Page images

dialogues, and then of a number of small pieces, entitled “Psalm and Song." These are followed by short odes in reference to the morning and evening; to the principal Church holidays or festivals; and to the sacraments. The concluding part, nearly the third of the whole, presents in simple, but flowing and pleasing poetry the subject of Christian Missions, a number of our Lord's parables and miracles, and views, affecting and impressive, respecting the atonement, the Fatherhood of God, a watchful providence, the shewbread, the time of sickness, and temptation, and the hour of death. The work has considerable poetical merits. The diction is lucid, the sentiment is, in general, Scriptural, and the practical lessons are weighty and important. We would willingly dispense with the names of Church festivals, which are of mere human institution and devoid of warrant from the inspired word. In a few instances, a form of speaking about the sacraments is employed, which has, at least, the aspect of favouring High Church Ritualistic sentiments, but this may arise only from the use of poetical figures. From the brevity and simplicity of expression of the different pieces, the volume is fitted for children, while from the vivid manner in which the compassionate Saviour is constantly held forth, it will tend to promote devotional feeling, and lead to habits of believing confidence and joyful hope. As a specimen of the style, we append the last piece“For the hour of death."

“All my past belongs to Thee,
And from sin and misery
Thou hast set Thy servant free.
All my future with Thee lies,
In the compass of Thine eyes,
In Thy guidance good and wise.
Through the misty dark I go,
But the cloud begins to glow
With the glory Thou wilt show.
Soft in sleep repose I take,
Till the light of morning break,
Then beneath Thy smile awake.”

The Inspiration of the Scriptures. By Rev. Professor Given, Magee's College.

8vo., pp. 23. Londonderry. This pampblet, which is the address delivered by Professor Given at the opening of the present session of Magee's College, is published by request. We rejoice sincerely in its appearance, not only on account of the great importance of the subject of inspiration, but also because of the scholarly and faithful manner in which this theme is discussed. After noticing briefly the distinction between revelation and inspiration, and defining their respective provinces, Dr. Given shows in lucid terms the divine and human element in the Bible, and then argues at some length in behalf of the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration, adducing cogent Scripture proofs in support of it, and stating and refuting the most plausible objections that are brought forward against it. Many of the illustrations which he gives are peculiarly


appropriate, and not a few of the criticisms on Scripture expressions display a minute acquaintance with the sacred originals, and are highly satisfactory. The objections of scientists against the Mosaic record are clearly stated and ably set aside. The author manifests throughout the most profound reverence for the Divine Word, and speaks at times in glowing and eloquent terms of the blessings which it has already conferred on mankind, and of its future universal triumph.

In the conclusion, Dr. Given thus speaks of the perpetuity and power of sacred Scripture :

“Human institutions may live their day, and die ; having served their purposes they may grow old and outlive their usefulness, becoming obsolete and antiquated; but this Word of God is animated by a living imperishable principle that makes it proof against all feebleness or decrepitude of age. In all the ages that have been, it has proved the rod and staff, the stay and support of the faithful; in all the years that shall be, it will retain its strength unshorn, and its vigour shall neither know nor feel decay. The myriad angels that came down on Horeb at the giving of the law, and the angelic hosts that carolled the nativity on the plains of Bethlehem returned to the light and splendour of their native heavens ; but the voices left behind, and caught up in Scripture, will reverberate round the world, awakening echo after echo in ceaseless succession that shall never die away. And though no voice from heaven may sound down to us through the blue empyrean, and no vision be vouchsafed to us as to ancient patriarch or seer, yet are we privileged to hold uninterrupted converse with prophets, apostles, and evangelists; and not only with these, but through them with Almighty God Himself, as He speaks to us by His servants, and addresses us in His Word. This Word of God may be attacked in the future as at the present and in the past-the ribaldry of Paine, the wit of Voltaire, the subtilty of Hume, the theories of scientists, and the plausibilities of criticism--all in succession or combination may be arrayed against it, but it shall never be shaken, and can never be overthrown. This Word of God, in its stateliness and stability, may be compared to that great pyramid which stands in the Nile valley—the evidence of man's mechanical power and a wonder of the world. It has borne the brunt of earth's storms, the thunders of heaven have rolled over it, the lightnings have flashed against it, all the fierceness and fury of various elements have spent themselves upon it, the desert sands have been dashed around it, still it stands, a monument of imperishable greatness, unshaken and immovable on its solid foundation. The elements themselves shall melt with fervent heat, this earth and all the works thereof shall one day be burnt up. Scripture affirms it, science confirms it, but even ihen, the truths of this Bible will only be entering on a higher and grander fulfilment.”

We accord to this able and admirable address our warmest commendation, expressing our fervent desire that it may have a wide circulation, and be blessed for establishing many in the faith once delivered to the saints.


Notes on Public Events.

