dinate to the divine plan, and make a part of it. They are deterinined by providence, yet are perfectly free, and free becanse made to be so. To this freedom, which some call an illnsion, consciousness bears the fullest testimony.

But there are some limiting impossibilities connected with this freedom of the human factor. It cannot detach itself from dependence on the Supreme Factor. It cannot withdraw itself from providential control, or subservience to the solving problems of history. It is limited by the finiteness of the human faculties. It can side with the good or the evil, but not with both at the same time. Nor can it stand neutral. The first deflectors from the primeval rectitude were free in their transgressions, and were moved to it by natural canses and influences. But when they had taken the step, and turned the historic course downward, a supernatural agency became necessary to turn it back again. Degeneracies come by the influence of natural laws and forces. But regeneracies spring from a power that is supernatural, that touches the will with a divine magnetism, that draws it back again to truth and good, in the fulness of its force and freedom.

Of the angels, the third class of factors, a part are loyal and a part disloyal. In respect to their origin, we have little or no definite information. But our knowledge of their existence is very clear, from what we know of their agency.

These angels had a beginning anterior to the creation of man; but how far anterior, we have no means of deterinining. Of those fallen from primitive holiness, one—the archtraitor, by guile and falsehood, drew the progenitors of the human race from a regular development to a schismatic and degenerate one.

It is in connection with these apostate spirits that the problem of inoral evil first meets us. Why was it permitted ? Who was the first tempter ? Or did the first sin come with. out temptation ? What motive to evil could prevail over the tendency to good, where all was good ? How could wills, erect in truth and right, and with the strength of original constitution, bend downward to error and wrong?

These are metaphysical, rather than historical questions. Yet the providence which is in all human history, is also in this,

which is pre-human. The evil that starts here cannot be detached from that providence which rules everywhere. It makes a dark scene of the unfolding plan. It projects itself into the human course almost at the starting-point, and runs its tragic race through all the generations of mankind.

We cannot, with some, resolve this evil into only " the shady side of good," or a “vanishing negative,” the mere "dust of progress.” It is an appalling positive, and thus far, it is the dominant phase of history. The problem of suffering is easily solved by the presence of sin. But whence and why came this sin ? From the moral freedom of the creature and that infinite perinissive wisdom and benevolence which the true idea of theism involves, a wisdom and benevolence which the works of creation everywhere proclaim, and of which the written revelation is still more full and expressive.

The influence of the evil angels or spirits upon the destiny of man is most evident and positive. It has changed the whole course of history. To accomplish his purposes, the prince of these powers of the air darkens the understanding, perverts the judgment, debases the will, and sows the seeds of discontent and strife. He is not mortal, like men, nor eternal, like God: possessing superhuman power, he is not omnipotent; moving with spirit-speed, he is not omniscient. His power is limited by a threefold barrier; the finiteness of his own nature, the connection of cause and effect, and God's perfect control. Beyond any one of these he cannot take a single step

Twesten portrays with a graphic pen, the characteristics of this peculiar personage:


possesses an understanding which misapprehends exactly that which is most worthy to be known, without which nothing can be understood in its true relations; a mind darkened, however deep it may penetrate, and however wide it may reach. Torn away from the centre of life, and never finding it in him. self, he is necessarily unblessed. Continually driven to the exterior world, from a sense of inward emptiness, yet with it, as with himself, in eternal contradiction; forever fleeing from God, yet never able to escape him; constantly laboring to frustrate his designs, yet always conscious of being obliged, in the end, to promote them. Instead of hope, a perpetual wavering between doubt and despair; instead of love, a powerless hatred against God, against his fellow. beings, and against himself."

Here are the three great factors of the providential course -God, man, and the angels-with their characteristics and relations. One is purely wise and good ; another is a mixture of good and evil; and a portion of the third is purely evil. The divine is always the dominant; the satanic ever the resistant. The human is partly with the one and partly with the other, with a providential movement, slow but sure, back from the starting point of evil, through the coming conqueror, toward the triumph of the true, the beautiful, and the good.

Art. VI.-The General Assembly.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, convened in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, on Thursday, May 19th, at 11 A. M.

: Being the first General Assembly of the re-united church its proceedings were regarded with extraordinary interest, not only on account of the magnitude, the new composition, and circumstances of the body, but on account of the many grave and delicate questions of readjustment and reconstruction to be decided by it.

According to the plan of re-union, as adopted, both Moderators of the bodies now united presided jointly, until the election of a new Moderator was effected--the Rev. Dr. Fowler preaching the sermon, and the Rev. Dr. Jacobus performing all other duties of the office. Dr. Fowler preached froin Eph. iv. 4: “There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling."

