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this conference, in three years there will be a fusion between this Assembly and the North. I am opposed to fusion, and will never consent individually to be fused into any body. I hold to the old maxim, obsta principiis. Probably that correspondence is introduced in every case with the ulterior view of amalgamation.'"
Somehow, the reporter mislaid his notes of a portion of this speech, most of all, it is said, surcharged with bitter invective against the North. However this may be, the above means simply that they wish to prevent every sort of conference or correspondence, because they believe it would speedily result in a fusion with us, and that all the apparent differences that now keep the bodies asunder would, on thus meeting face to face, vanish or dwindle into insignificance. Such fusion they do not want, and are resolved to prevent if possible, because, while every other sphere in which their peculiar ideas could dominate is lost, their church kept thus insulated, is their only remaining "home.” In the above extract Dr. Palmer depicts the issue of his former appeals to the Southern people, to use his present cautious phrase, “ to stand by an institution of the country, a traditional inheritance from our fathers."
It remains to be seen whether his present ingenious and passionate appeals to the Southern church, breathing a very similar spirit, to raise an inpassable barrier between itself and the Northern church, by requiring the latter as a condition precedent to conference, to confess that it has bound itself to the chariot wheel of Cæsar,” and has apostatized from the faith by doing just what the Southern church has done, will reach a more auspicions consummation. We do not believe that such accusations from such a source will be heard with deference beyond the geographical limits of the body making them; or that they will long mislead Southern Christians; or always continue to stultify even their authors. We pray and hope that the dark veil may be lifted which now discolors and distorts their view of the Northern church, and of all connection with it; and that in due time all barriers to full fellowship with brethren whom, on so many accounts, we love, may be removed.
ART. VIII.-The Evangelical Alliance.* The writer of this article was well acquainted with two worthy men, adherents respectively of two of Scotland's sternest sects, who met of an evening to discuss the merits of their churches. They resolved in their wisdom to begin with their points of difference, and they disputed till it was tirst late and then early, and they separated while the day was. breaking without coming nearer each other, but fixing on another night for renewing the controversy. When they met on that occasion, a wiser though not a better man, recommended them to commence with their points of agreement; and they found these to be so numerous and important that they parted at a decent hour on the understanding that they should adjourn the consideration of their points of discordance till they met in heaven. The two men have been in that blessed place for the last quarter of a century--as time moves in this world-but even with the assistance of “Gates Ajar" we have not been able to ascertain whether in their leugthened (as it seems to us) sojourn there they have so exhausted the wondrous sights and truths disclosed to them as to allow of their coming to the points about which they disputed on. earth---which was, whether a certain burgh oath, long since abrogated, was or was not lawful.
The anecdote chimes in with “the tune of the times," which is loud in praise of the union of churches and Christians. And yet we are not at liberty to overlook the differences of those who profess to be Christians. The Church of Christ, as a whole, every individual church, and every individual member is set for defence of the truth. There have been occasions in which a minority were required by faithfulness to Christ to separate from a majority. Dogmas or ceremonies which they believed to be contrary to the Word of God were imposed on them, and as “whatever is not of faith is sin” they could relieve their conscience only by assuming a position of independence. Or the church has become so corrupt in doctrine and loose in discipline, that they feel they would be countenancing evil in continuing in it,—and there is no resource but to separate themselves. We rejoice exceedingly in the re-union which has been now so happily accomplished between the two largest branches of the Presbyterian Church in America. But we wish it to be distinctly understood that if men, whether belonging to the Old or New School, appear in that church promulgating dogmas clearly inconsistent with the "system of doctrine” contained in the standards; and if these men, after being kindly warned, insist on continuing in that church, instead of going out of it and seeking to become useful in a sphere of their own, and if they are allowed to continue in that church by a deliberate act of the constituted authorities, then there is no help for it-it may be as sacred a duty to divide that church in some future year as it may be in present circumstances to unite it. We wish this to be distinctly understood at this early stage to prevent conceited youths, or old men who have not grown wiser from age, from introducing at Synods, or on some public occasion, " divers and strange doctrines,” which may first trouble, and then divide, the now happily united church.
