THE movement for Presbyterian Creed revision, it should be remembered, is amongst those of the Northern Synods only. The Southern Presbyterians constitute a totally separate body of Presbyterians. (There is only one body of Christ.) In this connection note the following comment from the columns of the Southwestern Presbyterian in criticism of a published communication. The editorial note follows:
"Note by the Editor in Charge.The statement in the above communication, that 'our church as a whole doth verily believe' that it 'is taught in God's Holy Word that all infants dying in infancy were given by the Father to the Son in the councils of the Deity before the foundation of the world, as a part of the reward of his atoning sacrifice,' is wholly unwarranted. The church's belief is found, not in the deliverance of one Assembly, but in its Standards alone, and not until these are changed is any one warranted in saying that the church believes in the salvation of all infants dying in infancy. As the Standards are now, they are absolutely silent on that question, because the Scriptures are silent on it. We may hope that it is so, but the Scriptures do not declare it. When the Psalmist says: 'The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies' (Psalm 58:3), it does seem to imply the possibility that the children of the wicked perish with their parents.
"But our Standards do neither affirm or deny it. They only affirm, as the Jackson Assembly declares, that the elect who die in infancy, 'are saved in a different manner from adult persons who are capable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word,' leaving it an open question whether the children of the wicked are saved or not, inasmuch as this is one of the things of which Moses says: 'The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children, that we may do all the words of this law.'Deut. 29:29."
"Presbyterians are becoming united on the old subject of limitation of the atonement. In relation to the merciful inclination of God, it was unquestionably co-extensive with our race. In relation to his justice, it was designed for believers exclusively. The whole trouble has always been due to our incapacity to reconcile the sentiments and purposes of an infinite being. The Bible does not confound them. It assures us that 'God does not willingly afflict' his people, and yet he does afflict them. Of course, he may unwillingly destroy his enemies. But we cannot comprehend such facts, any more than the modes of divine justice."
These editors, be it remembered, are advanced thinkers, too, as compared with the masses of their readers. How sadly they lack the "key of knowledge!" (Luke 11:52.) Referring to the Scripture quotations of the first (Psa. 58:3.): how evident it is that it is truethat heredity marks everybody, more or less, from birth! The difficulty is a certain theological theory, which has no Scripture foundationwhich claims that every infant is immortal and that the present life, long or short, favorable or unfavorable, constitutes the only chance ever to be enjoyed for reforming character and becoming fit for a happy eternity, and hence that children of the wicked, conceived and born in sin and depravity (as are all mankind, more or less), are unprepared for an eternity of bliss, and, hence, must spend that eternity without blissin pain and horrors. Grant the false premise and it does not take long to reach this conclusion. But let these same reasonable men rid their minds of the false premise and go by Scripture alone, and they would have no difficulty in [R3133 : page 20] reaching a reasonable and Scriptural view of the subject. They should note that no infants are born immortal, but that the truth is as the Scriptures declare, God "only hath immortality." Then they will be prepared to see that death does not mean life; and that destroy does not mean preserve: that when God declared, "All the wicked will he destroy," he meant it. When he declared, "The soul that sinneth it shall die," he meant it. The penalty upon father Adam and through him upon all his race is a death penalty; and children and all die because of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12); and the worst, therefore, that could befall the children of the wicked would bedeath.
Now, then, what is the Scriptural hope for the children of the wicked? We answer that it is exactly the same as for the children of the saints, viz., that Christ Jesus our Lord tasted death for every man when he tasted death for Adam; because all were under Adam's sentence of condemnation to death. It was one man's sin of disobedience that brought the penalty upon all; and, consequently, the ransom of the one was the ransom of all; as it is written: "He is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins [the Church's sins], and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The children of the wicked were, therefore, redeemed in the most absolute sense;from the entire condemnation of death. Indeed, none but sinners were redeemed, for "Christ died for the ungodly;"all are ungodly, all sinners; hence, all die, and all need to be redeemed, else they would have no hope of a resurrection.
In the Millennium (the resurrection age) infants of believers would have a little the start of infants of unbelievers, in that they will have less depraved organisms when awakened; but under the grand raising-up processes then at work, such disadvantages would soon be overcome, and all will be brought to a full knowledge of the truth and to full opportunities for complete restitution (Acts 3:19-23) back to all that was lost by father Adam for himself and all his posterity. In that day it shall no more be a proverb that the fathers ate a sour grape [sin] and all the children's teeth are set on edge; for then "every man [who shall die] shall die for his own iniquity""the soul [person] that sinneth it shall die."Ezek. 18:2,4; Jer. 31:29,30.