Among the many pertinent suggestions of this discourse, in regard to the best means of promoting the unity, purity, growth, and efficiency of the united church, we note one, which we trust will not be forgotten. He said :

The great doctrines of grace are committed to our stewardship. It devolves on us to keep and dispense them. Our Baptist brethren, who profess them, are occupied with the mode and subjects of baptism, and our Congregational brethren

with their church policy. If Calvinism is cared for, it must be by us, and care for it we will. With all our hearts we embrace it. If not the whole of Christianity, nor the whole of the substance of Christianity, it is indispensable to Christianity. If not the entire soul of the Gospel system of truth, it is its spine, and upholds it. And never was Calvinism more needed than now. The theol. ogy of the day is effeminate and Aimsy. We must give it backbone."

We hope this will prove the doctrinal key-note of the Presbyterian Church of the future.

Upon the nomination of Dr. Adams, enforced by a felicitous speech, Rev. J. Trumbull Backus, D. D., of the Presbytery of Albany, was appointed Moderator by acclamation, and, in his difficult and delicate position, presided to the entire satisfaction of all parties. With the like unanimity Rev. E. F. Hatfield, D. D., of New York, was elected stated clerk; and the Rev. Cyrus Dickson, D. D., of Baltimore, permanent clerk. Dr. V. D. Reed, Judge M«Coy, and Mr. Ezra S. Kingsley were appointed temporary clerks. A resolution complimentary to the former clerks of each Assembly, not re-elected, was unanimously passed. It was impossible, without doubling the force, to make places for them in the united Assembly. While abundantly satisfied with the gentlemen elected, we should liave been glad if some way could have been devised by which the church could have still availed itself of the services of its former able and accomplished clerks.

Reports of the various committees appointed in Pittsburgh on re-construction, the boards, and other matters requiring adjustment in the re-united church were heard, docketed, and disposed of in their order. These consumed nearly the whole time of this unusually protracted session of the body. We can only refer to them in their order when we treat of the final disposal of them by the Assembly. Indeed, we can at most barely touch on a few of the most salient or controverted points.

Christianity and Common Schools. The subjoined resolutions, accompanied by an able report from Dr. Prentiss, chairman of the committee on the subject, were enthusiastically adopted by the Assembly. They confirm the judgment we expressed in our last number, as to the

drift of the Protestant and Evangelical mind of the country on this great subject.

"1. Resolved, That the General Assembly regard the free public school as an essential part of our republican system, as conducive in the highest degree to the moral unity, common spirit, and kindly sympathies of American citizenship, and as closely connected with all the best interests of Christian society in the United States.

"2. Resolved. That in the judgment of the General Assembly the divorce of popular education from all religious elements, while involving a radical departure from the spirit and principles in which our public school had its origin, would be eminently unwise, unjust, and a moral calamity to the nation.

"3. Resolved, That the General Assembly are also entirely opposed to the appropriation of any portion of the public school funds for the support of sectarian institutions, and would regard the establishment of such a policy as fraught with the greatest mischief, not only to the cause of popular education, but hardly less to the interests of American freedom, unity, and progress.

" 4. Resolved, That whereas the Bible is not only the Magna Charta of the spiritual rights and liberties of mankind, but is also pre-eminently our National Book, the best model of our mother tongue, and the fountain of our highest thonght and of our ruling ideas, both in private and public life, the General Assembly would regard its expulsion from the schools of the people as a deplorable and suicidal act; nor can they perceive that any real advantage could thereby be gained to the cause of popular education.

"5. Resolved, that the General Assembly, conscious of being actuated in this matter by no other motive than the greatest good of the whole country, liereby prosess their readiness to co-operato with all Christian people, of whatever name, and with all good citizens, in so modifying and perfecting our noble public school system, as to obviate as far as practicable the conscientious scruples and difficulties of any of its friends, and thus to render it a fountain of still greater light and benediction to us and our children after us to the latest generation."

We wish we also had rooin for Dr. Prentiss' eloquent report on the subject. Laying of the corner-stone of Re-union Hall in the College

of New Jersey. The following document was presented to the Assembly :

“ PHILADELPHIA, May 20, 1870. " To the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of America :

* The trustees of the College of New Jersey are about lo erect a suite of rooms to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of students, and intend to call the building 'Reunion Hall,' in honor of the re-union of the two branches of the Presbyterian Church, and it will be deemed a very great favor by the trustees and faculty if the General Assembly will make an arrangement to lay the cornerstone of the hall at a time it may appoint. It may be interesting to the members of the Assembly to know that we have at present a larger number of ministers'



« ElőzőTovább »