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they profess to be establishing a new constitution, formed by themselves, by which they assure the world that good government will be introduced into the misruled provinces, their terrible grievances redressed, and all such outrages as so recently made civilised humanity shudder, effectually prevented in the future. Judging • from the past, however, there is unhappily little, if any, ground for believing that any serious efforts will be made in the direction of reform, and every reason to fear that things will remain much as they have been, unless some pressure be brought to bear upon those in power, to which they will be obliged to yield. For as well may we expect the Ethiopian to change his skin or the leopard his spots, as look for any spontaneous change for the better on the part of the deluded fanatical followers of the “ false prophet,” whose religion is that of the Koran, whose instrument of rule is the sword, and whose tenderest mercies have ever been cruel. What is to be the issue of events it is impossible to forecast ; but this we know, that all is being overruled for wise ends by Him who doeth according to His will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. We cannot but add that it is deeply to be regretted that Lord Salisbury, who took the lead in the Conference, should have repeatedly violated the Lord's Day by holding official interviews with the Sultan, and in similar ways, for which we hardly think a plea of necessity or mercy could be reasonably put forward. The representative of a Christian nation, employed on such an embassy, ought surely to have been careful to carry his religion with him to the very stronghold of Mahommedan power, and to have been regulated by its express requirements in all his procedure there ; and one of these requirements is—“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” When God's law is ignored and trampled on what prosperity can be expected ?
THE HATCHAM SCANDAL-DEFIANT RITUALISM.--The leading facts in this notorious case are well known. Against the Rev. Arthur Tooth, vicar of St. James', Hatcham, an ultra-ritualist, a suit was recently instituted under the new Public Worship Regulation Act, and judgment being given adverse to him he was “admonished ”to desist from the extreme ritualistic practices complained of. To this judicial monition, as well as to the orders of his bishop, he gave no heed, but continued to act as before, and the next step taken was the serving of an "inhibi. tion ” upon him, suspending him from his office and prohibiting him from performing his ministerial functions until he should yield submission to the decision given in his case. This prohibition was treated by him in the same defiant spirit and manner as the previous monition, and the upshot has been his arrest for contempt of court and committal to gaol, as a “first-class prisoner.” No doubt Mr. Tooth regards himself, and is regarded by his friends, as suffering persecution for conscience sake. His conscience, however, is a peculiar one, for instead of leading him faithfully to implement the vows he took when he voluntarily became a minister in the Protestant Church of England, it has led him to break these vows, and to set at defiance the lawful authorities to whom he solemnly engaged to be in subjection ; and if this be so, does he not deserve to suffer? It is a thorough mistake to represent such men as contending against Erastianism and for Spiritual Independence in the Scriptural signification of the expression.
What they demand is individual liberty to do as they please, regardless of the Church's constitution and laws ; and their aim is to re-establish an ecclesiastical tyranny, such as was overthrown at the Reformation. It is no doubt under the operation of the Erastianism of the royal supremacy in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil, that Mr Tooth is now suffering ; but for this he has no one to blame but himself. He knew the conditions on which alone he or any one could hold office in the Church of England, and when he became dissatisfied with these conditions the honest course would have been either to try and get these altered in a legitimate,
constitutional way–no easy task it must be admitted,
---or to quit at once his position in the Church for one where he could enjoy the freedom he wished. We have no sympathy with the unmitigated Erastianism by which the English Establishment is so completely fettered; but we have, if possible, still less sympathy with men who, in the name of conscience and liberty, refuse to fulfil their own solemn ein gagements and yet persist in retaining the positions and emoluments to which they have a right only on condition of such fulfilment. We should greatly prefer to hear less about conscience, and to see a little more moral honesty. And that the conduct of those who act such a dishonest and dishonourable part should be checked and put a stop to, even though it be by a high-handed Erastianism, is surely no matter for lamentation. We cannot but think, however, that it might have been wiser to have refrained from going to the extreme of depriving Mr. Tooth of his personal freedom, and thus exalting him to the position of a martyr in the eyes of his sympathisers and friends. Would it not have been better in every way to have simply deprived him of his benefice, and taken security that, if he was bent on continuing his Romanising practices he should do so outside the Church of England, at his own or his friends' expense and not that of the nation. It is very evident that things are hastening to some great crisis in the English E-tablishment, for a church divided against herself as she is cannot long stand.