* The long and permanent connection of Dr. McCosh with the Evangelical Alliance will invest this account of it from him with special interest for our readers.
But while we must ever claim an absolute power to defend the truth, we are not to allow our minds to dwell exclusively and forever on the points on which they differ who believe in Christ the Son of God and the Saviour of all them that believe. The tendency of those who feel that they agree in fundamental truth, will ever be to join in some organic and visible union, and in common action for the salvation of souls and the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad. In order to unity of organization it is not needful that there should be an absolute agreement even on matters which are not unimportant in themselves. Thus the question of the time and manner of Christ's second coming has ever been left an open question in the most orthodox Presbyterian churches. When there is a substantial agreement, as there has been for years in the two great branches of the Presbyterian Church, there is no reason why churches shonld keep isolated and apart, and there are many reasons why they should combine their energies and ex
hibit their unity to the world. We trust that the Presbyterian Church union lately consuninated will be the beginning of unions, to go on till the whole orthodox Presbyterian family become one in name and in action, as they are already one in faith and in discipline. But while this is so far an approach to it, it is far from amounting to a full confession and acknowledg. ment of the grand doctrine of the unity of the Church of Christ. There is a depth of meaning in the words of our Lord, and in the statements of Paul, which, as every Christian feels, are not realized in any church organization on earth: “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." “ There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” It is impossible, in the present state of things, to bring all true Christians into a unity of outward organization. Episcopacy and Congregationalism cannot be brought into a unity of government and form with one another and with Presbyterianism, or that modified Presbyterianism which we find in Methodism. If by some external force— like that which the king of Prussia employed in making the Lutheran and Reformed churches onewe brought them together for one day, it would only be to make thein fly asunder the next, perhaps in anger or in jealonsy. And yet have we not all felt it pleasant, and profitable withal, to hold personal communion with Christians called by another name than that which we bear, and trained, it may be, under somewhat different influences? Have not we Presbyterians often experienced a high enjoyment in the society of Episcopalians, or Methodists, or Congregationalists, or Baptists? As we did so, have we not felt the jealousies and suspicions which we entertained of thein when we viewed them at a distance, thawed and finally dissipated; and we have been led to see in them all the features of our common Father and elder Brother; and we have been interested in, rather than repelled, by the points in which they differed from us? And have we not all felt as if the various sects ran the risk at times of hindering instead of helping each other, and by each setting up a separate agency, say a church or college, in a district where only one is needed? But while these various organizations remain separate is there not a way by which we can, after all, acknowledge and manifest the unity of the Church of Christ?
“I believe in the holy Catholic Church, and in the communion of the saints." This is a doctrine which we Protestants must not hand over to the Romanists that they may claim it as their own. It is all good that Christians should show zeal in behalf of the denomination to which they are conscientiously attached; but when they have done this they are not to be satisfied that they have done all that is required of them; they are never to forget that they are members of a larger church composed of all the faithful, and that they owe duties to it. It is not good for the individual man to be alone; nor for the individual Christian to dwell apart: both are intended for society and are benefited by it; and if they thwart their nature on these points they will become selfish and sour. But on inuch the same principle it is not for the benefit of a particular church to look upon itself as the church, the whole church of God; in doing so, it will restrain and hinder the spirit of love and become narrow, exclusive, and bigoted. A church cut off from all connection with other churches is like a pool-sure to become a stagnant marsh—with no living inflow or outflow, instead of a lake receiving supplies from above, and giving out from beneath fresh and fertilizing waters.
These were the ideas and sentiments which gave rise to the Evangelical Alliance. Men of piety and love in the Established churches of Great Britain longed for some means by which, without compromise of principle, they might hold intercourse with those who were separated from all state-endowed churches. Men of wide catholic spirit in the dissenting bodies, while continuing their protest against all state-endowed churches, were anxious to show that they loved good men in these churches. Christians widely separated from each other, in Great Britain, on the continent of Europe, in America, and in India, desired earnestly to see each other, and to pray and confer with each other. The idea of a Protestant conference was started and was welcomed by choice spirits in many a