Page images
PDF
EPUB

Daniel as composed in the early years of the Persian kings, or at the time of the Macabees.

From the facts so clearly presented in this pamphlet, we have an instance, like that furnished by the case of Dr. Davidson, in connexion with the publication of “Horne's Introduction,” that not a few of those who pretend to superior learning, and who set themselves to unsettle faith in the inspiration and divine authority of the Scripture, and in the supernatural, are after all, but plagiarists and imitators of those who, under the high sounding name of "Higher Criticism," maintain a system which is opposed alike to clear historical evidence, Scripture testimony, and sound reason.

Turkey, its Mission and Doom : a Prophetical Instruction. By the author of " The

Government of the Kingdom of Christ,” &c., with preface by the Rev. Alex.

Duff, D.D. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1876. Price one shilling. VERY warmly do we recommend to our readers this seasonable and ably written little volume, on the great question of the day, from the pen of the talented author of “The Government of the kingdom of Christ” and other well-known works of high merit. We agree with Dr. Duff when he says that the author “has in the main executed a somewhat difficult task with remarkable tact, skill, and discriminating judgment; and has succeeded in producing, in a condensed and compendious popular form, an admirable dissertation, which well deserves to command the attention and evoke the grateful acknowledgment of all who desire to see the most momentous question of the day mirrored in the light of revealed truth, rather than the dreamy speculations of literary amateurs and philosophising visionaries.”

Notes on Public Events.

( The first two of these Notes were prepared for last number, but could not be inserted

for want of room.) THE SECESSIONS FROM THE FREE CHURCH.-We daresay that few, if any, outside the Establishment, will be prepared to justify the action of the three Glasgow Free Church ministers who recently went over to the Established Church, and still less the manner in which that step was taken. That they and their people were at liberty to make such a change, if satisfied in their consciences that it was right to do so, no one will deny; but the circumstances of the cases, as made known to the public, tend to produce the painful impression that the motives which actuated the parties were, to say the least, open to grave suspicion. It is to be feared that considerations of a more material kind than high regard to prin. ciple had not a little to do with the matter, and this is to be regretted, both for the sake of those immediately concerned, and the Church they have joined. But, while such procedure cannot be vindicated, one cannot but feel that the censure dealt out would have come with more weight and better grace from those who so vigorously administered it, had their own hands been clean, had they themselves been free from the charge of having played fast and loose with their own principles, and, by so acting, helped to prepare the way for just such things being done as they now so unsparingly condemn. Setting aside motives, of which none but One can judge unerringly, the step itself from the Free to the Established Church does not appear to be at all a wider one than from the Reformed Presbyterian to the Free, or from the Free to the United Presbyterian Church, and had “the Seceders " taken this latter step, they would have been applauded and not a word would have been whispered about their reasons or motives. Regarding the Rev. Mr. Taylor, the quondam R. P. minister, Dr. Adam, in the course of his speech, ironically remarked that he must be "a remarkably liberal and convertible person," and no doubt he has shown himself to be so. But in so characterising his brother, Dr. Adam ought to have reflected that he himself had had some hand in making him such, for had not Dr. Adam contended for years that the three negotiating Churches were at one in point of principle, and had he not congratulated Mr. Taylor and his brethren on having forsaken their Testimony and distinctive principles to unite with the Free Church ? At one meeting of the Glasgow F. C. Presbytery there was witnessed the unedifying spectacle of two of the most prominent members of the late R. P. Synod pouring the vials of their denunciation upon the head of their renegade brother for having taken a further step in the way of union than they had seen it proper to do. Now, granting that Mr. Taylor's conduct had been all that it was called, were the hands of his indignant censors pure ? And had he not them and such as they, the leaders in the union movement, to thank for the conscience-relaxing lessons on the subject of union which had rendered the additional step he had taken an easy one? With reference to the way in which Mr. Taylor had acted, the Rev. Mr. M‘Dermid is reported to have said—“ Had any man or body of men liberty to pursue such a course as this? I admit that the policeman has no authority to control the exercise of such liberty. But there are other parties to whom we are responsible as well as the policeman and the civil courts. We are responsible to God and to our fellow-men for fair, upright and honourable dealing. There are surely social and ecclesiastical, not to say religious, responsibilities, that we have no moral liberty to disregard, no right to trample upon. I feel, for myself at least, that I have no right to transform the precious boon of liberty into a toy, and exhibit it before the public as a plaything after this fashion. If this style of things was to become common in society, what kind of social life would we have? If this were to become prevalent in the Church-if the brotherly covenant' which is implied in any Church connection was to be heedlessly broken and severed and trampled on in this way, what heart could any one have in the transaction of ecclesiastical business, and what confidence could we repose in one another?” This is strongly put, but in so putting the matter did not the speaker condemn himself! in joining the Free Church did not he, and all who acted as he did, break “the brotherly covenant" with those they left behind adhering to the principles of their covenanted Testimony and to their solemn vows? In relinquishing a judicial Testimony for principles they had vowed to maintain, did they not “disregard and trample upon ” “ ecclesiastical, not to say religious, responsibilities” as weighty in character as those of Mr. Taylor? And though in doing this they acted in their ecclesiastical, corporate, as well as individual, capacity, had they a “moral liberty" or "right" to do it, any more than the man they unsparingly denounced? We trow not. The lesson to be drawn from the whole affair is one that has been often painfully taught by similar events in the history of the Church. It is, to beware of and resist the beginnings of ecclesiastical defection, for when the first decided steps in a downward course have been taken, it is almost morally certain they will not be the last, and that the issue will prove disastrous to the cause of truth and of religion.