THE CASE OF PROFESSOR SMITH OF ABERDEEN.— With those evils which prevail to such a lamentable extent in England, the Churches in Scotland are evidently becoming very seriously affected. Rationalism and ritualism are making decided progress, and if not, as yet, quite so pronounced and offensive as in the south, they are sufficiently so to cause the hearts of all who love sound doctrine and a pure scriptural worship, to “tremble for the ark of God.” With the alarming case of Professor Smith our readers are more or less familiar. In his article on the "Bible,” in the Encyclopædia Britannica, he has propounded views respecting certain of the books of Scripture which have occasioned grave anxiety, as tending, in the opinion of many competent to judge in the matter, to undermine the canonicity of these books, and to cast doubt upon their divine inspiration and authority. The College committee, one of whose functions is to “originate and prosecute before the Church Courts processes against any of the Professors for heresy or immorality,” had their attention duly called to this article, and also to one on “ Angels,” by the same writer, and after the lapse of nine months they have published their report, which is far from being generally regarded as satisfactory, or as likely to set the matter at rest. They do not deal with the article on “angels” at all, notwithstanding that Professor Smith says “nothing in the way of affirming the personality of these beings, or their agency as ministering spirits,” while he represents them as merely forming "a portion of poetic and prophetic imagery," and makes “no allusion whatever to the character and activity of the fallen angels.” Confining themselves to the article on the Bible, the committee state, as the result of a careful examination, and after receiving explanations from Professor Smith, that "they have not found any ground sufficient to support a process for heresy.” At the same time they employ the language of censure throughout their report. They declare “that the article does not adequately indicate that the Professor holds the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the books whose history he investigates and describes,” and that he “ does not adequately state the views taken of the Bible by the Christian Church as a whole.” As to the Professor's position with respect to the Pentateuch, and particularly the Book of Deuteronomy, which he holds to have been written many centuries after Moses by some unknown author who personated the great lawgiver, the committee “ tinue to regard this position with grave concern." “ The hypothesis of inspired
personation appears to them highly questionable in itself and in its conse. quences.” The article “defends positions which have frequently been associated with the denial of inspiration,” and it is characterised by the committee as of “a dangerous and unsettling tendency,” so that they are “not surprised that the article, from what it contains and what it omits, has awakened anxiety and created suspicion with reference to Professor Smith's views on the inspiration of Scripture.” At the same time they are “glad to be assured that his faith in Deuteronomy as part of the inspired record of revelation, rests on grounds apart from his critical conclusions, viz., on the witness of our Lord, and the testimonium spiritus sancti.” But does not our Lord bear express witness to the Mosaic origin of this book, and how then can Professor Smith consistently question or deny it? The report is agreed to in toto only by a majority of the Committee. Principal Brown of Aberdeen dissented, in so far as it takes no notice of the article on "angels;” Professor Candlish dissented from certain paragraphs, as in his judgment there is no sufficient ground for the grave concern that is expressed as to Professor Smith's views on Deuteronomy; Mr. Whyte, of Edinburgh dissented, because the Committee have not simply reported that they have not found any ground sufficient to support a process for heresy against Professor Smith, but have travelled into matters which he has no ability to discuss. If Mr. Whyte was not able “to reason and argue and judge, about the article generally,” how was he in a position intelligently to come to the finding that it contains no ground to support a process of heresy? The principal dissentient was Professor Smeaton, who objected to the whole report as “incomplete" and “ wholly inadequate to the gravity of the offence." His reasons of dissent are stated very fully and in strong emphatic terms. Regarding Professor Smith's views. on Deuteronomy, he affirms that “this fradulent personation-theory is the lowest depth of criticism,” and is wholly irreconcilable with inspiration. He believes “ that the enemies of revelation could desire no more effective weapons in their warfare than the power to proclaim that a Christian Church permitted a theological teacher to represent any one book of Scripture as an inspired fabrication.” He expresses his regret
" that the Committee have not sent up with their report a strong recommendation to the Assembly to deal effectually with the negative and destructive opinions brought to light in Professor Smith's articles as wholly inconsistent with our recognised doctrines, and contrary to the genius of every Reformed Presbyterian Church,” and he declares that “the the question now raised, and which must be decided one way or other, is whether the negative criticism, with the rationalistic theology which uniformly goes along with it, is to claim a legitimate position within the pale of the Free Church of Scot. land.” “ To that,” he says, “ he cannot consent.