How reasonable are God's ways! and how plainly they are stated in the Word,for those who have the eye and ear of faith;to those who are hearkening to the divine Word rather than to the creeds of the dark ages.
In respect to the second quotation: It shows how confusing and unsatisfactory error is to its warmest votaries. Honest minds and good hearts strive in vain to reconcile the idea of justice and good sentiments and purposes with the creating of millions of creatures with the foreknowledge that for any cause their existence would be everlasting misery,torture. The marvel is that intelligent men will stick to such inconsistenciessimply because they are old and hoary. Why is it that they cannot go back to the still older theory of the Bible,beautiful, simple, reasonable, grand? Is it because Satan is blinding them with fear;fear that good, reasonable, just thoughts toward God and interpretations of his Word are delusions of the Adversary? Ah, yes; the Lord foresaw it all, and declares, "Their fear toward me [is not of me; I have neither done nor said anything to merit such sentiments, but] is taught by the precept of men."Isa. 29:13.
"Since the Bible is a revelation through the medium of human language it must be interpreted in accordance with accepted literary standards. It is addressed to persons who are supposed to have ordinary [R3134 : page 20] understanding and common sense, and who can justly be expected to give it the treatment which would be considered fair in the interpretation of any other literary document. The interest in the Bible is largely kept up by the fact that it is so varied in form that it never becomes monotonous. We find in it not only history, biography and genealogies, but poetry, parables, fables, highly-wrought rhetorical addresses and appeals and prophetic forecasts of the future.
"One of the most important rules of interpretation is that ordinary language should be interpreted according to the known nature of the subject. It is always assumed that the person addressed has a considerable amount of knowledge which can be made the basis of instruction and further enlargement. This can be illustrated by an analysis of almost any sentence which can be written. When, for an example, the word 'Bring' is used, it has a wide latitude of possible meaning, which is limited in each instance by the implied but unexpressed conditions known to the speaker and the person addressed. If it is said, Bring me the book, the book will be brought by main force. If the judge says, Bring in the prisoner, the sheriff will come in with the prisoner walking at his side, impelled only by such show of force as is necessary to overcome the reluctance of the prisoner's will. If a mother says to her son, Bring your friend home with you to tea, he would be a very strange boy who should think that, in order to obey the command, he must take his friend up in his arms and carry him, or gird on a sword and pistol to compel attendance. By a simple invitation he will accomplish the purpose. All the force necessary is that which will accomplish the object.
"No greater mistake can be made in the interpretation of language than always to insist upon the strictly literal or etymological meaning of the words. [R3134 : page 21] All language is more or less figurative. Words come to mean what usage and the context put into them and make them mean. For example, the word 'manufacture' literally means made by handthat being the significance of the Latin words composing it. But now hardly anything is made by hand. Yet we still go on speaking of manufacturing all sorts of goods and wares.
"A hundred years ago the coats we wore were literally manufactured. The wool was shorn from the sheep by hand, and our grandmothers carded it into rolls, spun it into yarn and wove it into cloth by hand. Now, on the contrary, the wool is shorn from sheep's backs in Australia by a machine, and is dumped into steamers by great hoisting apparatus, and unloaded at Liverpool in the same manner, and is thence transported by rail to one end of a great 'manufactory,' so called, where it is delivered over to machinery of various and complicated character, which turns it out at the other end cloth ready made for the tailor. He would be a dull interpreter and a carping critic, who should insist that any one who said that this cloth was manufactured by Jonas Barnes & Co., must be supposed to mean that Jonas Barnes & Co. actually made the cloth by hand. Everybody knows that Jonas Barnes can be correctly said to manufacture all the cloth that comes out of his manufactory, even though he does nothing but sit in his office and issue commands. For it is a well known principle of interpretation that a person is properly said to do whatever he accomplishes by his agents. General Grant captured General Lee at Appomattox, though he did not himself fire a gun, and was far in the rear of the army when the actual capture was made. But he is properly said to have done whatever was accomplished by the army which he directed.
"Applying these and other similar principles to the interpretation of the Bible will at once relieve its writers of a great number of absurd charges of ignorance and inconsistency, and unfold a profound, harmonious and exalted conception of nature which may well command the admiration of all classes who are privileged to read and study it.