SPIRITUALISM.—The recent remarkable trials of two noted Spiritualist “Mediums," on the charge of obtaining money on false pretences, which issued in their conviction, have naturally attracted considerable attention. It is to be hoped that what has taken place may be a means of opening peoples' eyes to the real character and design of the system, and of arresting the spread of its pernicious, irreligious influence in society. In a late issue of the Belfast Witness, we were glad to observe an excellent and most seasonable article on the subject, from which we lay before our readers the following extracts :

The presiding magistrate at Bow Street has characterised Spiritualism as .almost a new religion.' In reality it is 'a new religion,' and its votaries claim for it a power possessed by no other religion whatever—the power of summoning spirits or souls of departed friends from the world of incorporeal existence. We will pass over for the present the unutterable profanity of such a pretension. We will not call it, as we have every ground for doing, a blasphemous pretence on the part of human agents to have penetrated into those mysteries beyond the tomb, which God in His wisdom has concealed from human gaze. We will let the mediums bring forward proof that they do what human agency could not, under any conceivable circumstances, accomplish ; for until they have proved that they have proved nothing at all. If the so-called 'medium' only does what the professed conjuror does, he is a conjuror and nothing more. If from mere conjuring tricks he sets up Spiritualistic claims, and calls upon us to believe that disembodied spirits are working at his bidding, he proves that, besides being a conjuror, he is a blasphemer, but he assuredly proves nothing more. The whole case, so elaborately brought forward by Spiritualistic advocates, stands or falls upon this simple issue :Does any medium produce such phenomena as are inexplicable on the theory of mere human agency? And to this we may reply at once, that no medium has ever yet produced manifestations that are not susceptible of a more or less satisfactory mechanical explanation.” Then, after referring to the wonderful tricks of jugglers, and the happy guesses of gypsy fortune-tellers, to show what can be done by dexterity of hand, and through close observation of trifles, the article thus concludes :

“Exactly such is the career of Spiritualism. We hear of its one great hit, while its thousand blundering absurdities are forgotten. And what has been hitherto the highest measure of success it has attained ? Something about the colour of the hair of a deceased relative, or about what I, the visitor, was engaged in doing, yesterday evening! Surely we need no ghost to arise from the tomb and occupy our time in giving us information which is of no earthly consequence, and which we possess ourselves already. Shakespeare has told us how the human mind is ever puzzled by the thought of that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns,' and we have heard men mourn over the fact that to-day, as much as in the infancy of the world and the race, the great hereafter must be still a prison-house against knowledge, and the inheritance of faith only. Well, Spiritualism comes and tells us that the mystery is a mystery no longer. The souls of the departed can be summoned at will, and made to hammer out on deal or mahogany a reluctant ‘Yes' or 'No'to our interrogations. And what information do they give us ? Nothing but silly replies to silly questions. If any query of deeper import is put it is simply evaded. We conclude, then, with this, that, apart from the incredible nature of Spiritualism, on a priori ground,

two things will have to be proved before its pretensions can be for a moment entertained :-Ist, the extent to which ordinary dexterity and skill can possibly be carried ; and 2nd, that any medium can go beyond this point. Until these two issues are demonstrated, we must be excused for classing Spiritualism not only among the silliest of crazes, but among the most wicked of hoaxes."

