The eyes of the civilized world are at present turned toward Saratoga, N.Y., where the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church is now in session. Over one-half of all the Presbyteries having voted for a revision of the Confession of Faith, those who object to revision are now claiming that it should not be altered without the approval of two-thirds of them. Two-thirds of the vote would be one hundred and twenty-six Presbyteries, and about one hundred and twenty-two have already voted in favor of revision.
"The conservatives are afraid of the movement because it establishes the principle of revision. I am one of them. We are willing to have some of the particulars in the Confession changed, but we are afraid that it will be followed next year by another tidal wave.
"The decision of the question will have far-reaching results. It may, quite possibly, end in the splitting of the Presbyterian Church. The question of the session of the present Cumberland branch of our Church will be involved. Possibly we have been wrong during all these fifty years? If a revision is decided upon, the Cumberland church was right in separating from the main body, and is, therefore, at perfect liberty to come back into the fold. If it is decided against a revision, two factions will be formed. One, the revisionists, will join the Cumberland Church; the other, the anti-revisionists, will join the United Presbyterians."
At this writing the Assembly has not reached the question of Revision, but is hearing reports on other subjects. Concerning some of the subjects already discussed a journal of this city makes the following report and comment:—
"One of the reports presented to the Presbyterian Assembly, which is in session at Saratoga, makes the statement that nearly one-fifth of all the Presbyterian churches have vacant pulpits; and that 1,100 churches have died in twenty years. In another report the statement is made that almost two-thirds of the Presbyteries have expressed a desire for a revision of the Confession of Faith. The ordinary mind among Presbyterians—to say nothing of the world at large—associates these two statements in some sort as cause and effect. The vacant pulpits and the death of churches are pointed to as the result of a Confession of Faith which not more than one-third of the Presbyterians believe in, so that we hear the cry raised: revision or death,—that is, without revision death is certain. A confession that holds persons to what they do not believe can be said to have but one vital element, and that is self-destruction. Two-thirds to-day, say the revisionists, will grow into one solid whole, and they are right. Call it what you will, explain it as you can, this is the situation under which the General Assembly has met and is debating the question of faith revision at Saratoga."