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notice. We are happy to be allowed by the writer to publish it in connection with this editorial. It is in part a plea against any attempt of the General Assembly at its present session to prejudge the case of Dr. Briggs, but rather to allow it to take the course of an orderly trial. Our readers may know what the Assembly does, or declines to do, before this number of the “ Review” reaches them ; but the general argument of the paper is of permanent value :
“ It is clear from the action of a considerable number of Presbyteries that a strong effort will be made to have the General Assembly interfere to prevent Professor Briggs from taking the chair of Biblical Theology in Union Theological Seminary, to which he was recently appointed. I heartily agree with Professor Green, - though I should, perhaps, give his words a different application, – that questions which should be settled by calm, scholarly discussion ought not to have been forced upon ecclesiastical tribunals.' But it is manifest that they will be ; and it is important that we should clearly understand what the issue is which is thus raised. It is a simple one, and one inuch larger than the immediate occasion which has brought it up. The discussions in the Presbyteries and in the press, and the form of many of the resolutions which are to be sent up to the Assembly, show plainly enough that the real question is not the individual opinions of Professor Briggs on subjects of Biblical criticism or otherwise, but whether there is room in the Presbyterian Church for men who are constrained by faithfulness to the Bible itself to take toward the Scriptures the attitude which is occupied to-day by many Christian scholars in all our churches. There is only one way in which this question can be decided. Let the Presbytery of New York proceed against Professor Briggs in the way prescribed in the Book of Discipline ; the case can then be taken, in due course, to the Synod and the Assembly, and thus a valid decision reached. Meanwhile the Assembly may have the power to veto the appointment of the Professor ; but it would be obviously improper for it to prejudge in its executive capacity a case and a question which it may very likely have to pronounce upon judicially. Not to speak of the embarrassment which such action might hereafter create for the Assembly itself, a præjudicium of this sort, seeming to be the verdict of the whole church, could hardly fail to affect most injuriously Professor Briggs's right to an impartial trial in his own Presbytery. This consideration, if there were no other, should make the Assembly slow to yield to the clamor for immediate intervention. I regret, therefore, to see Professor Green take the ground (Evangelist, April 3), that the way in which the issue has been raised leaves the church no discretion, but compels it to face the alternative of indorsing or refusing to indorse the sentiments of Professor Briggs's Address. To begin with, I do not see how the Assembly, in acquiescing in the appointment of a professor in a theological seminary, or even in confirming his appointment, if that were necessary, indorses his sentiments. A few years ago tle chair of Systematic Theology, in one of the seminaries popularly supposed to represent the straitest sect of our religion, was filled by a scholar whose views in eschatology were at variance with those of the great body of our church, if not with the Confession of Faith itself. He had zealously promulgated these views, to which he attached a very exaggerated importance. But nobody ever supposed that the Assembly indorsed his opinions because it did not veto his election. And if this is true ordinarily, still less could it be construed as an indorsement of Professor Briggs's views if the Assembly should decline to take any action which might even appear to prejudge his case. The less the Assembly sympathizes with his opinions, the more careful it should be to preserve not only the rights but the proprieties of the case.
“It is a very singular argument that Professor Green employs when he says that to take no action in this case is not only to indorse the opinions of Professor Briggs, but to suffer them to become the ruling policy in the seminaries of the church for all time to come. For if the views of Professor Briggs are so convincing that if left to themselves they will prevail in the seminaries for all time to come, the veto of the General Assembly will not prevent their spreading, and one who had somewhat of the spirit of Gamaliel might well hesitate lest, in a hasty condemnation of them, we should be proved by the event to have opposed the truth.