"The poetical imagery which describes the attributes and actions of the Creator is so bold and striking that it would seem impossible for any person of common sense to degrade it to the low level of mere literality. When the sacred writer speaks of the Lord as accomplishing something 'by the strength of his right arm,' or of his 'causing his face to shine upon us,' it would seem impossible that any person of ordinary experience in the use of language should insist that these expressions necessarily implied that the Divine Being exists in human form and actually has a face and arms and fingers like a man, even though the Psalmist does speak of the heavens as 'the work of God's fingers.' With equal reason the mere literalist would have to say that the Psalmist thought the Lord had feathers and wings, since it is said that he shall cover those that trust him 'with his feathers,' and shelter them 'under his wings,' while a little before in this same Psalm (Psalm 90) it is represented that the Almighty has a 'shadow' under which his children may abide.
"All this emphasizes the fact that human nature has remained practically unchanged from the beginning. The use of language, which is the most characteristic peculiarity of man, has been practically the same in all ages. In early times, as in the present, men knew how to use figurative and rhetorical language, so as to make it effective, and it is altogether probable that they had that knowledge of the nature of things derived from the ordinary experiences of life, which we call commonsense, and which enabled them to understand that when God is spoken of as their 'Sun' and 'Shield' and 'Strong Tower' the words conveyed an exalted spiritual significance far richer and fuller than their mere literal meaning.
"When, therefore, we approach those portions of the Bible which deal more directly and specifically with the constitution of the universe and the creation of the world, we need not be surprised to find language used in the manner which is fitted to give us a most exalted conception of the significance of the facts without either tying us down to the dull literal meaning of words or necessarily conveying false conceptions to sincere and thoughtful inquirers."
"No one thing in the recent election attracted more attention than the great increase in the Socialist vote. People of all classes have been asking one another, What does it mean? What was the cause which led 300,000 people to give their votes for the principles of Socialism, and what does it portend for the future? The most diverse interpretations have been put upon it. To some it is a threatened danger, to others a promise of hope. All admit that from now on Socialism will be a factor that must be dealt with in the political struggles of America. A party which holds 300,000 votes and elects five members to the legislature in Montana, and three in Massachusetts, and comes close to election in a large number of other places, and unlike the Populist party and most other so-called minor parties, it shows no tendency to concentration in special localities, and is certain to be a force worthy of consideration.
"This sudden growth does not owe its origin wholly to the active propaganda which has been carried on. On the contrary, the growth of this propaganda is in itself almost as much a sign of the growth of the conditions which produce Socialism as it is the cause of the Socialist vote....
"One of the most striking phases of its recent development has been its sudden growth among the trades unions. Everyone who has paid the slightest attention to events in the labor world must have noticed the marvelous increase in the membership and strength of organized labor. But step by step with this growth in the size and power of the unions has gone a corresponding increase of the Socialist sentiment within those unions. The declaration of the 150,000 members of the American Labor Union for Socialism at their convention in Denver a few months [R3134 : page 22] ago and the close vote at the American Federation of Labor at New Orleans much more recently are two instances in point.
"The Socialist party, therefore, arises as a distinctly class party. It does not arise as a result of preaching class hatred, as its enemies would declare, but arises because capitalism has developed class antagonisms. So far from seeking to perpetuate class hatred, the Socialist party is the only party which distinctly sets itself about abolishing the class antagonisms which give rise to class hatred by the only possible meansthe abolition of the economic antagonisms from which these classes arise....
rapid gains within the next few years because of the fact that the extremely rapid evolution to which reference was previously made has caused the economic development of this country to run far ahead of the propaganda movement of Socialism. The economic development has now made the interest of the mass of workers identical with the aims and objects of the Socialist party. It only remains for the propagandists of Socialism to point out and demonstrate this fact to this mass of workers to secure their support. This it is doing at a very rapid rate. The circulation of its publications is growing at an almost astounding rate, while the number of agitators grows even faster.
"Moreover, there is this which differentiates the Socialist party from every other party, in that practically every member is a propagandist and the work of carrying on campaigns is not left to the party machine. [R3135 : page 22] For these reasons the rapid growth of Socialism in the last election is but a foretaste of what the future will bring forth."
