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purpose, in making the exhibit that we are now closing, is, to let our readers see what is the doctrinal difference between the parties that now divide and distract the Presbyterian church. Let them look at it and consider it well : And when they have done so, we ask
"1. Is there not only a real, but a wide difference? To us it does seem, after the most serious and impartial view that we have been able to take of the whole matter, that here are two systems, two systems which, in their characteristic features, are directly opposed to each other. If we understand the doctrinal system of our Confessions of Faith and Catechisms, the principle of IMPUTATION is fundamental, and essential to the whole. Deny the imputation of Adam's covenant-breaking sin, with its consequences, (as specified in our Standards) to all his posterity ; deny the imputation of the sins of believers to their Surety Saviour, and the full satisfaction which, when imputed, he made for their sins, to divine law and justice ; and deny the imputation of the finished righteousness of Christ to his people, for their justification before God, and their title to eternal life, - and you deny a very large part of the very essence of the doctrinal standards of our church. But the party contemplated do unequivocally deny all this; as well as the other fundamental principle of regeneration, as being exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit. The most frank and candid among them will tell you so expressly. Question them on each of the points to which imputation applies, as stated above, and they will tell you, that they do not hold this, that, or the other. Yet they will preach, after all, in such a manner, as to lead the people to believe, and many of their ministerial brethren to believe, that they cannot be far wrong, that the most of the difference between them and their brethren, is only a difference in language, - a dispute about words, - that in reality they all
think alike, or as Professor M. has it' are sufficiently near to the Scriptures and to each other, in respect to all the essentials of truth, to be comfortably united in Christian fellowship and coöperation. Great was the delight which this declaration gave to the whole party. It was the very thing which they wished, and which they still wish and labor to have believed. It gained an admission of the letter which contained it, and a few of the succeeding ones, into their periodicals. But they found, after a while, that they must treat the Professor pretty much as a Quaker preacher treated Whitfield, when he had spoken a short time in one of their meetings, — Friend George,' said the Quaker interrupting him, I think thee has said about enough,' — and so no more of the Professor's letters, so far as we have seen or heard, have appeared in any of
“2. Is it credible that 'nineteen-twentieths of the ministers of the Presbyterian church, are sufficiently agreed in all the essentials of truth, to be comfortably united in Christian fellowship and coöperation ?' We take it for granted, not only from what we personally know of Professor M., but from what he says in immediate connexion with the quoted passage, that those who materially disagree, in relation to the points which we have exhibited from the Constitution of our church, cannot be comfortably united in Christian fellowship and coöperation. It follows, necessarily, that his estimate is, that not more than one in twenty of our ministers, hold the obnoxious system which we have endeavoured to expose. Now, without stating any calculation of our own, we shall offer a few reasons briefly, why we think the Professor's estimate must be exceedingly erroneous. We first mention the free and fearless
in which the advocates of unsound doctrine preach and publish their opinions. Would they do this, if they were not well assured, that far more than one in twenty are prepared to stand by them? Or if they would still state, preach, and print as they do, could they do it, without suffering discipline ? No, assuredly. — They well know that there is a large party, — in the General Assembly of the church, probably a majority, — who, either through fellowship with their errors, or reluctance to offend those who are in such fellowship, will see them safe and sound through any jeopardy into which the orthodox may endeavour to bring them. Again. Look at the Theological Seminaries in our land, that send forth their pupils to become, and who actually and immediately become, ministers in the Presbyterian church. Are nineteen-twentieths of these, substantially sound in the faith? Have the professors of the Seminary in which Dr. M. sustains his office, been able to prevent many of their pupils from maintaining and advocating, through their whole course, several of the obnoxious sentiments to which we have adverted ; and from preaching and publishing them, after they have left the institution ? We know they have not. But let us not be misunderstood. We believe the professors in that Seminary have honestly and faithfully labored to embue the minds of their pupils with sound doctrine ; and that they sincerely lament that they have too often labored in vain. We firmly believe the evil arises from the minds of some of the youth being so preoccupied with wrong views before they enter the Seminary, and from knowing that popular opinion is much in their favor, that they can neither be convinced of their errors from all the lectures they hear, nor restrained from defending, and even endeavouring to propagate them, in the institution : And others, who leave the
Seminary, apparently and avowedly sound in the faith, find so many clergymen opposed to their sentiments, and the popular current in the places where they are located so strongly set against them, that at length they yield and swim with the tide. Could this take place, to half the extent to which it has taken place, if nineteen-twentieths of our ministers were substantially orthodox? We are confident it could not. Once more, and finally. - Whether it is known to Professor M. or not, it is known to us, that on one side there are strong hopes, and on the other side strong fears, that in the event of the death of any one of the present professors of the Princeton Seminary, a man of the same, or similar theological tenets with the defunct, could not be chosen in his place. `Nineteen-twentieths' of our clergy substantially sound in the faith, when this is the case! Impossible. — We fear that even a majority will not be found so, or not found so with sufficient firmness and decision, whenever another professor is to be elected in that Seminary. We are ready to weep over the prospect; although it is probable we shall not live to see the event. Our duty, we think, consists in making known the danger, that measures may, if possible, be taken to prevent its being realized." — pp. 33 - 35.