“There is another side of this business which deserves attention. Those who are working to have the General Assembly veto the appointment of Professor Briggs do so not so much for the sake of preventing him from taking his chair as of securing in this way the condemnation of certain views in regard to the Bible, or a certain attitude toward the Bible, and of committing the church to their own position on this point. That is, they propose to have the Assembly promulgate a new dogma concerning the Scripture. I say advisedly a new dogma. Let us take, for example, the question of 'inerrancy.' We know very well what the Confession says. The Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical. The men of the seventeenth century knew what they wanted ; not a Bible that had been infallible, but one that is infallible. They therefore affirmed not only its immediate inspiration, but its incorrupt transmission, so that the Hebrew and Greek in our hands are “authentical.' Here Protestantism found an authority to oppose to that of the church, a Word of God which was the end of all controversy. We know how textual criticism in the hands of Catholic scholars like Morin was regarded on both sides as undermining the Protestant position ; how the first Protestant critics who denied the antiquity of the Hebrew vowel-points, and resorted to the ancient versions to emend the Hebrew text, were assailed as the enemies of the faith. Slowly but surely textual criticism has made its way. The work of Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, is now extolled by some of those who are most hostile to the Higher Criticism. Yet these critics have shown that the doxology of the Lord's Prayer is a liturgical formula ; that the end of the Gospel of Mark is not genuine ; that the story of the woman taken in adultery is no part of the original Gospel of John; that the verse about the three heavenly witnesses is a late interpolation, etc. We have a vastly better text of the New Testament than the Westminster men, one far nearer to what the inspired authors wrote ; but we got it, not from those who denied that there were errors in the received text, but from critics who frankly recognized the existence of errors, and employed the means which critical science commands to eliminate them and recover the original reading. The fears which the beginnings of textual criticism aroused have not been realized. No important fact or teaching of the New Testament has been shapen by criticism ; nor does men's faith rest on a less sure basis because we know that in many cases the choice between two readings depends on considerations so slight or so subtle that certainty and unanimity are unattainable. This being the state of the case as regards the text of the Bible, no one would think of reaffirming the language of the Confession of Faith in its obvious and historical meaning. Our friends who conceive themselves to be the representatives of confessional orthodoxy propose, therefore, a new statement. It is that the original autographs of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, being immediately inspired, were without error, but that they have been subsequently exposed to all the ordinary accidents of transmission. Inerrancy is not to be affirmed of the Bible which we have in our hands, and by which we have to guide our lives; but of certain long perished manuscripts, which no man has seen for thousands of years, or will ever see again. This is seriously proposed as a substitute for the confessional doctrines, and, what is more aniazing, those who desire to make an article of faith of it are apparently not aware how completely it surrenders the confessional position. Of what use, I think I hear a consistent, old-fashioned theologian say, to have a Bible that was once withont error, if we are to admit that there are errors in it now? For if there are errors, only criticism can tell what, and where, and how many, and how great ; and the critics cannot agree, and the common man can never know wbat he is to believe. The authority of Scripture is destroyed! And the critic, for his part, must say that, if all the discrepancies and errors which exist in the Old Testament are to be charged to the blunders of scribes, the text, so far from having been kept pure in all ages, must be regarded as corrupt to a degree and in a way which the rashest of critics have never assumed. And as these difficulties are largely of a sort with which textual criticism is not accustomed to deal, and with which its resources and methods do not fit it to deal, its already difficult task would thus become impossible. The practical result of this new doctrine, if it could be put in practice at all, would be to render futile all efforts critically to restore the text of the sacred autographs.
“ But there is a feature of the movement, which seeks its expression in this new dogma of the inerrancy of the autographs, which cannot fail to excite more apprehension than the dogma itself. It is its un-Protestant spirit. This is most naively expressed in the resolutions of the Presbytery of Cincinnati, which approve of full and free critical study of the Scriptures, provided it be for the purpose of vindicating the truth as held by our church. That is the Roman Catholic position about the relation of science to dogma, pure and simple. And it is in antagonism — all the more dangerous because ignorant not only to the Confession of Faith, but to the fundamental principle of the Reformation.
"In the face of the obvious spirit and trend of this movement, the question has become a vastly larger one than whether or not Professor Briggs shall teach Biblical Theology in New York. It is whether a new dogma shall be promulgated by the Assembly, and new and unwarranted tests imposed ; whether science and criticism shall be muzzled by a new syllabus."
A COMMUNICATION - CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM. THERE is a current saying to the effect that every reform has three stages : first, it is said to be impossible ; secondly, it is said to be contrary to the Bible ; and thirdly, its opponents during both of these stages declare that they have always held the reformer's opinions.
It is evident from Miss Anna L. Dawes' article in the “Andover Review" for April, entitled “Mr. Bellamy and Christianity,” that nationalism has reached its second stage. So far as Mr. Bellamy is personally concerned, he may be left to make his own explanation or defense. It is not with his individual views that the writer proposes to deal, but with the broader question, Is nationalism opposed to Christianity ? — a question which Miss Dawes answers in the affirmative. It is true that she has identified Mr. Bellamy with nationalism, apparently without reflecting that the cause is apt to be larger than the outlook of its most zealous advocates.