The German Kaiser has just surrendered to the Agrarian party, and, contrary to his preference, has agreed to a tariff on food;to escape the Socialist dilemma and preserve the farming element as his friends.
"Few people, and only those who study modern facts in the light of church history, have any appreciation of the phenomenal advance made by the Catholic Church during the last decades, especially as a power in the political world and in the conquests of new spheres of thought and life. It is by no means a pleasant thing for Protestants to contemplate; but it is an undeniable fact that not since the days of Innocent III. has the papal system unfolded such splendor and power as in the present time. Not the Catholic princes, but rather the Protestant rulers are the ones who are trying to surpass each other in honoring the shrewd sage now occupying the throne in the Vatican, although it is this same sage who has repeatedly called the Reformation a 'pest.'
"In other respects the church has grown phenomenally. Each year the number of those who swell the ranks of the religious orders grows by the thousands, and in the German empire alone there are now 40,000 of these. Not since the days of the Reformation have these orders, especially of the Jesuits, developed the strength they evince in our days. The Catholics control the parliaments and they make our laws, and in countries like Germany, where church and state are united, they even pass the laws regulating the affairs of the Protestant church. With every day the principle is gaining more and more ground that it is not ability and efficiency, but the attitude toward the Catholic Church, that opens the way for candidates for positions in the state service. The statesmen of Europe are largely and in many cases mostly influenced in their international politics by the views that may prevail in the Vatican; and what is more remarkable, that which the ambitious Innocent III. failed to attain, and that against which even Catholic princes and bishops have constantly protested, namely, the assigning of the position of judge on international difficulties to the Popethis has been first voluntarily yielded to the Vatican by the leading Protestant powers of Europe, Prussia and Germany, the former of these also having been the first to recognize the Curia as a political power on equal footing with other powers, by sending an ambassador to the Vatican."
"It is certain that, as never before in our history, there are several millions of men and women brought up in the industrial trades who are now without property interest in the trades they follow. No less a man than Webster said that the freest of governments will not long be acceptable if the tendency of the laws be to create a rapid accumulation of property in a few hands, rendering a majority of the population dependent.
"If this be true, it has come about that the same years which brought us riches and greatness as a nation have brought with them an internal disorder, which, if allowed to go on, will endanger the stability of the government itself."Judge Grosscup at Lincoln, Neb. Dec. 15, '02.
"A scene, which few who witnessed will ever forget, was enacted at the Church of San Carlo Alle Mortelle, in Naples, today. A sermon was preached on 'Hell.' The priest in charge arranged a realistic accompaniment to the preacher's words, and had men concealed in various parts of the church. Some were in the sacristy, some in the confessionals, and others behind the altars. The church was darkened. The preacher depicted in vivid colors the horrors of hell. At proper moments there were flashes of blood-red light, and the concealed men rattled chains, screamed, [R3135 : page 23] howled and made other hideous noises, supposed to typify the torture of the damned. The congregation was largely composed of the ignorant and peasant class. They are superstitious to a degree. The performance was entirely too realistic for them.
"Women began to get hysterical, laughed, cried and screamed. Soon the entire congregation was in the throes of abject terror. Men, cowering with fear, ran to the doors, burst them open and fled. Panic then seized all, and a terrific rush was made to the streets. Women and children fainted with fright. Men and women fought like beasts to escape. Many were injured, some seriously. The police were called, but the affair had ended. A police order has been issued preventing any further sermons on 'Hell' with such terrible trimmings."
"He has a voice in the control of properties capitalized at $6,488,500,000more wealth than was ever before in the hands of one man. This amount is greater by over $1,000,000,000 than the entire annual revenue of the 43 principal nations of the world. It is greater by almost $2,000,000,000 than all the world's gold, coined and uncoined. It is greater by almost $6,000,000,000 than the gold coin and gold certificates in the United States treasury, and the amount ($550,000,000) in that treasury at present is unprecedented.
"As the head of the world-wide transportation trust, with 16 steamship lines and 44 railroad systems, with 300 of the largest steamships and 30,000 passenger and freight trains, the two branches representing a land mileage of 108,500 and a sea tonnage of 12,000,000, he is the grand stage-driver and ferryman of the world.
"He is, says the World, the one man on earth whose life has been insured by English investors and speculators for $2,000,000 who paid therefor a premium of 9 per cent. The same fraternity insured the life of Queen Victoria for $2,000,000."Banking World.