That this is really the question being raised is made still further apparent by Professor Smith's treatment of the Song of Solomon in his article, “Canticles," in the latest issue of the Encyclopacidia. He regards it only as “an earthly love song" -"a lyrical drama, in which the pure love of the Shulamite for her betrothed is exhibited as victorious over the seductions of Solomon and his harem.” “To tradition,” he says, we owe the still powerful prejudice in favour of an allegorical interpretation, that is, of the view that from verse to verse the Song sets forth the history of a spiritual and not merely of an earthly love. To apply such an exegesis to Canticles is to violate one of the first principles of reasonable interpre. tation.” Yet he strangely asserts that the deletion of the book from the Canon has been providentially averted by this same allegorical theory. Now, if the allegorical theory or mode of interpretation is due only to tradition—if those who have hitherto maintained this theory have done so through prejudice, and if it must now be set.
-aside as groundless and inapplicable—then it follows, according to Professor Smith's theory, that the book of Canticles ought to be deleted from the Canon of Scripture. No wonder that even the Westminster Review compliments the writer of the articles on “ Canticles” and “Chronicles" on “his courageous freedom of treatment,” for it is treatment exactly to its liking, and that simple fact is enough to condemn it.
The whole case is a very distressing and perplexing one, involving vital questions and momentous issues, and it is earnestly to be hoped that, when it comes before the Assembly, it will be calmly, dispassionately, and faithfully dealt with, for the interests at stake are second to none in importance. Let fullest justice be done to Professor Smith, whose learning and ability are unquestioned ; but at the same time let care be taken that no injustice be done to the sacred cause of truth. It would be well, for the sake of all parties interested, if the articles in question could be rendered more accessible than they are, for comparatively few can see them in the pages of such a large and expensive work as the Encyclopeedia Britannica.
FREE CHURCH PRINCIPLES, DISESTABLISHMENT, AND HYMNS.—By a Committee appointed for the purpose at last General Assembly, a Statement on the principles of the Free Church has been lately issued and largely circulated, signed by the Rev. Sir Henry W. Moncrieff as Convener. The document is chiefly occupied with a re-exhibition, in its Disruption setting, of the principle of Spiritual Independence, while the Establishment principle, or the duty of the State toward the Church, is only incidentally alluded to, not formally stated and insisted on, as surely it ought to have been. From this one-sided and partial statement of prin. ciples, the twofold conclusion is drawn--viz., (1), That the recent Act abolishing Patronage would not have satisfied those who contended at the disruption for the principle of Non-Intrusion as a Scriptural principle, and that it ought not to satisfy the Free Church now; and (2), That it is the “manifest duty” of the Free Church to hold fast her disestablished position, in which she has been so greatly prospered, and to prepare herself to seek in every reasonable way the overthrow of an Erastian system which dishonours Christ and injures the spiritual interests of our country. Now we cannot but express surprise at the deliberate assertion, so positively made, that the men who would have been satisfied with mere non-intrusion would not have been satisfied with the Act which puts an end to that Erastian system of Patronage which alone rendered the Veto necessary-unless indeed it be the fact that they looked upon Patronage not as an evil that might be tolerated, but as a blessing to be preserved. Of course we cannot deny the assertion, but we doubt its correctness, and we venture to think that no man or committee is warranted to make it so positively as is done in this authoritative statement. As to present duty we quite agree with the Committee that it is the duty of the Free Church, as it is the duty of every Church, to “seek the overthrow of an Erastian system dishonouring to Christ and injurious to the spiritual interests of the country.” But it is one thing to seek the overthrow of the Erastianism which interferes with the due exercise of the Church's spiritual freedom, and another thing to seek the Church's disestablishment-for surely the former could be obtained without the latter. It is, in other words, one thing, and a very dutiful thing, to tell the State to do its duty toward the Church by not encroaching upon her divinely-given freedom, but it is another and a very questionable thing to call upon the State to break all connection with the Church of Christ, and cease to recognise and favour and help her and her work any more than Antichrist.