THE FREE CHURCH AND INSTRUMENTAL Music.-At a recent meeting of the Glasgow Free Church Presbytery, there was submitted an overture on the subject of instrumental music in the worship of God, to the effect that-As such music has been introduced by other Presbyterian Churches with some of which the Free Church is closely allied, and as there is a desire on the part of many in the Free Church to have the same liberty in this respect as other Churches, the General Assembly be overtured to take the whole subject into consideration and give forth a deliverance upon it. The bringing forward of such an overture, in one of the largest and most influential Presbyteries of the Free Church, is very ominous, though it is nothing more than was expected. It is true, the overture was rejected by a large majority, but the prevailing tone of the discussion that took place clearly showed that, on the part of most of those who voted against it, the grounds of their opposition were simply grounds of expediency and not of principle, and if the spirit and tendency manifested prevail throughout the Church, the introduction of instrumental music into the Free Church is simply a question of time. She is hardly ripe for the change yet, but to all appearence she will be ere long. The mover of the overture gave it as his opinion that there is no principle involved in the question—that it is purely a question of opinion and taste—that instrumental music in worship is merely a human institution resorted to in order to assist the voice in praising God, and to render the service more agreeable and beautiful. Throughout his whole speech-and the speeches of others like-minded—there was not a word as to what God requires, or as to what will be acceptable to Him. According to such reasoning, we are at perfect liberty to introduce anything we please into the worship of God, on the three-fold plea that it suits our taste, helps us in our Forship, and renders the service more attractive and enjoyable. Thus is the door opened wide for the most outrageous innovations the mind of man can devise, for the grossest ritualism the taste or fancy of man can demand. And thus there can be no such thing as will-worship in the service of God. Yet it is written—"In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” We conclude with a few sentences from an admirable article on the subject which appeared in the Perthshire Courier, the only sound newspaper in the country on the religious questions of the day :-“The deplorable display is truly distressing. The overture was in favour of instrumental music, but the speaking was in favour of all manner of current innovation, and religious sensationalism. The whole proceedings were rotten to the core. With the exception of the faithful few who protested at the outset against entering upon the subject at all, or in any way entertaining it, not one member ever asked—'What saith the Scriptures?' There was not the slightest reference, far less appeal, 'to the law and to the testimony. And, speaking 'not according to this word,' it is not surprising that there was 'no light in them.""

PAPALISM.–At an influential public meeting, held lately in Glasgow, the following "resolutions” were adopted on this subject :

(1.) "That history and experience demonstrate that wherever Papalism has control over the people of a country, that country declines in the scale of nations, intellectually, morally, politically, and religiously; and, in the ratio of its influence on individuals, it enervates the faculties of man, dwarfs his intellect, impoverishes his soul, narrows his knowledge, and engenders vice, indolence, poverty, and infidelity.”

(2.) “ That history and experience demonstrate that wherever the spirit of Protestantism rules in a people, that people is built up in wealth, virtue, knowledge, and true liberty; it regulates and invigorates conscience, expands and disciplines the mental powers, engenders a love of truth and freedom, gives capacity for scientific discovery, mechanical invention, and commercial enterprise, and establishes true religion on the foundation of Scriptural authority, in perfect accordance with sanctified reason and high intelligence."

(3.) “That the foregoing conclusions make it incumbent on all statesmen, true patriots, and enlightened Protestants to oppose Papalism as a system inherently hostile alike to the temporal and eternal interests of mankind."

In support of these terse and trenchant resolutions there were some admirable speeches delivered. Among the speakers was Signor Gavazzi, and with his opinion we fully agree, when he remarked, “That if matters went on with the same rapidity as they were now doing, he had no hesitation in saying that before the next generation was grown up, we would be called upon to fight once more the battle of the Reformation." As one reads such, and many similar statements, one is inclined to ask, what is really being done to give practical effect to the above enthusiastically-received resolutions in opposition to Popery and in behalf of the principles of the Protestant Reformation ? Is there not reason to fear that the speaking on such occasions and the subsequent acting are sadly out of proportion to each other? Year after year great public meetings are held, and much enthusiasm and zeal are displayed, and yet year after year Popery is steadily advancing, growing bolder and more defiant in its attitude of uncompromising hostility to the dearest interests of our country.

THOUGHTS FOR THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR.

Every hour that strikes, every day that passes, is a monitor to remind us of the fleeting nature of Time, and to excite us to review the past and improve what may yet remain. But the frequent recurrence of hours and days makes their voice familiar to us, so that their admonitions are heard without instruction and without improvement; while the termination of one year and the commencement of another, occurring more rarely, speak the same language with a louder voice and with a greater prospect of commanding our serious attention. Yet we have seen so many old years expire, and new years begin, that the most thoughtful of us need to be aroused to consideration, that we may so number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Were there not another purpose for which we had occasion for our time, there is one business which demands the attention of every man, and may furnish occupation sufficient for those who have most leisure-the concern of our souls' salvation. This certainly demands every man's most serious attention and most solicitous

To what purpose is life, if this be neglected? Better doubtless we had never lived at all, than live only to neglect our souls, and through this neglect perish for ever. The care of our souls ought to be the great business of life-that to which every other concern ought to give place, as only secondary and in comparison unimportant. It is the one thing needful. For what will it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall he give in exchange for his soul ? But this need not occupy much of our time ! So

care.

« PreviousContinue »