Dr. Green's worst anticipations appear to have been realized. We learn that the question between the New and Old Schools was brought up this year, and decided against their creed by a vote of about ninety to eighty. Thus we have the spectacle of one of the largest sects in Christendom, condemning their own Standards of Faith.
Such then is the present state of the Presbyterian church in the United States. The reflections, which this condition of things suggests are highly curious, and most deeply interesting. It demonstrates for the hundredth time the utter worthlessness of creeds, either for the purpose of securing uniformity of faith, or of maintaining peace. It clearly shows that they are all that their worst enemies have declared them to be, snares to the conscience, instruments of oppression, and chains and fetters to the advancement of the human mind. Almost every sect has resorted to them, for the delusive purpose of binding what is necessarily free, human opinion. The Catholics tried them, to stop the thousand voices of heresy and schism. But the hoarse murmur grew deeper, and louder, and fiercer. The Protestants tried them after the Reformation, and almost every year has produced a new sect. The Episcopalians have tried them, and
straightway a dispute arose, which has never been settled, whether their Articles are Arminian or Calvinistic. The Presbyterians have tried them, and now their creed remains as a landmark to show them where they were.
The present state of things is deeply interesting as an augury of the future.
What are we coming to ? This is a question easier asked than answered. One thing however is evident, that the whole Christian religion is to meet a crisis in these United States, such as it has never met before. The restraint of authority is gone. That of superstition is fast wearing away.
The human mind, having conquered and explored every other province, is marching boldly on to that of religion, determined to leave no corner unsearched, even its most sacred recesses. The next twenty years are destined to witness a discussion of all topics connected with religion and the Bible, which has occurred in no country except Germany, and perhaps not even there. Every point will be tried, and stated, and defended, from the absurdest Orthodoxy, to the boldest Atheism. Wild speculation, fierce controversy, temporary skepticism, and in some instances, we hope not many, total shipwreck of faith, are inevitable.
The heavens are blackening, the clouds rolling together, the winds are collecting their strength, and every thing shows that a tempest is nigh. But through the storın we think we can see a vista of light. We believe, that, while the mind boldly “ tries all things," it obeys a law of its nature when it “ holds fast that which is good.” We believe that all this dispute is merely about externals, about the envelope of Christianity. It is about things “which perish with the using,” which are demolished by the very act of submitting them to a rigid analysis. These things being disposed of, Christianity will be revealed in all its beautiful simplicity: It will come forth “ as the sun shining in his strength." And men will wonder that they ever sought for it in metaphysical subtilties, or verbal criticism. John's Gospel will be read, not for the purpose of gathering sharp weapons for polemic warfare, but to unfold the deep realities of the inward, spiritual man. Paul will be studied, not to see how a learned Jew would illustrate and defend the Gospel ; but how the most exalted intellect may be renewed, and sanctified, by “Christ and the resurrection."
N. S. VOL. XII. NO. II.
For the Gospel we have no fears, for “it is founded on a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
For Unitarianism we have no fears, for we have almost past through the trial, and, notwithstanding the predictions of our foes, embrace religious faith with a firmer grasp than
We are riding safe at anchor, while we see every other sect still tossing on the waves.
For ourselves, we think we see that one great benefit, which is to spring from the freedom of the religious discussion and action of this age, is the discovery of what is essential to Christianity, and its separation from what is merely adventitious. How much of cold and barren metaphysics, how much of dry system and technicality has been preached as the Gospel of Christ, till men's brains have reeled and their hearts frozen under their influence. And this because religion has been made to lean on other supports than its own spiritual power. Now that those supports are falling away, such preaching must run out. It has no vitality. It must die. Mere sentimentalism and natural religion, too, must be abandoned. Much less is life to be found in the earthly mould of Ultra-Universalism, in which almost every quickening ray of heaven seems to be extinguished. What then will be preached ? The pure simple doctrine of Jesus, or nothing. Christianity must stand, if it stand at all, on its Moral Power. This after all is its great evidence. This is its standing miracle, as much so as the glory which rested upon the tabernacle in the desert. The moral power of the Gospel we consider at this day to be truly supernatural. Look at it. Here is the Christian ministry, a body of weak and fallible men, compassed like their brethren with ignorance and infirinity. And yet by their weekly ministrations they exert an amount of moral influence beyond all estimate. This influence differs in kind as well as degree from every other which mankind has ever witnessed or felt. A spiritual regeneration is effected, a character is formed of purity and olevation by it, which no other discipline that man has ever known, could impart. Whence then this moral power ? Take
away their Bibles and you will see. Send them into their pulpits with any other book, with the wisdom and truth and eloquence of all other books concentrated, and they become utterly impotent. The foul spirits which they before cast out, would get the mastery of them at once, and make