The Past Year.—The year 1877 is likely to be a somewhat memorable one. During its course, events have transpired well calculated to cause it to be remem. bered not only in this country, but throughout the world. A rapid glance at some of the more striking and important of these events, will not be out of place as the year closes over us; and as we mark the hand of Him who is “wonderful


in counsel, and excellent in working,” let us “be still and know” that verily “He is a God that judgeth in the earth.” On the first day of the year, the Queen of Great Britain was proclaimed Empress of India, with a great display of “bar. baric splendour ;” and long ere the arrival of the last day of the year, came the heart-rending tidings of the death, from starvation and disease as the result of famine, of well nigh a million of her Indian subjects. Of course there was no connection between these two very different events, but we place them side by side to give emphasis to the truth so often and impressively taught, that it is from the Lord alone, the King of Kings, that all national prosperity comes. The mightiest and most generous-hearted potentates of earth can do nothing effectually to ward off from themselves or their subjects such overwhelming calamities as that from which so many of our fellow-subjects in India have been suffering ; and from what has occurred, we may see how easily the omnipotent Ruler of the universe could bring speedy destruction upon the nations by His righteous judg.

While one land has been partially stricken by famine, others have been ravaged by war of the most sanguinary description, which has already issued in the frightful loss to the two countries engaged in it of nearly 150,000 men.

With the fall of l’levna, which has at length taken place, after a most heroic defence, has arisen the hope of peace being soon concluded through the friendly intervention of other powers. Whether this hope be immediately realized is doubtful; but whatever be the course of events, it becomes us earnestly to seek that the terrible conflict may be followed by salutary results-that it may be made to subserve the interests of justice and humanity, and of the kingdom of Christ—that the longoppressed may be freed from tyranny, and their oppressors taught to do justly and to love mercy, and that all may be speedily visited with, and brought under the benign influences of the gospel of love, and purity, and peace. In continental countries, as well as in our own, the astute and persevering emissaries of the Vatican have been busily and successfully at work during the past year. Upon poor benighted Spain, for which no deliverance seems yet to be at hand, Rome has succeeded in re-strengthening her fatal hold; while in Republican atheistic France, another struggle between Jesuitism and the friends of liberty has been going on for some time—a struggle which there is too much reason to fear will ultimately issue in the triumph of the former. For nothing but gospel truth permeating a land, and firmly grasped, can enable a people to resist the encroachments of Rome, and to this, alas, France as a nation, has long been and is still a stranger. Nominally Roman Catholic, but largely infidel, she is certain sooner or later to fall again a prey to Jesuitical influences put forth everywhere, through an ultramontane priesthood. When will the continental lands, enslaved by Popery, and benighted by infidelity, be enlightened and made free with the liberty which the truth alone imparts?

Looking now nearer home, the past year presents itself as one that has been full of disaster, on sea and land. The loss of precious lives and valuable property through shipwreck has been great, and this has probably been equalled if not surpassed by that caused by railway and other daily accidents, and such mournful occurrences as the Blantyre Colliery explosion. But what are all the lives that have been thus sacrificed, in the prosecution of worldly callings and in the eager race for riches, and what is all the domestic distress produced by such sad events in providence, compared with the number of the victims of intemperance that have sunk into the drunkard's grave during the past twelvemonths, and with the amount of domestic misery caused by the frightful ravages of this appalling national vice, which is threatening the destruction of the social fabric in our midst? As the result of a singularly ungenial summer the harvest was late : in many places the crops never properly ripened: and by continuous heavy rains much of the precious grain when cut was, in many quarters, seriously injured and even totally destroyed. It has been estimated that the loss sustained by the farmers of Scotland alone, from failure and destruction of crops during the past year, as ccmpared with an average prosperous year, will amount to no less than ten millions of pounds. And all over the country trade in general has been for a length of time in a state of great depression, and this, along with strikes and lockouts and what not, cannot but have occasioned much individual and domestic distress. Yet notwithstanding all such adverse providences by which a holy and righteous God has been solemnly admonishing us as a people, drunkenness and consequent crime of every form have been on the increase, thus shewing that the fear of God is not before men's eyes, and that though God's judgments are in the earth its inhabitants are not yet learning righteousness as they ought.

