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in and perform the work which we have been unwilling or unable to do. This is one of the causes in which we must do that which is right in the present, in the firm belief that it must turn out to be most politic in the end. When the sky looks foul and black ahead, the bold mariner waits not to see whether the way will clear, but in brave confidence in his gallant ship and his own skilful resources, drives on into the blackening whirl, steady in pursuing the path that duty points out, trustful that by God's help, and his own honest toil, he shall find, somewhere beyond the blessed calm, the glowing sunshine, the halcyon breeze, and the sweet and welcome shore."
A Voice from the Pow; being a reply to Dr. Kennedy's Letter to the Members of
the Free Church in the Highlands—by a Highlandman. Lyon & Gemmel — Edinburgh, 1876.
This pamphlet, by a Highland layman, purporting to be a reply to an Address by Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall, is characterized throughout by clear, vigorous expression, forcible reasoning, and no small amount of pungency and earnestness in the discussion of the subject. It is a good specimen of the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum, and especially of what has often been remarked of the Highland Scots in particular, that in public questions on matters of Church and State, they take care to be fully informed, and are known and able controversialists. On the matter of the last movement in the Union negotiations—what is termed the Mutual Eligibility Scheme,—the conduct of the Free Church leaders, and their abandonment of the declared principles of the Free Church at the period of the Disruption, the writer is very pointed; and his positions, which are clearly defined and firmly maintained, are to a large extent unassailable. Throughout the pamphlet, there are not a few clever retorts on his opponent, and not a little of honest, plain dealing, which cannot fail to commend his production to the mass of the common people, for whose benefit it is chiefly intended. While we say this, in the way of just commendation, we are by no means convinced that the present Established Church of Scotland, by the recent anti-patronage act, is so free of Erastian State-control, and is so spiritually independent, as the writer would have us believe; and that it would be for the promotion of the Redeemer's glory, and the advancement of true religion, that the Free Church and other dissenting bodies in Scotland should yield to his advice in seeking incorporation with it in its present position. It may be that Dr. Chalmers, and some others of the leaders in the Disruption of 1843, would have been content to remain within the Establishment if patronage had been then abolished; but it does not follow that having reached higher attainments, and enjoyed the blessings of enlarged spiritual freedom, their successors should relinquish such advantages, and consent to the limitation of their scriptural right in the choice of ministers, and to any, the least measure of Erastian control. The firm and full maintenance of the great principles of the Second Reformation, as embodied in our National Covenants, will, in our view, prove the most effectual means in the end of healing the divisions of the Church, and of bringing the nation to willing subjection to the sceptre of Prince Messiah.
Professor Smith's Obligations to Dr. Kuenen indicated. By Rev. George Macaulay.
Lyon & Gemmel-Edinburgh, 1876. The article of Professor Smith, of the Free Church College, Aberdeen, on the “Bible,” in the new issue of the Encyclopædia
, Britannica, has called forth of late several pamphlets, and has engaged the attention of the Commission of the Free Church at its recent meeting. The present pamphlet proposes to discuss the first of the two following positions, which the author had previously affirmed in a public lecture. 1. That the views of Professor Smith, as given in the article “ Bible," are substantially the same as those of Dr. Kuenen in his work, " The Religion of Israel." 2. That, irrespectively of the question whether, or to what extent they are the same as those of Dr. Kuenen, they are subversive of the grounds of the Christian faith." The writer shows clearly that the German author's method is that of the naturalistic or rationalist school of critics, and that no difference in kind exists between the religion of Israel and other forms of ancient religion. By a careful induction of particulars, and by a multitude of quotations from Kuenen's work, and placing side by side with them, the positions laid down in Professor Smith's article, the author proves that the stand-point and plan of the two are in a great measure identical. For instance, that the Chronological stand-point of both for the earliest writings of the Bible is the eighth century before Christ; that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, and did not exist till after the Babylonish exile; that the Historical Books of the Old Testament are not to be regarded as inspired, but simply as human, historical records; that the discourses and laws of Deuteronomy were not written by Moses, but put into his mouth by a later writer, to expound and develope Mosaic principles in relation to men's needs; that the Psalms are not generally of Davidic authorship, many of their titles are inaccurate, and grave suspicions are alleged to lie against the writings ascribed to Solomon. The Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes are either products of Jeroboam's reign, or of a much later writer, long after the exile. The book of Esther is not an authentic historical writing ; Professor Smith says it is “received as a fiction by many who are not over sceptical critics.” He represents 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 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 pat, 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.
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 principle 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 te vindicated, one cannot but feel that the censure
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,