right does not belong to you to judge for yourselves, even if your judgment leads you to differ from Mr. Ferguson's view-I say if this right of private judgment does not belong to all of us, the Reformation was a mistake, and Protestantism is a lie."
When such sentiments as the above are being uttered, and creating alarm among creed-bound Presbyteries and Churches, they surely indicate an awakening to the realization of the fact that the basis of the union of sectarian bodies is beginning to break up, because it is human, while the only solid and imperishable basis, because divine-the Bible-is that alone upon which true union can be expected. T. Y. M.
"GONE DOWN IN THE CAMBRIA."
Gravel Bank, Rothesay, February 13th, 1871. DEAR SIR.-I received from Mr. Dick a letter some months ago, a copy of which appears in the December number of your magazine. I did not at the time think it necessary to take any notice of its contents, but seeing he has given such publicity to the letter I feel it my duty, considering the impression it is calculated to produce on the minds of your readers, to make some reference to it. As it is impossible for me to enter into details, I shall only notice one or two of the more prominent points in Mr. Dick's remarks. He says "When he (Henry Seymour) comes forward and professes repentance and his belief in Jesus, wishes to be baptized in His name, and place himself under His government and guidance, you say 'No!"" And again-"You asked Henry Seymour why he wished to be baptized, he replied that he did not consider himself perfect as a Christian unless he was baptized." Now had I really acted in this manner I should indeed have just cause for grief and shame. But I could never refuse to baptize anyone who made such a profession, however deficient he might be in knowledge and experience. In our interview Henry Seymour made no mention of repentance, belief in Jesus, or desire to be under His government and guidance; in fact, he seemed quite ignorant of the way of salvation. When I asked his reason for wishing to be baptized, instead of saying he did not consider himself perfect as a Christian without baptism, he said his peace had been broken by an expression at the close of a sermon he heard when in Glasgow a few weeks before, and that unless he were baptized he could not be saved. These are, as nearly as I can remember, his own words. Seeing that he was a perfect stranger to me, and aware of his intention to leave Rothesay the next day, I could not say otherwise than "No" to his request. I stated the Gospel to him as clearly as I could, and, in accordance with his expressed wish, gave him a letter to a Baptist minister in Glasgow whom he desired to see before he sailed. If you will allow this to appear your next issue you will oblige, yours respectfully,
It is due to Mr. Crabb to publish his letter. If Henry Seymour seemed
Observer, Mar.1, '71
quite ignorant of the way of salvation it was, of course, quite proper to refuse baptism. But his "own words," as given in the above letter, do not show that he was thus ignorant. One thing seems clear-that very soon after leaving Mr. Crabb he satisfied more than one person that he knew his need of a Saviour and that he had repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he was, therefore, entitled to baptism. We know the Elder by whom he was baptized, and are satisfied he would not have immersed anyone without clear indication that that much had been realized. Of course we understand that many Baptist ministers would deem it wise to send a sailor youth, who believes in Jesus, upon another voyage before baptizing him. Some longer probation and gathering up of "Christian experience" being deemed desirable. But not so the Apostles-their converts were sometimes in open sin, and yet before the close of the day or night they had heard, believed, and been baptized. With them Christian experience was expected to follow baptism and never to precede it. Still they would baptize no one, nor should we, who does not avow an intelligent faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance towards God. We are satisfied that Henry Seymour had that when he was baptized; what he possessed at the time of his interview with Mr. Crabb is not for us to determine. This much we are bound to believe that that gentleman acted as he considered right and proper in the sight of God.
THE UNION MOVEMENT IN AMERICA.
We have now before us two Union movements; one between Disciples and Baptists, and the other among the Presbyterians.
there is much in the former, for the following reasons:
We do not think
1. The main parties concerned appear to have had nothing higher in view than more friendly relations between Disciples and Baptists. True, there are allusions to complete and ultimate union, but of such a nature as to make the impression that such a thing, if attainable at all, is far in the distance and very improbable.
2. A shyness and timidity run through the correspondence, making the impression that they are approaching something fearful, wonderfully delicate, and almost an unspeakable thing.
3. They simply talk timidly about points in which the two bodies are agreed, and certainly could have extended the list of items to a much greater number.
4. The impression made by these men, on the part of the Disciples, of their representing 30,000, might mislead many. They were in no way chosen by the 30,000 of whom they speak, nor sent to the work in which they are now enlisted. So far as those assembled in the missionary convention were representatives at all, it was in the missionary work and nothing else. When the move was made in the convention to make this appointment, it was an outside matter, not in the legitimate scope of the work of the convention, and the committee represented the few who appointed them in the convention, and nobody else. But they had no authority as representatives of the churches, to make any overtures for the churches in this matter as to their relation to the Baptists.