In the ecclesiastical world also events have been taking place fitted to render the past year a memorable one, events which go to indicate that things are hasten. ing on a pace to some grave crisis. The holding of what is known as the first Pan-Presbyterian Council, in Edinburgh, may be taken as marking an era in the history of modern Presbyterianism. In the interesting proceedings of that great assemblage of representative Presbyterians, not a little cheering evidence was given of strong attachment to Evangelical truth, and of ardent zeal in the cause of Christian Missions throughout the world. Yet, side by side with this, and with much earnest work being done in and by the various Churches of our land to spread the gospel at home and abroad, we behold a sad and ominous increase of indiffer. ence to divine things, of latitudinarianism in principle, of doctrinal error in many forms, of corruption in worship, and even of open infidelity ; while throughout the Churches there is being manifested a strange unsettledness, a growing dis. satisfaction with what is old in religion, just because it is old, and a restless craving for change, no matter in what direction or at what cost-all which goes under the imposing but delusive name of religious progress. There is unquestionably a contagious spirit of scepticism abroad and apparently on the increase, which is not only calling in question almost every one of those doctrines that have been so long most surely believed amongst us, but which is actually aiming at overthrowing the infallibility and supreme divine authority of God's inspired Word. And what is perhaps still more to be deplored than all this, is the fact that in the presence of the enemy thus coming in like a flood upon the Churches of our land, many of the professed friends of the cause of truth and godliness are either altogether holding their peace, or inclined to deal with the propagators of error with a slack and gentle hand. And while havoc is thus being made of what is true and sacred, where there ought to be a valiant defence of the truth, that arch. enemy of the truth and liberty of the gospel, Popery, as well as infidelity, is making rapid progress in our midst. According to all accounts, the establishment of a Romish hierarchy in Scotland will be an accomplished fact, if not before 1877 expires, at an early date after that. Then will the land of the Covenants-a land that has so often abjured Popery and kindred unscriptural systems, in solemn covenant with God and that has been drenched with the blood of martyrs slain by Antichrist-be once more embraced in name within the Romish fold ; and to convert what is nominal into a reality will thenceforth be the object of Rome's unwearying efforts. Thus, both abroad and at home, the present aspect of things, both nationally and ecclesiastically, is far from being a pleasant or hope-inspiring one. There is much to betoken that still greater commotions and upturnings are at hand, and that the time of the end draweth nigh. In our patience let us possess our souls ; at the post of duty let us seek

to be found in a spirit of unwavering fidelity to Christ and His cause ; to Him who is able to keep us in the hour of temptation that shall come to try them that dwell upon the earth, let us day by day commit ourselves and all our interests in humble faith ; and in response to the Redeemer's promise, “Surely I come quickly," let this be more and more our importunate cry—“Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

THE CASE OF DR. MARCUS Dods.-As the result of a very full and animated discussion upon the report of the Committee appointed to consider whether the Presbytery were called to take any action with reference to the views of Dr. Dods in his sermon on “Revelation and Inspiration,” the Glasgow F. C. Presbytery, by a narrow majority of three, have adopted a resolution on the motion of Dr. Adam to the effect that the sermon is open to grave objections, that it is desirable its publication, at least in its present form, should not be continued, but that there is no call to take any further action in the matter. A counter motion (in favour of which other two similar were withdrawn in the course of the debate) was moved by the Rev. Mr. Howie, declaring that the Presbytery cannot approve of the report, that they disapprove of and censure the views set forth in the sermon regarding inspiration and the infallibility of the Bible as contrary to the Word of God, and the standards and teaching of the Church, instruct the author not to carry the publication further, and appoint a Committee to confer with him in regard to his views and report. As one has pithily put it in a private communication) the majority of his Presbytery “have handled Dr. Dods with velvet gloves.” The decision come to is in our judgment far from satisfactory, and not what the interests of truth demanded. The speakers in support of the motion carried, while taking more or less exception to the views propounded in the sermon, all pleaded strongly for the toleration of these views as not being at variance with the teaching of Scripture and the standards of the Church. Professor Bruce (who made himself nearly as conspicuous in defence of Dr. Dods as he had previously done in defending Professor Smith) stated that he had not shared in the anxiety caused by the sermon; and regarding the sermon as a whole he declared that if it was not proof against criticism, it was at least susceptible of defence against anything like a serious charge of unsoundness. And Mr Scrymgeour announced, in a threatening manner, that if such views were to be tolerated amongst them, the Free Church would alienate many of their finest and ablest young men, and shrivel up into one of the narrowest of sects ! But is the dread of even such a calamity sufficient reason for the Church tolerating in her pulpits teaching that is unscriptural and dangerous ? On the other side several admirable speeches were delivered by such men as Dr. A. Bonar, and Messrs. Bremner and Howie, in which, as we think, they succeeded in showing that the views in question are inconsistent with Scripture and the Church's standards and teaching, and ought to be unhesitatingly condemned as being so. And we rejoice that so many declared themselves to be of this conviction. Dr. Dods has intimated to the Presbytery, that as the motion carried is not based on the assumption that he has contravened the Confession, and as he is not commanded but merely advised to withdraw the sermon, he would take their advice into most serious consideration.

But if Dr. Dods has published nothing at variance with what he is bound to hold and teach, why should he even be advised to withdraw his sermon ? If his views are not chargeable with “unsoundness," why should he not be left at full liberty to continue publishing them or not as he pleases? Does not the very fact that his friends regard his sermon as so objectionable as to warrant them advising him to stop its publication show, that there was really sufficient ground


« PreviousContinue »