That it is the latter and not the former that is meant by the Committee's indefinite expression about seeking “the overthrow of an Erastian system,” has been made sufficiently apparent by the action of the pro-voluntary party in the Free
Church since the "
"statement was published. For that statement has been made the text of public addresses by leading members of the party, in which, after an amplification of its contents, the practical conclusion arrived at was--disestablishment. And, further, as if in obedience to some potent word of command, notices of overtures in favour of disestablishment are being simultaneously given throughout the Presbyteries of the Free Church-Sir Henry Moncrieff, who on this question has been provokingly changeable, having taken the lead. Upon the consistency of such a movement with genuine Free Church principle, we need make no remark. If its promoters would only have the honesty to renounce the “Claim of Right' and the “ Protest " before joining hands with voluntaries in demanding of “the rulers of this kingdom" that they break the kingdom's alliance with Christ's Church, instead of entreating them to return to, and “keep unbroken the faith pledged to her in former days,” we could understand and in a way respect them while disapproving of their conduct ; but to profess continued adherence to the above-mentioned “ Deeds," and yet advocate disestablishment without indicating how the Scriptural obligations of the State in relation to the Church ought henceforth to be discharged, is procedure we can neither respect nor understand. Should this movement be successful, then the “return ” of which the Moderator of the first Free Church Assembly spoke so emphatically will become an impossibility ; and if this be a faithful carrying out of Free Church principles we don't know the meaning of language.
In his recent lecturing tour for the purpose of enlightening some benighted towns. in the North on the question of Disestablishment, the Rev. Dr. Hutton of Paisley (with whose characteristic utterances we cannot now deal) complimented the Free Church on the encouraging and hopeful progress she is making in the paths of voluntaryism, and we doubt not he rejoices at the prospect of obtaining the help of such a powerful ally in the “crusade” he is anew prosecuting with such flaming zeal. The compliment will doubtless be duly appreciated and reciprocated. It appears to us, however, that the Free Church has quite enough on hand at present without troubling herself with this matter, and that she would act a wiser and more consistent part, and render greater service to the cause of religion in the land, if she would set her own house thoroughly in order, and keep it in order, according to the rule of God's Word, and leave such questions as disestablishment to those whose unscriptural principles necessarily lead them in this direction.
Side by side with disestablishment overtures, in Free Church Presbyteries, overtures for more “Hymns are also being brought forward ; and it is. a significant circumstance, and one which does not augur well for the future, that in this and kindred movements several of the most recently appointed Professors in the Church have taken a very prominent part. that the little Hymn-book, that was sanctioned by the Assembly some years ago, has proved a failure, and so an addition to it, or a new book altogether, is wanted' by those who do not think the Psalms sufficient for the service of praise, and who wish to be like their neighbours in this as in other respects. When the perennial fountain of an inspired Psalter is forsaken for the “broken cisterns” of mere human compositions, it is impossible that anything like permanent satisfaction can be attained. How long, we wonder, will the coming new Hymn-book please its compilers and those who make use of it? And are those who are moving in this direction quite certain that the change they propose, and may make, will be well-pleasing to One whose interest in the matter ought surely to be first consulted ? What if their conduct meet with the disapproval expressed in the words—“But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the com-mandments of men ”? Where, we ask, is the divine commandment to use ought
It would appear