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The same year that the creed was brought out, the publication of the first numbers of the Andover Review gave expression to a scheme of theological thought which had won the ascendency in the Andover Seminary. The most distinctive feature of this scheme lay in the sphere of eschatology. The Andover professors, deeming that Christianity is the absolute religion and Christ the universal judge, and maintaining moreover that the essential fact of Christianity, or the revelation of God in Christ, has unique virtue as a motive power, claimed that consistency requires that all men should be judged on the basis of a Christian probation. As many men, especially the great masses of the heathen world, have no such probation in this life, they drew the conclusion that Christ is presented to them in the life to come, so that all advance to the final judgment as those who have either accepted or rejected the crowning exhibition of God's love in the gift of His Son. The theory as set forth by its advocates is not the theory of a second probation, but of one common probation for all the race, a probation under conditions which alone are adequate to prepare men for the kingdom of heaven. It is not indeed denied that a favored few among the heathen, in following the light of reason and conscience, may have attained to such affinity with things holy and divine as properly to be accounted regenerate. But the vast majority, it is asserted, give no satisfactory indication of this attainment, so that there is adequate ground in reason and justice why they should experience, as a preliminary to final judgment, the salutary force of Christian motives.
Many regarded this teaching, on its first promulgation, as a letting down of the bars, an opening into the limbo of Universalism; and charges to that effect were freely
1 vented. That the charges were much too broad is apparent enough to the judicial investigator. The Andover professors did not undertake any more closely than their opponents to determine the number of the saved. To the latter, for the most part, no less than to the former, the notion was intolerable that a majority of the race are doomed to eternal perdition. The two parties therefore differed in this, that for a certain class the one extended the time of trial, while for the same class the other lowered the standard of judgment. It is true that an optimistic temper has a better chance to picture favorable results to a probation that is beyond the sphere of observation than it has in connection with a probation whose results are in some degree open to inspection. But aside from this one qualification, the doctrine of a Christian probation for all has no more affiliation with Universalism than the opposing hypothesis that a large section of the race is permitted to enter heaven on easy terms. With advocates who are not optimistic, the Andover theory may be quite as rigorous as the other.
In harmony with the prerogatives which the Congregational polity assigns to the individual church, the holding of the new eschatology was not made a bar to the settling of pastors. But for a time the management of the American Board proceeded on the assumption that it was incompatible with missionary appointments. This made several of the annual meetings of the Board to be seasons of sharp contest. But finally a pacific policy, furthered in no small degree by the ecclesiastical statesmanship of Dr. Storrs, was inaug. urated, on the basis of a somewhat faint discrimination against the Andover theory. At the meeting of 1891, the clouds which had been darkening the prospect seemed very largely to have vanished. In the same year the case of Professor Smyth, who had been adjudged deposed by the Board of Visitors, as teaching doctrines incompatible with his subscription to the creed of the Andover Seminary, was decided by the civil court in the professor's favor, to the extent that the action of the Board was declared to have been taken in a faulty manner, and therefore to be invalid. This decision, being given on the basis of technicality, left the merits of the case untouched. It did not reflect therefore on the judgment of those Congregationalists who maintained that Andover's “ Progressive Orthodoxy" cannot fairly be reconciled with the old creed which was put into the foundation of the Seminary.
Among the important practical measures which have been consummated by the Congregationalists in recent years, special note may properly be made of the establishment of the National Council in 1871, the initiation of the New West Education Commission in 1879, and the organization of a great company of young people into societies of Christian Endeavor since 1881.
3. PRESBYTERIANS AND REFORMED. . In the first years of the century the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky was the field of an agitation which led to a schism. The occasion was the great revival in that region. On account of the rapid extension of the Church an urgent demand was created for ministerial service. Under these conditions some of the clergy were willing to abate the requirement for thorough scholastic training, and so gave their voice to licensing comparatively uneducated men.
Within the same circle also there was acudi preponderant tendency to challenge the doctrine of absolute predestination. As the Synod would not tolerate either deviation from the old paths, a separation took place. The new body, which came to be known as the Cumberland Synod, advanced with considerable rapidity. In 1890 its membership amounted to nearly 165,000. In creed the Cumberland Presbyterians endeavored to swing clear of what they regarded as the fatalism of the Westminister standards. Calvinistic specialties were eliminated from these standards in 1814, and a position was assumed which differs little from the Arminian except in the retention of the doctrine of the perseverance of the truly regenerate.
In the Presbyterian Church at large the events most calculated to attract public attention have been connected with the antagonism between conservatives and progressives, or between the Old School and the New School, as they have been called. As was noticed above, the former party was much exercised over the infection which the New England theology, especially of the New Haven type, was bringing across the Presbyterian borders, and began to look askance at the “ Plan of Union ” as promoting the contagion. The latter party favored a measure of liberty in doctrinal views. In place of requiring strict construction of the standards, it was content to take them for 6 substance of doctrine.”
By the fourth decade the apprehensions of the conser
vatives had reached a point that threatened a severance of fellowship. Heresy trials were precipitated under conditions which indicated an indisposition to tolerate any modification of stringent Calvinism. In 1832 George Duffield was censured by the Presbytery of Carlisle for teachings contained in a work on regeneration. In 1835 charges were brought against Lyman Beecher, who had entered the Presbyterian Church when accepting the professorship of theology in Lane Seminary. Though in the general tenor of his thinking he was undoubtedly a sturdy champion of the evangelical faith, he was accused of holding and promulgating anti-Scriptural and Pelagian doctrines, of slandering the Church, and dealing hypocritically with its confession. To its credit, the Presbytery refused to second the voice of the accuser. In the Synod also, to which the case was appealed, Beecher was acquitted. It was the purpose of the persistent accuser to carry the matter before the General Assembly of 1836; but the appeal was withdrawn, if we may trust the prosecutor's account, in order to await the issue of another case involving like principles. This was the case of Albert Barnes. At the time of his settlement in Philadelphia, in 1830, complaints were made respecting his supposed heterodoxy, and an agitation was begun which ran on through the succeeding years. In 1835 he was charged with teaching contrary to the Scriptures and the creed in ten particulars, which were assumed to be discoverable in his “Notes on the Epistle to the Romans.” Some of the specifications were sufficiently warped, reading into the language of the commentator a meaning that he had no intention of inculcating. Others had some reason