Now, since there are those who claim that nationalism is working squarely upon Christian lines, it may be well to consider why this latter view seems tenable; and if so, what are some of the mistakes into which the writer of “Mr. Bellamy and Christianity" has fallen. Her argument seems to be this : nationalism holds that better material conditions are aids to moral progress. Better material conditions mean happiness. Therefore nationalism holds that happiness is essential to moral progress.
It does not seem to the writer that the above argument is altogether sound : if it is, the case of nationalism is not worth pleading. But do better material conditions necessarily involve happiness? They make happiness probable in a majority of cases, but that is a very different thing from saying that they insure it. And, granting for the sake of the argument that they do, is it logical to say that, because nationalism asserts them to be aids to moral progress, that it also declares that either they are essential or the happiness which is their outcome is essential to moral progress? It is not only hazardous to hold that material well-being is necessarily productive of spiritual well-being, – it is impossible. Theory and practice both prove that such a position is untenable.
Miss Dawes also declares that “the fundamental question for us is, What is the best environment for developing moral strength ?” She objects to any scheme which makes goodness unavoidable by excluding all possibility of choosing evil, — and well she may! Her anxiety on this point is unnecessary, however. So long as any creature possesses freedom of the will, there will always be the possibility of choice, and no exterior surroundings will make the choice of goodness irresistible. It is written that Satan fell from Heaven.
Assuming for the sake of the argument that the development of moral strength is the end to be sought, it is easy to see that the mere existence of obstacles to be overcome is not the means of reaching it. We do, indeed, press the earth firmly about the roots of a plant, but we do not pound it down as though we were laying a street pavement, — much less do we cover it with concrete. We do not refuse a child his proper school-books as a means of encouraging in him a desire for knowledge. We do not expose young people to all the temptations of life it may be feared that we do expose them far too much for their own good, here in America) in order that they may become morally strong. Briefly, it is possible that obstacles, in place of being incentives to effort, may crush out the capacity of development, or seriously arrest it, at least.
But here one may join issue with Miss Dawes. Is " What is the best environment for developing moral strength?” our “fundamental question”? Is it not, rather, What is the best environment for developing goodness ? For, after all, strength — physical, mental, or moral — is a means rather than an end. The pursuit of physical strength as an end defeats itself, — professional athletes are seldom long-lived or wellrounded men. Mental strength which exults in its own prowess is apt to run into mere logic-chopping. Moral strength, cultivated for its own sake, has often an outcome in the Pharisee who thanks God that he is not as other men are.
Those who oppose nationalism on the ground that the present social condition is, by reason of its deprivations, a blessing, since these deprivations are a help to spiritual living, ought to understand that the exact opposite of a false proposition is by no means certain to be the true one, though it is a favorite argumentative short-cut to assume this to be the case. Because better material conditions, whether they involve happiness or not, do not insure moral progress, it does not follow that obstacles to material progress are blessings. These opponents of nationalism would shrink from proclaiming asceticism as the cure-all for the ills of society, and yet asceticism is the logical outcome of their premises.
If we leave methods and look only at results, what do we find to be the result of asceticism? What we do not find is that social state which the word “ civilization " suggests to our minds. St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar is not on a par with the North American Indian of the sixteenth century, so far as the comforts of civilization are concerned ; nor is his spiritual ideal much higher. His
« Thrice ten years,
Thrice multiplied by superhuman pangs,” seem to us not so much the outcome of the “glad tidings ” of Christianity as of the pagan idea that the gods are appeased by voluntary human suffering, per se. And just here we may venture to point out the dif. ference between suffering for a selfish aim — which is asceticism — and suffering in the performance of duty, which is self-sacrifice. “The world's saints from Moses onward” have been those who never flinched from their duty, cost what it might, - not those who have chosen suffering for the sake of some extraordinary supposititious benefit to themselves. It is Buddha's yearning to help the world (not to take, for the mere purposes of illustration, the supreme Sacrifice) that gives his renunciation of all that men hold most dear its power to thrill us with a sense of dignity and pathos ; while our pity is largely mingled with contempt for those Yogis whom he meets, who
“Stake brief agonies in game with gods
To gain the larger joys." On the other hand, the social reformers of Rousseau's school (who were certainly not ascetics) preached a return to nature as the cure for the evils of society, and we know to what that doctrine leads in the average man. At best, it is a flight to some enchanted island where — the social problem being reduced to its lowest terms — a select community can live in a selfish seclusion from the world at large; a result which is simply a begging of the question. At its worst, it substitutes instinct, appetite,